Sunday 13 December 2015

Trollbane - Part 1

The sword pulled free of the dead mans chest as his limp body fell away from the fight. Crimson droplets of blood floated from the toppling marauder as Bloodthirster drank its fill. Reven turned away from the crumpled corpse as his enchanted blade supped on the last of the mans lifeblood. He sought his last victim; the final foe in this dismal quest. "Show yourself coward. I require your head to collect my reward", Reven's voice reverberated off the dungeon walls. He searched the gloom of the abandoned throne room for a sign of the marauder warlord. "I am no coward, assassin", the voice came from everywhere, refusing to betray the speakers position. "However your legend grows and I have no wish to test my mettle against your vampiric blade or the warhound that is no doubt awaiting your return at the entrance to my lair. So I have an offer for you" as the echo of his voice faded Warlord Greer stepped into the torchlight to Reven's left.

"You are a man of honour" he said as he moved toward Reven. "I trust that if I have your word you will keep it". Reven snorted, "Do not attempt to talk your way out of this. My word may be trustworthy but yours are spoken with the tongue of a rapist and murderer. I should remove it before you try and pour poisoned honey in my ear" he brought Bloodthirster to bear to accentuate his words. "Please master slayer, stay your hand until you have heard what I have to offer" Greer hastily pulled a scrap of well used parchment from his leather tunic. The bone trophies of his many victims jangled as he did so and he threw the paper down in front of Reven, before backing away, arms wide to show no menace. Reven edged forward and bent to pick the paper up, never taking his eyes off the warlord. "Kneel", the hunter called and Greer quickly complied, sinking to his knees. Reven scanned the paper in his hand, it was a map; of where and of precisely what he was not sure but any fool could see it was incomplete. It was ripped down one edge. "What is this? You try to buy your worthless life with some half finished scratchings on weathered paper. You take me for a fool". "No mercenary" Greer responded, scrambling to his feet, "that piece of paper is the way to a long lost fortune, well, half of the way. I will trade the other half for my life. Swear to me that your fearsome blade will not separate my head from my shoulders and I will reveal the location of the second piece of the map." "You really do take me for an idiot Greer" Reven responded dropping the torn map piece to the floor. "Draw your weapon and die with some dignity. Reven advanced as he spoke, making Greer back away. "Tis' the way to Lord Gandlesons lost trove. A treasure that has been sought by adventurers for centuries. The elven relics it contains are beyond priceless, please I beseech you Reven. Heed my words and spare my life". The warlords hastily spat words stopped Reven in his tracks. Lord Gandlesons lost treasure was stuff of legend and would promise legendary status to whomever should find it. "You have my attention fool. Speak quickly, how did you come by this map." Greer held his palms up in supplication, "I happened upon it after we sacked a wizards tower outside of Ux. It's meaning was lost on me until a scholar of my acquaintance studied it. I tore the map in two to protect the knowledge the parts contained."

Reven snatched up the part of the map he had cast aside. "Fine, you have my word. I will not end your life. Where is the second part of the map?"  Greer, smiling broadly rushed at Reven, hand outstretched. The mercenary grasped his hand to seal the deal, releasing it swiftly. "It is right here my lord", chuckling Greer pulled another piece of paper from his tunic and placed it in Reven's outstretched hand. "Well played murderer" Reven responded as he turned to walk out of the room. "Leave his head in tact" he said as he disappeared into the gloom. "Who do you address warrior?" Greers voice echoed after Reven. "My friend was cold so he came in from the night." On cue Fang, the towering warhound, appeared out of the dark. His growl shook the ground beneath Warlord Greers feet. The evil man didn't even get a chance to scream. Fang launched himself forward and snapped his powerful teeth down on Greers shoulder, separating a huge chunk of torso from the rest of the vile mans body. Reven smiled in the darkness as Fang finished his meal.

Wednesday 16 September 2015

The Dead Lord

It had not gone as planned. Reven and his company of mercenaries hunkered down behind tipped over tables as crossbow bolts and arrows thunked into their wooden shield. They had come up through the sewers of the old fort and walked straight into a trap. The men were already grumbling at having to walk through human excrement but now their whining was irking Reven more than the constant patter of arrows. They were there to kill a disgraced lord, it was their biggest contract to date and they had spent a week planning it. No doubt the weasel observer that had been sent to liaise with them by the magistrate had been a turncoat. He would be dealt with as would Lord Umpold, the mark, but first they had to get out of this room.

The two long dining tables in the barracks room they had emerged into were taking a pounding and Reven knew they had to move soon. Umpold must have paid some serious coin to get this many guards in. He was supposed to be woefully unprotected. Reven thought this contract to be a gift, something that would elevate them above the other mercenary bands operating out of Blackcliff but obviously, the intelligence they had was wrong. He looked over at Agrippa and Muldar who were behind a table with Kris, “Ag, move forward in five” he shouted across the room. The guards held a line across the end of the long room, crossbowmen knelt before the bowmen. More troops filed in behind them choking the doorway, the rooms only exit. Reven hadn't waded through shit to turn tail and run. He would complete the contract. At his signal, the men at his sides and those behind the other makeshift protection lifted the tables and rushed forward using them as shields to close the gap between themselves and the guards. Taken aback by the move the hail of fire faltered and the mercenaries used the opportunity to launch the heavy tables at the front row of defending troops. Swords were drawn and Reven’s men hacked into the startled front ranks of the guards who were hastily drawing swords of their own. Reven was in the centre of the line, whirling and spinning with Bloodthirster in hand. He gutted a guard, his sword going through his chain-mail like a warm knife through butter. Blood droplets swam about him in the air as his vampiric blade drank in the crimson of its wielders foes. He decapitated the man to his left before spinning away from an attack on his right, returning with backhand swipe which took the attackers arm off at the elbow. Reven’s relentless assault was mirrored by his men who fed off their leader's fervour for battle. Muldar shattered and pounded opponents with his mighty war hammer, the big man was speckled with blood that exploded from his foes with the force of his blows. Agrippa fought with sword and shield, drawing men in by taking hits and then launching into them as they extended toward him. Kris and Bran both fought with short swords in each hand. The twins fought as one, trading blows with multiple opponents and dispatching them with clinical strikes. Orwin the youngest of the troop fought with sword and dagger, his unorthodox style of fighting saw him defending with his longer blade and attacking with his knife.

Soon the guards that had been clambering to get into the room only moments before were on the retreat and trying to squeeze back through that same door. The mercenaries spilt out after them, shouting taunts and slights as the last few guards managed to run clear past the next line of defenders. These troops were different, big and decked out in plate armour head to toe. These four iron giants carried two-handed blades the length of a man and stood unmoving. Reven quickly assessed his options and a window to his right gave him the opportunity his men needed. “Gentlemen, through the window and up. Kris, Bran keep climbing, find the fat Lord and bring him to heel. Ag, Orwin, Muldar get the front gate open, my friend hungers. Go”. With nods of affirmation the men clambered out the window and started climbing the rough stonework of the walls. Reven turned toward the statuesque foursome that faced him once his men were clear, as one they came to life, taking a step toward him raising their massive blades. Reven rushed toward them, Bloodthirster held before him, a smile on his lips and battle singing in his heart.

