The tarrasque looked at the small guard outpost. A group of creatures left the building. It cocked its head to the side, trying to decide what to do. It shrugged slightly and moved back to its original path. It passed within two meters of the guard outpost, knocking it over with the tremor from its passing.
“What was that?” Throbor asked. He glanced at Tribst who was sketching the creature in his spellbook.
“Yes, tell me what it was called so I can title this sketch.” Tribst put a few finishing touches on the drawing.
Erin shook her head and sighed. “That was a tarrasque. Apparently they just walk around the plains here.” She fell silent and looked over towards Aram.
Aram was kneeling and seemed to be praying. The rest of the party waited for him to finish before turning and walking back toward the forest. It was still raining, but now they had nothing under which to take cover.
The trek to the forest was mostly uninterrupted. They saw few beasts during the day, and those they noticed at night kept their distance. Lurking just outside the firelight, eyes aglow. During one such night Aram’s and Erin’s watches overlapped.
“So, what’s it like?” Erin asked.
Aram sat up from his bedroll. “What’s what like?” He pulled his sword from the ground beside him and stood to belt it to his side. He strapped his shield to his arm with the quickness of long practice.
“Living among non-human creatures. It probably just feels normal to you.” Erin shook her head at her self-perceived naivete.
“Actually, on Yerkir, the humans are on a pogrom against winged snake creatures.” Aram shrugged. “I don’t know how it started, but both sides are vehement about killing. At least most of them…I don’t really want to talk about it.” He motioned at Erin’s bedroll. “You should sleep. Long day tomorrow.”
Erin shook her head and went to her bedroll. To her surprise there was a suit of studded leather armor next to the bedroll with a note on top.
“Erin, this is the armor I made for you. It should fit pretty well because I was praying to the metal while I did the ritual. Don’t worry, I stayed in the camp while I did the ritual.”
With a grateful sigh Erin lowered herself into her bedroll and let sleep wash over her.
– – –
Tribst shook Erin awake with his hand over her mouth to keep her quiet. He whispered to her as he pulled his hand away. “Shh. We’ve surrounded by creatures all night, but some of them are getting closer. I think they’ve been following us since the tarrasque passed by.”
Looking around the camp Erin noticed a pride of lions surrounding them. The sun was slowly rising from the horizon.
“Well, at least they don’t have a blue aura.” Erin said, now knowing that silence would make no difference. “Teblats would not be a welcome sight.” She started putting her new armor on with the help of Tribst.
One of the lionesses approached the camp. In an instant all eyes were on the creature, prepared to fight it off. Then, to everyone’s surprise the creature changed shape into an elf. The elf had short pointed ears, one of which had several wooden earrings.
“Greetings, outsiders. We have been tracking you for the past few days. Why do you go to our forest, and how did you escape Domhan?” The elf stared at the four of them, awaiting an answer.
Donaar sat in front of a hastily made fire.
“So, Krakust, you want information on other realms. Why?”
A couple of ice-hares had been skewered and
was cooking over the fire. Krakust filled two tin cups with snow and ice then
set them next to the fire to melt the ice. “I want to explore. Not much chance
to do that here in Domhan.”
“Yet here you are!” Donaar threw his arms
Krakust chuckled. “Yeah. I suppose I am.” He
took a sip from the slightly melted ice. “Well, it’s better than nothing. I
suppose Sorley wasn’t wrong.”
“Wrong about what?” Donaar pulled a hare off
the fire. “I prefer mine a little raw…if you don’t mind.”
“No, go ahead. Not like I haven’t seen it
before.” Krakust patted Evryn’s head. She growled softly and returned to eating
her raw hare. “He said something about not being enemies when next we met.
“Ah, interesting.” With a swift motion Donaar
peeled the skin off the ice hare and started eating. The bones cracked under
the strength of his powerful jaws. He ate them along with the meat.
Krakust pulled out his compass and focused on
it. One of the needles began spinning then stopped, pointing northward. “Well,
they’re still heading north. I wonder if they’re above ground yet?” He pulled
his hare off the fire and skinned it. He tossed a few of the organs over to
Evryn and stared eating. “Could use some seasoning.”
“Still north?” Donaar was picking his teeth
with one of the bone fragments.
“A little to the east as well, but mostly
“Maybe they’re going to come up at the hot
springs.” Donaar stood up and stretched. “It would feel pretty good to take a
quick soak in there after all this snow.”
Krakust nodded. “That it would. Where is it
Donaar pointed. “About that direction.”
“Good. That’s not far out of the way.”
– – –
Sorley and Ember walked at the back of the
group. The dwarves had recommended assigning roles for when they left the
Helena would lead because she knew more about
the layout of southern Domhan than the dwarves. Lukren would keep his eyes open
for any game. Lourek would keep his eyes open for threats and scout ahead.
Sorley was stuck with bringing up the rear. If
anyone started to lag behind he was supposed to get them moving again, but his
main job was keeping an eye out for any dangers coming from behind.
“Okay, we’re finally above ground.” Helena
stretched and looked around. “Ah, the south-eastern forest.” Evergreen trees
and small bushes covered the land. I don’t know any elven settlements here. I’m
from the north-western forest.”
