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T O P I C    R E V I E W
Farrel Posted - 09 May 2010 : 00:52:25
Hail and well met to all at Candlekeep!

I've been a long-time lurker here at the keep for quite a few years and I decided that it was about time I registered and said hello.

I have been enthralled by the Forgotten Realms since the 1st Edition boxed Set and have been an obsessive collector all the way up until they implemented 4th Edition. I realised I had no inclination, or need, to support what WotC released as I didn't feel as though it was the same Realms that i'd come to know and adore.

I've been a DM and Player for 20 years. The majority of that time has been spent wandering Faerûn exploring its rich lore and wonderful personalities. I've always been a DM that likes to roleplay as much of a backstory as possible for a player rather than just having them magically appear at an Inn or Tavern, ready to adventure. It's more to give the player a reason to be an adventurer through past circumstances and experiences and also to allow them to develop a bond with their character.

I allow the player to have a Regional Feat as a bonus, beyond what a normal 1st level character would start play with. I also allow Wizards and Sorcerers the opportunity to substitute the Summon Familiar ability for another Feat. I also let characters that choose Feats that provide bonuses to skills to add those skills to their class skills.

What i'd really like are your opinions, ideas and suggestions for a game that has just commenced.

Recently I started a new campaign, set in Mistledale, for a friend who would be playing a 1st level wizard named Tavelle. It's starts in 1353 DR The Year of the Arch. Here's a little background information.

Tavelle is the 21 year old apprentice and adopted son of Master Nereskul Kralikh (NG Human Male Wiz6) a 50 year old of Sembian origin. Nereskul is a researcher and crafter, he has a 23 year old daughter named Kerryn (NG Human Female Wiz1) who is also studying as an apprentice Mage. They reside in a small, four-storey tower that is surrounded by a ring of twelve apple trees, about two miles south-east of Ashabenford. They have a small chicken-coop and a high fenced area of pasture for two dairy cows. Nereskul's wife passed away due to ill health when Tavelle and Kerryn were in their early teens.

Nereskul values his privacy and appreciates the beauty of Mistledale's countryside but understands the necessity of being close to a town for supplies and trade. The majority of his time is spent crafting Wondrous Items (he possesses the Craft Wondrous Item and Magical Artisan feats), researching new spells, and teaching his two students the responsible and moral use of the weave. A large number of the items he creates goes toward the protection of the Dale itself, such as the Horns that the Riders of Mistledale carry with them (the volume of the Horns being magically enhanced), Circlets of Low-Light Vision (for dusk and twilight rider patrols), and one-charge Mount spell necklace charms, etc. He is on a small retainer from the Council of Six.

Tavelle possesses the Spellcasting Prodigy (Wizard) feat and is far more advanced in his studies than Kerryn but there is no hint of competition between the two. He is a reasonably skilled Silversmith and Gemcutter and is allowed to spend a large amount of time within Nereskul's study reading when his chores are complete. Kerryn is an accomplished seamstress who has a true gift at creating garments of style and due to her great beauty is known by the local Mistrans as the Jewel in the Mists.

The Riders of Mistledale usually call in at the tower twice per ride to check all is well and keep Nereskul up to date with any important news, the patrols are given a bite to eat and are provided with fresh water.

Occasionally groups of adventurers travel to the tower to purchase items and to have divination magic cast on newly acquired treasure. Nereskul is more than happy to trade with the groups as it allows him to purchase hard to find materials which are not generally available.

Once a ride, Tavelle is sent into Ashabenford to procure supplies and he normally travels from the tower into town via a Mount spell and is expected to return the same day. When in Ashabenford he is usually seen with a large number of children following his every move, pleading with him to cast minor Prestigidations for their amusement.

So, that's his uncomplicated, idyllic life at the moment, learning at the feet of a wise father-figure and happy with his adopted family.
25   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
Dalor Darden Posted - 05 Dec 2018 : 03:09:43
Its always good to see a game hasn't fallen by the wayside...especially this one!

I thought you would be interested to know that I'm using "The Old One" (aka ol' Krage) as a VILLAIN!

He is currently "plaguing" a noble who is trying to cut into the woods to create room for a new freehold in the Dales.

In truth he isn't so much a villain as an anti-hero in a short story I'm writing. Not wanting to tarnish the reputation of Unicorns, he is instead primarily using conventional animal forms.

I can't wait to hear more about your campaign...its always a pleasure to read Farrel.
Farrel Posted - 22 Nov 2018 : 12:50:48
Sorry for the length of time between updates, I've kinda been seduced by the Dark Side (read that as playing too much Star Wars Battlefront). I'll attempt another bigger post before the new year...


- "Will you come out with us again?", asked Eridge.

- Tavelle nodded, "Yes, I hope so... How often do you go on patrol?".

- “It’s about a tenday per month”, replied Netley, “I signed up for it when I was eighteen and have two more years before my term is due to end”.

- “The pay’s good and normally we aren’t doing too much apart from riding around”, concluded Eridge.

- Netley grinned, “After the ten years are done we can extend it if we want and, to be honest, the gold is handy if you have a shite farming season”.

- The mounted wizard did his utmost to conceal his surprise, “A Ride a month for ten years? Maybe I can offer my services in another way?”, silently thought Tavelle.

- The mage saw the two mounted militia look to their left and he heard a call of, “Ya’ll right lads?”.

- Tavelle turned towards the voice and could see a middle aged farmer, with a shovel, standing in a shallow ditch within a field of wheat stubble.

- “Well met, Chorril”, replied Netley and Eridge.

- The wizard gave the farmer a friendly nod in greeting as they rode by.

- “Is me little brother still alive?”, asked Chorril, “We ‘eard the swords were called and figured something serious was ‘appening?”.

- “Tolben’s alright”, confirmed Eridge, “He’s at our rear”.

- Netley nodded, “I can’t say much but if I ever have to go back to The Barrowfields it’ll be too soon”.

- The trio kept riding at a steady pace and it wasn’t long before Tavelle could see the White Hart Inn on the left hand side of the Moonsea Ride. There were around a score of townsfolk congregated outside and they all seemed interested in welcoming the returning patrol.

- “So that’s Tolben’s older brother?”, asked the mage.

- Netley nodded, “Yeah, their father’s Tolbir Sarone... he owns the land”, explained the militiaman, “It’s a fair sized plot”.

- A breeze carried the familiar smells of the tannery and brew house across the river and they served as a welcome reminder of home.

- The wizard could see a few of the locals who were visibly upset had taken seats on the wooden benches outside the White Hart and were being consoled by others. As he rode up to the Inn he saw Holfast outside and gave him a wave.

- The innkeeper smiled warmly and stepped forward to meet the mage as he rode past, “Welcome back, Tavelle, I’m glad to see you made it home okay”.

- The wizard nodded, “Thanks Holfast, I count myself fortunate”.

- “When you’ve finished up at the barracks don’t forget to stop by for a pie and an ale”, said the innkeep.

- Tavelle nodded again, “I’m in dire need of a Blackboot so you can count on it”, and he started considering how to broach the subject of getting Brondar’s daughter a job.

- The mage rode past the Inn, began crossing the shallow ford, and could could see Thorm Ubler’s Mill on the opposite bank of the river Ashaba.

- As Tavelle rode out of the water he saw Lhuin’s Fine Leathers on his left and to his right the fenced paddocks of Kaulvaeras’ Stables.

- Many townsfolk lined the main street and greeted the Riders warmly as they trotted their way past on the journey back to the barracks. Some of Kaulvaeras’ horses had approached the fence and watched intently as the patrol passed by.

- To his left there were a few people smiling and waving from the upper windows of the Six Shields rooming house.

- The mage heard music playing and he looked to his right, down a side street and saw the Velvet Veil Festhall. There were a few revellers outside enjoying an evening drink.

- They took a left turn to head northeast and Tavelle spotted the Harvest Table, the shrine to Bountiful Goddess, on his right and the Ashabenford Arms situated opposite it.

- A short distance from the roadside shrine, next to a large stand of trees, was Arhlo’s Fine Flasks, “Praise Chauntea, I’m glad to be back”, thought the wizard.

- The sheer number of townspeople lining their route made Tavelle realise that the swords being called together wasn't a regular event. If he was honest with himself he could only remember two other occasions from his youth.

- The mage noticed that some of the Mistrans would reach up to shake the hands of the militia and some obvious family members were eagerly waiting to greet their kin.

- The sprawling line of mounted militia kept riding northeast through the town. Tavelle eventually turned left to see the three towers and high crenellated walls of the Barracks come into view.

- To his right he saw Arvien’s House and the dark haired tinsmith was standing outside watching closely as the riders passed by. The wizard noted her steely gaze cross over him and he consciously avoided making eye contact with her.

- Eridge nudged the wizard and pointed at the farmland to the east beyond the pewterer’s shop, “That’s the Memblarn farm”.

- Tavelle gave the militiaman a blank look and shrugged.

- “Captain Kuthe’s family farm”, explained Netley, “The plot to the south of it’s owned by Uld Riothass and beyond that is Tanlatha’s farm... she’s a lovely lass”.

- The mage looked past the Barracks of the Riders, “Whose land is that?”, he asked.

- “That’s Channas Hornweather’s farm”, replied Eridge, “Briarly and his six brothers are all in the militia”.

- Tavelle could hear the ringing of metal being steadily pounded from Darblas’ Smithy which was opposite the Barracks.

- The front of the procession were already making their way through the gates and into the grounds. The wizard filed in along with the other militiamen and Riders past the guardsmen at the gates. The courtyard was bustling as people dismounted and started removing their packs from their horses. Tavelle looked around from his high vantage point atop Fury, taking it all in.

- The mage could see Nelyssa talking to Captain Baergil and the High Councillor, Heresk Malorn. Erael was beside her and she was greeted warmly by the pair.

- Tavelle anxiously scanned the crowds and with some relief made eye contact with Kerryn who was standing next to Nereskul. His sister smiled broadly and raised her hand to wave at him. The wizard grinned and returned the wave. He looked to his father and gave Fury a gentle nudge to move towards them.

- The mage noted that as the massive warhorse walked through the throng he was cast admiring glances and a path was cleared in no time.

- The sinister sentience within the strip of the dark cloak was eager to meet Kerryn... Kendra's vessel.

- Kerryn looked up and down at the heavily muscled mount as he approached and the mage saw her jaw drop open slightly.

- “Welcome home”, she smiled.

- “Aye, welcome back”, said Nereskul.

- Tavelle patted Fury on his coal black neck and then slipped off to join his family.

- "Look at the state of you!", laughed Nereskul, "I thought you hated getting dirty?".

- The wizard looked at the pair and grinned, "I doubt I'll ever feel clean again.. there was just so much mud...", and he decided against mentioning all the blood. "I'm in desperate need of a good soak, some unscented soap, and a bristled brush to scrub myself pink", laughed the mage.

- Kerryn smiled broadly, "Well, I like the militia uniform and what have you done to your hair? It looks far longer?".

- Tavelle smirked, "I had an encounter with an enchanted Beardcomb".

- Nereskul raised a bushy eyebrow, "So, where's your beard?".

- The wizard shook his head and grinned, "I combed my hair, not my chin".

- "I love it, the ponytail really suits you", laughed Kerryn.

- "It was a lot longer this morning", explained the mage and he brought forth the length of hair from behind his back.

- Tynan rode past and politely bid Kerryn good evening.

- Tavelle noticed his sisters cheeks flush and she gave a flustered nod to the Tymoran.

- “So, she likes Tynan?”, thought the mage, “He’s nice enough but he’s got a serious gambling problem...”.

- "Did have you had a good time with the Riders?", asked Kerryn as she desperately tried not to look ruffled.

- Tavelle nodded, "Yes, it was certainly an experience".

- Nereskul sidled up to the warhorse and rubbed Fury on his neck, "We heard three farms fell to the Wights".

- His sister nodded, "Half a patrol from Peldan's Helm and a caravan on the Moonsea Ride, too".

- “There were a lot of Wights”, said Tavelle grimly, "So, what have you two been doing?", he asked.

- Nereskul grinned at Tavelle, "We came home to find a notice pinned on the tower door to say the Swords had been called".

- The wizard looked a little confused, "You came home?".

- Kerryn nodded, "Yes, we only returned from Suzail yesterday evening".

- Tavelle raised an eyebrow, "Suzail?", he asked in astonishment.

- Nereskul smiled, "We spent five nights as the guests of the Wavesilvers".

- Kerryn grinned, "We've had the most wonderful time".

- “Beshaba’s Balls!”, silently cursed the wizard.

The player frowned is disgust, “Bollocks! I would’ve loved to have gone to Suzail...”.

- "We heard you were watched over by a star?", asked Nereskul.

- Tavelle nodded, "The Reverend Harvestmaster believes it may have been a Sliver".

- Kerryn smiled warmly, “I prayed to The Moommaiden and the Lady of Mysteries every night to keep you safe...”, and his sister stepped in and hugged him close.

- “Your prayers kept me alive... thank you...”, Tavelle looked upwards in the hope of glimpsing the Herald and was still saddened the star was no longer there.

- “There was a Sliver that spoke to me in a dream... she warned me of the Wights approach... I can’t find her star in the night sky anymore...”.

- Kerryn looked down to the handle of the sword at his hip., "Did you get to use Anvil's Edge?"

- Tavelle nodded, "I'm alive because of it”.

- His sister raised an eyebrow and looked to her father, "Uncle Tharan laughed and said it was a silly distraction"

- "I wonder if he'd think it was a silly distraction if I were to poke the blade up his arse?", thought Tavelle in annoyance, "I'd like to see him concentrate enough to cast a spell, anyway".

The DM noted that Tavelle's inner monologue was getting rather prickly about Anvil's Edge.

- Kerryn broke the uncomfortable silence, “Captain Baergil said your sword was tempered?"

- Tavelle nodded, "It happened prior to departing for the Barrowfields”.

- “If hadn’t been tempered I’d definitely be dead...”, thought the mage.

- Tavelle noticed the wagons were slowly being unloaded. The wizard was particularly intrigued by a large winch and pulley system lifting the heavy chests towards an opening at the top of the East Tower.

- Nereskul nudged the young mage, "Captain Baergil said you were sent back to Ashabenford to rally the patrols against the wights? He said you travelled on a supernaturally fast mount summoned by a Sorceress?".

- The wizard nodded, “Yes, her name is Erael and she’d like to stay with us for a while... and study crafting?”. Tavelle did his best to make it not sound like a desperate plea and failed...

- “Was she the one riding Patches?”, asked Kerryn.

- Tavelle nodded his head again and glanced over to see Naema and Erael make their way over.

To be continued...
Derulbaskul Posted - 29 Aug 2018 : 17:34:45
Originally posted by Shadowsoul

I miss reading this.

Agreed. I always wondered how it turned out.
Shadowsoul Posted - 17 Jul 2018 : 20:39:48
I miss reading this.
Farrel Posted - 06 Aug 2017 : 16:51:24
Derulbaskul, glad it's been of use.

Update ( 23rd October 2011)

- Tavelle heard people moving around him, he opened his eyes, and realised it was morning already. The militia were slowly rising from their slumber and preparing themselves for the ride to Ashabenford.

- The wizard blinked a few times, stretched on his thick bedroll, and was thankful not to have a hangover. He didn't ache or feel as awful as he had the previous morning and felt quite relieved.

- As Tavelle lay on his back he gazed up at the wooden beams and dark arches in the ceiling. There were lots of carvings on the thick wooden frames and most were of flowers, leaves, and horses.

- The mage smelt the aroma of baking bread and wondered what would be for breakfast. The last time he spent the night he'd thoroughly enjoyed a sausage in a flour covered roll.

- Tavelle sat up, he looked about, and noted Drool was nowhere to be seen. It was as he turned his head to search for the dog he remembered to check the length of his hair. The leather cord was loose and Tavelle felt his hair sitting weirdly.

- To his disgust he turned to see the long ponytail trailing onto his blanket. The wizard gently grasped the cord and attempted to sort it out, "Nine Hells", he sighed in frustration.

- "Heh!", chuckled Falmer, who was sat on his bedroll a few feet away, "I've never seen hair grow so bloody quick".

- Tavelle looked over to the bleary eyed militiaman, "Does it look alright?", he asked.

- The fighter shook his head and pulled a face, "No, not really, I'll do it for you".

- Falmer crawled over and deftly untied the cord, he gently pulled back his hair, and tied it securely, "If it keeps growing like this I reckon you should leave it for a ride or two?".

- "A ride or two? Are you having a laugh?", balked Tavelle, "I'd need to buy a wheelbarrow to cart it around".

- "Well, It'd make some lovely rugs", said Falmer.

- Tavelle laughed aloud, "What, wigs?".

- "Yeah, why not?", replied Falmer in surprise, "It's all about length", explained the militiaman.

- The wizard chuckled and looked suspiciously to Falmer's dark brown curls.

- The fighter raised an eyebrow as the mage studied his hair, "Oi! Mine's real, you cheeky bastard".

- Tavelle shrugged, "It's just you seem to know a fair bit about them?".

- Falmer shook his head, "Not really, although I did used to have an aunt who wore a wig".

- The militiaman stood up, yawned, and buckled his weaponbelt, "How much is it growing a night, six inches?", he asked.

- Tavelle worriedly glanced around to make sure their conversation wasn't being misinterpreted, "More like eight", he overestimated loudly.

- The fighter nodded as if impressed, "Suffer it for as long as you're able and then give it a clean trim", and he sat back down on his bedroll to put on his boots, "Have a word with Multhimmer, he'll buy it, you'll see".

- Tavelle sat up straight, "Multhimmer buys hair?", asked the mage.

- "Yep", said the militiaman.

- "How much do you think I might get for it?", asked Tavelle with obvious interest.

- Falmer shrugged, "I'm not sure, but, like I said, the longer the better".

- "A rough estimate?", persisted the wizard.

- "I don't know", said Falmer.

- "How do you know he buys it?", asked Tavelle.

- The fighter breathed a weary sigh, "I've four daughters... Me missus cuts their hair every couple of seasons and they're given some coin... I'll admit I'm rubbish with money so Emlah looks after all that stuff".

- As much as he'd enjoyed Naema's reaction to his hair Tavelle recalled her prediction about it tickling his arse, "I've got to get rid of it... I feel like an idiot...".

- The mage unsheathed the Dwarven dagger, "Can you trim it for me, Falmer? I've had enough of it...".

- "Are you sure?", asked the militiaman as the wizard handed over his blade.

- The mage nodded, "About here", he explained as he held up the excess of the ponytail and pointed, "If I have too much off Naema will kill me".

- Falmer carefully sliced through Tavelle's hair, he handed back the blade, and then held up the ponytail, "You want this?".

- "Not really", smiled the wizard.

- "Can't you use it for any spells?", asked the militiaman.

- Tavelle shrugged and smiled, "Not that I'm aware of".

- "Although, I could ask Kerryn to knit Erael a merkin?", thought the mage as he recalled a particularly treasured mental image from the Rodrathe's stable.

- Tavelle nodded his head at the notion, "Actually, I will have it", and Falmer handed it over. He tied the foot and a half of hair in a double knot and tucked it into a large pouch situated on the rear of his belt.

- "What are you going to do with it?", asked the militiaman.

- "I'd like Kerryn to see it... just to show her how long it was", laughed Tavelle, "If I don't have proof then she'll think I'm pulling her leg".

- Tavelle grabbed his boots and pulled them on. He stood up, wrapped his weaponbelt around his waist, and fastened the buckle. The wizard looked around the hall and could see Tynan and Serrick making their way towards him.

- Tavelle bid them both a good morning.

- "Alright, haircut?", chuckled Tynan.

- "Liria owes us some coin", laughed Serrick.

- "You lot seem to be willing to bet on anything?", smirked the mage.

- The pair nodded, "Yeah, pretty much", admitted Tynan with a grin.

- "Watch out", said Falmer quietly, "Bron's coming...".

- Tavelle turned around and saw Brondar walking over.

- The burly fighter gave him a nod, "Heh, about time yer had it cut... Yer were startin to look like a bleedin Druid...".

- Brondar glanced at the quartet and frowned, "Get yerselves some mornfry and make lively".

- Tavelle carefully rolled up the blanket and buckled the straps to keep it securely stowed. The wizard started to make his way across the hall with Falmer and saw Naema enter through the large arched doorway.

- The Rider was wearing her half plate and he gave her a smile as he walked over to meet her, "Sleep well?", he asked.

- Naema nodded, "Yes, what about you?".

- "I was asleep as soon as I closed my eyes", chuckled Tavelle, "You knackered me out".

- Naema shook her head and started laughing, "I can't wait for the benefits of Bron's training... he's going to have you wearing armour".

- "Well, what do you reckon?", asked Tavelle in an attempt to change the subject.

- "About what?", asked the Rider.

- "I had a trim", explained the mage and he turned his head for the Rider to see, "What do you think?".

- The fighter smiled approvingly, "I'm glad you didn't have too much off...", and she paused as if remembering something pertinent, "Brondar said there's a magical shield?".

- Tavelle nodded and silently wondered if he was going to get told off, "What about it?", he asked suspiciously.

- "Is it powerfully enchanted?", she asked.

- The wizard nearly breathed a sigh of relief, "I think so, but I haven't seen many to compare it against".

- Naema nodded, "Have you seen the longsword? Lanneth said it had a black blade with an exposed edge?".

- Tavelle shook his head, "No, I haven't, not yet... I've only seen the shield briefly... They found the treasure after I'd left for the surface".

- The Rider furrowed her brow, "I saw the trade weights and jewellery being collected... I was too late to see the items...", she explained ruefully.

- "Was there much?", asked the mage.

- The fighter nodded, "There was a lot from what I saw".

- "You rode straight past the magical shield yesterday", chuckled the wizard, "It was on the back of the Chauntean carriage".

- Naema looked deep in thought, "I've always dreamed of an enchanted blade... and this one is as old as Mistledale".

- "I'd say it probably predates Mistledale", offered Tavelle and he silently wondered if Deepchill might know.

- "I've been asked to help the stewards go through it", explained the mage, "Sister Alena wants to be present... just in case".

- The Rider frowned at the wizard, "In case of what?".

- Tavelle gave her a serious look, "Vengeful spirits", he explained.

- Naema paused for a moment, "Do you think the ghosts of the Barrowfields will come for them?".

- The mage shook his head, "No, I don't think so... Not now".

- "Why's that?", asked Naema.

- Tavelle shrugged, "If it was going to happen then I believe we would've seen something last night".

- Naema digested the information, "When do you think you'll get the chance to study them?".

- "I don't know, maybe tonight or tomorrow?", replied the wizard.

- "It's quite exciting", grinned the Rider.

- "I can't wait to see the crown again", admitted Tavelle with a big smile, "It's made of interwoven gold and silver... it's quite stunning... It has five spires which rise from the main headpiece. Each spire was tipped with a gem and the band had some stones in too".

- "Not that you paid much attention?", laughed Naema sarcastically.

- The wizard smiled back at the Rider, "Now it isn't on the head of a murderous Wight King it should prove easier to appraise".

- The fighter smirked and glanced over Tavelle's shoulder, "You'd probably best get some breakfast and sort out your spells", she stated loudly.

- "Eh?", asked the mage.

- "Bron is giving me an evil look...", whispered Naema, "I'll catch up with you during the ride back to town".

- The Rider made her way off, she passed by Briarly, and walked out of the large doorway into the yard.

- The wizard noted many of the militia were already seated and enjoying large baps filled with slices of blood sausage and a fried egg. Tavelle grinned at the thought of it being the only time he could look forward to eating a Black Pudding.

- The mage retrieved the travelling spell tome, from his backpack in the small room, and made his way over to collect a sausage and egg bap from the serving table. Tavelle thanked the young girl and he proceeded to an empty corner table.

- The wizard opened up the book, took a bite of his breakfast, and started to prepare the enchantments he had expended.

- Tavelle felt a presence, someone standing alongside, and he glanced up from the tome to see Sister Alena beside him.

- The priestess smiled at the mage, "Morning, how did you sleep?", she asked, and produced the leather cord from her robes.

- Tavelle returned the smile, "I slept well thank you", and glanced at the thong.

- "I have blessed it as you requested", said Alena as she handed it to the wizard.

- Tavelle took possession of the leather cord and thanked the priestess.

- Sister Alena tilted her head to the side and smiled, "You cut your hair...".

- Tavelle nodded, "The trim feels a lot better".

- The priestess smiled, "I think it suits you... I will be returning to the abbey with the Reverend Harvestmaster and I'll meet you at the barracks this evening".

- Tavelle nodded, "I'll wait for you in the main hall".

- The mage noticed her eyes look to the tome, "I forgot you have to consult your book", she explained, "I'd best leave you to your studies".

- The wizard thanked Sister Alena again for the blessing and Tavelle watched as she made her way off.

- The mage reached into a belt pouch and retrieved the small piece of horn, which was shaped into the Mistran sigil.

- Tavelle carefully threaded the cord through the small hole in the piece. He wrapped it around his right wrist, so everything wasn't on the same arm, and the wizard attempted to tie the cord with a simple knot.

- "I hope this is Ram's Horn...", thought the mage, "It better not be from a goat or bullock".

- The wizard frowned, he realised he should've asked for a firm assurance of their authenticity, "I'll need to test each piece independently".

Tavelle is asked to roll a d20 (DC22 Listen Check).

Tavelle rolls a 6 (+3) = 9

- "What you doing?", asked a voice from out of nowhere and Tavelle nearly jumped from his skin.

- The mage looked sideways to Liria, "Nine Hells! Don't creep up on me, you nearly gave me heartstop!", he scolded and then tried to continue securing the thong.

- Liria leaned in close to get a peek at what he was doing, "What are you tying around your wrist?", she asked.

Tavelle is asked to roll a d20 (DC17 Spot Check).

Tavelle rolls a 7 (+3) = 10

- Tavelle held up his right arm so she could see for herself, "A couple of items so I can cast spells quickly", and he explained their functions.

- The silver-haired Halfling grinned at the wizard, "Cheers, for keeping quiet again".

- Tavelle shook his head, "It's not me you should be thanking, you need to think about how patient Erael is being?".

- "Okay", agreed the Halfling with a pout.

- Tavelle sighed, "You do realise the spelltrap automatically resets itself after it's triggered? Without disabling the magical trap you'll be turned into The Moog every time".

- Liria gave a shrug, "My uncle Mergil says it's an occupational hazard... anyway, I was feeling lucky".

- "You're lucky it's not lethal", scolded the wizard, "If it had been a stroke of lightning or a ball of flame you'd be dead... Twice".

- "Here I go again...", thought Tavelle in annoyance.

- "Meh, I'm pretty nifty on my feet... I'd have dodged it", advised Liria nonchalantly.

- The mage stared into his lap and shook his head, "I give up...", he muttered in defeat.

- Tavelle decided not to waste any more of his breath and thought of something important, "Can you get any Lannane's Parsnip Wine?", he asked.

- The Halfling grinned broadly and nodded her head, "Yeah, I've got two bottles stashed in my pack, you can have one".

- Tavelle's eyes lit up at the news and he thanked Liria, "Ever since you mentioned Nymphs...", he chuckled.

- Liria giggled, "I'd crawl all over your tongue if you wanted? You just need to work on a spell to get us to the same size...".

- Tavelle was left speechless as the silver-haired Halfling winked, placed his dagger on the table and sauntered away.

- The mage turned back to his spell tome, he tried to continue reading, and wondered if he should tell Naema...

- Tavelle completed preparing the Cantrip spell. He was still without a cloak so the wizard began work on an Endure Elements enchantment and he noticed Erael approach.

- The sorceress smiled and gave a him a nod, "Good morning, I see you've trimmed your ponytail".

- "It was getting a bit Liria", chuckled Tavelle.

- "Pardon?", asked Erael with a slight shake of her head.

- "Annoying", laughed the mage.

- "She's certainly persistent", chuckled the sorceress.

- "I'm sorry, I don't want to interrupt your study", apologised Erael, "But, I was hoping you would be able to summon Spot, for me to ride on the way back to Ashabenford, please?".

- Tavelle nodded, "Yes, of course".

- The sorceress fidgeted, "I feel a bit useless just sitting in the carriage".

- The wizard opened a belt pouch to retrieve the clasp and handed it to Erael, "It's in need of a minor repair but it still functions".

- The sorceress thanked him and left him alone to continue reading.

- Tavelle didn't take long to finish preparing his enchantments, he closed the tome, and cast the Endure Elements upon himself.

Wizard Spells Prepared (4/4/3 base DC = 14 + spell level; caster level 4th)

0 level - Detect Magic, Mending, Prestigidation, Read Magic

1st level - Endure Elements, Light of Selune, Mage Armour, Shield

2nd level - Battering Ram, Mirror Image, Rope Trick

- Tavelle looked at the wooden bowl of fruit on the table and picked out a shiny red apple, "Half for Fury and half for me", he thought to himself.

- As the mage turned around to get up he was slightly startled by a large gathering of a dozen, red-haired, children waiting quietly nearby.

- Tavelle rose slowly from the chair, "Er... hello?", blinked the wizard.

- A chubby lad of about ten smiled politely at Tavelle, "Me mama said that if we waited and asked nicely you might show us some magic again, please?".

- All of the children echoed the, "Please", a number of times...

- The wizard grinned broadly and nodded, "It would be my pleasure".

- Tavelle looked to a freckle-faced young girl of around Maisie's age, "What's your name?", he asked, "What would you like to see?".

- "Flying hedgepigs!", squealed the youngster, "I'm Girda! I'm five andanarf!".

- "Okay, Girda... who's five andanarf", chuckled the mage, "A flock of flying hedgepigs coming up".

- Tavelle concentrated whilst casting the Prestigidation and brought to mind some caricatures of hedgehogs he'd fed at the tower over the years... Just to add depth to the minor illusion.

- Over a dozen cute and cuddly hedgepigs with brightly coloured, rapidly flapping, feathered wings sprang into existence in the air above the group. The various colours looked like a rainbow of rotund spiky hummingbirds and they weaved and danced in a rather haphazard fashion.

- Girda squeaked loudly with joy at the sight of one particular hedgehog which was best described as an 'angry pink' hue.

- Her kin laughed at the gaudy humminghogs and most of the adults had also stopped to gawp.

- The wizard saw Nerla, watching a short distance away with a big grin, and her dimples were showing, "Ooh, an audience", he thought happily.

- Tavelle cast a minor Cantrip to conjure an illusory length of twine and he asked Girda to, "Pick a colour".

- "Pink one, please!", beamed Girda.

- The wizard reached out to interact with the illusory flying hedgehog and touched the string to a hind leg. As he did so he manipulated the physics of the minor Prestigidation so that it was buoyant and gravity neutral.

- Tavelle reeled in the fluttering figment and held it gently by its fuzzy snout. He proceeded by bringing the illusion to his lips and pretending to blow hard.

- The fat little hedgehog doubled in size as it began to inflate and its eyes bulged uncomfortably.

- The thrice sized creature resembled a spiny pink blimp with a snout.

- The mage nimbly tied a pretend knot in the illusion and handed the end of the twine to Girda, "There you go".

- "Erm, fankyew?", muttered the small girl as she gazed with her mouth slightly agape at the flapping, balloon-like, hedgehog.

- Tavelle saw Lanneth making his way over and he raised his brow at the floating hedgehog on a length of string, "I hope you don't do that to real ones?", chuckled the Ranger.

- "Not recently", smiled the mage.

- Lanneth shook his head, "You really need to get a move on".

- Tavelle felt an insistent tug at his sleeve and he looked down almost expecting to see Liria.

- "Can you blow up my pet rat?", asked a ginger boy with crossed eyes and Lanneth started laughing.

- Tavelle looked deep in thought for a few moments and then shook his head seriously, "No, I'm sorry, I'd best not...", he explained.

- The wizard collected his pack and stowed his spellbook inside. He followed Lanneth through the small crowd who had gathered to watch the flying hedgehogs and he was intercepted by Nerla.

- "I got you something for the road", she smiled, "It's a few rolls and a couple of treats".

- Nerla handed the mage a small canvas sack and he peeked inside, "Treats?", he asked inquisitively.

- The wizard saw four, seeded, crusty cobs filled with cold roast boar and apple sauce, three large pieces of fatty crackling, and half a dozen gooseberry tarts.

- Tavelle gave Nerla a big hug, "Thank you", he said gratefully, "I do love crackling and I must say I'm partial to a tart".

- Lanneth snorted and the mage gave him a sour look.

- Tavelle turned back to Nerla, "I have to go, thanks again... for everything", he smiled.

- The wizard walked outside with the Ranger and saw the courtyard was crowded and buzzing with activity.

- The chunky young lad was holding Fury by the reins. He could see his mane had been beautifully braided with some white ribbon intertwined. His coal black coat was gleaming and his hooves washed.

- He secured the saddlebags and patted the large horse on the neck, "Thank you, he looks amazing!", admitted the wizard.

- "Aye", said the lad and he smiled, "He loves the attention".

- Tavelle nodded, "I've found he's a very good listener... Not so great with advice... I'm sorry, I don't know your name?", apologised the mage.

- "I'm Yort, Dumic is my uncle", explained the youth.

- Tavelle retrieved the apple, he sliced it in two with his dagger, and offered a piece to the massive stallion. Fury's bristly lips closed around the fruit and Tavelle heard some heavy chomping as the apple disappeared.

- The wizard retrieved a silver coin from his purse and handed it to Yort, "Thank you for doing such a splendid job on Fury".

The DM nearly fainted...

- The young lad looked at the coin with wide eyes, "Thanks!", he blurted excitedly, "Uncle Dumic said he's a proper heavy warhorse...".

- "He's a heavy warhorse?", asked the mage.

- "Yep, a real destroyer", nodded Yort, "Uncle Dumic knows his horses".

Tavelle's owner silently digested the information...

The DM noted a blank look...

- "I'd better go hide this somewhere safe... thanks again!", said Yort as he departed.

- Tavelle watched the young lad walk to the stables and looked Fury up and down, "Well, don't you look smart?", he told the huge horse.

- The wizard took a bite of the apple and turned to watch a trio of militia approaching. He recognised them as Feluan, Corster, and Jerren. The shaggy haired woodsman smiled broadly as he led the others over. Feluan was spinning a wicked looking knife nimbly through his fingers and Jerren was having trouble making eye contact.

Tavelle is asked to roll a d20 (DC15 Spot Check).

Tavelle rolls a 2 (+3) = 5

- "We got you a present", said Corster with a grin, Feluan nodded, and Jerren continued to look shifty.

- "I'm not about to get shanked am I?", thought the mage.

- Jerren brought his right arm from behind his back and held out his hand to reveal a navy blue, almost black, glass vial. There was a sinister skull stopper, with a rather insane grin, and far too many teeth.

- "It's a bottle of Wyvern's venom", explained the Bear.

Tavelle is asked to roll a d20 (DC15 Spot Check).

Tavelle rolls a 10 (+3) = 13

- "Yer left the stinger on the floor after yer tried poisoning yerself...", and the three of them startled laughing, "When everyone else went back to the farm we tapped it into the bottle for yer", explained Feluan.

- "It's wonderful, thank you", said Tavelle and he started laughing, "I did want some...".

- "Harran whittled us a lovely stopper for it", said Corster.

- "I think I saw him carving it?", nodded the mage, "It's everything a bottle of poison should be... Nobody could mistake it for a vial of scent"

- "We approve", thought the dark strip of cloth.

Tavelle is asked to roll a d20 (DC15 Spot Check).

Tavelle rolls a 17 (+3) = 20

- "Good whittler...", mumbled Jerren in agreement, and the wizard saw something move in his trouser leg.

- Tavelle raised a concerned eyebrow, "Jerren, is there something in your britches?".

- The militiaman nodded, "It's my ferret", he explained quietly.

- The mage chuckled as he watched the lump move towards Jerren's groin, "Is it safe to have it roaming around in there?".

- The militiaman smiled, "Yeah, he's fine... He's hiding from that bloody great owl", and the bump in the material moved again.

- Corster explained they weren't generally allowed to bring pets along but Slinky the ferret provided rabbits to supplement their rations.

- "There's a big old oak stump near yer tower... Loadsa rabbits underneath it", said Feluan. Jerren nodded, "Next time we go yer can come along if yer want?".

- Feluan twirled a slender knife deftly between his fingers, "I'll teach yer how to skin the buggers".

- The wizard nodded his agreement as he'd never been ferreting for rabbits and was eager to see Slinky, "Yes, please", he replied.

- Tavelle held up the bottle, "Thank you again for this", he said sincerely, and marvelled at the indigo glass and grinning white skull...

- There were occasional incidents with mice at the tower and Nereskul wasn't particularly fond of cats. He recalled the first mouse he encountered in his room and the surprisingly awful mess it made when struck by a Magic Missile.

- The toxin might not be pleasant for the small rodents but at least they wouldn't explode.

- Tavelle remembered finding random pieces of mouse for weeks afterwards and cleaning gore from the ceiling had taken forever, "Yep, poison the buggers...", he thought to himself.

- Jerren nodded, mumbled, "Careful wittit", and wandered off to prepare his mount.

- Corster placed a large hand on his shoulder and the mage saw his hairy knuckles, "Seriously, be careful with it", asserted the hirsute militiaman.

- Tavelle placed the small bottle in a side pocket of his backpack, he wedged it securely upright, and thought how great it would look on his shelf.

DM note.

The stoppered glass vial contains eight doses of virulent Wyvern's venom.

- Tavelle placed a hand on the saddle, a foot in a stirrup, and swung himself easily onto Fury. The mage adjusted his position a few times until he found exactly the right spot where his buttocks had been previously.

- As Tavelle sat upon Fury he watched the militia preparing to depart the ranch.

- Brother Waylam and Brother Xarran were in their seats on the carriage. Trentos of the Abbey held the reins to his wagon and was talking to Harbeck who was mounted next to him.

- "Remember", called the Paladin of Chauntea, "Remember your vows... What happened on patrol and in the Barrowfields will not be discussed", and she stared at Liria.

- Tavelle raised an eyebrow and wondered what he would tell his family about the expedition into the Barrowfields, "Father is on a retainer from the council... I should probably tell him everything... well, obviously, not everything...", thought the wizard.

- Tavelle heard Brondar bellow the order for the column to move out and he saw a steady procession of mounted militia follow The Shield of Chauntea. The riders began crossing under the wooden arch decorated with red stained antlers and it took some time for the Chauntean carriage to start moving.

- As he rode next to the carriage the wizard wondered how to go about broaching the subject of tutelage with his father.

- Tavelle realised that he and Erael would need to get their stories straight before any meeting with his family, "We need to be reading from the same scroll", he told himself.

- All of the Riders and militia were seen off by the ranchers who lined up along each side of the large arch. They sang a simple hymn to Chauntea with great enthusiasm as the carriage rolled smoothly past.

- Tavelle waved farewell to Dumic, Nerla, and Lossora as he rode underneath the arch. The mage looked up at a massive rack of antlers and hoped to be able to return.

- He turned in the saddle for a final wave goodbye and could see, hovering above the crowd of farmers, a pink, blimp-like, hedgehog fluttering on string and he left Dumic's ranch with a grin.

- The mounted militia snaked its way away from the farm buildings and a little while later, when the mage turned back to see the ranch, it was a lot smaller in the distance. They were expected to make Ashabenford by early evening as there would be no detour to Stumphill or any visits to the outlying farms.

- After the rebuke from the previous day the mage dutifully kept his eyes peeled for any threats to the caravan. The summer was well and truly over and he noted the sky was filled with marbled grey clouds.

- Tavelle watched Lanneth and some of his militia take up positions a couple of hundred yards either side of the column and ride parallel with it.

- The wizard rode alone for at least the first hour of the journey before Brondar galloped up from the rear of the column and joined him.

- The fighter gave him a nod, "I reckon we'll be needing to get yer up earlier in the morning next time yer patrol?".

- "What do you mean, next time?", smirked the mage, "I'm never leaving the tower again!".

- The burly Rider gave the wizard a strange look.

- "It's far too dangerous outside", laughed Tavelle.

- Brondar quickly realised he was being teased and started laughing, "There's me thinking Haylen took a long time to get ready in the morning?".

- "It's only because I'm popular", chortled the mage.

- "Popular? Pfft! Yer a right bloody gasbag!", laughed the bearded fighter.

- "To be fair, I don't get let out of the tower much", chuckled Tavelle, "Nereskul doesn't like to unleash me on the dale too often".

- Brondar started laughing loudly and had to physically stifle himself so as not to attract the Shield's attention.

- The wizard waited politely for the Rider to cease his tittering.

- Bron took a deep breath, "I've seen yer unleash yerself against a skeletal chicken and that wasn't a pretty sight", giggled the red faced fighter.

- Tavelle winced... Being reminded of the undead cockerel, and his laughably poor attempts at killing it, wasn't his favourite subject.

- "I've moved on from that", explained Tavelle, "and, by the way, go cluck yerself", he smiled.

- Brondar laughed, wiped the tears from his eyes, and shook his head, "So, when do yer reckon yer'll be ready for some training?".

- "I was thinking a ride?", offered the mage, "I've amassed quite a list of things I wish to do".

- "Like what?", asked the fighter.

- "I'm going to ask Kerryn for some help... I want to make a magical cloak to keep me warm and dry", explained Tavelle, "If I'm not required to memorise an Endure Elements enchantment each day I can keep my mind free for something else".

- Brondar nodded.

- "I might also see if I can make a Brooch of Shielding", explained the wizard.

- The burly Rider shrugged, "What about the brooch from the barrow? Isn't that what yer told Tynan it was? They might let yer have it?".

- Tavelle shook his head, "You're right but I'd like to make my own... something that's not a Red bloody Dragon".

- Brondar nodded, "What else?", asked the fighter.

- The mage continued, "I'd also like to finish some pieces of jewellery I've got back at the tower... Multhimmer has been on at me forever about letting him sell some of my stuff...".

- The bearded Rider harrumphed, "Make sure yer overprice it... Multhimmer will".

- Tavelle started laughing, "I really need the money... I just don't like the thought of him selling my work".

- "What're yer on about?", asked Brondar.

- The wizard shrugged, "It's a general store...".

- "Yer might be best having a word with Ellick?", offered the fighter.

- "The Gnome jeweller in Glen?", asked the mage.

- "Aye", confirmed Brondar.

- Tavelle thought back to his stay with Asantar and he recalled his visit to Ellick's tiny shop.

- To say it was small was a slight understatement and the mage wondered if you could squeeze more than four Gnomes in there at the same time?

- The wizard remembered feeling like a giant when he was forced to duck to gain entry and moving around within its confines had been nerve wracking.

- Tavelle started laughing, "Have you ever been inside?".

- Brondar shook his head, "Nope, I have to look through the bleedin window".

- Ellick, the Gnomish Jeweller, had been friendly and was extremely knowledgeable. The mage had been keenly aware that Ellick was worried about him accidentally knocking things over due to his size and the tight constraints of the shop.

- Tavelle recalled being dumbstruck at the trays of various stones which lined the walls of Glimmerstone's Gemporium. He had seen many varieties of rocks and crystals which he had only ever read about... it had taken Naema and Andurar quite some time to get him to leave.

- Tavelle nodded, "As suggestions go, that's a very good one, thanks".

- "So, did her have fun with yer missus last night?", asked the fighter.

- "Yes, I did", smiled the wizard, "It was certainly different".

- "Halinthe won't let me explore her 'other dimension' I'm not allowed", grumbled Brondar.