Agrippa watched Kris and Bran continue the climb as he, Muldar and Orwin slipped inside the next window they came too. He waved them off and then concentrated on the task at hand. They had to get out to the battlements to raise the gate. Agrippa understood Reven’s logic. This looked as though it was going to be a bloody fight and the warhound Fang excelled in combat, a lump of muscle as tall as a horse and almost twice as wide.

 The three mercenaries made their way along the hallway they found themselves in. It was richly furnished with rugs, paintings and sculptures that dotted the floors and walls. They moved quickly down the corridor toward the front of the fort but the sound of approaching footsteps arrested their advance. Orwin tried the closest door, it was locked. He started racing down the corridor to the next door but the guards that were searching for them rounded the corner at the end of the hall and immediately formed up to advance on Muldar and Agrippa. The warriors drew their weapons and dropped into fighting stances as the men came on. Muldar shouted with glee as he launched himself into the fight. Agrippa was more economical with his movements and dropped a man with his first swing, shouting over his shoulder for Orwin to continue to the gate. The boy stood for a moment, hesitant, watching his comrades wade into battle. His hand played with the hilt of one of his throwing knives as he weighed his options. He watched the massive Muldar pulp another opponents head with his war hammer and without another thought, he pushed the door closest open and padded inside.

Kris and Bran emerged through the highest window they could reach. They both massaged their fingers to ease out the ache of the climb. The twins were armed in a similar fashion and both unslung their bows and nocked an arrow. It was quiet up here in the loftier sections of the castle and no expense had been spared here. Where bare rock was sported throughout the rest of the fort, here wooden floors had been laid and wooden panels lined the walls. The wood had a dark polish over it and the panels on the wall were adorned with masks of all shapes and sizes. The twins were a little unnerved by the sightless parodies of faces that stared out at them but they carried on regardless. Hugging the walls they made their way through the gloom of the corridors the first soul they came across was a servant that was hurrying down the hall they were travelling, carrying a silver tray in one gloved hand. They crouched low behind a cabinet and when he came into view Bran smashed the man in the side of the head with the pommel of his sword whilst Kris jumped out to catch the falling tray. Bran stopped the man from hitting the floor and the pair bound his hands and gagged him. They pushed his recumbent form underneath the cabinet and continued their advance heartened. Servants meant blue bloods, and the sooner the one they were after was dead the better.

Reven decapitated the last of his foes and watched the man's body drop away as gouts of arterial blood sprayed the walls a lively crimson. He had taken a battering over the past ten minutes. Fighting the four big bastards had been tiring and he had been opened up across the stomach and had taken a length of steel through the thigh. The group of guards that came after that had sliced through his cheek, ripped his ear and almost cost him a finger. He wondered to himself how many times over he would have been dead if it wasn't for the gifts bestowed upon him by his union with Fang. The resilience, superior healing, heightened senses, speed and strength of the warhound coursed through him. The wounds on his stomach and thigh had already crusted into cuts and were no longer painful. He wiped blood from his face using one of the fallen guards ripped tabards. He had to regroup with his men. A stairway lay ahead that spiralled up to the next floor. Reven bounded up it hoping to be reunited with Agrippa, Muldar and Orwin.

Agrippa and Muldar had been victorious against their hunters but they had both taken a beating and were breathing hard. They sheltered in a side room as guards continued to search for them. Muldar was wrapping some ripped table cloth around a deep gash on his upper arm, trying to stem the tide of blood. Agrippa was concerned, the next fight they might not walk away from. They were still supposed to be getting to the gates, as per their orders from Reven but the guards seemed almost endless and they fought with the fury of a man defending his home even though they appeared to be hired help. “We have to move” Agrippa said to the big man who was just finishing tying off his makeshift bandage. Muldar nodded his assent and picked himself up off the floor, “We should find the boy” he said as he limbered up with his war hammer. Agrippa moved past him patting one of his shoulders as he did so. He moved over to a door and listened for movement with his head pressed against its dark wood. Muldar was just behind him as they moved through the door and further into the fort.

Orwin was crouching between some shelves in a storeroom just off the main courtyard. Stealth and brought him this far and now he hid between the various rolled tents and flagpoles that were stacked along the shelves, he found himself to be stuck. Guards were patrolling backwards and forwards on the inside of the gate that he needed to get open. He had waited for them to be relieved or move off but to no avail. If he didn’t act soon it may be too late and there were too many men out there for him to take alone. He would wait a bit longer before returning into the fort to locate his friends.

Kris and Bran were in trouble. They had found the lords lair but before they could burst in kill the old bastard they had been set upon by a score of heavily armoured troops that had been laying in wait for them. Now they were running for their lives, stopping occasionally to turn and fire arrows at the men that rushed after them. They had found some stairs and headed down them. Horn’s sounded behind them that echoed through the corridors of the fort warning of their presence. “Those bloody horn’s will bring every guard in the fort down on our heads” screamed Bran as they ran. The noise of clanking armour from below made them arrest their descent, forcing them onto another floor of the building. They ran into cover as more noise from along the corridor they were in spooked them. “We’re buggered” Kris said to his brother, Bran nodded his assent and pushed his fingers to his lips. They listened as the furtive footsteps came closer. Whoever they belonged to they were trying to be quiet, sneaking along the edge of the corridor. All was near silent until troops barrelled out of the stairway and into the flickering light of the lanterns that lit the hallway. They were shouting challenges down the corridor that seemed to be directed at somebody other than the twins. The curses that flew back were distinctive in their flamboyant use of language, “There’s only one person I know that swears like that” Kris smiled at his brother as they both rose from cover. Muldar was bellowing at the guards that were still filing into the hallway, “By the Great Bull’s dangly balls, you filth have no place amongst such warriors. Return to the dung pile you came fr….” He faltered as Kris and Bran stepped out of the shadows. “Hah” the big man screamed, “You’re doubly buggered now”. Agrippa was smiling as the twins approached and turned to face the foe. “Fight or flight Ag?” asked Kris as they bunched together, “Bit of both I’d say, pin the front ranks and let's get out of here” as the twins drew their bows more heavily armed troops rushed in at their backs. Agrippa sagged as he turned and saw them coming. No retreat against numbers too great for them to prevail against, hope was fading fast. The troops pressed in on all sides and a wizened old man stepped forward, “Drop your weapons scum” his voice boomed above the clamour of the troops, “Our Lord wishes to have words with you before he washes his alter with your blood”. The four mercenaries turned to regard the man, his voice so compelling that their grips loosened on their weapons at once. Agrippa was the first to resist the magical compulsion but too late. The guards were on them, bludgeoning them to the ground, knocking them senseless, the four warriors drifted out of consciousness almost as one.

