2017-03-23

Grand Duchy 99

Grand Duchy of Adventure

Session 99
August 24 - September 4, 2016


Steps to the Vault

Nytdain 8 Klarmont


Steps to the Vault

The High Road and an Old Friend

While his companions start the long, hard climb at the base of the stairs, Remar takes to the air, ready to enjoy a peaceful and non-tiring ascent to the Vault. All this hiking and trudging back and forth across this valley has him really worn out and he is pretty sure a hole is developing in one of his boots, the one that doesn’t smell like dead chipmunk.

The young mage flies up, first following the path of the steep, wide stairs that climb up the rocky slope, but then angling out and making zig zags back and forth across the rock face. He is thankful for his magically rotating Ioun Stone spinning around his head as it keeps the rain out of his face and off of his clothes. Such a good investment, he thinks to himself. In less than a minute, the Vault is approaching and he starts thinking if he is going to maintain the spell and fly back down to report the findings, which have been none so far, of his scouting mission or just wait patiently at the top. It should take the others a few hours, at least, to make the climb.

Deciding to maintain the spell, Remar flies about the ruins. He sees a small structure that butts up to the rockwall and assumes that the Vault is mostly inside the mountain. The Entry structure has a few rooms and most of the ceilings have crumbled away. Looking down in, he spots quite a few undead beasts shambling around. None of them seem to have notice the flying mage just yet. As Remar moves to get a better view, he catches something out of the corner of his eye and turns to see a dark, winged shape moving towards him. The shape banks and whips its tail out, sending a volley of dark spikes Remar’s way. A lion’s roar is followed by an evil, guttural laugh. A Manticore! “I thought I killed you last time, pale flesh!” it calls out. It is Shifirax, their nemesis from Brokeneck Gap!
Shifrax the Manticore

The moment in all its imperfection seems to freeze in time.  Caught all alone nearly unaware oh so very high in the open expanse, the Alphatian’s thoughts race by at the blazing speed of thought.

Oh no.

Ah no!

It’s like I brought this fate to bare when I mentioned this very possibility to Iris...

Ya daft yammerer!  T’is all yer fault!

My fault?  But, I was just being fatalistic when I said that!  I didn’t think it would actually happen.

Yea, well, mayhaps it werked!

It -doesn’t- work that way!

Tell tha ta tis Beasty.

Shoosh!  You are distracting me at a time most unfortune!

Wait, wait, wait...

What?

Tis was one o’ta reasons ya went scoutin’?

Well...yes.

Well...what was yer plan fer tose spikes?

Um...yeah...the plan...

Ware so dead…

Come on!  You have to know by now that I work more on instinct!

Wait.  Instinct.  That’s it!

With a hollar the wizard says, “I won’t let that trick work on me this time!,” and surrenders to instinct.  Almost subconsciously, the subtle manipulations of the unseen energies all around him instantly shape themselves to his defensive benefit in preparation to dive free of them entirely.

With a burst of alacrity, Remar plunges downward seeking to escape the 3 spike whipped toward him!

The quick movement succeeds in entirely eluding the first spike, sailing through where he was, now just above him.

The second spike, aimed a little lower than the first, combs narrowly through his long, luxuriously windblown and flailing hair.

And the last of the spikes…

It seemed a futile effort to think he could avoid all 3.  The movement that has evaded two of the spikes put the last one thrown much lower, now right on-target.

Ak!  No’ ta heart!

The Manticore’s aim is true and on target to end him.

This will not happen again!

Calling upon the protective energies enveloping him and laying in wait, Remar focuses them to the very area where the spike is destined to land.

I can’a watch!

Shhh!  I have an idea.

And with a last-instant twist away from the Manticore…the third spike lands.

“AAAAAAAaaarrrgghhhhhh!”  The pale-mage continues to fall downward through the air gripping his chest.