- "Pardon me?", asked the mage, "What exactly are we talking about?".

- "Erm, what're yer talking about?", muttered the Rider.

- Tavelle frowned at Brondar, "I'm talking about a new spell I tried last night, to summon a small extra-dimensional space, and you?".

- "Aah, well... Never mind...", said the fighter.

- There was a brief, uncomfortable, silence.

- Brondar cleared his throat with a cough, "So, come on, what happened when yer faced the Mound King?".

- Tavelle gave a shrug, "Well, I realised I'd met my doom and I remembered our conversation on the way to the Barrows...".

- A smile crept onto his face, "So, I readied my boot and looked for his knackers... I have to say I was disappointed... No balls... No nose to tweak...".

- The Rider shook his head, "Come on, stop <censored> about and tell me the damned truth".

- "The truth?", asked Tavelle as if seeking confirmation, "Well, the truth isn't brave or heroic... I thought of letting Jentar die...".

- Brondar let slip a guffaw, "We've all done that".

- Tavelle shook his head, "Not like this though", and he looked bemused, "It was the way it just popped into my mind... Let the paladin die".

- "Yeah, but yer didn't", said the fighter, "Serrick said yer pissed it off so bad it wanted yer dead more than anyone else?".

- Tavelle smiled at Bron, "I can get a bit annoying".

- The dark strip of cloth silently seethed in agreement...

- The fighter shook his head, "Yer baited the <censored> into attacking yer".

- The mage shrugged, "That's all your fault... You said trust in your Swordbrothers... I had to try and help...".

- Tavelle noticed Brondar was staring at him intently, "Yer were willing to take it all the way and do yer duty... To give all yer have is brave and heroic in my mind".

- "Pfft!", snorted the wizard, "I'd no intention of nearly getting myself killed... It just sort of happened...".

- Brondar shook his head, "I've seen men who thought they were hard <censored>, <censored>, <censored> themselves when it came down to a proper battle".

- Tavelle raised an eyebrow, "Does Halinthe actually let you kiss her with that mouth?", laughed the mage.

- "Bah! I'm just sayin yer never really know how yer'll react until it happens...", said the fighter in frustration.

- "Well, at least I can tell Captain Baergil I didn't <censored> myself...", grinned the wizard.

- Brondar smiled through his beard, "Aye, and from what they said about Erael's new sword it sounds as though the tempering did a good job? No doubt he'll be pleased to hear about that".

- Tavelle nodded and he thought back to the conversation with Derim, "The Lionswrath blade was tempered too", he reminded the Rider.

- "Yeah, and it's in the hands of the Morn Horn", grumbled Bron.

- "I still think Erael was meant to face the Mound King", muttered the mage.

- "Maybe she was?", nodded Brondar, "But, when Jentar <censored> things up and she couldn't, you did...".

- "Beshaba's Balls!", thought Tavelle, "Even Brondar's starting to sound wise... what in the Nine Hells is happening?".

- The wizard saw Naema riding towards them from the front of the column. The fighter slowed down as she approached, wheeled her mare around to pull up alongside the mage, and gave him a nod.

- The young Rider glanced at the bearded Rider, she grinned, and shook her head, "The Shield has asked if you can secure our rear, please?".

- Brondar sighed, he frowned at Tavelle, and nodded to Naema, "Aye, will do".

- The pair watched as the fighter trotted off towards the rear, "What was Bron laughing about?", she asked.

- "I mentioned my father not letting me out of the tower much", chuckled the mage, "He seemed to find my comment about Nereskul occasionally unleashing me on the dale hilarious".

- The Rider spluttered a giggle and put a gloved hand to her mouth, "I'm sorry", she apologised, "You do say some funny things".

- Tavelle bowed courteously, "I do my best".

- The fighter smiled, "So, what's the thing you're looking forward to the most about returning?".

- The wizard raised his brow, "To the barracks or home?".

- "Both?", asked Naema.

- "Well, either way, I want a bath... a hot one... with bubbles... and some nice soap without any curly hairs...", explained Tavelle.

- "Talking of baths", laughed Naema, "You could try and create a spell to summon a hot one for the Rope Trick? You can summon a horse, why not a bath?".

- Tavelle imagined a miniature gold bath with a crested high back and four elegant leonine feet... it was strung on a length of long gold chain and hung alongside a tiny, four-poster, canopied bed fashioned of exotic wood...

- "You have some very good ideas", grinned the mage, "For a fighter".

- "You don't swing a bad blade... for a wizard", chuckled Naema.

- Tavelle nodded and smiled, "It was your lessons which kept me alive... well, that and Sister Alena's healing prayer".

- "I'm so proud of you", smiled the Rider.

- "Really?", asked Tavelle with a mock frown.

- "Yes, really", stated the fighter firmly.

- Tavelle thought Naema looked like she was thinking of punching him, so he decided to keep quiet for once...

- "A lot of the militia think you'd make a good Rider... I think so too", she continued.

- The mage nodded, "I'd need to learn to ride properly...".

- "Dairantha is a good teacher and she leads the Mistran Lancers", offered Naema, "I'll make sure you can do all the basics and she'll show you how to control a mount in battle".

- Tavelle frowned, "I'd been thinking of giving the cloak clasp to Kerryn?".

- "What about Fury?", asked the Rider, "I mean, you can practice on Fury at the barracks", she explained hastily.

- Tavelle nodded, "It's probably the best place to learn and, according to Dumic, Fury is a war horse...".

- Naema grinned, "We'll be able to call you the Spell Lancer as well as Swordmage?".

- Tavelle smiled broadly, "The Spell Lancer? I must say I like that name...", and he imagined himself with a magical silver lance atop Fury.

- The mage remembered the gift from Nerla, "Do you want a roll?", he asked.

- Naema shook her head, "No thanks, I've the same as you, I saw Nerla before we departed".

- "I've memorised a Rope Trick for tonight", smiled Tavelle.

- Naema grinned, "Good, I'll be happy to tire you out again...", and she looked to the Shield of Chauntea, "I'd better get back to the front, I'll see you at the barracks", explained the Rider.

- Tavelle nodded and watched Naema as she rode off to the head of the patrol with Nelyssa. The mage had a look about to see who was near and he saw Eridge and Netley riding together behind him.

- Tavelle could see the sorceress riding Spot a short distance ahead of him, so he gave Fury a gentle nudge to catch up with her.

- Erael turned around in the saddle as he drew near and smiled.

- "How are you getting on?", asked the wizard, "Is Spot behaving?".

- The sorceress nodded, "Yes and I'm really enjoying riding".

- Tavelle smiled as he had to agree both of the summoned mounts were very placid and lovely to ride.

- "What do we tell my family?", asked the mage, "What with the patrols being called together there's a chance they may be waiting at the barracks".

- The sorceress looked into her lap, "I know they're your family but I'd rather no others learn of my true nature".

- Tavelle nodded, "I understand".

- "It's worked out quite well but I still think the Reverend Harvestmaster was one too many", she continued.

- Tavelle nodded again.

- Erael gave the wizard a weak smile, "Besides, I'd really like to be just plain old Erael Iglasheer for a while", she explained.

- Tavelle grinned, "Plain isn't a word I could associate with you... or old for that matter".

- The sorceress returned the smile, "Sometimes I don't want to be a dragon... I like being Erael".

- "I understand, but, I was thinking more about getting our stories straight", explained Tavelle, "If you're staying at the tower then things will come up in conversation".

- Erael nodded.

- "Like how you took down a gigantic, horny, Wyvern... or how we travelled so fast, things like that", and the wizard grinned.

- The sorceress smiled.

- Tavelle couldn't track the sun due to all of the cloud cover but estimated it was past lunchtime when his stomach started gurgling.

- "Fancy a roll?", asked the mage as he rummaged through the small sack of provisions, "It's roast boar with apple sauce".

- "Yes please, I do love cooked food", grinned Erael.

- "I have some gooseberry tarts, too", continued the wizard.

- The pair quietly discussed the finer points of their stories while enjoying the roast boar and pastries.

- Erael reached into a pouch on her belt and produced a small wooden pot with a round cork bung, "Maisie asked me to give you this".

- Tavelle thanked the sorceress as she handed it to him.

- He carefully removed the stopper and looked to the contents.

- Inside the pot was a fine white powdery substance, "Did she say what it is?".

- Erael smirked at the mage, "She said it was Faerie dust".

- "Dodgy looking mushrooms... strange white powder... If I was stopped by the watch in Ashabenford and asked to turn out my pockets I reckon I'd be in trouble?", thought the wizard.

- Tavelle raised an eyebrow, "Any idea what it does?".

- The sorceress gave a slight shrug, "She said it makes things that aren't real, so I'm guessing Maisie means illusions?".

- "I wonder if it's Dust of Illusion?", pondered the wizard aloud.

- Tavelle looked back to the contents and grinned, "I have this weird mental image of Maisie shaking Nibblenook over this pot for hours", laughed the mage.

DM note.

The small wooden container holds six pinches of Dust of Illusion.

- Tavelle tucked the wooden pot into a large pouch at the rear of his weaponbelt and retrieved the Unicorn charm pendant, "Jobet Selmer gave me this to give to Kerryn".

- The wizard passed it over to Erael, "She said it belonged to my mother but I don't ever remember seeing her wearing it...she had a small silver Unicorn... It was a simple, stamped, piece of metal... nothing like this...".

- "It's beautiful", agreed the sorceress.

- Tavelle pointed to the spiralled horn, "I cant be certain but I think the Alicorn is the same metal as the Harvestmaster's shield".

- "It's called Dlarun", explained Erael, "The Dwarves of Stoneshield Hall call it by another name... Icesteel".

- Tavelle nodded, he'd never heard of the metal.

- "The stones are the same colour as Maisie's eyes", said the sorceress and she handed it back.

- "The same colour as my mothers", thought the mage and he placed it carefully back into the pouch.

- Tavelle looked to Spot, "I'd suggest you summon Patches for the remainder of the journey".

- Erael nodded and she stopped to dismount.

- The sorceress dismissed Spot and called upon Patches, "Naema says I'm going to love Kerryn?".

- Tavelle nodded enthusiastically, "I'm certain of it and Kerryn will welcome some female company at the tower... after all, she has to put up with me and my father".

- The wizard grinned, "I expect her to want to make you an entirely new wardrobe".

- Erael raised a dark eyebrow as she climbed up onto Patches, "She is a carpenter?".

- The mage chuckled an apology, "I'm sorry, I mean clothing... she's an amazing seamstress".

- "I remember you saying", laughed Erael, "Will she knit me some woolen underpants?".

- Tavelle nodded, "Yes, and you must promise me you'll never, ever, wear them", laughed the wizard.

- The patrol trotted down a lane lined with late blooming wild flowers and thick bramble hedges. Small sparrows flitted in and out of the branches and the chirruping birds seemed to greet them as they rode on to Ashabenford.

- The patrol passed alongside the fenced outskirts of a field of cattle and the mage recognised the Trelfort Farm.

- "The Wyvern you slew had stolen away this farmers prize bullock", explained the wizard and he pointed to the farm building, "Even though farmer Trelfort said it was massive... it still didn't prepare me for quite how huge the beast would be...", and the mage paused.

- "What made you say it was horny?", asked Tavelle with a grin.

- "I was wondering when you'd ask", laughed the sorceress, "I believe it's breeding season... he must have been deposed by another bull and driven from his range... he'd been sent completely mad with lust..."

- "Stewing in his own juices, so to speak?", laughed the mage.

- Erael nodded and started giggling, "He came swooping in with some rather unwelcome ideas".

- "When he crashed landed on his back...", chuckled Tavelle, "I didn't see his unwelcome idea on show?".

- Erael started laughing, "I think my blast of cold breath may well have made it shrink?".

- Tavelle grimaced and shifted uncomfortably, "Beshaba's frozen Balls...", thought the wizard.

- Erael stood up on her stirrups for a better view, "Is that the Moonsea Ride?", she asked.

- Tavelle raised himself in the saddle and could see the banked road ahead of them, "Yes, not far now", he explained. Nearly half the patrol had already made it up the slope and had turned right.

- Fury funnelled out of the hedged lane alongside Patches, walked up the banked earth, and onto the wider road. To the south Tavelle could see the Saltdean farm and a number of people in the fields waved a greeting.

- On the left hand side of the Moonsea Ride, quite a way away, Tavelle could see the long line of huge beech trees which flanked the Holy Road. The wizard could just make out the tallest spire of the Abbey of the Golden Sheaf.

- "It certainly looks different from the air", said the mage as he recalled the magnificent wheel-like outer farmlands within the Abbey grounds.

- Tavelle saw Lanneth up ahead waiting alongside his militia for the Chauntean carriage and wagon to reach the beautiful arch of intertwined beeches.

- "It looks like Lanneth will be escorting the Reverend Harvestmaster?", advised the wizard and he saw Erael staring intently at the trees.

- "I'm glad I've seen this...", said the sorceress quietly.

- The impressive entrance to the Holy Road was one of Mistledale's most famous features and the mage was reminded of the vaulted ceilings within the Abbey itself.

- "We'll have to come back and ride up to the Abbey?", offered Tavelle.

- Erael nodded and smiled.

- The wizard watched as The Shield of Chauntea conversed with the occupants of the elegantly framed carriage and wondered if Naema might like to visit Oakengrove Abbey...

- Tavelle saw some goods were being unloaded and transferred to the wagon returning to the barracks and Trentos gave him a wave.

- Nelyssa bowed to the Harvestmaster, she turned around in the saddle, looked towards the sorceress, and beckoned her over.

- Erael glanced to the mage, "I think I'm wanted?".

- Tavelle nodded, "I think you are", he replied.

- The wizard watched as the sorceress trotted off, towards the carriage, to speak with the Reverend Harvestmaster.

- Tavelle saw a speckled Mistlethrush gazing up at him from the leaf litter of a nearby beech tree and he blew a soft warbling whistle to it.

- The mage recalled his room at the tower, being seated at his desk, and looking out of the window.

- There were some large oak trees, about a quarter of a mile away, that could be seen after the mists cleared.

- In the evening, during the chorus at dusk, a lone Mistlethrush would often sit atop the tallest of the oaks and try to whistle its beak off...

- The song was clear and beautiful, but, really rather random...

- The leggy, fawn-coloured, bird made a squeaky, "Meep", noise and scampered away into the bushes under the trees.

- Tavelle cast his eyes back to the carriage and he saw Erael nod, smile at the occupants, and she turned Patches away to ride with Nelyssa.

- The column started moving again and it took a little while for it to pass by the arched beeches.

- The wizard trotted past, he looked down the tree-framed road and saw the ranger, and his militia, accompanying the Chaunteans towards the Abbey of the Golden Sheaf.

- Tavelle rode by himself as the mounted patrol and wagon made good speed along the Moonsea Ride.

- The mage saw they were coming up on a small caravan and the guards at the rear called for the wagons to give way for the Riders of Mistledale.

- The road was wide enough for the large wagons to pass side by side and they too were heading to town.

- Tavelle rode past the first of the mounted caravan guards and the heavily muscled fighter gave him a nod.

- The wizard returned the greeting and gave thanks for clearing the road.

- The swarthy man wore a fine ringmail overcoat which didn't have any sleeves and it showed off his impressively corded upper arms. A pair of black steel bracers covered his entire forearms and the mage could see the handle of a battleaxe on his back.

- The second guard smiled at Tavelle, "Nice horse", he commented as the wizard rode by. The mage recognised a Sembite accent and he nodded his thanks.

- Tavelle noted the guard was wearing some lighter studded-leather armour in comparison to his larger compatriot. There was a longsword sheathed at his side and a shortbow in a holster attached to his saddle.

- As he rode up to the first of the two heavily laden wagons the mage noted the carved script, on the sides of each, designated them as part of the Corvair Trading Coster.

- The teams driving the large wagons seemed to be family members and they were friendly as the militia filtered past them. Tavelle counted six mounted guards and each covered wagon had four people riding on them.

- The merchants were moving at a slower pace than the Riders and the wizard could hear the clinking of glassware as he passed by.

- Tavelle watched Jentar approach on his mount and the mage noted the Paladin seemed different to the one who had arrived at the Barrowfields... it was far more than just some missing pieces of armour.

- Tavelle smiled at Jentar, "How are you doing?", he asked with genuine concern.

- The Paladin gave the wizard a nod, "I'm alright, thank you".

- "It's just we haven't seen much of you over the last couple of nights", explained the mage.

- "I've been trying to sort through things", he advised, "Has the Reverend Harvestmaster mentioned me in conversation?", he asked.

- Tavelle nodded, "Yes, of course he has, he's worried about you".

- Jentar nodded.

- "Did you know about the tempering of the sword when Erael visited the barrracks?", asked the wizard.

- The Paladin glanced to the Phoenix pommel cap, "Yes, Erael explained what happened with the relic... and I believe wielding this sword comes with a responsibility...".

- "I didn't understand at first but you were right... again...", sighed Jentar.

- Tavelle looked a little bemused, "About what?".

- The Paladin of the Morninglord gazed directly at the mage, "It was about being willing to give my own life before thinking of spending others...".

- "I don't remember saying anything like that?", said Tavelle quizzically, "Well, not to his face anyway", he thought to himself.

- "It was more by deed...", explained Jentar.

- "Oh...", muttered the wizard.

- The Paladin looked into his lap, "Anyway, I intend to inform the High Councillor of my decision", and he paused.

- "What decision?", asked Tavelle.

- "To step down as a candidate for the role of Captain of the Riders...", explained Jentar, "My support will go to The Shield, if it counts for anything?".

- Tavelle rode alongside the Paladin and found he was changing his mind... again, "Lathander's Light?", he silently wondered, "Or, another false dawn?".

- Jentar fidgeted uncomfortably atop his mount, "It's been pointed out to me before that my leadership and decision making skills need to improve...".

- "Farrel called you a <censored> moron", said Liria, seemingly from out of the aether, "Trentos told me".

- The mage and paladin both turned to look down at the mounted Halfling.

- "So nice of you to sneak up on us", said Jentar sarcastically.

- Liria glanced at Drool and shook her head, "Does it look like I can control this dumbass?", she asked pithily.

- "I hear that's what Drool says?", laughed Tavelle.

- "Meh!", snorted Liria.

- Tavelle turned back to the Paladin of Lathander and tried to ignore the interruption, "You know Farrel?", he asked.

- Jentar nodded, "The Tymoran Sellsword? Yes, he left for Shadowdale with Nystiir, Florin, and Lady Dove a couple of months ago".

- "Don't mention Florin around Nelyssa", sniggered the Halfling, "She'll get all dreamy and squirm in the saddle".

- Tavelle and Jentar frowned in unison and stared sternly at Liria.

- The silver haired Halfling looked up innocently, "Well, you'd have to wonder how long it's been since that furrow's been ploughed?".

- "Liria, for fuh!", exclaimed the wizard but cut himself short... he didn't want to swear in front of a Paladin.

- Liria started laughing, "Exactly...".

- Tavelle shook his head, "Do I have to mention squirrels?".

- "What? That was a real Chauntean joke, right there!", protested the Halfling.

- Drool looked up at the mage and his tail started to wag with interest.

- With but a few words of encouragement the large Mastiff bounded off at high speed barking loudly.

- "Baaasssstaaarrrddd!", shouted the Halfling shakily as Drool raced through a thick hedge in search of squirrels.

- Jentar smiled at the wizard, "I'll have to remember that".

- Tavelle nodded his agreement, "Liria can get a bit carried away and she really shouldn't make fun of a patrol leader".

"Pot, kettle, black...", muttered the DM.

"Yeah, maybe I didn't think that through?", said the player ruefully.

- The Paladin of Lathander pursed his lips and looked to the wizard, "To be fair, at least he said it to my face...".

- "Pardon?", asked Tavelle and he silently wondered if Jentar knew of his nicknames.

- "Farrel was frustrated at my choice of tactics and called me an effing moron", explained the Paladin, "Looking back I think he was correct...".

- "Like I said before", advised the mage with a mental sigh of relief, "Acknowledging your mistakes is half the battle... the rest is learning from the experience".

- "Beshaba's Balls!", thought Tavelle, "I can't really go around calling him the Morn Horn or the Pink Lancer anymore...".

- Jentar nodded and there were a few moments of silence between the pair.

- During the lack of conversation the wizard recalled a name which felt familiar to him, "I'm sure Kerryn has talked of a girl named Nystiir... I even think I've met her".

- "It was when we were a lot younger and mother was alive", he thought to himself, "Kerryn used to visit Jhair for singing lessons".

- The mage had only seen her a few times and he'd only been about ten years old, "I'm certain Nystiir was the pretty, red-headed, girl who stayed with Jhair for a while".

- The Paladin of Lathander looked to the wizard, "I've heard you're going to seek tutelage from Brondar?".

- Tavelle nodded, "Yes, that's right".

- "If he invites you to his farm be prepared", said Jentar ominously.

- "Prepared for what?", asked the mage.

- "Loud and very aggressive Watch Geese", explained the Paladin in a serious tone.

- "Really?", balked the wizard, "They can't be that bad can they?".

- "Don't say you haven't been warned... huge great things", said Jentar.

- Tavelle sat in the saddle and imagined a giant, loud, aggressive bird...

- He hurriedly tried to shake the silhouette of Nimberlena Rodrathe from his mind and to actually start thinking of Watch Geese...

- "Maybe Naema might want to come?", thought the mage, "She could protect me? I could say I need help to measure up the Rope Trick for the bath?".

- Tavelle remembered their conversation from the night before, "From the sounds of it I'm going to be wearing armour and getting bashed up? The least she could do is make good on her suggestion about helping me remove it?".

- "Tharan's your uncle and Jhair's your aunt!", silently concluded Tavelle, "I'll have to ask her".

- A short while later Liria came back into view and was riding Drool a short distance ahead of him. As usual the Mastiff was largely uncontrollable and wandered as he pleased by the mounted column of militia. Liria would occasionally attempt to steer the large dog in a desired direction and then there would be the inevitable swearing.

- The wizard brought to mind a Cantrip he thought might prove useful in gaining a measure of revenge on the annoying Halfling...

- The mage concentrated and summoned a bumblebee, which appeared hovering in the air next to him. The bee was nowhere near as impressive as Nibblenook's mount but that wasn't really the point.

- Tavelle pointed his finger towards Liria and he made a buzzing sound. It flew steadily towards the mounted Halfling and began a wobbly, random, orbit around her.

- The wizard grinned as Liria ducked, waved, cursed, and weaved in a frustrated attempt to avoid the armed doodlebug.

- Drool's tail wagged excitedly as the rider fidgeted and swayed in the saddle. The Mastiff thought it all a marvellous game...

- "You've quite a mischievous streak", laughed the Paladin, "What if it stings her and she's allergic?".

- "Then I'll finally be able to delve into my repertoire of fat Halfling jokes", smirked the wizard.

"<censored> me! I'd forgotten Jentar was still there!", laughed Tavelle's owner.

- Tavelle amused himself for a few minutes before Drool happily chased down the bee and gobbled it up, "Ah, well", thought the mage.

- "Oh, well", sighed the Paladin.

- Tavelle glanced to Jentar and grinned at his unexpected comment.

- A moment later he heard a loud, and familiar, horn call from the head of the column to alert the barracks of their return.

- "At least I've learnt the call for Rider's Returning", thought the wizard.

- "I'm going to the front, I'll see you later", said Jentar and he galloped off.

- Tavelle gave the Paladin a nod and watched a small group of militia, led by Naema, head towards Ashabenford at speed. The town was clearly visible, as was the river Ashaba, it wasn't far now he told himself.

- The mage heard horses pull up next to him and he turned to see Netley and Eridge riding alongside him.

- The militiamen nodded, "Swordmage", and Tavelle glanced towards Naema and her riders.

- Tavelle raised an eyebrow, "To announce our imminent return?", he asked.

- "Yeah", affirmed Eridge, "And to let the barracks know the names of the fallen...", he concluded grimly.

- The wizard nodded, he hadn't thought about that.

- "It's not often the patrols are called together", explained Netley, "There'll be worried kin waiting... especially as it was the Barrowfields... any families of the fallen militia will be taken inside the barracks to be told in private and await their arrival".

- Tavelle nodded and he silently wondered if his family were waiting for news and worrying after him...

To be continued...
Derulbaskul Posted - 12 Apr 2017 : 07:23:42
This has been a great series. I've stolen quite a lot for use in the Mistledale section of my own campaign.

Thanks for posting!
Farrel Posted - 03 Oct 2016 : 19:48:09

- "Do I dare ask what the rope is for?", chuckled the Harvestmaster with a mischievous twinkle in his eyes.

- "It's the material component for a Rope Trick enchantment", explained Tavelle, "It creates a small extra dimensional space...". Derim started laughing, "I've heard of it... You'd better go", he grinned.

- Tavelle nodded, he thanked the priest, bid him goodnight, and stood up. Naema smiled at the wizard as they walked away and he could see the glowing silver flecks from the Low Light Vision enchantment in her eyes, "You were talking for ages", she said quietly. Tavelle nodded, "I've an invitation to visit the Abbey", he explained, "Would you like to come with me when I go?".

- Naema nodded, "That would be good", and she reached out with her free hand, to grasp his, and their fingers locked together. The pair wandered out past one of the smaller stables within the farmstead and they checked that they hadn't been observed or followed.

- The sky was dark and some low cloud blocked Selune and her trail of tears, "This place seems quiet and out of the way?", offered Naema. Tavelle looked about, nodded in agreement, and she handed him the coiled rope. The wizard took possession of the rope and let the coiled length drop to the ground.

- "How high will it go?", asked Naema.

- Tavelle looked into the air in front of them, "Between five and thirty feet", he explained, "I was thinking ten feet? I don't want to get to the top and be too knackered to do anything", offered the mage with a grin.

- Naema smiled and nodded, "Go on then", she urged.

- The wizard estimated an approximate ten feet of the length, he cut it free with his Dwarven dagger, and then sheathed the blade.

- Tavelle reached into a belt pouch and retrieved a small loop of parchment. He then produced a small metal tube, removed the cap and sprinkled some yellowish powder on the twisted paper. The mage intoned the arcane words, the parchment vanished in a bright blue glow, which remained on the tip of the wizard's index finger, and he knelt down to touch it to the rope. Tavelle took a step backwards as one end of the rope twitched, then sprang erect, and it drew itself upright to its full height of ten feet.

- The mage grinned at Naema, "There! I present to you the Rope Trick enchantment!", he announced proudly.

- Naema eyed the stiff rope and nodded, "I was a bit wary of the idea but I've got to admit this is brilliant". The fighter pulled hard at the rope and seemed suitably impressed it was anchored firmly in mid air, "And you say there's a room at the top?". The wizard tested the rope for himself, "Yes, the entrance is invisible", explained Tavelle, "Shall I go first or would you like to?". Naema smiled broadly, "I'll go first, please".

- Tavelle stood aside and he watched as Naema easily pulled herself up, hand over hand, without even using her legs. He saw her partially disappear through the invisible portal and then completely vanish in mid air. He clambered up the rope, only using his arms, and was determined to do it the way the fighter had demonstrated. It took a little longer for the mage but he succeeded in the attempt and joined Naema in the extra dimensional room.

- The Rider looked around with a big smile, "So, where are we?", she asked in amazement. Tavelle got to his feet, took a deep breath, and started pulling up the rope, "Well, technically, we're not in Mistledale anymore... We're in another dimension".

- "Okay...", said Naema and she removed her cloak.

- "For example, if Buross was out hunting he could fly directly through the area, where you would expect us to be, and not collide with the room. The entrance might be at Dumic's ranch but the room is elsewhere in the extra dimensional multiverse".

- "Uh huh...", sighed the Rider.

- Tavelle didn't notice her apparent indifference, "If we'd been silly enough to bring Erael's backpack with us we'd have ruptured this extra dimensional space and everything would've spilled into the Astral plane", he advised dramatically by waving his arms wide.

- Naema nodded as if relieved, "Thats all great... Now get your top off... I want to see if there's a scar...".

- "There isn't", said the mage as he unbuckled his heavy weaponbelt, removed the fine bandolier, and started unbuttoning his tunic. As he slipped off the chemise he revealed a large purple and yellow bruise where she jabbed him on the arm, "Nine Hells! Look at the colour of that!", exclaimed Tavelle in horror.

- Naema raised a concerned eyebrow and grimaced, "You bruise worse than my granny...". Tavelle frowned, "That was you!", squeaked the wizard. The fighter looked unconvinced, "What? That little dig, are you kidding?". Tavelle looked decidedly unimpressed, "No one else has given me a dead arm recently".

- Naema's eyes shifted to his chest and abdomen, "You're right, there's no mark at all...". Tavelle frowned, "Ahem, I believe we're still talking about my bruise?". The Rider gave a slight shake of her head and smirked, "Well, you might be... Listen, if you bruise so easily you might not want Bron to tutor you?" The wizard pursed his lips, "He said he'd have to toughen me up...", he muttered.

- "Yeah, it's so you don't moan about the odd bump or scrape", explained the fighter. The mage nodded, he did seem to be whinging a lot recently...

- "Come on then, let your hair loose, I want to see what it looks like when it's not tied back", said the Rider eagerly.

- Tavelle sighed in frustration as he fiddled with the leather cord securing his ponytail. Liria had tied it with a devilishly difficult knot. The wizard gave up and decided to cast an Untie Cantrip. He intoned the spell, touched the leather cord, and the fastening promptly untied itself. The ponytail had been pulled taut and the relief on his brow felt wonderful when his hair was freed. The mage ran his fingers through his thick, silky, hair causing it to tumble and bounce.

- "You're hair's just...", and Naema stopped mid sentence with her mouth agape.

- Tavelle gave her a dubious look and as he shook his head, he felt his long, lustrous, hair dance on his shoulders and chest... The wizard thought Naema had a funny look in her eyes.

"I can remember having hair...", said Tavelle's owner.

- "Your hair... It's just so...", she growled huskily as she fiddled with her belt buckle.

- The mage raised a concerned eyebrow, "She looks rather flushed...", he thought to himself.

- "Phwoar! Come here you...", said the Rider lustily as her weaponbelt clunked onto the floor.

- The mage opened his mouth to ask what was going on... Naema interrupted to cut him short, "Sshh, no, don't say anything...", she whispered insistently as she closed to kiss him passionately.

"I don't ever remember having hair like that though...", admitted Tavelle's player.

Some time passes...

- "Gods! I'm knackered!", thought the mage as he pulled on his boot to finish dressing, "So, do you think I should memorise the Rope Trick spell again?", he asked.

- "Definitely, and If you cut off that ponytail you're dead...", giggled the fighter, "I know it's a strange request but can you work on summoning a bed too?". Tavelle grinned and nodded, "I think it's a really good idea, I like the dual purpose enchantments".

- The Rider looked somewhat perplexed, "Dual purpose?". Tavelle smiled broadly, "Imagine dropping a huge four-poster on a Hobgoblin?". Naema laughed, shook her head, and buckled her weaponbelt, "Do you have any fantasies?", she asked. Tavelle raised an eyebrow, "Like what?". Naema looked a little embarrassed, "You know, playing pretend? I could be a damsel in distress, taken by an evil dragon, and we could make believe you're my shining knight?".

- "Cheeky cow, I might not wear any physical armour, but I do shine on the odd occasion", thought the mage.

- The fighter stood up, turned to face him, and batted her eyelashes, "To show my gratitude I could play with your lance?", giggled Naema.

- "It'd be far better than being entertained by an Unseen Servant", thought the wizard with a grin, "They're bloody hopeless".

- "Or, I could be an innocent maid on a farm harvesting radishes? Maybe I find a big one?", and she started laughing. The wizard chuckled, "You could tie me naked to a backpack and have your way with me?".

The DM's jaw dropped...

- Naema scrunched up her nose, "Tavelle! I said fantasies! Not fetishes!", and she just about stopped herself from punching him on the arm. Tavelle raised a hand in apology, "Alright, forget the bit about the backpack", laughed the wizard, "How about you're a naughty priestess who wants to sacrifice me to some nefarious deity? You've got me bound, at your mercy, and you just can't help yourself?".

- Naema raised a dark eyebrow, "So you'd be tied up and I could do whatever I wanted to you?". Tavelle nodded, "Yeah, that sounds alright?", he replied, "And, I'd get a rest", thought the mage. The Rider nodded her head in agreement, "I'd like to play dress up too", said Naema, "You do realise you look amazing in the militia uniform?", and she licked her lips.

- "Maybe we could get you a proper set of armour for you to really act the part? I could be an attendant helping you remove it after a battle?", and she bit her bottom lip suggestively.

"Blimey... That's quite a powerful image", said Tavelle's owner.

- The mage looked to his loins, "This enchantment will last at least another hour", he grinned.

- "Good, I've got some rope", smirked Naema as she reached for the coiled length on the floor.

- "Did we bring a backpack?", laughed the wizard.

- "Shut up about bloody backpacks!", snapped the Rider, "And, let me tie you up...".

Some time passes...

- "Okay, now, I'm knackered", thought the wizard with an audible groan, as he dragged on his boot to finish dressing for the second time that night. Naema was fastening her weaponbelt and she glanced over, "Are you alright?", she asked.

- The mage sighed, "Honestly? I'm shattered", he admitted. Naema shook her head, "Yeah, you've still got to climb down the rope". Tavelle pulled a face, "I wish I had a Feather Fall spell", and shook his head, "I haven't even got any gloves".

- The wizard started scraping his hair back into a ponytail and marvelled at its condition. It was thick, silky, and gleamed with health. The Rider walked over and bent down to retrieve the leather cord, "Your hair looks beautiful, do you want a hand with it?", she asked. Tavelle nodded and Naema tied it back into a far more comfortable ponytail.

- The mage thanked the fighter and started chuckling, "When I saw Dumic earlier he offered to do my hair before we leave". Naema snorted, "Don't think I'm going to braid it for you... At the rate it's growing it'll probably tickle your arse by morning".

- Naema kicked the coil out of the hole in the floor, "Come on", she said and crouched down to begin ascending the rope. The pair exited the Rope Trick and when they were both safely standing on the ground Tavelle dismissed the enchantment. The rope flopped to the ground at his feet. The wizard bent down, he picked up both pieces and joined them together with a Mending Cantrip.

- The couple walked back holding hands and could hear murmuring animal noises from the stables and cattle sheds. As they got nearer to the main dwelling Naema grinned, pulled him into a shadowy nook, and pushed him up against a wall.

- The pair shared and embrace and a tender kiss, "Don't you dare cut your hair", pleaded the fighter, "Trim it by all means... Just don't chop it off". The wizard nodded, he kissed the Rider again and heard rain start to fall heavily. They broke from the cover of the dark overhang and raced back to the main hall to seek shelter from the downpour.

- They both stood beneath the porch as the rain pelted the ground and the wind picked up strength. Naema shook the droplets from her hair, "I'll go in first, you wait for a bit then come in afterwards". Tavelle nodded, "Yeah, we don't want to make it too obvious. I'll see you in the morning", and he kissed her goodnight. The Rider opened the door, the warm light flooded the alcove, and the glow vanished to darkness when she disappeared inside.

- The rain was hitting the roof tiles with a consistent ferocity and it was all Tavelle's ears could hear. The mage was sheltered from the gusting wind, away from the driving downpour, and he felt quite content.

- He waited for a while and then opened the door to enter the hall. It was far more subdued in comparison to earlier in the evening and Tavelle could see most of the militia already asleep in their bedrolls. The light inside the great hall was very dim as many of the candles and lamps had either been extinguished or turned down. There were a few figures, obscured by shadows, seated at one of the dinner tables.

- The wizard sneaked slowly towards the table of drinks, to prepare himself a nightcap, and he did his utmost to keep his footfalls light.

- Tavelle looked at the selection and decided he'd have a brandy, "What did Bron call this stuff the last time we were here? Arsehole Varnish?".

- As Tavelle poured himself a large one to help him sleep Tynan sidled up and eyed him suspiciously, "You look like you've been dragged through a hedge backwards...", said the fighter.

- "Bush, actually", silently corrected the mage and he desperately tried to keep a straight face.

- Brondar appeared at his flank, "You're all wet, where've yer been?", he whispered. Tavelle turned to face the Rider, "Exploring another dimension...", he offered cryptically.

- Brondar glanced over towards where Naema was preparing her bedroll, his mouth opened but it seemed he couldn't think of anything to say... Tavelle looked to Tynan and he just shrugged, as if speechless...

"Ha!", laughed the player, "You're stumped!".

- The mage grinned at the burly fighter and nodded to the Tymoran. Tavelle necked his beaker of brandy, spluttered a wheezy cough, and bid the pair goodnight.

- The wizard collected his bedroll from the small room and found a nice corner to rest for the night. Tavelle unbuckled his weaponbelt, removed the pouch bandolier, and pulled off his boots. He unfurled the thick blanket and recognised the sound of Drool's paws on the flagstones getting closer. Tavelle heard heavy breathing behind him as he smoothed out the blanket, "Although, it could be Naema?", he thought with a grin. The mage slowly tuned around and raised an eyebrow at the Highdale Mastiff, "Hello, what do you want?", he asked.

- Drool whined and a long stringy tendril of foamy spit drooped from his muzzle.

- "What?", said Tavelle, "Are you missing Liria?", he whispered.

- "Hurf!", exhaled the large Mastiff and he gently pawed the bedroll. Tavelle rubbed behind Drool's ears and patted him on his muscled side, "Come on then", encouraged the wizard, "Just don't slobber on me".

- Tavelle laid down on the heavy blanket, with the large dog resting next to him, and his heavy eyelids closed themselves.
Farrel Posted - 03 Oct 2016 : 19:08:41

- The pair joined the departing militia and Tavelle followed a short distance behind Naema. As they passed the first wagon he noted what looked like a dozen long black sacks, stacked on the bed, and realised they were the bodies of the fallen militia sewn into their dark cloaks.

- The wizard briefly closed his eyes to recall Helton at the Unicorn's Charge and the Rider saving his life. He remembered meeting Eventar on his first morning at the barracks and how welcome he'd been made to feel. Tavelle wondered what the Blue-Teats would receive, in the way of their fathers remains, and he grimaced at the memory of the smell of Allam's body on the watchpyre.

- At the thought of cremations the mage turned in the saddle and looked back towards the Lannane farm. He saw a thick pillar of black smoke rising into the air through the mists and berated himself for not finding the time to search the wights thoroughly.

- Tavelle rode past the second wagon and saw a number of bulging sacks, along with an iron-bound strongbox, partially covered by a waxed-canvas tarp. Tavelle nodded to Trentos who held the reins to a pair of horses, "Well met, Sword-in-Mage", said the temple guard with a big grin. Tavelle silently reminded himself it was better than Big Radish and smiled back, "Very clever", he replied.

- Tavelle trailed just behind Naema as they drew near to the Chauntean carriage. It was elegant in design and fashioned of wood the colour of rich honey. The windows had beautiful fretwork shutters, which were fully open, and the body possessed a remarkably well-sprung suspension beneath it. The large spoked wheels ran smoothly, as the horses pulled it along the hedged lane, and the Chauntean pennants fluttered in the breeze.

- The mage saw the impressive brass-bound chest from the tent loaded onto a rear shelf and numerous heavy bags were stacked atop it. He could see a large round shield secured to the side and the broken down parts of the marquee stowed upon the roof.

- Tavelle slowed Fury to match the pace of the carriage and Naema continued onwards to the head of the column. The wizard looked closely from his mount at the dirty and blackened shield which was strapped to the bags. The metal didn't seem to be corroded and Tavelle considered casting a spell to determine whether it held an enchantment.

- The mage took a quick glance about him to see if he was being observed and noticed Tolben riding several feet away. The militiaman gave Tavelle a nod, "Alright?", he asked. Tavelle grinned back, "Yeah, don't mind me, I'm just being nosey", he explained. The militiaman chuckled and gave his mount a gentle dig to draw alongside the wizard, "Strange that it's not all rusted to crap?", he half asked.

- Tavelle nodded in agreement, "That was my first reaction too", and he passed his hand over the item while uttering some arcane words. The large round shield was immediately surrounded by an azure radiance, "Does that mean it's magic?", asked Tolben without taking his eyes from it. Tavelle glanced sideways and smiled at the transfixed militiaman, "Yes, it does", he replied.

- The mage was certain the strength of the enchantment was more potent than the sword Multhimmer had asked him to check.

DM note.

+2 Large Steel Shield. This circular shield bears numerous blade scars, several minor dents, and the original leather arm straps have long since rotted away. Once cleaned of dirt the faded profile of a rampant red Manticore on a black field can be revealed.

- "I heard they found a shiny spearhead and longsword as well", explained the militiaman, "Loads of silver jewellery, the gold crown, and trade bars too", he continued. Tavelle recalled the beautiful high-spired crown, "What will happen to it all?", asked the wizard. Tolben shrugged, "That's a good question as we don't normally find treasure when we're on patrol. So, I'm wondering if we get a bonus to our pay?". Tavelle looked to the militiaman with wide eyes, "I'm being paid?", he asked in astonishment, and Tolben nodded, "I'd think so?".

I really didn't have much of a clue in regards to how much Tavelle might get paid for his tenday patrol. So, I asked for some ideas back in this scroll and received lots of great advice. It details a discussion on wages, treasure, broadswords, and has Deepchill too.

- The pair heard a horse approach, "What the <censored> are you two doing?", asked Brondar sternly. Tolben visibly paled and looked guiltily into his lap. The mage, however, was genuinely pleased to see the burly fighter, "Am I being paid?", he asked inquisitively. Brondar frowned, "What? I dunno, are you?", replied the Rider, and he stared at the rear shelf of the Chauntean carriage, "Why's that shield glowing blue?". Tolben looked sheepishly to Brondar and gestured to the wizard, "Tavelle did it".

- The mage managed to frown at the militiaman for grassing him up and then looked back to Bron, "Am I being paid?", asked the wizard again. The bearded Rider shook his head and laughed, "<censored> my old boots! Yer may not be from Nereskul's loins but yer definitely his son alright". Tavelle was just about ready to burst, "Come on, am I getting paid?", he asked excitedly.

- Brondar shook his head in exasperation, "You're gonna get a battering", explained the Rider with a smile.

- The wizard shook his head, "Not tonight, Naema says I'm not allowed", grinned Tavelle smugly. Brondar snorted dismissively, "Stuff Naema... I'm gonna teach yer how to fight... Yer all mine now".

- Tavelle was momentarily stunned as he imagined a squashed snuggle wizard having his head bashed in by Beryl. He shook the image away, "Am I being bloody paid for this?", laughed the mage.

- The trio heard the sound of another horse approaching, "What's going on back here? Why's that shield glowing blue?", asked Nelyssa firmly. Brondar looked to the Paladin of Chauntea and pointed at the wizard, "Tavelle did it".

- The Shield cast her eyes over them and Tavelle thought she looked disappointed, "We're the Riders of Mistledale and an escort for the Reverend Harvestmaster... Let's act like one shall we?". Tavelle nodded, he realised the importance of Derim, "Yes, Shield", he replied. "Yes, Shield", said Brondar. "Yes, Shield", said Tolben.

- Nelyssa frowned, shook the reins, and they looked on as she rode off back to the head of the column.

- The wizard watched the paladin ride away and then broke the uncomfortable silence, "So, getting back to the subject at hand... Am I getting paid?", persisted Tavelle.

