Saturday, December 20, 2014

Ch. 3, Page 8

Some of the eigers were down, but the rest charged forward to fight -- either driven by battle lust or simple desperation, having the death-dealing cloud swirling closely behind their heels.  Indeed, they were charging too fast -- the front line archers fell back, but the eigers would be upon them in moments, regardless.  Tenser saw a delaying tactic was needed to slow them down, so that the fighting men could switch to melee weapons, and he knew just which spell to cast...

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Ch. 3, Page 7

The eigers entered the cavern two abreast, but were spreading out now into wider ranks. As the eigers moved, they were met by the first volley of arrows. The first volley had been fired aimlessly, hoping to score one or two lucky hits. There were exactly two lucky hits and the eigers grunted from the impact, but kept coming, the arrows bobbing up and down like ornaments stuck in their heavy hide armor. None of these monsters were genuises, but they still knew an arrow or two were not going to stop them.

The Adventures of the Citadel did know, from experience, that concentrated fire could bring these monsters down. Yrag's arrow had struck first and he shouted "Right!" -- understood by the other archers that they should concentrate firing on the eiger that was struck on the right. That one took another arrow on the other side of its chest, but kept coming, as did those behind it.

The archers were not worried, as behind them were the most powerful spell-casters they knew. "Ah, I know just want we need!" Murlynd shouted, excitedly. He produced a scrollcase and held it out towards Mordenkainen. "Help me with this...?"

Mordenkainen helped Murlynd remove and unfurl the contents, but the eigers were getting closer...

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Ch. 3, Page 6

Now everyone could hear them -- heavy footfalls echoing from the back of the chamber.  There could be any number of entrances to this cavern from its shadowy recesses, but Yrag had seemed confident from the start what direction the sound was coming from.  Silently, the archers formed up into a forward line, with the three magic-users protected behind them.

"This chamber is too wide," Yrag whispered.  "If they try to outflank us, fall back."

"Are you ready?" Robilar whispered; it was directed at Serten.

Serten was already re-wrapping his enchanted coin in the strip of cloth he kept it hidden in when not in use.  The spell of light cast on it would never fade, but it did shrink as the coin was hidden by more folds of fabric and darkness fell over more of the cavern.

Bowstrings were pulled back in readiness.  More footsteps.  Whatever was there was trying, badly, to sneak up and ambush them.

Serten tossed the bundled coin, while a ring at the end of the strip remained on his finger.  The bundle flew through the air, unwrapping as it arced upwards...


Thursday, November 6, 2014

Ch. 3, Page 5

"None of us are expendable," Terik said, as he looked to the others.  It was time to get something off his chest that he thought needed to be added to the conversation.  "That's what henchmen are for.  Why don't we just send someone back up to our baggage camp and get some of those orc mercenaries we're using down here to check this out?  And if the statue turns out to be trapped -- we only lose an orc or two.  Besides, I don't like how many orcs we left back at camp.  What if Bigby can't control them all?"

"What if one person gets lost on the way back, or runs into some wandering monster?" Tenser countered.

"And what makes you think Bigby can't handle them?" Tenser asked.

The three of them began to debate the issue with equal enthusiasm, with Serten stepping in to try and moderate.  Murlynd, however, pulled back Yrag and Mordenkainen a step back to discuss something with them.

"I was wrong," Murlynd said.  "We must have been in El Raja Key before.  This cavern, this statue -- I've been here before, and this is definitely under Castle Greyhawk."

"Is this the Great Stone Face enigma I have heard so much about?" Mordenkainen asked.

"No, that is several floors above us," Murlynd answered.

"That's right; I've seen the Great Stone Face and this looks nothing like it," Yrag added.  "How far down in this dungeon have you been, Murlynd?  And how deep does it go?" 

If Murlynd had intended to answer, he was cut off by Robilar, who was shushing everyone with the signal of a raised arm...

