Thursday 29 January 2015

Video of Reven's Fang Artwork

Dungeon Crawl - Part 5

The rain came down hard as Reven and Borengar trotted into the small village of Arnswept. The village was made up of run down wooden shacks with a few barns scattered around the outskirts. The fields around the village were either barren or were covered in sickly brown weeds. Arnswept did not appear to be a place that was doing well for itself. Borengar hopped off of his pony, Sable, and led her over to the inn that dominated the centre of the village. 'What a miserable place' he said as he hitched his mount to a post outside the inn. 'You'd find more cheer at a funeral' he finished. Reven couldn't help but agree, looking around there was not a soul to be seen. No one was working the fields, no one even peeking through windows at Fang who always managed to cause a stir. The village was completely silent save for the unrelenting sound of rain and wind. The pair took a last look at the dilapidated buildings before heading into the inn. Reven didn't bother tethering Fang, he wanted to leave him free in case there was trouble. The hound seemed to share the uneasy feeling Reven had about this place. 

Borengar and Reven pushed the rickety wooden door wide and strode in to the inn. The common room was empty save for a dishevelled old man who sat on a stool, slumped forward over the bar. Reven walked over to the man and gently rocked him back and forth thinking him to be asleep. As he shook harder one of the man's arms that was cradling his emaciated face fell to his side to reveal the blank stare of a dead man. Reven called out, 'Borengar, something is not right here my friend. This man is dead.' He pulled his damp hair out of his face and pushed it down the back of his cloak which he flicked over his shoulder to reveal the sword in its scabbard at his side, he wanted to be ready and his feeling of unease was growing. Borengar drew his axe from his back and the companions walked behind the bar to investigate further. 'This is very strange' said Borengar, 'How are we to find Krassner if the only people around here to ask are dead?' The dwarf huffed as he moved into the back room of the inn which had signs that people had been here recently. A pot of stew hung over a fire pit in the middle of the room, fresh loaves of bread lay at rest on the kitchen counter which upon investigation were still warm to the touch. 'Hello' shouted Reven, 'anybody here?', no answer came. 'A dead man at the bar. Food ready to eat in the kitchen. What is going on in Arnswept?' Reven posed the question to Borengar but before he could answer a roar from outside brought them rushing back through the bar and bursting through it's front door into the street. 

Fang was roaring at a group of skinny looking men and women that were hurling rocks and sticks at him and Sable. The war hound had placed his considerable bulk between the crowd and the pony to protect it and the missiles bounced off him ineffectually. The crowd were about thirty strong and and looked only slightly more alive than the dead man in the bar. 'What is the meaning of this?' shouted Reven. The crowd ceased their their attack and parted to allow the fattest man Reven had ever seen pass between them. The man's belly was so large he used silk scarves to hold it off the floor and his bald head sweated with the exertion. His bright turquoise robes didn't seem affected by the rain; in fact the man would have been completely dry if it wasn't for the perspiration. He came to a stop in front of the crowd and let his enormous gut fall to the floor and spoke in a clear deep voice 'Leave this place, Arnswept doesn't suffer strangers or fools and you look to be both. Be off with you' The words struck Reven with the power and compulsion of a large wave. He staggered back and at once went to mount Fang. Borengar grasped his arm and pulled him away from the hound. He noted that Reven didn't struggle and he wore a blank expression on his face. 'Your words are tainted with foul magic sorcerer. But I am a dwarf and not so easy to compel as weak minded humans'. The fat man baulked at Borengar's words and looked decidedly uneasy. 'Kill the dwarf' he shouted at the crowd and they swarmed round him obediently. 

Borengar spun Reven to face him and hit him hard across the face with his gauntleted hand. Reven fell to one knee under the force of the blow but it had the desired effect. Reven awoke from his stupor and resisted the compulsion the magician had placed upon him. Rising to his feet he drew his sword and faced the shambling crowd in front of him. 'It doesn't sit well butchering these poor folk', Borengar said readying his axe, 'We need to get to fatty and put an end to his meddling.' Reven nodded his agreement and tried to run round the edge of the crowd but their hands grabbed him and pulled him in. He felt sticks being beaten against his back and shoulders. Somebody smashed him in the face with a rock that staggered him. Reven's anger ignited, his veins burning with liquid hatred. He head-butted the closest assailant shattering the man's nose and sending a spray of blood over the zombie-like crowd. He lashed out with his fists felling more  of the bone bags before him. There may be more of the crowd but they were as weak as small children and hard pressed to match Reven for speed. He hit another man so hard in the ribs that he heard them snap with a loud crack. He broke free of the crowd as Fang waded into the action. The hound understood what was happening and used his massive head to bat the crowd away from Borengar who was hot on Reven's heals. Fang kept them busy as they raced after the big sorcerer. 

He hadn't got far. His clothes were now soaked with sweat and he was making a poor job of getting away. When Borengar and Reven caught him he had only managed to travel about twenty paces from where he had started. As they neared they could hear him mumbling under his breath. Borengar swung his axe at the man's back but unbelievably he moved out of the way with preternatural speed and turned on the dwarf smashing him so hard in the face with his fist that the dwarf was knocked to the floor. 'My magic may not work on you my stunted friend but it works on me just fine.' Borengar tried to recover himself but the sorcerer lifted his enormous belly over the dwarf and dropped it on his head. The dwarf kicked out and strained against the fat but it was smothering him and he was struggling for breath. 'Now my young friend' the sorcerer said to Reven, 'Gut this stunted pain in the arse. I have a terrible hunger and must be getting on.' Reven struggled against the sorcerer's will his hand drifted to the hilt of his sword and slowly he started drawing the blade. Only one thought entered his mind and summoning all his strength he cried out,'Faaaannnggg!' The war hound reacted immediately trampling members of the crowd he had been corralling under foot as he rushed towards Reven. 