- "I don't give a rats arse", said Brondar with a smirk, "Keep yer bloody eyes peeled and make yerself useful", and he rode away. The mage looked to Tolben but the militiaman just raised his brow, shrugged, and steered his horse back to his earlier position.

- "Bollocks...", thought the wizard and he wondered who else he might ask. Tavelle rode Fury to the right hand side of the carriage and saw Watchful Brother Xarran had control of the horses. He sat alongside Brother Waylam who was enjoying an early lunch. Tavelle could see, sitting quite comfortably within the enclosed carriage, the Reverend Harvestmaster, Sister Alena, and Erael.

- Tavelle drew alongside and nodded to Erael, "Good morning", he said cheerily. "Morning", she smiled back, "So, are you getting paid?", grinned the sorceress. Tavelle shook his head, "Oh gods! You heard all that?", he asked in horror. The Reverend Harvestmaster looked at the mounted wizard, "Yes we did", laughed Derim, "Did you find out?". Tavelle flushed bright red and shook his head, "Er, no". The Watchful Sister leaned forward and smiled, "I hear there's a magical shield?", she chuckled. Tavelle shrugged guiltily, "I couldn't help myself, I'm inquisitive".

- Erael raised an eyebrow, "I thought I heard you say nosey?".

- "Yeah, that too", admitted the mage with a resigned sigh.

- Tavelle shook his head and decided to excuse himself, "My apologies. I'm supposed to be acting as an escort for you, Reverend Harvestmaster, I'd best not get distracted". The wizard nodded to the passengers within the carriage and Fury trotted forwards to position himself in front of the team horses.

- As the sun approached its peak Tavelle had a rummage around in his saddlebags and found his trail rations. It consisted of a canvas bag of fat sultanas, a heavy flatbread loaf, a dozen baked biscuits, and some dried beef strips.

- The wizard noted some dark grey clouds were approaching and the wind was beginning to pick up. He broke off a small corner of the bread, popped it into his mouth, and took in the view of the rolling green fields. Tavelle tilted his head and looked up to the sky, searching for aerial threats. There were only the clouds to be seen and he tracked their approach by the shadows sweeping over the land. Tavelle noticed a pair of robber-wings watching some rabbits from the top of a sad-looking willow tree. He watched the shady looking pair for as long as he was able to keep them in sight as he rode by.

- The mage turned his mind to Erael's new Broadsword and considered the length of time Deepchill had rested within the Barrow. He wondered what the sentient sword had seen prior to its internment. The wizard smiled as he recalled all the times he'd come across some antique brooch, or ring, and wanted to know more about its history, "Well, this time it can answer...", thought Tavelle.

- Numerous questions raced through his mind, "How long had it been in the tomb? Who wielded the sword before it came to Vinjarek? Who'd enchanted the mighty blade? Does it have any experience fighting Night Dragons? Would the weapon even be aware it was part of a prophecy?". Tavelle shook his head and decided to let Erael bond with Deepchill in peace... His curiosity would have to wait.

- The wizard heard a distant horn call, from the direction of the Lannane farm, and immediately recognised the higher pitch as the sound from the Horn of Quickening.

- As the mage rode ahead of the Chauntean wagon he thought of all the things he had planned upon his return to the tower. "A Cloak of Warmth", pondered Tavelle, "It would save me having to memorise an Endure Elements every day". The wizard shook his head and silently scolded himself for not taking the time to craft some silver trinkets for Multhimmer. He had numerous half-finished pieces but had either lost interest in them, or started work on something else. Tavelle tried to work out what he might get paid, for his tenday patrol, and came to the conclusion it might not be a lot.

- The mage then attempted to estimate how much the impressive Wyvern's fang could sell for. He really didn't want to part with it as he desperately wanted to keep it for his shelf of random junk. Tavelle shook his head as he chewed a sultana and thought about whether Vinjarek's arm would fit.

- The wizard concluded to repair the twisted pin on the Mistran clasp. He would then ask Kerryn if she would make him a cloak, worthy of enchanting, in exchange for it, "Seeing how I'm broke and she's already ruined their names", he reasoned. He then tried a biscuit... it was like a small, baked, ingot... hard and unyielding... so the mage lobbed it over a hedge in disgust.

- Tavelle felt a spot of rain hit his forehead and a few moments later a heavy downpour started. "A water repellant Cloak of Warmth", corrected the wizard as he futilely attempted to raise the hood of a cloak he wasn't wearing. The torrential shower was brief but it continued to rain steadily until the clouds had passed overhead. A drenched Tavelle decided to annoy himself further by thinking of more items as he dried himself off with numerous Cantrips... A Silver Dragon Brooch of Shielding for himself... One use Message and Mount trinkets for the Riders...

"Oh, <censored>!", said Tavelle's owner, "I'm an idiot".

- The mage blinked hard a few times before it hit him like a slap in the face... He didn't have the carved rams horn trinket, or the strip of cured blessed leather... He had discarded both of the burned items during his cold bath. The wizard shook his head at his stupidity as both spells were already memorised. He couldn't summon the Battering Ram and there was no chance of a Mage Armour. Tavelle shook his head again and even his ponytail began to wind him up, "I need to give myself a stern talking to, I'm supposed to be a bloody genius, and why in the Nine Hells was my hand on fire anyway?", he thought angrily.

- The wizard had thrown away his pair of gloves, which were provided as part of the militia uniform, as one of them had been irreparably damaged by flames. Tavelle hoped he wouldn't be expected to purchase another pair and they would be replaced for free. After all, they were damaged in the line of duty and he was nearly broke.

- The fuming mage watched a small group of militia, with an Eagle Owl flying overhead, depart to ensure the Selmer farmstead was safe for their return. Lanneth and the half dozen men rode southeast at a gallop and he lost sight of them as they went behind a stand of silver birch trees.

- The caravan entered the border of Dumic's ranch around mid afternoon and Tavelle saw herds of shaggy cattle grazing in the fenced fields. His eyes returned to the skies, searching for wyverns, as he remembered the story of the prize bull being stolen away. Tavelle consoled himself that he could at least convert the two spells into Magical Missiles but was still upset over his uncharacteristic error.

- A horn call, signalling a patrol returning, was sounded from the front of the column and the wizard saw two riders gallop off to announce their arrival. The mage could see a drifting trail of grey chimney smoke rising lazily in the distance. After a time he could make out people returning from working in the fields and numerous farm buildings on the horizon. Many carried large baskets of turnips as they walked down the grass path and others wheeled barrows of cabbages. Tavelle's nose twitched at the smell of cooking food from the homestead and he wondered what was for dinner.

- The farmers assembled along the grass road between the stretch of fields to greet the Riders and they happily received the Reverend Harvestmaster. The harvest was being loaded onto an oversized wagon, with steep sides, and a team of Mistran Punch horses waited placidly for their next command. As the mage rode past the four massively built chestnut stallions he realised Fury was larger than all of them, "Have they given me a Shire Horse?", wondered the wizard.

The DM did his utmost not to faceplant the table.

- Tavelle watched the farmers reaction to the Chauntean carriage and noted the respect and love they had for the old priest. They formed what seemed to be a brown and beige coloured honour guard lining the way. The wizard felt quite proud as he rode in front of the carriage and he recalled the times when he was a lot younger and the patrols would visit the tower. He'd always been in awe of the black clad Riders of Mistledale. To be among them now and escorting the Reverend Harvestmaster was a dream fulfilled.

- The mounted mage heard Brother Xarran call, "Woah there, boys!", to the four white horses. Tavelle turned in the saddle to watch the carriage as it came to a halt behind him. As the entire caravan ceased moving Tavelle saw Nelyssa and Naema riding back to see why the patrol had stopped. Brother Waylam clambered unsteadily from the driver's seat and was out of breath by the time he set foot on the grass. The cab door opened and a carved set of steps, suspended by a bronze coloured chain, dropped down.

- Tavelle watched the Reverend Harvestmaster closely as he stepped down from the carriage and as he placed his bare feet on the grass a serene look came over him. The mage looked on from atop Fury as Derim went amongst the farmers greeting and blessing them individually by name. The farm folk seemed inspired and lifted by his presence and they praised the Bountiful Goddess as he mingled with them all.

- The wizard saw Nelyssa pull up beside him and she too watched the Harvestmaster as he mingled with the farmers, "Sorry about earlier with the shield", apologised Tavelle. Nelyssa shook her head, "Well, it wasn't the most appropriate time to be looking, but at least we know it bears an enchantment", replied the paladin, "I want you to go through the rest of it, with the stewards, when we get back to the barracks". Tavelle nodded, "I'd be happy to. By the way, the shield is the most powerfully enchanted I've encountered. Although, I do believe I should qualify the statement by admitting I've not seen very many", explained Tavelle.

- The mage noted Nelyssa seemed preoccupied watching Derim among the assembled farm folk and came to the conclusion she was trying to stay alert to any threats. After a time the Reverend Harvestmaster bid farewell to the farmers and returned to the carriage to continue their journey to the ranch.

- The wizard followed the patrol towards the main farmstead and they were met by many young farmhands to assist with their mounts. Tavelle counted at least a dozen red-headed youngsters already busily leading horses away.

- The mage was approached by a brown haired chunky lad, "Can I take him for you?", said the boy, "I remember him from last time". Tavelle nodded and thanked the youth as he dismounted. The wizard removed the heavy saddlebags and hoisted them awkwardly over his shoulder. His buttocks were dead to the world and his inner thighs felt rather tight from the riding. The mage patted Fury on his muscular neck and wandered over to where Tynan was standing with Serrick.

- The open courtyard was busy with horses, wagons, and militia being assisted by the ranchers. The mage watched numerous chickens running around and generally getting underfoot and is advised by Tynan that, "We'll be staying in the main hall and we can leave our equipment there". Serrick pointed to a huge boar being turned over a large fire, "It's a lovely roast tonight as well", he said happily.

- An excited cry of, "Tavelle!", made him turn in the direction of the voice and he saw a very happy Maisie running towards him. He could see Arknat and Jobet smiling a distance away while talking to Nelyssa and they nodded a greeting. The young girl collided with his upper thigh and she wrapped his waist in a big hug, "Have you seen Nibblenook?", she asked. Tavelle grinned and nodded, "Yes, I saw him last night, he was riding a big bumblebee". Maisie started giggling, "Aww! I love cuddles with him, he's hairy and wriggles". The wizard imagined the giant bee desperately trying to struggle free of a cuddle and couldn't help grin.

- The young girl released his leg and looked up at him, "Can I go home now?", asked Maisie, "Staying here, it's nice an all, but there's no faeries". Tavelle nodded, "Yes, I think you can go home. Lanneth, one of the Riders, has taken some men, along with his owl, to make sure your farm is safe". Maisie smiled, "Good, because Nibble said he wants a big dragonfly... He's never seen a silver one though... He said the red ones go the fastest". The mage knelt down so he was addressing the girl at eye level and placed his saddlebags on the ground, "You might want to mention that Erael doesn't like red dragons, so a red dragonfly might not be the wisest choice?". The youngster nodded and looked around at the many people as if searching for someone, "Is she still here?", asked Maisie quietly.

- The wizard looked about to ensure no eavesdroppers were present, "Have you kept the secret?", he whispered. Maisie smiled and nodded proudly, "Yep". Tavelle saw the sorceress approaching, "Erael is in disguise. Remember, you're only supposed to have met her once before when we came to the farm on the way to Ashabenford". Maisie nodded vigorously and she turned to follow his gaze over her shoulder.

- Tavelle watched Maisie's jaw drop open slightly as she saw Erael approaching, "I know that feeling", thought the mage.

- "Hello again", smiled the sorceress.

- "It's really you?", asked the emerald eyed young girl in awe.

- Erael nodded as she knelt down.

- Maisie smiled, "You're so pretty!", she exclaimed and the sorceress wrapped her in a hug.

- Tavelle watched the young girl close her eyes and whisper, "Thank you", as they shared an embrace.

- The wizard decided to leave the pair to themselves... Maisie couldn't be any safer...

- The mage saw there were a few wooden benches and a number of tables outside the main building with some elder folk enjoying a rest. Tavelle watched one white haired old lady brushing the boar with a large handful of herbs tied together in the shape of a bristly broom. She would dip the brush into a bowl of water, splash it on the cooking boar, and he could hear the sizzle and spit as the liquid dripped into the flames.

- Tavelle's attention was then drawn to a large pot, which resembled a witch's cauldron with a heavy lid, and was suspended over a smaller fire. The iron lid kept trembling and puffing out clouds of steam when the pressure forced it to rise. There were trails of white foam running down the sides of the pot where the contents had boiled over, "I wonder what's in there?", thought the wizard.

- Tavelle casually wandered closer to the cauldron and looked about the area for something to act as an oven glove. He noticed a folded piece of heavy cloth nearby and picked it up to guard his fingers from the heat of the metal ring. The mage removed the heavy iron lid and a cloud of hot steam rose into the air around him. All he could see were churning bubbles on the surface of the foamy, greasy, liquid, and he waited for them to calm now the pressure was absent, "What are they boiling?", wondered the wizard.

- As Tavelle leant in the bubbles dispersed and a whole sheep's head rolled over in the liquid to stare up at him with bulging eyes. Tavelle watched as green mucous streamed from the nostrils and added itself to the frothy stew.

- The mage put his free hand over his mouth and felt his stomach do a backflip. "Mmnnp!", gulped Tavelle as he dry-heaved and hastily replaced the lid. He turned his back to the pot and tried desperately to forget everything he'd just seen.

- "Bleurgh!", shivered the wizard in disgust, and he remembered his first meal with Asantar, Drennia, and Andurar when he visited Glen with Naema. After a hard day of sparring they had settled down to a meal which was introduced as Roast Chicken and Troll's Tongue. The Dwarven delicacy was served on a two-foot long wooden platter and this pimply, purple, monstrosity had run the length of it, blue veins and all. Tavelle had been far too polite to ask at the time but he could've sworn they mentioned chicken...

- When Drennia noticed the mage had turned a dicey shade of green she confessed it was just an exotic mushroom, from the Underdark, which resembled the tongue of a troll. Once Tavelle had summoned the courage to try a small piece he found that it tasted of roast chicken and was quite delicious.

- "Nope, I can't eat a boiled sheep's head served with snot gravy", thought the wizard, "I have limits".

- The old lady with white hair sidled up to the wizard and pointed to the cauldron, "I can save yer a bit?", she offered with a toothless grin.

- Tavelle brought his hand to his mouth as he recalled the runny nose, "No, not for me, thank you". The old lady seemed to sense his discomfort, "The cheeks are nice, all tender and fleshy, or, how about a nice bit o' tongue?", she chuckled. The wizard felt himself start to sweat and his mouth became watery, "Thank you for the offer but, no, I really wish I hadn't looked".

- "Heh! That'll learn yer. Yer nosey bugger!", she cackled, "Yer should try a nice crunchy eyeball".

- "Erp!", heaved the mage, "I'm sorry, I have to go!", he apologised and started to walk away. The old woman called after him, "It'll put hair on yer chest and iron in yer dingle-dangle!".

- A queasy Tavelle made a bee-line for the main building, where he'd slept previously, with the little old lady's laughter ringing in his ears. Before entering the porched doorway he took a few deep breaths to steady himself and regain his composure, "I'm never eating lamb again...", he noted silently.

- Tavelle walked in through the large door and saw the hall was busily being prepared for the extra guests. The great wheels of rustic candelabra, which were normally suspended from the roof, had been lowered and the stumpy candles replaced. Small clay pots of Marigolds were being carefully hung from all of the thick wooden pillars and fresh rushes laid out upon the floor.

- The wizard observed Nerla at a table skilfully arranging more than a dozen pottery vases of wild flowers and places were being prepared at the many long wooden tables. Tavelle smiled, he liked Nerla. Dumic's wife was a stout middle-aged woman who stood five feet tall with dark brown hair. She had a round kind face and her full cheeks would dimple when she smiled.

- The mage noticed Lenthrey carrying his own gear and followed the militiaman into a small cupboard-like room towards the rear of the hall. Lenthrey stowed his kit with the accumulated militia equipment, gave him a nod, and whispered a hushed, "Swordmage", as he walked past. Tavelle grinned at the militiaman and then put his own equipment tidily with the rest.

- Tavelle closed the latched door, walked over to Nerla, who was still busy with her flowers, and she seemed to sense his approach. The short woman looked up and grinned broadly, "Hello me lovely!", she chirped. Nerla placed the flowers down and stepped in to embrace the wizard, "Hasn't your hair grown?", she laughed. The mage rested his head against Nerla's, "Yes, it certainly has", chuckled Tavelle, "It's good to see you again". The stout woman sighed, "Oh, I'm glad you're alright", and she released him from the hug.

- The wizard saw her sort through some stems for her vase, "Tis a shame about the farms", sighed Nerla. Tavelle picked up a scarlet poppy from the table. The large glossy petals were red, blood-red, "Many Mistrans fell to the Wights", he said quietly.

- Nerla nodded and sighed deeply, "Berwin Berwick was a good man and so were his family". The wizard looked into the brightly coloured, goblet-shaped, flower and saw a deep darkness within, "The militia who were sent to help them were ambushed there, and we were too late for the Lardagren family", he explained.

- Nerla shook her head, "Well, Marl Lardagren and me husband weren't exactly friendly but I'd not wish that fate on anyone". Tavelle nodded his agreement, "It's not nice seeing a person change into a wight", and he slid the poppy stem into the vase of flowers. The stout lady turned to look at Tavelle, "You saw it happen?".

- Tavelle gave a slight nod, "What makes it worse is there's nothing left of the person they were before. They just become this hungry, reckless, thrall of the wight which created them". Nerla gave a sniff and tried to blink away the brimming tears, "I'll miss Coner and Mellamy", and the short woman shook her head, "Poor little Jaffrick and sweet gentle Jemily".

- Nerla's eyes became glassy, "Her and that floppy rabbit... She wouldn't go anywhere without her Bunny...". Tavelle felt a lump in his throat and managed to swallow it down enough to speak, "Jemily has her rabbit for the afterlife...".

- The mage watched the tears build in Nerla's eyes and they trickled down her cheeks when their volume became too great to hold. Tavelle put his arm around her broad shoulders, gave her a cuddle, and felt a tear streak down his own.

- The pair shared a silent moment together until it was broken by a loud wet sniff, "Pull yourself together woman", stated Nerla firmly, "There's a hundred things still to be done before this place is ready for his Holiness". Tavelle wiped the wetness from his eyes on the sleeve of his tunic, "I'm sure the Reverend Harvestmaster will love your home. I know you've made me feel welcome".

- "Oh, you're a good lad", she sniffed, "Now, let me get on with me flowers".

- Tavelle caught sight of Lossora sitting down at a table with a tankard and made his way over. The mage saw Dumic's right hand man notice his approach and he stood up rather unsteadily to meet him. The pair exchanged greetings and Tavelle realised Lossora was more than a little drunk, "What are you drinking?", he asked the rancher. Lossora held up the tankard of cloudy yellow liquid, "It's a local cider called Rippin Pippin and it's bloody potent", he warned. Tavelle chuckled, "How many have you had?", and Lossora seemed to shrug in confusion, "This is only my second... I think?".

- The mage decided to see if he could correct his mistake from yesterday, "I was hoping you'd know if there are any carvers around who might have some rams horn?", he asked. Lossora nodded, "Aye, I do as it happens, I'll ask Old Ayfer, he'll have something". The revelation made the wizard grin, "You have my thanks", explained Tavelle. The inebriated rancher gave a nod as he departed and weaved his way awkwardly through the hall doing his best not to stumble.

- Tavelle looked around and saw a sturdy wooden table with two large barrels atop it. They had been turned on their sides and were supported in stands. There were also numerous bottles of wine, spirits, and drinking vessels. The wizard made his way over and inspected the barrels, one was marked as homemade Red-Antler ale, and the other as Rodrathe's Rippin Pippin. Tavelle helped himself to a spare tankard, filled it with Dumic's Ale, and smiled as he imagined Romfrey saying, "Wodwathe's Wippin Pippin...".

- There were also several bottles of homemade brandy and a few bottles of elderberry wine. Tavelle wondered if it was still possible to find bottles of Lannane's Parsnip wine as Liria's rather vivid description had piqued his interest. The mage brought the tankard to his lips and took a long drink of Dumic's Red-Antler, it was a crisp and hoppy light ale.

- Tavelle walked away from the drinks table and had only taken a few paces before he was intercepted by a middle aged couple with a friendly smile. The pair introduced themselves as Harbert and Marmary Lound, "We knew and miss your mother dearly", they explained, "What she didn't know about vegetables, wasn't worth knowing".

- Naema walked past, winked at him, and Tavelle noticed she was carrying a coiled length of rope, "I'm looking forward to tonight", thought the mage with a grin.

- The couple talk of Nereskul and they ask Tavelle to pass on their best wishes to him before they depart. The wizard watched the pair walk away, "I wonder if Kerryn and father have missed me?", he thought to himself, "They better have...".

Tavelle will be in for a bit of a shock thought the DM... If he hadn't have gone on the patrol it would've all been so very different.

- Tavelle saw Jopson and Netley approaching, he gave the pair a nod, and raised his tankard, "What are you drinking?", asked Netley. The wizard watched Drool sniffing around the tables snuffling for scraps, "It's Dumic's Red Antler", smirked the mage, "It's not Blackboot standard but it's nice and hoppy".

- "It didn't take yer long, did it?", whispered Jopson with a grin. Tavelle shrugged his shoulders and smiled, "Be careful of the Rippin Pippin, apparently it's very strong". Jop gave Tavelle a broad smile, "I like me cider and Rippin Pippin's almost as nice as Kneecracker". Netley seemed deep in thought, "I'm having an Antler, I don't want to be drunk at dinner", he explained.

- The pair wandered off towards the table of drinks and they began by collecting tankards. It was then the mage noted an old man eyeing him up and he made his way over. "Tavelle?", asked the leathery skinned man and the wizard nodded. "I'm Ayfer, Lossora asked me to come and find yer. I hear yer looking to buy some rams horn?", asked the grizzled old carver.

- Tavelle was momentarily stunned into silence... "Buy?", thought the wizard in shock.

- The old man seemed a little impatient as he waited for Tavelle to respond, "I brought a few pieces fer yer to look at", and he brought forth a canvas roll. Ayfer laid out and unwrapped the cloth on a table. There were numerous small, pierced, carvings in various shapes and hues. Tavelle found himself torn between two particularly appropriate pieces. A thumb sized grey rams head with curling horns, and a smaller blowing horses symbol of Mistledale in cream. Tavelle noticed Jop and Netley bring their drinks over to have a look at the carvings.

"You're a git", grumbled the player, "They're both perfect and Tavelle should really carry a spare".

- "I wonder if I should open with one of father's gambits?", thought the mage, "How would he handle this? I can just imagine if he was here and after a hefty discount... They're all quite ghastly... These two offend me the least...". The wizard did his best to seem as cold and disinterested as possible, "How much for these two?", he asked nonchalantly. Ayfer grimaced and breathed in sharply, "Yer picked me best work".

- The mage did his best not to show his surprise, "Beshaba's Balls!", thought Tavelle, "He sounds like father".

- "They're fifteen silvers each", advised Ayfer.

- "<censored> each?", thought Tavelle in shock.

- "But you'll do him a deal won't you?", interrupted Netley, "Tavelle's the one that saved your little sister from the wights at the orchards".

- The mage looked blankly at Netley, "I did?", he asked.

- "Aye, Nimberlena", whispered Jopson.

- "Nimble, who?", asked the wizard in bewilderment.

- "Romfrey's wife", said Netley.

- "Ah, okay", nodded Tavelle, and he remembered seeing a hulking silhouette at the door to the Rodrathe farmhouse, "Nimble my arse, she was built like a stone privy", he concluded silently.

- "Alright then", said Ayfer with a grin, "Fifteen silvers fer the pair and me thanks fer me little sis", and he clapped Tavelle on the bicep where Naema had jabbed him earlier. Ayfer noticed the wizard wince, "Yer must have plenty o' magic?", chuckled the carver, "Cos yer don't look like yer could fight yer way outta bed?".

- Tavelle raised an eyebrow as he counted out a gold and five silvers but declined to respond. He was far too busy mourning the loss of each coin. The mage carefully placed both of the small carvings in a belt pouch and heard a cowbell ringing to signal dinner was ready. The wizard thanked Ayfer and he followed the pair into the busy hall where he saw the militia and farmers beginning to take their seats.

- Tavelle noticed movement, he looked over towards the entrance, and saw Lanneth alongside the men he took to the Selmer farm. They were all carrying their packs so the mage made his way over and the Ranger gave him a friendly nod as he approached, "How was the farm?", asked Tavelle. The Half-Elf smiled, "It's still standing and the Selmers' are safe to return". Tavelle gave a nod, "That's good to hear, follow me, I'll show you where you can stow your gear", explained the wizard, "You're just in time for dinner".

- Tavelle led the group past the long rows of tables and many already in their seats called out to greet the Ranger and his men.

- The mage walked to the entrance of the small room and opened the wooden door to find the Moog, staring up at him with its tongue lolling out, sitting amongst the equipment, "Nine Hells!", exclaimed Tavelle in shock, "Not again?". The Moog's curly tail started wagging and it made a grumbling sound. Tavelle shook his head in disbelief, "What's wrong with you?".

- Lanneth looked over Tavelle's shoulder at the flat-faced dog, "That ugly thing's yours, isn't it?". The mage nodded his head and swore under his breath as he moved aside to let the Ranger and his men store their gear. The small pug waddled out of the room, stood next to the wizard, and started whining. Tavelle looked down at the polymorphed Halfling in disgust, "You just can't help yourself, can you?".

- Tavelle saw Drool's attention had been drawn away from the tables and the Mastiff trotted towards the pair. The mage felt two paws get placed just below his knee and he heard an insistent yapping bark from the Moog. Tavelle bent down and quickly picked up the small dog, he wagged his finger sternly at Drool, and tucked her safely under his arm, "Well, you've ruined your dinner again", scolded the wizard.

- Tavelle walked away from the doorway whilst carrying the four-legged Liria and being followed closely by Drool. The mage made his way over to the table where Erael was sitting and the sorceress raised an eyebrow when she noticed the pug under his arm. The wizard gave a shake of his head, he rolled his eyes in frustration, and was slightly relieved when he saw Erael smirk. The sorceress was sat next to Brondar along with Maisie and her family so the wizard walked over to the young girl. Tavelle noted Maisie turn to watch him approach and her eyes lit up when she saw what he was holding, "What's that?", she asked with a grin.

- The wizard jiggled the Halfling under his arm, "This?", and he looked at Liria with disdain, "This is The Moog".

- "What's a Moog?", asked Maisie as Liria wriggled.

- "It's a magical familiar which seems to be following me... It should disappear by morning... I was hoping you could look after it for me, please?", explained the mage. The emerald-eyed girl nodded eagerly, "Does it do anything?", she asked as she reached out to take the pug. Tavelle sighed and shook his head, "No, not that I can think of... Although, It does understand the common tongue". Maisie stroked Liria behind her ears, "One bark for yes and two for no. Are you hungry, Moog?".

- "Rarf!", barked the pug and Tavelle thought he saw the dog smile.

- "Good, you can have my cabbage then", he heard the girl explain as he walked away.

- Tavelle was asked his name and shown to a table by a pretty red-headed lass who was busily assigning people their seats. The table was nearly fully occupied and only his place on the bench was empty. The wizard saw Trentos, Falmer, Eridge, Lenthrey, and Aulkren on the opposite side of the table. The free seat was in between Netley and Tolben with Goryth and Jop at the ends.

- Tavelle took his seat, placed his half full tankard on the table, and exchanged greetings with the militiamen. He could see the Reverend Harvestmaster at the host's table, at the head of the hall, alongside Sister Alena and the Shield. Dumic and Nerla were present and they sat next to Brother Xarran and Brother Waylam.

- On the table, in front of Tavelle, was a large round pewter plate, a knife, a two tined fork, and a spoon. Each table had a vase of wildflowers, a large wooden bowl with a dozen heavily seeded round cobs, and a great block of fresh yellow butter which sat atop a wooden block.

- The mage helped himself to one of the cobs, he tore it in half, and spread it with butter, "That ale's given me an appetite", thought Tavelle as he swallowed a mouthful of bread.

- Tavelle heard a shrill ringing and turned to see the Reverend Harvestmaster standing at the lead table tapping a glass with a spoon. The chatter and noise from the diners diminished to complete silence in a matter of moments.

- The wizard listened intently as Derim gave thanks to their generous hosts for their hospitality and asked the gathered to remember the fallen Mistrans.

- A number of serving youths brought out platters of carved roast boar, bowls of boiled cabbage, carrots, mashed turnip with wild garlic, honey roasted parsnips, and large jugs of dark gravy. The food was placed on the table and Tavelle quickly helped himself to a prize piece of crackling. He had a nibble at the fatty portion first and then snapped into smaller, more manageable, pieces.

- Tavelle heard a grumble from his right, "My crackling's hairy", complained Goryth, "And, I bloody hate cabbage".

- "Ungrateful git", thought the mage.

- "I can help with that", offered Tavelle with a grin as he rubbed his thumb at the base of his forefinger. A small flame sprung from the tip of his extended digit, "I can burn them off, if you want?".

- The wizard heard a few gasps from the militia and Eridge started laughing, "You want to get Brondar to fart on that", he chuckled.

- The militiaman looked at Tavelle a little warily, "I thought you were going to pinch my crackling, again?", but passed his platter along after a pause. The mage singed away the hairs sprouting from the golden hued crackling in no time, he then dismissed the flame, and stealthily cast a Flavour Cantrip on the whole plate.

- "Cabbaged", thought the mischievous wizard while containing his mirth, "He should consider himself lucky I can't reach his drink".

- Goryth retrieved the pewter plate, he poked at his crackling, and reluctantly thanked Tavelle. The wizard helped himself to the various bowls of different vegetables, he heaped several slices of meat onto his plate, and then drowned it all in gravy.

- "Ugh! My crackling tastes of cabbage!", spat Goryth in disgust.

- "What?", said Netley.

- "Everything tastes of cabbage, even my gravy", whinged Goryth.

- "Don't be daft, mine's alright", said Aulkren.

- "My parsnips taste of cabbage", he continued to moan, "My carrots and roast boar as well".

- "What about your cabbage?", sniggered the wizard.

- "Ugh!", harrumphed Goryth, "It tastes of cabbage, too!".

- Tavelle did his best to keep a straight face, "Did you want your crackling?". The dejected militiaman shook his head in a huff and passed it along to the waiting wizard.

- "Muhahaha!", thought the mage as he removed the cabbage flavour with another Cantrip, "A Goryth and his crackling are soon parted".

"You devious bastard", said the DM.

- Tavelle managed to eat everything on his plate, the food was delicious, and he felt rather bloated as he sat with the militia. Jopson and Falmer busily mopped up the last of their gravy, with a crusty cob each, and Goryth seemed to struggle through every single excruciating mouthful.

- The bowls and platters were eventually cleared from the long tables and to Tavelle's shock a desert was brought out. The wizard looked to his tight weaponbelt, raised an eyebrow, and loosened the belt by a notch. Tavelle breathed a sigh of relief as he relaxed and felt far more comfortable.

- A bowl was placed in front of the mage with a large baked apple, stuffed with juicy blackberries, and drizzled with warm honey. Tavelle's eyes became even larger when a wooden platter with a score of pastry tarts, filled with gooseberry jam, were added to their table along with clay jugs of fresh cream.

- "If this apple tastes of cabbage I'm going to cry...", said Goryth as he poured the cream over it.

- Tavelle helped himself to a pastry as he waited for his steaming apple to cool down, he watched the militiaman place the desert in his mouth and savour the taste, "Oh yes, that's lovely... Hot and lovely", said Goryth appreciatively as he blew in and out. The gooseberry jam was sweet and the pastry light, "I bet Brother Waylam's enjoying it all?", thought the wizard as he helped himself to another fruity tartlet.

- Tavelle glanced over towards the Watchful Brother who was tackling his hot apple with care. He had a look of complete concentration upon his face and Tavelle noticed he'd spilt gravy down the front of his robes.

- After a few gooseberry tarts the wizard added the cream to his desert and polished it off along with his remaining ale. The assembled militia commented on the amazing food, "and it gives good old Jop a rest", said Falmer with a grin.

- Tavelle breathed out and patted his stomach, "I'm too full to move", he laughed, "I can't even refill my tankard". Trentos nodded his head in agreement, "It happens wherever the Reverend Harvestmaster goes. The farm folk always lay out a magnificent spread", and he glanced over to the lead table, "How do you think good Brother Waylam got so portly?". The wizard shrugged his shoulders, "I don't know, dedication?", he chuckled and the diners at the table all shared a laugh.

- Tavelle noticed the Selmer family approaching and he attempted to rise to greet them. Arknat grinned as the mage tried to stand, "No, don't get up", he chortled, "We've all eaten too much as well". Jobet smiled at her husband and looked to Tavelle, "We're turning in and wanted to say goodnight". The farmer nodded, "We've an early start in the morning, we're heading home".

- Maisie stood next to her brothers with a big grin and carried the Moog with both arms, "Will I see you again?", she asked the wizard. Tavelle nodded and smiled, "Yes, I'll definitely come and visit".

- Ednere, one of the two brothers gave the mage a respectful nod, "Is it true you fought a Wight King?". Tavelle wasn't sure how to respond. He didn't know if it was supposed to be common knowledge so he looked to the assembled militia at the table and he heard the Moog bark once.

- Aulkren stood up, "Who's been saying that?", he asked firmly and the young man paled. Narviss gave his sibling a frown of exasperation and he looked around the room, "It was the Halfling", he advised, "Why, was she lying?". The Moog barked twice and whined.

- "She's got a big mouth", said Lenthrey sternly as he stared at Narviss, "This is Rider business... It's not some gossip". The pug growled in Lenthrey's direction and wriggled.

- Arknat clipped Narviss around the ear, "Keep it shut you... It's Rider business", and Ednere flinched away from his father, "I'm sorry, I promise I won't say anything", he squeaked. Arknat shook his head, "Go on, off with the pair of you". The farmer made his apologies and he turned to escort the two young men away.

- Jobet took her hands from the front pocket of her apron and Tavelle could see she held a soft leather drawstring pouch, "Your mother gave this to me over a decade ago and I want you to give it to Kerryn for me".

- Tavelle nodded as he watched Jobet loosen the strings and open the pouch. She reached inside and brought out a beautiful silver horse-headed pendant.. It was perfectly fashioned to capture the majestic power of a bearded male unicorn and it was strung on a simple leather thong, "I know you've seen a unicorn", said Jobet.

- Tavelle held his breath as he studied the craftsmanship, he'd never seen it before now, his mother had never worn it, and he was sure he would remember such a masterful sculpture. The apple-green eyes were two vibrant chrysoprase pips but it was the spiralling ivory metal horn which truly held his attention, "It looks like a holy symbol", thought the wizard.

- "Fascinating...", thought the dark strip of material around his wrist.

- The wizard held the piece carefully in his palm, "Thank you, I'm sure Kerryn will love it". Jobet smiled and looked down to Maisie, "I think it's your bedtime? Come on, give Tavelle back his...", and she glanced to the mage in confusion.

- "The Moog", grinned Maisie.

- "Give Tavelle back his Moog", said Jobet.

- "Aww!", said the young girl despondently, "Can't I take her to bed? Tavelle says she'll vanish later". Maisie's mother looked to Tavelle and raised her eyebrows, "Honestly, it's fine with me", said the mage eagerly, "They obviously like each other". Jobet conceded and looked down to her daughter who was grappling with the barrel shaped pug, "If you're sure?", she said.

- As Tavelle nodded his assurance Maisie asked her mother to take hold of the dog for a moment. She passed the barrel-shaped handful up and then held her arms wide for a hug goodnight from Tavelle.

- The wizard knelt down and gave Maisie a big hug, "If you ever need my help just send Nibble to get me", advised Tavelle quietly. He felt the youngster nod and she squeezed him tightly, "Good night", she whispered.

- "Moog! Stop panting on me your breath smells of cabbage", he heard Jobet say in disgust. Tavelle released Maisie, she was given the polymorphed Halfling back, and the pair departed the hall.

- Tavelle sat back down at the table, he removed the pendant from the leather thong, and carefully placed each item securely in a separate belt pouch. The mage looked up and he saw an unconscious Lossora being carried out of the hall by a couple of farmers. It reminded him his tankard was empty and he excused himself whilst some of the militia were lighting pipes.

- Tavelle walked through the crowded hall and made his way up to the large barrel of Rodrathe's cider. He twisted the wooden spigot and watched the cloudy yellow liquid steadily fill his tankard. A frothy head formed on the surface and when he raised it to take a drink he felt the bubbles burst on the tip of his nose. It was sharp, incredibly refreshing, and very strong. The mage decided to just have the one... He didn't fancy another hangover and definitely didn't want brewer's droop... Naema would kill him.

- The wizard stood quietly, looked about the busy hall, and wished he had an iron dingle-dangle... As he scanned the crowd his eyes were met by those of Sister Alena.

Tavelle's player shook his head in disgust, "I share Tavelle's thoughts and you do things like this...".

- The priestess approached, "What were you thinking about just then?", she asked with a smile, "I'm sorry?", replied Tavelle as he tried to think of something.

- The Watchful Sister narrowed her eyes, "You were standing there with a silly grin", she explained. Tavelle shrugged, "I can't help it, that's just the way I look", laughed the mage.

- Alena pursed her lips but it turned into a smile, "Stop messing around", she giggled. Tavelle nodded, "I was thinking about an encounter earlier this evening with a mischievous old biddy, a boiling cauldron, and a sheep's head". Alena raised an eyebrow, "I'm going to regret asking, aren't I?", she chuckled. Tavelle nodded his head and smiled ruefully, "Well, let's just say I regret being nosey and looking in the cauldron".

- "Another case of your uncontrollable curiosity?", smirked Alena, "Like earlier with the shield?".

- "Yes, it seems to be a recurring theme", chuckled Tavelle uneasily.

- Sister Alena looked at him and her smile faded, "You should be more careful. Nelyssa told me of the Wyvern's stinger and how you nearly poisoned yourself".

- Tavelle raised a concerned eyebrow, "Am I getting a bollocking?", wondered the mage.

- "It would appear so", thought the dark strip of cloth in dry amusement.

- Tavelle nodded, "I know, I know... my curiosity will likely be the death of me...", he conceded, "I'll try and control myself".

- "I've spent half my time on patrol berating Liria... I'm a bloody hypocrite...", thought the wizard.

- Sister Alena moved close and touched his hand, "I urge you to show more caution in future". Tavelle nodded, "The Shield has asked me to assess the items recovered from the wight lair and I aim to exercise extreme caution". The priestess frowned, "I know and I would like to be present. We don't want to incur the wrath of any vengeful spirits, do we?".

- Tavelle nodded his head, "No, we don't, and I think that's a very good idea", agreed the mage.

- "Too little, too late", thought the remnant of Kendra's black cloak.

- Tavelle looked to Alena, "Thank you again for saving my life... I know you said Mother Chauntea saved me, but it was you who came to my aid and it was you that I bled all over". The Watchful Sister took hold of Tavelle's free hand with both her own, "I must offer my thanks, too. Without your willingness to sacrifice yourself for the good of Mistledale, I would never have felt such a bond with Mother Chauntea. Whatever you think of yourself, whether it be a wizard or a swordsman, we know you are a hero".

- The mage nodded uncomfortably and felt himself blush, "We? Has she been at the Rippin Pippin?", wondered the wizard. Tavelle retrieved the thong from a pouch on his belt and decided to try and change the subject, "I was hoping I could ask you to bless this leather cord for me, please? It will enable me to armour myself".

- "Yes, I'd be happy to", said the priestess, "I will return it in the morning". Tavelle thanked Alena and she placed the leather cord in a fold of her robes, "The Reverend Harvestmaster was hoping you had time to talk?". Tavelle glanced about the hall, "Yes, of course", he replied, "Where is he, I haven't seen him since dinner?". "All the pipe smoke makes him uncomfortable", explained Alena, "He's outside in the fresh air".

- "Well... That was weird", thought Tavelle as he walked away with his tankard of cider, "What in the Nine Hells am I in for now?".

- Tavelle walked out of the large arched exit. He took a deep breath of the fresh night air and saw small groups of people gathered around talking, drinking, and eating. The orange flames of the torches danced in their sconces and painted everything in flickering shades of yellow.

- The mage scanned the benches, he saw the Reverend Harvestmaster seated and conversing with Dumic. Tavelle noted two of the temple guards in close attendance as he walked over. The wizard recognised Harbeck from his visit to the Abbey with Erael, the guard smiled back at Tavelle, and then turned to the seated pair to say something.

- A moment later Dumic stood up. He was a large imposing figure and his glossy red hair was tied into a thick braid which reached the small of his back. The wizard heard him thank the venerable Chauntean and he looked to Tavelle, "You might want to come and see me in the morning", he said grimly.

- The mage tilted his head to one side in confusion, "I'm not in any trouble am I?", he asked with a worried look. Dumic grinned broadly and winked, "No, I was going to offer to show you how to do your hair". Tavelle let out a relieved chuckle, "Thanks, but if it gets any longer I'll be cutting it off", he explained. Dumic clapped Tavelle on his shoulder as he made his way past, "I hope to see you out with the Riders again", he said sincerely.

- The mage smiled as Dumic departed and he turned to face the Chauntean, "Reverend Harvestmaster, Sister Alena said that you wished to speak with me?". The old priest nodded and motioned for the wizard to take a seat.

- Tavelle placed his tankard on the table and sat down opposite Derim. Between the pair was a bowl of fruit containing plums, apples, and wild strawberries, "Did you enjoy the meal?", asked the Harvestmaster. Tavelle groaned and patted his belly, "So much that I've had to loosen my weaponbelt by a hole". Derim grinned at the mage and nodded in agreement, "It was a fine meal. How are you feeling after yesterday?", asked the priest.

- "A lot better than when I woke this morning with a throbbing head", smiled the wizard, "Although, I must admit to being a bit sore after a day in the saddle", and he shifted his tender buttocks on the hard wooden bench in an attempt to get comfortable.

- Derim waited until Tavelle ceased fidgeting, "Nelyssa told me of your fight with the wights and how you were barely harmed by their talons", said the priest.

- "Barely harmed?", asked the mage incredulously, "Believe me, I felt their claws. If Naema hadn't given me her potion of healing I'd most likely have bled to death".

- "No, that's not what I meant", said Derim with a smile, "Consider Erael and the damage the wights inflicted by draining her life energy".

- The sentient strip of cloth, which was bound to the mage, fortified the wards of non-detection, "Meddling old fool", it seethed.

- Tavelle nodded, "I felt the pull on my soul... It was like my life was being torn from me...", and it caused him to shiver involuntarily.

- "Yes, that's the feeling", confirmed the Harvestmaster, "How many times did this happen?".

- "I'm not sure... a few?", shrugged the wizard.

- "And did you feel weaker, or less than you were? Diminished perhaps?", asked Derim with obvious interest.

- Tavelle shook his head, "No, the pain was excruciating, but, it was though the wights were pulling on something which had no intention of leaving. It's difficult to describe, it's like there was an anchor?".

- Tavelle glanced up at Derim who was staring at him intently, "I thought it strange at the time... I didn't really have the option to stand around and think about it", he explained.

- "Very true", agreed the Reverend Harvestmaster, "Any thoughts now?".

