Bugga's Story 12

/In the half-light of the tent, a small figure sits up in a big bed. Fidgeting with a bandage it wears over part of its face, it takes stock of its situation, attempting to gather its bearings. As it begins to scratch more at its injury it fails to notice the elegant approach of a shae, its flowing steps quiet in their grace. The small figure suddenly realizes it’s not alone, looking up in alarm and huddling into its blankets./

/The shae seems unsure of what to do with the trembling creature, halting at the edge of the room for a moment, but eventually the small figure relaxes, realizing the safety of its resting place, and resumes its scratching. The shae takes the opportunity to move in and sit on a chair beside the bed, folding her hands awkwardly before herself./

          Teansa: Are you okay? We were concerned that…. that you weren’t going to wake again. We are pleased that you are not permanently disabled.

/The shae is visibly uncomfortable, but is trying to appear comforting and warm./

          Bugga: Bugga’s fine, but….

          Teansa: … It will not grow back with the healing We have at Our disposal. We are sorry.

          Bugga: … Did you get him, uh, Teansa?

          Teansa: Yes. The battle’s victory was… complete, despite your injury and Our other losses. What drove you to attempt such a thing?

          Bugga: … W-well, Bugga was thinkin’ of um… Maybe Bugga was thinkin’ of a friend of Bugga’s. Not anyone you know, Mist- uh, Teansa. But Bugga’s friend is very brave.

… Bugga’s friend you never heard of before.

          Teansa: Are you sure We don’t know? It isn’t the warpriest, is it? Maybe that’s your secret friend, hmm…?

/Teansa tickles Bugga under her chin and the little goblin giggles and squirms./

          Bugga: Umm… okay, you got Bugga. Bugga not good at pretendin’ that the stuff she says is true when it not…

If Bugga has to say truths, Bugga maybe missin’ home a bit. Bugga knows you don’t like Warleader Pinchy… Bugga hope that not a probrem… there just been a lot of changes for Bugga, you know; never really sat down to think ‘bout it. Tribe dead, Gorn savin’ Bugga… then Gorn’s mam an’ dad and learnin’ magic from that smelly ol’ wizard… then the story-tellin’ trip, and Bugga’s new friends, and then Gorn left… then the bad licky man and Maganamar and Mister Sniffles wantin’ Bugga to help with the scurry dragon! That’s lots of stuff! Also other stuff Bugga forgets, like bein’ a queen now and the skellingtons and dat bad Spoon Punch guy…!

/The goblin summoner returns to scratching her injury for a second before continuing./

          Bugga: … All of dat to say that Bugga kinda wound up likin’ her humies. Bugga hope dat not a probrem for Mister- uh, Teansa…?

          Teansa: Well no, it’s not a problem. We are so very pleased that you are close enough to your humans that you miss them, because many of your people do not create such close connections, from what We’ve learned of you. We mean, of them-

          Bugga: …. Bugga has a big question, Teansa.

/Taken aback at the serious tone of the goblin, Teansa musters no response. She eventually motions that Bugga should speak./

          Bugga: … Why… did you find Bugga? Why did you…. pick… Bugga? Why is Bugga your friend, Teansa? Bugga’s not special like you said to Bugga’s humie friends, is Bugga?

/The shae looks like she is overcome with affection for Bugga for a moment, but not sure what to do about it. She fidgets instead, taking a moment before speaking./

          Teansa: No. You are not special, Bugga. The dream-creators are not new or unique in terms of history, though it is still a unique technique.

No, you are otherwise nothing more than what We assume is a regular member of your race, though one with an overactive imagination. Still, We came to you in need. We were alone and weak, desperate for help. We had learned of the oneirogen in Our youth, though We did not think We would meet one. We were simply looking… for a friend. For help. Much has happened here; much was lost. The forces raised against Our people are strong enough that we needed help… and so We looked. We looked, and We found you, also needing help.

… So you are not special, but you are very special… to Us.

You may not remember it because… well, it was your dreaming mind’s form, but you were the element needed to allow Us to escape. We needed to be able to conjure assistance. That was you.

… Regardless, if We are to protect you as promised, it is now time to rest: this was not the most important fight of the campaign, nor the last. The blow we struck today will reverberate through the entirety of their forces, and will reach the top. And while valor such as you displayed is unexpected and extremely risky, it also shows that our resistance is intent on victory.

          Bugga: If you not want Bugga to take risks, Bugga’s not sure what to do to help. Everyone else is big an’ strong and Bugga just little…

          Teansa: … Hm. … Actually, We think that We could teach you some things to improve your ability to strike from hiding. Yes, it will dovetail nicely with your natural subtlety and the changes you are experiencing from your ties to this plane. We could teach you how to strike against weaknesses while unseen…

… Just promise Us you won’t take such risks again!