Borengar had ceased his struggles and Reven had drawn his sword and held it high ready to strike. With the war hounds approach the magicians power over Reven was waning. The sorcerer stumbled backward stretching his enormous gut as he did so. Reven and Fang struck in unison. Reven's sword sang through the air before slicing cleanly through the massive folds of skin that made up the sorcerers stomach. Simultaneously Fang bit down through the fat man's torso, removing his head, shoulder and arm with his huge jaws. Reven sliced the remnants of the stomach again which split in half revealing the prone form of Borengar underneath. Fang started coughing and choking as he tried to swallow the chunk of the sorcerer. Reven had never seen him struggle to swallow anything before and looking at the remains of the stomach he understood why. The flesh was crawling with fat black maggots. Thousands of them writhed out of the flesh. They poured from the sorcerers torso creating a living carpet under Reven and Fang's feet. Borengar spluttered as he regained his breath and frantically started flicking maggots off of him. Fang wretched and brought the foul meat of the sorcerers head and shoulder up in one fat lump, it landed on the floor with a wet smack. He pawed at his face trying to remove the maggots that were crawling through his fur. Reven grabbed Borengar and dragged him clear of the teaming mass of bloated maggots. Fang bounced away shaking his head. As Reven pulled the dwarf clear of the black pool of creatures they started to pool together. The maggots started to rise and take form as they did so. Reven and Borengar stood and watched in horror as the creatures formed the likeness of the sorcerer, 'Fools' the thing screamed in a voice more akin to a demon than a man, 'You have sealed you fate' it roared taking a step forward into the puddles of maggots. Reven watched as it raised it arms and started muttering an incantation. He continued to watch as Fang ran at the thing and swiped through the thing with one of his huge paws. In an instant the maggots turned to a swarm of bloated flies that buzzed away until the sound was lost in the torrential down[pour of the rain. All that remained was a pool of black maggot skin that shimmered in the water. Fang approached Reven and bowed his head and Reven ruffled his fur and brought his head up so he looked the hound in the eye. 'Thank you my friend' he said as he gently picked maggot skin from his fur.

The rain had cleared quickly after the sorcerers departure. The residents of the village that were well enough to talk had shared the tale of their downfall with Reven and Borengar. The sorcerer had arrived in the village a few weeks before and not long after he had arrived he had exerted his control over the villagers. none of them had eaten since he had came. The crowd that faced Reven and his companions were the last of a village that numbered over a hundred souls. The others had faced the same fate as the man who still sat slumped over the bar. They had starved to death. Many of the crowd who were now released from the sorcerers enchantment wouldn't survive. To weak to stand without the magicians spell they would now succumb to the weeks of starvation they had endured. The meal that was waiting to be eaten was for the fat sorcerer. Upon his arrival the crops had started dying as had the livestock, the man's very presence was a cancer that ate away at the village. The villagers were grateful to Reven and Borengar but they would never be free of the memory of their enslavement and the sadness they now felt weighed heavy on them. 

As Reven and his party departed they took one last look at the village of Arnswept and sorrow hung in their hearts. 'Curse all magicians. Power hungry meddlers the lot of 'em' Borengar commented as they passed beyond the borders of the settlement. 'I've a feeling we'll be running in to fatty again and I for one can't wait'. 'He'll soon get what's coming to him I'm sure. Lets concentrate on Krassner for now.' Reven said as he spurred Fang on. 

From on high a swarm of fat, bloated flies tracked the adventurers progress. They seemed to form a smile in the clear blue sky before they let themselves be carried away on the wind.

Thursday 22 January 2015

Dungeon Crawl - Part 4

Reven, Borengar and Fang arrived outside Krassner's house at mid-morning. It hadn't taken long to locate where the man lived as many people recognised their description of his bright orange robes. Most people they spoke to referred to him as the wizard; they would ask the question and the response would be 'Oh, you mean the wizard.' They remained sceptical of Krassner's status as a user of magic, if he was a powerful mage then why would he have needed Reven and Borengar's assistance in acquiring the book? It didn't make sense but they would soon find out exactly what the man was up to. 

Borengar rapped on the door of the house loudly. It was a plain enough looking building even though it was in a well to do area. It sat on a terraced street, the buildings were all made of smooth dark grey stone and stood three stories high. Borengar banged harder on the door this time and still there was no answer. 'Do you think the bugger is trying to avoid us?' he said to Reven over his shoulder. He took a step back and shifted his weight making ready to charge the door. Borengar was stubborn as all dwarves are and wouldn't let a closed door stand between him and Krassner. Just as he started his charge at the door it swung inward and Borengar checked his run, coming to a stop in front of a surprised woman who stood in the doorway. From the way she was dressed Reven assumed she was a maid or housekeeper of some sort. He stepped forward, 'Excuse me Ma'am, is this the Krassner residence?', Reven enquired in his most polite manner. The woman blanched a little at the site of these two ruffians at her door. 'No, he left on business early this morning.' and with that answer she made to close the door. 'Do you know where he went?' Borengar asked putting his foot on the threshold so the door couldn't be closed. 'Why everybody is so interested in where he's going is beyond me.' she said trying to push the door shut. 'Who's everybody?', Reven asked moving closer to the woman. She looked from Borengar to Reven and back again lingering on the dwarf's imposing foot and sighed, 'Fine. My master travels west toward Blackcliff, but I know not exactly where his journey leads. You just missed another lot that were enquiring about Master Krassner's whereabouts. An old man, a young woman and more louts like yourselves', you could hear the anger in her voice becoming more pronounced as she spoke and she ended her speech by kicking Borengar in the shin forcing him to move his leg and slamming the door. 'I think whatever that book contained it must be worth a great deal more than what we were paid for its recovery' said Borengar as he hobbled away from the door. Reven nodded his agreement, 'There was an old man and a woman at the house I took the book from. It may be a coincidence but if Krassner had already tried getting the book off them they must have suspected he was involved in the theft. I feel that somebody will be getting rich very soon as as it stands its not going to be us'. The dwarf smiled, 'I've nothing better to do. We could take a trip. If nothing else there is always mercenary work in Blackcliff, that area is always being raided by orcs and the like'. Reven nodded, 'Good.' he signalled to Fang to approach and climbed on the beast back. 'Get your things together, I'll meet you at the north gate in a few hours. I have to visit the smithy before we leave.' Borengar shouted his assent as Fang bounded off down the street.