Orwin was about to move off when the horns sounded. Most of the guards that had been milling around the courtyard on their patrol routes rushed into the fort in response, leaving only a handful of guards in their stead to watch over the gates. Orwin knew it was to be now or never. The horns meant things had escalated even further inside and they needed support. He drew two of his throwing knives and moved out of the storeroom into the open space of the courtyard. He immediately regretted his decision. The handful of troops he saw from his vantage point were mirrored on the other side of the gate by a force of equal size. The youngster was outmatched but driven by a devotion to his comrades and the duty bestowed on him he acted regardless. The first of his blades sang through the air and lodged itself in the flesh of the guard's neck, neatly landing between his body armour and helmet. The guard pulled the blade free as he dropped covering those nearest to him with a spray of bright red blood. The guard turned to face Orwin as another thrown knife thumped into the face or another dropping him without a sound. Both groups of guards rushed at him. Orwin threw once more but only managed to knock off a helmet. He hastily drew his sword and the knife sheathed at his hip and roared his defiance.

Orwin blocked a blow from the first guard to reach him but he saw a second man swinging a sword at his head that he knew he couldn't stop. Involuntarily he closed his eyes and waited for the blow to connect. It never did though, instead, he was pushed roughly to the ground as a whirlwind of death ripped into the onrushing guards. Reven was a fearsome sight to behold. As soon as his first stroke fell, beheading a guard, his sword started to drink hungrily. As Reven whirled and spun striking out at the guards he was surrounded by a rain of blood. The guards were cut down like wheat. They fell back under Reven’s assault. Blades shattered as they tried to match Bloodthirster, hands were taken off at the wrist, legs severed at the knee. Reven pushed on pausing only to point at the gate. Orwin struggled to move he was so mesmerised by his leader but he knew what needed doing.

He ran to the gate, straight for the mechanism that would raise the hefty portcullis that barred entry. He struggled with the release but using all his strength pulled it free. He repeated this on the lever on the other side of the gate and the massive web or iron slowly rose as the counterweights did their work. A low reverberating howl rumbled from nearby, rolling through the courtyard like thunder. It was met by Reven who also howled as the blood of his last opponent dripped down his face. The tide of blood was about to turn.

Agrippa, Muldar, Kris and Bran were bound at one end of a great hall. Hands tied to ankles and heads pulled back, necks bared. Huge Tapestries hung from the high walls depicting bloody rituals and sacrifices performed by goat-headed men. The hall was full of guards and servants from the fort. The elderly wizard had donned purple robes and uttered incantations over the mass of men that had gathered to watch the sacrifices. A hushed descended as a lone figure walked to the front of the room. He wore loose-fitting purple robes that barely covered his obese bulk and wore a stuffed goats head that covered his own face. He held a long curved blade in one hand and a censer in the other that billowed purple smoke in its wake. As he reached the chancel where the men were bound he turned to face the adoring crowd. “Let these sinners wash Heskor’s alter with their blood. Our Lord and Master bids us do his holy work so that we may endure”, the crowd responded in unison, “and endure we must”, “The blood is our life” the leader shouted, “and spill it we must” the crowd retorted. They chanted over and over ‘spill it we must’ as the leader turned to face the four men. The mass of worshippers swayed as they said the words led by the old wizard. Louder and louder they chanted as the goat-headed man raised his wicked blade. He smiled down at those he was about to slaughter, flexing the fingers of his hand that held the sword aloft, ready to strike.
Another voice entered the mercenaries dazed minds as they looked up at the purple-robed leaders smiling face. A whisper at first, it grew louder and they started to speak the words aloud as one. Lord Umpold couldn’t hear what they were saying properly under the cover of his mask but as their voices grew in strength the words became clear. “I am Their vessel, I give life to Their wrath, I am the bloody-handed reaper. I am ruin, I am death, Their collector of skulls” they repeated the words over and over confusing the big man. “Silence” he hissed at them. They continued and regained their composure as they repeated the words throwing off the dreamlike state the wizard's compulsion had left them in. Their voices rose and were joined by another that boomed through the hall drowning out the noise of the crowd. The masses chanting faded as the words reverberated around the room. Two guards who stood at the door at the far end of the hall to the chancel were flung through the air as the doors were flung wide. Reven sat astride Fang who slowly walked up the central isle of the hall. The old wizard was first to react using his booming voice to try and persuade Reven to turn about. As soon as the words left his mouth they were replaced with a well-thrown dagger. Orwin’s blade buried itself so that only the tip of the hilt could be seen protruding from the old man's mouth. As soon as the man fell it was as if a spell had been broken. The masses groaned and wailed as if waking from a nightmare and confusion reigned as people scattered in front of Fang’s bulk as if only truly seeing it now. Reven slipped out of the saddle and mounted the dais on which his men and Lord Umpold were.

Orwin had pushed the doors at the end of the hall shut and was preventing people from escaping. Some of the guards had started to regain their wits and were heading his way. Reven walked straight past the stunned Umpold and freed his men as the distraught Lord looked on. The now free mercenaries recovered their weapons and formed up at Reven’s back. With a flick of the wrist, Reven loosed Fang on the guards that were heading toward Orwin. The war hound tore into them with relish, scattering them all over as he barrelled through them to stand at Orwin’s side. Lord Umpold’s goat-head headwear had fallen off and tears streamed down his face. He fell to his knee’s grovelling at Reven’s boots for mercy. Reven had none. Agrippa, Muldar and the twins drew their blades knowing what was to come. Reven loosed Bloodthirster neatly severing Lord Umpold’s head from his body. Holding the head high he addressed the crowd, “We will not judge you heathens. You murders of men and twisters of fate. We will leave your fate to the gods. If you make it out of this room the gods smile on you and you shall live. The rest of you be damned”. With that he secured the lords head to his belt, trailing blood as he walked toward Fang and Orwin. The crowds parted to let Reven and his men pass. When they reached the doors Reven threw them wide and turned to face the crowd. He drew his sword and beckoned the mass of people forward. “Kill them all” he said under his breath as he gutted the first man that came within his reach.

The slaughter in the hall was immense. Not a single member of Umpold’s congregation made it out though their blood seeped through the doorway and into the hall beyond. The story of the bloodletting reached far throughout Orland and despite the viciousness of the act it was used as a cautionary tale for those who would turn their backs on the Gods.

Thursday 3 September 2015

The Conversation

Reven sat across the table from Master Fedoris Brusser. They both cradled steins of ale, a potent brew by the name of Giant Slayer. Brewed by dwarves it was regarded as one of the finest ales in the whole world and spoke volumes about the establishment they drank in. The Emerald Paladin was somewhere that the elite met, the rich and powerful of Blackcliff frequented this place; princes, lords, merchants and high ranking military officials.

It had been three months since Reven had arrived in Blackcliff with Agrippa and his mercenaries in tow. Soon after that arrival he had sought out Master Brusser who he carried a message for. His acquaintance, Master Missner had instructed him to seek out Brusser upon his arrival to help Reven make sense of the frenzy that would take hold of him when he immersed himself in battle. Their meeting had not been what Reven had expected…


Master Brusser had greeted him in the offices of the Temple of the Everguard. Reven sat patiently whilst the Senior Minister read the note that he could not, sealed as it was by magical enchantment. Brusser was an older man, thin with short grey hair dressed in the red and white robes of his office. Reven watched him as he read the note, there was a vitality to the man and even though they had only shared a greeting the warrior couldn't help but warm to the Brusser’s calming presence.

