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!
Having rested at the priory, we began a trek south, wandering the rolling hills and trees, armed with the knowledge that we were in lands unknown to us. We came across some large hoofed tracks but Brandon was unfamiliar with them. They were larger than a bull, and deep, which was an indication of weight, and that gave us reason to use caution.
Hours later Brandon came across a humanoid figure in the brush. He and Althalus called out to it but it refused to move. Arius drew Skullringer and called out, “We don’t want to hurt you, but we will.” There was no response.
We crept up on the person only to find that it was a stone statue. Unlike a carved edifice, this one seemed to be a cleric or monk that had been petrified and turned into stone as they tried to flee from some foe. Given the moss and vines covering it, it had happened long ago.
Gorgons. We had heard they operated near the Priory. Their breath could turn a victim to stone. Unfortunately for us, none of us knew what one looked like. Just the mention of turning to stone made Althalus edgy. His run-in with a cockatrice months ago still gave him pain, or so he claimed. With the Warlock it was always difficult getting a true reading of his feelings.
We decided to move on, setting up camp several miles from the petrified monk. On our third watch, Brandon woke us up to the sound of a bull snorting in the distance. We made our way through the darkness to the creature and saw a massive bull-like monstrosity. I have seen many a bull in my day, but this was much larger, much more sinister. It was sniffing our tracks, slowly coming up on our camp.
It suddenly seemed to sense our presence. It huffed and a wisp of green smoke rose from its nostrils. This was definitely not any kind of bull I have ever seen, its hide seemed to be almost armored. It pawed the ground as if it were going to charge at us and we readied ourselves for battle.
It charged! Brandon fired an arrow into it, but to little effect. Arius unleashed his smite, which both injured and angered the beast. Brandon suggested a course of action that caused me to warn him, “If you do something stupid, I will not be healing you.” He seemed to get the message and changed tactics. The battle was furious and fast. The Gorgon breathed a blast of greenish smoke at Brandon. He coughed and struggled and we all realized that he may be turned to stone. Somehow our ranger managed to avoid the dangerous effects.
I heated the metal hide on the creature, making it sizzle like a steak on a spit. Athalus used his eldritch blasts, savaging the beast even more and pushing the Gorgon back from us with the force of the green beam. The beast attempted to gore Arius but failed to even shake the paladin’s stance. I used a thorn whip to ensnare the creature. It was Arius that delivered the final blow.
“Meat’s back on the menu boys,” Althalus said with a broad grin.
The creature had done little damage to us, other than the scare that it might turn any one of us to stone. We came across a road heading south and opted to follow it. The next day, as we walked, we came upon on a farmer with a cart who offered us a ride. He was heading to a place called Alistair and from what he said, it was going to be a welcome safe place for us to visit. We told him where we were from. Brandon informed them he was on a mission from the Council of Rangers, which surprised me because I thought that was the kind of thing we ought to keep secret. We regaled the farmer with our backgrounds and where we were heading and he told us we were weeks away from our destination.
Alistair was a small town, circled by a tall imposing wall. It was not some relic of old, the wall was well maintained with trees cleared from before it, allowing for archers to ply their deadly trade if called upon. The farmer seemed pretty well-liked by the locals we passed.
When we got to the gates, the town guards told us we had to surrender our weapons. They seemed friendly enough and told us no weapons were allowed in town. There was a list of things that were banned, which we all were carrying. How Arius had 23 small javelins strapped to his pack was still a mystery and a marvel to me. The guards were cordial and told us that the place to go was the Armed Armadillo Tavern. We gave the guards a few gold pieces for thanks, which seemed to surprise them since they were only doing their duty.
Brandon wanted to go to the mayor to send a message back to the council of rangers as to our status. As we walked into the city we passed a small building with blue robed monks tending the yard. It was the Priory of the Sapphire Eye, the order that Dimitrious hailed from. Needless to say Althalus wanted to go there. I had my own objectives – gather information and learn all we can. The mention of a creature called an armadillo caught my attention. The ability to transform one’s self to animal form required a good knowledge of a wide range of creatures. As such, we decided to split up.
I arrived alone at the Armed Armadillo Tavern. It was like every tavern I have ever been in, the sting of smoke, tobacco, and long-ago spilled drinks. The sign was a grinning armor plated rat armed with a short sword. Inside I was greeted by Falstus Grave who insisted that I sign in at his guest book. He brought me a complimentary drink and I asked him about any rumors he had heard. He had a strange tradition of trading a story for a story. I purchased two rooms for us for the night, overpaying to show that I was generous.