Ronlin's Story Pt 1

Ronlin Jerath

The morning sun streams through a small window illuminating the interior of the sparse brick walled room. Ronlin’s eyes slowly flutter open, but the unexpected brightness in the room causes them to reflexively squeeze shut tightly. Waiting a moment to adjust, he slowly opens them while rolling over to climb out of his simple bed. It couldn’t have been more than a few hours since he returned from patrol, but the mid-morning sun meant it wouldn’t be long before Amos expected them to be ready to head out again. After 7 months of being with the Black Arrows, Ronlin was finally getting used to functioning on little to no sleep. In this case, the ogre tracks they had found earlier this morning created a sense of urgency that superseded the luxury of a few additional hours of sleep.

His undergarments and tunic sashed firmly, Ronlin begins strapping his leather armor on. As he does, he offers up silent prayers to Erastil thanking him for the simple roof over his head and the bounty of the previous day’s hunt, which he can smell cooking on the fire just outside his door. He adds a short petition to keep the remaining members of his family safe, lightly clasping his holy symbol and draping it around his neck as he does. Now dressed for patrol, Ronlin quickly grabs his pack, bow, and quiver and heads out his door into the Fort.

An hour or so later…

Amos quietly led Ronlin and Bhavock through the light underbrush into the direction of the tracks they had discovered on the previous evenings patrol. As Ronlin raises his left leg up to step over a large fallen tree, he looks back in time to see the dwarf plant both his hands on the massive trunk and deftly vault over the obstacle. He shoots Ronlin a glare as he lands, before pushing past him to catch up to Amos.

Ronlin wasn’t sure what to make of the dwarf. He had little experience with their kind in the first place, but he had also never encountered another civilized humanoid that was quite as foul mouthed and downright hostile as Bhavock. In addition, for reasons he would never discuss, the dwarf was completely bald and clean shaven. When he first arrived two weeks ago, one of the other new recruits had asked about it and the dwarf threatened and cussed him out so intensely that no one had brought it up since. Whatever Bhavock’s history or story was, in just two weeks he had certainly proved that he was more than capable of taking care of himself. Three days after his arrival, their patrol had come across 2 ogrekin lurking near Fort Rannick. The speed and brutal efficiency with which Bhavock introduced those half bred freaks to his greataxe was something Ronlin would not soon forget.

Realizing he had fallen behind the other two, Ronlin picks up his pace to catch up. As he pushes through the trees into a small clearing, he stops to take in the scene around him. The remains of what appear to be a full wolf pack are strewn about the clearing. Large misshapen humanoid foot prints cut back and forth through the space, indicating that there was indeed an ogre in this area and that he had run afoul of this vicious pack. Blood and gore are everywhere, making it difficult to determine how successful the wolves attack had really been. On the far side of the clearing, broken branches and trampled shrubs indicate the direction the ogre had eventually headed. At Amos’ signal, the three Black Arrow members move through the carnage and head after the wounded brute.

Several minutes later Amos stops abruptly and drops into a low crouch inches above the forest floor. Ronlin follows suit as does the dwarf. As they peer through the thick foliage, they can see the outline of a large, deformed, and wounded looking ogre leaning up against an outcropping of rocks jutting up from the ground below. Amos turns slightly to make eye contact with the other two as he gestures quickly with his hands to outline their plan of attack. With a slight nod of understanding, Bhavock silently moves to flank the creature. As he does, Ronlin closes his eyes while gently grasping his holy symbol between thumb and forefinger. As his eyes re-open, their normal appearance is replaced with a vibrant yellow iris and an expanded round black pupil. With dextrous fingers, Ronlin notches an arrow to his bow and awaits Amos’ signal. The light chirp of a robin flutters through the air. Amos’ hands began to make a flurry of intricate gestures as he stands and pushes his way through the woods separating them from the ogre. Ronlin follows closely as the druid’s chanting begins to pierce the relative quiet of the forest air.

“Ipterra nukola entan glor.” The words seem to have an earthy weight to them as Amos begins to tap into the raw power of nature. “Ipterra nukola entan glor.”

As the chant begins again, the individual blades of grass under the ogre’s feet seem to swell in size. Suddenly they shoot up and curl themselves around the humanoid’s legs. Where once there was only grass, a few weeds, or small thorns, there is now an entire blanket of thick restrictive plant life covering the forest floor. Completely unable to move his feet, the ogre lets out a brutal yell while reaching for his menacing spiked club.

In that same moment Bhavock comes charging out from behind the monstrosity. Running up along the outcropping of rocks, the dwarf manages to match the ogre’s height despite the initial 4 foot difference. Shouting something in dwarven, likely a curse word, Bhavock pushes off the rocks and slams his ax into the broad shoulder of the creature. The blades sink in deep as the ogre’s yell of anger and frustration turns into a scream of pain. Laughing manically, the dwarf wrenches his blade free and as he beings to fall to the ground below, manages to slam it home a second time.

Ronlin steps to the side of Amos and lets two arrows fly from his longbow. The first sinks into the shoulder wound created by Bhavock’s ax mere seconds before. The second arrow finds purchase in the ogres face, lodging in the side of its mouth by way of its cheeks. As the ogre reels back in pain, it lets out another bone chilling yell. Ronlin quickly reaches for another arrow from his quiver, trying to finish the creature off before it can recover. However the ogre, no longer surprised by their presence, rips its feet free of the entanglement while at the same time, swinging its large club down towards Bhavocks head. The blow glances off his skull dropping the dwarf to the ground where he is quickly swallowed up by the entangling mass covering the earth. With a victorious bellow, the ogre sets its sights on the two humans and charges towards them.

