Welcome to the novelization of my current D&D campaign, told through the perspective of the characters. 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!
Lexa Lyoncroft as an ally – who would have conceived of this? Yet there we sat with her, mapping out our strategy. V’sarin, the dragon’s graveyard, sounded forbidding at best. Yet there we would find the way to return Viktor Barristen to his grave, permanently. The only catch was that we did not know where V’sarin was to the south, beyond the realms we knew. The problem we faced was simple, how do we find this place?
Lyoncroft stirred the coals of the fire as she spoke. “There’s an old monastery some eight days south of here, long abandoned. It is said they were great map makers. You may find some clue as to where you go. It is called Talismith.
“I would not recommend you go to your home town. Barristen knows who you are, he will have his minions looking and waiting for you. As it is, we must move on as well. Hiding in a haunted battlefield may not be the best place to conceal one’s self when facing an undead lord. We will go north and west exploring what you found on that map.”
“Karn had a mapmaker, but I am not sure we should go there. This monastery may be our best chance,” Althalus said.
“Where should we rendezvous?” I asked.
“At the Rangersmeet at Villineau,” Brandon offered. “It is safe and we may need their aid before all of this is done.”
She nodded. “Now, we need to get messages to each other…”
“I have that covered,” Althalus said. “I have a spell that lets me communicate.”
“What can you tell us about this library?” I asked.
“The Priory at Talismith was, a century ago, a place of great learning with a large library of tomes and manuscripts. The monks that lived there were a small order but deeply respected in the church. Around four decades ago the monastery suffered from a plague that wiped out half of the order. Then a Gorgon moved into the area and killed the remaining monks.
“The church sent in a party to try and rescue the manuscripts, especially the maps said to be stored there. The party that went in was never heard from again. Others were sent but none came back. The Library and monastery were considered lost after that.”
“Gorgons…” Althalus muttered. “That is useful information…and possibly deadly. I like this plan, but less so now.”
“We will need allies along the way,” Lyoncroft offered. “The coming fight will be vicious and cost many souls.” I gave her a knowing nod. This was indeed a quest worthy of one of my order. I muttered a prayer of protection for us all before bedding down that night.
The next day we set out across the Gallesian Fields, finding the road south that we had taken months earlier. That evening we saw the statue where Theren enchanted his staff. It was oddly reassuring to see sights we knew. The next day as we moved through the creepy old battlefield we were approached the Bailey Hills where the hangings after the war had taken place. The next day, on the road, we were approached by a massive Ogre wearing a wine cask that had been split in half and was worn with half on the front, half on the back, with straps to make it a big wooden piece of armor.
“I am thinking this might be Barrel Chest, who Lexa told us about,” Theren said.
“You think?” Althalus snapped back with a wry grin.
“Hail Barrel Chest!” Theren called as he clunked forward towards us.
“Hi friend,” Althalus called as he approached, his massive tree-like club at the ready. “We are friends of Lexa Lyoncroft.” The warlock continued to weave a retelling of our arrangement with Lexa, dumbed down so that the Ogre could understand it. His persuasive capabilities were good. Barrel Chest sat down to listen, hanging on every word. We were all thankful he had not mentioned Pot Head, his brother whom we had slain. I joined in on the conversation when it looked like Barrel Chest wasn’t entirely following the story.
We conversed with him for several minutes. He mentioned his missing brother, and we played stupid about Pot Head’s fate. He finally asked, “Where Lexa? Where she go?”
“She went northwest,” I said.
He looked downright sad. “Aw, Barrel Chest upset. Barrel Chest like Lexa.”
“She will be back,” I offered.
“Me go after her. Lexa true friend of Barrel Chest.” With those words, he called us “Friends” and left, lumbering off into the Fields.
Two days later we passed the gate that marked the edge of the Gallesian Fields. As Althalus put it, “The air feels less un-deady now.” That didn’t mean that the danger had passed, as evidenced the next night.
Theren heard three horses and riders slowly approaching our camp during his watch. He doused our fire and eventually woke us. Althalus moved behind a tree as did I. They slowly came into view, three humans wearing black plate armor. Armed with lances, they leveled them in our general direction as they came into view.
“Who goes there?” I asked.
“Who’s over there?” came a voice back.
“I asked you first.”
“We have been asked to look for some people.”