Brusser put down the note, his small thin lipped mouth curling into a smile. “Why are you here Reven?” he asked plainly. Reven straightened in his chair before answering, “Master Brusser, I was led to believe that you may be able to render me some aid with that which ails me. I have a demon within me, awful power coils around my very soul and overwhelms me when I am in battle. It scares me, fills me with the urge to rend and kill. I…I fell ashamed. Am I tainted?....I was led to believe you may be able to end this madness that afflicts me”. Brusser’s smile widened, “The note says something about ending this yes. When exactly does this ’frenzy’ begin? When you draw your sword? Draw blood? Or is it when your blood flows?”. Reven thought for a moment before responding, “It is when all appears lost, when I'm outnumbered, close to death. The rage fills me with unnatural strength and speed. I act without thinking, slay without pity. I am their vessel, an engine of destruction”. “So you could say this affliction is your saviour? It has saved you from death yet you fear it.” Brusser stopped to muse on his words. “Some are bestowed with power Reven. The gods bless the worthy with unassailable gifts. If what you say is true you may be the first in hundreds of years to be bestowed with such power. 'Tis a gift, you should embrace it, control it.” Reven sat back as the hammer of realisation hit, “The gods! Why do you believe the gods responsible for this? I am not a pious man.”  Brusser looked confused, “You said ‘I am their vessel’, I assumed you had an understanding of the Everguard to use such a phrase, the Everguard were all vessels of power and now through worship we are their vessels”. “You are a truly enlightened man Master Brusser to see a curse as a blessing. I would learn more of these gods whilst I am here in Blackcliff.”, “You should” answered Brusser, “for enlightenment may lead you to choose your friends more wisely. Missner wanted an end to the curse as did you. But he had an entirely more bloody conclusion in mind” Brusser pushed the note across the desk and Reven picked it up and read the words which were now as clear as day.


I imagine right now you are sitting at your desk looking across at the one who has handed you this note. He is no friend, he is a demon in skin, a nightmare made flesh. As one scholar to another I urge you to bring your powers to bare against this apparition of evil. He is cursed, red ruin courses through his veins. Destroy him, by all that is holy destroy him and rejoice in Their name.
If you do not it is your death you sit across from, we will all pay. I know you’ll do the right thing

Your Friend,

Ceedric Missner

Reven jumped up readying himself for combat as soon as he had finished the letter. He sword was in his hand and he dropped into a defensive posture. Brusser didn't flinch, “If I was to do what this fool wanted, do you think I would of sat and spoke with you. Ha! Enlightenment is sorely needed”


In the months after that initial meeting Reven had spent much of his free time in the company of Master Brusser. He learnt of the Everguard and of magic whilst he was not hiring his services out to the highest bidder. His little band of mercenaries were already making a name for themselves in Blackcliff for their ruthless efficiency and Reven had used each contract to test his skills and further his knowledge of his ‘blessing’. He and Brusser had become friends as the Minister had tutored Reven in various aspects of the arcane. He had picked up some basic alchemy skills and been tutored in the arcane so that he could cast spells of healing and fire. With every week that passed Reven grew in confidence and power.

It was sitting at this table, talking with his friend that Reven truly realised what he wanted; power, glory and all that came with it. He also knew that he would wade through as much blood as needed to achieve his goals. He had been given a gift. He was death incarnate, the bloody handed reaper and in time all would bow before him or despair.

Tuesday 1 September 2015

The Slaver

The slate wall offered little protection from the chill wind that whistled through the broken temple. Orwin pushed himself tighter against the wall and pulled his leather jerkin up around his ears to do his best to drown out the unearthly scream of the wind. He’d been waiting for the here for the mark for hours with no site of the man and despite the fact he loved his work he was starting to question if the information his team had been given was accurate and furthermore why it was him that was freezing his knackers off in the cold.

The temple ruins sat next to the Temple Inn and the Temple Inn had been built with stone taken from the temple ruins. It was one of the many half way houses that dotted the roads into Blackcliff. The road the inn sat on was little travelled as it wound through some of the more dangerous countryside Orland had to offer. As it wasn't well travelled the Black Guard, the elite soldiers of Blackcliff, didn't bother patrolling it which contributed to its lawlessness. Many of the black market goods smuggled into Blackcliff made their way down this road and dealers of a less than reputable nature would frequent inns like the Temple to peddle their wares.

It was one such dealer that Orwin was looking out for. Artimus Sneck had a warrant out against him for slave trading, a practice that had been banned in Orland for hundreds of years. Essentially the warrant issued by a Blackcliff magistrate was an execution order. It did say in small writing ‘or alive’ under the massive print of the word ‘dead’ but nobody ever bothered with that. Orwin’s orders from Reven had been quite clear. Kill Sneck before he steps foot inside the inn. Take the body directly to the magistrate’s office and claim the reward. This was Orwin’s first time out alone and he wanted to do Reven proud which was a strange feeling. Reven was only a year or two older than Orwin but he inspired his men to fight hard and win the day at whatever cost. Since he had taken over from Agrippa, the old mercenary captain their little war band had gone from strength to strength and rags to riches. Reven trained them hard and rewarded them highly. Orwin shivered again as another howling gale tore at his clothing and then he was reminded that he wasn’t completely alone. The low growl that accompanied the wind came from the hulking warhound that lay prone a few feet away. He had been told that he needed muscle for the mission; on account of having to drag a body back to Blackcliff. So what better choice of companion than Fang who was essentially a mound of muscle with legs. Also he knew that if things went horribly wrong that Fang was almost unstoppable in combat and he would happily chomp and rend enemies till there were none left.

They didn’t have to wait much longer before the wagon that was transporting Sneck came into view. It was lit by a lantern that hung between the two lead horses of the six that pulled it through the deep dark of the forest. It sped out of the night down the road toward the inn before coming to an abrupt stop. Orwin made to move but then two things happened which made him stop. Firstly the occupants of the carriage exploded out through the doors, four heavily armoured men rushed out dragging a fifth man between them as they made for the doors of the inn. All the time their heads were turned back toward the forest and from the forest came horsemen. Orwin counted nine of the men who were whooping and cheering as they closed on their quarry.

Arrows spat at the men as the bandits drew close and one of Sneck’s guards went down. Another guard was battering against the closed door of the inn as the horsemen grew nearer. He was screaming at the inn’s patrons to come to their aid but instead they crowded around the windows of the inn and gawped at the action unfolding outside.

The arrows ceased and the horsemen drew up in front of Sneck who was cowering behind his guards. ‘They won’t open’ the man at the head of the bandit party said, ‘The doors of The Temple are closed to you Artimus.’ Sneck looked out from behind the largest of his armoured minions to get a better look at the speaker. ‘I knew I recognised your voice Brock, you bastard. What are you playing at?’ The bandit chief dismounted and met Sneck’s glare. ‘You owe me Artimus. You think I’d forget that you shafted me on that last job? I’m going to have your head as payment me thinks. You’re going to die here you miserable git’. On cue the rest of Brock’s men dismounted and rounded on Sneck and his remaining guards.

