Fables of the Borderlands

Into the Mountainous Wilderlands
Act: II Scene: II

Having escaped the insanity of the temple our adventurers traversed the ridges of Barrow mountain, the Keep in sight far beyond and below. The comforts of the bright blue sky, and late summer winds were soon forgotten as the party came upon a giant beetle, with a bronze carapace and two long frilled antennae, in a few twists of fateful melee the strange beetle lay crushed upon the ground upon two former possessions of one very enraged barbarian, the sword Ssulithus, and an expensive coat of iron ring mail, now nothing more than a disparate scattering of rusted flakes. rustmons.gif

Nothing was more certain to the group than the notion that they or something they carried with them was cursed, for things continued to worsen, as they journeyed along a treacherous pathway along the precipice of the mighty mountain range. Dark clouds gathered ominously in the skies, growing watchful masses of grey. The temperatures lowered even further than the stark chill it had been, and soon droplets of rain began to ping upon the rocky path at their feet. The adventurers shuttered at the first clap of lightning in the distance, the sounds of thunder rolling across the sky towards them. Each in turn clinching their cloaks tighter around their necks.

It was obvious that this place here in the borderlands was true wilderness, a man’s skeletal remains lay on the path, what had happened here? one could only imagine, if they dared… too frightening was the notion that such trips into the land of speculation would result in the manifestation of such fears. Was it paranoia, that from somewhere within a sixth sense whispered the warning of a stealthy stalker?

The adventurers came to a place upon the precipice pathway, where a heavy stone door had been set into the mountain side… As ominous in its designs as the storm clouds above, Not even the wily Gnome, nor the thief Nadia wanted to chance a look in side. No one was fully rested, nor restored from the multifaceted injuries they had suffered in the temple and not a one wished to chance what remained of their tattered constitution to what might lay behind the stone door. And so they continued on exterminating the place from their memories collectively.

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The Lost Adventurers
Argosa & Tinaroth

The two adventurers had lost count of the days, which they beleaguered in this tepid biting, wasteland, that Borderlanders called The Marshes. Both men had long since discarded their heaviest, most cumbersome items. Since the small wreck of a boat they had confiscated from Ishtar’s Treasure Horde had split upon a devil’s rock in the southern bend of The River Lech. They had lost many of their possessions, and many more still set to wandering by foot.

Somewhere, probably in some fetid quicksand Argosa’s hauberk was lost to rust into nothingness. Now he wore but a few fabrics, light but worn ragged by the snagging vines, and jagged rocks. His mind was set to the task, faith in something beyond his trappings had stuck with him since the The Tower of the Black Pearl and it stuck with him now.

Tinaroth however, was not so mild about these circumstances. Certainly the terrors of the tower were there in his mind, but more imminent was the harrowing imprisonment by the evil Naga Ishtar. The swamp was far more vast then either had supposed looking upon it from the Main Gate of the Keep. Tinaroth looked to Esmeralda, the lute that had passed to him from Abaroth his father, a talented spellbinder of no uncertain renown. It had certainly suffered the presence as had all fine things each man possessed.

Tinaroth held the lute in shame, as he contemplated their damnable state his sorrows gathered. He knew that nothing short of a miracle would ever insure that Esmerelda would ever sing again. Consigned to a life of eating fish and frogs, and the menu of any number of predators was no tale of a bard. It wouldn’t be long before the two would begin a daily deathwatch for the other, though they deeply hoped to find the Marshes end before that…

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Into the Grey
Act: II Scene: I Survivors of the Ancient Temple

Finally it was over, though none of the four would ever be the same. This was never truer then it was for the thick skinned barbarian of the eastern steppes. Jalyve he told them, though now his name had never meant less. It had been a central pillar of pride in the young barbarians life to have been given the name of his tribal forbears. But the horrors of the temple had stolen that from him, robbed him of his identity, and made him a hideous beast only worthy of a wretched violent death.

The head of a horned bull had twisted the once strong warriors face in a manner of such odious permanence no joy in the world could ever force even the smallest grin upon his now black leathery lips. The barbarian’s skin crackled with a primal energy that carried a bestial musk, which wafted from his body in a faint black cloud with every stride. Stranger still the dungeons horrors had carved cruel mockeries of human faces into his back, chest and leg, which gawked and groaned like the damned who wallow in the swamps of hell.

Jalyve had known few towns which would have willingly accepted his presence within their taverns, and now he would know absolutely none. Yet, he would not consider the call of the great vastness that opened out before them. The hall in which they stood had been ruined for many years. Perhaps the hammer of the gods had set the mountains to quake in a time before the first stone of the Keep had been set, and with the hammer’s clash it took with it the shoulder of the mountain, and wherever this ancient dungeon hall had once lead.

Yes, indeed the call of that great void into which the four could look out into the entire valley and forest 1000’s of feet below had something to offer them all. For Jalyve it would be the end of humiliating form at the bottom of that abyss beyond the last tile of the ancient hall’s reach.