“You can navigate here though, right?” Lourek
asked. “If not, we need to figure out which way is north and just go that way.”
“No, I can navigate.” Helena pointed to her
left. “North is that way.”
Sorley looked where she was pointing and saw a
standing stone. “What’s that?”
“Ah, nature marker.” Helena walked toward it.
“Commonly known as standing stones.” She brushed some moss off the stone. “I
don’t know this language.”
“Let me look.” Sorley approached the stone and
saw it was covered in flowing script. “I can’t read it. Seems familiar,
though.” He pulled out his grimoire. “Is there more under the rest of the
Helena shrugged and used a fire spell to burn
off the rest of the moss. “There.”
Sorley opened his grimoire and turned to a
page near the center. “Ah, here. The language in here isn’t complete, but I
think this says something like warm, this says stream or pool, and this says
west.” He pointed at three words. “This seems to be a directional marker.”
“There’s supposed to be a natural hot spring
somewhere in this forest. I could do with a warm bath.” Helena pointed west.
“Well, it’s that way. Let’s go.”
“Sounds good to me.” Sorley glanced at the
dwarves. “Well, that sound good to you two?”
“Sure.” Lukren shrugged. “It’s not much of a
detour, we need to go west anyway.”
Lourek motioned to Helena. “Well, let’s go
then. Lead the way.”
– – –
Karkust watched as Donaar jumped straight into
the steaming hot water. He shook his head at the dragonkin. “Does it feel good?”
“Feels great!” Donaar dove under the water then surfaced suddenly, spraying hot spring water everywhere.
Evryn ran past Krakust, jumped high, and splashed
into the water. She barked happily.
“Ok, you two. I’ll keep watch.” Krakust
started walking around the pool. “Just let me know when you want to swap.”
The sound of voices echoed over the snow and
water. Krakust motioned to Donaar and Evryn. “Keep it down,” he said softly. “Do
you hear that?”
Donaar cocked his head to the side. “I hear
something, yes. You check it out. I’ll join you shortly.”
“No, don’t worry. I’ll just scout it out.”
Krakust started walking toward the noise.
Shaking his head Donaar swam towards the edge
of the hot spring pool. “Come on, Evryn. Let’s follow him.” He looked up and
saw Evryn already on the shore, shaking the water off. “Ah, you are loyal. Aren’t
Evryn snorted softly and started following
– – –
“Look, the hot springs!” Lukren and Lourek took off running and stripped off their clothing as they went. They jumped into the first pool they came to.
Sorley shook his head and turned to say
something to Helena. She was facing the forest with her arms crossed. “Well,
they aren’t very gentlemanly when it comes to hot springs, are they?”
“No, most certainly not.” Helena sighed. “Are
they in the water yet?”
“Yup. Do you want to do a perimeter watch with
me? I don’t feel like going in while they’re in there.”
“Sure, but if we find a secluded pool I’m
Sorley nodded. “Fair.” He motioned towards the
collection of pools. “After you.”
Orby manifested out of Helena and started
floating next to Ember. It looked like they were having a mental conversation.
“So,” Sorley asked, “what are you planning to
do once we cross the plains to your tribe? If it’s called a tribe.”
“It’s a tribe I suppose.” Helena shrugged. “I
want to talk to my grandmother if she’s still there. Tell her about your
vision. Try to rally the elves.”
Sorley nodded. “Makes sense. What will you do
after the war?” He paused for a moment. “After we deal with that darkfall rend,
“Well, I don’t know. Maybe I’ll think of
something after that.” Helena sighed. “Originally, when I was freed I wanted to
go right home and stay there forever. Now I’m talking about starting a war and
repairing the very fabric of Domhan. It’s a big change.”
Sorley jumped over a small stream of water
crossing between two pools. “I’ve always wanted to live in a large city. That
may be because I grew up in the woods with just my parents and Ember. Never really
seen a town, let alone a city.”
Helena smiled. “I’ve thought of that before
too, but there aren’t any here in the South Reaches, and nobody goes above the mushroom
forest, at least not that come back.” She shrugged. “That could mean they found
what they were looking for, or that could mean they died in the mushroom
forest. Nobody knows.”
“What’s the mushroom forest?” Sorley asked.
“Exactly what it sounds like, a forest of
mushrooms. There’s no trees, just really tall mushrooms.”
“Ok, I sup-“ a loud crack cut off Sorley. He
whirled in the direction the noise had come from and grabbed his grimoire from
his side. “What was that?”
Krakust stepped out from behind a nearby
snowdrift. “A stupid twig under the snow, that’s what.”
The ice wolf appeared next to Krakust, and a weird
lizard man walked around to stand on Krakust’s other side.
“I take it you know these two, then?” He
approached, hand outstretched. “I’m Donaar ‘Shield-Biter’ Thruuvth. Knight of
the Order of Defenders. Last known survivor of the Night of Gore.”
“Helena Dabaerosh, apprentice dracomage.”
Helena did an ornate bow. “It is nice to see not all the dragonkin died off in
the Night of Gore. Though my tribe calls it the Rending.” She shook Donaar’s
hand then motioned to Sorley. “This is Sorley Aelfson, warlock.”
