Welcome to the novelization of my current D&D campaign, told through the perspective of the characters. Parts 1-19 charted the first part of the campaign, part 20 began the next phase of the saga: Tempora. For me, it lets me do a little creative writing between more serious projects. Links to the previous posts are at the bottom of this one. Enjoy!
We materialized at the feet of Victor Barristen who loomed over us on the floor. He was rising out of a rolling cloud of green mist. His face was a skull, yet in the flicker of torches on the walls, we saw an eerie shimmer of a human face, almost like a flesh covered shadow over the bones. His helmet was huge, with a glowing crimson ruby in the center and two massive horns jutting out. A lich – or something of the same ilk – I was sure of it. He had a twisted staff in his bony hands, clearly magical, clearly deadly.
Cyrilla Drex stood next to him, member of the Sisterhood of the Sword, our enemy that had been plaguing us for weeks. She held that God-awful sword of hers, almost as tall as I am, its blade reflecting the light. She wore her robe and under it her plate armor, similar to what we had seen on Lexa Lyoncroft. Her hair was worn back, trimmed short, almost a manly cut to it.
I glanced off to my right and saw a pile of corpses, or what remained of them. They looked as if every bit of life had been sucked from the men. Their skin was shrunken and shriveled and many jaws were open, mute in their dying screams. Seventy of them, at least, were piled like chord word. The stench of death stung my nostrils.
The chamber was massive, over a hundred heads long. Thick old rugs covered four spots on the intricately mosaicked floor. Torches hung in six places and their light reflected off of the massive domed ceiling that was either painted bright gold, or covered with gold flake. Brandon’s magical blade shimmered so brightly that it was like a burst of daylight.
I glanced at Arius. He took his sword and licked it, as if tasting the blood of his enemies. I was pleased that one of us was confident. The fact that we were laying on a pentagram on the floor, surrounded with candles didn’t give me that much confidence.
“I want that sword,” muttered Brandon as he got his senses. Something told me he might just get it, just not the way he hoped for. Five of the other paladins had leapt through the portal with us and had spilled out with us on the floor. We were far from an impressive threat at that point.
A number of other paladins were in the room, their eyes sunken and dark, their faces pale and gaunt. They wore neck collars of thick leather with a ruby mounted on them. One of them was an older man, his beard had knots in it. I remember Arius telling me that was a sign of authority in some holy orders. It had to be Theris Bentblade – the First Shield of the Order of the Fang! He stood there with a sword in hand but was not attacking Cyrilla or Victor – which was not a good sign.
Cyrilla Drex pointed her massive sword down at Arius. “You’ve come to rescue them? How quaint. As you can see, you are quite late.” She gestured with the blade over to the pile of rotting carcasses.
“Who sent you here? Who pulls the strings of these so-called rescuers?”
“We pull our own strings,” Theren said, pointing over at me.
Why are you pointing at me? “No one tells us what to do,” I said defiantly, wondering of those were going to be my last words.
“You fools think you stand a chance against us?” None of us responded. Slowly we were preparing to jump to our feet.
“Very well. I offer you this one last chance. Join my force against the Church or feed your souls to Barristen the Black.”
I cleared my throat. “Um, define, ‘The Church.’ And ‘join.’” I will admit, I’m not much of a joiner – but I also had no love of the Church.
Her eyes narrowed at my words. “The Church of God – the one that betrayed my Order.”
Barristen seemed to hover in the cloud of green smoke. In a low raspy voice his skeletal head spoke. “The Church will pay for what it has done. Your lives will serve our purpose. Bow before me and I will offer you quick death.”
“Well, this has taken a turn. I mean with all of this ‘death’ talk,” I said, still hoping to diffuse the situation. My sense of humor was lost on the lich. I really had nothing against going after the Church, but the dying part had me a little concerned.
Our paladin Arius took it far more seriously. “I cannot be a party to what you have done. That pile is of my dead brethren.” I could tell by the way he clutched his sword that the battle was soon to commence.
Barristen responded with a sweeping blow of his staff at our comrade while between us and Cyrilla, a magical barrier came into being. Brandon charged – away from the pending melee the moment it erupted. Typical ranger…
Arius unleashed thunderous smite but it did not hit Barristen, the magical energies swirling in the air unformed, crackling slightly in the air. I opted to protect from evil on Bor and faded off to the rear. A warlock must always know his place in a battle.
Barristen’s staff struck at Arius but failed to make contact. Bor rushed with Skullringer, the brilliant blue warhammer slammed into the quasi-lich, hitting it hard on its armored chest. Our paladin allies rushed in, weapons drawn, swinging behind Cyrilla and striking at her from behind. A thin stream of blood sprayed out towards me, proof they had hit her. We had her surrounded, but I was not necessarily convinced that was going to be a good thing for us.
The sullen paladins led by Bentblade charged – but not at their torturers, but at us! They came at our flank, where I was, so I braced for their onslaught.
Theren waved his hands in the air and I saw her sword start to glow – not from magic – but orange from heat. He readied his staff as Dimitrious moved to protect me from the rushing possessed paladins. The blue robed monk stabbed his fists in a furious thrust and hit one of them several times like a tornado of fists bludgeoning the rushing paladin.