As Remar falls, the flying lion folds his wings to follow in a dive of his own. Just as the beast catches up with the falling Remar, it notices that the mage is not in fact impaled with one of its tail spikes and sees the glint of deception shine from the Alphatian’s dark, round eyes.

Down below, on the lowest flight of steps, the rest of the Company begins its long ascent. Not watching their flying friend up above because of the falling rain, their attention is nonetheless drawn up by what sounds like a lion’s roar!

Searching for the mental wherewithal to do what he had in mind mid-fall, the wizard realizes at that moment just how truly malevolent Shifirax is.

Can I truly do this?

Not only did he impale the mage in their previous encounter, nearly killing him, but the monster caused a significant negative impact to the whole party’s physical, mental, spiritual, and even financial well-being!

Dun’a forget abou’ m...I mean, ta horse!  Tha poor, poor dear!

Yes...Definitely mental wellbeing.

The winged-lion had also boasted that it was one of very many times that he had done such a thing and that he truly enjoyed playing with his food.

Which meant there were others...many, many others, likely leaving orphans behind.  Orphans likely enslaved and taken advantage of.

The winged-lion had also boasted that it was one of very many times that he had done such a thing and that he truly enjoyed playing with his food.

Which meant there were others...many, many others, likely leaving orphans behind.  Orphans likely enslaved and taken advantage of.

And where some would say to not dwell on dark thoughts such as these at a time like this, it turned out to be exactly what the Alpatian needed to fuel his fire and steel his resolve against Shifirax!

“This is for all the people who’s lives you have taken pleasure in torturing and destroying you vile creature!”  Howling, he unleashes a spell upon the Manticore’s main wing muscle, the pectoralis, with the intent of locking at least one of the wings in place at the evil beast’s side.

The Manticore’s roar turns to a high pitched wail of pain as his wings stiffen then curl up to his sides. Remar watches as the evil beast veers wildly to the side, going into an awkward roll.

The shock of hearing the roar wearing off, Draven scans the skies, looking for the source of the sound. “Do you think that was a dragon?” he asks, wondering if he’d have the same nerve to face a dragon without being on the safe path.

Looking up, Draven thinks he can see a dark shape, or possibly two, moving through the dark, rain soaked sky but cannot make out any details.

Up above, both Remar and Shifirax tumble down out of control. Remar is falling out over open space while the Manticore is heading for the side of the mountain. As Remar tries to right himself he catches a glimpse of his foe trying to do the same.

Iris looks up and whispers, “oh no…” She looks around frantically for Ree and moves over to her.  “Whatever it is, it’s angry.  It has likely spotted Remar.  Quickly! We need to get up there and help,” Iris gestures to their companions, “we need to get everyone up there to help.”  She blinks the rain out of her eyes, and begins casting flight first on Griffin.  Her thoughts race and she tries not to think of how pitiful her combat contributions have been of late.  You can do this, don’t over-think it, you can do this, she repeats in her head as a mantra.

Griffin feels Iris’s magic flow through him and his stomach flutters as he feels the pull of gravity slowly let go of him.

Nodding to Iris, Griffin readies his crossbow and launches himself into the mists. I hope I can find them in this.

Flight of the Grey Company

Ree follows suit and quickly begins casting a spell as well. She turns and spies Kaisex with his bow at the ready and thinks that his ranged weapon expertise might be useful up above. She imbues him with the power of flight. Before anyone else can say anything, she begins casting again this time lays her spell on Draven. “I know you have your boots, but they are not fast enough, you may need to get up there and help Remar!” Looking a bit tired, she starts to cast the flight spell once again, this time on Iris. “Save your energy, Iris, let me cast the spell on you so you can go help Remar. Stephen and Marcel will stay down here with me.” Iris nods and Ree casts. “Dammit!” she shouts into the rainy sky. She tries again, and again fails. Scowling, she tries a third time and finally it works.

Ree sits down on the wet stone and  looks to the sky, watching as her companions rise up in the darkening sky to go help Remar.