- Tavelle scratched his fingernail on the tabletop, "I don't know, I did wonder if the scroll you expended had anything to do with it? Although, considering this conversation and the amount of wight militia, it seems unlikely". The Reverend Harvestmaster looked deep in thought, "No, it wasn't the scroll, it only served to fortify your resolve". The wizard took a sip of the cider, "Just as well", laughed Tavelle, "I had all sorts of doubts during the fight".

- "That's understandable", nodded Derim, "I have to ask, what were you thinking?". The mage shrugged, he really didn't know if he should share some of the things which entered his mind during his time within the barrow. Tavelle looked down at the worn surface of the wooden table, "I thought of fleeing", admitted the wizard. Derim laughed, "I admire your honesty but that's not what I meant... I meant what you did down there... I would've expected such heroics from Nelyssa, or Florin".

- The mage shook his head, "I couldn't have stood against the Wight King without the tempering...". Derim picked out a plum from the bowl on the table, "Tavelle, the only time the tempering had any significance was during your clash with Vinjarek. Before you faced the Mound King you saved Erael from seven wights and the blessing from Tempus never came into it".

- "Well, I couldn't just stand there and let her perish... I had to try something...", explained Tavelle.

- "And Jentar?", asked Derim, "Serrick said you never even lifted Anvil's Edge. He said you threw just about every spell you had at the creature?".

- Tavelle silently recalled the clarity and force of the thought, "Let the Paladin die!", and he still felt guilty about it.

- "I couldn't let him die... Brondar told me to trust in my swordbrothers", and he cast his eyes down to the Dwarven blade sheathed at his hip. The Reverend Harvestmaster followed Tavelle's gaze to the sword, "Captain Baergil once told me the most important part of any weapon is the wielder, if not for your actions Anvil's Edge might never have faced Vinjarek".

- Tavelle knew perfectly well what the venerable priest was getting at and he knew he was in denial. As far as he was concerned he'd just gotten very lucky and he kept telling himself exactly that. There had been some choice spell selections, a few incidents he couldn't explain, and he'd genuinely surprised himself with a sword. All combined it had helped him stumble his way through the melee. But, he couldn't deny what the Harvestmaster was saying. He'd shocked himself by what he achieved and that he even attempted it. He just didn't like thinking about it all.

- The wizard traced the outline of his sigil with his fingertip on the tabletop, "I was the only one in any position to help... I just did whatever I could", and it glowed with a sparkling silver light.

- "What's this?", asked Derim.

- "It's my wizard mark, my arcane sigil", explained the mage. "Anything to change the subject", he thought to himself.

- "A star above a broken mountain?", asked the Harvestmaster.

- Tavelle squinted at the glowing rune, "It's supposed to represent the Herald of the Moonmaiden above Mistledale's blowing horses". Derim nodded and smiled, "Yes, I see it now... It's simple, yet beautiful".

- "Thank you", replied Tavelle, and his ears twitched at the sound of horses drawing near. He saw Jentar with the remainder of his militia arrive. The wizard realised that with the power of the Horn of Quickening they were able to increase their speed and cut the journey time, "That's strange, I didn't hear a horn call for Riders returning?", thought Tavelle.

- "How is he?", asked the old priest, "I saw you talking after the service".

- Tavelle was a little confused, "Haven't you spoken to him?".

- "No", said Derim, "I get the impression I'm being avoided", and he took a bite from the plum.

- "He knows he got things badly wrong in the barrow", explained the wizard, "I think he was torn between his duty to the militia and a desire to destroy the Mound King in Lathander's name".

- Derim frowned and many lines creased his forehead, "If he had shown some self control he may have sated both duty and dogma", interjected the venerable priest.

- Tavelle nodded, "He made a mistake. He was almost distraught this morning when we talked. I think being worthy of the sword weighs heavily on his mind. He said he dreamt of the blade judging him and going dormant".

- Derim raised a grey eyebrow and looked unconvinced, "It sounds as though he's more concerned about the sword?".

- The wizard nodded, but remained silent, "Nine Hells! He's right, he was more worried about his new blade and hardly gave a thought for the fallen", thought Tavelle.

- The Reverend Harvestmaster pursed his lips and looked to Tavelle, "I've been warned twice before about his recklessness".

- "I've seen it firsthand at the Unicorn's Charge", replied the mage.

- "And now here", said Derim.

- Tavelle fidgeted in his chair, "It might be that the Lionswrath blade is of the same opinion?". The old priest nodded in apparent agreement, "You are aware he's a potential candidate for Captain Baergil's successor?".

"Are they out of their <censored> minds?", asked the player in shock.

- Tavelle shook his head, "No, I wasn't".

- "As are Kuthe, Nelyssa, Lanneth, and Dairantha Shieldstone", continued Derim.

- "I've not met Dairantha, but Jentar definitely shouldn't be in the running", thought the wizard.

- The priest sighed, "Captain Baergil will make his recommendation to the Council soon. He means to fully take up the mantle of a Battle Chaplain and pursue his calling", explained the Harvestmaster.

- "The Shield would get my backing", concluded Tavelle.

- Derim nodded, "I agree, I think she shows great promise. Which reminds me, Sister Alena mentioned you were mumbling about rubies while regaining consciousness?".

- The wizard smiled and his eyes seemed to glaze over as if lost in thought, "Heh, rubies...", he muttered.

- Derim looked puzzled, "Tavelle?", he asked.

- The mage shook his head and glanced at the priest, "When Vinjarek cleaved me, I thought I saw a cloud of sparkling rubies. As I fell into darkness all I could see were spinning jewels dancing in the starlight". The wizard cracked a half smile, "It took me longer than it should to figure out It was just a cloud of frozen blood".

- Derim nodded slowly and smiled, "You didn't find your rubies then?". Tavelle smirked at the Harvestmaster, "No, but when I was sitting there, just after having regained consciousness, I did have a look".

- "I'd like to find out more about the champion of Lurue", admitted Tavelle.

- The Reverend Harvestmaster smiled, "I think we'll have to leave that for when you come and visit the Abbey?".

- "You're not going anywhere near that place", quietly promised the strip of dark cloth. It had delved into Tavelle's memories during the bonding process and with malevolent glee found his sister was a spellcaster. The sinister sentience required the corpse of a female magic user to act as the vessel for Kendra's return. It would gradually bleed the annoying wizard of life until it possessed enough power to commence the summoning process.

- "You will kill everyone that you love... Death stalks the night! Ahahahahaha!", it cackled maniacally.

- It quickly realised it was still in the old man's presence and went as silent as a blessed grave...

- Tavelle nodded, "You're right, it's getting late".

- "Oh no, it's not that", laughed the Harvestmaster, "It's just I think Naema's waiting for you?". Tavelle turned around on the bench and saw the Rider trying to look inconspicuous whilst carrying a coiled length of rope.
Farrel Posted - 14 Jun 2016 : 19:12:56
froglegg - thankyou very much.

Caradoc - thanks, glad you've enjoyed it. You were half right - my dad's side of the family is northern and my mum's is southern. How's Phil the northern barbarian? Or, should that be how is Phil's northman barbarian?


- Tavelle looked at the irritating Halfling and resisted the urge to shake her by the throat, "Liria, please just go away... I feel <censored> terrible!", he half sobbed and pulled the thick fullcloak tighter.

- The Halfling bit her bottom lip and looked genuinely hurt, "I'm sorry, I know I can be a bit annoying, but I want to help", and she stepped over the frothy puddle to hug the mage. The wizard gently embraced Liria and happily noted she smelt of mint. Tavelle raised a wary eyebrow as he remembered he was hugging a kleptomaniac.

- Liria stepped backwards and seemed to blush, "You look nice with long hair".

- Tavelle cocked his head to one side at the strange compliment and felt his hair fall about his shoulders. "<censored> me! It's growing", giggled the Halfling as she handed the startled wizard his leather cord.

- Tavelle scraped his long hair back and fumbled with the thong. Liria stepped behind the mage, "Here, let me", she urged. Liria's dexterous fingers secured the knot, she held the cord tightly, and pulled hard on his ponytail.

- "What the <censored> are you two playing at?", asked Brondar loudly as he approached with Serrick.

- Tavelle rubbed his temples, "Liria's helping me sort out my hair and my head hurts. So, please don't shout", said the hungover wizard.

- Brondar glanced at Tavelle's ponytail, "So, where'd yer go last night?", asked the burly Rider with a little less volume.

"Eh?", said Tavelle's owner.

- "We couldn't find you anywhere", explained a concerned Serrick.

"What?", said a confused player.

- Tavelle looked rather bemused, "I'm pretty sure I passed out right here... Next to this tree stump", and the mage motioned next to him. The militiaman shook his head, "Nope, you can't have done. I walked through here", said Serrick stubbornly. Tavelle gave a shrug, "Well, this is where I woke up", said the wizard indignantly.

- "Is that your mess?", asked Brondar as he looked at the pink vomit and Tavelle gave a queasy nod in reply. "He nearly did the lot", giggled Liria and she sloshed the remaining liquid around. Serrick stared at the near empty bottle, "You had all that to yourself? No wonder you look like death warmed up". The burly Rider nodded, "Aye, but you always look like shite when yer wake up".

- Tavelle raised his eyebrows and stood up, "Oh come on, I just slept in a field... Wait, it's not even a field... That patch of grass... What in the Nine Hells do you expect? Rouge and mascara?", asked the temperamental mage.

- Brondar raised a hand to quiet Tavelle, "Calm down, yer grumpy bastard, don't twist yer loincloth", laughed the Rider.

- At the mention of undergarments Tavelle seemed to perk up, "I'm not wearing one", admitted the wizard with a grin, "I got dressed in a hurry yesterday so I'm as Silvanus intended and swinging free".

- Both militiamen looked blankly at each other as though not quite knowing how to respond.

- "Swinging?", said the Halfling sarcastically, "More like an acorn rattling round in a tankard, or a lone bat in the belfry!", cackled Liria, "If it were the Morn Horn you'd see the bulge above his knee!".

- The two fighters began to laugh along with the silver haired Halfling.

"Not impressed", said Tavelle's player.

- "It's a lot like a normal one... Only smaller!", shrieked Liria.

- Brondar and Serrick both roared with mirth along with the mischievous Halfling.

"What? Where's she getting this from?", said Tavelle's owner.

The DM wasn't going to remind Tavelle's player that Liria saw his "little wizard" when she was polymorphed and hiding in the long grass.

- Tavelle watched on as the trio laughed together. His head pounded and his body felt bruised all over, "Bollocks", said the wizard quietly and then regretted his choice of words. The mage turned away and trudged towards the camp.

- As he walked towards the tents he thought of the events of the previous evening and he remembered the missing Herald of the Moonmaiden. The patch of sky where he usually tracked it had been blank and empty, "I guess I don't need watching over now the wights are dealt with?", thought the wizard.

- Tavelle could see many of the militia packing their gear away, and three wagons, including one from the Abbey, being prepared for departure. He wondered if the treasure recovered from the Wight's lair was stowed safely aboard and if Liria had gotten to it yet.

- He heard Lanneth call his name and turned in his direction, "Where did you disappear to last night?", he asked as he approached with Buross perched upon his shoulder. Tavelle gave the Ranger a nod, "I got very drunk and passed out over there somewhere", and he motioned behind him. Lanneth smiled and shook his head, "You do look rough...".

- The mage looked over to where Jentar's tent was still pitched and the Ranger followed his gaze, "Has anyone seen him?", asked Tavelle. Lanneth shook his head, "No, it's very odd. He's normally up before dawn to welcome the sun", said the Ranger.

- Tavelle looked about at the heavy mists, "Good luck with that", he thought to himself and then felt a pang of guilt about their argument after the battle, "After all that's happened recently I shouldn't have laughed off his claim about the Morninglord. I was right to call him out on getting most of his patrol killed, though", thought the wizard.

- The mage looked around him, "Is everyone getting ready to leave?", he asked. Lanneth shook his head again, "No, not everyone. Some of the militia will help secure the farm buildings and have a tidy up", advised the Half-Elf, "It's likely to be Kuthe's group and I'd also wager Jentar's patrol hangs back".

- Tavelle left Lanneth and Buross looking at The Paladin's tent and walked back towards his own. As he meandered through the camp many of the militia bid him a good morning with a, "Yarr!", or, "Aarr!", and the wizard noted the crude gesture had changed to a raised clenched fist.

- Tavelle paused for a moment and looked at a particular pouch on his weaponbelt, he unfastened the strap, lifted the leather flap, and peeked inside. He could see the small violet and purple mushroom.

- Tavelle recalled the image of the tiny Grig riding the giant Bumblebee and it made him grin, "I'll eat you when I get back to the tower", he informed the fungus quietly.

"I still can't figure out how Nibblenook will even know I've eaten it?", said the player.

- The mage came to a stop and stood before an empty patch of field... "Where's Brondar's bloody tent?", wondered Tavelle, "More importantly where's my pack and spellbook?". Tavelle shook his head and watched as a dozen militia made there way from the camp, to a small plot near the hill, carrying spades.

- "Morning", said Naema, and Tavelle turned towards her, "Want to buy a backpack?", she asked. Tavelle was relieved to see his pack in safe hands, "A dodgy looking Halfling sold it to me", teased the Rider. Tavelle managed a strained smile, "Morning", he replied, "Do you think I have a small <censored>?".

Well, the DM wasn't quite expecting... that.

- "What?", blurted Naema in shock, "Of course not, why?".

- Tavelle looked to his boots, "Liria made fun of me", complained the wizard.

- Naema shook her head, "I'm sorry, I don't think I'm following this... Did you show her it?", laughed the fighter.

- Tavelle shrugged, "No, I don't think so... Have you said anything to her?".

- Naema raised a concerned eyebrow, "Honestly, do you really think I'd tell Liria about such things?".

- Tavelle shook his head, "No, I suppose not", he said quietly.

- The Rider stepped close, "Listen, you're not exactly hung like Fury", said Naema coyly, "But you're certainly not small, and I've no complaints".

- "Do you think we can change the subject?", asked Naema, and Tavelle nodded.

- The Rider fidgeted slightly, "I took the time to apologise to Erael last night", she explained quietly, "I know I've been a nightmare and I'm so sorry. It's just she's so perfect and she can cast spells. I felt threatened and I didn't want to lose you".

- Tavelle stepped in and wrapped Naema in a hug, "You won't lose me and I'm not planning on going anywhere", he said sincerely. "It's just Erael has the chance to learn from my father while she's here in Mistledale. I'm hoping I might be able to formulate some of her sorcerous abilities into arcane enchantments", explained the wizard. Naema smiled, "I know, she told me. She told me about the clan of Dwarves she lives with and I told her about Glen. I said I'd take her for a visit and introduce her to Asantar".

- Tavelle was happily taken aback by the revelation that Naema and Erael had hit it off. He leant in to kiss the Rider on the lips, "I forgot to thank you for saving my life", he explained when he finished. Naema gave him a curious look, "When was this?". The wizard smiled, "Halfway through the battle with the wights I was about ready to drop from my wounds... Your potion managed to heal me completely".

- Naema gently caressed his face and gazed into his eyes, "I'm glad you came back". Tavelle gave a nod of agreement, "So am I".

- "Oh yeah", said Naema, "The Moog's vanished. I took it to bed last night and it'd disappeared by the time I woke".

- The wizard nodded, "Oh well, it was only temporary".

- "Although you might want to check your purse", thought Tavelle.

- "Erael told me about your argument with Jentar after the battle and how he has her sword", said the Rider.

- "The snarling Lion pommel is gone forever", explained Tavelle, "I think that's what's upset her the most".

- "I wonder what armour he'll wear? His breastplate was shattered along with his shield", pondered Naema aloud, "If he wears his padded armour you'd better watch out for his cod".

- "Let me guess, it's massive?", whinged the mage. "What?", said Naema, "Are you jealous of the Morn Horn?", she giggled.

- Tavelle shrugged, "Maybe?".

- "Tavelle, Jentar's isn't normal!", laughed Naema, "I think he could club Liria to death with it!".

- Tavelle nodded, "From what I've seen I reckon Captain Kuthe would let him", chuckled the mage.

- Tavelle started to shake his head as though coming to some kind of realisation, "Liria must've seen me get out of the barrel of cold water?", he concluded.

- "You bathed in the waterbutt? It must've been freezing?", asked Naema.

- Tavelle nodded ruefully, "Nine Hells! It would've looked like a radish!".

- Naema stifled a chuckle and placed a comforting hand on his arm, "It'd be a big radish, though", reassured the Rider with a grin.

- "Well, now I'm actually grateful they call me Swordmage", laughed Tavelle, "It's better than Big Radish. I must admit that being told you've got a small <censored> by a bloody Halfling is a chastening experience... At least there were extenuating circumstances".

- Naema reached over his shoulder and playfully pulled on his ponytail, "So, what's happening here? Have you cast a spell to make your hair grow?", she asked inquisitively.

- The mage grinned and shook his head, "No, when we went to Ashabenford we stopped off to speak to the Selmer's first. They all said I looked windswept. So, before getting to the Abbey, Erael let me use a Dwarven Beardcomb. I don't think she knows it's enchanted and I'm pretty sure it's responsible".

- Naema raised an eyebrow and smiled, "Well, I can't wait to see what it looks like when it's not tied back", and Tavelle felt her squeeze his buttocks.

- "What the <censored> are you two doing?", asked Brondar loudly and the wizard turned to face the burly fighter, "Are you bloody stalking me?", he smirked.

- Brondar shook his head and frowned, "No, I want you to get a move on, pisshead. Go and get yerself some mornfry and sort your magic out. We want to be on our way before highsun", said the Rider.

- They watched Brondar as he walked towards the horses, barking orders at various militia along the way, "You were well and truly hammered when you wobbled off last night", chuckled Naema. Tavelle pulled a face, "It tasted great on the way down".

- The Rider smiled back at him, "I knew it! I knew I could smell sick". Tavelle nodded warily, "Yeah, about the mornfry. I'm not sure if I can face it".

- As they walked through the diminishing campsite Tavelle could see some stacked bales of hay on the far side of the field. He could make out numerous corpses laid on top. The distance and mists obscured any real detail and he looked curiously to Naema, "The wights from the barrow?", he asked. The Rider nodded, "Yes, ready to be cremated later", she explained.

- The pair wandered over to a nearby campfire with some militia around it and they bid them all a good morning. Eridge was poking at a nasty blister on the sole of his left foot and Netley stared idly into the campfire while sharpening a blade. Harran whittled away at a small piece of pale wood with a slender knife.

- Tavelle settled down to study and Naema excused herself to break her fast. The mage declined her offer to bring him something back. Tavelle retrieved his spellbook, he quickly memorised an Endure Elements spell and cast it immediately.

- "Beshaba's Balls! I still feel cold... I must be ill", thought the wizard in disgust.

- The mage prepared a single Mending enchantment to repair his weaponbelt and bandolier harness... "Mystra's Mysteries! I can mend to my hearts content...", thought Tavelle in astonishment, "...I'm going to memorise Prestigidation!".

"That can only mean one thing... 4th level", grinned a very happy player.

That's one of the things which we thought Pathfinder did exceptionally well... A 4th level Wizard having the ability to repeatedly cast their memorised 0 level spells. It just seemed such a great idea and we decided to adopt it.

As far as Tavelle's owner was concerned it made his character feel more wizardly... Being able to produce a small flame at the tip of his index finger was one of his favourites... We incorporated all of the wonderful Cantrip spells from 1st edition Unearthed Arcana hardback into the Prestigidation enchantment. Tavelle could finally let loose...

- "I can Clean, Freshen, and Polish to my hearts content!", thought Tavelle gleefully and he prepared to work on his damaged items.

- Eridge's attention was drawn from his blistered foot, Harran stopped whittling, and Netley watched open mouthed as Tavelle joined the severed bandolier together. The wizard stood up, untied the makeshift knot securing his weaponbelt and joined the two pieces in the same fashion. Tavelle Cleaned and Polished the metal buckle and then turned his focus to each individual belt pouch.

"Time to get OCD", explained Tavelle's player.

- Tavelle Cleaned and Polished his bandolier, breeches, and tunic. The wizard then removed each boot to Dry them with a minor Cantrip.

- Naema returned with a bowl of bacon and sausages, "Jop's had a fry up of the stuff in the Lannane's larder", and she wafted the bowl near Tavelle who looked far cleaner than when she left.

- Instead of prompting another wave of nausea the smell of fried bacon changed his mind, "You know what?", said Tavelle, "I think I'm hungry after all", and his stomach growled in agreement. The loud gurgle made Naema laugh and she offered over the wooden bowl.

- Tavelle shared the breakfast and continued to study his spellbook. There were a few interruptions as various militia made their way past and Tavelle heard the odd call of, "Swordmage", and "Aarr!".

- Once the wizard had finished he placed the tome in his pack.

0 Level - Detect Magic, Mending, Prestigidation, Read Magic

1st Level - Light of Selune, Mage Armour, Magic Missile, Shield.

2nd Level - Battering Ram, Mirror Image, Rope Trick.

- Naema nudged Tavelle and he turned his head to see Tynan wandering over, "Bad hangover?", asked the approaching militiaman.

- Tavelle nodded grimly and the Tymoran chuckled, "You do look a bit drawn". Tavelle tried to pull a face, "No, it's my ponytail. It's far too tight", explained the mage, "I can't even frown properly".

- Tynan crouched down next to the wizard and his eyes twinkled with mischief, "Bron's in a bad mood this morning... I guess he missed his wizard to snuggle with last night?", and Naema startled giggling.

- Tavelle attempted to frown at Tynan, failed, and sighed, "That's really funny".

- "I'm serious", laughed the fighter, "He went searching for you".

- Tavelle looked to Naema who had been consumed by a fit of the giggles, "Well, I don't know what you're laughing about... You and Bron both fart in your sleep", chuckled the wizard.

- Naema's eyes opened wide, "You bastard!", and she playfully jabbed Tavelle squarely on the bicep, "I'm a lady! I don't fart!", she laughed.

- Tynan stood up and started laughing, "Naema, to be fair, you fart every time you saddle up", and he deftly stepped out of range of the inevitable swing. Tavelle rubbed his dead arm and tried not to grimace at the dull ache, "Nine Hells! That hurt", he thought.

- The Tymoran looked to Harran, "Kinara wants to be away from here soon and back to Peldan's Helm", and the old man nodded, "I'll get Gothalt, he's having a bath". Eridge put his boot on and Netley sheathed his dagger, "We'd better make lively too", they agreed.

- Tavelle saw Nelyssa and Erael with the Reverend Harvestmaster and he excused himself to make his way over. He looked to Naema expecting her to follow him, "You go and I'll sort out the horses", she urged. Tavelle nodded and wondered when, or even if, his arm would feel normal again, "Maybe I could ask Derim to cast a Resurrection on it?", pondered the wizard as he walked over.

- Tavelle bid the trio a good morning and he noted Erael seemed relaxed and well rested. Deepchill had been found a scabbard and the breathtaking blade hung from her weaponbelt.

- The Reverend Harvestmaster gave the wizard a smile, "Sleep well?". Tavelle nodded, "Yes, thank you". Derim explained that they would be leaving after concluding matters at the farm.

- "There'll be a short service for the Lannane's before we depart", advised Nelyssa.

- Tavelle recalled the two half-wight Lannane children he dispatched with the Magic Missiles, "Are the fallen militia being taken back to Ashabenford?", asked the mage.

- Derim nodded, "Yes, they deserve to be with their kin", and he glanced over Tavelle's shoulder.

- "If anyone else mentions him rubbing his weapon, I swear, I'll swing for them!", said Kuthe grimly as he made his way over.

- Tavelle noted the dour Captain was in a particularly pissy mood this misty morning, "Thank Selune I'm still in his good books", thought the wizard with a measure of relief.

- Captain Kuthe bid everyone morning and advised his militia would start securing the buildings after the service for the Lannane family.

- Tavelle could see the Rider look him over slowly and he nodded to Kuthe, "Nine Hells! What now? Am I not presentable enough?", thought the style conscious mage.

- "Is that my bloody cloak?", asked Captain Kuthe angrily.

- "Er, no?", replied Tavelle hopefully, "Liria gave it... to... me...".

"<censored> Liria!", exclaimed the exasperated player.

From the DM's point of view it looked like Tavelle's owner was going to headbutt the dining room table.

- Tavelle quickly unfastened the cloak and timidly held it out in front of him, "I didn't realise it was yours, I'm very sorry", he apologised. The Rider snatched the cloak and wrapped it around his shoulders, "Bloody Halfling!", he growled through gritted teeth.

- As Captain Kuthe turned and stormed off Tavelle noticed some pink vomit on the hem of the black fullcloak and he shook his head, "Oh well, one step forwards and two back", thought the wizard in dismay.

- "Liria seems to have taken a liking to you", smiled Derim and Nelyssa started laughing. It prompted him to roll his eyes and blow out his cheeks, "Really?", he groaned.

- The mage walked with Erael, Nelyssa, and the Reverend Harvestmaster to where several graves had been freshly prepared and noted a large crowd already assembled. Brother Waylam and Sister Alena watched as they approached. Tavelle noted the priestess smile at him briefly and he gave a courteous nod in reply.

- The mage walked over to where Kinara was standing with Aulkren and he greeted them both. The patrol leader looked about at Tavelle's feet, "No Moog?", she asked, and he shook his head in reply, "No, thankfully".

- Tavelle could see the claw marks had nearly vanished, three feint white lines were visible and her right eyebrow had two gaps. Kinara noticed his concern, "I count myself fortunate", she explained, "If Eventar had a greater reach then I'd have been blinded".

- Aulkren glanced apprehensively at Tavelle, "Do you have a scar?".

- The wizard shook his head, "No, there's not so much as a mark on me", and he gazed over to Sister Alena.

- The mage looked to Kinara and then to her water flask attached to her belt, "Can I offer your drink a strawberry flavour?", he grinned. Kinara eagerly removed the canteen and handed it to the wizard, "Can you make it cold too, please?". Tavelle happily Flavoured and Chilled the contents before handing the flask back. The mage then offered to do the same for Aulkren's flask and the militiaman requested a hint of blackberry.

- Tavelle could see the Lannane family members neatly laid out next to the open graves. The bodies had been dressed, tidied up, and placed on wooden planks. Tavelle glanced about at the crowd and saw Jentar standing alone with his head bowed. The Paladin wore a dark orange padded cloth undersuit with a large light orange codpiece. Jentar was only wearing the forearm, shoulder plates, and shin pieces of his golden plate armour, and the transformed Lionswrath blade was sheathed at his side.

- "He always manages to look awesome", thought the wizard.

- The Reverend Harvestmaster spoke first, "Grear Mother... Please hear our prayers... Show the Lannane family your love... and guide them in rejoining the natural cycle... Keep them forever in your earthy embrace... and let them become one with their home...".

- "Great Mother...", called Watchful Sister Alena, "Please hear our prayers for Conor, Mellamy, Briers, Jehany, Ralton, Jaffrick and Jemily...".

- "Jemily", thought Tavelle and he recalled the stuffed rabbit with the chewed ears.

- Tavelle's listened to the eulogy for the farmers, it brought a lump to his throat, and his eyes became watery.

"I'm in a real dilemma and don't know what to do", said Tavelle's owner, "Do I make sure Jemily has her rabbit in the afterlife, or do I give it to Maisie to look after?".

- The mage removed one arm from the shoulder strap of his backpack and retrieved the floppy rabbit toy he found in the bedroom from a side pouch.

- Tavelle knelt down next to the small girls corpse. Jemily had been cleaned and dressed in fresh clothing. Her ash blonde hair had been combed and a string of daisies woven like a tiara. Jemily's face was drawn and pale. Her lips were grey and thin from the touch of undeath.

- Tavelle's ears picked up on the shrill warbling of a Robin Red-Breast nearby. It was the first birdsong he had heard at the farm in days. Tavelle looked back down at the little girl, "I think this belongs to you", whispered the wizard, and he placed the stuffed toy rabbit under her crossed hands.

- Tavelle stepped away and allowed the Lannane family members to be lowered into their resting places by pairs of solemn militia. Many of the assembled took a handful of soil and dropped into into the graves as they filtered past to pay their respects.

- Darram wandered by and patted Tavelle on the back, "Remember, don't be a stranger, we can ride into Ashabenford for an ale or two?". Many more whispered, "Swordmage", and, "Yarrr", as they walked away.

- Tavelle stood silently near the plot of graves and looked to the farm, "Would the tower have been any different?", he thought to himself. The wizard remained with a half dozen militia, who were filling in the excavated earth, and he saw Jentar in his piece-meal armour looking at him from a few feet away.

- The Paladin approached slowly, "Tavelle, I'm sorry... I wanted to offer my apologies, you were right", said Jentar sincerely, "I feel such a fool... I should've protected the militia under my command...".

- Tavelle wondered how much rest the Paladin had managed as he looked extremely tired, "Nine Hells! Is that a codpiece or a satchel?", thought the wizard in disbelief.

- "I wanted to smite the Mound King in the name of Lathander... I should've been above such desires... They were relying on me to lead them... I forgot myself...", and he looked in genuine distress.

- "You made a mistake", said the mage, "Everyone makes them. I make plenty".

- "No, you don't understand... Last night I dreamt of the fires dying...", and he gazed at the Golden Phoenix pommel as though overwhelmed, "I feel as though the sword sits in judgment...", said Jentar quietly.

- Tavelle glanced at the blade and silently wondered if it had some will of its own, had it too berated the Paladin? Tavelle reached out and placed a hand of comfort on Jentar's shoulder, "This reaction... it's called a conscience... acknowledging your mistakes takes courage".

- The Paladin smiled at the friendly gesture and then down to the sheathed weapon at his hip, "But, what if the sword considers me unworthy?".

- Tavelle followed his stare, "Jentar, look at the pommel. I think It's chosen its wielder", and he retracted his hand.

- "I wonder if Vallendras had such a problem?", thought Tavelle in shock.

- "I'm sorry too", admitted the wizard quietly, "The Morninglord may well have transformed the blade and it was wrong of me to dismiss it out of hand".

- Jentar looked to Tavelle and shook his head, "No, you were correct... I know now... There was no divine intervention... I should've realised something as I lifted the blade and it began to transform...".

- Tavelle raised an eyebrow, "What was that?".

"I was still going to black out...", and Jentar smiled briefly.

- Tavelle smiled back at the Paladin, "I'll freely admit I was hoping for a divine resurgence... After I managed to gain the creatures attention I decided I didn't really want it... I was fortunate Anvil's Edge withstood Vinjarek's assault..."

- Jentar nodded, "I owe you my life. If it wasn't for your persistence, and that great silver ram, it would've raised me as a wight".

- "I just did what I could", said the wizard.

- Jentar shook his head and stared at Tavelle, "It was toying with me... It had shattered my sword and shield... It's rending talons had clawed at my soul...", the Paladin paused for a moment, "I was done... I was finished in this life... So, I prayed to Lathander... and all I saw was snow and your silver light...".

- "That would've been a combination of Deepchill and the Light of Selune enchantment", thought Tavelle, "A bit like me when I mistook frozen blood for rubies?".

- "I was told to look after my Swordbrothers", replied the wizard.

- "Thank you", said Jentar.

- The crowd had dispersed back to what was left of the camp some time ago, and the pair were left alongside some militia filling in the graves, "Naema's waiting for you", said Jentar and he nodded to the mage. Tavelle turned and saw the Rider holding Fury's reins, waiting with her own horse.

- Tavelle's attention was drawn to the beautiful song of a tiny Robin sitting atop the handle of a planted spade. Wessner stood with his hands on his hips, taking a breather from his exertions, looking at the orange breasted whistler.

- "I love Robins", smiled Tavelle as he watched the bird, "They're so small and so fearless". Jentar nodded in agreement, he glanced sideways at Tavelle and smiled, "I hope with all my heart that if you ever need a second chance you receive one".

- "Thank you", replied Tavelle.

- "I also hope your embroidery skills are on a par with Kerryn's", said the Paladin.

- "Why's that?", asked the wizard.

- "You may well need to sew me a tapestry, or two, in the future", he explained.

- "Ah yes, sorry about that", said the mage uncomfortably.

- "Don't be", smiled Jentar, "Go on, she's waiting", and his eyes returned to the Robin.

- Tavelle walked towards Fury and heard people start hammering. The wizard watched some of the militia begin boarding up the farmhouse and stables.

- "Everything alright?", inquired the Rider, "Is he okay?".

- Tavelle patted Fury on his nose, "I hope so".

- "It sounds as though you're going to be busy when we return?", said Naema, "Brondar said you wanted to learn more about... fighting?".

- Tavelle nodded and swung himself up onto the saddle, "Yes, that's right".

- "Well, I hope you'll have time for me?", pouted Naema.

- "I was thinking tonight at the Dumic ranch?", smirked Tavelle.

- The Rider looked interested, "I'd love too but what if we get caught? We are pretty noisy... Well, you are".

- "I've memorised a spell for that", grinned the wizard.

- "What spell?", asked Naema.

- "It's called Rope Trick", explained the mage.

- "What the <censored>? You kinky bastard!", laughed the Rider in shock.

- "No, it's not like that", chuckled Tavelle.

- "So, you don't tie me up?", asked Naema.

- Tavelle shook his head, "No", replied the wizard.

- "I wouldn't mind", chirped the Rider with a grin.

- "I'll remember that", laughed Tavelle.

- "So, what does this Rope Trick actually do?", asked Naema impatiently.

- "Well, it creates an invisible, extra-dimensional, space which hangs in the air", explained the mage.

- "An invisible what?", asked the fighter.

- "It's like a small invisible room about ten to twenty feet in the air. It's accessible by climbing a short length of rope. When you get to the top of the rope, and enter the room, it looks like you vanish", explained Tavelle.

- "That's incredible!", said the Rider, and she shook the reins of her horse to spur it onwards, "Now I can't wait to get to the ranch".

"I just hope he can climb up the bloody rope", said Tavelle's owner.

- The wizard gave Fury's reins a quick shake and the stallion followed after Naema's mare, "It's normally used to create a safe and secure hiding place for when you're in the wilderness or in a dungeon".

- "How long does it last?", asked Naema.

- "A few hours", advised Tavelle as Fury trotted alongside her horse.

- Naema gave the mage a grin, "No sparring with Brondar this evening", laughed the Rider, "You'd best conserve your energy".

- "Wahey!", thought the wizard.

- Tavelle could see the wagons were leaving the farm and a long column of riders escorted them. Captain Kuthe supervised the militia working on the outbuildings and many men were carrying wood to the hay bales.

- The pair rode through the field and the wizard caught sight of Darram carrying a flask of oil. As Tavelle rode past he saluted his childhood friend and gave him a wave, "Swordmage!", called Darram loudly and he raised his fist into the air. His cry was echoed by many others as the pair carried on towards the wagons.

To be continued...
Caradoc Posted - 06 Apr 2016 : 12:23:34
Wow I found this thread yesterday and read it all the way through. Really enjoyed it, loving the style of play and the telling.

By chance I am actually running a low level 5e game myself in Mistledale currently, so I was very interested in the NPCs and locations... lovely.

You say you're from the UK, you wouldnt happen to be from the north of England would you? I like to think I can tell from the turn of phrase. I'm in Yorkshire

Please keep up the good work!
froglegg Posted - 23 Dec 2015 : 21:14:15
Nice read.

Farrel Posted - 23 Dec 2015 : 20:02:02

- As Tavelle moved closer to the undergrowth for a better view he saw the small beige Pug spring from the long grass. The wizard noted a flicker of recognition and it frantically started running towards him, "Quickly!", shouted the mage. Not far behind the small dog loomed the excited Mastiff and it bounded from the brush like a spring lamb. Tavelle glared at Drool as he readied himself to collect Liria from the ground, "No!", commanded the wizard sternly.

- Drool either didn't understand, or simply didn't give a stuff, as he chased after the object of his affections. Tavelle bent his knees to scoop the small barrel-shaped dog into his arms and started to try and avoid the charging Mastiff. To his surprise Drool pulled up short and made a frustrated whining noise. The mage held Liria to his wet chest and wagged a finger at the large dog, "No! Not a chance! Put your thing away!", said the wizard firmly.

- Tavelle stared in shock at the Pug, "I bloody told you!", said the mage angrily. The small flat-faced dog made a whimpering noise and trembled in fear against him. "Oh, for <censored>'s sake Liria, what have you done?", asked the worried mage with growing panic. Drool made another pleading whining sound and Tavelle frowned at the Mastiff, "Can't you go find a leg to hump?".

- Tavelle retrieved his clothes while carrying the polymorphed Halfling under one arm. The constant harassment from Drool didn't make things easy, "You do realise this may be permanent?", said the wizard, "To find out I guess we'll have to ask Erael?".

- Drool caught hold of a loose sleeve on his old ruined tunic, dragged it from his grasp, gave it a good shake, and wandered away in frustration with it, "Yeah... Whatever... Have fun with that...", said the mage.

- Tavelle pulled a sour face, "Hold on a minute, what am I saying? It'll be me that has to ask her and you know what? I've no idea how she's going to react... that backpack and its contents are important to her".

- The wizard stalked back towards the tents wondering what else could possibly go awry and saw a large group of mounted militia making their way steadily down the hill from the Barrowfields. He held up the Pug to address the dog properly, "They'll be here soon... You better hope Erael's still in a good mood".

- Tavelle parted his tent flap, dropped his equipment on the floor, and placed Liria on the ground, "Don't wander off. Remember your boyfriend is hanging around out there". The wizard finished dressing, pulled on his damp boots, and secured his weaponbelt. The wizard picked up the squat Pug, "Come on dumb arse... It's time to see if this enchantment will wear off".

- Tavelle made his way in the direction of where the horses were being held and saw the sorceress was busily removing the tack from Helton's old mount. A few calls of "Swordmage!", and, "Yarr!", spoilt any hope of approaching quietly and he nodded to some of the militia tending their horses. He held Liria under one arm and hesitated as he drew closer, "Erael, we have a problem", he said quietly. Erael turned to the wizard and her azure eyes were immediately drawn to the squat Pug he was carrying, she raised a dark eyebrow, "Who is it? No wait, let me guess, Liria?". Tavelle nodded, "I think her curiosity got the better of her...".

- To his relief Erael seemed unfazed, "You don't seem surprised?", asked the wizard. The sorceress smiled at the small dog, "Nelyssa and numerous others have warned me about her being nosey. It will wear off by morning and hopefully she won't try again?". Tavelle glanced to Liria and gave a chuckle, "You're bloody lucky it's not permanent". The small Pug gave a whimper and its curly tail wagged in agreement.

- Erael lifted the saddlebags over her shoulder and followed the wizard as he made his way over to Fury. The horse was still munching on his oats and Tavelle loosened the ties of the bag with one hand, "Have you seen Jentar?", asked the sorceress, "Has he thanked you yet?". Tavelle shrugged, "No, I've not seen him and I'm not sure if I should be expecting him to thank me either?". Erael looked a little bemused, "Why's that?", she asked. Tavelle removed the bag and patted the warhorse on its muscled neck, "He believes in resurrection and rebirth... If you truly have faith and it's what you believe?".

- "Vinjarek would've raised him as a wight", said Erael firmly. The wizard turned and smiled at the sorceress, "Good point, I hadn't thought of that. Still, I won't hold my breath, I can live without Jentar's thanks. Look, the main thing is you have Deepchill".

- "I just feel so disappointed the sword accepted him... it seems as though all of Vallendras's accomplishments are now lost", said the dejected sorceress. Tavelle nodded, "I think I understand what you mean but such is the way of weapons like this". Erael tilted her head to one side, "What do you mean?". The mage took a moment to choose his words with care, "You said the Lionswrath blade was different once. You said it bore the imagery of Ilmater, the crying god?". The sorceress nodded, "Yes, when it was within my sire's hoard, before it came to Vallendras". Tavelle paused, "So who was the Paladin of Ilmater?". Erael glanced to the wizard and shrugged her shoulders, "I don't know and I don't believe my sire did". The mage smiled, "But you remember Vallendras?". The sorceress screwed up her brow, "Of course I remember him", she replied with more than a hint of the obvious. Tavelle continued smiling, "That's my entire point... Remember the wielder and not the blade... I've no doubt the Paladin of Ilmater would be remembered for who he or she was and so should Vallendras... He defined the sword - not the other way round". Erael's eyes twinkled as she smiled, "That's a nice way of looking at it, thank you". Tavelle grinned, "I'd obviously add my agreement that the swords selection criteria, for a new wielder, certainly leaves a lot to be desired. My one hope is that the sword imparts some of what it found in Vallendras into Jentar".

- Erael shook her head, almost in disbelief, "Behind all the wisecracks, sarcasm, and gutter humour there's quite a mind in there". Tavelle gave a curt bow to the sorceress, "My thanks", and then continued, "Look, The Morninglord is supposedly all about new dawns and new beginnings. Let's hope he pulls his thumb out of his ass and tells the Pink Lancer not to be such a reckless <censored> in future". Erael's brow furrowed in frustration and she threw her hands up, "Clangeddins beard! There you go again!".

- Erael motioned for Tavelle to look behind him and the wizard glanced over his shoulder to see Drool sitting nearby, the mastiff's eyes were firmly fixed on the Pug, "Would you mind If we kept Liria's curiosity between ourselves?". Erael shook her head, "There's no harm done, hopefully she won't try again?".

- "I'm going to get some food for myself and these two", said the mage, "I'll see you later". Erael reached her free hand out to touch Tavelle on the forearm, "I can't begin to thank you for all that you've done". The wizard stared into her azure eyes and smiled, "I'm glad I could help".

Off screen.

- Alena entered the Reverend Harvestmaster's tent and pulled a cord hanging from a post. The sheet walls of the open marquee dropped from their rolled supports and settled on the ground. The priestess approached a floating globe of clear glass and placed a hand on the surface. The sphere began to glow gently with a gold light and it brightened to illuminate the interior of the large tent. The blood staining her armour and robes had darkened to a rusty brown as it dried.

- Sister Alena sat down on a wooden chair and started to remove her damp boots, the wet leather clung to her flannel stockings, making it all the more difficult. The priestess kicked off the boot, slipped off the soggy sock, and started removing the other. As she removed her wet stocking Alena recalled the joyous melody of the hymn to the Earthmother and the way it had touched her soul. The thought brought tears to her eyes and made her smile, it was a miracle. There was no other explanation for it as the strength of the healing was beyond anything she was capable of. The priestess placed her bare feet on the cool earth and wiggled her toes. For the first time ever she had experienced a true connection to Chauntea's power and love.

- The smile which had crept onto her face vanished as she remembered the fallen militia and farmers bodies in the heart of the barrow. Her friend and mentor Brother Handev was gone and the only memory she could bring to mind was his half-wight death mask.

- She unfastened the buckles on her arm greaves, removed her spaulders, and untied the cords at the sides of her breastplate. The back plate came away easily but the front proved troublesome as the armour was stuck to her robes with dried gore. Alena peeled the breastplate away from the linen and felt something solid fall from between her breasts and into her lap.

- The priestess of Chauntea placed the breastplate to one side and looked down into a fold of her robes. It was a beautifully cut sphere of vivid scarlet and she reached to pick it up. The gemstone was opaque and surprisingly warm to hold, the golden light of the glowing globe twinkled in its multitude of facets. It reminded her of Tavelle's blood and the gold radiance that emanated from her holy symbol. Alena held the sparkling gem carefully in her palm and looked at her cleavage, "How did you get in there?", she whispered aloud.