“Nix.” Uttering just a single word, the druid causes the mass of thick foliage to revert to its previous natural state, revealing an unconscious but still breathing Bhavock. The large ogre still bearing down on them, Amos shifts himself in front of Ronlin while dropping to all fours. As his posture changes, so too do his muscles, skin, and overall size. In a matter of moments, the humble leather clad form of Amos Greenbeard is replaced with that of a large bear. With a primal roar, he charges in towards the ogre.

Recognizing the danger of an enraged ogre, Ronlin quickly fires two additional arrows trying to at least slow the creature’s advance. The first arrow misses over the brute’s head, but the second strikes just below the soft spot on its throat. The ogre swipes at the shaft breaking it off, while leaving the arrowhead lodged in his throat. A moment later, the ogre and bear collide with a massive thud. The bear rears up on two legs as he claws, bites, and grapples the ogre, robbing Ronlin of any clear shots that won’t hit Amos’ considerable form.

Ronlin strafes to the side looking for any way to get another shot off. As he turns back and draws an arrow, he watches in horror as the ogre manages to wrestle his right arm free and swing his massive club into the side of the bear. Amos’ roars in pain while dropping back down to all 4’s and stumbling backwards. The ogre swings the club back the other way and with one 2-handed blow, caves in the side of the bears head. The massive form of the bear begins to shimmer as it slumps to the forest floor. As the wild shape fades away, all that remains is Amos lying in a pool of blood that rapidly grows as it pours out from the side of his head.

Realizing the ogre now has its sights set on him, Ronlin begins firing arrows as rapidly as he can towards the brute lumbering towards him. One arrow sinks into the elbow joint of the arm holding the spiked club, causing it to drop to the forest floor. As the ogre reaches down to pick it up with the other hand, the second arrow lodges into a bleeding bite wound caused by Amos’ bear form. The ogre roars in pain and stumbles back a step before renewing its charge towards the archer. The third arrow sinks deep into the humanoids left leg, but aside from a slight hobble in its step, does little to slow the advance. Realizing he won’t have time to fire another arrow before the ogre is upon him, Ronlin drops his bow to the ground, grabs for his holy symbol with his left hand and begins to manipulate his right hand fingers through an unusual set of patterns and gestures.

“Strach paura,” Ronlin calls out in a loud voice towards the ogre.

As the twisted fingers complete their final shape, a dark green sheen seems to surround Ronlin’s Adam’s apple. With a primal wolf like howl, a burst of shimmering energy bursts out from his throat. As it hits the charging ogre, the brute stops abruptly. A look of fear spreads across the humanoid’s misshapen face as it stares down at simple human in front of it. The wolf like howl Ronlin released echoes momentarily through the forest before fading away. As it quiets, another howl sounds back in return. Startled, Ronlin glances sideways in the direction the sound came from just in time to see a grey shape come sprinting out of the trees.

The shaken look in the ogre’s eyes fades as the momentary fear that gripped him vanishes. Grinning crookedly, he steps in towards the human swinging back his blood stained club. At the apex of his back-swing, the grey shape leaps up and latches its fangs onto the ogres throat. With its weight shifted backwards into the swing, the force of the attack knocks the ogre flat onto his back. In an instant the grey shape – a mid-sized wolf begins to tear out the brute’s throat. Ronlin looks on as the struggling ogre slows his thrashing before finally lying still. The sounds of his screams of pain are replaced by the slight hissing sound of air escaping from wounds in his throat. Once the creature has laid still for a minute or so, the wolf turns and stares at Ronlin.

Ignoring his fearful instincts, Ronlin instead crouches down to put himself at the same height as the wolf while keeping his eyes locked with the beasts. He very slowly extends his hand towards the creature, palm out, and holds that position. The wolf walks towards him with its teeth slightly bared before stopping at the tip of the outstretched palm. Hunter and beast lock their gaze for what seems to be a small eternity before the wolf slowly lets its eyes drop. Ronlin quickly turns his hand so the palm is now up, allowing the wolf to lightly sniff and then gingerly link it. The wolf moves closer to the man, its eyes and snout pointed down towards the ground. The beast stops with its teeth a mere inch from Ronlin’s torso. It lightly bumps its nose into Ronlin’s chest 3 or 4 times before the human realizes what it is doing. Ever so softly, the wolf is rubbing its snout up against the small but expertly carved wooden longbow holy symbol around Ronlin’s neck. As it does, Ronlin takes the opportunity to gently scratch the beasts head as he whispers to it,

“Lobo. Fitting name for a wolf don’t you think?”

Standing slowly, Ronlin makes his way over to Bhavock and gently rouses the unconscious dwarf. He awakens with a string of profanity, and frantically reaches for a weapon to attack the wolf. Ronlin explains what happened and the dwarf eventually calms down and stands to his feet. Together Ronlin and Bhavock wrap the body of Amos in their cloaks before retrieving their weapons, shouldering their packs, and carry their deceased leader back in the direction of Fort Rannick. At Ronlin’s side, matching him step for step, strides the hunter’s newest companion; Lobo.