Borengar watched as Reven approached on Fang. The war hound had a little more armour thanks to the previous days would-be attackers and Reven looked like he had spent some of his earnings on some new equipment. The crowds near the gate gave Fang a wide berth. As Reven neared he could see that the youth was leading a pony by a long rope and new exactly who it was intended for. Reven climbed off Fang's back and hoped down in front of the dwarf. He had new matt black metal vambraces, shin guards and a sculpted breast plate to match. Reven pulled in the rope and the pony trotted forward obediently. Borengar looked the pony up and down and simply said, 'No'. Reven ignored him, 'Borengar, this is Sable, your new mount' he patted the ponies side and spoke to the pony, 'Sable, this is your grumpy new rider Borengar'. Borengar huffed, 'You can wipe that smile off your face' he said to Reven, 'I'll not be riding that beast anywhere.' 'You will if we want to catch Krassner. You dwarves are hardly known for your speed and Sable here is my solution to that very pressing problem. So mount up' with that Reven tossed the rope to Borengar who flapped at it before finally grasping it and pulling the pony close. 'Just this once then.....foul smelling beast. It's alright for Mr Fancy Pants in his new armour...', he was hush unceremoniously by Reven who proceeded to head out the gate. Borengar climbed awkwardly in Sable's saddle and spurred her on. She trotted dutifully after Reven and Fang, out of the city and on to adventure.

Wednesday 21 January 2015

Dungeon Crawl - Part 3

Reven and Borengar once again found themselves in The Pot Bellied Orc awaiting Krassner's arrival. Reven turned the book over in his hands examining the leather bound tome. He had read pieces of it and didn't understand what was so special about the book. It seemed to be about nothing in particular, parts in it were about architecture, others about the design of suits of armour. There was no clear correlation between the various passages and he did wonder if there could have been two books in the library that bore the same name. Borengar joined him at the table with two freshly poured pints of beer. 'Serving girls here are terrible. It says a lot when a dwarf has to fetch his own beer' he said as he sat heavily in his chair. He looked genuinely put out that he had to travel the ten or so paces to the bar and back. He set about draining his pint as Reven watched Krassner enter the inn. He was flanked by two burly body guards who went and hovered at the bar as Krassner took his seat at the table. 'I see you were successful my friends' Krassner said as he stretched his hand out to take the book. Reven pulled it away, 'There is the matter of our payment to be settled Mr Krassner' Reven said holding the book to his chest. Borengar looked on approvingly whilst using his beard to wipe beer from his lips. Krassner fumbled at his belt and slapped down a pouch full of coins onto the table top. Borengar snatched it up and eyed the contents nodding his approval at Reven who handed the book to Krassner. Krassner snatched it away stroking the cover tenderly as if it were a new born babe. 'Thank you gentleman. May I ask one last boon of you? Can I perhaps borrow a dagger?', Reven cocked an eyebrow at the strange request but handed over his dagger none the less. Krassner worked the blade around the edge of the books cover whilst Borengar and Reven looked on. After carefully cutting around the book he peeled the leather cover off and looked and examined the backside of the leather, a smile spreading across his face. He pushed the dagger back across the table toward Reven. 'Thank you again. We won't be seeing each other again. Enjoy your payment' Krassner rose still grinning broadly. Reven thought he saw him nod his head ever so slightly at his men at the bar before he hurried out of the bar. The men didn't follow but instead turned to the bar and ordered drinks. 'Well' Borengar said, 'That may have been the easiest coin I have ever earned' he sat back with a bemused look on his face, 'More beer?' he asked and got up heading to the bar knowing what Reven's answer would be. Krassner's men at the bar glanced at the dwarf and then at Reven, sharing a private joke as they did so. There was no doubt in Reven's mind of what the men's intent was. They intended to return Krassner's money at the expense of Reven and Borengar's lives.

Krassner's men watched as the youth and the dwarf got deep in their cups. The serving girl was constantly walking back and forth from the bar bringing them pint after pint. Krassner was right, they were frittering away their pay on beer and from the amount of whispering the youth was doing in the serving girls ear he hoped to spend some on women as well. They watched as the youth, Reven, got up and shouted about needing the privy. He staggered across the inn and out of the door, the purse of coins dangling from his belt. They decided with a look that they should take him now, they could finish the dwarf later. Pushing through the inn's patrons they followed Reven out on to the street and down a side alley. They watched him disappear into the pitch black and readied their daggers. They heard him retch as the effects of fresh air and too much beer took hold and they took it as their sign to get about their work.  They grinned as they entered the all encompassing darkness; killing a man as drunk as this and as sick as this would be easy.
They didn't smell his musk as they approached. There was no tell tale glint from his thick armour thanks to the darkness. They didn't hear his breath rasping through his dagger like fangs. He stood motionless, waiting. He had answered the silent call sent to him by his brother who now stood at his side. He watched as they searched for Reven, their eyes unaccustomed to the dark. And when they came close enough he struck.

Reven watched as Fang decapitated his stalkers with two swift bites. One fell sidewards, twitching as his lifeblood spurted over the alleyways fence. The other collapsed straight down in a heap, his armour propping him up. He sat in front of Fang, arms hanging forward in a gesture of supplication. Reven walked forward and kicked the man over. Smiling at Fang he patted the huge beast on the snout and nuzzled his face into fangs shoulder. 'Thank you my friend', said Reven, 'Time for dinner.' Borengar appeared in the mouth of the alley, 'Reven, is all well?', 'We're fine. Krassner's men on the other hand seem to have completely lost theirs heads.' Reven was removing their armour as he spoke and Borengar moved to help him. Knowing what was coming turned the dwarfs stomach but Fang was an effective method of disposing of bodies.

They stripped the armour and stowed it in bags the hung from Fang's side. They would be taken to a smith where the grieves, vambraces, breast and back plates would be flattened to be added to the various pieces of armour that already covered Fang. They had done this many times over the past few years and the various armoured trophies just added to the war hounds menace. Reven took the few coins the men carried and added it to their purse. 'How do you do that?' Borengar asked Reven, 'Do What?' he responded, 'Call the beast without uttering a sound, it's unnerving'. Reven paused before answering, he placed his hand on Fang's head as he bit through a torso, 'We're brothers, we share a bond. As time passes it grows stronger. He knows my thoughts as I know his, two bodies one mind. He gains the use of my intellect and I gain some of his abilities. It's a mutually beneficial relationship' he finished by ruffling the fur on Fangs huge head and turning to face Borengar. 'I owe him my life as he owes me his. He is no beast to me, he is a friend, a family.' Borengar nodded despite not really knowing where Reven was coming from. When he looked at Fang he just saw a mound of muscle and teeth. 'Well...will you brother be joining us in the inn? Drinking that watered down beer to fool our recently departed friends have given me a terrible thirst.' Reven smiled and clapped his friend on the back, 'No, Fang needs his rest. I'm going to introduce him to Krassner tomorrow.' They both chuckled as they made their way back inside The Pot Bellied Orc. Time to properly celebrate their recently found wealth.