- "How did what get in where?", asked Derim's inquisitive voice from the entrance. Alena looked up from the gemstone, to the Reverend Harvestmaster, and presented her open palm to the venerable priest so he could see for himself. Derim drew closer and his grey eyes seemed to twinkle as he looked at the multifaceted scarlet jewel, "Where did you find it?", he asked with interest.

- Sister Alena blushed slightly, and glanced down at her bloodstained robes, "It fell from my cleavage when I was removing my armour... I've the strangest urge to keep it safe...". She looked to her breastplate in bemusement, "I don't understand how it could've ended up there?". Derim pulled a chair close and sat down with the young priestess, "Is it a ruby?", she asked, "It's just Tavelle was mumbling about rubies when he was coming around". Alena saw a smile creep onto the old mans lips, "No, I don't think this is a ruby", he replied without taking his eyes from the opaque, blood-red gem. The Reverend Harvestmaster placed his hand under her own, cupped it gently, and closed his eyes... The Watchful Sister closed her own...

- Alena heard the feintest melody of the song to Chauntea in the depths of her mind and she realised it had never truly ceased... It was as though Derim was guiding her and the holy choir steadily gained volume and clarity.

The choristers of the Great Mother sang a hauntingly beautiful song to the young priestess about a frozen heart of ice, forged under a shimmering green night, and how the Heart of Winter would need warmth...

- The Reverend Harvestmaster heard a truly eerie Chauntean melody begin to rise within his consciousness... It was unlike any he had heard before... It was abruptly cut short by the sound of a metal blade shrieking from its scabbard and the clash of steel on steel... Derim jumped up in surprise and his eyes went wide as he looked around, fully expecting a slaughter within the marquee...

- The Reverend Harvestmaster saw no intruders and no drawn steel...

- Sister Alena sat serenely upon the wooden chair with her eyes closed, completely oblivious to his sudden movement, and the crimson stone floated gently an inch above her open palm... Derim breathed a sigh of relief, and gently patted his chest. He watched the young priestess and marvelled at the floating red gemstone as his heart slowed to a normal rhythm.

- The Reverend Harvestmaster watched the priestess closely and felt somewhat jealous that he was not a party to this haunting song of the Earthmother. Derim walked to the table, poured some water into a wooden cup, took a sip, and waited patiently.

...The song began to fade and the priestess felt it retreat back into her subconscious. She had the overwhelming urge to keep the gem safe and out of sight...

- Alena opened her eyes and saw Derim watching her, with a wooden cup, from a few feet away at the table, "Harvestmaster?", she said in confusion. Derim Whiteshield smiled calmly, "It seems the song was for you alone...", reassured the venerable Chauntean.

- Alena nodded silently and closed her fingers around the glossy Red Tear...

- Tavelle collected three wooden bowls, joined the short queue for the food, and waited in line as the aroma of cooking beef filled his nostrils. Liria wriggled as he carried her under one arm and Drool was still following him around like a shadow. There were two militiamen who he didn't recognise ahead of him and he presumed they were a part of Captain Kuthe's patrol group. The taller of the pair turned around and glanced at Liria, "Nice dog". Tavelle smiled and adjusted his hold on the fidgety snuffling lump. "You don't remember me do you?", asked the man with a smile. Tavelle hesitated for a moment. He was a few years older than the wizard and he did seem somewhat familiar. The shorter man had shocking red hair and looked as though he was related to Dumic's clan.

Prior to Merrielle's death the Kralikh's were far more active in Mistledale and their forays around the Dale had proved very popular. Merrielle would offer the farmers essential knowledge on plants and horticulture, while Kerryn would mend and repair clothing. Nereskul would assist in offering financial advice, and the young Tavelle would play at being a knight. After Merrielle's death Nereskul became very reclusive and protective of his children, their travels ceased, and the family retreated into their tower.

- The man grinned, "The Belfinch farm? I used to play knights with you?". Tavelle's jaw dropped open, "Darram?", he half asked. The miltiaman nodded, "Yeah, it's been a while, eh?". Tavelle smiled and nodded his agreement. He cast his mind back to the rope swing, which hung from a huge beech tree, at the farm where Darram lived. He remembered climbing the tree, the mock sword fighting, and the crush which the young Darram had on Kerryn, "It's good to see you again", agreed the wizard. Darram introduced the other man, "This is Wessner", and he motioned to his compatriot, "Wess, this is Tavelle". The man nodded, offered his hand, and smiled, "Liria said we should call you Swordmage! and say Yaaarrr!". The wizard immediately heard a "Yaaarrr!", from nearby. It was echoed a few more times, interspersed with the odd "Swordmage!", and "Aaarrr!", before coming to an uncomfortable silence. Liria emitted a plaintive whine. Tavelle gave an embarrassed grin and clasped hands, "Did she tell you why?", Wessner shrugged, "For fighting a Wight king?".

"Doesn't anyone actually remember I lost?", asked Tavelle's owner.

- When the wizard didn't respond Darram looked a little confused, "Is it because The Lord of Battle tempered your blade?". It was Tavelle's turn to look bemused and he shrugged, "I thought it's because I've got a sword and I'm a mage?". The pair immediately burst into raucous laughter and Tavelle got a couple of meaty claps on the arm, "Ha! That's a good one!", said Wessner breathlessly.

"Hold on a minute!", said the player, "I wasn't trying to be funny!".

- Darram looked Tavelle up and down, "Haha! Just a mage with a sword! You're far too modest", he said sincerely.

"Are they being sarcastic?", asked a confused player.

- Wessner seemed to agree with his fellow militiaman, "Kinara told us what you did and she's nearly as hard to impress as Captain Kuthe". Darram laughed, "Tolben and Lenthrey said you didn't bother with the shield wall, they said you and few of your magical mates went and rescued that beautiful sorceress... Lady Erael... and then saved Jentar from the Wight King".

"???", said Tavelle's players face.

- Neither of the two militia seemed to notice Tavelle's cheeks flush red with embarrassment and Darram continued, "I was with Captain Kuthe when you and Liria arrived back at camp and I'll tell you one thing he wasn't impressed", he grinned. Wessner nodded, "Aye, it was damned funny though! Even if we daren't laugh aloud!". Darram chuckled, "It was even funnier watching his face when The Shield told him what you did. I don't think he thought it was the same person who'd ridden back with little Liria". Wessner started laughing, "He was the one that told us about your sword being tempered, he's a devout Tempuran, like a lot of us, and takes his responsibilities seriously. I think it threw him a bit when you rode into camp the way you did... He'd built you up as something else... No offence".

"I'm not sure what's worse?", said Tavelle's player, "That they aren't being sarcastic, or the fact they think Tavelle's some sort of hero?".

- Tavelle looked at Wessner, "Don't worry, none taken", said the wizard. The militiaman continued, "Serrick said the Wight King's blade shattered Jentar's sword, shield and breastplate", "Yet, by the will of Tempus, Anvil's Edge stood firm", concluded Darram.

"I can't argue with that one", said Tavelle's owner, and then something seemed to click, "Hold on a minute, how do they know the name of my sword? What's going on?".

- Tavelle looked down to the sheathed Dwarven Broadsword at his hip, "It's true, if not for the tempering Vinjarek would've made short work of me... It just took the creature a while to figure out it couldn't shatter the blade... So it sundered me instead... I'm grateful to the Lord of Battle for the blessing, for I would not have lasted very long without him, but I owe Sister Alena and the Bountiful Goddess for my life". When the wizard looked up he saw both men standing stiffly to attention and their eyes were looking over his shoulder at something, or someone, behind him. Tavelle raised his eyebrows and slowly started to turn around.

- The mage heard a voice, "Remove the corrupting influence and an intelligent man returns", and saw the imposing figure of Captain Kuthe with a wooden bowl in hand.

- "Corrupting influence?", asked the confused mage.

- "Bloody larcenous midget!", said Kuthe grimly. "I've had her patrol with me twice and lost my purse both times... Never again!". The Pug wriggled in Tavelle's grasp and starting barking angrily at the Captain.

- The wizard grinned, "I know what you mean, Captain, Liria brings out the worst in me", and he bent his head to address the dog in his most patronising voice, "Liria's a bad girl isn't she? Oh yes she is! She's a very naughty Halfling!". Tavelle looked up to see Captain Kuthe eyeing him with a strange stare, "Oh this...", and he wrestled to hold onto Liria, "Don't worry, this is just my crap familiar, the Moog", reassured the mage.

The DM nearly wet himself...

- Tavelle handed a bowl to Captain Kuthe, "Would you mind? It's for Drool", and the mastiff sidled up next to the Rider and waited expectantly.

- The wizard watched the two militia get served large portions from Jop, and he turned to the Captain, "I've no idea where Liria has gotten to and it's not like her to miss a meal?". Kuthe shook his head, "She's likely rifling through someone's pack", he grumbled. Tavelle smiled, "Yes Captain, without supervision most probably", and he jiggled the growling Pug under his arm.

Tavelle's owner gave me a grin, "I'm determined to get into his good books".

- Wessner and Darram were served and Tavelle stepped forwards to hand over two bowls to the ladle wielding Jopson. Tavelle watched as the militiaman filled both with what looked to be double portions. "I eard yer did good down there?", he whispered as he handed them back atop each other.

- Tavelle gave Jop an embarrassed smile and carefully took the balanced bowls, "Thanks, I got lucky", he explained. Captain Kuthe handed his bowls over and looked to the wizard, "The Shield was very impressed - I've just come from a meeting with her". The mage felt his cheeks flush at the compliment and nodded. Jop filled both bowls and listened intently as the Captain continued, "You mentioned earlier that you're not technically in the militia?", and the wizard nodded again, "I'd urge you to rectify that as soon as you can", said Kuthe firmly. Tavelle saw the Captain glance over his shoulder and he smiled at someone approaching.

Tavelle's player latched onto it immediately... "He actually smiled!".

- The wizard turned and saw the patrol leader from Peldan's Helm, "The Captain is quite right!", stated Kinara proudly, "I'd have you ride with the Helm's militia anytime", and she clapped a hand on his shoulder. The mage nodded his thanks and noticed the Rider give the dog under his arm a strange look, "What's that?", she asked. Kuthe looked up to Kinara while he fended off Drool and put the dogs food on the ground, "It's the Moog... his familiar... ugly thing", explained the Captain.

- Tavelle watched the large mastiff closely as it slobbered at the bowl, and then looked to Liria, "You'd better hurry up before gutsy finishes his...".

- The wizard placed the Halfling-Pug on the grass and put the food bowl next to her. The Pug glanced at the bowl and then looked up at him. Tavelle shrugged at the small dog, "What do you want? Horseradish? Cutlery? A napkin?". Liria dragged a large slice of beef from the bowl and gave a pleading whine. The mage shook his head, "No, I'm not cutting your food up for you, this is you're own fault", he scolded. The small Pug made a grumbling whinging noise.

- Kinara, Jopson, Darram, Wessner, Captain Kuthe, and a few others watched open mouthed at the conversation... "Can the Moog understand you?", asked the Rider from Peldan's Helm... "It.. It's intelligent?", stammered the Captain.

- Tavelle looked to Kinara, "Yes, it understands the common tongue", and then to Kuthe, "No, it's really quite stupid".

- Kinara gave Tavelle a dubious look, "What use is it as a familiar if it's thick?". The wizard gave a smirk, "They're very good at finding and setting off traps". Some of the militia laughed aloud and Tavelle had a fit of the giggles...

- The Pug glared up at the sniggering mage and grumble-whined at him with a mouth full of food. "You didn't have it when we left the barracks, how did you come by it?", asked Kinara suspiciously. Tavelle placed a tender slice of beef in his mouth to give him time to think... "A lot of wizards have familiars to do their bidding, they can act as messengers, perform guardian duties, you know... Useful stuff. I've become more frustrated with my Unseen Servants as they're completely hopeless. Anyway, I found an old scroll of summoning in the tower a few months ago... I tried it after a bath when I got back from the Barrowfields and The Moog arrived...".

- The wizard looked down at the Pug as it wolfed down its food, "I really wish I hadn't bothered", he giggled.

- Tavelle saw Naema and Brondar approach with bowls of food and he gave them both a smile. The pair made their way over and the mage saw Naema give the small Pug, which was busily gorging itself, an inquisitive look, "What's this?", she asked. Tavelle laughed, "Just a temporary summoned familiar, it won't be around long... Naema, Bron, meet the Moog". The Rider raised her brows, "The Moog?". Tavelle grinned at the polymorphed Halfling, "I know, it's a bit of a disappointment". Naema nodded, "The way it eats reminds me of Liria... Has anyone seen her about?", she asked, and the militia shook their heads or shrugged. The small Pug glanced up to the Rider with a mouth stuffed with food and made a strangled gurgling sound.

"She probably wants to ask her about the Honeysuckle Soap. That's not happening", laughed the player.

- Tavelle picked up the pug and the trio took seats around one of the crowded campfires. Brondar clapped Tavelle on the bicep, "We've been hearing about you standing toe to toe with the Mound King". The wizard looked to Naema and she nodded her agreement, "The Shield and Sister Alena told us on the return journey". Brondar gave Tavelle a nudge, "I'd rather be hearin it from you though". The mage saw Briarly carrying a small keg and filled cups as he made his way amongst the fires. The big Rider held out his own large pewter vessel, "I'd like to hear too", admitted the young militiaman as he turned the spigot to fill Brondar's tankard.

- A few of the Riders, militia, and clergy sat around nearby camp fires and toasted the fallen as they ate. Each of those assembled told personal accounts of their encounters within the barrows. Interspersed within every tale Tavelle heard the odd cry of "Swordmage!", or, "Mistledale!". The few bottles of wine and the kegs of dark ale, retrieved from the Lannane's store, helped lift the mood to one of celebration. Erael sat alongside Derim, Sister Alena, Kuthe, and Nelyssa, and the wizard noticed Jentar was nowhere to be seen. Brondar nudged the mage, "I still haven't heard yer side of things", said the fighter loudly and a number of others nearby cheered in agreement, "Yaaarrr!! Swordmage!!".

"At least they've stopped making the gesture", laughed Tavelle's owner, "I should be thankful for these small things".

- The mage nodded in submission, "Okay, okay, I'll tell you. I just need to get something first". Tavelle poured his ale into Brondar's cup and held the Pug up in front of him, "Naema, would you mind looking after the Moog, please?". The Rider stared at the small dog, "What do I have to do?", she asked. The mage gestured at the amorous mastiff, "Dont worry it's pretty simple, just make sure Drool doesn't hump the life out of it". Brondar gave the wizard a suspicious look as he got up, "Where yer off to?". Tavelle grinned at the bearded Rider, "The ale's awful compared to Blackboot Stout and I've got a bottle of wild raspberry!".

- The wizard wandered back to his tent, amidst the calls of "Aaarrr!", and "Yaaarrr!", and noticed Jentar's was lit by a glowing orange-red radiance, "Is the Pink Lancer still polishing his weapon?", thought mage with a smirk. He entered his tent and collected the bottle of ruby liquid from the saddlebags. Tavelle unstoppered the wax-sealed cork bung and warily took a sniff of the contents, "Mmm, raspberries", smiled the mage, as the scent of sharp fruit tickled his nose.

- The wizard brought the bottle to his lips and took a swig. The initial tartness developed into a warm mixture of sweet ripe berries and honey. The strength of the alcohol warmed his mouth, throat, chest, and belly, "Whoa!", exclaimed the mage in approval, "It's like Endure Elements in a bottle", and he took a longer glug.

"So, you mean like a potion?", said the DM sarcastically.

- Tavelle took another drink as he walked back to the clamour of the campfires and settled back down next to Naema and Bron. The mage offered the pair some of the wine but they both declined, "I'm alright with ale", said the burly Rider, "If I drink that stuff I get a bit fighty!". Tavelle looked at the bottle, "It's only strong wine", and Naema rolled her eyes, "They call it wild raspberry for a reason, Tavelle. Conor Lannane used to sell it on market days and the Riders would have to double the Ashabenford militia". Brondar groaned in agreement, "The High Councillor banned him from making it a few years ago. If that cork was still intact it'd be worth a fair bit".

- Tavelle glanced at the shining crimson liquid, "Well, I like it. I feel warm and cozy", and he started to giggle, "Get a bit fighty...". The burly fighter blurted, "Tell the damned story... Or I won't need the wild raspberry!". The wizard noted a hush fall around the fires and he could hear the burning wood pop and squeal... An ill advised cry of, "Get on with with it!", from Eridge, broke the silence.

- Tavelle sat up straight, noted everyone had their eyes fixed firmly upon him, and started to recount his version of events. The wizard heard a cry of, "Stand up! We can't hear you!", and a loud reply of, "He hasn't started yet!".

"This will need to be heavily censored", smirked the player.

- Tavelle stood up and took a quick swig of wild raspberry to calm his nerves, "I saw the gold flash of light illuminate the tunnel we were in and heard the echoes of battle erupt in the distance... I cast a Mirror Image enchantment, followed Nelyssa, and arrived to find chaos within the cavern... The shield wall formed up with me on the wrong side, but the wights rushed past and pretty much ignored me. I managed to strike one but it carried on to the shields... They must've been confused by the magical duplicates around me, I guess?".

- "It was that damned honeysuckle smell, they were avoiding you!", laughed Lanneth loudly, and the comment drew a chorus of mirth.

- Tavelle grinned at the Half-Elf and continued, "I surveyed the battle and saw Erael hard pressed by some undead...", the wizard was cut short by a question from Netley, "How many were there?", Tavelle glanced down at the militiaman, "A few were pinning her to the cavern wall and I think three were attacking?", he looked to the sorceress, "Is that about right?". Erael smiled and shrugged, "It sounds about right".

"I'd completely forgotten how many were attacking Erael... Tavelle took on seven of the buggers! What a madman?", admitted the player.

- The wizard gave a nod and before resuming he took a long drink from the bottle, "They were nicely grouped and I decided to cast a cone of fire. I didn't want to engulf Erael so I had to get my ranges correct. The fire burnt the closest five and took down three. I then used the wand on the remaining couple which were still holding Erael. The missiles killed one and the other came at me along with the two smouldering wights which survived the fire. Thanks to my illusory images causing confusion I managed to finish two with my sword and..."

"I told the other to <censored> off! ... Nope, I'm definitely not mentioning that... It was far too bizarre", grinned Tavelle's owner.

- "... the other fled down a tunnel...", improvised the wizard. A loud roar of "Mistledale!", and, "Swordmage!", erupted around him and Tavelle blushed bright red. The mage took another self conscious swig from the bottle of wine. After the cheers had calmed down the wizard continued, "I saw Jentar on his knees, with his weapons and armour shattered around him, and the Wight King preparing a killing blow".

- Tavelle paused, not for dramatic effect but he recalled something he had almost forgotten, "Let the Paladin die! Where the <censored> did that come from?", thought the wizard.

- Tavelle drank some wine and continued, "I used the last strength of my wand, to unleash the remaining missiles, and a brooch on its chest swallowed them... So, that's when I decided to conjure the Silver Ram...".

- A loud shout of, "Yaaarrr!", from Serrick caused an uncomfortable pause, and a few militia stared at the man. "What? It's my favourite part of the story! I saw what it did! It knocked the Mound King on his arse!", he explained excitedly. Tavelle smiled broadly at the grinning militiaman, "It's my favourite bit too", he agreed, and a cry of, "Swordmage!", reverberated around the campfires.

- The wizard took a slug of wine, "The Ram lived up to its name and charged the Wight.. It got slammed into a wall... As the creature was getting up I projected a ray of energy from the silver radiance to strike it... The positive energy angered it enough to come at me... It soon became apparent it was intent on shattering Anvil's Edge... Thanks to the Lord of Battle it proved quite impossible... I did my best to keep the creature occupied until help arrived", Tavelle saw many militia staring at him intently as he recounted the tale.

- "It was when the Reverend Harvestmaster entered the cavern, and the lesser wights burst into gold flames, I believe it realised it was in danger... That was when it ceased trying to sunder my sword... That's as much as I recall... If not for Sister Alena, the Bountiful Goddess, and my swordbrothers... I'd be dead", and he gave a smile of gratitude to the priestess.

- A loud roar of, "Tempus!", and, "Chauntea!", echoed around the field and Tavelle took a long drink. The mage felt Brondar slap his bottom in approval and Naema squeezed his inner thigh.

"I think Tavelle could do with answering a call of nature", said the DM, and the player nodded in agreement.

- Tavelle slipped away from the tents and the glow of the campfires to relieve himself in private. He looked over to a small hillock, took a slug from the bottle, and plotted a meandering path in its direction while loosening the strings of his britches.

"I always get a bit nervous when you make Tavelle take a leak...", admitted the player.

- Once relieved, he spotted a comfortable looking tree stump and stumbled over to it, "I really haven't had a moment to myself in nearly a ride", he thought.

- The mage looked up to the dark sky, there were a few small clouds dotted about and the stars twinkled brightly. His head was fuzzy from the alcohol so he decided to take a seat... Tavelle sat on the tree stump and looked upwards to the night sky, the mage scanned the darkness for his Herald of the Moonmaiden but the patch of sky where he expected to find her was blank and empty.

- Tavelle took an extended gulp of the wild raspberry wine and cast his thoughts back over the past few days... The highlight had been in the Rodrathe stables, after the wights had been dealt with, when Erael arrived as naked as the day she was... Hatched? The wizard chuckled as he recalled the sorceress telling him she'd nearly knocked herself out running to help, "As my father would say... You certainly don't get many of them to the pound", he mused with a smile.

- The mage swayed unsteadily as he sat on the flat top of the sawn through stump, "Mystra's Mammaries!", exclaimed the sozzled wizard, "I'd love to see her cast a Burning Hands enchantment... She'd either end up firing high or not being able to see what she's casting at!", he giggled. Tavelle took another swig from the bottle and winced at the strength of the fortified wine, "That's if she can even touch her thumbsh together with her arms in front of her at all!", slurred the wizard. Tavelle raised an eyebrow and smiled, "Thumbsh? Oh dear, I'm pished!", he cackled.

- As the mage chuckled to himself he became aware of a buzzing sound from nearby. Tavelle looked into the gloom and the noise steadily gained volume until he could feel the thrumming in his chest. The wizard looked at the blurry bottle of red liquid and couldn't quite make out the label... Tavelle closed one eye in an attempt to focus and see if it had any warnings about side effects.

- "Is it good stuff?", inquired a strange voice at about shoulder height. The pickled mage looked to his left and saw a hovering melon-sized bumblebee. It was being ridden by a tiny, foot-high, humanoid wearing an acorn-shaped silver thimble as a helm.

- "Buh?", said the wizard.

- Tavelle blinked hard and closed one eye again to see if he was hallucinating... The small rider was male, had sharp elven features, and his eyes were insect-like in appearance... The limbs were overlong for the size of the torso and its tiny hands ended with slender spindly fingers... The Fey creature had beautiful crystal wings, like that of a dragonfly... It was dressed in what seemed to be tailored leaves, held together by brightly coloured silk stitching... The mage, even this drunk, managed to recognise the thimble as one of his earliest creations... Kerryn had lost it years ago while playing outside the tower... The bumblebee was huge and extremely hairy... It had a small belt buckle for a saddle with a knitting needle, couched on a hoop, like a lance...

- The humanoid gave a friendly smile, "Tavelle?", he squeaked...

- "Nibblenook?", asked the paralytic wizard...

- Nibblenook's grin widened, he nodded vigorously, and the small humanoid gently patted the fuzzy bumblebee on the head. The bee began to land and the mage saw numerous strong legs unfold in preparation for touchdown. The loud drone of the wings stopped and Tavelle could hear the murmur of the distant campsite. The diminutive Grig dismounted, removed the thimble-helm and held it out like a bucket, "Can I have some, please?".

- Tavelle nodded his head and he carefully poured a few drops to fill the silver vessel, "Watch out... It's shtrong shtuff!", he warned. The foot high creature sniffed the ruby liquid and smiled, "It must be", he squeaked in agreement, "Because I'm still invisible!", he laughed. Nibblenook lifted the lip of the thimble to his mouth and took a surprisingly long sup, draining the contents...

- Tavelle looked hard, with just the one eye, at the strangely cute Fey creature and it's very fuzzy bumblebee, "Don't be shilly, I can shee you, you're not invishible", mumbled the wizard. Nibblenook started to giggle, "We Fey have a term for when the big folks can see us... ", and he paused to hold the thimble out for a refill. The inebriated mage proved a good host by filling the silver acorn and waited for the Grig to continue. Nibblenook held the bucket-sized thimble aloft in a sort of toast, "It's called being away with the Faeries!", he giggled. Tavelle burst out laughing and fell backwards off the flat stump as he shrieked with mirth...

- Nibblenook waited patiently for the wasted mage to stop giggling and while doing so he let the bee's double tongue dip into the thimble for a taster. As Tavelle lay on his back chuckling he heard the bumblebee make a strange buzzing sound, as though communicating, and Nibblenook's high pitched voice replied, "Yes, as a newt...".

- Tavelle did his best to maintain his dignity as he clumsily climbed back onto his seat, "Oh dear...", he sighed breathlessly, "Away with the Faeriesh...".

- He could see at least four bumblebees and more Nibblenooks than he could count as they shifted in front of him. The mage placed one hand over an eye in an attempt to thin the herd and could see the strange pair conversing...

- "I can see we're going to have problems with this one", said the Grig as it addressed the bumblebee. The hairy insect buzzed something in reply and Nibblenook nodded his agreement. The Fey humanoid looked up to the swaying mage, "There's things I need to tell you... But I can't because you're too drunk!", it scolded. Tavelle gave a drunken giggle, "I'm shorry", he apologised.

- The Grig reached behind its back and somehow produced a large brightly-hued purple and pink fungus, "This is an enchanted mushroom", and he held out the toadstool. The tiny humanoid placed it in the wizard's unsteady hand, "Put it in a safe place and eat a bit of it when you're alone at the tower", he advised slowly.

- The wizard squinted at the swirling vivid colours of the mushroom cap, "I fink they shell theesh in the Velvet Veil...", slurred Tavelle. "Not likely", said the Grig dismissively. The mage nodded slowly and opened a pouch at his belt. He very purposefully placed it inside and made several fumbling attempts to eventually secure the flap closed.

- The wizard gave Nibblenook a smashed grin, as though very pleased with himself, and then promptly passed out...

Off screen.

- Ysstar dipped her slender ivory fingers into the silvery pool and stirred the surface, "By the moon and stars why is this so difficult? He can't of just vanished?". The ripples in the scrying pool calmed and the worried Sliver began to search again...

Off screen.

- The sentient strip of cloth from Kendra's Black Cloak wished it had lips so it would be able to sneer in contempt at the ludicrously lucky young mage, "I hate you...", it seethed.

- The agony it had endured from the witch of the dirt had left it clinging to its very existence. If it hadn't have bonded with the wizard the night previously it would be no more...

- "I will make you pay you moon worshipping fool! You're goddess cannot help you now! I will make you slaughter your own family and I'll have you use your sisters corpse to resummon my mistress", ranted the evil sentience.

- "I will bleed you of life over the next two tendays and Kendra will once again stalk this land!".

- The sentient strip of Kendra's Black Cloak reached into the soul of the unconscious mage and drew on his life force...

- Tavelle felt cold and damp as he lay on his side. His head throbbed and his body ached. He saw the nearly empty bottle of wine laying a few feet away, next to the tree stump, "<censored>...", groaned the wizard. The early morning mists smothered the grass and small glistening dewdrops sparkled like diamonds. Tavelle slowly and very stiffly turned onto his back, "Oh, f-f-f-<censored>", shivered the mage as his head pounded. Tavelle heard Liria's voice from nearby, "Morning", she said cheerily.

- The wizard sat up uncomfortably on the wet ground. He noted his ears had proved correct and his eyes confirmed she was no longer polymorphed. Tavelle gently massaged his temples, "Morning", he replied grimly.

- Liria moved to stand in front of him, "Thanks for not ratting me out", and she handed him a thick cloak. Tavelle gave a nod and wrapped the fullcloak around his shoulders, "Thanks for keeping me safe", she continued.

- The mage stood up unsteadily as he recalled his hazy encounter with Nibblenook and the oversized bumblebee. Tavelle wandered over to sit down upon the flat stump, "I've the worst hangover ever", grumbled the wizard.

- Liria gave him a grin and held the bottle of wine, "I warned you this was strong! You should've listened!", she laughed. Tavelle shook his head, "And the backpack, I warned you it was Spell Trapped!", he chuckled.

- Tavelle could smell bacon cooking and his stomach made a strangled gurgling sound, "So, when did you return to normal?", he asked. Liria smiled and looked at where the strange burbling noise had come from, "A little while ago, are you hungry? Shall we get some mornfry, maybe finish this bottle up?".

- Tavelle gave the scarlet liquid in the bottle a queasy look, leaned to one side, and vomited...

- "Nice one!", laughed the silver-haired Halfling as she looked at the steaming puddle of pink sick, "I'll get Drool, he'll love that!".

- Tavelle promptly vomited again...

- "Oh, come on! I think we'll need more than that... He's a big dog!", giggled the hysterical Halfling.

- "<censored> off...", whined the nauseous wizard.

Off screen.

- Kael pushed the grey mare hard in the light rain, time was of the essence, and he could not afford to tarry. The vivid dream sent by his Lord and the sense of urgency which it imparted only served to increase his haste. The sorcerer-priest thought back to the vision, the clarity left no doubt this was important to his master, and the words, "Ensure his survival", however strange, left no room for misinterpretation.

...In the lucid dream he stood before a simple stone tower ringed by apple trees and mists... Adjacent to the tower was a small barn and above the stable doors sat a wooden carving of two blowing horses...

- "Mistledale", thought the mounted rider. He had passed through the Dale some two years prior, on his journey to Damara, and recognised the sigil.

...A huge coal-black stallion wickered nervously as he stood with his back to the entrance of the stable... Kael looked up to a balustraded balcony window in the tower...

...The room was a mage's study and lit by some clever Candle Cantrips... From the look of the shelves of components, and stone-topped work table, it also appeared to function as a laboratory... Atop the stone table were numerous silversmithing tools and his eyes were immediately drawn to the most exquisitely chilling metal brooch...

- The sorcerer-priest felt his heartbeat quicken as he recalled the silver and green-flecked metal skull, surrounded by a swirl of crimson tears. He removed one hand from the reins and checked his belt pouch for the twentieth time since he woke. He felt the hard and angular ingot of Gehennan steel through the supple leather.

- Kael gritted his teeth in annoyance at the reminder of losing the Brooch of Disguise during his bloody escape from Harrowstone Keep. It was the first enchanted item he'd ever crafted and he missed not having its abilities at his command. At least now he was alone he could attempt to put some distance between himself and his pursuers, "I don't even have the time to ambush the bastards", thought the cloaked rider with regret.

... He viewed a small hallway littered with the corpses of three cats and at the bottom of a flight of stairs he saw the fallen form of a bearded old man. The hilt of a solid looking dagger jutted from his back and a look of shock was frozen on his face. Numerous pouches were sewn into his leather apron and a wand was sheathed at his belt...

... He wandered along a landing, passed by a headless white cat, and looked through an open door into a small bedroom... The scene within was seemingly frozen in time...

... A dark haired man in his early twenties stood over the lifeless body of a girl of similar age. His fine broadsword was unsheathed and bloodied... Wet tears streaked the mans pale cheeks and Kael felt a sense of despair... It was then he noticed the feint outline of some hooded, spectral death... It was cloaked around the man, barely visible and ghostlike...

... The stunning young lady lay sprawled on the stone floor with a vibrant red puddle of blood pooled around her. The cobalt coloured gown had a dark stain in the abdomen and pinned at her breast was a silver brooch of blowing horses. The sorcerer-priest focused on her staring, enchanting, brown eyes...

- Kael felt a lump in his throat and he recalled Tilly's lifeless brown eyes. The cloaked rider whipped the reins hard, "It definitely wasn't a Harrla of Hate... A Harrla's intense rage ruptures the blood vessels in the whites of your eyes", thought the sorcerer-priest, and he cast his mind back to the squalid hovel of his childhood.

- He concentrated hard on the memory and looked at the reflected image of himself, as a nine year old, in a broken piece of bloodstained mirrored glass. His eyes were bright scarlet... and he remembered they'd remained so for weeks afterwards...

- Kael looked beyond himself and delved deeper into the memory. Within the reflected image were two dismembered adult bodies, a male and female, pinned to the wall by dripping slivers of glass... He felt his eyes well up with tears as he saw the small broken body of his little sister laying on the straw mattress...

- Kael shook his head to release himself from the image, "He looked terrible... As though something was stealing his life energy... It was some type of skeletal spectre", and he urged Thunder onwards.

Dalor Darden Posted - 21 Dec 2015 : 23:45:38
Thanks for the Christmas Present!

I love this writing style...a mix of in and out of character that really helps to feel like I'm sitting at the game!

Thanks Farrel!
Farrel Posted - 21 Dec 2015 : 20:04:29
Azyx, Dalor, and Jeremy - Thankyou for the kind words.


- The Reverend Harvestmaster narrowed his eyes as if motioning the mage to his left and Tavelle followed their path to Erael. It was in that moment he realised he hadn't taken his eyes off of Jentar, even when she had spoken up about the swords history. The mage turned to regard her and saw her eyes were glassy, "Damn it, I'm an idiot! I should've realised" , thought the wizard. Erael gave a slight shake of her head and Tavelle could see her eyes welling up with tears, "Please, just let it go... It's no longer the Lionswrath blade..." (Translated from Dwarvish*).

"Dwarvish?", asked Tavelle's player and the DM gave a nod of confirmation.

- The mage nodded and took a deep breath, "I'm sorry... I didn't think... I'm so angry at what he's done..." (TfD*), and he shot a frustrated glance towards the fallen Mistrans. The wizard looked back to Jentar and the Paladin stepped towards him with the flame-wreathed blade at his side, "It's a Phoenix", he said sternly. The mage let out a sigh but didn't respond, "He didn't even realise it was sarcasm? I'm definitely not going to say anything else. I've already upset Erael, by going on about the sword, and it seems Derim isn't impressed with my rant either".

- Jentar gave a curt bow to Erael and glared at the wizard. The paladin shook his head, as he looked Tavelle up and down, then turned about. The mage had to consciously hold his tongue, "You're welcome", he thought to himself. The paladin of Lathander nodded to both Nelyssa and Derim before marching down an exit tunnel. The wizard looked around at the militia and saw Lanneth, who gave him a supportive nod. The orange radiance from Jentar's new sword dissipated down the tunnel as he departed.

- The mage noticed the two Ioun Stones were no longer orbiting him so he started searching the ground where he had fallen, "How do you feel now?" (TfD*), asked the sorceress. Tavelle looked up, "Yeah alright and I think Sister Alena cured my cold too" (TfD*). The sorceress reached down to a boot and retrieved a slender wand, "Don't worry about the stones. I picked them up while you were out cold... You dropped this" (TfD*). Tavelle stopped looking at the muddy ground and took the spent item, "Thanks, I discarded it during the fight as it's empty. I'll keep it as a memento" (TfD*).

- The wizard raised an eyebrow at the sorceress, "Why are we speaking Dwarvish?" (TfD*). Erael smiled, "I have Deepchill in my mind and it's the only language he knows. When we were speaking in the common tongue earlier he was forever in my ear asking what we were talking about" (TfD*). Tavelle nodded his understanding, "I doubt you get much conversation with a wight king, how long has he been down here?" (TfD*). The sorceress giggled and nodded, "Too durned long, according to him" (TfD*).

- As they talked about Deepchill the pair were approached by Nelyssa and Derim. Tavelle wondered if he was about to be reprimanded for his outburst. The Shield of Chauntea smiled, "I'm glad you're okay", and Tavelle nodded, "I've Sister Alena and the Bountiful Goddess to thank for that". The Reverend Harvestmaster placed a hand on Tavelle's arm, "Alena called and Mother Chauntea answered. I believe it's a good omen for the both of you". The mage fidgeted, "I want to apologise, I'm sorry for my outburst, I shouldn't have said anything in front of everyone". Derim shook his head, "You only said what many of us were thinking, don't fret about it. It will be addressed when we return to Ashabenford".

- The Shield of Chauntea seemingly nodded her agreement, "What happened when we entered the chamber, one moment you were behind me and then you weren't? I was expecting you behind the shield wall?". Tavelle gave a shrug, "So was I, in the confusion and the rush of the wights it formed up behind me. I was surrounded by a few illusory duplicates and they, the undead that is, ignored me. That's when I saw Erael was in trouble and things in general were going badly. Naema just said if everything went to hell then to do whatever I could". The last sentence made both Chaunteans smile broadly and they looked to each other. Nelyssa was the first to reply, "I saw what you did and I'm very glad you decided to patrol with us". Tavelle blushed and he looked to his muddy boots. The wizard felt Erael bump his hip gently with her own, "So am I", she said sincerely.

- Tavelle turned as he saw Kinara approach and the Rider from Peldan's Helm placed a hand on his shoulder to draw him into a hug, "I'm glad you're okay". The wizard smiled as she released him and he gently traced the feint lines upon her face where Eventar's claws has struck, "Are you alright?", asked the mage with genuine concern. Kinara smiled and nodded to Tavelle, "Yes, I've the Reverend Harvestmaster and Sister Alena to thank", and she looked to Derim and Nelyssa, "I'm taking Tolben and Lenthrey to the surface to see Brother Waylam. They both took hits from the wights and you say he has scrolls which can help them?". Derim nodded, "Yes, there are some older scrolls which Reverend Brother Mallither inked before his passing. Please ask the Watchful Brother to use those first". Kinara nodded, gave her thanks to the venerable priest and departed with the two militiamen.

- Nelyssa looked at the shredded collar and sleeve of Tavelle's tunic, "I saw you struck hard by the wights", said the paladin with some concern, "Are you sure you don't require aid?". The wizard smiled and shrugged, "No, I feel great. Whatever Sister Alena and the Bountiful Goddess did cured me of everything... Even the cold I had coming". Satisfied that their wizard was okay the Chaunteans began to discuss the removal of the fallen and Erael decided to make her way over to Sister Alena.

- Tavelle saw the hilt of Jentar's shattered sword discarded in the mud, the mage excused himself politely, and wandered over to the broken weapon. The wizard could see numerous fragments of metal on the floor, parts of the paladin's breastplate and shield littered the area where their melee had taken place. Tavelle felt a cold shiver run down his spine as he recalled Vinjarek's crashing blows with Deepchill and his eyes came to gaze upon Anvil's Edge at his hip.

- Tavelle looked a little bemused as he collected his thoughts, "Mystra's Mysteries! There's so many questions!".

- The wizard crouched down and collected a few shards of metal from the sword, shield, and armour. He placed them disdainfully in an empty bandolier pouch which was hanging freely from his shoulder, "I've not a clue what they might be useful for but I'm bloody having them anyway", thought the mage in frustration.

- Tavelle heard some boots trudge through the cloying earth behind him and heard Tynan's voice, "There's me thinking you'd be sick of mud by now? Do you want to get out of here?". The wizard stood up, "What about the others?". The Tymoran shrugged, "Some are staying for a final sweep, some are getting the fallen ready to move... Er, carry... I mean carry to the surface". Tavelle had a final look about the chamber as his mind raced with a multitude of questions, "I hope we're done here", admitted the mage.

- Tavelle walked out of the larger chamber and followed Tynan into a tunnel, "I'll give you one thing you've got guts!", said the fighter with a big grin. Tavelle stopped, raised an eyebrow, and gave him a dubious look, "Go on, whatever it is, get it over with", and smirked in anticipation. Tynan started laughing, "Sister Alena still has some on her robes and armour". Tavelle gave a chuckle, he was covered in dried mud and blood, "I'm a proper mess, look at the <censored> state of me! Serrick can have these back!", and the Tymoran nodded in agreement, "When I saw your wound I honestly thought you'd had it... You were open from hip to shoulder... I went chasing after Brother Handev certain you'd bleed out...". It was Tavelle's turn to nod, "I owe Sister Alena my life".

- Tynan was carrying a large canvas sack and he rested it on the ground while they talked in the tunnel. The mage raised an eyebrow, "Did any of the wights actually lay a claw on you?", and the fighter shook his head, "I trust in the Lady and my own skill. It's always kept me safe so far". Tynan reached into the neck of his chainmail, fished out a small silver disc on a leather cord and gave it a gentle kiss. Tavelle looked at the symbol of Tymora, it was rough and had feint markings on the flat surfaces, "Is it an old coin? I could make you a really nice one if you want?". Tynan shook his head again and smiled, "Thanks for the offer but this little coin is special". Tavelle looked the Tymoran up and down and noted he was barely even muddy. He cast a look at himself, and grinned, "I think I see your point".

- They continued walking and as they turned a corner the mage saw the welcome glow of daylight. He quickened his pace towards the exit. Tavelle stopped when he realised Tynan wasn't following him and began to turn around. As he turned to look behind him he saw and felt the armoured claws of a wight grab his shoulder. "<censored>!", shrieked the mage in horror. Tavelle's hand reached for the hilt of Anvil's Edge but it wasn't hanging correctly and he wasted precious moments fumbling in a panic. It was only when he heard howls of laughter that he realised the claws had no grip. The Tymoran was nearly in tears and leant against a wall as he laughed uncontrollably. Tynan looked as though he wanted to say something but couldn't manage to stifle his mirth. "Bastard! I nearly shat myself! That's twice you've got me now!", said the wizard angrily as he tried to regain his composure. The fighter was bent double with his hands on his knees desperately trying to breathe. Tavelle saw the funny side of the prank and started to laugh, "I've got to admit I wanted a wight's arm to do exactly the same thing!".

- The fighter looked up, "I'm sorry, I just had to! Besides, Brondar asked me to get you one", and he held the arm out to the wizard. Tavelle recognised it immediately and remembered having to avoid it when it was attached to the crowned wight. The rusted gauntlet was pitted, split in places, and sharp talons protruded from the missing fingertips. The mage took the arm from Tynan and the fighter handed him a spare sack, "Here, put it in this". Tavelle stowed the arm carefully in the cloth and smirked as he thought about the many uses for it, "This is going to be great for practical jokes, backscratching, raking leaves...". Tynan clapped him on the shoulder, "Look, all joking aside, what you did back there took some serious balls. Stuff Jentar, I'd ride alongside you anytime. That's if this hasn't put you off?". Tavelle shook his head and thanked the fighter, "I really enjoy my time with you lot and in a strange kind of way I guess I should thank Kendra for that. If it hadn't been for her I'd still be theorising, over my tomes and grimoires, instead of actually doing all this". Tynan gave the mage a bemused look, "Grimwhat?, Ah, nevermind", and he turned to leave.

- A familiar voice from deeper in the tunnel interrupted Tavelle and Tynan, "What are you two gossiping about?", and the mage saw Serrick approach with Trentos of the Abbey. Tynan looked to Serrick, "I just got him with the arm", and the militiaman started laughing, "Don't you think his britches are full enough?". The Tymoran gave a big grin, "Nah, I was more worried about him drawing Anvil's Edge or his wand on me". Trentos wore the bronze hued platemail of the abbey guard and he smiled at the banter Tavelle was receiving, "I did wonder why everyone was calling you Swordmage". Tavelle grinned at Trentos. "Let me guess, you probably still are?". Trentos started chuckling, "Oh no, I arrived with the Reverend Harvestmaster... It was just in time to see you get cleaved". Serrick and Tynan burst out laughing.