Of Blackness, Madness, and Mayhem - Part 8
Inside of Vern's Head

Okay, this is a twist. Rather than this being a mission of recon or of search and destroy, this character pops up… Ronlin? Do we trust him? What do we even know of his band of Black Arrows? All we know is that he was attacked by goblins and then an Ogre-kin. That Ogre-kin was something else though huh? Man can he swing! I hope he’s alone out here. Having to face him and still more of his kind would not be something I’m looking forward to.

It won’t matter, you’ve got me here. The two of us together can be very devastating. Did you miss how we practically vaporized that goblin? And you’re only getting more powerful. I can feel it, every time one of your spells courses through my blade. I AM slightly worried about a trap though, what if that’s what this turns out to be? Are we supposed to just sit tight and wait… perhaps for the GOBLIN, who by the way we don’t know if she’ll ever come back. I mean sure “Mr/Mrs Sniff-shadow-demon McShiftyface” promised to keep her safe but do you really think we’re gonna see her any time soon?

No, truly I don’t think it will be any time soon before we see Bugga again. I wish there was some way to keep tabs on her, perhaps that’s something we should dig into, perhaps looking into some form of dream magic? If this IS a trap and we’re captured as opposed to killed we’ll have plenty of time to figure that out then. However Ronlin does seem quite sincere in his earnestness to rescue his squad-mates. And I don’t think we’re going to get much more out of him until we find them, be it alive or dead. I’m not usually a fan of doing people favors, but I’m not certain I would want to see even criminals subjected to the kind of torture a frenzied Ogre-kin or his minions could exert.

Mmm… broken bones take a little while to heal don’t they? Too bad there’s not some kind of magic to heal those wou…oh…wait…

It’s not the recovery, I don’t expect you to understand… here let me show you something.

-at this pint Ge’vern calls up a memory of Malan doing a bone count on Ge’vern by breaking each one he can find-

Oh… gods… that sense… is that what it is to be broken physically?

Yes. Be grateful for your indestructablility. Hopefully that makes it clear that right now, whether this band is evil or not, keeping them from this pain is the right thing to do. If they turn out to be malicious in their intent… well then perhaps we can grant them a quick death as opposed to that torture.

Wait a minute… didn’t you threaten Ironbriar with torture in the Mayor’s office?

Yeah thank goodness I didn’t have to go through with that, I don’t know if I could have followed through. Though I am a fan of justice and seeing men like Ironbriar get a taste of their own medicine… that justice was met out legally, which I think is even better. Now the public is aware of his maladies.

It will be interesting to see if you can follow through when it counts though… won’t it?

I hope it never comes to that. But I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. In the meantime, having an extra set of eyes and hands will be welcome as we keep on. And perhaps his friends will be useful in scouting the fort. First things first though… let’s find the rest of the Black Arrows.

Ronlin's Story Pt 3

Part 2

Later That Night

The crisp night air bites at Ronlin and Jakardros as they crouch near a small fire. Sitting on the other side of the flame is a tall muscular Shoanti man. Despite the cold he wears no shirt or armor, revealing tattoos that almost completely cover his chest, back, arms, and even shaved head. An enormous warhammer rests up against his leg. Barely visible at the edge of the faint circle of light emanating from the fire, the large form of the wolf Lobo along with Kibb the firepelt cougar shift impatiently waiting for sleep to set in.

The quiet whispers of the men around the fire are interrupted by the faint snapping sound of a breaking twig. In a flash Lobo leaps to his feet, growling towards the direction of the sound. A moment later a large spear streaks through the air narrowly missing the wolf and landing beside Kibb.

“Ambush,” Ronlin hollers. Then, in one smooth motion, he notches an arrow to his longbow and sends it whistling back in the direction the spear came from. “Black Arrows – defend yourselves.”

In an instant the small clearing becomes a flurry of activity as the other Black Arrow members scramble to grab whatever weapons and armor they can. As they do, a group of ogrekin fighters comes barreling out of the trees heading directly toward the fire. Leading the charge is a disgusting looking humanoid creature with a deformed right hand. Surrounding him is a pack of vicious hounds that immediately veer off towards the wolf and cougar. The sound of snarls, barks, and the occasional howl begin to fill the air. Bowstrings twang as Ronlin and Jakardros match each other shot for shot; releasing a flurry of arrows into the rapidly advancing ogre spawned force. The tattooed Shoanti man charges forward with a rage filled bellow, his massive warhammer swinging around him at dizzying speeds. He strikes out at a nearby dog, caving in its skull with a single massive blow.