“We are people.”
“We are looking for a paladin and a warlock.”
Althalus spoke up, “Non-church magic is illegal.” The irony was not lost on me.
“Why?” I asked.
“We were hired to find them.” The menacing lance said they wanted more than to just find us. Their leader added, “And apparently we found them.”
They charged, dropping their lances and switching to maces – heading towards where Althalus and I were. Althalus blasted the horse that was rushing him, knocking it back in a blur of brilliant green magic, knocking the rider off of his steed and sending him rolling along the ground. Brandon fired his bow, hitting another, his arrow protruding from his target’s thigh. A magical attack on Althalus lit one of the men on unholy fire.
I faced one rider alone. I used my thunderous and divine smite, making Skullringer shimmer in the darkness as I swung. I hit his breastplate squarely, passing through his chest and out of his back – through his spine – killing him instantly. The magical blast threw the horse sideways, breaking its leg as it sprawled out. The upper torso of the rider landed at Brandon’s feet. Mercy demanded my last attack was to finish off the wounded horse. I missed seeing the death of one of the riders that Brandon was tangling with.
“Meat’s back on the menu boys!” called out Althalus with a twisted grin.
Theren’s thornwhip spell, pulling the one rider off his horse and towards the druid. Althalus opened up some God-awful void of darkness centered on the rider, sucking in the air and life around it. Pure darkness slurped and whispered from the void as it devoured the rider.
“What in the hell is that?” I asked, never having seen anything like that cast before. The warlock grinned back at me.
When the sphere of darkness ended, we saw the tormented, charred body of the rider that had been trapped in the spell. Anguish was locked on his face. Theren found 350 gold pieces and found a small glass sphere in a leather pouch. One was broken at the feet of the man, but we did not know what it was for. Theren determined that it was indeed magical. Althalus learned that it was some sort of communication device. “I surmise this is broken and used to communicate with someone else.”
That was ominous. Did that rider tip off Barristen with this sphere? Our warlock suggested just getting rid of it entirely. “I don’t like the idea of holding onto this.” I dug a small hole and Althalus put it in, burying it.
We rode on for three days heading south, into lands we had never traveled before. The area was wooded, with rolling hills, low hollows, and the occasional creek. That night we noticed the glow of a fire of some sort, nearly a mile from our campsite, glowing in the west.
The next day we headed that direction, coming across a statue of a monk or some sort of priest. It looked as if it were frozen mid-running stride. A bird nest was built on it, and streaks of white bird shit streaked its torso. Moss and vines clung to it. That conjured images of the Gorgon that were said to be in the area.
We progressed further and came across a large ruins. Brandon pretty much confirmed that this where the fire was that night. Outside the ruins, there are statues, covered in moss and vines. The ruins are of a building that is 300 heads by 150 heads. There is a tower that has crumbled, but still stands at two stories tall. It appears at one time that this was a four story structure, but now only parts of the outer walls and rubble remain. Vines and growth seemed to be blanketing some areas of the jumble of broken stones and roof tiles. This had to be Priory at Talismith. In the middle of it, there was a camp site of sorts. There was a large iron pot suspended over the smoking remains of the fire.
Brandon found a track, giant in size, with nasty claws. He had no idea what had made it, but it was enough to give me pause. I stopped and uttered a prayer when he told us that it was recent.
There was no easy way to approach the ruins. We crept up on the rubble single-file, getting close to the fire-site in the middle of the ruins.
Movement popped up around us…a trap! The creatures were massive, greenish gray skin, lanky with long arms and hideous claws. Theren and Althalus called out, “Trolls!” and I knew we were in for a battle worthy of God’s trust in me. Three of the monstrosities closed in on us.
The battle was a flurry of action, all blurred in my mind. A magical sphere of fire that Theren cast moved in on them and I remembered that Trolls had to be burned or they recovered injuries. The rubble hindered our movement as we tried to shift to cover each other. Althalus’s green magic blast staggered one back, searing some of its grotesque flesh in the process.
Brandon hit one with an arrow that only seemed to irritate the Troll. I struggled to land a solid blow with Skullringer but bit more air than Troll with both swings of the warhammer. Theren’s sphere of fire seemed to herd them…in my direction. A magical whip wrapped around one creature, cutting it and spilling sick-green blood.