Monday 19 January 2015

Dungeon Crawl - Part 2

Reven and Borengar made their way down Storland Street. Krassner's prize book was in a house at the end of the road. It was several hours after nightfall and the street was deserted. The only light came from a few torches that were burning the last of their wicks. The night sky was full of clouds and the moon was nowhere to be seen. Reven glanced around as he walked and thought to himself what a  perfect night it was for mis-deeds. This was an upmarket residential area and as such wasn't prone to wandering drunks or crowds of rowdy youths that had been turned out of an inn. Reven couldn't help but think the life of a burglar wouldn't be a bad one if all streets were like this. Borengar started to slow as they approached the end of the street. It was a cul-de-sac, with only an alley leading off to the side of the last house that sat at the end facing the street. It was three stories tall and surrounded by a spiked fence that stood 10 feet tall. Krassner's associate obviously took his privacy seriously. They concealed themselves in the darkness of a nearby doorway and surveyed the building. It was set back from the rest so they couldn't go over the roofs. The fence meant it would be difficult for both of them to get over. Borengar's short stature and heavy set frame made a stealthy climb over the fence an impossibility the dwarf without a rope. Reven cursed leaving Fang behind, they could have easily climbed the war hound to make a leap over the fence but it wasn't to be. Borengar eyed the lock on the main gate to the house and removed small tools indicating that he could attempt to pick the lock. Reven didn't fancy going in alone so he nodded his agreement and Borengar crept forward in the shadows and then made his way along the metal railings of the fence to the centre of the street where the gate sat over the roadway. Reven waited impatiently in the gloom of the doorway, nerves on edge. After ten minutes he couldn't take any more and silently stalked over to where Borengar was toiling with the lock. 'What's taking so long?' he hissed at the dwarf. 'Well, I took these tools off a thief in a card game' he said as if that explained everything. 'And?...', Reven pushed him after a short silence. 'He never showed me how to use them' the dwarf said matter of factly. 'So you don't really know what your doing?, your just poking the tools into the hole in the hope that the gate will magically open?', Reven couldn't hide the look of consternation from his face. 'Errr, no. I thought it would be simple. I...errr...' he trailed off and looked sheepishly at Reven, 'Sorry. I'm a dwarf, I thought it would come naturally'. Reven shook his head disapprovingly and turned his attention back to the fence. He ushered Borengar back into the shadows and outlined the plan. Reven would go over the top and climb to a second floor window, locate the library on that floor where Krassner had told them the book would be located and then get out as quick as possible. Borengar didn't like the idea of not being included but conceded it was the quickest way of getting the job done.

Reven made short work of the fence, choosing a spot that was shrouded in darkness near the edge of the house to make his move. He landed gently on a soft patch of grass and stooping low made his way to the closest part of the buildings wall. He took the opportunity to peak inside the first window he came to and was greeted by a well furnished sitting room. Knick-knacks adorned shelves an tables. Statuettes, animal skulls, vases, rolls or parchment and more were scattered throughout the room. Whoever Krassner's friend was he obviously liked collecting junk. He hoped that whoever he was he kept is library in better order than he did this sitting room. Reven moved to the corner of the building. The brick work met each other in an odd manner here where bricks stood out. It made it the best place to start his climb. He glanced over his shoulder to where Borengar would be hiding for reassurance. The dwarf was still hiding in the gloom and despite and knew the nod he gave Reven wouldn't be seen but gave it anyway. He watched as his partner in crime scaled the wall with surprising speed soon making his way to a window at the corner of the second floor. Borengar could see him straining against the frame, it looked like he was trying to rip the window from the wall which is almost what happened. 

Reven had noticed the rot round the frame of the old window and proceeded to pull it apart. It came away a little too easily and crumbled in his hand. As the bottom of the frame came away the glass slipped to the sill and cracked much more loudly than Reven would have liked. He paused waiting for a light to appear in the house in response to the noise but nothing came. The crack that run down the glass had separated it into three pieces and Reven removed these and tossed them away to the grass by the fence. Each one landed silently and after letting a few more rotten bits of frame fall away Reven drew his dagger and made his way through the window. As soon as he stepped inside he knew he'd picked the wrong room for his entry. On his left was a bed which contained and elderly man who was contentedly snoring so loudly that Reven soon understood why nobody had come to investigate the noise of the window cracking. Reven opened the door to the room and shut it behind him again, breathing a sigh of relief as it closed quietly. He stopped to listen for signs of any movement in the house and moved on searching through doorways when he was happy no one was awake. 