Orwin didn’t know what to do. Should he wait for them to fight it out and then attack the victors? Should he join in now and pick a side or should he wait for the bandit’s inevitable victory and then try and rob them of the corpse later. If Reven were here he would wade in and kill them all no doubt but Orwin wasn't Reven. He had a different set of talents. He was capable with a sword but what he really excelled at was stealth. He was quiet and he knew well how to use the brace of throwing daggers strapped across his chest. A planned formed in his mind. He turned to instruct the warhound but found that Fang was no longer with him and he knew his newly formed plan would fail. ‘Shit’ he cursed under his breath, where had that bloody big dog gone?

Whilst he cursed Fang’s disappearance opportunity presented itself. Sneck had wriggled free of the fight and was heading straight for the ruins. One of his guards still stood and they had accounted themselves well, four of the bandits lay broken and bleeding on the floor. Three other bandits were running after Sneck, responding to their chief’s bellowed orders. Brock was just finishing off the last of the guards, too committed to the fight to break away now. Before Orwin knew what he was doing he raced at Sneck and tackled him to the ground. Clamping his hand over the man’s mouth he dragged him behind a wall. Putting his finger across his lips he indicated for Sneck to be quiet as the bandits ran past them, further into the ruined grounds of the temple. 

Orwin whispered into Snecks ear, “Be still friend. I’ll get you out of here. Don’t make a sound” he removed his hands from Sneck’s mouth and the slaver nodded his understanding. Orwin stooped low and led Sneck through the ruins away from both Brock and the pursuing bandits. It was slow going and difficult to stay completely silent in the pitch black of the night. Orwin acquitted himself much better than Sneck who regularly tripped and cursed aloud as he did so. As they neared the edge of the ruins they broke into a flat run and sped over open ground as fast as their feet would carry them. But no matter how fast they ran they couldn’t ignore the sounds of galloping hooves and within moments they were surrounded by Brock and his four remaining men. Breathing hard Sneck bent double resting his hands on his knee’s whilst he caught his breath. Orwin’s shoulders slumped as he trotted to a stop.

“Think you could give us the slip on our home turf did ya?” Brock shouted loudly whilst jumping down from his horse. His men followed suit, chuckling as they did so. “Who’s the boy?”, Brock aimed the question at Sneck who simply shook his head still panting. “J-Just a traveller” Orwin stammered inwardly cursing how pitiful he sounded. “I saw you trying to rob this man and thought I’d intervene.” This brought a chuckle from Brock, “Intervene indeed, a fancy word boy. Words won’t help you tonight though” Brock slid he sword from its sheath and his actions were mirrored by his bandits. “No running this time Sneck” he said as he advanced with menace.

Orwin and Sneck responded as one. The slaver drawing his own duelling blade whilst Orwin reached for the brace of daggers across his chest. He let fly and a bandit dropped with a blade buried to the hilt in his throat, gurgling bright red bubbles of blood as he dropped. Orwin had to dive aside from an incoming slash of another bandit’s blade and flicked out with another dagger as he rolled to his feet. In his haste his throw missed its intended target and instead the hilt of the knife smashed into Sneck’s temple, dropping him like a sack of stones. Brock roared with laughter as he rounded on Orwin. At first the boy was struck dumb by his poor luck with the throw and then he was knocked flying as one of Brocks meaty fist connected with his jaw. Orwin looked up dazed and more than a little confused. Brock and his remaining cronies smiled down at the boy’s recumbent form. The bandit chief raised his sword with murder blazing in his eyes as Orwin raised his head and his hands to ward off the blow. Brock was savouring the boy’s terror until he said the most peculiar thing, “About bloody time Fang!”

They were the last words Brock heard but not the last sound. That would have been the noise his skull made as Fang clamped his jaws around it and popped it like a melon. The warhound ripped the bandits apart as Orwin lay there watching with a mixture of terror and awe. Within 20 seconds the bandits were dead. Blood and gore decorated the ground; body parts, entrails and crimson puddles everywhere. Orwin could still hear the men’s screams ringing in his ears as he regained his feet. After recovering his blades he went over to the unconscious Sneck whilst Fang had a quick snack. He slapped the man around the face hard. Sneck roused and blinked himself out of his enforced slumber. “Wha…what…” he looked around at the carnage illuminated as it was by the light of the moon. He pushed himself away from Fang as he saw the huge beast devouring one of the bandits but Orwin held him tight. “Peace friend” he said to placate the man who from the smell, had just soiled his trousers. “The beast is a friend, danger has passed”. It took a while for the words to sink in but Sneck eventually allowed himself to relax and regain a modicum of composure, “Thank you young sir, you are a true friend” he said as Orwin helped him sit upright. Sneck smiled up at his saviour and the boy smiled back. Orwin carried on smiling as he rammed his blade up through Snecks chin into his brain, “time to sleep friend” he whispered as he lowered Snecks twitching corpse to the floor. 

Friday 24 July 2015


The shallow valley was gently lit by the light of the full moon. Stars glittered in the sky above the long, lush grasses that covered the sloping hillsides. On one side of the valley in the grass crouched six men. They were in a loose line, each man about twenty feet away from the next. Across the valley the seventh member of the team lay in the grass awaiting the command to advance. Fang could see his master clearly even through the dark of the night and he was eager to begin the hunt. Reven was furthest to the right of the line, to his left stooped Agrippa and beyond him the youngster Orwin, the man mountain Muldar and then the twins Kris and Bran. Before them lay their target. A make-shift camp that had been erected around a ramshackle hunting lodge. 

The camp consisted of two wagon's that had canvass lean-to's resting on their sides, these were drawn up either side of the lodge. The dying embers of a recently used fire flickered as they were kissed by the wind. Pots and pans lay at the fires side and horses were tied to a tree a short way from the main camp. The men in the camp are what the party were here for. Reven and his band had taken a job to rescue the daughter of a wealthy merchant. She had been abducted whilst travelling back to Blackcliff and a ransom note had been delivered shortly afterwards. The young woman's guards and driver had been slaughtered at the roadside and the bandits had disappeared into the night. The ransom was due the day after tomorrow but the merchant had no intention of paying it as he had no proof of life. Fang had picked up the bandits scent quickly and had led them to this valley which was well off the beaten path. 

The camp was quiet. There were two men sitting near the horses. They both appeared to be drunk. Others slept under the lean-to's or in the wagon's interiors. Until a moment ago the only noise from the camp had been the occasional raucous outburst of laughter from the drunk men who quickly hushed themselves with over exaggerated 'Shhhh' noises. Now they could hear screaming and gruff voices raised in anger from the lodge. The time to strike had arrived.