Kasiex’s eyes widen as he rises unexpectedly - it takes the Hutakaan a moment to stabilise himself.  He floats left, then right, his dexterity allowing him to quickly come to grips with the way his body moves in the air. His jaws part in a feral canine grin, and he straps on the mask that protects his face and raises his scale coif.  Putting arrow to bowstring, he flies after Griffin.

Finally, after falling a little farther than he would have liked, Remar finally manages to regain control. He looks and sees that the Manticore, about 14 yards away, just a little above his current elevation. The beast has crash landed on a rocky ledge on the mountain slope. He is slowly pulling himself to his feet and looking around frantically, probably trying to locate the falling Remar.

Well, that didn’t go as I thought, but could definitely have been worse. The mage thinks to himself.  I don’t think he sees me yet.  Given how things have played out at this point, I’d probably do well to protect myself from those spikes. Mindful of his dwindling energies, he adds another quiet layer of protection to not only protect against, but reflect any number of spikes that may be flicked in his direction.

The Manticore finally finds its bearings, shakes its head and leaps into the sky, flapping its brown, leathery wings. It scans the space below it and quickly its eyes fall upon Remar, hovering not far away. The beast roars and calls out to Remar, “You were lucky, mage, now you will be my pincushion!” With a whip-like motion, the creature flings its hind legs and tail forward, sending a shower of long, needle sharp spines coming right at Remar.

The spikes are dead on target, all intending to strike Remar in the center of his chest, but right at the last moment, they reverse direction and fly straight back at Shifirax. The surprised Manticore tries to twist and dodge out of the way, but it is too late and all six missiles impale his soft, brown flesh.

Shifirax lets out a loud and painful screech as he flops backward and lands on the rocky ledge he had just leapt off of. His side and underbelly are already stained dark with blood. The creature begins slowly scrambling backward, away from the ledge and Remar.

Hearing the roar, Draven flies as steadily as he can towards the sound of it, ready to strike with his mace if the creature winds up playing possum.

Remar carefully watches the slowly retreating Manticore.

Ey, we’re no’ dead yet?  Did we get away?  Is’t safe ta open me eyes?

Not yet.

I’m no’ sure I like tha’ answer fer all o’tose.

Well, take a look for yourself and draw your own conclusions then.

...I donna believe ‘t!  I conclude tat’s near-commical!

He calls out.  “Well, it seems ironically fitting that you’d be skewered by me this time, don’t you think Manticore?”

This is no laughing matter.  He’s evil, and I’m going to stop him once and for all!

Wait, wait, wait...

What!?!  Nothing you could possibly say would stay me from...

Ya think he knows anythin ‘bout Golthar, knows wa’s goin on ‘ere wit da undead or...‘as any treasure?

...I can’t believe I’m saying this, but you make good points.

Hahaha yer such a gannet!

I’ll not have him flying at me again though.  Also, If I live through this, I’m confessing to Draven and telling him about you too!

The wizard sends bolt after bolt from afar into the monster’s wings.

“Care to share any good reason as to why I should spare you, Shifirax?”

I can’t believe I’m doing this.

Iris loads her crossbow as she ascends, only now remembering that she meant to fashion a leather thong to hang the weapon from her belt.  Oh well.  There’s always next time.  She struggles to make out...anything, really, in the rainy gloom; then hears the creature screeching in pain.  She smiles despite herself.  Give it hell, Remar!  We’ll be there soon, I hope!.

Shifirax writhes and moans, trying to squeeze itself in between two craggy rocks and out of range of Remar’s fury. It hisses at the mage’s words, “Ahh, Shifirax bows to your might. But what good reason is there to spare Shifirax’s meager life, none, there is none.” With that, the Manticore summons what little strength it has left and leaps out from the rocky ledge, clawing the air desperately with its claws and ragged wings, reaching for the floating Alphatian. Shifirax falls many yards short of its intended target and then, with a sad, mournful wail, it plummets down.