Sorley too shook the dragonkin’s hand. “Pleased
to make you acquaintance. This is my familiar, Ember.” He motioned at the red
fox and light elemental standing next to him. “Oh, and the light elemental is
“That’s right.” Helena nodded. “Orby is also a
familiar, though maybe not in the same way.”
Krakust cleared his throat. “Ahem.”
“Yes?” Sorley asked. “Is there something you
want to say?”
“Sorry’s not good enough. You tried to kill
us.” Scales started to appear on Helena’s arm.
calm. He’s not hostile. Orby comforted Helena. He’s with a Defender Knight. He must’ve done
something to gain his trust.
“Stand down, he’s not attacking.” Sorley put
himself between Helena and Krakust. I know you were enslaved to him and I
expect you resent that, but please stay calm. For my sake if nothing else.”
“Fine.” Helena’s arm returned to normal. “Orby
brought up a good point.” She turned back to Donaar. “How did you two meet?”
“He saved me from dying in the snow. I had
been ambushed and left to die. They took my outer armor but left my sword. They
probably weren’t worthy to wield it. If you know of my order you know what that
“What?” Sorley looked at the sword. “Looks
like a regular sword to me.”
Donaar smiled and removed the sword from its
scabbard. “Here, try to hold it.”
“No, don’t.” Helena put her hand on Donaar’s
shoulder. “He doesn’t know anything about your group.”
“Well, he’ll learn now, if he wants.” Donaar
held the blade out, hilt first. “Well?”
Shrugging Sorley grabbed onto the hilt. “He
lifted the blade and looked at the runes along it. “Hmm. Interesting runes.
Never seen them before.”
Helena looked wide-eyed at the sword in Sorley’s
“He would make a good knight, if he weren’t
already a warlock.” Donaar nodded.
“Oi!” Lukren yelled out from behind Helena and
Sorley. “What’s that beast doing here?” He was wearing only his underclothes, his
armor back by the hot spring pool.
“Calm down.” Krakust unbelted his dagger and
tossed it on the ground. “I mean no harm.”
“Very well.” Lukren turned to the dragonkin. “By
the blade you carry I assume you’re a knight.”
“Yes, Donaar ‘Shield Biter’ Thruuvth at your
acquaintance.” Donaar did a slight bow.
“Ok, if you aren’t hostile then you can help.” Lukren motioned back to where he had come from. “A huge serpent showed up and swallowed Lourek!” “What?!” Helena and Sorley said in tandem, then turned and started running back toward the pool. Donaar and Lukren were close behind. Krakust paused a moment to gather his dagger and belt from the ground then followed with Evryn.
Craig walked the group to a set of narrow, steep stairs that lead below
the temple. “Here is where you will have to continue without me. Will your
companions be joining you? Normally the high priestess would go alone, but
there have been occasions where they bring others if you wish.”
“I’ll take them with, thanks.” Morana motioned to the large skeleton.
“After you, brother.”
With Doenranak following Morana and Veviir taking up the rear the group
started down the narrow stairs. As they went Doenranak applied a powder around
his eyes and cast a spell.
In the cavern below the temple was a collection of large, milky blue
crystals. To Veviir, Morana, and Morana’s brother the crystals looked mundane
and they started searching the rest of the cavern for anything of importance.
To Doenranak, however, there were spirits tied to the crystals. He cast a spell
on himself to hide from the others and quickly made his way to one of the
crystals. He started talking to the shadowy figure bound to it, in hushed
“Can I trust you?” Doenranak asked the figure.
It responded with a vulgarity. “Treeft you.”
Doenranak moved to the next crystal. “How about you?”
“Yes, you can. I won’t harm you, not that I really could.” The shadowy
figure resembled a satyr.
“I believe you. Do you wish to return to life?”
“Of course, I do.”
“Will you give me your word that you will do nothing to myself or my
companions if I do this for you?”
“You have my oath.”
“Very well.” Doenranak started to trace out a circle and set up a ritual
to return life to the spirit.
While Doenranak was focused on setting the ritual up his companions
battled three giant spiders able to move in and out of phase with reality. He
was confused, at first, as to why they were acting like they couldn’t see the
things, then he remembered he had enhanced his sight with magic earlier.
A short time after that they disappeared behind a wall. He hadn’t seen a
passageway there before, so he assumed they had found a hidden area. At this
time, he realized he should probably see if this creature was evil with his
magic rather than take it at its word. He hummed a few notes and sensed the
creature’s primary motivation in life. It was evil, pure evil.
Doenranak recoiled from the feeling of his insides being twisted into
knots and stopped setting up the resurrection spell, instead he cast a
different spell. He banished the creature from Domhan, then turned to seek out
The shadow demon felt himself being freed from the crystal. He rejoiced
silently, then he realized that he wasn’t being resurrected, but instead he was
being evicted from Domhan. Unable to do anything but go along for the ride he
waited for something else to happen.
The next thing the shadow demon saw was the light of day. He had been
trapped in the cave for so long he had forgotten what the sun felt like.
Soaking up a little he turned and looked for somewhere to plan his revenge. He
would need a way to return to Domhan.
– – –
~ Present day, Earth ~
“So, a leprechaun knows what I am?” The shadow demon sat on a fauteuil
chair. “Kill it.”