For Nadia the elf it would be the end of the shame she would forever feel at the demonic visage which had taken possession of her face. Her slender nose switched for slitted nostrils in the middle of her face, her tongue dark narrow and forked, hair that had grown for centuries now would be never more.

Violet the thief, born within the hamlet under the watchful guardians of the Keep, had suffered a imprisonment in a cell with no walls or doors, her choices and experiences placing her within an alignment opposite the destiny two loving parents had hoped and prayed for. From her cell she would forever gaze into a bottomless pit of covetous greed, and murderous zeal. Chaotic evil urges whispering suggestions that would forever undermine any rationale which could hope to return her to the path laid out before her at birth. The abyss, beyond the ancient hall offered her future victims well deserved lives and possessions that which now lied between her and a perditious road of insatiable roguery.

Finally Jynxx the Gnome, or Leopold the Lion as he had been called in the Keep, stared into the vastness of the valley abyss of the gathering silence of the last breath left the demonic lips of the devils that lay on the floor of the ancient hall. A line had begun to be drawn through his name in the celestial kingdoms as well. As he placed his hands about an exotic crystal prism once the possession of an Imp which had moments ago almost slipped away with the Gnome’s soul. As Jynxx stared into the great beyond, the prism gave a sudden immediate twitch, though never moving. A twinge of energy tugged along the vein of his arm, and leaped upon his heart. The gnome felt a loss in value in his very preservation as he stared to the valley floor, the great vastness offered simplicity which seemed to echo by another new and selfish force within his mind. How beautiful the view, and cool the air. Such a sweet smell such vastness, this new voice whispered to him. Ah but a little closer, yes, how nice. That’s right but a step more to appreciate the wonder of the great vastness below.

The obvious duality of black and white were now completely obscured from the survivors. The two were now merged in their minds, each of them had passed into the grey having come this far. Now not even they could tell, that they were more truly victims of the harrowed halls. They had prospered nothing, and had been reincarnated as the living embodiment of the terrors of these insidious temple halls.

Had the the gods known this when they cleft the mountain shoulder here at the ancient hall? Known that the last hope for this dungeons victims would be the call of the great valley abyss? Or was it the principalities of darkness that plotted this last trick for the would be survivors of this horrid place, a passive suggestion, or simple alternative to the despair and cruelty that would birth itself by the day, hunting each one down by the inevitable arrival of exhaustion, the vampire that vacates human will…

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Missing Adventurers
Dead or Alive?

Argosa and Tinaroth have not returned to the Keep. Local villagers and craftsmen who knew them have begun to wonder if they will ever see two of the most promising adventurers ever to set foot in the keep, return to their residence and take up a normal life.

The Keep Blacksmith Seigfreid Freuh has said that he hopes to see them return. “I gave one of the heroes a fine axe that had been in my family. If I had any doubt they wouldn’t return I would have given it to Johann, my eldest. I have faith that our beloved St. Cuthbert will see them home to safety.”

But not everyone in the town seemed to be so fond of the missing adventurers. The Keep’s benevolent Guild Master, Liebrecht Oldenhaller had this to say, “They have likely succumbed to one of the many hosts of danger that fill the borderlands. Men of law they were not. Nor can it be said those men were of good heart. On numerous occasions they engaged in violent behavior within our fair Keep, and disrupted the peace. He who lives by the sword dies by the sword!”

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Lair of the Lizard Men
Act: I Scene: XI

Tinaroth and Argosa awake in the morning to find that Zabeth and Gwyn are mysteriously missing. They begin searching the area and discover large 3-toed tracks the size of a man’s foot print. And attempt their best to make sense of the prints, but to no avail. They collect the few belongings left behind by their friends as the evidence of a terrible abduction begins to set in their minds.

Together, they make their best attempt to follow the trail into the swampland marshes and successfully track the path to a wide clearing in which leads to a clearing in the swampland. In the center is a wide mound covered in diverse marsh vegetation.

The Characters explore the area around the mound looking for a way to enter the mound from the rear. But see only snakes and frogs, living in the watery clearing. They suppose that if there is a rear entrance that it is accessible only by submerging beneath the water through a tunnel.

They circle around and approach the mouth of at the front of the mound. Argosa in the front, wades through the swamp water, just as Tinaroth hears an insidious reptilian hiss. In an instant Argosa feels the painful sting of a wasp on his neck, but reaching to smack the little devil finds the sting came from a blow dart, a needle drips with black ichor into the brachish water at his feet, but whatever poison may have downed him was resisted by the good fortune and fortitude of the paladin of Amun Tor.