Reven indicated with two fingers, swishing them to the left. This move was copied down the line of men crouched in the grass and upon seeing it the twins broke off. Moving to the left to strike at the drunkards by the horses. In a matter of moments they were down, throats slit by Kris and Bran's blades. With another sweeping hand motion the rest or Reven's team were in motion. The men moved to the edge of the grass and then the silence of the night was further broken by the teams last member. Fang unleashed a deafening roar as he entered the camp. He rushed at the first parked up carriage and dived under the lean-to onto the sleeping men within. He tore them limb from limb as they awoke from their slumber into a nightmare. The other bandits in the camp woke ready to respond to the animal attack. Six men stumbled from their beds grabbing weapons and heading toward the beast in their midst. This was what Reven had been waiting for, he stood up, bowstring drawn. His men rose in unison a fraction of a second after him similarly ready. Reven let his arrow loose and it sailed through the air before punching through the unprotected back of a bandit who crumpled immediately. Other arrows also found their mark and as soon as they were fired Reven's band rushed from the grass ensuring the downed men were indeed dead. Each man ran to the bandit their arrow had struck and made a killing blow. All were economical with their kills apart from Muldar who crushed the skull of the bandit he had hit with a mighty swing of his two-handed warhammer. 

All was silent in the camp. Fang stalked into the heart of it to meet with the rest of the band, fresh blood still dripping from his mouth. Nobody had emerged from the old hunting lodge as yet and the team formed up in front of it. Reven's warrior's held still and silent as he showed them his palm to halt them. Weak light seeped through the windows of the lodge, maybe from a candle or low lit lantern. Shapes flickered across the light and Reven waited no longer. 'Fang' he said and the warhound leapt head first at the door shattering it with his head as he landed and bounded through. Reven and his team rushed in through the smashed door after Fang. Reven took in his surroundings in a second and appraised the situation. The lodge had three occupants, the first of which a bandit that had been flattened when Fang exploded into the room,  the man's broken body had been flung to the far side of the lodge. A second man, the bandits leader Reven assumed, stood with his trousers around his ankles and his arm round a woman's neck. With his other hand he held a dagger to her throat. The woman was completely naked and had been badly beaten. Bruises and cuts covered her body. She had deep gashes in her wrists from where she had been bound too tightly. Her most horrific wound showed the horrible abuse she had endured at the hands of these bandit scum. She sported deep bruising on her inner thighs and blood ran from between her legs. Reven's attack had obviously interrupted the latest savagery done to her. Reven's anger flowed through him and Fang let loose low rumbling growl as he sensed his masters displeasure.

'Stay back' the scabby bandit chief screamed as he poked the dagger into the woman's neck drawing blood, 'I'll kill the bitch, I swear'. Reven walked slowly in front of the bandit, drawing his attention and said, 'Bran. I want him alive'. No sooner had the words left Reven's lips than Bran, who still stood in the doorway, brought up his bow and sent an arrow deep into the flesh of the bandits shoulder. With a scream the wretch dropped his blade and Agrippa rushed him. The woman was pulled out of harm's way and the chief forced against the wall. 'Bind him, arms and legs splayed.' Reven said and Muldar and Agrippa went about tying the man to the wall making use of the same hooks he had used to secure the girl. 'Find us some breakfast and get some clothes for the woman. Leave us.'

The men moved outside with Fang leaving the the woman sitting on the floor. She was close to broken but she wore a look of pure hatred on her face as she watched Reven approach the bound man, dagger in hand. Fang stood sentinel outside the ruined door of the lodge as the band of warriors searched through the bandits belongings and made a fire.

The bandit chiefs screams were heard through the night until sunrise as Reven slowly peeled the skin from his flesh. He died when Reven invited Fang in and ordered him to remove the man's genitalia which the hound did with one swift bite leaving a gaping hole between the scum's legs. As Reven and the woman appeared from the huts entrance clothes were handed to her and a pale of water held out for him. Reven washed the blood from his hands and took his seat by the fire. 

The men sat together to enjoy their scavenged breakfast. The woman would eat nothing, she lay in the grass sobbing as they ate. Fang, preferring his food fresh, devoured a bandit. Before long the men were laughing and joking, their work done. The Hunter-Slayers had completed their quest and enacted the merchants vengeance.  It was going to be a beautiful day. 

Monday 20 July 2015

Dungeon Crawl - Epilogue

The weary remnants of the parties that had entered the dungeon made their way out in the bright midday sunshine. Missner's men and the mercenaries were a pitiful site. They all sported wounds of varying levels of seriousness and a relief force that Missner had left outside the tumble down keep rushed to help the men and tend their wounds. Missner was the only one who had entered the dungeon to have come out unscathed and watched morosely as the men made their way past him. The last of the adventurers made their way out. Borengar was propped up between Lysandra and Reven, his feet barely touching the floor. 

Reven was still covered in dry blood. The white of his teeth and eyes standing out in stark contrast to his crusted crimson skin. He and Lysandra lowered Borengar to the ground and both made their way to where Missner stood. Reven was looked upon with a mixture of awe and fear by the survivors of the dungeon. They had never seen anything like what he had become in the depths and some of them offered up prayers to their gods as he passed. Agrippa and his five remaining mercenaries that included Orwin, bashed their chests in salute. 

Missner was using his magic to heal some of the more severely wounded troops when they approached him. They let him finish his casting before running an appraising eye over his granddaughter. Satisfied she was ok he pulled Reven away from the group, out of earshot. 

'What happened in there?' Missner enquired, a genuine look of curiosity on his face. Reven rubbed the caked blood from his arms and chest. 'To honest Master Missner I don't know. I feel rage burning through me as my enemies bring me close to death. It's painful, I can't explain it.' The old man looked at him thoughtfully. 'You must travel to Blackcliff. There is a man there that may be able to help explain it.' Missner pulled parchment from his gown and muttered an arcane chant over the paper. 'Find Fedoris Brusser in the Temple of the Everguard. Give him this note. He will know what to do.' Reven took the paper which appeared to be blank. He looked at the old man again who just nodded, 'He'll be able to read it. He is a sorcerer of considerable power.' Reven stuffed the note into a pouch at his waist and bid Missner Farewell. 

Reven called 'Fang' and within moments the war hound appeared over a hill bounding towards its master. Men scattered as Fang arrived in the camp. He ran straight for Reven and immediately started licking him just as he did when he was a pup. Reven threw his arms around the hound, utter joy in his heart at seeing his friend again and he couldn't help but smile as little Sable trotted into camp and made a beeline for Borengar. 

The dwarf's injuries were bad and it was decided that he would accompany Missner, Lisandra and the remains of his company to River Rise to convalesce. Agrippa and his remaining men seemed overly keen to accompany Reven and after some discussion he conceded to letting them travel with him. The way they looked at him made him feel uncomfortable. They seemed in awe of him and it was something he wasn't use to.

After washing washing the blood and grime from the dungeon and making some makeshift repairs to his armour Reven set off. Wishing Borengar a speedy recovery and offering the beautiful Lisandra a wink he mounted Fang and trotted of with the mercenaries in a wagon that Missner had said they could use. 