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Ch. 3, Page 4

"The good news is that it does not appear to be mobile," Robilar said as they moved across the cavern for a closer look at that giant idol.  "Even if it animated, I don't think it could attack us."

"Look at the size of it!" Tenser exclaimed.  He gestured towards the idol and spoke to Robilar in the tone he normally used when they quarreled.  "It doesn't have to be enchanted to attack us; it could just be rigged to fall over and squish us!"

"Aren't you two jumping to conclusions?" Serten said.  "There's no reason to assume yet that it either magical or a trap."

"Then what can it be for?" Tenser asked as he stepped up in front of it.  Terik quietly walked up beside him.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Ch. 3, Page 3

Serten reached into his pouch and pulled a stone loose from its cloth wrapping. On the stone had been cast a divine spell that allowed it to continually shed light brighter than a lamp.

It was a spell Tenser might have considered miraculous just a year ago, but now was a common sight.

Behind them, the four adventurers could hear the "old guard" of Yrag, Murlynd, and Mordenkainen slowly catching up. The group would often separate like this, with the three of them spending more time studying the dungeon. Tenser, Serten, Robilar, and Terik were always eager to press on ahead and see the new marvels that awaited them.

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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Ch. 3, Page 2

Mordenkainen sighed in frustration.  "How long ago do you think we were teleported?  I've been adding to the fifth level map for Castle Greyhawk, not El Raja Key!" He tapped the map where he had been sketching with a finger to emphasis his irritation.

Murlynd, cool as ever, would not be baited into sounding frustrated.  "Who knows?" he asked with a shrug. "It could have been as far back as the passage from the temple."

Murlynd looked to his two companions, Mordenkainen and Yrag.  Both men looked to the more experienced magic-user for answers, but Murlynd had something else on his mind.

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Ch. 3, Page 1

Gronan's description of a secret entrance to Castle Greyhawk proved to be accurate; it was the first of three they found in the coming months. Each expedition under the old castle ruins seemed to lead to a new, previously undiscovered section of the dungeon. And the dungeon ran deep -- a fourth, fifth, and even a sixth level were discovered, each deeper than the last. There were hundreds of corridors and over a hundred rooms mapped so far, some of which had once served purposes, like barracks or storerooms, while other rooms seemed to have never existed for any purpose at all except to be found by explorers.

And there were always monsters. Every few rooms they would find them -- more kobolds and ogres, giant rats and giant snakes, orcs and gnolls, skeletons and zombies, and creatures both more monstrous or strange.  Almost always, the encounters ended disastrously for the monsters, leaving unguarded treasure for the taking.

It was the looting of Castle Greyhawk that always attracted the attention of rival adventurers fastest. Loose alliances began to form between them as they found ways to cooperate in the dungeons, back and forth to the dungeons, or back in the city.  Six months after the bandit camp was burned down, one alliance of adventurers in particular seemed to have the advantage over all the others...

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Ch. 2, Page 32

Sleep should have come easily to Tenser. Exhausted and spent, he should have been asleep the moment his head touched the ground. Words, though, kept getting in his way. 

The conversation between Gronan and Robilar had not gone unheard. Though said in hushed voices some distance away, they had carried on a gentle breeze to Tenser's ears. And they troubled him. Troubled to hear of this arrangement being made behind his back, as it were. Troubled that Robilar would decide on his own to let their prisoner go.  Tenser stayed on the ground, pretending to be asleep, but considering how best to reproach Robilar on the subject later.

That is, until Robilar spoke again. By now, Gronan was already well out of earshot and Robilar could not have meant them to be heard by anyone but himself.  Tenser was comforted by these words, for they showed a depth of character Robilar normally kept hidden. 

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Saturday, August 9, 2014

Ch. 2, Page 31

There was no argument from Tenser, who was exhausted, and Terik, who was sore all over.  They went to find a soft spot where they could lie down and rest. Hopefully someplace without ants.