- "You might like to know they've found some treasure", said Serrick once he had calmed. Trentos nodded, "Yeah, it was under some rotten canvas sacks, covered in earth. It was your sorceress who spotted it", and the abbey guard looked to Tavelle. Tynan shrugged his arms, "Well, what was it? Coins? Gemstones? Jewellery?", he asked impatiently. Serrick pulled a face at his friend, "Calm down, yer bloody magpie! It was mainly silver jewellery and some precious stones. I didn't get a good look". Trentos chimed in, "I saw a shield, spearhead and longsword. They were all covered in muck but looked alright".

- Tynan nudged Serrick and glanced at Tavelle, "I wonder if any of it's magical?". The wizard nodded his head, "It's possible, the sword the Wight King wielded and the red dragon brooch he wore were obviously both enchanted. The brooch carried a spell which I can cast, It's called Shield. It's typically used to thwart Magic Missiles and frontal attacks in the same manner as the object it was named after".

- Tynan grinned at Serrick, "Told you..", and the man nodded, "Yeah". Tavelle watched Serrick hand over several silver pieces to the Tymoran, "What's going on?", he asked. Serrick counted out five silver, "He asked if I'd heard you get all 'Sagey' when you were asked about magic, I didn't believe him, and I lost the wager". Tynan smiled at Tavelle, "I do always learn something".

- Tavelle looked at the trio, "So, the treasure, any ideas what's going to happen to it? Will it just be claimed by the High Councillor?". Tynan shrugged, "It'll go back to the Barracks and be sorted. I'd love a good look at the crown the creature was wearing". Tavelle nodded in agreement, "The high spires and jewels looked stunning". Serrick nudged the mage, "When we get back to Ashabenford, and the stewards go through it, you might get the chance?".

- Trentos stood with a worried expression upon his face, "What about the ghosts? What if they come looking for the treasure?", he whispered. Tynan and Serrick looked to Tavelle, "What do you reckon?", asked the Tymoran, "Will they come after it?". The wizard shook his head, "No, I don't think so, Vinjarek and his undead retinue seemed to be the last custodians of those items. I'd guess they were their possessions in life and were interred with them in death?", and he looked to Trentos, "Anyway, I'm sure the Reverend Harvestmaster will take any necessary precautions, in regards to vengeful ghosts and cursed items".

- The quartet made their way towards the welcome shafts of daylight which managed to penetrate the angles of the tunnel. Tavelle could make out silhouetted figures pass the exit intermittently causing the light to flicker and blink. The mage walked fully into the light and heard a familiar voice from one of the larger shadows waiting at the tunnel entrance, "<censored> my old boots! Look at the state of yer! There's me thinking Jentar was a mess!". Tavelle recognised Brondar's deep voice but was unable to see him properly as he shielded his eyes from the glaring sunlight. The half-blind wizard felt a burly arm drop over his shoulder and pulled him into a bear hug, "I heard yer did good in there?". The big man ruffled Tavelle's unruly locks with a balled fist, and with his nose, and mouth, pressed against the Rider's breastplate he only managed to reply, "Mm... Sqwuathed".

- Tavelle heard Naema's voice close by, "Bron, let him go". The big fighter released the wizard and he turned in the direction of her voice. Tavelle squinted and managed to see a blurry outline of Naema through watering eyes and she stepped close to wrap her arms around him, "Chauntea's sweet mercy! I'm glad you're okay. Kinara and Aulkren told us what happened and what you did". Tavelle felt Naema wipe his eyes as his sight readjusted, "It's all blood and mud! What happened to staying behind the shield wall?", she asked. Tavelle blinked as he focused on Naema, "Remember what you said about it going to the Nine Hells? Well, it did", said the mage, "Thats a bit of an understatement", added Tynan. Serrick nodded in agreement, "Only Jentar and Erael survived from their group and if it hadn't been for Tavelle they wouldn't be here either".

- The wizard looked to Serrick, "And I wouldn't be here if not for you, Tynan, Sister Alena, and Mother Chauntea". Brondar put a hand on Tavelle's shoulder, "Kinara said Jentar <censored> up and disregarded the orders?". The mage nodded but didn't want to get drawn into another extended whinge about the paladin. Tynan glanced at Tavelle and then to the pair of Riders, "He got a lot of people killed, had his armour and sword shattered, yet he managed to come away with his life and Erael's sword", explained the Tymoran.

- "I saw him head back to the farm so The Morn Horn's probably in his tent giving it a good rubbing", said Liria innocently as she made her way out from behind the wizard. Tavelle looked down at the tiny, silver-haired, Halfling and she glanced up, "You look like <censored>", she said with a grin, "Thank you", replied Tavelle dryly, as he checked the sheath next to his dagger. Liria brought the wand out from behind her back and gave the mage a winning smile, "I'm glad you're not dead".

- Serrick explained the fallen militia and farmers were to be brought to the surface, "We've got all their personal effects but our people still need carrying out. The left hand tunnel will just about let you squeeze through if you're not wearing your plate, Bron". Brondar nodded and started removing his armour. Naema looked at the bedraggled wizard, "When you return to the Lannane farm there's a wooden tub around the back of the farmhouse near the well. I'll see you later".

- Tavelle watched as the two Riders and numerous militia disappeared into the dark overhang in the side of the hill. The mage did a double-take when he spied Buross waiting impatiently nearby. The large Eagle Owl seemed worried sick as it hopped about in earnest looking for Lanneth in the darkness. The wizard couldn't help himself - he was a sucker for most types of animal - and sought to reassure the pining bird his master was just fine.

- "What the <censored> are you doing?", asked Liria with obvious concern in her voice, "That bird's a bastard and just plain mean, leave it alone, it'll have ya!". Tavelle frowned at the Halfling, "I just want to reassure it that his master is alright".

- Tavelle approached the agitated Owl with care, and addressed the animal softly by its name, "Buross, here... boy? Come on... owly?". The bird turned its large head to face the mage without turning its torso, "Hoooooo!", shrieked the owl. Tavelle's eyes went wide and he only managed to mutter, "Erm?", in response. Buross jumped its body around without taking his gaze from Tavelle, "Hooooooo!", it hooted loudly.

"Okay, we haven't rolled a check or anything but I'm intimidated", said the player, "and Tavelle is too", he laughed.

I think I might've overdid the owl impression... Buross was worried, not angry... Liria was semi-correct with her assessment - Buross didn't hate everyone... he just hated fingers.

- Buross hopped forwards in Tavelle's direction, and made a softer, "hooo?", noise. The concerned mage decided to stand his ground and noted Liria had retreated a safe distance from him, "Buross... Lanneth is okay", he squeaked, "He'll be here soon". The wizard saw a definite reaction to Ranger's name and the Eagle Owl started a faster diagonal bounce to get closer, "Hooohooo!", it called excitedly as it balanced the forward momentum with its wings. The large bird stopped a couple of feet short of Tavelle and its startling golden brown eyes looked up at him expectantly, "hooo?".

- The mage visibly swallowed and addressed the huge owl, "Please don't bite me again", he pleaded. Buross kept his large gold orbs firmly on the wizard and Tavelle noticed a pulsing of the feathers below the beak, "Lanneth won't be long", reassured the mage as he felt slightly more at ease. Buross emitted a couple of soft "Hoo's", and began to puff himself up for a preen. Tavelle watched as the Eagle Owl seemed to get larger and wider with his feathers fluffed up, "Don't you look cute?", he commented and began to crouch down. As the mage extended a hand towards the big ball of feathers he saw Buross eye his fingers and open his sharp beak menacingly. Tavelle quickly withdrew his hand and stood up, "Liria's right", said the wizard bitterly, "You are a bastard!".

- The mage backed away from the duplicitous creature and he heard laughing, "I bloody told you!", gloated the Halfling. Tavelle looked down at Liria, "I'm heading back to camp if you want to come? I need to clean up". The silver-haired Halfling nodded, "That's a very good idea", and whistled for Drool. The large mastiff padded over to Liria and she swung herself into the small saddle.

- A number of militia and Chaunteans waited around the small canopies, which had been erected to deal with any wounded. As Tavelle trudged past them he saw Briarly in attendance and the young militiaman saw the mage too. He made his way over to the pair with his eyes wide at the wizards appearance, "Swordmage, what happened?". Liria smiled from atop her Highdale Mastiff, "Haven't you heard? He fought a Wight King". The militiaman looked to the mage with his mouth agape and managed to stammer, "W-what?". Tavelle grinned at Briarly, "I lost".

- The pair explained they were heading back to the Rider's camp and he would surely hear the whole story later that evening. Tavelle approached the group of horses and found Fury amongst them. After the wizard had made a fuss of the stallion he checked his saddlebags for the alcohol and change of clothes. As he stuffed the sack containing the arm in one he heard Liria's inquisitive voice, "What's in the sack?". Tavelle stopped, brought the cloth sack out, and bent down next to the curious Halfling, "It's a souvenir of sorts", he explained as he removed Vinjarek's severed arm. Liria pulled a face of horror, "<censored>! Is that off the Wight King?". The mage nodded, "I managed to avoid having my skull caved in by this armoured fist only to nearly get cut in half by his sword".

- The wizard carefully wrapped the arm back up in the sack and safely stowed it within the saddlebag, "So, Jentar has Erael's sword? It didn't have the gold lion head anymore", asked the Halfling. Tavelle sighed, "The Lionswrath blade magically transformed itself when he picked it up". Liria shrugged, "Why did Erael drop it?", and the mage explained, "Erael had gotten overrun and was unconscious". Liria put her hands on Drool's saddle handle, "What happened to Jentar's own sword?". Tavelle swung himself into the saddle and tried to get comfortable in his wet breeches, "The Wight King's icy sword shattered it. Along with his shield and breastplate". As the wizard shifted his buttocks the Halfling frowned, "Kinara said you saved his life?". Tavelle made a clicking sound with his mouth to urge Fury into motion and turned to look at Liria, "Please, don't remind me". The mounted Halfling followed slightly behind his horse and the mage heard her call him a "Dickhead". The wizard raised an eyebrow and turned in the saddle, "I heard that", he stated. Liria raised an eyebrow of her own, "Good, you were meant to".

- The pair rode on to the Lannane farm in silence. Occasionally Drool would charge off after a bird or bumblebee with Liria clinging on for dear life.

- Tavelle sat atop Fury and saw Drool approach whilst it chewed a butterfly, "So, is Naema going to get a good stuffing this evening?", asked Liria with a grin. The wizard's jaw dropped open and he shook his head, "Not bloody likely. Not after the last time, why do you ask?". The Halfling laughed and patted a pouch at her belt, "The militia are taking bets and I could do with some coin". Tavelle burst out laughing, "I must confess I intend to get well and truly hammered this evening. I don't expect to be capable even if I was willing". Liria cocked her head to the side, "If you could mention to some of the others that you're feeling horny it'd really help the odds. Where did you get alcohol from anyway?".

- The mage cleared his throat with a cough, "I've picked up a bad habit of yours. It dropped out of your cloak when you were playing tug-of-war with dopey and I yoinked it", and he looked to the Mastiff still eating the butterfly. It was Liria's turn for her mouth to open widely and she started giggling, "You thieving bastard! Listen, my art is the only thing I can add to this lot, if you start too then I might as well <censored> off!".

- The odd pair shared a good laugh as they rode down the hill towards the farm, "Seriously though, be careful with that wild raspberry it packs a punch like a treble Yeti's Breath!". Tavelle nodded "Have you tried it?", and the Halfling pulled a face, "Pretty much anything Conor Lannane brewed is good stuff and wild raspberry is really strong. Lannane's Parsnip wine is the best, it smells terrible but when you drink it... it's like a Nymph crawling all over your tongue".

"That sounds alright", said the player.

- As the pair approached the outskirts of the farm they could see a few militiamen on guard at the perimeter, "What are you going to do?", asked the mage, and Liria grinned, "Do you think Nelyssa and Erael will be down there a while longer?", asked the sneaky Halfling. Tavelle frowned and seemed to guess Liria's intentions immediately, "Stay well away from the backpack, it's definitely spelltrapped. I don't know what it does but I doubt it's pleasant", warned the wizard. The Halfling pulled a face, "It's a bluff that's all, just to deter the curious folk. Besides, Naema's asked me to have a root around for some honeysuckle soap".

- Tavelle's brow furrowed in a mix of anger and horror, "Are you <censored> kidding me?", he blurted aloud.

Tavelle's player looked annoyed as he digested the information, "I knew it! I bloody knew this was going to happen! Everyone, apart from her, commented on it. I could understand if anything had actually happened but, apart from copping an eyeful in the Rodrathe's stable, Tavelle has been a perfect gentleman".

- Liria was taken aback by the wizard's outburst and her eyebrows vanished into the fringe of her pixie-cut hair. It even managed to draw Drool's attention away from snuffling at the ground, "Erm, no", said the Halfling quietly. The mage took a moment to compose himself.

- "I smelled like a wet dog", stated the mage, and he cast his gaze down to make eye contact with the Mastiff, "No offence". Tavelle looked back at Liria, "I cast a freshen enchantment on myself and got the level of fragrance a bit wrong. I really hope a bath calms it down", he lied. The Halfling grinned, "A bit wrong?". The wizard shrugged in admission, "Okay, very wrong".

- Tavelle frowned, "I can't get over her jealousy and paranoia". Liria looked up at the mage and nodded in agreement, "Ever since you and Erael met she's been as cranky as a thirsty Stirge". As the pair approached the outskirts of the farm they could see a few militiamen on guard at the perimeter, "I mean it Liria stay away from Erael's pack, for your own sake". The Halfling pulled a face at the wizard, "Nag! Nag! Nag! I won't touch the damned backpack, happy?". Tavelle shook his head, "I'd rather not have to explain to your uncle Mergil how you were - and feel free to pick any of these as they're all possible - immolated, frozen, imploded, exploded, disintegrated, polymorphed, electrocuted, or lobotomised". Liria raised a silver eyebrow, "<censored> me! Anything else?". The mage nodded, "Yeah, I missed planeshifted, diseased, poisoned, and cursed".

- Liria frowned in defiance, "Pfft! I'm not scared! I didn't understand half of what you just said!". The wizard let out an exasperated sigh but couldn't stop himself from a giggle. A dozen militia approached the mounted pair and a stern, middle-aged man in black lacquered plate stepped forwards, "What happened to the horn call? Why didn't you blow a Rider returning?". Tavelle couldn't help himself, he looked down to Liria and started to laugh...

The DM had given Tavelle's owner a noose to hang himself with... I wondered what sort of first impression Captain Kuthe would have.

- The grinning Halfling glanced up to Tavelle and seemingly read his thoughts, she turned back to the tall man, "Well, we did try but it wouldn't fit in my mouth!". Tavelle's shoulders shook as he laughed out loud, Liria's mind was in the gutter with him, "And, technically, I'm not a Rider anyway", he chuckled.

- The armoured man didn't find their bawdy humour amusing and Tavelle noted that none of the militia registered a smirk or a guffaw, "That's strange", thought the mage, "I'm normally hilarious". The tall man looked at the disheveled and unkempt wizard with obvious disdain, "You're Nereskul's son?". Tavelle nodded slowly, "Yes, that's correct", he said with growing unease, "I don't believe we've met?".

"Okay, I'm slightly worried about who this guy is... He seems to be a veteran... He obviously hasn't got a sense of humour... He also appears to be in command of this new group of militia... Worst of all he knows who I am... Is he a patrol leader? Are there any clues apart from the rather worn black-lacquered plate mail?".

- Tavelle felt an insistent tug at the top of his leather boot and looked down to a grinning Liria, "I thought you knew Captain Kuthe?", she asked innocently.

"Ah <censored>!", said Tavelle's owner in horror.

- Tavelle looked at Liria as though she was one of Drool's surprises, littered around the camp, which a few of the militia had stepped in, "No, but thanks so much", said the wizard, his tone dripping with sarcasm. Liria either didn't notice or simply didn't care as she gave Tavelle a winning smile, "You're very welcome", she replied.

"Well, as first impressions go... This is a shocker", said the player.

- Tavelle looked back to the stone faced Captain, "Well met", said the mage sheepishly and he noticed the Rider gave him a slightly disappointed shake of his head. The wizard heard Liria's voice, "Well, I'll leave you lot to it", and she gave the Mastiff a nudge, "Go on, Drool". Tavelle saw Captain Kuthe give the mounted Halfling a look of contempt at her futile attempts to giddy up the stationary Mastiff. "Move it, <censored>head!", shouted a frustrated Liria.

Tavelle's player gave me a funny grin, "After everything Tavelle's been through over the last few days he's just about past the point of giving a damn... He just wants a bath... And, on a personal note, I just want to get my own back on Liria for dropping me in it".

- The mage gave a smirk and blew a shrill whistle to gain the dogs attention, "Where's the squirrels, Drool? Where's the squirrels?", said the wizard in an excited voice. Drool stared up at him attentively, "Urf!", snorted the Highdale Mastiff and it visibly tensed, ears pricked.

- Liria looked slightly concerned and held on tightly, "What? Don't mention them!", she uttered in a panic. Tavelle leaned over in the saddle to address the dog properly, "Where are they Drool? Where's the squirrels?", asked the mage in a semi-hushed tone.

- The dogs eyes darted about looking left and right, "Rawf!! Rawf!!", barked Drool loudly and it performed an agile pirouette. Liria started cursing as she was tossed about on the small saddle, "Bye bye", said the mage with a wave, "See you in a while...". The wizard pointed off behind him, with a dramatic flourish, back up towards the hill, "There's the squirrels! Get the squirrels, Drool!". "Rawf!! Rawf!! Rawf!!", barked the excited Mastiff and its feet scrambled for purchase against the wet grass before bounding off.

- Tavelle smiled broadly as he watched Liria bounce around on the unpadded leather saddle. Drool was moving at quite a clip and didn't take long to disappear over the hill back from whence they came. He turned to look down at a confused Captain and a bemused bunch of militia, "Well, my work here's done", sighed the wizard. Tavelle made a clicking sound with his mouth and Fury started to walk forwards. Captain Kuthe glanced up at Tavelle with a look of consternation as the horse approached, "What? Where do you think you're going?", he asked.

- The mage briefly looked at himself as though the answer was obvious, "Captain, I have an appointment with a bath. I'm covered in mud, blood, and whatever else leaked from me during the battle. Please, excuse me", he stated as firmly as he dared. The massive warhorse gave the group no option other than to clear a path, or be moved, as it calmly walked on.

- It was only when the mounted wizard was a fair distance away from the men he muttered, "Beshaba's Balls!", in exasperation. He followed the curse by patting Fury on his muscled neck and telling the huge horse he was a "Good boy".

- When they reached the rest of the horses, Tavelle dismounted and removed the saddlebags and tack from Fury. He readied his bag of feed, and looked at the wavy brand on the horse's glossy black flank. The wizard was fuming as he thought about Naema and her request for Liria to search Erael's backpack.

It still stuns me that Tavelle's owner just seemed to accept that Fury, a truly magnificent steed, was given to him as a mount by the Riders of Mistledale. Normally he questions everything imaginable and I'd mentioned the wavy brand a couple of times previously. Fury is a Cormyrian Destrier and worth a small fortune - Lord Wavesilver had spoken to the High Councillor, in regards to Tavelle serving with the Riders, and decided to provide the mage with a suitable mount. The poor War Wizard who was assigned the task of teleporting the horse to Ashabenford left with a hernia. Lord Wavesilver also paid for the stable to be constructed too - another thing which went over Tavelle's head - why would his father, a notoriously frugal man with no horses, need a stable anyway? They already had a small lean-to for the cows to seek shelter from any harsh weather, and the pair of cattle had very thick shaggy coats.

- Fury was getting impatient that the nose bag wasn't already in place and decided to take action by gently nudging the wizard. Tavelle felt a firm push in the back and was roused from his thoughts, "Sorry boy, let's get you fed", apologised the mage. He secured the nose bag over the stallions head and fastened the ties so it wouldn't come loose, "So, how do I tell Naema she's being a nightmare without getting battered?", he asked the horse hoping for an answer. Fury didn't have any ideas to offer so the mage hoisted the saddlebags over his shoulder, gave the horse a pat, and trudged off towards his tent.

- Tavelle regretted how the encounter with Captain Kuthe had gone and wished he could have made a better first impression, "I need to rein myself in when I'm with Liria", he mused, "She makes me say the stuff I normally only think". The mage parted the flap to his tent, stooped down to enter, and dropped the saddlebags to the floor. He retrieved a clean set of clothing and departed to locate the bathtub. As the wizard made his way through the group of tents he looked over towards Nelyssa's. He was almost expecting a fireball to engulf it and to find a charred pair of Halfling feet next to an unbuckled backpack.

- Tavelle walked around to the rear of the farmhouse and immediately spotted the small well Naema had told him about. The mage had a quick glance around for the aforementioned bathtub and his eyes came to rest on a large wooden barrel come waterbutt. It looked like a huge keg, found in the walls of a taproom, and the top third had been sawn down to within an inch of the upper brass bracer. It was still over four feet tall and nearly as wide, "I'd murder someone for a handkeg of Blackboot right now", thought Tavelle.

- The wizard could see it was full of murky water and there were soap suds on the surface. A cursory inspection revealed a large cork bung on the side of the huge barrel near the bottom. Tavelle glanced over towards the well and the small pail attached to a rope and hand crank, "Do I bathe in that crap or spend half the afternoon preparing a fresh one?", wondered the mage. There was a six inch chunk of well worn soap on the wooden rim. Although its aroma was far less pungent than the honeysuckle it did have some less than desirable features. Tavelle pulled a face of absolute disgust and made a mental note to remove the curly hairs prior to using it.

- The mage unbuckled the severed pouch bandolier from its clips at his weapon belt and inspected the cut to the leather strap. Tavelle untied the makeshift knot in his belt and lowered it to the floor alongside the bandolier. He removed the ruined gloves, tabard, and tunic and dumped them on the ground in a pile away from his clean kit. Tavelle's boots came off next and he watched as silt and dark water ran out as he upturned each one, "I wonder if I can claim expenses?", he thought to himself. The mage was quite serious as recalled the numerous scrolls he had used and, worst of all, the wand was now empty and no longer available to him. The wizard's breeches were crusty and heavy, with dirt and blood, as they dropped around his ankles. Tavelle did a standing march on the spot and kicked them towards the other ruined clothes.

- As he stood before the bathtub the mage regretted not having an Endure Elements enchantment available. He'd felt considerably better once the damp garments had been removed but was wary of the cold water in the barrel. Tavelle slipped off his loincloth and stepped through the muddy grass towards the large butt. He put both hands on the rim and swung his legs up, over the edge, and into the water... "<censored> me! It's c-cold!", stammered the mage. The chilly water took Tavelle's breath away but he decided to fully submerge himself and he ducked his head under. His head broke the surface and Tavelle took a few deep breaths as his teeth chattered. The mage ran his hands over his face, he pushed the long hair out of his eyes, and kept reminding himself not to swallow any water. The wizard ducked his head under a few more times to rid his hair of muck and then reached for the soap. It seemed to take forever to remove the hairs from the soggy block. The cleaning of encrusted blood and mud from his skin took even longer, and he silently wished he had packed a scrubbing brush.

- Tavelle kept his shoulders under the surface of the water. It was cold and made his teeth chatter but he was comfortable enough and it gave him some time to think. As the mage used the solitude to compose his thoughts a long strand of hair fell and dangled in front of his eyes, "This has something to do with that Dwarven beard comb", he mused.

- Tavelle raised his hand out of the water and pulled the burnt leather strap away from his wrist. The rams horn was badly charred and he realised he'd need to see farmer Fulbrow for a new piece. He would also require a new leather strap, and have it Blessed as well, if he wanted to cast any Mage Armour enchantments. Tavelle looked at the dark strip of cloth tied about his wrist, "Well, at least you survived intact", he muttered.

- The wizard reached behind his head and untied the leather cord, which was doing a terrible job of securing his unruly hair. He dunked his head in and then out of the water before scraping it back and retying the knot. Tavelle started mentally planning the enchantments to prepare for the next morning once he had rested, "Mending enchantments and a lot of cleaning Cantrips".

- Somewhere on the other side of the farmhouse Tavelle heard a series of feint, high-pitched, yelps of a small dog and a bemused look spread across his face, "Has Drool trapped a testicle or bitten his own balls?", he thought with a smirk. The yelping continued and the mage realised it was getting louder so he looked to his right at the corner of the building. It was plainly obvious the noise wasn't coming from Drool and the wizard adjusted his gaze to the bottom section of the wall in anticipation of something smaller. A small barrel-chested beige Pug dashed into sight around the farmhouse and Tavelle could see its little legs pumping furiously. It was about the size of a house cat but shorter and squatter in stature. The dogs face was squashed flat and a pink tongue lolled out of the side of its mouth - flapping away at the speed it was running. Drool bounded around the corner looking rather frisky and gave what seemed to be a playful hopping chase after the tiny dog. Tavelle looked on and wondered where the dog had appeared from, "Did the Lannane's have a dog?".

- The small Pug entered some long grass and disappeared from view. Tavelle could still make out where it was by looking for the telltale shifting of the undergrowth. Drool could see over the grass and sprang around with his tail wagging like crazy. The wizard raised an eyebrow in concern from his barrel, "That can't be Liria can it? I'm not sure what type of Spelltrap is on Erael's backpack but a shape change enchantment wouldn't be a bad guess?".

- Tavelle hauled himself from the waterbutt and grabbed his clean breeches from the pile of folded kit. As the mage hurriedly donned them he shouted Drool's name and looked to see what was happening in the long grass, "I knew she'd have a look in Erael's backpack". The wizard was unsure of Drool's intent, he didn't think she would be attacked, but everything he had witnessed from the amorous Mastiff indicated it wasn't going to be pleasant for the polymorphed Halfling. Tavelle noticed that Drool was flagrantly ignoring his attempts to bring him to heel as he closed the distance between them.

- The mage decided to change his tactics, "Liria!", he called loudly.

to be continued...
Jeremy Grenemyer Posted - 31 Aug 2015 : 16:29:18
It's a lot of work to do something like this. Thanks for taking the time to share, Farrel.
Dalor Darden Posted - 31 Aug 2015 : 16:07:11
I agree...I wait all the time for new updates...really enjoying the unfolding tale!
Azyx Drow Wizard Posted - 31 Aug 2015 : 15:04:23

this is just an astoundingly beautiful piece of prose !

Thank you very much for bringing this scroll to us.

I hope the story of Tavelle continues for a long time.
Farrel Posted - 17 May 2015 : 15:30:57
Dalor, Thorn, thanks for the comments guys.

I recently had some time to finish writing up some notes and there'll be more to follow.

Not really Off Screen, just a different perspective of the battle.

- Sister Alena saw the Shield of Chauntea's glowing scimitar cleave into a wights face and then flip sideways to sweep through its neck, separating the head from the shoulders. The front rank of the shield wall was holding firm mainly due to Nelyssa, Tynan, Serrick, and Aulkren. The second line kept a wary eye on the tunnels at their flank and it had allowed the priestess to heal Kinara as best as she could. The Rider from Peldan's Helm was slowly getting back to her feet. The drain on her life force had left her visibly weakened and Kinara's face was still marked by four rapidly healing wounds where Eventar had struck with his claws.

- The exhausted priestess took the time to survey the battlefield, she had called upon the strength of Chauntea and a few wights had fallen back from the shield wall, beyond them she could see the great crowned wight still smashing away at Tavelle, the two were framed in a glowing hemisphere of silver light and swirling snowflakes. Alena saw Erael's body near a wall, across the chamber, the sorceress wasn't moving but she also wasn't a half wight..."I need to get to her, and quickly", she thought.

- The priestess glanced to Nelyssa and saw the paladin had a similar look of concern as she viewed the same scene. The Shield of Chauntea seemed to feel Alena's stare upon her and their eyes met for a moment, "Try and help him!", called the paladin, as she felled another foe with her undead hating scimitar.

- Sister Alena slapped a hand on Tynan's armoured shoulder and shouted so as to be heard, "We need to help Tavelle and Erael!". The militiaman gave a visible nod and bumped the man next to him to get his attention, "Serrick, we're going with Alena to help Tavelle - Get ready to follow me!". Serrick gave a wight a hefty shove with his shield and turned his head to address Tolben and Lenthrey, "Get ready to front up! Me and Tynan are going with Alena!". The two militiamen nodded their understanding and readied themselves to fill the inevitable gap.

- Tynan broke sideways out from the front line, he angled his shield to heft a Mistran half wight into a side wall and started to plot a course towards the wizard. Serrick finished the undead militiaman with a fierce chop of his longsword as they picked a path to the beleaguered mage. The trio were no more than twenty feet away when they both saw the glare of a bright orange light from the opposite side of the embattled wizard. The glow was like a sunrise within the cavern and it caused what seemed to be a pause, almost a breath in the fighting, "What in the name of the great mother is that?", gasped Alena. Serrick had a slightly better view and he turned his visor back to the priestess, "It's Jentar!".

- Sister Alena moved to see the badly wounded paladin of Lathander brandishing a longsword which seemed to burn with the fury of the dawn itself. The battered paladin stared at the pulsing flames, which wreathed the blade, he blinked hard a couple of times and fell over unconscious. The flames edging the rose hued blade sputtered and went out. Tynan shrugged and corrected Serrick, "Pfft, It was Jentar".

- Tynan led the trio and Serrick covered the rear as they made their way towards the fallen sorceress. As they approached, Tynan saw a partially burned wight appear from a side tunnel and start towards Erael, "Get away from her ya ugly bastard!", shouted the Tymoran as he tried to draw its ire. He quickened his pace to close with the flame-scarred ancient horror and saw a half wight Brother Handev appear from the same tunnel. The burned wight sprang at Tynan and smashed into his shield while the undead priest eyed up the motionless Erael.

- Sister Alena grasped her holy symbol, a golden wheatsheaf, which hung from a long length of chain around her neck and brandished it towards the two wights, "Back! In the name of the Bountiful Goddess!", called the priestess with all her faith. The half wight, which was once Brother Gerbard Handev reacted in horror. It was almost as if the creature was reminded of what it had once been and fled screaming pitifully down a tunnel. The wight in combat with Tynan turned to hiss in protest at the priestess and took a heavy hit from the fighters longsword in the process.

- Alena crouched down next to the unmoving form of Erael to feel for a pulse and took a few moments to find a weak one, "Her heart still beats", she said with relief to Serrick. The militiaman stood over the priestess with his sword and shield readied, as she tended to Erael. A few moments later he put a gloved hand on her shoulder, "Sister Alena! Derim and Lanneth are here!"

- To her relief the priestess of Chauntea heard the Reverend Harvestmaster, above the clamour of battle, call to their deity in a resoundingly powerful voice, "Witness the wrath of the Great Mother!", she had never heard the old man seem so full of vigour and strength. Lanneth, his group of militiamen, and Brother Xarran were all with Derim and they immediately bolstered the shield wall alongside Nelyssa. The ancient wight that had been fighting with Tynan was fully ablaze in gold flames and it staggered blindly towards Alena. Serrick slammed it with his shield to stagger it away from them.

- Alena scanned the cavern and saw all of the lesser wights were on fire, the battle had turned in their favour with the arrival of the Reverend Harvestmaster. Nelyssa had broken from the shield wall and was closing on the great wight, her scimitar glowing angrily. Sister Alena rose to her feet with her eyes glued to the wizard as he desperately avoided a gauntlet-encased haymaker. The priestess could only look on in horror as the icy broadsword flashed upwards, in a low to high sweeping cut, and slashed deeply into Tavelle. The strength of the blow sent the mage sprawling backwards. The arc of the sword swept a shower of frozen droplets of blood, which pinged and chimed off of their armour. The mage fell flat on his back and did not move. Sister Alena saw his tunic had been sliced and his torso was open from hip to shoulder.

- Vinjarek, the Mound King, saw the Paladin of Chauntea closing and moved to meet her.

- Sister Alena rushed over to the prone Tavelle and dropped to her knees. Serrick shook his head and grimaced, "Watchful Sister, you better hurry, I think he's defrosting". Tynan pulled a face as he looked at the wound, "Damn that blade's cold!". As they were speaking their breath formed billowing clouds when it condensed in the chilled air. Tynan slapped Serrick on the arm, "I'm going to find Brother Han... I'm gonna find the wight that scarpered, keep an eye on her as well", and he pointed to Erael who was still unconcious.

- Alena looked at the exposed bone, muscles, and organs in despair as a squirt of blood pumped wildly to spatter her face, "Mother goddess, please hear my prayers", whispered the priestess. Another spurt of blood rose from Tavelle then a second and third joined in what she thought was a hideous parody of the fountain outside the temple in Archenbridge.

- The priestess of Chauntea clutched her holy symbol tightly and placed a hand on where the blood was spraying the most. It was warm as it bubbled up inbetween her fingers and Alena could feel a heartbeat slowly winding down. More blood hit her breastplate and splashed her face but the flow was a lot weaker.

- The wheatsheaf started to glow with a golden nimbus and she heard hundreds of voices in a melodic choir fill her mind... They were all singing in praise of the Earthmother and It was beautiful... Alena closed her eyes and felt the power of her goddess flow through her body...

I made Tavelle's owner wait two weeks, without allowing any discussion between us in regards to his fate.

Update (25th September 2011)

- The mage became aware that he was on his back and could feel a warm hand pressed firmly upon his torso. Tavelle's eyes were closed, he could smell smoke and the damp earth of the barrow. He could hear a female voice whispering prayers of gratitude to Chauntea above him, and he could taste blood in his mouth, "<censored> me! I'm still alive?", thought the wizard in surprise. The mage recalled what he thought had been his last moments, "Did I see rubies?", he wondered.

- Tavelle's eyes flickered open and he saw Sister Alena knelt over him with her eyes closed. The priestess had a palm placed upon his chest and the other hand grasped her holy symbol. Her face was covered in blood and her armour, and cream robes, were stained a deep crimson.

- Tavelle attempted to lift his head, "Did we win? Is Erael okay?", asked the wizard groggily. The priestess of Chauntea looked startled, she glanced down at the mage, and nodded wordlessly. Tavelle felt Alena pull her sticky hand away from his body and he saw the tunic and tabard were sliced open. There was a lot of dark blood on his exposed chest and abdomen, but no scar or wound.

- The mage could feel his garments were soaked and clinging to him, "Is it all my blood or did I piss myself?", wondered Tavelle. The wizard looked up to Sister Alena again, "Is everyone okay?", he asked hopefully. The priestess of Chauntea was very quiet, she seemed to take a moment to compose herself before explaining, "The wights have been dealt with. Only Erael and Jentar survived from their group".

- Tavelle struggled to sit upright, his body was still very sore, he could feel bones and muscle knitting back together inside him. "You saved my life, thank you", said the mage sincerely as he gently embraced Alena. The priestess smiled and returned the hug, "Mother Chauntea saved you". Tavelle glanced around the chamber, as he held the priestess, and could see Brother Xarran attending to Kinara. The Reverend Harvestmaster and Nelyssa were both crouched next to a seated Erael. "I'm not seeing any rubies", thought the mage.

- Tavelle saw the silvery-blue sword resting in her lap and winced as he recalled being nearly cut in half by the icy blade. The sword was no longer surrounded by a blizzard of snowflakes but wispy tendrils of frost trailed over it. The Shield of Chauntea gave the sorceress a squeeze on the shoulder and stood up. Tavelle watched as Nelyssa approached Tynan and Serrick, the pair of militiamen were carrying the bodies of those who had lost their lives.

- "I still can't quite believe I actually survived", said Tavelle. The mage felt Sister Alena rub his back as if to reassure him, "Neither can I", she said honestly.

I have to admit that he wasn't the only one who was a bit shocked... One of the things we've always done is roll the dice in the open and there are no re-rolls or second chances to be had. If I'm brutally honest I'm stunned that he's lasted as long as he has...

- Sister Alena released the wizard from the hug, "Don't attempt to get up your body needs time to mend", advised the priestess. Tavelle nodded as she rose and made her way over to Derim.

- The wizard looked about him and saw Anvil's Edge, the mage reached a hand out, and grabbed the hilt of the trusty blade. As he did so Tavelle felt his belt, bandolier, tunic, and tabard flop about him, "Beshaba's Balls! That bandolier was damned expensive", thought the wizard. Tavelle inspected the razored edge of the dwarven sword for damage and couldn't find the faintest hint of a nick, or scratch, upon the metal. Tavelle tied the belt together as best he could, "I might as well not have my britches around my ankles when I get up", he mused.

- The Mage looked at the left sleeve of his tunic, it seemed to have been scorched and was slightly charred. The same could be said for the cracked and blackened wrist of his leather glove. Tavelle removed it to check his leather band, rams horn, copper wire, and black wristband. All but the strip of cloth were either burnt or fire-blackened and there was soot on his skin, "When in the Nine Hells was I on fire?", he wondered. Tavelle's question seemed to spiral into a multitude of others and filled his mind, "Why did they all seem to ignore me? What made the wight run away like that? Surely it can't have been my bad language? Why was everyone else struck by a wight so severely affected and I wasn't? What the <censored> happened to Erael and Jentar's group?".

- Tavelle was close to the charred remains of the Mound King and he recalled his Magic Missiles being thwarted by something on the creatures chest. The mage leant over for a closer look and felt a sharp pain in his hip, "The healing hasn't quite finished", thought the wizard with a wince. Tavelle briefly took a quick look about him, he was conscious of not disobeying Sister Alena's instructions.

- Tavelle slowly bum-shuffled over to view the corpse and noticed it was missing its right arm. The limb had been cleanly severed above the bicep. The mage continued his inspection and looked at the rusted chainmail hauberk that was so old it had become joined with the ancient wight. There was a crusty lump, protruding from the wights chest, which the wizard pulled free to inspect further, "This must be the bastard that ate my missiles", concluded the mage.
Old habits die hard thought the DM.

- Tavelle held the mud-caked lump in his hands and he moved his gloved fingers against it to break up the earth. The wizard noticed a reddish metal, as the soil came away, and continued clearing the mud. The mage felt a tingling shiver run down his spine and realised the Endure Elements enchantment had expired. Tavelle felt the clammy and wet from his blood-soaked garments, "At least i've a spare set waiting", he mused.

- The wizard looked over to Erael. Tavelle could see she was seated and speaking with the Reverend Harvestmaster. The sorceress glanced over at the wizard and Tavelle saw Derim do the same, the old priest said something, Erael nodded, and she began to walk over. The wizard could see some bloodstains on a shredded sleeve but couldn't see any wounds. The same could be said of a rip on her thigh, no cuts or bruises were apparent.

- As the sorceress approached Tavelle hid the mud caked piece of metal stealthily behind his back, "Bugger, I always seem to be looting stuff when she's around", thought the wizard.

- The sorceress walked over towards the mage and crouched down next to him, "You saved my life... Thank you". Tavelle blushed with embarrassment and looked into his lap to avoid eye contact. Erael placed the frosty blade on the ground and she leant in close to give him a tender hug, "I mean it, without you I would've failed... You risked your life to save me", she whispered.

- The wizard dropped the mud-caked piece of metal on the floor behind him and returned the embrace, "How are you feeling, I saw the wights taking turns to strike you and feared the worst?". Erael broke the hold and sat down next to the mage, she paused for a moment before speaking, "I'm alright now. I got outnumbered, overrun, and pinned against a wall. There were just too many. I was losing hope and my strength was being stolen away". The sorceress looked directly into Tavelle's eyes and smiled, "Then I saw your starry radiance and your silver flames. I don't remember anything else after that until I woke up with the Reverend Harvestmaster leaning over me. Nelyssa said he had to use a very old and powerful scroll". Tavelle smiled and glanced to the icy sword laying next to him, "I'm glad you're okay and sorry about the flames. It was my only option and I think I got my ranges correct". Erael followed his eyes to the frost covered broadsword, "Nelyssa told me that you drew the wights away from me, saved Jentar, and fought with the Mound King as well?". The mage shrugged and looked at Erael, "Yeah, we know how that went, he... It tried to smash Anvil's Edge until Derim arrived then it got bored I guess? I don't remember anything else after that", and he pointed at the ice encrusted weapon.

- Erael nodded, "Deepchill told me of the grievous wound he caused and wishes me to apologise on his behalf". It took less than a second to register, "Deepchill? Is that the swords name? It's sentient?", asked Tavelle excitedly. The sorceress smiled, "Yes, and yes", she replied. The wizard gazed at the snowflake engraved blade and marvelled at the workmanship, "Apology accepted. I can understand the name, he certainly lives up to it. How do you know he's a he anyway?". Erael picked the sword up and grinned, "The voice in my head is definitely a male Dwarf".

- The mage broke eye contact and cast his eyes back to the frosty broadsword, "With your affinity to Dwarves I doubt the bonding process will be a problem".

- "What are you hiding behind your back?", asked the sorceress playfully. Tavelle was going to try and bluff but decided against it at the last moment. The mage brought the mud-caked piece of metal out in front of him and continued removing the soil, "I cast a Magic Missile at the Mound King and I'm sure that this was the thing that swallowed them. It was on its chest". Erael watched closely and whispered, "The Reverend Harvestmaster says we've to be careful with anything we find down here". When Tavelle glanced up she explained, "Derim says there's a chance that the ghosts of the Barrowfields may try and stop us taking them". The mage nodded his head, "Yes, I remember my father telling me a few years ago. Tomb robbers removed some items from a barrow and went into Ashabenford. That night, when they were celebrating in one of the Inns, the vengeful ghosts followed them. It wasn't until the Rider's and clergy of Chauntea realised what was happening and managed to return the objects that the ghosts ceased their haunting".

- Tavelle saw a draconic face from within the mud, it was a brooch of red gold, fashioned in the likeness of a roaring red dragon's head. The workmanship was inspired and a lot of thought had gone into its crafting. A matched pair of sardonyx chips were perfectly placed to resemble reptilian eyes and the long teeth were Ivory. "Ugh! Horrid thing!", said Erael with disgust. Tavelle understood her reaction and wished it could've been in the image of a goodly dragon, "If I was to go around wearing this I don't think she'd ever speak to me again. That's if we even get to keep anything", he thought to himself. The mage tossed the muddy brooch on the mound kings chest, and looked back at the sorceress, "What happened to your group?".

- "Its was Jentar, he wrecked the plan… He made his longsword flare with a blinding light and engaged the Mound King. The militia, Eventar, and Brother Handev were dazzled by the flash and quickly overcome". Tavelle nodded, "We were close enough to see the golden light, we weren't far away, why didn't he wait as instructed?".

- Erael frowned and looked over at the Paladin of Lathander, Jentar was knelt with his back towards the pair, "I don't know, the tunnel was defensible, he didn't seem to have any thoughts apart from to attack the crowned Wight".

- The wizard could see at least a score of corpses laid out neatly on the ground. They were all twisted with the taint of undeath, some alot more than others. Tavelle recognised the majority of militiamen who had perished, h e saw Eventar, Mellfrem and Brother Handev . It was when he laid eyes on Helton, or at least the creature that resembled him, that he felt a lump in his throat.

- The mage remembered the Rider at the Unicorns charge telling him to, "Stop <censored> around with that chicken!", drop-kicking the undead cockerel away from him, and then dragging him up the hill as they retreated. A bittersweet smile crept its way onto Tavelle's face, "First and last time that chicken experienced flight", he thought to himself.