Remar jerks back out of reflex, and then in a semi state of shock at the action taken, gaps at the falling and now wingless lion.

Kasiex squints through the rain and dark and distance obscuring his charge and….whatever that was roaring. Not a creature normal for the Valley, for sure.  Two specs in the distance dance about each other, then fall; briefly they stabilize and then one falls! Kasiex pours on the speed, hoping that his new companion was not the body falling into the rocky depths.

The Manticore falls and falls and falls. Remar watches it as it drops out over nothing, then it finds the rocky face of the mountain and slams into it. It tumbles down down, bouncing the whole way down. After it skitters down the mountainside for a bit, the rest of the companions flying up see it. At first it is impossible to tell what it is coming down, but then as it passes them, they are sure that it is much too big to be Remar.

What under the fangs of Pflarr was that!? Kasiex thinks as the creature falls past.  Looking up, he calls out in Traldar - “Remar, are you well!?”

Remar remembering where he is and realizing his spells are about to expire, floats over to the Cliff side, leans against it, and catches his breath.

Easier tan climbin’ da steps he says…

Shut up and let me savor this for a minute.

A voice with a canine-accent from down below calls up:  “REMAR, YOU STILL LIVE?”

Really?  Someone should discuss cultural mannerisms with Kasiex.  He may end up offending someone with his choice of phrasing.

After just a few more moments, the flying members of the Grey Company are reunited. Remar recounts his unexpected run-in with the nasty Manticore, Shifirax.

“...and so I guess, all things considered, you can call that a successful scouting mission after all,” says Remar, finishing up with a laugh.

After Remar tells his story, the hovering canine regards him with new admiration and respect.  “That was well-struck, Remar; it does you credit to fell such a terrible beast alone.”

The Hutaakan seems to hover nearer Remar and stare deep into his eyes.  The mage, getting better on straight word-meaning but still needing to work on his Traldar prepositional phrases, verb-tense, and placement hears, “Remar, you terrible beast.  K-sex credit you alone well later.”  

Not really knowing how to take that, but absolutely sure he heard it correctly, plans to not ever be alone with Kasiex.  He replies, “Uh...thanks.  I probably just got lucky, Kasiex, nothing you need to...um...credit me with.”

But in Traldar Remar says, “AH...THANKS.  YOU MAY PROBABLY GET LUCKY WITH ME K-SEX, YOU DON’T EVEN NEED TO PAY.”

Kasiex, clearly confused and a little discomfited, chuffs a noncommittal response and backs away a bit.  He can’t have meant..he didn’t….ugh, that would be...

Iris stares, mouth slightly agape, during the retelling of the aerial battle between mage and manticore.  She then finds herself seeing Remar in an entirely new light. Suddenly, somehow, he looks different.  His raven hair, windblown, wet, and wild, catches her eye. She remembers thinking before that it was curiously vain for a man to have such long locks, but she can hardly believe she thought that way now.  Remar turns, laughing with the company about his exploits, and catches her staring.  Iris quickly looks down and away, color blossoming across her cheeks.  

As a distraction, she glances at all of the others she spurred on to the skies.  They are relaxed, smiling---weapons no longer at the ready.  Upon hearing Shifirax's first terrible roar, she had been so certain that the mage had desperately needed their help.  Her face grows red once more, though this time with chagrin.  Iris purses her lips, irritated at herself for her knee-jerk reaction.  Irritated at my embarrassment, if I'm being honest.  She sighs.  I'll have to apologize to Ree; she looked exhausted after all of those flight spells.  Iris rubs her face with both hands, trying in vain to wipe away the rosy hue.

Draven smacks the mage on the back in a comradely fashion. “For all your complaining about not being much of a mage, something tells me you’ve been holding out on us. You’re just not cut out for dusty tomes and research, but by the gods, you know what you’re doing in a fight!”