When he reached the library he was horrified to find that not only was it massive but that there was also yet another sleeping resident of the house snoozing in an armchair in front of a huge fire that dominated the centre of the  room. He wouldn't be able to leave this one alone and carry out a search of the stacks of books, it would be too noisy. He crept toward the chair that was facing away from him. He could only see the occupant of the chairs head as it lolled onto the chairs brown leather arm. Reven felt the heat from the fire on his skin as he approached and he could now here the intake of breath from his soon to be victim over the crackle of the flames. Reven sidled up the the back of the large leather chair and brought his dagger up as he edged round it to come face to face with a stunningly beautiful woman. He dropped his guard and straightened up, his jaw going slack as he took in every inch of this beautiful being. The woman lay curled up on the chair with a book nestled in the crook between her legs and her stomach. She wore only a red gown that gaped revealing enough of the flesh of her breasts and legs that Reven felt a stirring in his loins. He stood there so transfixed by the brunette beauty who slumbered before him that he didn't even notice the rooms other resident creeping up on his blind side. As Reven bent down to inspect the woman more closely he rested a hand on the book and dropped into a crouch. He felt an overwhelming desire to kiss her and started leaning in closer, that was until he heard the snarl. He turned his head slowly to to see that a dog that looked like a small wolf had padded silently up behind him. The dog was at face height whilst Reven was crouched and he spun his whole body to face the beast whilst rising slowly and backing away from the chair. The dog matched his movements and followed him crouching, ready to strike. As soon soon as it was passed the chair it pounced and Reven caught it  in flight, wrapping both his hands round the dogs neck. He nicked it's nose with the edge of his dagger as he wrestled the animal under control. He rolled on top of it pinning it's body to the floor with the weight of his own and then holding it's mouth shut stared seep into its eyes willing it to stop its attack. The hound ceased its struggle and lay still under Reven as the weight of his will penetrated its brain. Reven had found that his kinship with animals went beyond his bond with Fang and that he could exert his control over most animals he came across. He rolled off the hound releasing it as he did so. As he rolled onto his back he was greeted by the sight of the now wide awake woman who screamed as she launched a vase at Reven's head. He took the blow on the forehead and the vase shattered on impact.  Slightly dazed Reven rolled again and got to his feet just in time to dodge a book that had been hurled by the woman. He ducked the missile and covered the ground between them with lightning speed, banging into her roughly and placing a hand over her mouth to stop her screams. Hi momentum took them to the ground and he landed heavily on top of her causing a muffled scream. He pinned her arms to her side with her knees and spoke quietly. 'Please Miss, I have no quarrel with you. please stop screaming, I mean no harm.' The woman tried screaming again in answer to his words and Reven had to push his hand even harder against her face to stop her cries. 'Fine' he said, 'Here is your book' He showed her the book he had taken from her lap that had been dropped in the struggle with the hound. In return for it I want you to tell me where a book called....' he trailed off as he looked at the spine of the book he was holding toward the woman. It was simply titled , De Regiciener, and at once Reven knew he already had what he sought. 'Actually, never mind my lady. I'll just see myself out.' He jumped off the woman and headed for the library door. The woman was screaming at him as he ran, loud enough that anybody else in the house wouldn't be long in coming to investigate her cries. 

Reven barrelled down the corridor sliding to a stop outside the last door, the one he used to get in. He could hear more voices raised in alarm behind him and before he had a chance to himself, an elderly man opened the door in front of him. The man stood in his night shirt with a look of complete surprise on his face. Reven pushed past him and made for the open window in the corner of the room. Once through he climbed down the bricks again, tucking the book inside his jerkin as he did so. He could here a commotion coming from the front of the house as he hit the ground and saw men running in all directions from the houses front door. Two headed toward him and he wasted no time in running for the part of fence that he had climbed earlier. Hidden from his pursuers eyes he reached the fence in no time and scrambled up the metal railings. The men rounded the corner of the building in time to see Reven sprinting away up the road. Borengar had already taken flight and moved at surprising speed for somebody with such small legs. As Reven caught him he slipped the book out of his jerkin and waved it at the dwarf. Borengar smiled and they continued running off into the night.

Sunday 11 January 2015

Dungeon Crawl - Part 1

The town of Sellport sat nestled on the coast in the south of Orland. A thriving port it brought in spices, rare stones, silks and other materials from all over Atla. It shipped out the precious ore that Orland took it's name from and enjoyed its status as one of the largest port cities in the land. Sellport had a dark underbelly though; it was the main route for smuggling contraband into the country. A hive of smugglers, dopers, slavers and other less than reputable traders, it attracted the worst of the worst from all over Orland. Strolling down Prince's Street or walking up Emperor's Way you would think it was a town doing well off of its trade. The large sprawling houses and the well tended gardens gave an air of opulence and luxury to the more well to do areas of the city, but it was the slums where the real action was. The majority of the poorer residents of the city were given gainful employment by men and women that liked to live on the wrong side of the law. Whore houses, drug dens, gambling clubs and inns of ill repute were the big earners in the slums as the people who lived there desperately tried to forget  their miserable lives, willing away the hours getting head, getting off their head, or losing their heads dependant on their luck. 

One of these slums was called Minstrel's Alley.  The Pot Bellied Orc was the liveliest of the inns in this part of town especially around late evening. Reven sat alone by the window nursing his ale as he looked out onto the street to view the wide birth that Fang was commanding from passers-by. In the last few years they had visited many towns and cities and Reven had learnt long ago that if he tethered Fang to a post as most did their horses people were more accepting of the beast in their midst. The fact that fang was now as tall as a carthorse and almost twice as wide meant that people treated him with reverence and kept their distance. A few of the smaller villages they had visited had asked that Reven and his companion leave, not believing that the war hound could be trusted not to kill and eat the villagers. He was an awe inspiring sight and he had got Reven out of trouble more times than he could count since they had been ejected from The Order of the Black Veil. Reven wasn't a fan of cities. He spent much of his time in them away from his friend as due to Fang's size he struggled to fit though most doors unless they belonged to a barn or stable. But unfortunately cities is where the money was and Reven and Fang were running short on funds. 

Money was in fact the reason for Reven's visit to Sellport. He and some sellswords had escorted a merchants caravan from Ux, south across the plains and to the docks of the city where the merchants offloaded their wares to the waiting ships. It was one of the sellswords, a dwarf by the name of Borengar Steelskin, that had set up this meeting in the Pot Bellied Orc with Reven's next prospective employer. Borengar was running late and Reven had been sipping the same pint for the past half hour, shooing away the serving girl whenever she would approach. Experience had taught him that having a clear head when negotiating fees for his services was always prudent. As Reven returned to looking at Fang through the window he spotted the squat form of Borengar marching down the street toward the inn. He was accompanied by a tall man in bright orange robes which looked almost like they were on fire in the torchlight of the street. He sported a long black beard that almost rivalled the dwarves in length and carried a black staff that was topped with a large crimson gem. Reven straightened his jerkin and waited for the unlikely duo to enter the inn.