“It’s not that simple, Srathek. It can tell when one of us is nearby.”
“Then send a normal human to do it. We have some of them in the cult,
“Yes, Srathek, we do.” The cultist bowed his head. “Your will shall be
carried out.” The cultist backed out of the room and shut the door.
“How did a leprechaun find out about me?” Srathek, the shadow demon from
Domhan, stood from his chair and shook his head. He mumbled something, and his
form coalesced into that of a human. “Time to find out.”
– – –
Cerdic and Veron walked into the forest, electric torches ready in case
they needed them. Grimm followed behind, sniffing every tree he could without
losing sight of Cerdic.
“Come on, Grimm. You can’t smell every tree every time we stop.” Cerdic
picked up the church grim. “Just come with me, boy.”
“Ok, it should be around here somewhere.” Veron turned on his torch.
“It’s getting a little dark, so better safe than sorry.”
A figure approached the light. “Who’s there?” Cerdic set Grimm back down
and turned on his own torch. He pointed it toward the figure.
“I’m Tibdast. Veron knows me.” A balding man with white hair covered his
eyes. “Not in the face, please.”
Cerdic lowered his torch so it wasn’t pointing directly in the old man’s
“What are you doing here? Don’t you have a pub to run?” Veron walked
forward and pretended to punch Tibdast in the shoulder.
Tibdast shook his head. “It’s not a time to be joyous. You need to
“Why, we’re on a mission from the council.” Veron cocked his head to the
side. “You aren’t hiding information, are you?”
“No, the leprechaun is as good as dead.” Tibdast reached out and turned
Veron around. “You need to go now, Aelfson. Take the usual with you. You know
what happens when a leprechaun dies.”
Veron’s eyes grew wide with terror. He started moving back towards the
car. “Cerdic, we’re leaving.”
“What?” Cerdic looked at Tibdast. “Why are we leaving?”
“Because when a leprechaun d-“ Tibdast was cut off by a gunshot. “Sorry,
we’re going my way now.”
Suddenly, Cerdic felt like he was being pulled in a hundred different
directions at once, and he couldn’t see anything. This feeling lasted for only
a moment, but he would never forget it. When he could see again he found
himself in a pub, sitting next to Veron. The pub was empty and Tibdast was
polishing a mug at a counter. Grimm was sitting next to Tibdast, watching him
“What happened?” Cerdic shook his head, trying to clear his thoughts.
“Last thing I remember we were in the forest, then I felt like I was being torn
Tibdast set the mug down on the counter. “Veron’s not awake yet. Give
him some time.” He pulled a shot glass from under the counter and filled it
with a golden liquid, then walked over and set it in front of Cerdic. “Here,
this’ll refocus your thoughts.”
Cerdic sniffed the concoction, it smelled strongly of alcohol. “Well, at
the very least it’ll wake me up.” He swallowed the liquid, it felt like
swallowing a mouthful of honey. The blanket of fog immediately lifted from his
thoughts. “Wow, you weren’t kidding.”
Grimm hopped into Cerdic’s lap and curled up to take a nap.
“What, why did you do that?” Veron lifted his head off the table.
“Cerdic’s not teleport certified yet. He could be out for a week.”
“No, I’m fine. I woke up first.”
Veron looked over at Cerdic. “Really?” He sighed heavily. “Tibdast, give
me the virgin martini, will you?”
Tibdast rolled his eyes and poured a golden syrup into a blender with
water and ice. The sound of crushing ice made Veron squeeze his head in his
“Couldn’t you have mixed it before I woke up?”
Tibdast shut off the blender and poured the iced drink into a glass. “Where’s
the fun in that?” He put the glass in front of Veron.
“It’s called courtesy.” Veron drank the iced drink without tasting it.
When he was done he put his thumb in his mouth and pressed it to the roof of
his mouth. “Brain freeze! Ow!”
“So,” Cerdic interrupted, “where are we?”
“And where’s my car?”
Tibdast chuckled lightly. “Your car’s in the parking lot. As to where we
are, we’re in Tibdast’s Pub.” He motioned around the empty pub. “Three guesses
who owns the place.”
Veron stood up and started walking to the door. “Tibdast, you brought us
here, you explain. I’m going to make a call.” He went out the door and disappeared.
“So, you heard him. Explain.”
“You’re going to need another drink. A strong one.” Tibdast poured
another drink and set it in front of Cerdic. “This one and the other one are on
“So, the leprechaun was shot while I was talking to you. I had hoped I
was early enough to make you leave before it happened, but I’m not good with
“Okay, but you said something about Veron knowing what happens when a
leprechaun dies. What’s that?”
Instead of answering Tibdast turned on a TV. It was on a news station. A
reporter was standing in front of a burning forest. Something about the flames
looked off to Cerdic, like they were moving against the wind.
“That’s what.” Tibdast shut the TV back off. “They explode.”
Veron walked back into the pub. “The Council isn’t happy you teleported
us, but they are happy you saved us.”
“Government at its finest. Happy you saved someone, mad at how you did
it.” Tibdast shrugged. “What’s the cover story they’re going to feed the news
for the fire?”