As the deformed and now deceased beast skids across the grass, a sickly green energy begins to surround it. In the glow of the mysterious magic, a much shorter frail looking man is revealed. Like the barbarian, he is covered in tattoos which highlight his freakishly bony frame. Dark purple and green paint adorn his body making his figure look like that of a skeleton. As he finishes a series of intricate hand gestures he speaks loudly in an indiscernible tongue. The hound’s eyes begin to fill with the green energy, as its very form seems to absorb the magic. The beast slowly stands back to its feet, a green glow seeping out from the hole in its skull where the hammer struck. It slowly looks back at the painted man before charging towards one of the other attacking hounds, a ghoulish howl echoing from its throat.

Back near the fire, Akkar now stands beside Ronlin and Jakardros adding his own bow fire to their steady volley. As he releases an arrow, he speaks a single word in elvish. The arrow bursts into a bright red flame leaving a glowing trail through the night sky. Finding purchase in an ogrekin’s shoulder, the grotesque creature begins to scream in pain as the flames burn away flesh.

The burning arc of light momentarily illuminates the battlefield. The soft glow reveals Bhavock who wields a greataxe larger than he is tall. Fighting beside him is Vale, the same dark skinned man that the dwarf was insulting only a few hours prior. Vale fights with a pair of hand axes and combined with Bhavock’s greataxe, they chop and carve their way through a second group of ogrekin who emerged moments ago to attack the camp from the opposite side. Despite the brutal efficiency with which the pair wields their weapons, one larger ogrekin manages to send Vale sprawling when he catches him on the side of the head with a massive hook shaped weapon.

“Fuckin’ half bred filth!” Bhavock shouts as he slams his greataxe into the back of the foul creature’s leg, severing it off at the knee.

Spinning back the other way, the dwarf positions himself directly in front of his comrade’s unconscious form. The remaining four ogrekin grin wickedly as they begin to descend on the lone warrior in front of them. As one of them leans forward to swing his crude looking club, two silver glints pierce through the center of his chest. The humanoid monstrosity stumbles sideways as an agile looking woman flips up and over his now drooping right shoulder. At her side are two wicked looking daggers that drip with fresh blood. She twists effortlessly in mid-air, before slamming the daggers into the creature’s neck. Continuing her momentum forward, she carves a double line of crimson through his neck and down into the rib cage before finally pulling the blades free and landing silently at his feet. A thick spray of blood splashes the woman’s dark clothing along with the dwarf beside her.

“About time Hellian,” Bhavock says wiping blood away from his eyes. “I was startin to worry I’d have to kill all these fucks myself. Hate to steal that sick joy you get from slittin throats.”

“Yer shuch a genleman,” Hellian slurs back.

“And of course yer drunk. Why am I not surprised.” Shaking his head, Bhavock charges back towards one of the remaining three ogrekin, axe at the ready.

Under the pale light of the moon, Ronlin surveys the skirmishes around him. Despite being caught mostly unaware, the combat prowess of their two squads seems like it will be enough to drive the attackers back. To his left he sees Smaud the barbarian slam his heavy hammer through the chest cavity of a prone ogrekin. Slightly behind Smaud stands Vut the necromancer, who continues to assail his foes with a variety of dark arcane magic. Three of the ogrekin hounds have been reanimated to serve as Vut’s personal attack dogs. Combined with the ferocity of Lobo and Kibb, the other ogrekin pets all lay dead. Their initial task complete, the wolf and cougar have since turned their attention to helping fight the large ogre spawned brutes.

As he glances to his right, Ronlin sees Bhavock and Hellian fighting fiercely to protect a downed figure clutching a pair of handaxes – Vale. A flash of light from behind Ronlin causes him to spin around as the entire clearing is momentarily illuminated. There stands Braden, the man the other Black Arrows call “the Viper”. Heavy shield firmly held out in front, his mace now glows with a radiant light as he begins trading blows with a deformed ogrekin wielding a vicious looking cleaver. The glow sheds its soft light onto another human man who stands back to back with Braden. Kaven, the youngest of their company, fights gingerly with a rapier and small dagger. Ronlin watches as the young man expertly thrusts forward, skewering a wounded attacker who was attempting to strike at the Viper from his exposed flank. With a flick of his wrist, Kaven slices open the creature’s bowels, spilling their contents onto the grass at his feet.

With the immediate danger subsided, Ronlin’s stiff muscles remind him just how sore and tired he really is. As he turns to address Jakardros and Akkar, the air crackles with the hum of arcane energy. Everything goes white as a pulsing pain shoots through his body driving him to his knees. Pushing through the pain, Ronlin raises his gaze to the far end of the clearing. Charging through the trees is an attack group much larger than any of the other three that originally struck the camp. At their center walks a disgusting looking creature that seems much more ogre than human. Its horrid visage twists savagely as the air once again fills with arcane energy. Ronlin watches in horror as a red-ish colored ray lances out from the fiend’s fingertips catching Smaud full in the back. The moment the ray strikes him, the Shoanti barbarian slumps to the ground. Seeing the arcane magic narrowly miss him, Vut turns to confront the ray’s source. As he does, two spears sail out from the newly arrived attackers. Flying true, they punch through the necromancer’s torso sticking firmly into the earth behind him. While his limp form slowly slides down the wooden shafts, the green energy filling his thralls snuffs out and they fall to the ground lifeless once more.