Borengar wasted no time in ordering in a round of ales. Shouting to the serving girl even before he and his companion had taken their seats with Reven. Borengar greeted Reven with a nod, 'This young Reven is Arnold Krassner' the dwarf said inclining his head toward the man.  'He has a very interesting proposition that he would like to talk to us about' he continued. 'This Mr Krassner is Reven and the beast you shied away from outside is his Fang' Borengar's deep voice was so captivating that some of the other patrons had turned to see who owned it and Arnold Krassner took this as his cue to speak in considerably quieter tones than the dwarf. 'I have heard tales of your exploits Reven. Borengar has been most forthcoming about you abilities when it comes to matters of the sword.' The serving girl slapped down three pints of ale interrupting Krassner who shooed her away without even sparing her a glance. Reven wasn't sure if he liked the man yet but continued listening as he spoke; one man's money was as good as anothers after all. 'There is a particular item that I would like you and Borengar to obtain for me. Unfortunately it's currently in the possession of an associate of mine who seems to be unwilling to part with it for any sum of money. It is my desire for this object that leads me to this establishment and to this meeting with fellows as fine as yourselves.' There was a sneer on Krassner's lips as he spoke of the establishment. Reven could tell he was an educated man and one who had likely never stepped foot in a place like the Pot Bellied Orc. His disdain for the place was clearly visable on his bearded face. Borengar drained the last of his ale and burped loudly before addressing Krassner, 'So you want us to alleviate your associate of this item and return it to you. What is it? A gem, an artifact of power?'. 'Nothing so exciting I'm afraid. The item I wish you to procure is a simple book. A tome that is valuable to me beyond any amount of money. I care not how you get it or what state you leave my associate in once you have located it. I just want that book.' His eyes flickered between Reven and Borengar before he spoke again. 'For your services I will pay you a thousand gold pieces.' Borengar raised an eyebrow and nudged Reven's arm at this news but Krassner hadn't finished, 'Each.' Before Reven could speak Borengar had leapt out of his seat screaming 'Done!' He fixed Reven with a stare, greed visible in his eyes. Reven rolled his eyes and settled down to listen as Krassner filled them in on exactly what he wanted them to do.

Friday 9 January 2015

Dungeon Crawl

Art for the Dungeon Crawl series from
Reven's Fang - Dungeon Crawl
The next fantasy story from Reven's Fang will be Dungeon Crawl. Set several years after the events of Scent we'll see Reven pitted against creatures born of nightmares and perils greater than he has ever faced before. 

Watch this space....

Tuesday 6 January 2015

Scent: Epilogue

The raiders fled north after the battle at Einder's Keep and straight into the militia that had been hunting them from the city of Bergen. They were slaughtered mercilessly and Bergen's Guard-Commander took full credit for their destruction and keeping the lands in western Orland safe. 

Very few of Sanya's troops survived the battle at the keep. Almost a hundred of them defended it prior to the battle and now less than twenty lived and most of those that did were wounded and most likely would not fight again. Captain's Goren and Ingerham, with the few other able bodied troops that had survived made camp in the Freemarch Forest awaiting their mistresses return from Vardenfell, where she had business with The Order. That business was Reven and what his future would hold.

When Reven had ridden into the keep he was an awful sight to behold. His many wounds bled openly and Fang's sides where soaked with Reven's blood. He no longer shouted with the voice of a god but lay slumped forward on his friends back, unconscious and fading. He was treated with the rest of the wounded but many of the men would keep their distance from him after what they had witnessed on the battlefield. Superstition took hold and only Goren and Sanya would spend any time by his side. Reven's recovery from his wounds was remarkably fast. The day after the battle the remnants of the company were making ready to leave and Reven was already up and around and trying to be of use. The criss-cross of cuts that marred his young skin were already healing and the speed of his recovery only widened the gap of trust between him and the troopers of Sanya's company. Goren travelled next to Reven for the long march back to Vardenfell. Fang was the only one who seemed to be unaffected by the events at the keep. He played in the leaves and darted though the trees of the forest just as he always did. His affection for Reven had only seemed to grow and he and Fang spent more time together solidifying their bond.

Sanya, Reven and Fang left the troopers and headed on to Vardenfell and back to The Deep. Reven was presented to Master Ulfram and stood and listened whilst Mistress Sanya recounted the events of the past few weeks. Ulfram was disturbed by Reven's actions at Einder's Keep and released him from Sanya's control until the Master of Bone could be consulted. Reven was put back into his old cell in The Deep and awaited the verdict on what was to be done with him. 

The Master of Bone tried to recreate the circumstances of Reven's unnatural revival by bleeding him almost dry to awaken the power that lay dormant within him without success. A team of Warriors of Bone were sent to the battleground to discern if there were mystical forces bound to the place to but no avail. After much deliberation Reven and Fang were eventually ejected from The Order and sent away to face the world of Atla alone.

Sunday 4 January 2015

Scent: Part 34

Ropes were thrown over the invaders standard and Reven's naked, battered, bleeding body was hoisted up on to it. His arms spread wide, his body was a lattice work of knife cuts and puncture wounds. The raiders had been overly cruel to the interloper and bled him to within an inch of his life. Now he was held aloft to the baying crowd for their entertainment and as a warning to the defenders in the keep; a promise of the fate that befall all of those who opposed the horde. 

Reven's vision was blurred by the constant stream of blood the flowed into his eyes. He was beyond feeling pain. He felt himself lurch forward as the bearers of the banner moved toward the keep. Although he couldn't see it he knew that the attack had begun. The raiders voices were raised in bloodthirsty cries, beating their axes and swords on their shields they surged toward Einder's Keep and their inevitable victory. Reven's head bobbed against his chest as if he were afloat at sea, blood trickled down the shaft of the standard which wobbled and shook as its bearers struggled to keep it upright with his added weight. He felt a warm wind wash over him and heard the screams of the invaders in front of him. He was glad to feel anything as his life ebbed away.