Reven took a scruff of Fangs fur in one hand and rested his other hand on the hilt of Bloodthirster. He set off to an uncertain future glad to leave the horrors of the dungeon crawl behind him.

Friday 17 July 2015

Dungeon Crawl - Part 18

Orwin's eye's flickered open as he felt himself lowered to the ground. Brief glimpses of a red figure that tended to his wounds greeted him as he struggled with his vision. It muttered to itself as it worked, 'I am the vessel, the word-bearer. I am the bloody handed reaper and the collector of skulls.' Orwin winced as the bandage around his leg was tightened. He watched the figure stand and walk away before the dark of unconsciousness consumed him once again.

'I am ruin, I am death, look upon me and despair'

The goblins hit with such force that the defenders front line bowed under the pressure of their advance. Scores of the foul green skins ploughed into the defenders and where possible scrambled over the front ranks. Borengar was swinging his mighty axe for all he was worth and cutting down foes with every swing but it became apparent that the goblins were less interested in fighting the defenders and more interested in trying to get passed them. The front rank of the defenders line was made up of eight troops with Lisandra and the dwarf at it's centre, no more than this could fit across the corridor but troops were packed in behind them to bolster their strength. Missner's troops were slashing and hacking at the goblins with little or no response and soon the ground was slick with black blood, entrails and dying green skins. 

A shout from within the ranks of the goblins put and end to their desperate flight and saw them finally turn their rusted weapons on the defenders. A figure Borengar recognised was hoisted up onto the shoulders of its fellows; Ush'gar glared at the defenders. He raised his arms and started a foul incantation but his words were cut short as he was jostled and turned around by his bearers. A noise the like of which Borengar had never heard filled the passage and managed to drown out the din of battle. The fighting ceased as humans and goblins alike turned to see what approached. A blue haze appeared in the gloom at the far end of the corridor. It grew closer as the noise did. Lisandra got two of her men to lift her over the crowd so that she might see better. Past the hundreds of goblins that spread out in front of the ranks of defenders the blue light surged forward. The source of the light horrified Lisandra. An innumerable skeleton horde surged down the passage way. The blue light seeping from their very bones as the feet tapped along the stone floor. 'Gods, save us' she said as despair filled her. She was lowered to the ground as the rear ranks of the goblins erupted into screams.

'I am wrath. You will fall to your knee's'

The skeletons attacks were cumbersome at first but as the fighting became more intense the magical constructs movements became more fluid and they scythed through the goblins with ease. The pressure on the human troops was immense as the green skins pressed their ranks in a desperate attempt to escape the undead. Goblin lives were being snuffed out at an amazing rate, too scared to defend themselves they fled into the waiting blades of Missner's troops. The undead seemed to awaken an irrational primal instinct in them which was to flee at any cost. The green skins pushed over and through the human defenders, some even getting as far as Krassner's magical barrier before they were cut down by blades or magical blasts of fire care of Master Missner.

The old man was desperately trying to find the right spell to counter Krassner's ward but had been unsuccessful so far. He knew that the number of foes were too many for the small band of humans to overcome and that their salvation lay with the destruction of the wizard in the room behind them. The arrival of the skeletal horrors had awoken something in Krassner. His body had starting twitching since their arrival and as they drew closer his movements became more erratic and violent as life seemed to course back into his limbs. 

'I am the vessel. Your judgement is at hand'

The undead horde crashed into the human defenders and smashed through their ranks. The troops either side of Borengar and Lisandra were swept aside as the horde rushed through. Agrippa surged toward the duo with his remaining mercenaries and together they formed a column that fought back to back against goblin and skeleton alike. Borengar parried the weak blows of the constructs aside but it wasn't a contest of strength. The skeletons were many and attacked with one mind it made it impossible to stop every blow they dealt and all the warriors that stood against them had fresh injuries as testament to this. Borengar could see Ush'gar was still alive. He and some of his brawnier underlings were battling for their lives but the dwarf could see it was in vain. Every few seconds another goblin would fall and before long the green skin shaman stood alone. He smashed skeletons to smithereens with his magical power an for a moment seemed to halt the advance of the undead horde but the respite was a brief one. A towering monstrosity pushed through the skeletal warriors. It was a mountain of bone, a deathless ogre of immense proportions. Putrefied flesh still clung to it's bones and searing blue light burned in its eyes. Tatters of armour hung about the things bones and it wielded a huge granite club in one hand and a murderous looking hook in the other. Ush'gar bellowed as he released a blot of fire into the ogre's chest but the spell dissipated as it struck a golden amulet that hung about the creatures bony neck. The ogre responded by taking a swift step forward and bring the full weight of his club to bare on Ush'gar. The shaman raised his hands to parry the blow but it was a futile effort. The club landed with such force that it pulped the goblins body into mush, black blood spraying everywhere as there was too little left of the goblins body to contain it. The ogre carried on his advance and lumbered toward the beleaguered human defenders.

Borengar, Lisandra, Agrippa and the last of the defenders had fought there way back to the barrier and now formed a semi-circle around Master Missner who struck out with his magic. Borengar who remained at the centre of the line braced himself for the ogres attack. Missner hurled bolts of lightning at the monster but the amulet continued to cancel out the spells. Borengar dived aside as the monster smashed down with his club. The stone floor of the corridor shattered under the impact and the ogre followed up with a raking swing of his hook. Lisandra weaved out of the way of the blow but the hook still caught her a glancing blow on the shoulder spinning her to the ground and knocking the wind from her lungs. Borengar regained his feet and swung at the monstrosity, chipping the bone of its hip with his axe. The monster backhanded him with its hook wielding hand and followed up with an over hand swing of its massive club. The dwarf just managed to roll aside but sharp shards of stone cut into him as the floor shattered again under the ogre's impacts. Missner watched as the semi-circle of warriors around him shrank. He looked back into the warded room and was taken aback to find Krassner standing on the other side of the magical shield. His face was withered and he looked more like one of his skeletal minions than the man that had entered the dungeon. Krassner smiled as he reached out and swept his hand across the ward which flickered out of existence at his touch. The lack of the blue light was enough to distract Borengar from his desperate battle with the ogre who landed a sideways swipe that knocked the dwarf across the corridor. He crashed against the wall of the passage way, his pelvis shattered by the ogres blow. He fell to the floor in a heap and the morale of the defenders slipped further to see the warrior laid low. 

A calm descended over the battlefield as Krassner moved out into the troops. At some silent command the undead horde ceased its attack. The battered human defenders banded together, glad of the break in fighting and cowed by the presence of the necromancer. As he walked a blue haze appeared around him. He stood next to the ogre beast and turned to face the remnants of the Mercenaries and Missner's troops. He smiled as he addressed them, 'I found that which I sort. Power!' He cackled as blue flames of magical energy formed around him. 'This army is bound for greater things that the likes of you so I'm going to introduce you to some old friends. They are here to finish you.' His laughter boomed down the corridor as tendrils of power reached out around him. Every dead man they touched started to twitch and then struggle back to their feet. The newly risen dead sported the ghastly wounds that ended their lives and what was left of Missner's troops and Agrippa's mercenaries recoiled at the site of their former comrades. The dead advanced on the living to the sound of Krassner's cackling.