Gronan and Robilar stood facing each other, in stony silence, for at least 15 minutes. They were sizing each other up, seeing if one hoped to win some last minute revenge on the other. But each man realized that they were both as tired and sore as Tenser and Terik. What's more, they each regarded each other now, not with hostility, but with respect.  The fight was not in them anymore and it was time to talk this out.

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Monday, July 28, 2014

Ch. 2, Page 30

They were the words Robilar had been waiting to hear -- though he had been expecting them out of Drake in exchange for his life. Eagerly, Robilar and Terik both stepped forward to hear Gronan's secret...

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Ch. 2, Page 29

Tenser was relieved to hear it, but he tried not to show it. "You surrender then? Good!"  Tenser hesitated, unsure of where to take his bluff next.

Gronan seemed to sense that and resumed talking. "I am not saying I fully trust this was magic dust you blew in my face, but I am not willing to discount it either. The glowworm, if you please...?" Gronan asked, reaching out his hand to take it.

Tenser dropped the dead bug into Gronan's hand and pulled his arm away quickly, in case it was a trick, but Gronan casually took the bug, tossed it into his mouth, and swallowed it. "I've eaten worse," Gronan said. "I've also met a lot of bold men in my time, but no one who's ever tried to bluff me into surrendering with a dead glowworm before.  Now...why don't you escort me to your friends, assuming Captain Drake did not best them both..."

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Sunday, July 6, 2014

Ch. 2, Page 28

Gronan had been staring hard at this magic-user, trying to gauge what manner of man he was. It seemed that this man's claim of using magic dust was an obvious bluff. If it was a bluff, though, did that show bravery or desperation?  And, in his heart, did Gronan really see that much difference between the two? 

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Friday, June 20, 2014

Ch. 2, Page 27

Gronan had turned quickly and kept most of the sand away from his eyes. It had given Tenser a moment when Gronan was vulnerable, a moment in which Tenser could have slipped his dagger into some vulnerable spot and seriously wounded his foe. But Tenser had a bolder idea in mind, and it required a tall bluff.

Tenser stepped back out of combat. "Stop!" Tenser said as forcefully as he could muster. "That magic sand carries with a curse. A creeping paralysis will soon overtake you...and can only be undone by swallowing a glowworm whole. I have a glowworm in my hand," and it was true; Tenser had just produced it from another hidden pocket. "Come at me again and I'll crush this glowworm faster than you can touch me."

Tenser stared hard at Gronan, waiting to see if his bluff would be called. For now, Gronan just stared back, as if pondering how plausible this all was.

In the silence of their standoff, they could hear the clanging of swords from the desperate struggle of Robilar and Terik to take down Captain Drake.  And, through teamwork, it was slowly working.
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Thursday, June 5, 2014

Ch. 2, Page 26

Tenser was acting brave, but he was not feeling brave. He had a dagger and he knew how to use it, but he was unarmored. His opponent had both armor and a sword and, sadly, Tenser knew how this usually played out. Without spells, Tenser had almost no resources to tip the scales. He had a few material components for spells in hidden pockets of his robes. A crystal, a glowworm, a handful of sand...

Maybe Tenser had a plan after all.

"I'm willing to be sporting," Gronan said.  "I'll fight you with my dagger."

"You could drop your sword," Tenser said.

"I'm not willing to be that sporting."  Gronan lunged.
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Thursday, May 22, 2014

Ch. 2, Page 25

With the last of the bandit archers downed, Robilar twisted around in the direction of Tenser and Gronan. Robilar raised his bow and tried to take careful aim at the moving figure of Gronan.  The hint of a smile came to the corner of Robilar's mouth; mere minutes ago he was considering betraying Tenser for his valuable spellbook and now he was prepared to kill Gronan in Tenser's defense.  Maybe disliking Gronan helped him make his decision.

Out of the corner of his eye, though, Robilar could see Terik was hard pressed by Captain Drake.  Maybe Tenser will just have to run away a little longer, Robilar thought as he twisted back around and tried to take aim at Drake.