The green scaled monster, advanced forward a blow gun in hand and a crude axe at it’s side. Both men engaged the reptilian, swords in hand. Argosa, lunged and sliced through the air with his sword, missing his opponent, as Tinaroth lowered his balance and leaned forward with a quick thrust with Whisker. The thin sword bent against the thick defensive lizard hide, but the incredibly sharp tip pierced the scaly layer and drew first blood. The reptile hissed at Tinaroth, it’s inhuman gaze narrowed on the Bard, and swung it’s crude axe just above the shoulder missing Tinaroth. Argosa taking advantage of the lizard man’s new focus to strike it in the arm, another gash of blood sprayed from the creature sprinkling down and mingling with the swamp water in which they stood and thrashed.

The lizard man had hardly seemed to notice the second wound, and dropped its weapon to the water, reverting to instinct it opened it’s wide mouth exposing its short pointy teeth, and muscular prognathic jaws… Tinaroth could scarcely evade as the reptile bit down hard on his shoulder, tackling the man and overbearing him with its heavy body, Tinaroth fell into the shallow water in which they fought, as the Lizard man quickly determined to drown him. The bard was no match whatsoever to the insane strength of his foe, and knew instantly if his friend was unable to save him, he would surely die here in the fetid waters of the marsh. But Argosa had the chance he needed to save his friend’s life, the broad muscular back of the Lizard man posed a very vulnerable target to the paladin, who merely had to raise his sword high to plunge it sure and deep into the heart and lungs of the reptile creature. In seconds the fight was over, Argosa put his boot upon the body of the lizard and withdrew his sword from the deep and fatal wound, Tinaroth burst to the surface and took a very need gulp of air. As the men caught their breath they turned to face the mouth of the mound determined to enter and find their lost companions; Gwyn and Zabeth. Before they could count the moment, another Lizard appeared out of the darkness, it’s sullen yellow eyes burning with hostility told the men they would again fight for their lives.

Never, ever in their lives had the two men felt such opposition. The powerful lunges, loud hissing threats, the size and speed of the lizardfolk race was unlike anything they had ever seen or heard of in their short, sheltered lives back in the Realm. The Lizrd man fought with the capability of two men, soldiers all their lives. It took everything the heroes had to defend themselves, and then things turned for the worse. The tall lizard creature grabbed Argosa with two huge hands pinning his arms to his side and immediately clamped it’s prehistoric jaws damaging Argosa’s half plate, and bruising his flesh beneath the metal pressure plates. Next the Lizard placed his foot behind Argosa’s heel forcing him off his balance and tripping the fighter. A huge splash accompanied the heroes plunge into the fetid waters. Argosa quickly began to drown. Tinaroth armed with Whisker slashed and jabbed with his fine sword attempting his best to murder the lizard brute before it could drown his friend. Over and over the two turned, man and reptile, Argosa taking the biggest gulp of air he could before being twisted back beneath the water, by the instinctive predator. Tinaroth groped for his dagger, knowing that if he didn’t soon kill the damn reptillian it would succeed in filling his lungs with water, Tinaroth piercing the creature from above could see small fountains of red blood spill from the scaly hide of the lizard man, but the creature didn’t seem to notice. Argosa’s fingers wrapped around the handle of his knife, and once it was free it’s sheath the paladin, plunged it again and again and again into the back of his adversary. As quickly as it had started the creature had been defeated, it’s body hacked and mutilated layed half submerge in the reddened water, both men were more than glad it was not them that they looked at.

After the battle and after the Lair was cleared the Adventurers decided to wait out the storm, after waiting two hours A Naga arrived, a short fight ensued that ended when both of the adventurers were deeply charmed. At two months they both simultaneously break out of the spell but she was able to detect their thoughts.

When Tinaroth went to charm her she instead put them both under a new charm spell of her own, which manifested as a black cloud. One week later on the 9th week only Argosa awoke but this time he realized she was in his thoughts. He tried to kill her while doing a sword trick but failed twice and on the second attempt, also failed to block Ishtar (Naga) from his thoughts. She became violently mad and stung him and put him into a lasting nightmere.

When he awoke he was again charmed but broke the spell with a successful will save on the 10th week (mid September). He prayed well to Amun Tor, receiving a +5 bonus. This bonus also broke Gwyn from the charm spell but not Tinaroth (Pnoth). Argosa (Ollub) and Gwyn ran back to the cave while Ishtar slept (during the day-time). Argosa again prayed to Amun Tor, Gwyn became limned in a brilliant aura, and a heavenly host sang softly as Argosa was blessed.

Argosa and Gwyn sneak into her lair while she is asleep and attack her seven times, slashing open the larynx in one attack and finally beheading the monster.