Sanya unleashed her spell and a curtain of fire smashed in to the front ranks of the attackers, immolating them. Their flesh ran like water under the intense heat of the magical fire and Sanya laughed maniacally at the damage she had wrought. Kaleth had already started her charge and smashed into the side of the attackers line, tearing and rending flesh with tooth and claw. Warriors of Iron rushed in either side of her hacking and bludgeoning the raiders with a zeal born of pure unadulterated fury. The sight of Reven's mutilated body had not sewn the seed of fear the raiders had hoped. Instead it had fanned the flames of hatred and driven Sanya's troopers into a killing frenzy. Captain Ingerham hadn't even waited for the raiders to batter the drawbridge down, in his haste to spill blood he cut the ropes and let the bridge crash down on the attackers heads; crushing and drowning them under its bulk. He was now butchering all that came within reach of his axe. Goren and his scouts, still on the battlements,  were loosing arrows into the throng as fast as they could, each one finding a fleshly host. Sanya brought back her arms as she incanted, ready to send another wave of fiery death down upon the invaders. Even as she revelled in the devastation her troopers were inflicting on their foes she knew that it wouldn't be enough.

Chief Harnvok watched as his mass of troops swarmed forward. He cursed the witch and her foul magics. The price of destroying these meddlers would be higher than he expected but a warrior was measured by his enemies and his victory here would only add to his legend when it was written. The beast on his right flank was doing as much if not more damage than the woman but he had dispatched men with long spears and he was confident it would soon be brought down. He glanced over his shoulder at the battered body dangling from his standard,  a smile creeping across his face. The boy was big for his age and he took more punishment than most hardened warriors would have been able to take. He still clung to life even though Harnvok was sure that he didn't cling to any hope. He turned back to the battle in front of him, waiting for the tide to turn as it inevitably would. He didn't have to wait long before the assault of the tiny defending force started to falter. He knew it would, greater numbers would always win the day. The defenders at the keeps bridge were being driven back. The attack on his flank slowed as the beast drove too deeply into the raider ranks and lost the band of warriors that were protecting it's sides. Soon the arrows would stop falling from the battlements as their supplies dwindled and then they would sweep the defenders aside. There was a measure of respect for these warriors.For so small a number they had taken a horrific toll in their defence. Maybe showing off the boys battered body wasn't the best idea he thought looking once more upon the bloodied body.

Captain Goren was the last man on the battlements. His men had followed Sanya down the stairs to bolster Ingherham and his men. He watched as his friends troops lost more ground as the press of raiders squeezed between the arches of the keeps gate. The ground was thick with blood, entrails and the fallen bodies of friend and foe that lay strewn across the cobblestones of the keeps floor. He gazed out across to where Kaleth's advance had faltered. He couldn't see the men that had been sent to assist her and she was now being jabbed and harried by men with long spears. The war hound was near unstoppable when she had room to move put they pressed her on all side finding chinks in her armour and stabbing their spear tips into her thickly muscled flesh. Some of the raiders were using the vines that grew up the old walls of the keep to climb the battlements. They would soon be upon Goren and as he stared out at the horde of raiders he almost felt glad death was coming. He stole a glance at Sanya, she had made her way to the front rank of defenders and stood shoulder to shoulder with Captain Ingerham. She carved a bloody ruin in the attackers, a whirlwind of death, her blade flashed out severing limbs from bodies and heads from necks but as he watched he knew even a warrior as prolific as her could not stem the tide of raiders. There were still too many of them and the Warriors of Iron were falling too fast. Goren steeled himself, before he met his doom he would commit one last act of kindness. He knocked the last of his arrows to his bow string and drew it back, his eye settling on the dripping red monstrosity that was once the boy Reven. He would end his suffering cleanly. He drew back further still on the string as he settled his aim but then a head popped over the battlements directly in front of him, spoiling is shot. The bow string twanged as he released his arrow and he watched it fly as the raider hauled himself up and drew his sword.

The last noise Reven heard before losing consciousness was a scream. Was it him? He didn't know, he didn't care, he fell into darkness...

The enveloping darkness of the room was all around him. His red eyed tormentor kneeled over him, fastening his clothes about him. His body ached from head to toe. He raised his head wearily to look down upon his tortured body. There was no sign of the cuts the thing had made in his flesh, the hole in his shoulder was already healing. He looked into the face of the armoured giant in front of him and felt only despair. It stood, towering over him and then it spoke, its voice deep and gravely boomed through the grill in its helmet, 'It doesn't take long for eyes to grow accustomed to the dark. It takes less time for souls to become accustomed to darkness and hearts to grow black as night. You are our ever burning light', he flicked what felt like water over Reven as he spoke. 'You are our vessel of judgement, the collector of skulls. You shall be our champion in this never ending fight.' The thing finished splashing water on Reven and stepped back into the darkness, 'You are our vessel and I deliver you unto this world, bring it to its knees' and with that the red eyes blinked out and Reven was alone. His eyes closed once more as he fell into darkness.

Revens eyes snapped open. The standard was falling forward and he was falling with it. Goren's arrow had missed him and instead found one of the standard bearers, who had died screaming. Chief Harnvok stood before him, mouth gaping as he threw his arms up in front of him to protect himself from the falling boy. Reven landed on him hard, knocking him to the ground. Harnvok tried to push him off but the slick, greasy blood that covered Reven's body prevented him getting any purchase on the boy. Reven lay chest to chest with the raiders chieftain and smiled as thoughts of Fang came unbidden into his mind. With no weapons available to him he brought his hands up to either side of the chiefs neck. Harnvok tried to pin Reven's arms back but they were being driven forward with unnatural strength. As they closed around the chiefs neck Reven drove his thumbs into the taught flesh and then tearing a hole buried his face in the bloody mess, biting through windpipe and jugular as if he were a beast himself. Harnvok's body spasmed as Reven tore his throat out and then lay still. Reven sat up, still astride the chief and howled like a demon as the dead chiefs blood dripped from his chin and mingled with his own as it splattered on his chest. The raiders nearby drew back from the boy as he rose and stood over the body of their dead leader. He looked fearsome, his naked body red with blood and his eyes bright with a madness that froze the blood in the warriors veins. He reached down and slid a hand under Harnvok's helmet, taking him by the hair. He wrenched savagely and ripped the dead mans head off of his shoulders and held it aloft for all to see. Reven circled on the spot, showing the grisly trophy to the ever receding circle of men. 'I am their vessel' he intoned as they backed away. 'I am ruin, I am death, look upon me and despair' Reven's voice was so loud that the men nearest him covered their ears as if they were being shouted at by a god. Fear spread through out the raiders army as his words echoed over the battleground. A hole punched clean through the raiders line as a bloody Fang made his way to his friend. Reven swung himself up onto Fangs back and still holding Harnvok's head aloft he rode through the fleeing crowds of raiders toward the keep spreading palpable fear in his wake. 