Drake was not helping.  Indeed, having spotted Robilar on his high perch already, Drake was doing a good job of keeping Terik in front of him for cover. 

Growing impatient quickly, Robilar cursed and tossed his bow on the ground.  He leaped down from the wall, drew his sword, and raced to Terik's side.  If they could take down Drake together, then they could help Tenser.  If it wasn't too late already.

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Sunday, May 11, 2014

Ch. 2, Page 24

For Tenser, there was nothing scarier than being without a spell.  He ate, slept, and lived each day with the confidence that came from knowing that, at a moment's notice, he could let loose with any of his prepared spells to defend himself.  A life of adventure meant that he had to cast his spells more often than the average magic-user, but the trick of it was to make sure he had at least one in reserve for the trip back home, where his spellbook awaited him.  Then, after a few hours of preparation, spent perusing that magic tome and its well-worn pages, Tenser would feel safe, confident, and himself again.

It was in times like this, when he was most vulnerable, that Tenser was glad to know that Robilar and Terik had his back.

But then Tenser heard the clang of metal striking metal reverberating through the ruins...and knew that something scary was happening.

Which, coincidentally, was similar to the last thought one of the bandit archers had just before Robilar's arrow struck him in the chest.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Ch. 2, Page 23

Robilar and Terik stood close to each other, whispering in the dark.

"I don't know..." Terik said.

"Did you have enough time to find out where he keeps his spell book in town?" Robilar asked.

"Well, I think so, but..."

"And don't you think he's either out of spells now, or very low?"

"Yes, but..."

"And wasn't this always the plan?" Robilar prompted impatiently. 

"Yes,, Rob, I like him.  Can't we just keep him around?"

Robilar gave his cousin a cold stare before he threw up his hands and stomped around in a small circle.  It was all he could do to keep his voice down and whisper, "Are you going soft on me?"

"No, Rob, but we make a good team, the three of us.  Maybe we should think about keeping a magic-user around permanently.  It could pay off in the long run better than bumping him off now, don't you think?"

"Hmm.  Hrmm..." Robilar hemmed and hawed as he mulled it over.

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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Ch. 2, Page 22

The burning fort was just a glowing ember on the horizon, a sunrise in miniature at their backs.  Tenser, Robilar, and Terik were facing south towards the City of Greyhawk, but the sanctuary the metropolis offered was some distance away, through treacherous hills, that they would have to navigate by moonlight.

That was why Robilar had suggested an alternate path.  Not far away were the ruins of the original Village of Greyhawk, close at hand to Castle Greyhawk, and far removed from where the modern-day city stood.  Tenser had seen the ruins for the first time months ago -- little more than the stone foundations of where a few rows of buildings once stood.  And it was there where Robilar suggested they now camp for the night.
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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Ch. 2, Page 21

Tenser, Robilar, and Terik stood nearby and watched as fire spread through the fort.

"A good night's work, gentlemen," Robilar said.

"We never did let the prisoners out..." Tenser said.

"I'm sure they'll be fine," Robilar lied.

"You two going soft on me?" Terik asked, looking at both of them.  "We came to take care of some bandits and we took care of them and now it's over.  So let's see if we can find me a bed to sleep in before it's morning, shall we?"

Inside the fort, up on the hill, a good night's sleep was the last thing on the minds of Drake and Gronan...

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Friday, March 21, 2014

Ch. 2, Page 20

Tenser was still impatient while Robilar and Terik drank round after round of the bandits' wine.  The last thing Tenser wanted now was to return to Greyhawk City with two annoying drunks, but the two fighting men surprised him with their constitutions, or more specifically their ability to hold liquor. 

And then Robilar surprised him again by raising his tankard and, solemnly, saying, "A toast, gentlemen, to those who died here this night.  Let us pray their lives had some valor in them." 