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Into the Marshlands
Act: I Scene: X

After being pardoned, Tinaroth, Zabeth and Gwyn go to the Loan Bank. Gwyn eyes up the merchandise behind the iron grate protecting the items for sale by the Moneylender. Tinaroth begins to discuss the purchasing one of the 3 vellum books for sale, but manages to offend Mordecai. When they leave Tinaroth notices a guard he saw in the Guild House while they met with the Guild Master.
Using the map from the The Tower of the Black Pearl Tinaroth prepares a note to be taken to the Blacksmith by Gwyn, since the ban has been placed on the heads of the heroes. Tinaroth explains that the Siegfreid will hand over a Battle Axe he explains this, he notices a familiar figure lingering in the Fountain Square. Tinaroth pauses recalling seeing this man within the Guild House. The man surreptitiously watches them and begins to follow behind as the two head down the street.

Argosa receives his weapons and a stern warning from the Corporal of the Watch never to unsheathe his weapons in the Keep. And if he should feel the need to strike something with the blade of his sword, then he should seek out the Lizard men of The Marshes.

Meanwhile Gwyn is approached by a man who identifies himself as an agent of the Guild Master]. He asks her to consider performing some tasks the guild has for her in exchange for a rewarding salary. As she begins to assess her discomfort of the proposition, perhaps even considering it, Tinaroth, who has become acutely aware of the guild master’s agent enters the [[Smithy & Armorer]] shop and confronts the provocateur placing his hand on the pommel of Whisker. The agent begins to excuse himself leaving the encounter with words and thinly veiled threats that are too much for the Tinaroth’s ego and a fight ensues. As the melee transpires, Argosa and the Corporal of the Watch overhear the clamor and run through the Entry Yard to discover Tinaroth in the act of attempted murder. The Bard is arrested at once and taken to jail. Tinaroth goes through another conversation with the jailers trapped with harsh sentencing, he manages to argue his innocence in the name of self defense despite their conviction that he has demonstrated a propensity for repeat offences. While the jailers arbitrate over finalizing the matter, Tinaroth, peering through a barred window catches a glimpse of the guild master’s agent glibly handing a small leather coin purse over to one of the jailers,and walks away a free man. After a very long wait a jailer returns and releases Tinaroth but reminds him, if he ever is arrested again his punishment will be lasting and stern.

Arriving at the Inner Gatehouse Tinaroth finds the rest of his friends are anxiously awaiting him, and they quickly head to the meet the Corporal of the Watch, under Argosa’s suggestion that he may be able to help them find some way to escape the dangers of the Guild, and come closer to collecting the ingredients for a panacea for poisons the Paladin has record of.

The party of adventurers make their way down the long curved entry way of the Keep, taking in the expansive wilderness around them. They note the tremendous width and breadth of The River Lech the steaming mists of The Marshes and some of the tiny wooden village homes and farms nestled between the protection of Castle Road and the Lech.

As the heroes begin their journey toward the marshlands, they pass through the farming village that provides the Keep with the majority of it’s sustenance. Grains, wheat, barley, oats, meat and vegetables. Every home is active, with children assisting their mothers cultivate fields, gardens, and caring for the livestock. Domesticated dogs and cats dart in and out of rows of corn and other plants as they root out pests and tease each other in innocent folly. Shortly they encounter a woman heaving a wicker basket full of vegetables and they realize through speaking with her, how self sufficient this small community is, and how on market day this small community fills the Fountain Square with stalls full of tools, goods and other provisions. They learn that most of the men are on the river or at it’s shores fishing and trapping for the day. And so presuming they might find transport by boat to the marshes they head to the River Lech as they press on in their journey.

Arriving at the river’s edge, they note just how deceptively large the river actually is, from where they stand the river’s breadth is easily the journey of an archer’s arrow, at some 150 yards or more. Millions of insects joined with thousands of amphibians chirp, croak and creak a symphony of marshland music in the gathering twilight, as the amber glow of the setting sun paints ribbons of orange light across the rippling surface of slow moving ebony water of the Lech. Little can they be aware of the dark instinctive predators that await beneath the surface a stones throw from their feet, full of hunger and sharp teeth.

track into the mountains for a couple hours before realizing they are completely off track

Backtrack to the hills, and to the river. Eventually discover a three toed track and follow it along the river bank until it disappears.

Party fords a tributary after working up the courage when they see a glimpse of something that appears to be a school of vicious Gar fish.

Zabeth leads the group right into a large area of quicksand where 3/4 of the party almost dies.

After returning to the river to wash and avoid further patches of quicksand, the group travels north finding very little for the next three hours. However, Zabeth comes across a mudcrab hiding beneath the sandy river bank, he crits it and kills it instantly with his bow.

The group continues North, before long Argosa notices another patch of quicksand. The group circumvents, and continues. And prodding in the sand Argosa discovers a lizardman cadaver badly injured. Tinaroth notices something in the water which drifts towards them. A crocodile pursues the group as they attempt to hurry away but Argosa is caught in it’s maw.

Gwyn attempt to backstab the croc but falls prone, Argosa spears the creatures maw, and Zabeth hits it with an arrow in the head, it flees into the river crushing Gwyn beneath it’s body before escaping. Gwyn survives. Argosa heals himself and Gwyn with lay on hands.