- Tavelle looked at the Holy Avenger in Jentar’s grasp. The beautiful snarling lion had been replaced with the head of a red and gold phoenix. The powerful, leonine claws of the cross guard were now feathered, rose-hued wings. The blade was tinted scarlet along the bloodgroove and the edges were limned in a rippling crimson and orange faerie fire.

- Tavelle wasn’t looking too happy, "That’s just not right. He’s nearly gotten his entire party killed and he thinks he can just walk off with the Lionswrath blade? What about all the families who've lost a father or brother due to his actions, has he given any thought to them?", thought the mage.

- Tavelle saw Sister Alena, covered in his blood, reciting some prayers over the many bodies of the fallen. The wizard saw tears fall from the eyes of the priestess and they created streaks of visible skin on her cheeks. "That's it! I've had it with him!", thought Tavelle.

- Tavelle stood up and addressed Jentar, "I hope this rebirth and resurrection stuff comes back to kick you in the ass!", said the wizard angrily.

The DM's mouth dropped open.

- Jentar’s mouth dropped open and the paladin of Lathander only managed, "What?", in response. Tavelle continued, "All the poor bastards that believed in you are dead. If, and when, they get reborn I sincerely hope they pay you a visit". The wizard saw Jentar’s face turn a dark shade of red, he was getting angry. "You don’t deserve to wield the Lionswrath blade!", ranted the mage. Tavelle noticed a vein throbbing in the paladin’s temple, "How dare you! The Morninglord transformed the blade when I picked it up!", shouted Jentar.

"Maybe it’s not the wisest move winding him up so much? But, I’m enjoying this… It’s cathartic", said Tavelle’s player with a big grin.

- Tavelle shook his head, "No, Jentar you’re wrong, it would’ve transformed if any paladin had touched it. Oh, and by the way, it’s not even your blade to claim!", he argued loudly. The wizard saw Jentar shift his weight and the paladin brought the newly transformed Avenger up between them. The tip was pointed at the mage and the flames seemed to flare angrily.

"Is he doing what I think he’s doing?", asked Tavelle’s owner in shock. The DM gave a nod of confirmation.

- Tavelle’s right hand moved to grasp the hilt of Anvil’s Edge in response to the brandished blade from the furious paladin. The mage drew the sword a couple of inches from the scabbard and focused on Jentar’s eyes. "Enough of this! Tavelle, quieten yourself! Jentar, lower the sword!", shouted Nelyssa angrily. Tavelle kept a firm grip on Anvil’s Edge, looked to the Shield, and gave a nod, "My apologies". The mage pushed his sword back into the scabbard and looked to Jentar.

"I’ve a theory about the Lionswrath blade", said Tavelle's owner. "I was going to attempt to prove Jentar wrong and show how Lathander didn’t transform the sword. The only thing holding Tavelle back is that he's too late to prove it. I’m absolutely certain Lathander didn’t do it", he admitted.

The DM wanted to hear the theory…

"I’m positive that if Nelyssa had retrieved the dormant blade it’d now be sporting some beautiful Chauntean imagery, and not the gaudy piece of crap that Jentar’s holding. I hate the thought of him getting the sword!". Tavelle’s player continued explaining, "I can't even call his bluff, and ask him to let Nelyssa hold the sword, that chance has passed already. What if the sword only transforms when the bonded wielder is dead and the sword is inactive? Damn it! The only way to find out would be to murder Jentar, wait for the sword to go dormant, and get Nelyssa to pick it up. That’s possibly a tad extreme just to prove a point?".

- Jentar's mouth was clenched tightly shut and Tavelle could see two small muscles tensing in his jaw. The paladin of Lathander frowned and looked at Nelyssa, "He's called me a liar and insulted the Morninglord!". Tavelle shook his head, "What? Really? Were you not listening?", asked the mage incredulously, "Let me explain. I insulted you, not the Morninglord, and I corrected your assumption in regards to the transformation. Is that any clearer or would you like me to sew you a tapestry?". The wizard heard a few chuckles from some of the militia to his flank and saw a giggling Lanneth put a hand to his mouth.

- Erael stepped forwards and addressed the paladin, "Jentar, my father gifted the sword to the previous wielder. He was a noble paladin of Torm named Vallendras Lionswrath. Before it came to him the sword's pommel was a pair of ivory hands bound at the wrist with a red cord. I very much doubt whether the gods are compelled to transform the blade every time it finds a new owner". Jentar looked at the sorceress, nodded, and lowered the flaming weapon.

- "And, now we know why it looks like a peacock", said the wizard.

- Tynan, Serrick and Lanneth burst into laughter but did their best to stifle it quickly. Tavelle could see the Reverend Harvestmaster looking on, the wizard realised it was the first time he had seen the priest look angry.

"Hold on a minute", said Tavelle's player, "Did she just say new owner?".

to be continued...
Dalor Darden Posted - 12 Jul 2014 : 07:06:58
It is an awesome adventure eh Thorn!

I've been reading for some time now myself...and I'm always excited to see a new post!
Thorn Illance Posted - 12 Jul 2014 : 03:16:31
Four years I've followed Tavelle's adventures.
Hammers High, Tavelle! I'm pouring one out fot you.
Farrel Posted - 06 Jul 2014 : 21:05:29

- Tavelle walked towards the Shield of Chauntea’s group. As he made his way past Lanneth, and his men, he heard the ranger call to him, ”Do I get a kiss, fair wizard?”. Tavelle gave a mischievous grin, nodded, and laughed, “If we both survive, you can have a kiss, yes”. Lanneth put on a serious expression, drew a dagger, and said, “I’d best do myself in now”, with a sly wink.

- Tavelle joined Nelyssa, Kinara, Sister Alena, and he greeted the militia. The mage saw the Reverend Harvestmaster was with Erael and Jentar’s party, the priest had unfurled a scroll, and was praying to Chauntea. The parchment was consumed in fire and the group glowed, with a feint blue aura, for a brief moment. The wizard looked at Erael's group and could see Jentar, Eventar, Brother Handev, Melfrem, and a few he didn't recognise.

- Brother Waylam followed the old priest, he opened a large scrollcase and retrieved another rolled parchment. Another scroll was used, on Lanneth and his group, which produced the same blue glow encompassing them all. Tavelle saw a steely determination in Lanneth’s eyes and he looked far more focussed. The ranger of Mielikki seemed to sense Tavelle’s gaze upon him and he glanced over to give the mage a nod.

- Tynan and Serrick stood next to the wizard and Tavelle noted a flask of Holy Water attached to each of their belts. Serrick saw the Reverend Harvestmaster coming their way, he was unfurling another scroll, “Our turn”, said the militiaman. Tavelle heard Derim clear his throat and begin reading from the scroll. The mage didn’t understand the language but he could feel a power behind the words. The scroll burst into flames, vanished to smoke, and a blue radiance outlined each member of Nelyssa’s group. Tavelle felt his doubts fade and they were replaced with a determination, “For the Lannane’s, Allam Bluehands, the Berwick’s, the Lardagren’s, and for Helton”, thought the wizard.

Each of the three groups had benefitted from a Mass Conviction (CL12) and had received a +4 Morale bonus to Saving Throws for 120 minutes.

- Brother Waylam had wandered over to the where the landslide had exposed a tunnel to join Brondar. The rotund priest had a slender white wand in his hand.

- Tavelle decided it was time to cast some enchantments of his own. He started by calling upon some Mage Armour and, as he spoke the arcane words, it caused a few stares. The wizard then cast Light of Lunia and it drew gasps as a very feint, sixty foot, hemisphere of silver light was summoned. Tavelle heard Nelyssa’s voice, “I was hoping you’d prepared that enchantment”. The mage turned to face the paladin, smiled, and replied, “I’ll try and keep it at full strength. If you notice the radiance diminish then it means I’m having to use it as a weapon”. Tavelle decided it would be a good idea to offer The Shield of Chauntea his Low Light Vision enchantment, “It would help improve your sight beyond the range of my light”, explained the wizard. Nelyssa gladly accepted the enchantment and, after Tavelle had finished, Kinara commented on the, “Silver flecks”, in the paladin’s eyes.

Wizard Spells Prepared (4/4/2 base DC = 14 + spell level; caster level 3rd)
0- Detect Magic, Disrupt Undead x2, Light
1st- Burning Hands, Light of Lunia, Low Light Vision, Shield
2nd- Battering Ram, Mirror Image

Wand of Magic Missiles (CL3; 6 Charges)

Scroll Case: Mage Armour (CL3); Mount (CL5)

- Brondar called the first group forwards to the entrance. Lanneth entered first and was followed by the Reverend Harvestmaster. As the militia made their way past, and into the tunnel, the Rider handed every other person a small glass vial. Brother Waylam asked each militiaman what item they wanted to carry a spell of Light. The majority chose their shields and a few had glowing swords as they entered.

- Tavelle’s group was called next. The Mage fell into line behind Kinara and in front of Sister Alena. As they approached the dark opening, into the side of the hill, it was fully illuminated with the silver light emanating from Tavelle. The mage drew Anvil’s Edge with his right hand and the Wand of Magic Missiles with his left. The wizard ducked his head, as he avoided some hanging turf, and stepped into the mound. The floating Ioun Stones altered their orbit, due to the cramped conditions, and all the mage could smell was the damp earthiness surrounding him.

- The silver light completely filled the tight tunnel. The only shadows cast, from Tynan’s glowing shield, were faint and flickering against the walls. A thought came to the wizard as he made his way forwards, “I’d better take one last look at the daylight. I might never see it again”. Tavelle turned his head and saw the last fraction of the sunlight before it was obscured. Sister Alena glanced at the mage as he craned his neck, “Are you alright?”, she asked. The wizard gave a half smile, “I was just comparing sunlight and starlight”, he lied. Kinara hushed Tavelle to be quiet and the chastised wizard did as he was told.

- Tavelle came out of the tunnel and entered a large chamber. The cavern was about forty feet in length and width. The ceiling was only a foot above the wizard’s head and the masses of roots dripped water. There were three exits, tunnelled into the rough earthen walls, and Tavelle could see the remains of four, still smouldering, wight corpses spread between them.

- Lanneth and Derim were stood fifteen feet in front of the tunnels, the ranger had his longsword drawn, and the priest had a hand on his sickle.

- Nelyssa made her way to the Reverend Harvestmaster and she was shadowed by Kinara. The paladin stopped next to the old priest, with the undead hating scimitar in her hand. The curved blade started to glow with a white radiance, “They are close”, she warned those already assembled. Tavelle peered into the tunnels, beyond the border of his moonlight, watching for movement. The mage walked with Sister Alena as she approached Derim Whiteshield.

Two devious half wights had attempted to conceal themselves down the northern tunnel, a wight was doing the same in the eastern, and western tunnels. The two half wights in the tunnel would be within the hemisphere of silver light if Tavelle moved adjacent to Nelyssa or Alena. The wight in the eastern tunnel would be affected if Tavelle moved next to Lanneth or Derim. Both of the full wights were extremely well camouflaged (+8 Hide) due to their stone-like appearance and ability to remain perfectly motionless. The two small half wights, who were once a five year old girl called Jemmily Lannane, and her fourteen year old brother Jaffrick, were both heavily caked in mud (+6 Hide).

- Tavelle stepped up alongside Sister Alena and his two orbiting stones followed him.

The two half wights were now within the radius of the Light of Lunia emanating thirty feet from Tavelle.

- The silver radiance extended fifteen feet down the north tunnel and the light it provided allowed Tavelle to search the shadows further in. The mage could see forty feet inside before the tunnel veered left and his view was blocked.

The animus of the half wight, which was animating the corpse of the little girl, reacted angrily to the light. It parted with the wall, where it had been hiding, and started to seek the darkness.

- Tavelle’s silver eyes scanned the dimly lit depths and had been further enhanced by the magic of the Ioun Stone. The wizard saw a small form break away from the wall twenty feet down the tunnel.

“Eh? Small form?”, said Tavelle’s owner in surprise.

- “Is Liria still down here?”, asked Tavelle loudly, in a rather urgent tone. Nelyssa saw the movement too, “No, she isn’t”, replied the paladin. Just as soon as Nelyssa finished replying. two, silver-blue, missiles flew down the tunnel (5 charges remaining). The magical bolts of force sparkled in the dim light, as they swiftly cleared the silver radiance, and swooped after their prey.

Tavelle rolled 8 points of damage.

- The small half wight nearly reached the turn as the two Magic Missiles struck in rapid succession, one between the shoulder blades, and the other in the lower back (8/11). The half wight vanished from sight as it made it past the turn.

- A thought entered Tavelle’s mind, “There may be more”, and the wizard raised an eyebrow. The mage kept the wand readied, and walked to the entrance of the northern tunnel. The wizard watched the light slide down the passage and his eyes scanned the walls. A slightly larger figure broke from its hiding place and attempted to flee the radiance. Tavelle unleashed two more Magic Missiles (4 charges remaining) and they sped down the tunnel to strike the undead creature before it disappeared (9/13).

- Tavelle heard a stern voice from behind him, “It hardly seems worth using the wand if it can’t drop them. We’ll still be faced with them later”, and turned to see it was Jentar. The mage looked at the paladin, with his shield radiating an orange light, and gave a slight shake of his head. The Reverend Harvestmaster turned to Jentar, “Even if the hasn’t sent the wights to their final deaths it may mean someone has an easier time when confronting them later”, advised the priest.

- Each of the three groups readied themselves, in front of their respective tunnels, and prepared to enter. Tavelle followed Nelyssa and Kinara into the entrance, the mage ducked his head, and was forced to stoop over. The ceiling was low, the ground was muddy, and the wizard felt the occasional drip fall on his head or run down his neck. Tavelle could catch glimpses of the tunnel ahead as the two in front moved forwards. They turned the corner, which the wights fled around, and the tunnel got a lot tighter.

- Tavelle saw Kinara stop a few feet ahead of him, the Rider from Peldan’s Helm turned to the wizard, “There’s a tunnel in the left wall up ahead”. Nelyssa crept towards the side tunnel and stopped short. Tavelle could see the paladin concentrate, in the direction of the passageway for a few moments, and then peer around the corner. The paladin called Kinara, Serrick, and Siter Alena to investigate the new passage, and the trio entered, while Nelyssa and the rest edged further on.

- Tavelle followed the Shield of Chauntea and the wizard kept his wits about him. Tynan was following the mage, the fighter started chuckling and commented on the cramped tunnel, “You know what Tavelle? This hole is tighter than your father!”. The wizard had to smile, his father had a well-deserved reputation for being a stereotypical Sembite – He really liked to get himself a bargain. The wizard recalled one of his visits to Multhimmer, the merchant was always pleased to see Tavelle, and had explained, “I always enjoy your shopping trips to town. I look forward to dealing with you, lad. Your father leaves the shop with me feeling like I’ve been frisked!”.

A wight was waiting, up ahead, and it was very well concealed. The centuries old creature was squashed into a prepared “Cubby-Hole”. The Spot check would be a tough DC24.

- The mage noticed Nelyssa was pausing briefly, every twenty feet, and focussing down the tunnel. The paladin raised her left hand, and gave the signal to stop. The wizard saw the paladin’s hand beckon him, “Tavelle, come closer. There’s a wight up ahead, somewhere, I can sense its evil. Let’s see if it likes your silver light?”.

- Tavelle kept glancing at Nelyssa's scimitar to see if it was glowing. The wizard had already decided it was the most reliable resource for gauging the proximity of wights. The beautiful, curved, blade was radiating a feint light. The mage stood right behind Nelyssa and edged forwards with his wand raised.The pair continued slowly, with the silver light ahead of them, and they searched the walls.

- The scimitar's glow brightened and the light seemed to throb in anticipation, "Very close", whispered Nelyssa.

The pair were within thirty feet of the wight. I asked Tavelle's owner for a Spot check. Even with the +2 bonus from the Ioun stone he managed a total of 9. Nelyssa couldn't see the wight either her total was 15.

- The wight was tight in the alcove when the leading edge of the silver light crept over and engulfed it. The radiance was extremely uncomfortable for the lurking undead horror. It seemed to fill and penetrate the warren around it. Previous experiences, of the centuries old animus, had taught it that light sources could be extinguished. The wight leapt from its hidey-hole, it would put the light out, and feed on the life energy it could feel.

- Tavelle saw a wight, the creature seemingly emerged from a wall, and charged down the tunnel at Nelyssa. The paladin raised her hungrily glowing scimitar and readied herself. Tavelle loosed two Magic Missiles, from the wand (3 charges remaining). They flew over Nelyssa's shoulder and struck the wight in the torso (7/33). The wight didn't really seem to notice the darts of magical force. The taloned hands scrambled against the walls as it propelled itself towards Nelyssa.

- The paladin had her shield strapped to her back, due to contrictions of their location, and Nelyssa knew she would struggle for space to fight. Some parts of the tunnel were barely two feet wide.

The wight's initiative totalled 9 and Nelyssa's was 12. Tavelle had already acted due to having readied his wand.

- The paladin reacted faster than the wight, Nelyssa's glowing sword came forward to meet it in a controlled slice.

Nelyssa rolled a 13... 12 points of damage.

- The scimitar sank deeply into the wight's shoulder (19/33). Tavelle heard the creature howl in agony, and noticed the glow from the sword get even brighter as it sliced hard into the wight. The paladin of Chauntea attempted a second stroke with the scimitar.

Nelyssa rolled a 10... 15 points of damage.

- It sent the wight to its final death (34/33). Tavelle kept his gaze directly down the tunnel as the glow of the sword hadn't dimmed significantly. The mage heard Tynan's voice from behind him, "Sister Alena, Kinara, and Serrick are at our rear. The passage joined with Erael's group".

I asked Tavelle's player for a Listen check and he rolled a 20.

- Tavelle thought he could hear movement, from further up ahead, it sounded like scrambling, "They're coming!", warned the wizard. Nelyssa equipped her shield, from her back, and checked her footing, "Tynan and Serrick ready your flasks! Tavelle, fall back to Alena!", she commanded.

- Tavelle saw Nelyssa position the shield carefully, so it blocked the path as much as possible, then she stepped back and away from it. The large shield remained hanging, in the tight tunnel where Nelyssa left it, with no apparent means of support.

“I really want to ask! But there’s no time for me to stand and gawp!”, said Tavelle’s player.

- The mage saw the two militiamen crouch down, “Climb over us!”, called Serrick. Tavelle sheathed his weapons, and used the walls to steady his crossing. As the wizard stepped off of Serrick he heard a loud thud as the lead wight crashed into Nelyssa’s immobile shield, and the first impact was followed by three more. Tavelle could see deathly claws try to reach over the top of the barrier and the mage readied himself.

- “Do it now!”, shouted the paladin, as she sliced at the grasping talons. To his horror Tavelle saw a half wight clamber over the few being held back by the shield, “It’ll block the throws!”, thought the wizard. Moments before the first flask was ready, to be thrown by Tynan, Tavelle turned side on. The mage aimed his palm at the scrambling half wight and unleashed a Disrupt Undead spell.

Tavelle rolled a 15 for the ranged touch attack… 5 points of damage.

- The ray of positive energy hit the half wight in the thigh and the creature screamed in anger (5/13). Tavelle saw a golden light from behind him, a glowing ball of energy flew over his shoulder, and it struck the half wight in the torso (11/13). The half wight tumbled backwards with two burned, and smoking, scars, one in the thigh, and the other in the abdomen. Tynan lobbed the clay flask over Nelyssa’s head, and a second flask from Serrick followed it.

Two of the four wights were hit directly (7/26) (5/27). Another two had splash damage from two flasks (2/28) (2/29), and the other half wight was slain outright (13/13).

- Tavelle removed the fragile clay flask from his belt, he cupped it in his right hand, and the wizard nodded to Nelyssa, “One more for Lady Luck!”.

“Oh dear”, said Tavelle’s owner, and he looked rather worried, “I wonder if Tavelle’s actually thrown anything in his life?” What if I screw up and hit Tynan or Serrick? Even worse, what if I get Nelyssa?”, he fretted.

Tavelle rolled a 18 for the ranged touch attack… 6 points of damage.

- The clay flask flew over the trio, over the hanging shield, and a partially dissolved wight was smashed in the face (8/28). The container broke apart and showered its contents over the others adjacent to it (6/27) (3/29).

- The mage breathed a discreet sigh of relief. “Good throw!”, said Tynan, as he finished assembling a spear. “Ha! Right in the mush!”, laughed Serrick, as he completed his own weapon. Tavelle saw a wight try to claw its way under the shield, to swing a taloned hand at the paladin, it came up short. The wight was halfway through the gap when Nelyssa’s, undead hating, scimitar arced down towards it.

Nelyssa rolled a 10… 11 points of damage.

- The wight took a heavy hit in the shoulder (18/26). The paladin followed up the first strike with an attempt at a second.

Nelyssa rolled a 12… 17 points of damage.

- When the second hit connected, the wight ceased thrashing, and embraced its final death (34/26). Tavelle drew Anvil’s Edge, the wizard knew he had no chances of fighting due to being fifteen feet behind Nelyssa at the front, the mage just wanted to be armed. Tavelle readied another Disrupt Undead spell and looked to the gap above the metal barrier. He could see Serrick and Tynan were now equipped with their spears, they were pressed tight on opposing walls. The militiamen used the extra reach to jab above or below the immovable shield. Tynan was behind Nelyssa and Tavelle noticed he still had a spare spear shaft on his back. Serrick had used all three of his sections, “That’s a clever idea”, thought the wizard.

- A wight leapt up and nearly cleared the hanging shield. Tynan’s spear tip lunged in.

Tynan rolled a 16… 7 points of damage.

- The spear skewered the wight in the abdomen and the fighter didn’t retract the thrust (15/28). Serrick’s spear tip darted towards the impaled undead horror.

Serrick rolled a 8.

- The thrust went wide of the target, Tavelle heard the militiaman curse under his breath. The wizard let fly with a ray of bright positive energy, from his open palm.

Tavelle rolled a 13 for the ranged touch attack… 2 points of damage.

- The wight tried to move against Nelyssa as the beam grazed its arm (17/28). There was a flash of light and a globe of golden energy came over Tavelle’s shoulder, seeking the wight.

Sister Alena rolled a 19 for the ranged touch attack… 5 points of damage.

- The ball of sunlight targeted the wight in the head (22/28).

For the wight to gain enough leverage, to strike against the accursed living, it would need an opposed strength check against Tynan.
Tynan rolled a 12 (+3 Str) and the wight rolled a 20 (+1 Str).

- The joint of the two sections of spear shaft shattered, under the stress from the wight, and it allowed the creature to try and grapple Nelyssa.

Nelyssa rolled a 14 for the attack of opportunity… 11 points of damage.

- Nelyssa drove the tip of the glowing scimitar into the wights chest and it found its final death before it hit the muddy ground (33/28).

- The pounding on the shield stopped and Tavelle could hear the wights retreat back down the tunnel. Nelyssa grabbed the handle, within the interior of the shield, and the paladin lifted it from where it was hanging. Tynan was holding the broken pieces of his spear, “The bastard broke me spear!”, he complained loudly. Tavelle and Sister Alena flattened themselves against the rough walls of the tunnel, to allow Kinara to make her way to the paladin, “Good job”, she said to the pair as she squeezed by. Tavelle glanced at the scimitar and saw that the blade was no longer glowing.

- Nelyssa knelt down next to a half wight and studied the corpse. The paladin turned the face of the half wight towards her, and she looked up to Kinara, “I think it’s Blerrin Lardagren?”. The Rider from Peldan’s Helm nodded, “Yeah, looks like it, are you alright Lyss?”, she enquired. Nelyssa rose from the crouch and nodded to Kinara, “We need to press on”, said the paladin in a determined tone.

- Tavelle and Sister Alena shuffled past Tynan and Serrick to take their positions behind Kinara. They continued cautiously, keeping their collective wits about them, and the wizard drew his wand. Tavelle tried to get an unimpeded view down the tunnel as they pressed forwards. The tight passage turned left again and became even lower. The group shuffled some thirty feet down the claustrophobic tunnel before Nelyssa spoke aloud, “The tunnel opens up about thirty feet ahead. It looks like there’s a chamber. Stay alert!”. Tavelle caught a glimpse of the scimitar and it had started to glow. The mage started walking through water, pooled in the passage, and noted it quickly reached halfway up his shins.

- The tunnel widened to about ten feet, as they approached the larger chamber, and Tavelle gained a better view. The wizard’s silver eyes could see a small cavern, maybe thirty feet in diameter, the water obscured the floor of the chamber.

In the opposite wall of the cavern was a tunnel, with two half wights acting as bait to draw the group into the water. The two half wights were making no attempt whatsoever to hide. The water was about eighteen inches deep, and beneath the murky surface lurked two wights (6/27) (3/29) from the previous encounter, and two half wights (0/14) (0/15).

- Tavelle saw movement in a passage, on the opposite wall of the cavern, and his enhanced vision picked out two figures. The mage recognised the smaller of the two, from earlier, and raised his wand. Tavelle directed a Magic Missile at each half wight (2 charges remaining). The first streaking missile hit the larger figure (13/13) and it was knocked off of its feet. The second silvery-blue dart struck the small half wight in the chest (12/11), and it bounced off of the passage wall and onto the floor.

Jemmily and Jaffrick Lannane were granted their final deaths.

- Nelyssa raised her shield and readied her glowing blade, Kinara stood to the right of the paladin and glanced at the scimitar, “There are more wights”, stated the Rider. Nelyssa called Tynan and Serrick forwards. Tavelle and Alena fell back to accommodate them, “From the glow of the scimitar I’d say they were submerged”, called the wizard.

- Tavelle sheathed his wand, opened a pouch on his belt, and withdrew a silver piece, “Wait!”, called the mage. Nelyssa looked to the wizard and raised an eyebrow, “For what?”, asked the paladin. Tavelle cast a simple enchantment of light on the coin, and it equalled the illumination from Tynan and Serrick’s shields, “Throw this in the water, it might drive them to surface?”. Tavelle handed the silver piece to Serrick and he passed it to Kinara.

It seemed after the debacle, in the upper barrows, the day before, Tavelle's player was very concious of not being complacent. "I'd like to cast a Shield spell, I don't like the look of this at all", said Tavelle's owner.

- Kinara waited for the mage to finish casting and she flipped the glowing silver coin with her thumb, it spun upwards in an arc, before falling with a loud "Plop!" into the water.

- There was a flurry of movement as four gaunt figures broke the surface of the pool. Droplets of water were thrown into the air as the wights screeched and howled in anger. Tavelle watched Nelyssa wade forwards into the fray with her scimitar glowing thirstily, Kinara was at her side brandishing her longsword, and the two militiamen moved to support the pair.

- The four moved away from Tavelle and they waded, knee deep, through the dark water of the pool to face the oncoming wights. The wizard saw Sister Alena step behind the quartet and she called upon the Bountiful Goddess.

Sister Alena cast a Bless spell.

- The mage felt his fears and doubts fade away. Tavelle became aware of a gap, in their left flank, between the wall of the cave and Serrick, so he moved to close it. As the wizard started wading, towards the militiaman, he heard a voice behind him, "What should we do, Swordmage?", Tavelle turned to see Aulkren, Tolben and Lenthrey. The three militiamen looked at the mage expectantly.

- Tavelle looked to the entrance he had just come through. The mage considered the side tunnel, which linked to Erael's group, "Tolben and Lenthrey, cover the tunnel at our rear, if anything comes up behind us I want a warning". The two militia nodded and waded over to shine their shields down the tunnel, "Aulkren, help Tynan", advised the wizard.

- Tavelle turned back to Serrick, the fighter was struggling against a half wight. The mage gripped Anvil's Edge and struggled through the water. The half wight launched itself forwards in an attempt to grapple the militiaman.

Serrick rolled a 12 for the attack of opportunity... 8 points of damage.
The wight rolled a 5 for the grapple.

- Serrick chopped into the side of the undead horrors head (8/15) and fended off the grasping claws with his shield. The fighter thrust the longsword forwards as the half wight was pushed backwards.

Serrick rolled a 4.

- The fighter snatched at the thrust and missed completely, Tavelle moved alongside Serrick and flashed Anvil's Edge in a horizontal sweep towards the half wight.

Tavelle rolled a 17... 8 points of damage.

- The half wight crumpled from the force of the dwarven blade (16/15), the creature splashed as it fell backwards, and vanished below the surface of the pool. The wizard saw Nelyssa had felled her own foe and was now helping Kinara. Tynan had finished his opponent and moved to flank the wight. Tavelle glanced behind him to check on Tolben and Lenthrey, he saw the militiamen standing vigil at the tunnel.

- Kinara's foe was downed swiftly under the pressure of the three blades. As it slipped beneath the surface Nelyssa looked about the group, "Is everyone okay?", she asked. The party members responded individually to the paladin and it seemed an informal roll call. The tunnel leading out of the cavern was higher than the level of water. As the group waded towards it they crept up a slope until the water was at their ankles.

- Kinara allowed Nelyssa to enter the tunnel first and she proceeded to follow the paladin. Tavelle went in next and he was horrified to see the muddy corpse of a very young girl twisted in undeath. There were three scorched holes in the filthy nightdress where his Magic Missiles hit home. The wizard stared as he shuffled past the small broken form, "She might've been the owner of the bunny?", he thought with a mixture of anger and grief.

- The group paused to empty their boots of water. Nelyssa looked back to the mage and asked, "How much longer will your light hold?". Tavelle tried to give an accurate estimate, "I think we're about halfway through its duration". Nelyssa and Kinara exchanged glances before the paladin looked back to mage, "We need to keep moving whilst we still have the light".

Tavelle's owner looked a bit worried, "I've just used my one and only Light spell".

- They continued onwards, through the cramped conditions, and Nelyssa's scimitar glowed feintly all the while.

- The tunnel started to widen, it allowed Nelyssa, and Kinara, and the others following behind them, to move side by side. The wights had fallen back and retreated out of the silver radiance. Tavelle was stooped over, wand in hand, to avoid hitting his head on the low ceiling, with Sister Alena next to him. The mage felt the Shield enchantment expire.

- Tavelle saw a very bright pulse of gold and orange light from down the tunnel. The mage then heard the screams and shouts of fighting begin. Nelyssa stopped and turned around, “Ready yourselves!”, she commanded. The wizard paused to cast a Mirror Image enchantment and was surrounded by five duplicate Tavelles. Once the casting was complete he unsheathed Anvil’s Edge. The hue and cry of combat resounded down the tunnel and grew louder as they approached the exit.

“It’s already kicked off then?”, asked Tavelle’s owner nervously.

- Dancing shadows were projected on the earthen walls from shifting sources of light. Tavelle saw Kinara and Nelyssa take a few steps into the cavern, they both glanced to the left, raised their shields, and braced themselves. One of the Mirror Images had wandered just behind them, the figment turned, in apparent horror, as a wight crashed through it. At least five wights slammed into the shields of the paladin of Chauntea and the fighter from Peldan’s Helm. Nelyssa’s fiercely glowing scimitar cut a wight in half, and the next slice sent another staggering. Kinara thrust her longsword forwards, over the top rim of her shield, and into the gaping mouth of Eventar the wight. The former Rider of Mistledale accepted the sword, as he could never have done in life, and slammed his talons into Kinara’s face, sending her sprawling. The mage raised his wand, to unleash a couple of Magic Missiles, but saw Tynan and Serrick move past to try and help Kinara. Tavelle heard Sister Alena call upon Chauntea, “Great Mother! Show these vile horrors your wrath!". Tavelle saw two wights who were slamming their fists on Tynan’s shield flee. He had seen the same at the Lannane farm when Nelyssa had called upon the Bountiful Goddess.

- Eventar had been shoved away from Kinara by Nelyssa, and Serrick shielded the dazed Rider. Tavelle saw movement, out of the corner of his eye, and the mage turned quickly, in response to the undead horror. The wizard wasn’t quite fast enough. The half wight was wearing the uniform of a militiaman, and had the jump on him, but didn’t seem to see Tavelle as it moved past.

Tavelle’s attack of opportunity was a 19... 6 points of damage.

- The half wight barged past him, it smashed into Tynan’s shield, Tavelle connected solidly with Anvil’s Edge and felled the undead militiaman. Another three wights converged onto the raised shields of the Mistrans and they were driven back a few feet. Tavelle was left standing alone, with four bemused duplicates, looking confused, “What in the nine hells?”, he asked aloud.

Off screen…
Obscured by the mage’s leather gloves, and tunic sleeve, the dark cloth around Tavelle’s wrist was glowing with a sickening green radiance. It revealed strange runes stitched into the fabric of the material.

- “What in the nine hells is happening? They all ignored me!”, thought Tavelle in confusion. The shouts and screams of battle echoed all around him in the chamber. The mage saw Jentar fighting a gold-crowned wight. The Mound King was wielding a glowing, silvery-blue longsword and the blade produced sweeping trails of snowflakes. The paladin of Lathander was not faring well against the monstrous wight. Jentar’s shield had been shattered and was hanging, in pieces, from its straps on his left arm. The orange radiance it had previously emitted was long gone. Tavelle could see clouds of the paladin’s breath, as he exhaled through his exertions, within the icy blades aura of cold.

Sister Alena casts a Mass Aid spell. Tavelle gains 7 temporary hit points. (0/20)

- His attention was grabbed as he heard Erael cry out in agony. Tavelle saw seven wights had managed to grapple and pin the sorceress against a rough wall. The wizard could see Erael’s grip on the Lionswrath blade was faltering as the wights were taking turns to strike heavy blows against her. The mage measured the distance, between himself and the undead horrors, and took a step towards the sorceress.

Off screen…
The strip of cloth torn from Kendra’s cloak seethed in anger… The mage was going to disrupt the invisibility to undead creatures it had been projecting… It desperately needed Tavelle’s life energy to power the return of its mistress… It seemed to the sentient item that the fool wizard was doing everything possible to get himself killed… It had to act now…

- Tavelle touched his thumbs together and started to raise his hands. A thought came to the mage as his hands cleared waist height, “Don’t do this! Get out of this place!”. The wizard felt an overwhelming compulsion to follow the advice and Tavelle fought it as hard as he could.

I asked Tavelle’s player for a DC15 Will save to shrug off the Suggestion. Tavelle’s owner looked uncomfortable, and his next words, spoken to his d20 were before rolling were, “Please don’t let me run off like a <censored>!”.

Tavelle rolled a 18 and looked rather pleased with himself.

- The wizard furrowed his brow and focussed on the wights battering Erael to counter the urge to run away. Tavelle finished the last inflection, just before his hands reached shoulder height, and a wide blast of silvery-blue flames exploded from his outstretched fingers.

“I hope I got my ranges correct”, grinned Tavelle’s player, as he gathered some d4’s together.
Tavelle rolled three d4's for 11 points of damage. Only one of the five undead creatures managed to save against the fire.

- Tavelle felt the heat from the cone of fire, he could see three wights fully ablaze (11/12) (11/13) (11/13), two others partially smouldering (21/51) (19/54), and two still holding up Erael (4/13) (10/13). Tavelle unleashed two Magic Missiles from his wand (1 charge remaining), one at each half wight holding the sorceress. The two half wights, that had been pinning Erael against the wall, were each blasted by a silvery-blue bolt (7/13) (15/13).

- One half wight released her, and stalked towards the group of mages, and the other fell to the earth. Tavelle saw Erael drop the Lionswrath blade and collapse to the ground. The two badly burned wights joined the half wight and closed on the wizards.

The half wight rolled a 6 on a d10 and it went after a duplicate. The first burned wight (21/51) rolled a 1 and targetted the flesh and blood Tavelle. The second burned wight (19/54) rolled a 10 and went for an illusionary mage.

- “Well, at least I got their attention away from Erael”, thought Tavelle, as he raised Anvil’s Edge in anticipation. The three burning half wights staggered around before dropping and lying motionless (15/12) (14/13) (13/13). A wight with wisps of smoke, slowly rising from its torso, squared off against the mage (21/51). It lunged in greedily.

The wight rolled a 6.

- Tavelle shifted his weight, side-stepped the clumsy attack, and countered with Anvils Edge.

Tavelle rolled a 5.

- The dwarven blade sliced well wide of the wight’s side. The wight hissed in response and swung a taloned fist towards the mage.Two duplicate Tavelle’s were dispelled.

The wight rolled a 18... 5 points of damage.

- The claw hit home and raked heavily across Tavelle’s collarbone (0/15). Tavelle felt his very life force start to be torn from his body. The pain was like nothing he had ever felt before.

Off screen…
“Miiine!!!”, screamed the strip of cloth from Kendra’s Black Cloak.

- Tavelle felt his life energy get dragged back to him. The wight seemed to pause in total and utter bafflement. The mage gripped the sword firmly and swung at the wight. "What the hell just happened there?", thought the wizard.

The half wight rolled a 6 on a d6 and went for a duplicate wizard.
The burned wight rolled a 2 on a d6 and picked the real Tavelle.
Tavelle rolled a 19... 7 points of damage (28/51).

- Tavelle saw one of his two remaining images get dispelled by the half wight. The other burned wight started to move, to join the fight, against the wounded wizard. The wight which clawed Tavelle renewed its efforts, it would not be denied again. The wight decided it would try and grapple him to the floor. Tavelle saw the outstretched claws reach towards him and he began to reverse the cut from his previous attack. Anvil's Edge swept up and down, in a wristy slice.

Tavelle rolled a 14 for the attack of opportunity... 6 points of damage.

- Anvil's Edge drove hard into the undead creatures chest (34/51) and the wight tried to grab the wizard.

The wight rolled a 8 for the grapple attempt.

- Tavelle felt the value of his Mage Armour as it thwarted the wights embrace. He saw the other burned wight just a few feet away. A thought came to the wizard as he attacked the wight he was already engaged with, it had an almost undeniable will, "Tell it to go away!".

Tavelle rolled a 13 for the attack... 6 points of damage.
Tavelle rolled a 3 for the DC15 Will save.

- Tavelle connected firmly with the sword and drove the wight away for a split second (41/51). The mage turned and shouted in the face of the new opponent, "<censored> off!".

The wight rolled a 6 for the DC14 Will save.
The half wight rolled a 3 on a d4 and went after the last Mirror Image.

- To the wizard's surprise the wight stopped suddenly and looked almost startled. The mage was even more shocked when the wight turned tail and ran down a nearby tunnel.

"Today is all very strange", concluded Tavelle's player.

- Tavelle saw his twin, the last image, vanish at the talons of the half wight. The burned wight struck out at Tavelle instead of trying another grapple.

The wight rolled a 17... 4 points of damage.

- Tavelle had been distracted, at the thought of the half wight joining the fray, and was clawed harshly in the bicep (2/13). The pull on his life force was agony but again seemed to amount to nothing.

Off screen...
"Mine!", thought the scrap of cloth, "All mine!".

- Tavelle felt blood running down his left arm and could feel his tunic, at the collar, clinging to him. He drew Anvil's Edge behind him and flashed the blade forwards.

Tavelle rolled a 5...

- The scorched wight dodged past the cut of the sword and pressed the wizard again. The half wight closed the gap and launched an attack of its own.

The wight rolled a 16... 5 points of damage.
The half wight rolled a 1.

- The wight brought both arms up and smashed its stony forearms into Tavelle. The wizard was nearly knocked off balance by the hit (7/13). The half wight missed the mage completely, and stumbled past Tavelle, the wizard saw it had tripped over a root, and seized the moment.

Tavelle rolled a 15 for the attack of opportunity... 6 points of damage.

- Tavelle hit the half wight hard, it dropped mid-stumble, and it didn't rise (13/13). The mage stepped to strike the burned wight.

"Another twenty would be nice", said Tavelle's owner in hope.

Tavelle rolled a 16… 4 points of damage (45/51).

- Tavelle was rather light headed, he could feel the blood, from the wound in his bicep, slowly filling his glove. As he tightened the grip on the wand he felt a squelching between his fingers.

- The burned wight came at him again talons flexed.

“What’s it gonna take to kill this bastard?”, said Tavelle’s player in frustration.

The wight rolled a 10.

- Tavelle moved, just in time, to get out of the way of the swinging claws, and drove the tip of Anvil’s Edge at the undead creature.

Tavelle rolled a 13… 8 points of damage.

- The point of the blade slipped into the wights chest and the wight fell forwards limply (53/51). Tavelle shifted and pushed the motionless body off of the sword and onto the ground. The mage swooned as he saw stars in his vision.

“I think it’s time to take the potion Naema gave me”, said Tavelle’s owner in relief.

- Tavelle stuck the tip of the sword into the muddy floor, removed the small vial from his belt, uncorked the stopper, and poured the liquid down his throat.

The potion of Cure Moderate Wounds healed 9 damage (0/13).

- The potion took effect immediately. The wounds started to feel warm and tingled as the healing process started. Tavelle looked about the cavern, he saw Erael flat on her back, her chest rose and fell, “She’s alive, but out of it”, thought the mage.

“That’s why the burned wight was such a tough bastard! He’d drained Erael of so many Hit Dice”, realised Tavelle’s player.
Tavelle's player was quite correct. Between them, three of the wights managed to drain Erael of 16 levels.

- The wizard could see over a dozen wights, about forty feet away, pressing Nelyssa and her group. In one corner of the chamber, a half dozen wights were huddled and cowering. Tavelle looked towards Jentar, the paladin was on his knees in a very sorry state, his golden breastplate had been smashed, and jagged portions of it hung from the leather fastenings. His chromium blade was shattered in pieces around him and the hilt lay discarded at his feet.

Off screen…
The dark strip of cloth had used all of its available power to keep Tavelle alive. It had failed to compel and goad him into fleeing, “He’s definitely going to do something stupid”, thought the sentient item in disgust.

- The wight towered over the paladin, the high-spired, bejewelled, gold crown glinted in Tavelle’s starlit radiance. The Mound King drew back a gauntleted fist to smash the dazed Jentar. As Tavelle raised his wand to help a thought crossed his mind, “Let the paladin die!”.

The thought had come from the cloth, it had no magical compulsion attached this time. The Suggestion ability could only be used three times in any one day.

- Tavelle dismissed the strange thought, “No, he’s a swordbrother. I’ll not abandon him”, concluded the mage.

- Two glowing darts of azure and silver swooped towards the crowned wight (0 charges remaining). They streaked the thirty foot distance and were somehow drawn to a patch on the wight’s chest. The Magic Missiles appeared to be absorbed by something, on the rusted chainmail the wight was garbed in. “<censored>!”, thought the wizard. The Mound King stopped, turned in the wizard’s direction, and hissed. It growled at the mage as though it was trying to intimidate him or scare him away.

Vinjarek possessed the Daunting Presence feat and it attempted to scare the mage into inaction or flight. If Tavelle failed the save he would have to contend with being Shaken for ten minutes. I asked Tavelle’s player for a DC17 Will save.

Tavelle’s player rolled a 12.

- Satisfied the wizard had been cowed, and without giving the mage another thought, the crowned wight turned its attention back to Jentar. Tavelle raised an eyebrow, “Is that it? I’ve had worse looks from Naema”, thought the wizard. Tavelle discarded the empty wand , took a step to his left, and brought the hanging Rams Horn trinket into the palm of his hand.

Tavelle’s owner blew his cheeks out, “I hope this works”.

- The great wight brought the frosty broadsword above its head, with two hands on the hilt, and a great flurry of sparkling snowflakes fell to the ground around the pair. Tavelle opened his palm and pushed forwards. The wizard unleashed a great silver ram, which materialised in front of the mage, and it rushed in the wights direction.