One of the creatures lunged at me, missing me with a clamping bite, but a claw dug me deeply in the arm. It was close enough for me to smell its rotting breath.
Brandon’s hail of thorns missed entirely. One Troll hit Althalus and burst into flames as a result of hitting the Warlock. I hit the Troll on me, furrowing its flesh with Skullringer. The ball of fire that Theren was moving and the burning Troll were a bit of a distraction that I opted to ignore. Althalus blasted one Troll back into the rubble but another Troll slashed him up with both of its claws, splattering his blood on the rocks.
Skullringer caught my Troll in an uppercut, shattering its jaw and skull and tossing its limp body near my feet. Green blood sizzled on Skullringer as I stood triumphant over my fallen foe. Theren finished one of the fallen Troll in a withering flame that made its flesh hiss. I was stunned when one of Theren’s blasts missed the Troll and instead slammed into me by mistake.
One Troll rose, regenerated by unholy means, and viciously clawed at me but I managed to take it down. Theren’s wave of hands set the Troll ablaze, filling the air with the stench of charred rotting flesh stung at my nostrils.
Althalus’s magical blast on the last Troll knocked it back slightly, but it rushed forward and bit and slashed at the warlock. The hit made the Troll burst into hellish flames as a result of contacting our comrade. I sprung at that one as well, knocking the smoldering Troll with my warhammer, shattering its ribs in the process with a crackling noise. Chaos owned the day!
Brandon hit him as well, but the Troll proved highly resistant. Althalus’s next blast sent the now-dead Troll back into the burning sphere, destroying it.
We were exhausted and fell back to the Troll’s camp and began poking around their belongings. Rotted sacks filled with ill-gotten booty. We found small bars of gold and silver, a few thousand copper pieces, and some rough-cut gems. Digging deeper, we found a planking covering some sort of tunnel downward. I doubt the Trolls even knew they were camped on top of some sort of doorway.
Althalus found a sword, wedged in next to the planking that covered the hatch down. The blade near the hilt was twisted around twice, something we had never seen before. Theren determined it was a Gnomish blade, named Quaker in their tongue. From what Althalus was able to discern, if the blade struck true, it emits a spell called Thunderous Wave. Theren took it for himself as the rest of us took a much needed break.
We opened the doorway under the ruins and found a narrow shaft leading down into the darkness. Theren, in giant spider form, crawled down to a large domed chamber. There were paintings on the walls, most cracked and covered with a thin sheen of mold. When I got there, I saw the painted eyes of monks staring down at me from the fading works. A thin dank pool of water covered the floor and we splashed in it as we moved.
Althalus cast a spell of a humanoid shape of light to provide us illumination. The image of the monks painted on the dome at least told me that we were likely near the library. Theren-the-spider moved along the ceiling over us as we opened the door and started down a long hallway. There were doors along the way but we heard nothing there. There as a pile of rubble near the end as it curved and went down two wide flights of stairs, but the barrier of broken stone was not natural. Someone had apparently piled up debris and benches against a pair of large bronze doors, as if they were keeping something there at bay.
We went down a hallway off of the main corridor and found a kitchen area, filled with rot, rust and dust. We went into the pantry area and saw an iron chandelier hanging above us with what looked like ravens on it…until they moved. Stirges!
Three of the creatures dove on me, all missing, swarming around me. Three more went onto Brandon, latching onto the back of his neck, finding a crack in his armor. “Get it off of me!” he cried out, attempting to swat at the one drawing blood from his neck.
A festival of sword and hammer blows splattered the obnoxious creatures, though we were fortunate that we did not hurt each other in the melee.
We explored some of the bedchambers and found little more than signs of sacking and looting many years before. Brandon found a sealed marble urn and he left it that way. In one of the bedchambers, I found two vials but the labels had long ago rotted off. Theren found a golden artifact with the name of the priory intricately carved into it.
After all of our searching, we found ourselves facing the barricaded landing. Old iron candle stands and benches were part of the rubble piled up against the bronze doors. The word, Librarium was on a sign above the door. We came for a map, and obviously this would be the place where we might find one.