“Fools” a harsh voice cries out. “We are to take these pathetic fighters back to mother…alive. You know the plan. Do what you want with them but we do not kills them!”

Emboldened by the shouts of their leader and the appearance of their remaining brethren, the other ogrekin begin fighting with a renewed frenzy. Ronlin watches in horror as a sizeable boulder, tossed by a particularly large ogrekin, knocks both Kaven and Braden to the ground. Their bodies lie motionless – but the severity of their injuries is impossible to determine from this distance. Not far away Bhavock, Hellian, and the still prone form of Vale find themselves surrounded. Twin blades and a hefty greataxe strike out again and again, but each blow landed from the butt end of the creatures’ spears drives the pair to their knees a little bit harder. Finally a wild swing from a club strikes the back of Bhavocks head and he slumps to the ground. Mere moments later, Hellian is grappled and restrained by the ogrekin behind her.

As Ronlin struggles to get back on his feet, he feels warm wet breath on his arm. A large grey shape pushes up against his torso bracing him into a feeble standing position.

“Lobo,” Ronlin says teeth clenched tightly in pain. “Hide. Follow wherever they take us. Stay hidden till I call you. Go”

Shifting his weight to stand a little taller, Ronlin watches Lobo disappear into the trees at the edge of the clearing. Looking down he sees Akkar lying motionless, the gentle rise and fall of his chest the only sign he is still living. Beside him, Jakardros slowly staggers to his feet, bow in hand. Shifting his gaze forward Ronlin sees four ogrekin soldiers charging towards them, swords and spears at the ready. Ronlin gives a slight nod towards Jakardros as they both aim and release an arrow in perfect harmony. Despite the throbbing pain wracking their bodies, both arrows fly true landing a hairs width apart in the throat of one of the half human abominations.

As Ronlin’s shaky hands begin to notch another arrow, it slips from his grasp falling to the ground. Bending down to retrieve it, Ronlin stands back up just in time to see the flat side of an ogrekin blade descending towards his skull. A sharp pain overwhelms his senses as everything goes black.

Ronlin's Story Pt 2

Part 1

3- 4 Weeks Before He Was Found

A dark haired man in his late 30’s or early 40’s reclines stiffly against a large oak tree. Due to the numerous scars and overall weathered skin that covers his body, his exact age is difficult to determine. He slowly chews a thick piece of cured meat while intermittently taking long swallows from a faded leather water skin. The man’s left hand absent mindedly scratches a large grey wolf that lies curled up beside him. This ordinarily intimidating beast seems perfectly calm and at ease as the man gently scratches his large head. There are several other humanoid figures nearby in various stages of eating, relaxing, or setting up a simple camp. Finally one of them, a dark skinned muscular human man breaks the silence:

“It just doesn’t add up. If this was an ogre attack they wouldn’t arrange the carnage into something so organized. I can’t help but think that – “

A harsh voice rudely interrupts the man. “Vale. Shut yer bloody mouth. We don’t care fer another of your stupid theories.” The voice’s owner, a burly yet oddly beardless dwarf, spits angrily into the dirt before continuing to gnaw on a stale piece of rye bread.

“Ah Bhavock,” a soft almost musical voice calls out. “Forever the expert on being something no one else cares for”.

“What did you just fuckin’ say to me Akkar? Ya know, I hear there are still a few places where a pair of elf ears fetch a pretty penny.”

“How quaint,” the tall elven man responds. “Would that be the same place where you shaved off and sold your raggedy old beard?” The elf shifts slightly as he continues to restring an ornately carved elven short bow.

“How dare ye even mention my beard ya dainty long legged pointy eared piece of –“

“Enough." With a low stern voice the dark haired man stands up quickly, his wolf rising up to stand beside him. “We are all restless,” the man continues. “So stow the shit until Braden returns and we figure out what to do next.”

“Apologies Ronlin” Akkar says quickly. “And … to you as well Bhavock. My comment was insensitive.”

“Shove it up yer flamin’ arsehole elf,” the dwarf retorts, turning his back on the conversation.

Silence once more descends upon the camp. Several minutes later the wolf lightly shifts his massive head, staring into the woods to the right of the small clearing the party is gathered in. With a slight non-threatening growl, he takes one step towards the edge of the clearing.

“Who is it Lobo?" Ronlin says gently while reaching for his longbow. “Braden?” he calls out slightly louder.

As he speaks, a stocky man with a shaved head emerges quietly from the trees, his large shield and mace strung tightly over his sturdy back.

“Ay it’s me Ronlin. And you’ll never guess who else stumbled across this mess.”

With that, a middle aged man with jet black hair steps out from behind the trees and into the clearing. A dark leather eyepatch covers the socket where his right eye once resided. Around the man’s neck hangs a dark purple and black holy symbol in the shape of a butterfly. Matching the man’s stride step for step is a fierce looking firepelt cougar. Seconds later four other human men and one woman step into view through the trees. They are carrying various weapons and armor and each bears the same Black Arrow mark as the rest of the gathered company.

“Jakardros? What are you doing here?” Ronlin asks slowly, clearly surprised by the mans appearance.