“They aren’t. The news is reporting it as a campfire gone out of hand. The
council will fabricate some people to blame, and that’ll be it.” Veron shook
his head. “They only wish we would’ve gotten that information from the
Tibdast smiled. “Are you forgetting who I am? I know what you need to
“The Council wanted to handle this without your help, but I guess now
you’re the only way we’ll ever find out.” Veron sighed. “Well, tell us.”
“Shadow demon, from Domhan.” Tibdast turned his back on Veron and
Cerdic. “Oh, I need to go.” He pulled a set of keys from the wall. “Lock up
when you leave and then put those in the post slot.” He tossed the keys to
Cerdic and teleported out of the pub.
“Who is he?” Cerdic asked.
Veron shook his head. “The closest thing on Earth to a god.”
Throbor adjusted the metal on his back and pointed to an opening in the crumbling city wall. “There, we can leave this wretched place. I only hope we can find others to help us.”
“Well, in my experience elves live in the forest.” Tribst pointed to the north-west. “If I’m not mistaken there are some trees on the horizon.”
Aram pulled a spyglass from his side and looked through it. “Yes, quite a few days away, I’d wager.”
“Where’d you get that?” Throbor motioned to the spyglass.
“Oh, Yerkir is an island realm. I’ve spent a lot of time at sea. I’ve spent some time in the crow’s nest.” He put the spyglass away and pulled out a sextant. “This might come in handy, but we can see the forest on the horizon so I don’t think we need it…unless we plan to travel at night.”
The party glanced at each other to see if anyone thought that was a sound plan.
“Well,” Erin voiced, “none of us can see in the dark, so that’s probably not a good idea.”
“True.” Throbor motioned to the horizon. “Well, let’s start going then. The daylight’s a waisting.”
– – –
After a half a day’s travel in cold rain towards the forest the group found an abandoned guard outpost. The outpost had flowers and grass growing out from between the masonry, but the roof was still intact. Thankful for the respite the party went inside the small building.
“So, how long do you think this place has been abandoned?” Tribst poked at the stools positioned around a small table. “The wood’s not rotten.” He sat down on the stool.
“I’d guess it hasn’t been used as a guardhouse for a long time. Maybe someone else has been using it.” Amir looked out the window, ever alert.
Erin tested another stool then sat down. “Well, at least we can have a short meal in peace.” She pulled a few pieces of dried jerky from her pack. “Who wants some?” She popped a piece in her mouth and began to chew slowly.
Reaching down and taking a piece from Erin’s hand Throbor shrugged. “Whoever’s been using this place isn’t here. It’s a cold day and it’s raining so it wouldn’t surprise me if they’re holed up somewhere.”
Tribst took a piece of the jerky and began chewing on it. “Aram, you want some?”
“Yeah, sure. Just don’t want to let anything sneak up on us.” Aram snagged the last piece from Erin and broke it in half. He put the first half in his mouth but didn’t chew.
“You, know, on Earth jerky is a delicacy.” Erin moved her stool against the wall and leaned back. “It comes in a whole bunch of different flavors, too.”
“Really?” Throbor sounded interested. “What can you tell us about Earth?”
“I can really only tell you about the country I’m from. I know some older stuff about other countries, but I haven’t lived there.” Erin shrugged. “I’m sure America would be interesting to you guys, but it feels boring compared to what I’ve done since I’ve gotten here.”
Aram chewed and swallowed the first half of his jerky. “This feels relaxing to me. I’m used to standing vigil on a ship for days straight then rushing into battle on the shore.” He shook his head. “That magic pulled me from a battle. I think I was about to die.”
“Well, I don’t know much about your culture. On Midgard, humans that fall in battle go to Valhalla.” Throbor shrugged. “I expect that they really go to the open arms of Hel, but I’m not a human.”
“Hel? Who’s that?” Tribst was jotting things down in a small tome.
“If I’m not mistaken,” Erin replied, “Hel is the goddess of the underworld, and the underworld is also known as Hel.”
“Right. You know a lot about the culture here and from my home.” Throbor motioned to Aram. “What about his culture?”
Erin looked at Aram. “What is the name of your home realm?”
“Yerkir.” Aram shrugged. “Our common tongue was once known as Armenian.”
“Oh,” Erin shook her head. “I don’t know much about Armenian myths. In my realm, there’s a country called Armenia, but they mostly follow a different religion. I don’t know anything about the old one.”
“What about Nevre, do you know anything about that?” Tribst asked, unsure if he wanted to know the answer.
Erin shrugged again. “Never heard of it before coming here. Nevre isn’t part of Earth at all…at least as far as I know.”
“So, what’s America like, then?” Throbor asked, intrigued.
“Not now,” Aram interrupted. “I see something approaching.”
Tribst glanced in the direction Aram indicated with a sweep of his arm. “Oh, gods. We need to leave, now.”
“Why, what is it?” Erin looked out the window. Her D&D knowledge set flags off at what she saw. “That’s not good. Move. Now! If it sees us, we’re dead!”
A large dinosaur, bigger than any of the ruined buildings in Brangmar, was walking towards the guard outpost. It was like a squat version of a T-rex, and it looked hungry.