It took us a few minutes to clear the barricades and bracing. I stepped forward and forced open the bronze door. The room was massive – some 250 heads square, some twenty-five heads high. There was finger’s worth of water puddled on the floor. Many of the book cases had been crushed, knocked over or fallen in time. There were two points on the walls where rubble had been pushed into the chamber, but some massive force. Books, tossed or fallen lay everywhere, but the center of the room seemed oddly cleared of shelving and debris. A stench filled the air, a mix of mold, feces, and long-rotted flesh. Tapestries clung to some of the walls still, while others lay rotting in the puddle.
“We’re going to be here for a while,” Althalus said as he looked at the library, stepping in and moving to some of the toppled shelves. Most of the books that I saw were filled with marriage records or histories of places I had never heard of. Some fell apart in my hands, so bad was their condition. I wondered if we could, indeed, find a map of the realm still intact here.
Brandon found a book that was readable – The Tale of Sir Kavely. A brave a virtuous knight who roamed the lands some 400 years ago. As one of the early paladins, this book has value to any paladin holy order. That was a story that I looked forward to reading.
Theren found a copy of Abastor – The Chronicle of the War of the Druids. This details the Church’s war against the druids. In scanning it, he saw that it documented evidence that the church may have very well falsified the evidence against the druids in order to purge them. It was fortuitous that our druid had found such a book.
Althalus found a black hide-bound book simply marked, “Devils” From what little he could read, the book detailed the nature of devils, how to trap and kill them, and how to control them. In his possession, along with the Devil’s skull that I still carried, he was destined to get into trouble at some point in the future. He glossed over the warnings of potential madness from reading the tome.
“I fear you having that book,” I said to the warlock.
“What could go wrong?” he replied.
We did not get to that answer. There was a rumble and bursting into the library chamber was a massive worm-like creature, purple, its mouth a menacing maw of death and devouring. I drew Skullringer and rushed forward towards the massive creature. Althalus waved his hands which made me feel better. Both of his eldritch blasts missed, which seemed impossible given the size of the beast.
The stinger hit me in the chest, punching through my shoulder armor plate. The poison made me go cold and I dropped unconscious. I heard the sounds of battle but was held prisoner by the pain from my wound and the poison oozing in my bloodstream.
I have no idea how long I was out, but came too in a cold sweat and panic. I staggered to my feet and noticed that Brandon was missing and that Theren and Althalus were doing what they could to stay away from the great beast. As I got to my feet, I called out, “How are we doing?”
“This is very not-good,” Althalus replied. A cloud of lightning hovered over the worm, no doubt the work of our druid.
The purple worm spun to go after Theren. I drew a javelin and planted it in the side of the creature. I kept looking for Brandon but could not see him. I feared that the beast had swallowed him.
Theren unleashed a bolt of flame that seared the hide of the beast. He then transformed into a giant spider and hopped away. The worm swung on Althalus and narrowly missed with a bite and an attempt to sting him.
The lightning bolts stabbed at the creature, searing black holes on its hide. Bolts of flames roared down from the ceiling, hitting the purple worm at almost the same instant. The worm bit Althalus, spraying blood everywhere, then was swallowed whole. I now knew where Brandon was! By God this creature was daunting. I still struggled against the venom in my body.
The worm spun to face me and I braced myself for the rushing assault. It suddenly paused and spit out the contents of its guts, dropping Althalus and Brandon onto the wet manuscripts of the library floor. The ranger was pale, near death, and the warlock seemed to be trying to help him.
I swung Skullringer twice, hitting once hard on the maw of the worm, knocking the head to the side for a moment. It tried to bite me but I whirled and it missed.
Theren’s indoor lightning storm brought it down. We were exhausted, winded, and injured. Brandon’s face was badly scarred from the stomach acid of the beast. It would take a special kind of girl to love him from this point forward. Our party paused and recouped, healing those who needed it. I was still wobbly on my feet and welcomed the rest.
After we rested, we continued our search for a map. Althalus found a crucifix and a silver edged mace in the debris. There was an elvish blade with the name “Suresh” on it.
It was I who suggested searching behind the tapestries. Brandon found a secret door behind one and we went into the antechamber. The room was filled with racks and bone tubes sealed. The map room! Those we found open crumbled in our hands. Brandon came across one ivory tube sealed in wax that had potential. When we opened it, we found a hand-scrawled map of our realms!
The following are the previous installments. I hope you enjoy the campaign so far. Be sure to follow my blog if you do.