Cyrilla tossed some brimstone in the air as she attempted to cast a spell but the surrounding attackers disrupted her spell. More of her blood splattered in the air. Dropping her sword, she reached for an amulet that hung around her neck. I stared at that sword…that was a prize.
Bor was hit with whatever spell was triggered by her amulet – though we could not tell what it was doing. Theren cast a spell to heat her armor, and it worked, wisps of smoke rose from her skin that seared against the hot metal. The fact that she kept it on said something of how powerful she was.
The attacks on Barristen continued as Bor moved forward in hopes of delivering a killing blow with Skullringer. The warhammer shimmered brightly in the air and drew back as Barristen pointed the gnarled tip of his staff at the burly warrior. The warhammer came at the head of the skeletal creature, hitting hard, twisting Barristen’s head hard to the side.
A thin blue ray shot out from the tip of the staff hitting Bor in his chest. The smile dropped from his face instantly. He looked over at Theren, then to me, then he turned to large flakes in the air which crumbled to dust, which then faced away to nothingness. Skullringer dropped with a thud on the stone floor, knocking over one of the candles. Disintegration…utter and complete. His shield and flail remained next to the magical warhammer.
I know we were all stunned for a moment – but all I could feel in that moment was the loss of our treasure that Bor had been carrying.
Brandon charged in with the fall of Bor, emboldened by the changing odds. I unleashed an eldritch blast attack on Bentblade, searing an emerald beam into him and knocking him back. Dimitrious rushed back to my aid, hitting the paladin as he got his footing. The monk was a blizzard of fist blows that ravaged the older paladin.
In the midst of the battle – I noticed those collars that the attacking paladins wore were identical to those we had found before – the Eyes of Rivroast. They were being controlled! It made sense now…the ruby on the helmet of Barristen gave him complete domination over their will. I used my powers to send the message to the members as to the source of that quasi-lich’s control.
Cyrilla was in the process of casting a spell, a mist rose up around her, her glowing hot armor shimmering through it. One of the paladins hit with divine smite, another with thunderous smite, but she seemed to shrug it off.
She disappeared in the mist and for a moment, I was relieved. That faded as all eyes turned to me. Oh shit, she’s behind me!
Dimitrious sprung from the paladins he was engaged with and rushed right at me. He hit me, knocking me out of the way – taking the blow that was intended for me. Cyrilla’s staff came down hard, right at the monk, but missed entirely, hitting the floor and sending sparks into the air.
Barristen’s staff came down on Arius, hitting him. The paladin wailed and staggered back from the blow. He rarely showed pain, which told me that he was in true agony.
Brandon hit Cyrilla from behind, courtesy of her misty-teleportation. She hit the sword-mistress hard from the rear as Theren fired his bow at her from the front. Cyrilla dropped to the ground, unconscious, but not dead.
One of the paladins tried to lift her sword but seemed to struggle with it, as if the blade weighed more than it appeared to. Arius slid along the floor, grabbing Skullringer, and swinging at Barristen. The lich-like figure shook off the blow as another pair of paladins stabbed at him.
The paladins collided with their brothers –
Brandon started to reach for Cyrilla’s staff but I cut him off. “Finish this fight before you begin to loot the bodies!” Rangers!
One of the possessed paladins struck me, stabbing me in my stomach hard and deep. My magic triggered defenses instantly and blasted him with fire, wrapping his upper body with orange and yellow flames.
Brandon heeded my words, delivering the coup de’grace on Cyrilla Drex with his magic blade, planting it in her upper chest between her breasts. There was a blast of ice-cold air blowing out from her body and hitting me and the others around her. Her body aged centuries in two seconds. Her skin withered, crackled, and turned to dust with large bits clinging to her skeletal remains.
Arius swung and hit Barristen with Skullringer and the paladin that had tried to use Cyrilla’s sword, dropped it in favor of his short sword. I winced in agony from the cut I had taken to the stomach. I have worried my intestines would spill out on the floor. Theren turned himself into a massive bear and charged at the lich-man colliding with him hard. Barristen struck the bear with the staff, making it growl in pain.
I staggered to my feet and I fired a brilliant green eldritch blast at one of the paladins, while Dimitrious grappled with another one. The wiry monk was all over his foe, moving like a clinging spider, trying to reach the leather band with the ruby. Dimitrious got the collar off and the struggle stopped instantly as he shook his head, trying to get his bearing.
Another paladin slashed at me with its sword, hitting me. I felt my body sag under the hit. I staggered back a half-step.
The other paladins were engaged with each other, hacking and slashing with furious blows at each other. I wondered in that moment if we even could win. Suddenly, the rolling green cloud of mists under him rose up and enveloped him. Victor Barristen turned into a gaseous form himself, drifting up the ceiling and disappearing. Suddenly the battle stopped – the paladins that had been trying to kill one another seemed to come to their senses. Theren the bear paused, looking around for a foe to fight but there was none. Barristen had fled! The fight was over – we had been victorious.
Our jubilation was momentary as we glanced over to where Bor had been disintegrated. He had been a valiant comrade and we would miss his wall of muscle in the battles to come.
The following are the previous installments. I hope you enjoy the campaign so far. Be sure to follow my blog if you do.