“Don’t look so happy to see us” the man replies in a jovial voice. “Our normal patrol route was even quieter than usual so we decided to pick up the pace and head a bit further east. See if we could arrive back at Fort Ranick before you. We didn’t expect to actually catch up to you though … how long have you been stopped here?”

“It’s been several days since we first found the bodies and the wreckage. Since then we have been trying to piece together how it happened. So far we haven’t learned much and the various trails the ogrekin leave seem to just lead us in circles. Something odd is definitely going on here – I just can’t figure out what.” Ronlin’s voice slowly trails off as he begins thinking.

“But come,” he adds quickly. “You must be tired. We were just setting up camp – join us”.

With a grin, Jakardros and the other members of his patrol make their way further into the clearing. Within moments the glade is filled with light conversation and the practiced sounds of camp being set up.

Part 2

Aneira's Story 16

Goblins are evil creatures. They raid helpless villages, kill their livestock, burn their crops, and kidnap their unwatched children for the fun of it. They’re monsters, deserving of no mercy, deserving to be culled from this world.

That’s what I would’ve said if asked my opinion on them just a few short months ago, what I would’ve said before Bugga…

Warleader Pinchy; the name Bugga had given Aneira soon after their meeting burns in her memory, unable to shake it.

What kind of “Warleader” have I been? How could I have not seen the signs, not put them together and realize what was happening, what Mr Sniffles, or rather, Teansa, was planning? Now Bugga is gone. Taken voluntarily or otherwise into the Plane of Shadow, on the word of a contract between her and this shadow creature…

Choking tears away, she looks down at her hands, small and delicate, but deadly with fingers ending in short but undeniably sharp claws. She clenches her fists, piercing her palms, letting free small trickles of blood. Aneira watches the blood, a deep crimson contrasted strongly by the paleness of her skin, drip off of her hands.

A flash of golden light breaks her free of her trance.

A sense of warmth and calm fills Aneira as she looks down at the source of the light. A hilt inlayed with rubies and cast in gold, resembling her holy symbol of Sarenrae, and a long curved blade, giving off the faintest hint of reddish-gold light. Etched into the blade is a prayer to redeem the repentant and consume the unremorseful.

Aniera steels herself, looking back at her hand, a wave of holy magic washing over her. The wound closes and the blood stops.

Sarenrae, you have been good to me. You have always lit the way for me, and I haven’t always followed. Despite that, you have always been good to me. There were times where I couldn’t feel you near, but you have always been good to me. Now, in my time of doubt, you are here, watching over me.

I have faith that you will watch over Bugga. Your divine light will break the shrowd of darkness in the Shadow Plane and you will protect and guide Bugga in her travels there.

Sarenrae, you are my Dawnflower, my Everlight. Here and now, I renew my vows to you. With these relics, and your healing fire, I will seek out those who need your guiding light, and to the irredeemable, I will send them to you for judgement.

Bugga's Story 11

          Mister Sniffles: It is time.

/Bugga has just summoned her eidolon. It has been a chaotic afternoon: the eidolon was endlessly sickened by the effects of Pitticus’ legendary stink bombs, but otherwise the battle with Xanesha, the mysterious director of the dangers within Magnimar, has concluded. Mister Sniffles has only just been returned to activity before the party moves on to rescue the mayor from Justice Ironbriar. The eidolon addresses its goblin summoner in her native language./

          Bugga: Not now. Bugga busy! Bugga needs time.

          Mister Sniffles: That was not our agreement. You said that when your business was finished, you would join Us. We need you, Bugga. Please-

          Bugga: Not. Now. Bugga not goin’ until this all finished.

/Mister Sniffles shivers in form, rippling in anger at this affront./

          Mister Sniffles: We will not accept delays. We hold the Second Contract. We will wait only one day, and then you shall come to the bridge. Do not force Us to act.

          Bugga: Bugga knows. Shut up. You bein’ not nice. Bugga’s business isn’t finished so be quiet. We gotta save the mayor now!

Aneira's Story 15

Sarenrae, shine your guiding light into me, and lead me in your path. Show me the ways of true selfless compassion and redemption, because I’m struggling with it right now. The darkness in Magnimar is sprawling, and it seems as there is no end to it. Bodies turn up, ranking governing officials partake in the cult. Even in the wake of defeating one of these evils, it seems to grip the ones I travel with.

How can I be compassionate and patient with him, when all he can think of is selfishness and pride? We are weary, and hurt, physically and emotionally scared, and yet he holds my missteps over me. Are his interests in finding the source of and destroying this evil, or do his motives include the magical trinkets and gold that are found along the way?

Bugga has become even more cryptic and guarded than usual, breaking the veil of youthful ignorance, with her shadow pet always near, sulking behind her.

I realized that, in the chaos of all of this, we accepted G’Vern as one of us, who came, seemingly out of no where, wielding great magical proficiency. This man has shown no intent to harm us nor can I detect any misdirection or devious intent, but the man is still a mystery to me.

The only pillar of strength to which we can rely seems to be the ever vigilant and silent Davros. And yet I worry. A man so guarded, we have no way of telling the toll all of this is taking on him too.