[Tibdast should show up in Terra Incognita, so this will just be a short post so I don’t feel too much pressure to keep it the same. Some of these characters may not be here at this point and some hints at the future may not make it into the story.]
Tibdast, Sorley, Ember, Helena, Orby, Lourek, Lukren, Krakust, Evryn, and Donaar stood on a small hill and looked over Brangmar. The walls were being built slowly, but the city of all races would be a day wide.
“Sorely, do you really think it’s a good idea to build this thing a day wide? There’s going to be lots of problems with information flow if nothing else.” Tibdast shook his head.
“Maybe, but you said you were good at that, didn’t you?” Sorley stroked Ember’s fur. A plain, gold ring reflected light from his left ring finger.
“Yes, I am, but one gnome can only do so much.” Tibdast shook his head. “What does Gormaliev think about this city?”
A strong voice spoke up from behind the group. “I think it’s a step in the right direction.”
The group turned slowly to see Gormaliev standing there with Aliziyah.
“Ember, my girl. How are you?” Aliziyah strode forward to rub snouts with Ember.
“Mom? It’s good to finally meet you.” Ember hopped a few times.
Gormaliev turned to look at Tibdast. “So, you’re good at information, are you?”
Tibdast nodded. “Give me something to disseminate, and I’ll get it to the whole city…just, it might take a while.”
“Well, take this amulet. You’ll know what to do when the time is right. Oh, and I’ll be back for it when you’re finished with it. It’s needed elsewhere.” Gormaliev looked at her familiar reuniting with her daughter. “Hmm…I guess we’ll be here for a few days. They need some catching up.”
Sighing with annoyance Krakust pulled the
piton from the rock and shoved it and the rope in his pack. “What was that
human thinking, Evryn? He could’ve gotten rid of me. He’s not like other humans
I’ve encountered. The tribal ones would’ve left me to die, and the ‘civilized’
ones would’ve watched.”
Krakust kicked a rock down into the magma.
“There’s no way for us to get across. Let’s go back and follow the compass to
them. Maybe we’ll catch up. I can’t return without either them or proof of
their deaths anyway.”
With an agreeing snort Evryn started walking
through the tunnel they had followed to the cavern. There were no other exits
on their side of the chasm.
By the time they made it to the surface, it was night. The snow was deep, but not so deep they couldn’t get out of the cave. Looking around Krakust realized that he had no firewood and he didn’t see any.
“Looks like we’re going to be cold tonight,
– – –
“Look, we’re almost to the surface. I
“Lukren, you said that four hours ago. Let’s
just camp here and continue later. It’s past midnight on the surface.” Helena
stopped jogging and sat down.
Shrugging, Sorley also halted. “She’s right.
We need to rest.” He pulled his pack off his shoulders and rummaged through it.
“I’m almost out of heaven’s bread, but it looks like this cook’s pack has some
stuff I can work with.”
“No, I’ll be doing the cooking if we need it,
get that heaven’s bread out and let me see the pack.” Helena held her hand out
to take the pack.
Lourek stopped jogging and looked back. “Hey,
Lukren. I kinda agree. Let’s sleep in this passageway. We’ll get above ground
“Fine. I don’t know why, but I feel like we
need to get out of here now.” Lukren stopped jogging and turned to walk back to
Helena and Sorley. “Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
“Here you are, the last of the heaven’s bread.”
Sorley handed the small bites out.
Lukren sat down and ate the bread. “So, are
you going to tell us about where you came from and how you got here?”
“Ok. Fine.” Sorley pulled Ember onto his lap. “Do
you want to try to explain it, Ember?”
“Sure. So, we are from a place called Earth.”
Sorley looked at her with an inquisitive face.
“So, you really don’t remember? Does the name Aliziyah
ring any bells?”
“No, who’s that?” Ember cocked her head to the
side and turned to look at Sorley’s face.
Sorley shook his head. “It’s Gormaliev’s familiar.
Ember cocked her head the other direction. “No,
I-I don’t remember her.”
“Here.” Sorley sent his memory of Aliziyah to
Ember. “I’ll talk about Earth now.” Sorley looked at his companions. “I’m from
Earth. Europe to be specific. My family is a line of warlockes and we were
being hunted by a church that wants to wipe out all warlockes from Earth.”
Helena prodded with the question she knew the
dwarves were wondering about. “Where is Earth? Is it far to the north?”
Sorley smiled slightly. “No, it’s a different
realm. The orc was right, I’m not from…Domhan was it?”
“Yes, this is the realm of Domhan.” Lukren
“Well, my parents opened a portal and sent me
through. I think it was open for three days. It felt like three days, anyway.
It closed when I arrived, so nobody followed…I think.” Sorley paused,
collecting his knowledge of portals. “Yeah, nobody should’ve been able to
follow at that point.”
Helena looked concerned. “You seem unsure of
“We don’t know that much about portals.” Ember
spoke up. “Dad…I mean Sorley’s dad. He never taught us much about them.
Probably didn’t think we’d need to know.”
“Right. Realm portals anyway. Regular portals
we learned about. Those are instantaneous and last an hour. Not the same thing,
though. Portal requires a high-quality gem. Realm portals require that and
more. Dad never said what, though.” Sorley glanced at his grimoire. “Though, I
can probably find out. I am the rightful owner of the book now. It won’t hide
things from me.”