Watching the rest of the team, Griffin catches Iris’ reaction out of the corner of his eye. Remar, you lucky bastard. Kudos. He smiles a half-smile at her blush. Oh, yea, she’s got it bad. Hope you’re up for this - she’s a strong woman.

Chuckling, Griffin steps forward to congratulate the mage. Clapping him on the shoulder, he says, “Great job, man, great job. You can lead us into combat any time!” Remar’s grin falters for a second, until he sees Griffin’s wink.

Remar laughs with relief at seeing his friends and smiles at everyone in turn.

Was...was Iris…

Naaaaaw, get ‘old o’ yerself Rema’!

“Iris, everyone, I want to thank you all very much for your quick actions in helping mobilize to come to my aid.  That could have gone either way up there.  I only hope I’ll be able to back you up just the same should you ever need it.”

Turning to Draven he says, “Thank you for your kind words brother.  Truthfully, I'm glad to make it out of that unscathed let alone in one piece.”

Grimacing, off to the side and more quietly he continues, “Also, um, Draven, if I wouldn't be too much trouble, I, uh, would like the opportunity to speak to you about a few things that have been weighing on me once we're through in that vault.”

While all eyes are on Remar, Griffin’s drift to the edge of the cliff. Far below he could see the lifeless corpse of the manticore. Might be something interesting there. With a thought he uses the magic flight to zip back down to the cliffside where Shifirax lies. With a quick slash-and-flick, he severs the tail of the beast, its end bristling with those deadly spikes. That was for Wildfire, you monster. And there ought to be some way to use these. Using the last of the magics, Griffin flies down to Ree and sets about gathering up the team for the long hike up. He gestures at the ancient staircase before them. “C’mon, guys, it’ll be fun!”

Steps to the Vault
All too quickly, everyone realizes that their magical powers of flight have ended. Luckily everyone was safe on solid ground. Also luckily, the gentle rain stops falling as well. Looking up and looking back down, the gathered companions see that they are only about 50 feet or so below the Vault of Elders though the rest of their companions, Ree, Marcel and Stephen are only on the very first stretch of stairs down below.

“I will ensure no other dangers are nearby while our companions catch up.” Kasiex looks at the gathered humans, gauging their apparent understanding of his words.  Clearly they have some trouble, but with practice hopefully they’ll all come to understand one another.

Remar rests while conversing with the others and mentions that he needs at least 10 or 20 minutes to recharge his mystical and physical energies.

Kasiex scouts the area where he, Remar, Iris, and Draven landed; if that proves safe, he begins working his way down towards the rest of the party, scouting both sides of the rocky stairs to ensure nothing is lurking in wait for easy prey.  Given enough time, he will meet the remainder of the party as they hike up, and guide them along the easiest path up to get the whole party together.

Kasiex scouts the immediate area and confirms Remar’s report that there are undead present around the Vault above but there don't appear to be any that are closer. Deciding to wait for the rest of the Company before moving on, Remar, Iris, and Draven wait for Kasiex and Griffin to escort the rest up.


Reunited And it Feels So Good

Finally, everyone has arrived to the temporary staging area about 50’ below the Vault. The rain has stopped but there are many small rivulets and streams of water running down off the hard, rocky surfaces all around.




Cast of Characters: 

Garrett "Griffin" Constantine, a Thyatian rogue of a gambler from Penhaligon rolled by +Arne Jamtgaard 

Draven Rickart, a Thyatian Acolyte of the Church of Karameikos ministered by +Jason Packer with help from +Patrick Burke 

Remar Umerusan Alphatian battle mage that escaped forced service in the Thyatian army currently marshalled by +Patrick Kelly 

Iris Vardaa Thyatian explorer and historian searching for answers and adventure, now guided by +Stephanie Kelly 

Kasiex, a Hutaakan Wildsteward used to ranging the mountains and valleys now led down a new path by +Patrick Burke 

and +Jason Woollard as The DM






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