I told him we were from White Rock and were heading south. He told me that some people had been passing through recently. We played his game of sharing stories. So I regaled him with the story of the slaying of the Gorgon. In turn, he told me that Lord Morriset of the Golden Sun States has implemented a draft. Three boys from the village were sent to train along the coast.
I told him about our encounter with the trolls at the Priory at Talismith. He repaid my story with a rumor of his own. “There’s a war brewing! Word is that some folks have stirred up trouble recently and that someone is building an army to start a war. There’s been talk of the dead walking the land. War isn’t good for business!” I feigned a bit of ignorance on the matter.
Arius came into the bar and told me about the visit to the priory. “They regard Althalus as a ‘seeker.’ Somehow he and Dimitrious are connected, at least that was what the paladin shared. The priory offered us room and board, and I told him I had already paid at the tavern for rooms. I decided to let Falstus Grave keep the gold, he had been so courteous to us. Brandon joined us as well and Falstus Grave brought him a pint of our finest ale for several silver coins. A church priest seemed to have made the horrible scars on Brandon’s face heal over, at least somewhat.
Grave pressed my comrades for stories to share and I explained that he exchanged stories for stories. Brandon told him about how we had slain a vampire in his hometown. In return, Grave told us, “There’s been some raids on the farms recently outside of Alistair. Someone has come in, killed a family, and stolen from them. It could be orcs or kobolds. The town guard has been doubled and patrols at night.”
Arius shared the story of how we had become part of the Minotaur tribe and Grave cocked an eyebrow. “Minotaur’s, vampires…I call bullshit on your stories. Prove it!” Arius and I lifted our shirts and showed him our nipple rings which seemed to convince him. “My story for you is a recent one. A man recently came through named Renfrew. He came and met with the thieves guild. Said he had business with them. That can’t be good. Our guild isn’t as much thieves as assassins. So, you can figure that out can’t you? Someone is…” and he dragged his finger across his throat. That was disturbing. All of us save Brandon had dealt with the guild before.
Brandon shared the tale of how we rescued the paladins from the lost city of Tempora. The story that Grave paid back to us was, “There is a band of gnomes off to the west that have started a mining operation of some sort. Some say gold, some say silver. Old Ray went out to see what they were up to and hasn’t been seen since. The town guard refuse to get involved. I think they are on the payroll of the gnomes.”
By now Althalus joined us as well. He told us about the Oracle of the Black Sands where the priory members go to get information and guidance. He thought it might be useful for us to visit there. “‘There is an oracle there of our order that can foresee future events,’ that’s what she told me,” he relayed.
When we retired to the priory for the night, Melody, the leader of the order there was shown our map and she had one of her scribes make a copy for their order. Althalus told her all about how we had gone and recovered it.
Melody told Arius about a paladin who tended the grounds of the local church. Brandon spent the evening writing a message for the High Council of Rangers, having summoned a Gray Rider earlier in the day. They offered to try and treat his facial injuries when he finished his note. The smell of his mustard plasters wraps was oddly mouth-watering.
We awoke to filling meals, a rarity for us on our long journey. The monks were nice. They drew us bathes, though I imagine that was more for their benefit than our own. Arius went to meet with the local paladin.
After our meal and bath, I went to the taxidermist in town who happened to have an armadillo in a cage. He was gracious enough to allow me to study the creature enough to take its form, if the need should ever arise. A druid’s duty is never fully fulfilled.
I went to the jeweler who made me a symbol for my staff. I paid him extra for it, ensuring good quality.
Arius returned from the church and told us of Sir Gareth the Black who he met there. He was a broken paladin who had failed on a quest. He had been seeking the chalice of St. John, his cup from the last supper. “It is in the Stairs, in the mountains he,” said. “It was protected by a demon of some sort, a beguiling female.” Arius said it was a resurrection cup – it can somehow restore life from death. It is still there. It seems like something we should have in our possession, let our enemies secure it. I figure we can sick Althalus on this demon-thing, and we are good to go.” I agreed. The thought of that in Barristen’s hands was frightening.
Later in the day Althalus used his magic to send a mental message to Lexa Lyoncroft as to where we were and that we had secured a map. She sent him a message back that was disturbing, which he conveyed to us. “Located a portal. Barristen hiring assassins. He has found your home town, sorry for your loss – no survivors.”
Our home town – wiped out. It was because of us. That bothered me almost as much as word that assassins were being hired, presumably to track us down. I could only hope that my cousins had somehow survived.
Brandon ignored the loss. “Did she say anything about me?” He only received a scowl from our Warlock in response.
The following are the previous installments. I hope you enjoy the campaign so far. Be sure to follow my blog if you do.