The dwarves glanced at each other and Lukren
spoke up. “What do you mean by now?”
“Well, this belonged to my father.” Sorley
picked up his grimoire. “Now that he’s gifted it to me the things he wanted
hidden from me are unlocked. That’s how he said it worked. Normally, I would’ve
gotten my grandmother’s because she was the warlocke in his family, but her
grimoire was burned before I was born.”
“By the group that’s trying to kill all
warlockes?” Helena seemed interested in the grimoire.
“Yes, they burned it along with her. I never
got to meet her.”
A confused look appeared on Helena’s face. “So
how would your family have continued with the grimoire tradition?”
“Oh, the same way the younger siblings would
get a grimoire. They would copy down anything that was unlocked by their parent.
When copying a new grimoire for a firstborn the grimoire unlocks completely for
them.” Sorley shrugged. “At least that’s what dad told me when I asked about
“Anyway, we need to get some sleep. I’ll take
first watch.” Lourek stood up and sat his pack on the ground. “I’ll start
making a perimeter, you guys get to sleep.”
– – –
Krakust and Evryn made their way through the
fresh snow. The layers were taller than Evryn so Krakust ended up leading her
instead of riding her. “Shouldn’t be too long over land. We might get there
before them. It’ll take a few more days for us. Probably several for them.”
“Right. If the snow doesn’t melt some we won’t
catch them. Plus, if the tunnel comes out earlier than I thought we’ll be
behind.” Krakust waded through some more snow and almost tripped on something. “What
Evryn sniffed the snow in front of her and
pulled a frozen leg up.
“Oh, some unlucky traveler. Leave it. We can’t
do anything about it.” Krakust started walking away when the leg twitched. “Or
not, it may still be alive.” He sighed loudly. “Fine. Let’s see what we found.”
It took some time to shovel the snow off the
body, but by the time he was done Krakust wasn’t sure he could do anything for
the creature. He wasn’t even sure what the creature was. It was covered in
scales and had a lizard-like face. It reminded him of the tales of dragons he
heard when he was little.
After clearing out some more snow Krakust
gathered what sticks he had found and made a campfire. “Evryn, lie down next to
it. This small fire can only do so much.” He stared at the creature. “Its
scales are a strange color. Are they metal of some sort?” The scales were a
mottled dark grey that had metallic, reflective spots.
– – –
The lizard-like creature slowly stirred. Its
eyes opened slowly revealing cat-like pupils surrounded by light gray irises.
It slowly sat upright and Evryn backed away from it. “Where am I?” It asked in a
guttural, grating voice. “Who are you?”
“I’m Krakust and that’s my ice wolf Evryn.”
Krakust motioned to Evryn. “We found you beneath the snow. What and who are
“I am Donaar Thruuvth and I am a dragonkin.
Have you never heard of us?”
“A dragonkin?” Krakust took a few steps back. “But,
you have no wings. I thought you had wings.”
Donaar laughed deeply. It sounded like the
rattling of two magnetite stones. “Yes, many a creature has said the same to
me. My race has not had wings for millennia, but the stories still survive.”
At the sound of the laugh Krakust came to a
conclusion. “So, you are a metallic dragonkin, not a colored dragonkin?”
“No.” A fierce look came to Donaar’s eyes. “Have
you seen any colored ones?” Donaar reached for his weapon and noticed it was
gone. “My great sword, where is it? And my outer armor?”
Krakust motioned at a pack next to the small
fire. “This is what I found with you. It may be in there.”
Donaar stood and walked to the pack. “Well, my
armor is gone. Leather will have to do for now either way. Not wearing plate in
snow like this.” He motioned to the snow drifts around the cleared area. “Ah,
here’s my sword at least. Good. Wouldn’t make much of a Defender without
something to defend with.”
“Sir Donaar ‘Shield Biter’ Thruuvth at your
service. Knight of the Order of Defenders.” Donaar stood straight then sagged a
little. “Last known survivor of the Night of Gore.”
“I’ll tell you later. For now, I’ll follow you
wherever you’re going. You saved my life, after all.”
Krakust stamped out the fire. “I probably
wouldn’t have if I realized you were a knight.” He sighed. “Fine, I’m trying to
find a human boy. He’s an escaped slave and by the tradition of my people I
cannot return home without him.”
“Hmm…well, I may just have to talk you out of
“Also, the sky elf that’s with him. She also
escaped. They met up with a couple of dwarves. I don’t care about them, and I
really don’t care about the tradition either. I let them escape. The intent was
to torture information out of them, but that isn’t going to work now.”
Donaar shook his head. “Torture? Well, at least you changed your mind. Tell me, what information you are seeking?”
Three figures walked up to the temple in the middle of the plains. They
had been traveling East of Brangmar for one day. The three of them were
surprised. There were very few settlements outside the city and those that
existed were far away, or so they had thought.
Doenranak Ironspeaker, a human in flamboyant clothes, shrugged. “Well,”
he said in a very gruff voice, “looks like a temple to me. Anyone want to
Veviir, a male centaur, shrugged. “Well, why don’t we have the cleric of
The Morrigan knock? She’s a priest, right?”