Show me the way to be closer to you. You are the Everlight and through you, we will shine. Through you, we will set the world aflame in your healing fire.

Of Blackness, Madness, and Mayhem - Part 7
Inside of Vern's Head

I can’t believe you were seriously considering that! What the hell were you thinking!! I may be indestructible but jamming me into those gears to see what breaks first wouldn’t have been fun for anyone at all!! And doesn’t that kind of psychotic behavior kind of remind you of someone?!? HMM?!?

Oh come on, you’re in my head all the time, you hear everything, sometimes I just have to mess with you a bit… or maybe I was just curious. But you were in my head Spike, you KNOW I wouldn’t have done it!

Yeah well maybe next time, I just decide I want to run things and we put YOUR “sword” hahahaha, more like dagger, into the gigantic turning gears and see what breaks first!

We both know the answer to that one. Alright fine, I’ll try and keep my curiousity in check. But if you ever try to compare me to M… him… again, I will make your end as brilliant as you could imagine but make no mistake, it will be your end!

Bugga's Story 10 - Part II

/The partial light of the morning reveals a chilly, quiet city trying to rouse itself. Residents on foot bustle by, hugging their cloaks and coats closely, but their determined pace makes it obvious that there is only so much victory achievable in battle against a merciless wind. Bugga finds herself shivering in her light robe and dogskin cape as she follows her eidolon toward the world-famous ruins of the Irespan, avoiding the growing morning light in the street and flitting between the shadows of the buildings./

/She also avoids the puddles crowding the lane, a move uncharacteristic for her. She is not outfitted for play in today’s chill: getting access to warmer clothing would have meant risking waking her companions. She instead suffers in (relative) silence as she scampers along the narrowing streets in pursuit of her shadowy benefactor./

/The journey doesn’t take much longer than an hour, and a quick deception and some sneaking bring the goblin and shadow creature past the stationed guards and onto the bridge itself. Mister Sniffles breaks the silence as the two approach the broken edge of what remains, its voice even more airy and insubstantial than normal in the wind./

          Mister Sniffles: Here. The energy is strongest here… and fortunately so, for there is no more bridge left to use. Take care near the edge.

          Bugga: Why is Bugga h-here?

          Mister Sniffles: We will be forthright: We need you to stay in this human city, and to return to this bridge, to this spot, when your friends want to leave. We do not know when they will leave, but We believe it will be soon. Their pursuits are not Ours, and We need your help.

          Bugga: With the king? And the monsterses?

          Mister Sniffles: Just so.

/The wind picks up again, and Bugga crouches slightly to escape its pull and chill. Doing so brings her closer to one of the cracks within the destroyed structure though, and for a moment, the summoner imagines seeing something looking back from the darkness. The goblin clutches her hands at her robe front in barely-restrained fear, backing up slightly./

          Bugga: Wh-why can’t Bugga bring the warband? They’re really strong! Bugga knows this, just like Mister Sniffles knows! Strong friendses!

          Mister Sniffles: They are not of the Shadow. They do not know of our ways or struggles, and several cannot even see within its embrace. The warpriest also would not approve, and they have other goals within the city and beyond. Trust Us, Bugga. We only need your help for a short time, and if everything works out, you shall return to help your friends again, stronger than ever. We will not distract you again after that.

… We…. actually did not anticipate how talented you are. We share a closer connection than We expected, and are pleased to have such a relationship. We think that you will be more helpful than originally thought, and that is only because of how hard you work at becoming strong. We have shifted plans to include you in a greater role.

… We are proud of you.


          Mister Sniffles: What is it?

/Bugga touches the cord of leather wrapped bandolier-style around her torso, carefully running her fingers over the bound blades attached to the end./

          Bugga: … Soundin’ like Gorn. Soundin’ like… like things are gonna change. B-Bugga just started having humies like her, and it k-kinda nice. Bugga gonna get sad if humies go away…

          Mister Sniffles: … We will send some of Our servants to collect you, when the time comes. You must be quick then, as the humans are afraid of this structure, and any activation within it will alarm them.

It is the only such structure within a large distance to meet Our needs, though: its latent energy can be tapped to establish the rift. We must take the opportunity to bring you to Us while you are here, though We can wait until you have finished your tasks within the city; the situation has not yet advanced enough to require haste. There will be no time beyond this small window, though. Do you understand?

          Bugga: So… you’re sendin’ monsterseses? What about Bugga’s friends? Won’t they get mad?

          Mister Sniffles: If you fear a possible confrontation or are concerned that your friends may resist you leaving, We suggest that you simply sneak away when you receive the word. You are persuasive though, so We trust that you will be able to manage.

… However you accomplish it, come here, please. It will take much of the resources available to Us to achieve this connection, and the timing-

          Bugga: Bugga knows. Bugga will come. Bugga will help.

… Bugga’s cold!

/Mister Sniffles sounds amused, if such a thing is possible. It dissipates and coalesces further back on the bridge. The light in the sky is growing./

          Mister Sniffles: … Time for second breakfast. We said humans with food are easy to find, did We not?


I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.