The Battering Ram spell initiated a Bull Rush on Vinjarek. An opposed Strength check was required. Vinjarek rolled a 6 (+4) and Tavelle rolled a 15 (+10). Tavelle rolled a d6 for 3 points of damage.

- Tavelle watched the great silver ram charge, and smash, into the Mound King (16/78). The wight doubled over the large curled horns, and was carried fifteen feet, before a cavern wall provided an abrupt stop. There was a loud crunch, as the wight collided with the wall, and the fierce impact dislodged the gold crown from its head. Tavelle grasped the sword hilt, plucked it free, and readied Anvil’s Edge, “Have that ya bastard!”, shouted the wizard.

Tavelle’s player was grinning from ear to ear, “That’s it! I can die happy!”.

- The Mound King was slumped, in a heap, and Tavelle looked towards Jentar. The paladin had collapsed forward, onto his stomach, and was trying to crawl somewhere. Tavelle looked to his right, he saw Nelyssa’s glowing scimitar flash forwards from behind a wall of shields, and send a wight to its final death.

- Tavelle’s gaze returned to the Mound King. The monstrous wight was clambering to its feet, the silver blade in hand and shedding snowflakes, it reached out a rusted gauntlet to retrieve its gold crown. The wizard raised his left hand, palm facing the wight, and drew upon the latent power of the silver radiance, “After this I’m out of magic”, thought Tavelle.

Tavelle rolled a 15 for the Ranged Touch Attack… 10 points of damage.

- The ray of positive energy struck the wight in the shoulder (26/78). Tavelle heard the Mound King howl in a combination of pain and anger. The great wight snarled and stalked towards the source of its annoyance… It would shatter the blade and feast on the wielder…

- The mage assumed an En Garde stance and gave a weak grin, “I think it’s safe to assume I’ve angered it enough to get its undivided attention?”, thought Tavelle. The wizard brought Anvil’s Edge up in front of him and the Mound King seemed to swing at the blade. The dwarven sword was nearly wrenched free of Tavelle’s grasp with the shuddering impact generated by the clash of weapons. Tavelle couldn’t believe the strength of the wight king, “It’s stronger than Brondar!”, thought the mage in horror. The wizard brought two hands onto the hilt of Anvil’s Edge and retaliated.

Tavelle rolled a 10.

- The stroke from the sword came up short, due to the different grip, and the wight king easily maneuvered out of the way. Every breath the wizard exhaled produced billowing clouds in the dimmed silver light, “I guess I’d be a little chilly without the Endure Elements”, thought Tavelle. The great wight swung the icy broadsword down, in a vicious cut aimed directly at Anvil’s Edge. There was a sickening smash, as the two swords connected, and snowflakes were driven into Tavelle’s face. The wizard jabbed his sword forwards in a, semi-controlled, two-handed lunge.

Tavelle rolled a 17... 7 points of damage.

- The wight was clipped in the pelvis (33/78) and launched a ripping cut at the blade in Tavelle’s hands. The swords came violently together and Anvil’s Edge became cloudy with frost. By the time the wizard prepared a counterattack the mist had cleared from the shining metal.

Tavelle rolled a 9.

- The wizard swung at thin air and then span to get back into a defensive position. Another blow smashed into Anvil’s Edge and it left the wizard’s ears ringing.

- “My hands are nearly numb from the force of his blows! He’s so damn strong!”, thought the wizard. Tavelle clenched his teeth in determination and tightened his two-handed grip on the sword. Another sweeping overhead chop came down onto Anvils’s Edge and snow trailed after the arc of the weapon. Tavelle felt the power from the stroke, from his fingers to his toes, and it nearly drove him to his knees, “Where is Derim? What if he found a dead end?”, thought the mage in desperation. The wizard glanced at the fallen form of the sorceress, “Hang in there”, he thought to himself. Tavelle felt the wetness of melting ice crystals on his face, and in his hair, “Keep on trying to shatter my blade, you undead bastard, I need to keep you occupied”, thought the mage.

- The wizard was momentarily distracted by a flare of bright orange light to his right… It was as almost as if the sun was rising within the cavern…

- Tavelle glanced towards the source of the orange radiance. It was as bright as the Light of Lunia surrounding the wizard. Tavelle saw Jentar struggling to rise. In his right hand was the Lionswrath blade and the longsword was limned in rippling orange and scarlet flames.
“Oh <censored>!”, said Tavelle’s owner in horror.

- The mage saw the crossguard transform and shift into wings. The blade of the sword changed from a dull grey to a shining metal with a rose tint. The wobbly, badly wounded, paladin attempted to stand. Tavelle’s eyes shot back to his foe, the Mound King, and he saw that the powerful wight had been similarly distracted. Tavelle didn’t hesitate at the opportunity to take a swipe at the crowned wight, “For Mistledale!”, he said under his breath. The mage still had two hands on the hilt of Anvil’s Edge and he brought the sword behind him to gain some momentum. The silvery blade flashed forwards, in a slicing double forehand, and the wizard stepped into the strike to add more weight.

Tavelle rolled a 15... 3 points of damage

- The wight had started turning back, to face the mage, just as Anvil’s Edge connected solidly and tore into the Mound King’s shoulder (36/78). Tavelle nearly lost his grip on the hilt as the wight reacted to the heavy hit by aiming a backhanded swing, with its fist encased in a rusted gauntlet.

Vinjarek rolled a 3.

- The mage barely ducked under the attack and was forced backwards in a partial retreat. Tavelle saw two wights, in the periphery of his vision, burst into golden flames, and he heard the voice of Derim Whiteshield, “Witness the wrath of the Great Mother!”, shouted the priest.

- A sense of relief washed over the mage and he saw other wights engulfed in flames. Tavelle gave a grin to the king of the wights, “Chauntea has arrived!”, he proclaimed. At the same time as the wizard spoke the words the Mound King was already drawing the icy blade into a vicious cut towards Tavelle.

Vinjarek rolled a 17... 16 points of damage.

- The frosty blade whipped in from a low angle gaining speed, it struck Tavelle in the left pelvis, and the biting arc continued all the way to the mage’s right shoulder. Tavelle felt the blade shear and slice across his torso. A succession of ribs shattered and the pain seared through him. The mage saw a scattered cloud of glittering crimson rubies. The scarlet gems tumbled, sparkled, and collided amidst the silvery radiance…

- Tavelle was lifted from his feet, such was the power of the attack, and started falling backwards into darkness.

“<censored>!”, said Tavelle’s owner.

Farrel Posted - 03 Jul 2014 : 21:13:57
Yep, still going

This update is the first instalment of a whole game session. I'm hoping to post the 2nd and final part on Sunday.

I have a part of the next session written up already and I'll post it when it's finished. I won't be updating the scroll for quite a while after that. I've got lots to do for Tavelle's next challenge, away from Mistledale.

A couple of days before this game session was due to start I received a reply from The Hooded One. It was about a question I’d submitted to Ed’s scroll in regards to lore about Captain Baergil. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and I wished I’d posed the question a few months earlier – I would’ve had far less fiddling around to do.

The response from Ed was simply amazing and the fact we can get our questions answered still stuns me! I was completely blown away with the depth and detail Ed so graciously provided. The information did throw a slight spanner in the works due to finding out Captain Baergil retired from The Riders of Mistledale in 1352 (Our game is currently in 1353). I wanted to incorporate this lore, so the DM decided Darrask had semi-retired, he was still the official Captain, and was personally involved in appointing a replacement. At the same time as being a figurehead for the organisation he was also pursuing his calling as a priest of Tempus.

Captain Baergil had set up a small shrine to the Lord of Battles, within his quarters, at the barracks. The focal point for this shrine was a statue of a stone sword. The statue had the ability to confer a tempering effect to a weapon in contact with it, and the statue delivered this boon on very rare occasions (read that as whenever the DM fancies). The stone sword had been recovered from a caravan, which had been attacked in Mistledale, and Captain Baergil brought it back to the barracks. It was around this time Captain Baergil started having dream visions, sent by Tempus, to pursue his faith.

That’s how I reconciled the new lore into the game and I didn’t think it worked out too badly.

Update (11th September 2011)

- Tavelle awoke to the sounds of the encampment and immediately regretted it. His entire body ached and he felt terrible. It was as if he had been trampled in his sleep. He vaguely remembered a dream but the details were lost when he attempted to recall them. “Aah <censored> me!”, groaned the wizard as he sat, upright, in the bedroll. A thought popped into his head, I should leave and ride far away from the barrows… Only death awaits me.

The thought of fleeing was a Suggestion from the strip of cloth around his wrist. This was opposed against the last of the phantom Diplomacy checks… It was the only roll to succeed. The Dark Remnant of Kendra's Cloak had stolen away Tavelle's life energy while he slept. He was now a whole point of Constitution lighter.

- Tavelle shook his head at the strange notion and regretted the action just as much as waking up, “What in the nine hells did Bron do to me last night?”, muttered the wizard as he pushed the hair away from his eyes. Tavelle struggled out of the bedroll and pulled his boots on, “I bet I’ve got a cold coming”, he grumbled and had to flick his head to see through his unruly fringe. As the mage finished dressing he decided against donning the damp cloak – the Endure Elements was still active, after all.

- The mage checked his equipment and remembered to speak with The Shield before he committed his spells to memory. Tavelle mused about the irony of it all, "I’m such a hypocrite", thought the wizard.

- Tavelle ducked his head as he left the tent and gauged the time as just before highsun. Brondar was waiting by the fire, “I thought I heard you stir. You look rough”, said the burly fighter. Tavelle was surprised to see the Rider of Mistledale, “I had a terrible night, I feel bloody awful. Why aren’t you at the barrows with the others?”. Brondar let out a sigh of exasperation, “I ain’t 'appy, I won’t fit down some of the tunnels. The Reverend Harvestmaster sent Liria to scout them. He cast something on her to hide her from the wights”. Tavelle nodded as he listened to the fighter, "I bet Liria wasn’t too happy about going in the tunnels", thought the wizard.

- Tavelle collected his spellbook from the tent and took a seat next to Brondar by the fire, “I’m sorry you won’t fit in the tunnels”, admitted the mage as he tried to console the fighter. Tavelle opened the tome, and looked to Brondar, “What did Liria find and what are the tunnels like?”.

- The Rider explained the cramped, claustrophobic conditions, and some of the tunnels were partially submerged. The fighter continued while the mage studied his spelltome, “Liria found a single tunnel, to a larger chamber, in the hole left by the elemental. There’s three exits to explore in the chamber and they’ve split the force to tackle them”. Tavelle broke away from his study, “How have they been allocated?”, he asked with interest. Brondar raised a bushy eyebrow, “You’re with The Shield, Kinara, Sister Alena, Tolben, Tynan, Lenthrey, Serrick, and Aulkren”. The mage nodded his approval and the fighter continued, “The Reverend Harvestmaster will be with Lanneth, Brother Xarran, Talista, Cernien, Eridge, Colecar, and Trentos from the Abbey".

- The wizard was left shaking his head after Brondar detailed the second party, “Jentar is leading the third group?”, he asked incredulously. Brondar scowled, “No, yer girl is. She’s taking him with her”, Tavelle looked to the Rider, “She’s to lead a group? Do you think Naema will be alright?”. Brondar raised his brows and gave a chuckle, “Naema’s not going, I meant yer other woman…”, teased the fighter. The mage closed his spellbook, “If Naema was to hear you say such a thing she’d batter me senseless”, admitted the wizard. “Aah well…”, said the Rider as he looked into his lap, “What do you mean, Aah well?”, asked Tavelle with a touch of concern. The burly Rider fidgeted and started to explain, “The Shield didn’t want you two down there together in case you…”, Tavelle chose the pause to interrupt, “What? Start rutting in the tunnels? A tent is one thing, a wight infested barrow is another matter entirely!”, fumed the mage. Brondar started laughing, “No, I don’t think it’s that. It’s more about not being distracted”. Tavelle banged his forehead on the cover of his spellbook, “<censored>! Is that how it was explained?”, asked the mage. The Rider nodded, “Pretty much. She didn’t take the news well”, the wizard rolled his eyes in disbelief, “She’s gonna kill me”, he concluded grimly. It was as Tavelle spoke the word that another strange thought appeared in his mind, "I should think again about going to the barrows. I’m gonna get myself killed".

Once again the thought had been provided by the strip of cloth. There were no magical compulsions attached this time… The strip of black cloth would be patient and sow doubts.

- Brondar snorted in derision, “Nah, she’s disappointed that’s all. Jentar was the angriest at first and argued with The Shield. Derim reminded him that it's Nelyssa who's the Swordar”. Tavelle nodded, “Heh, good”. The Rider of Mistledale gave the wizard a nudge, “Yer don’t seem too surprised about Erael taking lead of a party?”. Tavelle pulled a face and prodded the fighter back, “The Reverend Harvestmaster knows how powerful she is”.

- Brondar stood up, “I’ll go and get Fury ready while you read, are you hungry?, Tavelle nodded, “I’m starving Bron, thanks a lot”, and the mage found a page to his liking within the tome. The wizard pored over his spellbook and began memorising the enchantments he considered necessary. Brondar returned with two wooden trenchers of hot lamb stew, he took a seat, and handed one to Tavelle. The wizard thanked the Rider for the food and ate while he read. By the time Tavelle finished the stew he had also completed his study. The mage checked he had everything he needed, “I think I’ve got everything”. Brondar nodded and the pair made their way to the horses.

- The wizard greeted Fury with a clap on the neck, the warhorse returned it with a nuzzle, and a nibble, on the shoulder. Tavelle stowed the spellbook in a saddlebag and swung himself up into the saddle.

- The pair were approached by several militiamen who wished them well as they rode towards the outer pyres. The mage couldn’t avert his eyes from the watchpyre that he and Brondar had thrown Allam onto. Tavelle recognised Gothalt and Harran, from the Rodrathe Orchards, the older man smiled broadly at the wizard, “Well met master Tavelle, good hunting to you!”. The mage thanked Harran, even though his attention was elsewhere. He rode away from the farm and up the hill with Brondar.

- As they reached the top tavelle looked back to the Lannane farm and the many tents of the Riders of Mistledale, “What’re yer doing?”, asked the fighter. The mage shrugged his shoulders, “Just having one last look I guess?”. The Rider sidled up to the wizard’s mount, “What’s all this?". The mage shook his head, “I don’t know… I had a strange feeling when I woke up… It’s a nagging thought that somehow I’m doomed”. The fighter started laughing, “Doomed! Doomed! We’re all doomed!”, he cackled loudly. Tavelle raised his eyebrows as he looked to Brondar, “Thanks for the support”, said the wizard sarcastically. The Rider gave his horse a gentle dig and started forwards, “Come on, doom’s waiting. When yer meet him tweak his nose and kick him in the knackers!”. The mage had to laugh at the comment and urged Fury to follow.

- Tavelle drew alongside the fighter and Brondar addressed the Wizard, “Listen, the worst part of any battle is the waiting for it. Doubts can creep into yer mind and yer start thinking of a hundred ‘What ifs?’. Prepare as much as yer able, trust in yer swordbrothers, and make sure they can rely on you”. Tavelle nodded, “I will do my best… I would ask a favour of my own, when this is over. Would you teach me how to fight properly, please?”. Brondar looked at the mage and his eyebrows vanished into the brow of his helm, “Fight properly?”, he asked. Tavelle nodded again, “I’d never held a real sword until Asantar crafted Anvil’s Edge… I know the basics of swordplay thanks to Naema… I want to do the sword justice”. Brondar nodded, “It’s a fine weapon and Captain Baergil told me of the tempering”.

- Tavelle recalled the events in the shrine of Tempus at the barracks, “Captain Baergil said the tempering rendered the weapon unbreakable”. Brondar nodded, “Aye, I’ve seen the flames twice before. The first time was me own sword, and then there was Nelyssa’s scimitar. There’s been a few others, nothing recent until yours and yer girlfriend’s”. Tavelle glanced at Brondar, “I never knew about Naema’s longsword”. The big fighter started laughing again, “I meant Erael”. The mage grinned at the Rider, “You’re going to get me beaten up”. Brondar clapped Tavelle on the shoulder, “I’ll make a fighter out of yer, have no doubts about that. We’ll do it my way though and I don’t want any arguments over me methods”. The wizard gave a grin, “That all sounds a bit ominous?”, and the Rider replied, “We’ll be needing to toughen yer up”.

Tavelle’s player pulled a face , “I’m not sure I like the sound of that!”, he said nervously.

- The pair could see the barrows of the wights, along with a lot of Mistrans, and as many horses. As Tavelle rode closer he could see a number of small tented canopies, “What are those for?”, he asked. Brondar explained the tents were to deal with any wounded, “They’ve brought a few of the clergy from the Abbey. Some of the more wordly will be going with yer, and the others will be waiting outside”. The pair rode towards where the horses had been hobbled and dismounted. The mage checked his saddlebags and saw the bottle of raspberry wine, along with a spare set of clothing. Tavelle removed the bottle to show Bron, “At least I can change into clean gear and get drunk if I survive”, said the wizard with a big grin. The burly Rider looked at Tavelle and glanced past the mage, “Heh! That’s the spirit!”, he chuckled, “Now put the bottle away we’ve company”.

- They were met by Naema and Tynan who had walked over from the barrows. Tavelle noted that Naema didn’t look very happy, she barely managed a smile as she approached.

Tavelle’s owner looked a bit gloomy, “It would seem our night of passion, in the tent, is causing a few problems and I reckon she’s been told off by Nelyssa. I clearly remember what Naema said when we spent the night at Sword’s Creek”. I was so glad he remembered… Naema had told Tavelle how hard it had been to convince her father about her desire to become a Rider of Mistledale. It had been her ambition since she was seven summers old. The young Naema had nagged her father constantly until he caved in and a Sembite swordsmaster was hired. “Being a Rider of Mistledale is who I am and is all I’ve ever wanted to be”, was her explanation at Sword’s Creek. Tavelle’s player was still looking rather depressed, “She’d better not think it’s all my fault”.

- The wizard greeted the pair and Naema made her way over to Tavelle, "You look awful, are you alright? What's happened to your hair?", she asked with some concern. Tavelle shrugged and his hair fell scross his eyes, "I woke up feeling as rough as a Barbazu's arse. <censored> knows what's going on with my hair" grinned the wizard in an attempt to cheer Naema up. Naema raised an eyebrow. “I’m sorry you’re not coming with me”, admitted the mage. The Rider shrugged and cast her eyes to the ground, “I don’t think they’ll ever let us patrol together again”, she explained despondently.

- They began the short walk to where the main body of militia, Riders, and Chaunteans were gathered. As they walked Naema gave as much advice to Tavelle as she could think of, ”I’m glad you’re going with Nelyssa. She took the time to explain her reasoning behind the decision”, she said sincerely. Tavelle was curious, “What did she say?”, he asked, “Nelyssa said there were plenty of swords venturing into the tunnels. You and Erael could provide something else”, explained the young Rider. Naema handed the mage a clay flask, "A flask of Chauntean holy water, take it with you". Tavelle thanked the Rider and tied it to his belt.

- Tavelle heard several cries of “Swordmage!”, and the occasional, “Yarr!”, thrown in for good measure. The mage did notice that the crude gesture was absent throughout.

- There were some familiar faces amongst the three groups and others Tavelle didn’t recognise. The militia were armoured in chainmail and each carried a light shield. The Chauntean priests who were mingling with the militia wore bronze-hued chainmail and matching breastplates.

“I really wish I could wear armour”, said Tavelle’s owner, “Everybody looks better wearing armour”, he whinged. The DM made the point about having Mage Armour available… The response was, “It’s not the same, you can’t see it”. Tavelle’s player asked, “Are any of them wearing their cloaks?”, and the DM nodded in confirmation.

- Tavelle glanced about the militia, “You would be well advised to remove your cloaks before venturing into the barrows”. There were a few nods of agreement and many clasps unfastened.

- The Reverend Harvestmaster and The Shield approached Tavelle, “Sound advice”, commented Nelyssa with a smile. The wizard bowed his head in respect and noticed his hair seemed longer. The Shield noticed as Tavelle lifted his gaze, “Would you like something to keep the hair out of your eyes?”, asked the paladin. The mage nodded and his fringe fell across his face, “Yes please, if you’ve one spare. It really wasn’t this long yesterday”. Tavelle accepted a thin leather strip and started pulling his hair back. He tied the cord around a loose ponytail,. “I need a trim”, concluded the mage.

- Nelyssa explained the plans for the expedition into the tunnels, “We stay together in our groups and don’t get stretched out. The tunnels are very tight so I doubt we’ll get overwhelmed. We deal with any wights we come across and save our priests wrath. I want to coordinate our assault, each group is to wait for the others, if possible, before launching into a final confrontation”. The Reverend Harvestmaster nodded in agreement, “They will likely have constructed a larger chamber where they lair, it would be wise to be at full strength before any attack begins”.

- Tavelle took in all of the information, “How far did Liria scout? Did she explore all three tunnels?”, asked the mage. Derim nodded, “Yes, all three were partially scouted and Liria explored as much as she was able”.

Tavelle’s player looked impressed, “Fair play to Liria. Invisible or not, I wouldn’t have been happy in there on my own”.

- Nelyssa looked at the wizard with some concern and asked Tavelle if he was alright, “You look tired, did you not sleep well?”, the mage shook his head, “I slept with Brondar and had the worst night’s sleep ever. I awoke feeling like I’d been run over by one of Elmo’s carriages and I think I’ve got a cold coming”. Nelyssa nodded, “Are you well enough for the barrows?”. As Tavelle was about to reply a thought came to the mage, “Say no”, it prompted.

The thought was from the cloth around Tavelle’s wrist. It had decided to proceed stealthily in the presence of goodly priests and paladins… It would not squander the Suggestions and its other powers… The mage had easily resisted the first attempt, in the tent, and the strip of cloth began to ponder that it might not be as easy to manipulate the wizard as it had first hoped.

- Tavelle gave a smile, “I’m fine, it must be the beginning of something, that’s all”, he assured Nelyssa.

The DM barely succeeded in maintaining a poker-face at the choice of words the player used.

- Tavelle saw Erael approach, she was clad in her shining mithral breastplate, and the Lionswrath Blade was sheathed at her hip. The sorceress looked Tavelle up and down, and asked, “Are you alright? You look terrible”. The mage sighed, and replied, “I had a rough night sleeping with Bron and I think I’ve got a cold coming”. Erael emptied the familiar contents of a small velvet purse and handed Tavelle the pair of Ioun Stones, I thought these might help in there?”.

- The wizard smiled and nodded, “Thank you for the loan”. Naema looked at the two stones in the wizard’s palm, “What are they?”, she asked. The mage tossed them, one after the other, into the air and they began a lazy orbit around him. Tavelle explained to the Rider that the two stones were enchanted to sharpen his senses and increase the potency of his magic. The priest of Chauntea excused himself and walked over to Brother Waylam. Nelyssa advised Tavelle to prepare himself and then to join her, “The Reverend Harvestmaster has readied some powerful prayers to aid us in our task”.

- Tavelle and Naema were left standing alone. The Rider reached up to the nape of her neck and unfastened the clasp of the silver, blowing-horses pendant. Above the Mistran charm was a softly glowing moonstone sphere in a silver claw mount. Naema held it out to Tavelle, “I want you to take this”, she explained, and the wizard nodded. Naema helped the mage fasten the pendant and then produced a small glass vial from behind her back, “I want you to take this too. It’s a healing potion and my father insists it’s a powerful one”.

- Tavelle thanked Naema and, as he accepted the potion, a thought crossed his mind, “I might never see you again?”. The mage put one hand, to the hilt of Anvil’s Edge, the other resting on the butt of his wand, and he tried to dismiss all the nagging doubts. Naema looked towards the sword at Tavelle’s side and offered some final advice, ”Try and stay behind the shield wall and support them with your magic. Remember, if it all goes to the nine hells, just do whatever you can”.

- Tavelle took Naema’s hands into his and leant in to kiss her. The Rider pulled away, but didn’t break the hold, “We shouldn’t”, was all she managed to say. Tavelle glanced over his shoulder at the groups of militia, Riders, and priests. He looked back to Naema, “From what I’m led to believe we’ll never be allowed to patrol together again?”, and she nodded her head in agreement. Tavelle smiled, “So, Kiss me. What else can they do?”, said the wizard.

- The pair shared a long kiss and were left wondering if it might be their last.

To be continued...

Dalor Darden Posted - 14 Apr 2014 : 00:47:36
Glad to see it still going man!
Farrel Posted - 13 Apr 2014 : 21:19:18
Well met fylth and thanks for the kind words


"Maybe I should offer Erael my skills as a masseuse?", wondered Tavelle's player.

- The dragon soared over the dark landscape. Tavelle felt the wind buffet him and pull on his tabard. It was a wise move casting the Endure Elements, it took the chill from the rushing air, thought the wizard.

"Enough fantasies about massaging Erael's aches away", said Tavelle's owner, "Tavelle has alot to think about. I want to know why she bothered to mention staying and seeking tutelage in crafting? I feel a bit <censored> off to be fair, like I've been manipulated. As soon as she claims the weapon she'll be winging her way back to the Galenas".

I've found that Tavelle's player can be a little hasty and impulsive. I like the character trait as it reflects his chaotic nature. It can often lead him to make decisions without actually clarifying all of the facts. I was surprised that he hadn't thought of it when Erael had admitted her reason for being in Mistledale. Tavelle's player did have alot on his mind and, thanks to the phantom Diplomacy checks, things would get alot worse.

- Erael flew low over the land and located the stand of trees where the wyvern had perished. She landed a good distance from the sprawling corpse and padded to a halt. The wizard nearly vomitted from the odour of the rotting carcass.

- Tavelle brought a gloved hand up to cover his nose, "I thought I smelled bad...", he laughed. Erael turned her head to face the mage, "Well, I didn't want to say anything... but, as the dwarves would say, 'yer gettin a bit ripe". Tavelle wanted to laugh at the use of the dwarven saying... all he managed was to blush deep red in embarrassment at the thought of smelling bad.

"Does Tavelle really smell?", asked Tavelle's player.
The DM nodded, "Tavelle hasn't bathed in seven days, he's been riding, fighting, riding, fighting, getting rained on, fighting, rolling around in the mud, getting rained on again...".
"Hmm, I guess I smell of eau de wet dog?", said Tavelle's owner.

- "I changed into fresh kit after the barrows... do I really smell?", asked the wizard sheepishly. The dragon nodded, "I've smelled worse... the Vaasan Yeti is like curdled goats milk". Tavelle pulled a sour face, "I'm not that bad am I?", Eraeliglasheer gave a draconic chuckle, "No, not yeti".

"I wonder if Erael would conjure some water for me to have a shower?", asked Tavelle's owner (He hadn't laughed at Erael's Yeti joke - Obviously stinking was not an option). "It would seem the most opportune timing for one. I've the Endure Elements active so I'm not going to get cold or anything", pondered the player. "All I need is some soap and I'd be set!", he concluded happily.

- Tavelle finished dismounting from the backpack and unfastened its large silver buckle. The wizard spent time rubbing some feeling back into his buttocks, before he knelt, muttered Anarshas, and unbuckled the straps. He withdrew Erael's clothes, weaponbelt, and boots, and passed each over his shoulder, "Do you think you could conjure me enough water for a shower?", asked Tavelle. The sorceress continued to dress, and finished lacing up her chemise, "I think so. Be warned - it'll be cold", she laughed.

"No, it won't", sniggered Tavelle's player.

- "I don't suppose you have any soap in that backpack of yours?", asked the wizard hopefully as he unfastened his weaponbelt. Erael raised an eyebrow in thought as she reached inside the pack, "One of the clerics of Torm left behind some nice soap, I have it here somewhere, with a cloth, I think". The sorceress brought forth a small block of soap wrapped in waxed paper, and a thickly-woven blue cotton flannel, Tavelle could smell the fragrance of Honeysuckle, "The Tormtar really know how to rough it", laughed Tavelle, "This is the fanciest soap I've ever seen".

- Tavelle continued disrobing and stacked his clothes neatly in a pile next to Eraels' backpack. The mage was soon standing in the dark, naked, holding a bar of honeysuckle soap and a discreetly positioned flannel to secure his modesty.

"What in the nine hells am I doing?", asked Tavelle's owner in a bit of a panic. As the DM I was trying not to laugh at the mental image I'd managed to form of the scene. "I was putting off asking the question about her heading back to the Galenas... How did it get to this?", laughed the player.

- Tavelle felt somewhat exposed and started to shift away from the piled clothes and pack, the grass was wet, not cold, between his toes. The wizard heard Erael giggle, "Are you ready?". Tavelle recognised the laughter in her voice and replied that he was ready. There was a short pause before the first extended downpour arrived and Tavelle shifted himself to turn away from the direction of Erael's voice.

- When the mage was quite certain his rear was facing the sorceress he began to lather up. It was dark and he realised that Erael's vision would be unimpeded by the lack of illumination. After a while of soaping down the mage requested more water and more after that. The suds of soap were around his feet and Tavelle felt far fresher, he wrung out the cloth and began using it to dry himself.

- I suppose now is as good a time as any, thought the wizard, "When you recover the weapon I take it you'll be returning to the Galenas?", asked the mage quietly. Erael shook her head, "No, not immediately. When I was given this task I was told to expect a sign for when I was to return to Stoneshield Hall. Dhannagar Steelarm, a High Old One of Moradin explained that I'd return with more than just a weapon... He said it might take some time to truly bond together. I hope I'll have enough time to learn crafting during the process".

"I'm so glad I asked tactfully - she didn't mislead me", said the player in relief.

- Tavelle smiled, nodded his understanding, and started to put his clothes on, "It is likely to need mastering. I've read of accounts of powerful weapons exerting their will, some call it the ego, upon the wielder. A battle of personality, if you like? It also sounds as though there may be contingent conditions..."

The DM was extremely happy with the way Tavelle reacted and the information about the ego of a weapon was brilliantly done. I had been secretly hoping that he would get all wordy and let loose his ideas regarding the Lionswrath blade... I couldn't let the chance go begging.

- Erael looked to the wizard in astonishment, "Clangeddin's Beard! How do you know all this stuff? What's a contingent condition?".

I once teased Tavelle's player about, "Time to baffle the bumpkins!", when he was faced with the Rodrathe's and Militia, at the orchards not so long ago. I had been expecting him to get all verbal and overwhelm the farmers in a bid to allow Erael to sneak off... He had taken offense at my choice of phrase and had explained, "Those bumpkins are Tavelle's fellow Mistrans. They need his help - They'll be no bumpkins baffled here!". It had rather put me in my place and told me that Tavelle really did care for his fellow dalesfolk.

- Tavelle fidgeted and gave a grin, "I'm a wizard... It's my job... Look, I do read alot and, despite what he may say to the contrary, I do pay attention to my father. I've been thinking about the Lionswrath blade and I believe it is the wielder of the sword that holds the contingent condition of activity". Tavelle paused to check if Erael understood, "Still with me?", he asked as he put on his weaponbelt. Erael nodded, "You think that another might be able to wake the blade?". Tavelle explained his theory of the sword being a Holy Avenger, "I believe that any paladin could call on the currently dormant powers".

- Tavelle checked that he hadn't left any clothes or equipment behind and then carefully wrapped the soap back into the paper.

- The pair summoned Patches, mounted up, and started the short ride back to the farm.

- The watchpyres were burning brightly at the edge of the camp and Tavelle removed the Horn of Mistledale from his side. He blew a slightly strangled version of the call for a rider returning. Erael commented that Buross was overhead and Tavelle saw two figures, bearing torches, approaching. "Corster and Feluan", whispered the sorceress.

- As the pair of militia drew closer Tavelle could hear them laughing, "I told you it was a horn call", said Feluan, "Nah, it sounded more like an animal being molested", replied Corster. The mage greeted the militia, Tavelle joked with Corster that if anyone knew about the sounds of a beast being molested, it would be "The Bear". They were accompanied as far as the inner ring of pyres.

- A winged blur flew from behind them and over their heads, Buross settled on the outstretched forearm of Lanneth. The half elven ranger stood beside the Reverend Harvestmaster and gave the wizard a wave as they drew closer, "Welcome back, anything happen?", he asked.

- Tavelle looked towards Derim, he was certain that the priest was responsible for the earth elemental, and the Reverend Harvestmaster gave him a wink. The mage smiled at the venerable priest, "We saw no activity from the wights... We were watching the barrows from a safe distance and saw a huge earth elemental. It caused a large landslip on the northern slope. It exposed some of the tunnels... getting into the barrows will be a lot less problematic", explained the mage.

- Lanneth looked to Derim Whiteshield in awe, "That's where you went, and the rock that you were carrying?", he asked. The Reverend Harvestmaster smiled broadly, "I thought it best not to cause a commotion by calling on Borrul'Duhr here at the farm". Lanneth shook his head in astonishment and transferred the eagle owl to a shoulderpad before he helped Erael dismount, "I've always wanted to see an elemental... from a safe distance, of course", said the ranger.

- Erael thanked Lanneth and gently stroked Buross on the side of his feathered head. Tavelle dismounted, gave Patches a pat on the neck, and dismissed the summoned mount, he looked to the Chauntean priest, "Forgive me Reverend Harvestmaster, I know it is late, would it be possible to speak with you privately, please?", Derim nodded, "Of course".

- Lanneth looked at the wizard and sniffed, "I'll leave you two to it and keep Buross circling". Tavelle glanced at the sorceress as the ranger of Mielikki walked off into the gloom, "Could myself and Erael come to your tent?". Derim smiled and nodded, "Please, follow me", he said.

- The pair followed the Reverend Harvestmaster towards his large tent, the two armoured attendants drew back the entrance flaps as they approached, and the trio made their way inside. The old priest removed his sandals and muttered an arcane phrase, the interior of the tent was bathed in a gentle radiance from the glowing globe. Derim ushered his guests towards a chair each. Once Erael and Tavelle were comfortable the old priest seated himself.

- The Reverend Harvestmaster smiled at Erael, the wizard could see a sparkle in Derim's grey eyes, "It is a genuine pleasure, my lady", said the priest of Chauntea.

- Erael looked down nervously into her lap, she clasped her hands tightly together, and the sorceress bit her bottom lip.

"She looks like a naughty toddler who's been caught stealing sweets. This isn't quite what I was expecting", remarked Tavelle's owner. "I think it's the thought of discussing the quest... everytime she has got anywhere near to talking about it she's appeared uncomfortable", continued the player.

- The sorceress glanced up to meet the twinkling eyes of the old priest, "Tavelle has told me that you know i'm a silver dragon", she said quietly. The Reverend Harvestmaster nodded, "Yes, my lady. I pieced together the clues before leaving the abbey. You have my word that i've not spoken of my suscipicions with anyone save Tavelle. When he refused to discuss you I chose to trust his judgement. I'm pleased you have decided to come and see me".

- Derim stood up and made his way to the table, he offered the pair a drink, which they both refused, and he poured himself some water into a stoneware cup. Tavelle scanned the wooden table and looked at the roughly polished stone. It definitely bore a burly resemblance to the elemental that the Reverend Harvest had named as Borrul'Duhr. Derim took his seat and smiled at the nervous looking sorceress, "My lady, you must tell me how we... no, how I can start to repay your valour?".

- Erael raised a dark eyebrow, "Valour?", she asked in surprise. The venerable priest nodded, "The Selmer family owe you their lives and the great bull wyvern is no longer a threat to Mistledale because of you.".

Tavelle's owner had a big smile on his face, "I like Derim and most importantly I trust him".

- The Reverend Harvestmaster continued, "Without your aid we would never have been able to react with such speed to the wights. Many more farms and homesteads would now be lost to us". Erael gave a polite nod to the priest of Chauntea.

Tavelle's owner was still smiling, "I like the direction Derim's taking... He's giving her a reminder of just how much she's helped. I don't believe she realised how much we owe her", he concluded.

- Derim Whiteshield leant forward in his chair, "Please, my lady... Erael... What are you doing in Mistledale?". Tavelle gently placed his hand on the shoulder of the sorceress, "The Reverend Harvestmaster has assured me that we cannot be scryed upon within this tent", he explained. Erael looked to the venerable Chauntean, the wizard felt as though an eternity passed before the sorceress spoke, "I seek a weapon that is vital to the survival of Stoneshield Hall. The dying prophecy, of a High Old One of Clangeddin, told of a weapon that could defeat the Witch King's army", explained the dragon.

- The priest of Chauntea nodded as he digested the information. Tavelle shifted in his chair when Erael had mentioned the army of the Witch King. Even with the largest congregation of militia and Riders of Mistledale that he had ever witnessed it was still hard to imagine a true army.

- "What type of weapon is it that you seek? A sword? An axe?", asked Derim.

"That's a damned good question and one I wish I'd asked", said Tavelle's owner.

- Erael gave a slight shrug, "I don't know what type of weapon... The prophecy just said it would be very cold and I would find it where the Mound King stirs", explained the sorceress.

Tavelle's player gave me a serious look, "Maybe the most important question of all is what the <censored> is this weapon capable of?" I mean, we're talking about an entire army and two red dracoliches?".

- Tavelle fidgeted uncomfortably in his chair. The priest of Chauntea smiled warmly at the sorceress, "Erael, I will help in any way i'm able. If this weapon is indeed within the possession of this Mound King then I'll help you wrest it from his remains", declared Derim. Erael smiled and gave her thanks to the priest. The Reverend Harvestmaster stood up, took a sip of water, muttered some words under his breath, and poured the remaining water on the tilled earthen floor. Tavelle looked towards Erael and found the sorceress already looking in his direction, she smiled and discreetly mouthed her thanks.

- The priest of Chauntea placed his cup on the table and proceeded to open the wooden chest. Tavelle, stood along with Erael, "Thankyou, Reverend Harvestmaster", said the mage. Derim poked through the contents and closed the lid with a look of disappointment, "I thought I may have been able to help more. Unfortunately, the item in question is back at the Abbey". The wizard was intrigued, "What item is that?", he asked. Derim Whiteshield answered Tavelle's question while addressing Erael, "It is an Amethyst pendant, in the shape of a dove, it wards the wearer against scrying and other means of magical eavesdropping. When we return I would very much like you to have it".

- Erael nodded, "My thanks, Reverend Harvestmaster. But, are you sure you no longer need it?", asked the sorceress. Derim smiled, "It's been many years since I've even thought of it. It was a gift, to shield me against a very unscrupulous and greedy Sembite merchant family, The Dewke Brothers, led by Rendolf and Martimer. The Dewkes hired mages to find out about crop predictions by eavesdropping on me and they sought to corner the market... they were left copperless by the timely intervention of those who harp", explained the Chauntean priest.

- Derim thanked Erael once again for placing her faith and trust in him, "I think you two should go and seek some rest". Tavelle yawned, which triggered a yawn from Derim and Erael in quick succession, "I think you're right", said the sorceress. The pair bid Derim a good nights rest and departed the tent.

- Tavelle and Erael walked towards a small group of tents and they passed the occasional militiaman on watch. The wizard stopped beside the small fire outside Naema's tent and saw that Tynan was sat atop a backpack, at the entrance to his own tent, sharpening his longsword.

- Tynan gave a nod to the pair, and whispered, "How did your patrol go?". Erael quietly explained the events regarding the elemental and Tavelle poked his head through the opening of Naema's tent. The mage strained his eyes within the darkness... it was far too dark to see... all he could hear was some loud snoring from the bedroll.

Tavelle's owner gave me a very confused look, "I don't remember Naema ever snoring before". I described the guttural noise from the bedroll as very loud.

- Tavelle stifled a giggle and spoke in a hushed tone, "I'm going to have to turn you on your side, otherwise I'll not get any sleep, you noisy cow". The mage carefully knelt down and gently nudged the bedroll, "Roll over", he whispered.

"Is she really snoring that badly?", asked Tavelle's owner. The example noise that I provided seemed to freak the player out...

- Tavelle gave the bedroll a not so gentle shove to shift the snoring rider onto her back, "You lump, turn over!", he muttered.

I continued to describe the loud snoring and the fact Naema must be wearing at least some armour as she was very heavy...

- Tavelle's hands felt their way up the body in the bedroll and the snoring seemed to subside a little, Tavelle heard a deep, but sleepy, voice from beneath the blanket, "Mmmm, okay Hallinthe, you get on top and do all the work... yer old man's knackered". Tavelle blinked twice and looked confused, "Hallinthe? Isn't that Brondar's wife?", he asked himself.

- The blanket was turned down and a rather sleepy Brondar sniffed in Tavelle's direction, he pulled a face, "You smell like a Sembite whore", declared the fighter. The wizard smiled back at the bearded rider, "Why thankyou Bron, it's good to know you occasionally leave the dales to err... explore. Please go back to sleep and don't snore", replied the mage. The big fighter yawned, pulled the blanket back over himself, and drifted back to sleep with a long squeaky fart...

"Oh for <censored>'s sake!", said Tavelle's owner in disgust.

- Tavelle departed the tent to escape the smell and looked to Tynan, "Why is Bron in Naema's tent?", asked the mage. Tynan smirked as he continued to sharpen the blade and explained, "The Shield wanted to make sure you two were kept separated". Tavelle shot a glance towards Erael in embarrassment, "Oh dear", was all he could manage as a response.

- Erael bid Tavelle and Tynan a good night and decided to depart to Nelyssa's tent. Tynan looked up at the wizard and sniffed, "You smell like a whores drawers... Is that honeysuckle?", remarked the militiaman. Tavelle wanted to laugh but just replied with a nod.

"That damned soap! I smell like a tart!", complained Tavelle's owner.

- Tavelle parted the tent flap and checked for noxious odours, once he was satisfied the fart had been all bark and no bite Tavelle bid Tynan goodnight and made his way warily inside. He removed his gloves, weaponbelt, tabard, and boots, the mage then crouched down to prepare his bedroll... Something at the back of his mind nagged at him...

The DM gave the player a note, which read, "Tavelle has just remembered about the strip of black cloth he found earlier". Tavelle's owner gave me a confused look, "He has?", he asked suscipiciously. The DM nodded, "Yes, and another thought has just entered Tavelle's mind too". The DM provided another note, "Tavelle believes it would be a nice addition, tied around his wrist, next to the leather band".

- As the wizard smoothed out the winterblanket he remembered his memento was in the pocket of his other breeches, "I'm glad I didn't forget that", whispered the mage. Tavelle stood up quietly and rooted inside the pockets of his drying breeches. Someone had pegged a line, along with his tunic and cloak, within the arch of the tent. The mage withdrew his hand from the pocket and he looked at the strip of dark cloth, "You would look splendid tied around my wrist", muttered Tavelle absentmindedly as he settled down to sleep in his bedroll.


Tavelle rolled onto his side with a fitful groan... the cloaked, skeletal spectre that haunted his sleep felt very real and threatening...

The strip of dark cloth tied around the mage's wrist seemed to shift and tighten of its own accord... A green crackle of energy shifted across the material, revealing long forgotten runes of necromantic script...

The skeletal undead horror reached out to the the mage with it's long, slender, taloned hands... Tavelle tried to move but felt paralyzed and helpless... The cloaked form drew Tavelle into a close embrace... The wizard attempted to scream as he felt his life force being stolen away...
fylth Posted - 08 Jan 2014 : 05:59:30
Well met, Farrel, everyone else. I must say I am impressed with how much depth you have put into this. It reminds me of what I do when I run my games. You got a pretty interesting story going on and it makes me want to tell the story of my players :)

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