Saturday 3 January 2015

Scent: Part 33

Reven spied on the stewards, they were women and young boys and they carried food and weapons forward into the mass of raiders. The army was at rest waiting for the last of the flames to subside at the front of the keep. Reven couldn't even see the keep over the sea of bodies that lay between him and his companions. He had decided that he had no interest in running, he wanted to walk the Path of Iron which meant being as strong and as unyielding as the metal. He would fight with Sanya and her troops and take as many of theses invaders with him as he could. He despised these men. They were parasites feeding off of the good people of Orland and spreading death and destruction wherever they went. He could feel anger swelling inside him and smiled to himself as the thought of Fang ripping into them and tearing them limb from limb filled his mind. 

Reven crept forward and positioned himself behind one of the waggon's that carried rolled up tents and poles. They hadn't been unpacked, obviously the raiders didn't think they would be here long enough to need them. The stewards were still running back and forth past him with huge pans filled with stew and hunks of bread tucked under their arms. Reven piked his mark and put his plan into action.

The boy was stumbling along under the weight of the pots he carried. Carrying one in each hand by its handle, he weaved as if drunk struggling with their weight. 'Pssstt', he heard from one of the waggons, 'Here boy, help me with this' an unfamiliar voice said. He placed the pans one the floor and went to investigate, rounding the corner of the waggon. As soon as he had done so Reven's hand was over his mouth and his sword was buried to the hilt in the boys soft flesh. A clean kill as the sword penetrated the boys heart and be stilled it forever. Reven wasted no time in pulling the boy off into the bushes where Fang was waiting. He left the sword in place so the boys blood didn't soil the clothes too much and started stripping him. As soon as the boys shirt, jerkin and breeches were off he rolled the body away, wrenching his sword free and wiping the sticky blood on the grassy floor. He slipped the clothes over his tight fitting armour and removed his cloak, leaving it in the bushes with Fang. He used a shred of the boys shirt to fasten his sword to his leg so it wouldn't stick out and betray him for what he really was; today he was an assassin, his target the head of this rabble of raiders. He left Fang with final orders and made his way back to the pots the boy had left before heading into the army in search of his quarry. 

Mistress Sanya watched as the last of flames from the oil licked across the surface of the moat and then finally dies with a wisp of black smoke. That was what the invaders were waiting for, already they were forming ranks just awaiting their leaders order to destroy Einder Keep and all that dwelled within. She looked toward where Kaleth stood, her war hound looked majestic in her armour, a fearsome queen of the beasts. Kaleth turned to face her and met her gaze and then let out a long howl, signalling the defenders that the long wait for their deaths would soon be over. Sanya smiled, if they were to meet their end here she would make sure that it was an end worthy of poem and song, her Warriors of Iron would would sell the lives dearly today and the cost for them would be paid in raider blood.

Reven made his way through the raiders. They were big men, corded with muscle and covered in swirling tattoo's that covered their arms and faces. The army was being roused and most of the men were on their feet and moving toward the front lines. Reven realised that he didn't know what he was looking for. There were so many of them how would he ever be able to find the chief. He continued pushing his way through the crowds until at last he spied a banner that rose above the raiders heads. He thought that as good a place as any and started heading toward it. He was only twenty paces away when another steward appeared out of the crowd and headed towards him. She grabbed his arm, 'We're to go back, our masters ready for battle' she said in a thick guttural accent. Reven pulled his arm free and continued pushing on through the raiders toward the standard. He felt a hand on his shoulder this time and the girl spun him. Went he rounded to face her he could see a look of surprise on his face. She banged him on the shoulder and cried out in pain as her hand met the unyielding metal of his armoured shoulder guard. Her eyes went wide as she cried out in alarm gaining the attention of the nearby troops. 'Assassin' she cried, 'assassin', Reven swung one of the pots at her which smashed into the side of her head sending her crashing into a group of raiders. Immediately rough hands grabbed for him as a knot of the invading troops closed around him. Reven couldn't draw his sword free quick enough and was soon battered to the floor by the pounding of fists and feet.

Thursday 1 January 2015

Scent: Part 32

On the battlements Sanya watched the raiders horde ready themselves for the next attack. Captain Ingherham and his troops were standing behind the raised drawbridge, ready to repel the invaders when the door shattered. Goren and his men stood on the battlements waiting to loose their arrows in to the mass of flesh that would soon be rushing at them. The rest of Sanya's troops were waiting at the side of the keep with instructions to rope down the side of the walls as soon as the attack began. Kaleth would go with them and their job would be to sow confusion amongst the raiders by flanking them. The war hound would rip them to shreds whilst the Warriors of Iron protected her sides and dealt as much death as they could.

Like all of the warriors of the Black Veil Sanya was able to wield magic to aid her. Those on the Path of Bone were most gifted and their abilities were mighty in comparison to the others in the order but each member trained was taught spells to aid them. For the Warriors of Iron this meant spells of healing and destruction that could be used close up to heal themselves or a comrade or attack a foe. Sanya was more practised in the arts of sorcery and as she stood looking out over the horde she drew upon the energies swirling around the keep. She chose her most destructive spell and would unleash it when Kaleth attacked, she sorely hoped that she would survive the day so that she could be with her companion again. Movement in the ranks of the raiders caught Sanya's attention, the attack would begin soon.

Reven and Fang had made their way to the trees and found no sign of the scouts. He looked back toward the keep and found it strange how much he wanted to be behind its walls with Sanya facing the horde instead of here alone and safe. Fang emitted a low growl as if he shared Reven's thoughts. It was useless thinking anyway, they had a job to do and if they could find the scouts they would help their friends inside the keep. 

They headed south, keeping a safe distance from the raiders they circled round to the rear of the army's position. Here there were the armies support, the baggage train and cooks were making busy, preparing meals and taking supplies of arrows forward into the massive throng of the invaders force. Looking out at the army Reven's sense of foreboding returned. It was too big to be beat by Sanya's tiny force however skilled they were. Reven motioned for Fang to lay and wait whilst he moved forward to get a better look at the camp as an idea started to form.