'I am ruin, I am death. Look upon me and despair' the words boomed down the corridor rendering all silent. Even Krassner's laugh faded as he turned to see the source of the godlike voice. All he could see was a shower of shattered bones as as a red glow suffused the corridor at the rear off his undead horde. With a flick of his hands the necromancer commanded his horde to stand aside and they obeyed immediately. They created a slim passage of bone through which Krassner saw his end stalking toward him. Reven was covered head to toe in bright red blood. A red glow emanated from his body as he swept past the parade of bone. 'I am judgement, the collector of skulls' he boomed as he came on.

Reven's mind was ablaze with anger. His blood ran so fast and so hot it burned his veins. He was a juggernaut, he had no fear, he was death incarnate and focus of his anger cowered before him. The skeletons crashed in either side of him trying to impede his process but he smashed them aside with blade and fist, their shattered bones lay in smoking piles in his wake. Agrippa watched wide eyed as Reven approached. He saw Krassner drawing power into himself but it faltered as his horde was destroyed before him, his power ebbing as he constructs fell.

Reven stood before the fallen wizard who visibly withered in his presence. Reven looked about him and took in the carnage that had been wrought by the fighting. He looked at his friend Borengar as he laid a hand his hand on Krassner's head. The necromancer beat his fists on Reven ineffectually, falling to his knees in supplication. The dwarf raised his head and looked straight at the evil wizard. Borengar smiled as he drank in the scene and simply said to Krassner, 'You're buggered now'. With that Reven roared and closed his hand, the pressure so great that Krassner's skull exploded in a shower of skull and brain. The wizards body flopped to the floor and the last of the skeletal horde fell.

Thursday 16 July 2015

Dungeon Crawl - Part 17

Borengar watched Missner approach as he stood at the fizzing blue magical shield. All was quiet in the room the shield protected. Krassner had slumped across the stone alter he had been chanting at. He had been this way since his wild incantation had reached its crescendo, blazing blue light had filled the chamber and then seemed to fall away to parts of the room that couldn't be seen from Borengar's view point. He would have thought the wizard dead if it wasn't for the blue lines of power that pulsed outward from the slumped body, tracing their way through the stone of the alter.

'Idiot', muttered Master Missner as he made his way to where Borengar stood in front of the barrier. His soldiers fanned out behind him, filling the corridor with bodies. Borengar looked at the man, 'Quite so. All that ranting he only managed to knock himself unconscious.' 'He's not conscious Master Steelskin. He's dead!' answered Missner. 'The fool has tampered with things beyond his ken. Necromancy my dwarf friend. The dark magical art of undeath. His own spell has consumed his life but he will rise again.' Borengar bristled and spat as if he had a bad taste in his mouth, 'Better get me through this bloody shield then old man. My axe will ensure he never leaves this place'. Missner's response was cut short as shouts of alarm echoed up the corridor. 

Missner and Borengar pushed through the troops that were straining to see the source of commotion and were greeted by the sight of Agrippa and one of his men sprinting full tilt toward the waiting soldiers. They had their weapons drawn and were both covered in sticky black blood. 'They're coming' panted a breathless Agrippa, 'Goblins, they rushed us whilst we were exploring the tunnels. Hundreds of them. We managed to slow their advance but they will be here at any moment.' As soon as the words left the mercenary captains mouth Goblins started spilling out of the side passages and heading en masse toward the startled troops. Lisandra Missner immediately started barking orders at the men who to their credit formed up in orderly ranks facing the green horde. Borengar took a place in the front rank of defenders next to the woman and they readied themselves for battle.

The wounded Orwin watched the young warrior in front of him spin away from another attack and bring his sword to bare on yet another skeletal opponent. He was mesmerised at Reven's skill, watching him as he ducked and weaved and struck with power and ferocity. The undead had backed him up as he desperately tried to prevent any of the sickening lifeless constructs from getting to Orwin. The water was still taking some of the skeletons with it. The blue light fading from their bony bodies as they fell. Orwin felt consciousness slipping away and he desperately fought to keep his eyes open but with the sound of combat ringing in his ears he could fight no longer. The image of skeletons swarming over Reven was the last thing he saw before closing his eye's and drifting into unconsciousness.  

Monday 13 July 2015

Dungeon Crawl - Part 16

Reven stepped back into the stream as the dead came on. The ghostly blue glow lighting the cavernous space before him as he looked out on the sea of bone. He could see that many of the magical constructs were heading into dark tunnels that wound up and away from the cavern floor. The ones that weren't deserting the cavern were continuing their silent advance toward Reven. He assumed a fighting stance and awaited the tide of dead to hit. 

Before they attacked a shape came splashing out of the water and stumbled into the flanks of the semi-circle of dead. Reven struggled to see what it was in the light but it's screams soon identified it as the mercenary that had accompanied him on his search. Reven splashed through the stream toward him and saw the dead pounding on him as he struggled to his feet. Reven let out a blood curding war cry as he scythed into the skeletons with Bloodthirster. They shattered under the blades weight as Reven stepped in front of the scrabbling form of his comrade, fragments of bone lofted into the air. Reven noted that the blade was heavier as he swung it for a second time, it obviously had no love for these bloodless beings and as such didn't lend any of its magical essence to the attacks but Reven didn't need any help. He risked a glance back at his companion and saw blood gushing from the man's head as he still struggled to his feet. The skeletal horde responded strangely to the attack becoming more animated and more fluid as they countered. They pushed in trying to surround Reven and the fallen mercenary but Reven fought on trying to keep an exit clear. The stumbling man took a shard of bone to the thigh as he regained his feet which sent him stumbling back again, falling into the stream. Reven smashed the skull from the shard wielders body as he fell back in time with the man.

Now knee deep in the fast flowing waters of the stream Reven helped drag the man further away from the horde who paused at the fast flowing waters edge. Tentatively the skeletal horrors pushed into the water but they lacked the weight and mass needed to fight the fast flowing currents of the stream and several lost their footing and crashed into the water. Reven used the respite to prop the mercenary up on a rock on the other side of the stream. The man was bleeding freely from several wounds to his head and a steady plume of crimson was being leaked into the stream from the deep gash in his thigh. 'What's your name soldier?' Reven asked as he tied the ripped sleeve of the man's under shirt above the wound on his thigh. 'Orwin', the man replied through gritted teeth, 'Orwin Smith'. Reven probed the cuts on the man's head as he spoke, 'Orwin, good. Stay focused and stay awake. I'm going to go and have a chat with our bony friends here and then we'll get out of here, do you understand?. Orwin nodded, 'Yes sir, I'll uh, ....I'll just wait here.' Reven smiled at the man's attempt at humour. Then he turned and met the skeletons as they continued their timid advance across the water. He smile widened into a maniacal grin as he hewed his way into the front ranks of the skeletons hoping that he hadn't just lied to Orwin. Hoping that they would both be able to walk out of here and not join the ranks of the undead.