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New Friends
Act: I Scene: IX

Zabeth and Gwyn arrive at the Keep on the Borderlands having come from the Realm, leaving behind careers as Beekeeper and Costermonger respectively.

They enter the keep meeting the Corporal of the Watch and the Scribe, and Jorin a Stable lackey leads them to the inn for a copper piece.

When they arrive the new comers go to the tavern where they find the bard (performing an average musical show) and paladin spending time. Before long they were joined by the Captain of the Guard and four Men-at-Arms, three of which are the Kulick Brothers. The men wasted little time informing the Taverner Erwin Kuhn, that Argosa and Tinaroth were henceforth banned from enjoying the services of trade in all its forms while staying in the Keep.

Zabeth and Gwyn overhearing the conversation, thus became aware of who might be in charge in this stone walled refuge, and who were now no longer allied with those in power.

The captain, and the fourth man-at-arms soon left, leaving behind the Kulick brothers to make certain there would be no ‘trouble’ from Argosa and Tinaroth. The Innkeeper then turned to Zabeth and Gwyn trying his best to appear his normal jolly self. The two patrons order some honey mead, and inquire about the conversation with the Captain. Erwin nervously explains as the Kulick brothers stand near, but seemingly unaware.

Meanwhile Roderick Kulick, the meanest and oldest of the three sends a bar maiden to remove Argosa and Tinaroth’s plates. The brothers smirked and laughed as Tinaroth’s lute became sheepishly quiet and his song came to a close. Embarassed Argosa took out his frustration on his companion by criticizing his ballad. “Could of made the Reaver king sound a bit more fearsome?!” He complained. Tinaroth looked about the room, not a single patron seemed to have noticed he even stopped playing. “I’ll only get better, you’ll see.” He said with a shrug.

Zabeth took another sip of the honey mead. He pondered over what type of need he might be able to fill here at the Keep as a beekeeper. It would be easy to sell honey to a tavern which sells plenty of honey mead, if only he could find a carpenter to help build a few bee keeps he thought. He glanced at his sister, they had just crossed 10 days of open road without help to have reached the walls of the keep. A feat of equal fortitude and luck, but could fate be driving them here? He looked to the mercenary in plate mail seated next to the man with the lute, there was something about them beyond what his eyes could tell. What could be the reason they drew the ban of the Captain? “Bar keep!” he called. The brothers perked their ears, and watched the newcomers from the corner of their eyes. “What have those two done that bans them from eating here?” Roderick Kulick shifted in his tattered mail, leaning his bulky torso as he began to rudely stare at Gwyn.

Erwin Kuhn spoke softly as he began “I don’t presume to know, nor do I mean to find out. They’ve raised the ire of Liebrecht Oldenhaller, guildmaster, and he’s not one to cross.” “Who?” Zabeth knew of such men, who wielded great power over merchants. In the realm guilds laid claim to entire classes of working men and tradesmen. Their wealth was built by the sweat of the brow of the men who strove to make a living, only to pay unfair shares to a guild which offered very little in return. “Not a guildmaster…” Herr Kuhn continued, “the guildmaster. Liebrecht Oldenhaller controls all that comes and goes within our bailey and operates along a fine line of allegiance with the King’s Castellan. Through him all imports and exports transpire. Without his blessing a man can barely eat, let alone run his business…”
“Well, ye a strawberry tart ain’t ya?” Roderick interrupted, leaning close enough to Gwyn that she could smell the scent of raw onion, and fish on his breath. There was an awkward pause as Erwin moved along, and Gwyn took a deep gulp in nervous silence. “Ya need a place to spend the night, get ya selve in my bed n’we’ll share a warm night las.”

Zabeth had heard enough, “Hey, you need to mind your business, and keep to yourself!” But Roderick in a confidence inspired by ale and stupidity, chuckled and straightened his back standing to his full height, and fanning his shoulders wide to appear larger and more intimidating. “Hahaha, and who’s going to make me?” He asked incredulously. Zabeth stood from his stool “I’ll make you.” He said lowering his voice and stiffening his jaw trying to summon the courage to face the bully. The brothers wore heavy leathers and mail, weapons of war hung from their belts. Things were about to go from bad to worse.

Argosa’s voice rang out “Find another goblin to pick on Kulick?” he shouted in mocking the big brute. “You mind yer own damn business boy!” Roderick answered his veins bulging in his thick neck. “Three against one huh? Just like how you killed, or tried to kill that little greenskin you found sleeping in a bush eh?” Tinaroth said, adding insult and embarrassment. Austin wanted nothing of his older brother’s troublemaking, his head hung low. Roderick through up his fists, squeezed into tight balls of fury. Argosa and Tinaroth laughed aloud, Zabeth and Gwyn smirking behind Roderick’s broad back.