Mumbling, Morana SilverAxe walked to the temple door. Her dwarven
sideburns blowing in the wind. “It’s a temple. Have the cleric knock. Every
Doenranak glanced at Veviir. “So, you think we’ll make it to these
Deathlands within a week?”
The monk shrugged, his shoulders rippling with cords of muscle. “I
dunno. Last time I went out here we got lost for five days then gave up. We
need to deal with those undead, though.”
Morana knocked at the door, the skeleton of her late brother standing
next to her in a robe that fooled no one. “Be ready, brother. We may need you.”
Her brother stood taller than a human. She never had the heart to tell him that
he was adopted in life, and now, in death, it didn’t matter anymore.
The door creaked open slightly and an acolyte peeked his head through
the crack. He saw the holy symbol around Morana’s neck and recognized it as the
symbol of The Morrigan. He pushed the doors open wide. “Hello, priest of The
Morrigan. Welcome to the temple.” The human looked over Morana’s shoulder to
the human and centaur in the distance. “Are the bard and monk with you?”
Looking back Morana realized they had backed away when the door to the
temple had opened. “Yes, they are.” She sighed and rubbed her temples, then
called out to them. “Get your behinds over here! They’re offering to let us
in!” She turned back to the priest and saw that he too wore a holy symbol of
The Morrigan. “Will you let a fellow follower of The Morrigan spend a night in
“Yes, yes. Of course.” He turned to another priest. “Go tell the acting
high-priestess we have guests for the night.”
The two other adventurers joined Morana and her brother to enter the
temple grounds. Nobody commented on the large skeleton that appeared to be
under Morana’s control.
– – –
While Veviir was content to stand around and help a little with the
daily tasks of the priests before bed, Morana and Doenranak started moving
about the temple.
“So, you’re the acting head priestess?” Morana walked next to a human
woman in a simple robe with a small amount of filigree on the collar.
“Why, of course. Nobody has risen to the rank of high priest or
priestess since the last war. This temple to The Morrigan is more focused on
the war side of the goddess. Only those who have served in war or shown valor
in combat may rise to that rank.”
Morana smiled. “Does that mean I outrank you?”
The woman smiled slightly. “Only if you can prove to us you have been
tried by combat. Perhaps you will have a chance to prove yourself, but in these
more peaceful times I doubt it.”
In the shadows behind Morana and the high priestess, a dark figure passed from door to door. Doenranak was searching for papers important to the temple. He found a document room and slipped inside. He opened a few scrolls and came across some ancient, important texts. He pulled out his quill and some parchment. He copied a few scrolls and by the end his handwriting perfectly matched that of the scrolls.
Smiling to himself Doenranak pulled another scroll and read through it.
This scroll mentioned a cave below the temple with a guardian of crystal
inside. He copied that scroll too, and then left the room in search of the
When he got down there he saw Morana speaking with the high priestess.
“So, only the high priest or priestess can go down there?”
“Yes, basically.” The high priestess nodded. “Only the true high priest
or priestess can go down there. We haven’t had one for a long time.”
Nodding to himself, a plan formulating in his mind, Doenranak went back
to the quarters the temple had provided for them.
– – –
Veviir was still standing outside the door to Doenranak’s and Morana’s
quarters. He didn’t seem to have moved or breathed since the previous evening.
He nodded at Doenranak as he left his quarters. Drawing in breath he greeted
the human. “Good morrow, Morana’s already talking with the priestess. Shall we
“Do you ever sleep?”
“Well, let’s go then. We have a cave to search.” Doenranak walked
swiftly towards the main hall, knowing Morana was expecting to leave.
“What?” Veviir asked, but Doenranak was already gone. “Ugh, humans and
their impatience. Remind me of minotaurs sometimes.”
“So, we’ll be going. Trying to find out about those rabid undead in the
deathlands.” Morana nodded to the head priestess.
“Actually, I’ve heard something about those caves.” Doenranak wedged
himself into the conversation. “Can we see them?”
The priestess turned to Doenranak. “Only the high priest or priestess
can. The official one, not acting. We don’t have one now. Nobody has seen war
and risen to that station in nearly a century.”
Morana shook her head. She knew where this was going.
Smiling Doenranak motioned with his arms. “But we’ve seen war. We’re
from north of the Mushroom Forest. War is always waging up there. We came down
here for rest and relaxation.”
Sighing Morana nodded. “Yes, we’re from the north. We’ve seen battle.”
“Well, there’s still no reason to go down there, but if you wish Morana
you can become head priestess here after your adventure is complete.”
Doenranak pulled a scroll from his pack and unfurled it. “Well,
according to what I know about your order today is a holy day.” He pointed out
a few dates on it. “See, that’s today.”
“Let me see that scroll.”
Doenranak handed the priestess the scroll. “Sure. It’s just something I
found back in Brangmar.”
The priestess scanned the scroll. “Hmm…so it is a holy day today. May I
keep this scroll?”
“Of course. I have made a rough copy of the information on it. I don’t
need the original anymore.”
“Craig, would you kindly take our guests to the stairs. I need to store this scroll in the archive.”