Terik joined him in that toast and Tenser nodded in agreement. 

"Now, let's finally burn this place down!" Terik said after finishing his last drink.

This part proved easy, as Robilar already knew where large leather flasks of oil were stored.  They had only to light a torch and decide where to start the conflagration...

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Monday, February 24, 2014

Ch. 2, Page 19

If Robilar spotted the trapdoor in the dark cellar, he made no mention of it when he came back up with the cask.

"Oh, what's that?" Terik asked excitedly.

"Tastes like red wine," Robilar said, sitting it down on a table.  "I took a taste on the way back up.  Not watered down too bad either."

"Probably stolen," Terik said with disgust.  "Here, let me find somebody's tankards around here we can use."

"Is this really a good idea?" Tenser said, peaking into the room.  He had just stepped out to check for trouble, but all was silent in the fort.

"Shouldn't you be lying down and resting to get your spells back?" Terik asked as he came to the table where Robilar now sat with two tankards he had found.

"That's not how it works," Tenser said crossly.  "I need my spellbook, back in the city."

"You see why I never became a magic-user," Robilar said as he poured drinks from the cask.  "Once you're out of spells, you're useless."

"Less then useless," Terik chimed in.  "More like a burden, really..." The two fighting men stared at each hard across the table, as if something was silently being discussed between them. Tenser showed no sign of noticing, as he turned away in a huff.

The moment of intensity passed, as Robilar and Terik broke into smiles instead...
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Saturday, February 15, 2014

Ch. 2, Page 18

And run away they did.  Some did not plan to stop until they returned to the City of Greyhawk.  Some only intended to run for cover in the woods, but lost their nerve as soon as they saw their comrades.  It was a complete rout.

Captain Drake was no fool and did not stand his ground within easy reach of those arrows either.  He fell back only as far as their long range and tried one last time to rally his men to him.
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Friday, February 7, 2014

Ch. 2, Page 17

The exchange of missile fire just seemed to go on and on.  Injuries on the field below the palisade were becoming common, despite shield cover and the dark of the night.  As far as anyone could see, not a single defender up on the wall had been dropped yet. 

The battle was taking its toll on both sides, though the attackers could not see what problems the defenders had.  Tenser was safely on the ground inside the fort, staging his phantasmal archers on the palisade like a director, his actors, and a stage.  Maintaining the spell was taxing, especially since the occasional arrow overshot the wall and came his way, but they all landed well clear of him.

Robilar would have run out of arrows already had Terik not found a spare quiver for him in the fort.  They both peppered the attackers with real arrows, ducking in and out of the rank of phantasmal archers.  The return fire was thinning out as the attackers ran low on arrows, but that meant that shots were being more carefully planned and aimed.  The palisade was still a very dangerous place. 

At any moment, one side was bound to crack...
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Friday, January 24, 2014

Ch. 2, Page 16

The phantasmal forces on the palisade began firing at once into the Captain's forces on the ground.  Every bandit with a shield became the closest friend of those around him, as everyone huddled up for cover.  The rain of arrows was merciless, though, and under its barrage the bandits began to fall back, despite Captain Drake's calls for them to stand their ground. 

Not that the bandits were powerless to return fire.  Many among them had short bows or crossbows and they aimed as best as they could for the shadowy defenders on the wall -- the very wall that some of these bandits had manned just hours earlier. 
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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Ch. 2, Page 15

Captain Drake never thought he would have to storm his own fort, but that did not mean he was unprepared to do so.  Well versed in siegecraft from some years spent campaigning in the Bandit Kingdoms, Drake had his axemen cut down the largest tree they could and begin stripping it into a battering ram.

"The moat?" prompted the old thaumaturgist, Drake's liaison to the Sorcerer.

"Will not be an obstacle for long," Drake said confidently.  "If Robilar and his fool friends thinks they've won because they managed to raise the drawbridge on me, they're in for a rude awakening." 
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