Austin and Jaime grabbed their brother and began pushing him to the door. Roderick’s face was a deep red, as they pushed him, he cursed threats of throwing stone’s upon the heads of Argosa and Tinaroth, the rest of the tavern patrons simply watched him disappear through the door.

Zabeth and Gwyn thanked the men for defending them, and became acquainted, Argosa and Tinaroth offering them a place to stay in the private apartment lent to them by the Priest.

The party leaves the Inn and heads to the private apartment, only to find it locked. As they search themselves for the key, they deduce that Mors was the last to use it, and probably has it. Argosa and Tinaroth look to each other with grim realization of what this means. Zabeth and Gwyn only stare in curiosity “What?” Zabeth questions them. “It’s nothing really, we just don’t have our key…” Argosa shrugs, doing his best to appear nonchalant. Argosa attempts to open the latch to the apartment door. “Locked?” Zabeth laughs, Tinaroth grins, realizing their new friend seems to have the kind of humor that is present when others are not so amused.

Argosa was not amused. Dissatisfied, he turned away from the door, “We’ve got to find the Priest. He’ll let us in. Come on, let’s go!” He commanded. The three followed him to the center of the Bailey where the two nicest homes in the keep resided. Zabeth and Gwyn marveled at the grand style of the homes considering their distance from the Realm, knowing full well that anyone who could live in such grandeur must have the power to match such a display of wealth.

Argosa knocks on the door, and waits. Moments pass but there is no response. As each of them begin to wonder where the Priest might be Argosa knocks again, and still no one comes to answer the door. “I suppose the Priest might be at the Chapel?” suggests Tinaroth. The group headed for the Chapel, just as they did so Gwyn caught a glimpse of an old man with a gray bushy beard, wearing a modest worn cloak and tunic just as he disappeared around the back of the manse they had just left.

When she brought it to the attention of the others, Argosa and Tinaroth immediately passed it off as something minor and nothing more, yet as she persisted Argosa finally stopped. “It is best to let sleeping dogs lie.” And with that turning again toward the Chapel he continued on his way.

When the group arrived they entered the house of worship two acolytes prayed at the altar on the Eastern end below the massive colored window, a marvelous and beautiful work of talent and art. As Zabeth and Gwyn simply stared at the window taking in the interior of the reverent chapel, Argosa and Tinaroth announced themselves with the clink of a coin in the offering box mounted to the pedestal. In a moment the Curate arrived from the cool cellar below and gently walked to the four, a welcoming smile upon his face as he fixed his old and wizened eyes upon them.

As Argosa began to inquire about the Priest Zabeth and Gwyn noticed how the Curate spoke with the type of assertive confidence only a man of faith and power can. He immediately directed the conversation towards his doubts of the Priest, beginning with the matter of his mysterious origins further East, and his peculiar manner of attire. “Gadol Shemot, has refrained from delighting us with his blessing and attendance…” the Curate went on passing a glance to both the offering box and the wooden pews to either side, passing his serpent staff from one jeweled hand to the other as he spoke. “He is likely in the bowels of the infernal ”/campaign/fables-of-the-borderlands/wikis/caves-of-chaos" class=“wiki-page-link”>Caves of Chaos or attempting to beguile our Castellan with some matter we can only assume is against our best interest.

The party left with little more to be gained, and decided to split up on separate errands. Tinaroth and Zabeth would visit the Blacksmith while Argosa and Gwyn went to the Stable to check on something else, mysteriously important to Argosa alone.

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Violet
Act: I Scene: VIII

Forthcoming…

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The Sheriff
Act: I Scene: VII

Naat carrying the lantern inspects one of the first cells lining the hallway still littered with rotting corpses, that seem to twitch and stare even though they lay in pieces strewn from end to end. The cell is cramped save for an old wooden desk atop which rests something square and dark, pitch black. He carries the lantern closer as the light shines over it, he begins to see a horrific box of iron. Chiseled along the lines of the box are Demonic skulls, their mouths stretched open as though they were frozen in laughter. Naat feels as though their empty sockets stare at him from some shadowy dimension of evil where nightmares reign.

Mors joins his side, two feeling the icy chill emanating from the box. Naat, using the flat of his blade slides the box from the desk top causing it to fall to floor, and then kicks it staring at it in with a wide eyed naked fear. The too leave the cell, but Naat finds it incapable to refocus his thoughts on anything but the sight of the iron box.

Argosa and Tinaroth having travelled a little further down the hall inspect a different cell. The door is locked but from Naat’s lantern they are able to see through the iron bars, and to their great relief a steep wooden stair ascends. Argosa motions for the group to step back and raises his leg in a mighty kick thrusts his boot into the door, bashing it into the cell. The large crashing sound wrenching down the hall in a miserable echo.

Not waiting around to see what may come to search out the source of the noise, Naat and Mors, hurry up the stair, and pry at the ceiling trap door. But it does no good, instead their sensitive ears pick up the sounds of visitors from the crypt. They press and push and with all their might strive against the trap door, but it is too much. Argosa is right behind them and with little courtesy pushes pass them half knocking them from the stair for he too can now hear the sound of the dead ones coming to them. Tinaroth tries to stabilize the broken door in the frame from where Argosa had smashed it from it’s hinges but to no avail. The twisted wreckage of a door that remained would not stand of it’s own… But now they had arrived, rotted corpses, and bare bones, standing- moving graceless in their horrific posture, their jaws gnashing,a harrowing clacking sound of calcified bone upon calcified bone in skulls of loose skin and muscle eyes swollen the color of a mosquito infested swamp. They leered and moaned and groaned reaching through the iron bars. Argosa smashed against the heavy ceiling door again and again, his shoulder aching and pain wracking his body, Mors and Naat pushing with Tinaroth on the wreckage of a door, the only thing keeping the growing horde in the hall from entering the cell. Then, finally whatever heavy objects had stood atop the door from above came crashing to the floor, and the trap door flew open. The men could scarcely clamor up the stairs fast enough, and nearly jammed the whole with their own bodies trying to pass through it with desperate furvor to escape the wretched claws of the undead who fell into the room the second they could push into the cell.

The group found themselves in a very dark, but dimly lit room, they quickly slammed the trap door shut, and piled as many things in the room on top as quickly as they could. Their hands trembling uncontrollably dropping things as they went, and their heart beating as never before. The harrowing encounter over, they slump to the floor for a good many moments as they recover themselves. Naat still overcome by the visage of the iron box. Tinaroth takes a deep breath and pulled out his father’s lute, clearing his mind he focuses and strums the strings softly and gently, drawing away the fears of his companions. The bard in him gives to a song and the men feel their morale restored. And begin to laugh in disbelief in their luck and with great joy having escaped whatever that place was that lay beneath the Keep. They laughed that is until their was a loud rapping at the door, the sound of a watchman’s truncheon. The men froze, trespassers in wherever they happened to be. The Corporal of the Watch and two Men-at-Arms burst through the door, and soon find the men in the dimly lit room. Their lanterns exposing each man’s identity. “Men, arrest these criminals!” The corporal commanded. Tinaroth with Esmeralda in hand, quickly changed his fingers to a different sort of chord. Strumming as he spoke his eyes keeping full contact with corporal’s own. The veteran found himself raising his hand in a gesture to command pause to the two soldiers.

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The Halls of the Dead
Act: I Scene: VI

The morale of the party swelled at the sight of the miracle. Argosa had found within him the ability to do something most men only heard about in sermons and stories. Naat had been wounded by the skeletal man from the other room, Argosa called upon the power of his mysterious god, and as he did so a white glow emanated around his hands as held Naat’s injured arm. The soft light settled against the skin, as if it were the first flakes of winter snow and as they dissipated, the pain subsided, and the wound closed. Naat stood speechless in a shock, no one could believe the fortunate healing. Before anyone could ask, Argosa simply finished his prayers with thanks, and took up his long sword.
Everyone but Mors looked to the two exits from the room, he examined the cache under the stair. Meanwhile Argosa and Tinaroth held the lantern to a large iron gate that prevented passage into a larger room with an ascending stair. “That stair, probably leads out of this place.” suggested Tinaroth. Argosa pushed and pulled at the large iron gate, “No way we’re getting through this thing without a key, or switch.” He replied. Just then, Mors found something under the stair that made him grin. “I’ve found a lever in here!” came the small halfling’s voice from within the hidden passage. “Give it a pull then, and lets get out of here.” said the men.
With a yank Mors pulled the lever. The sound of metal clicked in the other iron gate. Mors emerged and approached the small gate that was opposite the stair. The four of them gazed beyond the gate, which now had been unlatched and swung slightly ajar. Thoughts of disappointment began to form their way into words for the group. Just then the temperature fell from cool to cold, as an ethereal figure emerged from the surface of the stone wall in the hallway beyond the gate. It was an image of nightmares and terror, a tall emaciated woman, her jaw hung low in a perpetual silent scream. Her hair waved above her head as though she was submerged in a watery afterlife, she wore a long gown that drifted beyond the ends of her legs, but hovered above the ground without touching. Extending from the ends of each finger were long ragged nails, The spirit passed beyond their sight down the hall, without turning to admire their living flesh, even so each of the group stood in fear, with the heavy pulse of their hearts strangling them in their throats. No one dared to move beyond the gate for fear of the emaciated spirit.
As the moments passed and the ghost no longer near, each of them began to gather the courage to move beyond the small unlocked gate, hoping the hall would lead them to another way out of the dungeon to the safety of their room at the Inn.
One by one, they moved past the small gate into the hallway which lead around a bend. Three doors, beckoned at the curiosity of the men, Tinaroth tried the handles finding all to be locked but the middle. With Argosa behind him holding the lantern in the hallway, Tinaroth entered what looked to be a small armory. There at the other side of the room a weapon rack with halberds stored upon it had remained untouched for many years. Tinaroth proceeded toward the weapons, when suddenly the heavy door slammed shut locking him in darkness. Tinaroth screamed to his companions who banged and collided at the door trying to free him in mutual panic. Just then, things went from bad to worse, as the approaching noise of the walking dead returned, approaching from either end of the hallway. Soon the hungry damned appeared, their hands and arms outstretched to rend the living flesh from the bones of the doomed mortals.

Tinaroth could hear the dreadful panic of the voices of his friends in the hall, the sounds of the undead closing in, and now he could feel the temperature lowering in the darkness around him. Then, the leathery grasp of ancient fingers wrapping around his forearm, fingers which ended in long hard nails, the terror overwhelmed him, it was more than contact, he could feel an invasion from the darkness laying siege upon his mind. His terror at it’s maximum, Tinaroth’s body collapsed upon the stone floor, his mind locked in a distant prison.

Mors drew his short blades, and Naat his sling, how he longed for the meadows of his youth were the sling was for amusement, and not here, in this wretched dark cold place where little more stood between him and the damned at both ends of the hall. Argosa, was afraid but he recalled the use of his sword against the first encounter he had earlier in the dungeon.

The damned corpses lumbered closer and closer to the trapped companions, filling the hall with the stench of their decaying flesh, and sounds of their broken bones chaffing against the stone. Even though there was only a few in either direction, the sound of coming reinforcements assured the men of their worst fears. The walking dead ambled at a pace that allowed the halflings and Argosa to act first. Each of them attacking with desperate ferocity. The blades cut through things, the smith who forged them never dreamed of, nor would he have wanted to, one by one the dismembered husks of former men and women laid in the hall, a scene of abject massacre. Beginning to get fatigued the group took a pause in the melee they shared to catch their breath. As they did, the moans of the undead began to stir and stumble their way from some horrid crypt towards the sound of the hallway clamor. Returning to the sturdy door that had swung closed imprisoning Tinaroth the three attempted their level best to rend it ajar.

The eerie groans of the dead grew louder as the damned approached. And still the door stood firm, pushing and pushing the men began to fear fervently for their fate.

The metal latch began to twist ever so gradually, the men pushed harder, further the metal bent and closer, louder came the horrible dirge of voices from just beyond the hall. The men groaned in a feat of strength, heaving their weight into the door again and again. Still the latch held. From the end of the hall the dead drug themselves from around the corner, groaning and shifting forward on their stiff limbs and decaying joints.
Again the men heaved, yet the door would not yield.

Tinaroth lay within the room beyond their reach, unconscious and drained by whatever ancient evil had invaded his mind. The men panicked with no idea how to escape, the dead lurched forward, swollen swamp filled orbs in their eye sockets fixed dreadfully upon their living victims. The men slammed against the door a final time, the metal tearing loose within the latch, the door breaking inward spilling the men into the room.

There Tinaroth laid, still and silent upon the stone floor without a sign of life about him. Argosa calls upon the mystical force that had answered his prayer before laying his hand upon the body of Tinaroth. Naat and Mors glance the room noticing a panel with three levers and an old rack upon which are stored old rusty pole-arms, but no doors or escape of any kind do they see, nervously they grip their blades and turn their attention to the approaching undead.

Argosa’s prayers claim a moment of grace for Tinaroth as he feels himself awaken from a cold dark place, he opens his eyes climbs to his feet clasping Argosa in sincere thanks. Argosa, turning his attention to the levers, pulls one in a leap of faith. An eerie moan of stone grinding against stone sounds from the hall, as the mouth of a pit opens up beneath two of the shambling undead who fall into it smashing their bodies unceremoniously hard against the rim of the pit as they disappear into the darkness. The four hurry from the small room brandishing the tips of their blades in courage against the doom of the crypt. Each engaging a foul unliving creature of the departed. A gnashing of teeth, melee the swift crescent arc’s of iron blades, as desperate throat clutching grasps lunge at the pulsing necks of the heroes. A head spins and rolls to the floor from Argosa’s deftly wielded longsword, Argosa kicks the decapitated corpse still writhing in blind rage, into the mouth of the pit. Below he hears the noises of at least two more clamoring to climb back into the hall.

Tinaroth lunges clumsily with a rusty pole-arm from the rack in the small room. He misses an abomination badly, placing his body within the reach of the rotting arms of an undead fiend. Before he can pull away Tinaroth is bitten hard between neck and shoulder, the swollen rotten gums and yellow shards of teeth pass into warm flesh. Tinaroth howls in extreme agony, Naat lunged at the monster short swords in hand and plunged them into it’s back as it ravenously fed upon Tinaroth.

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