Thursday, December 31, 2009

No Entry Tonight

It's New Year's Eve, so get your sorry ass off the computer and celebrate.  Don't be pathetic like me.

Have a safe time, don't drink and drive, and we'll see you in 2010 with more adventures in Doomwatch.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Meeting

I'm hurt, the Prince thought.

Seriously hurt, and I just might die in this pisshole.  Even if I live, that she-bitch bit me.

His mind reeled at the thought of the lycanthropy disease possibly coursing through his veins right now.  He pulled himself up into a sitting position, wincing at the pain in his stomach.  He removed his tunic and tried to make a bandage for his wound.

He sat and listened for a long time.  No sound other than dripping water and scurrying little feet met his ears.

Scurrying little feet.

He became aware that movement was nearby... tiny feet inching their way toward him.  He struggled to stand.

I'm damned if I'll be eaten by rats, he promised himself.

He felt the wall and found the door from which Ariya originally came.  With no choice, he ducked through and closed it.

The darkness in here was just as bad as in the hallway, but a faint gleam appeared somewhere to his left.  He drew one sword and felt his way toward the source.  A hallway... extending off toward some unknown light.  He edged closer and saw it was lichen dimly glowing.

He padded down this hall... saw another branch to the left, and instinct told him to follow it.  It ended without fanfare.

Mmm-hmm, he thought, and began to feel for anything to reveal a hidden door.

Immediately, he found a protrusion of stone, and he pressed it.  A secret door slid open, and the Prince found himself exposed to torchlight.  Warily, he looked around and saw the light coming through a door.  With a start, he realized he was in one of the jail cells in the Hall of Xis.

He edged closer to the door and looked out.  No one was there, but the torches were lit.

He traced his way back to the well and the platform left there so long ago.  Collapsing on it, he decided to rest a bit before trying to pull himself up.

With a start, he realized two things: one, he had dozed off here.  Two, the platform was going up.  He drew his second blade and waited for the light now above him to reveal its secrets.

In minutes, he made out a form... no, two forms, pulling the rope to bring the platform up.  Shapes became faces, and he saw four looking down on him.

As he came to a stop, he smiled. "Good evening, and welcome to Doomwatch."

The four faces looked at each other and drew their weapons.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Battle In The Darkness

(Sorry I missed last night; I was unavoidably detained all evening.)

Sword in one hand, torch in the other, the Grinning Prince leaned against a corner as he surveyed the two possible passages. One ended at a great door almost out of sight, while the other spanned into darkness.

If his bearings were right, it was the second choice that would take him closer to his goal.  He quietly moved down the hallway.

The flickering torch dissolved shadows as he passed a doorway on the right.  He considered opening it, but decided to move on.

The doorway jerked open behind him, and he barely spun to his left to parry a killing blow.

Ariya Thule, her backstab spoiled, flew at him with a flurry of cuts and stabs.  Unfortunately for her, the Prince dodged to the side and brought the flat of his blade down on her head.  While dropping his torch and drawing his other blade, he bellowed "Haven't I already killed you?!  I distinctly... remember... killing you... and dumping your bloodied carcass down a shaft!"

Ariya soaked up the blow and rolled forward and on her feet, blood dripping from the back of her head and her blades at the ready.

The Prince took a defensive posture. "Now, how do you want to do it?  Shall we repeat what happened before?  I'm going to kill you, your spooky-eyed lich master, and then rescue my friends from this pit.  I promise."

He stepped forward with two thrusts, one high and one low.  Ariya blocked both with ease, but didn't see his boot coming for her gut.  It connected with a hard thump that sent her flying backwards.

"I seem to recall kicking you in the delicates last time.  I'll bet that was pleasant," he cooed and stepped to her side with a downward swing.  She rolled over just enough to avoid the blow and leaped to her feet with one savage swing that was blocked.

But Ariya did not mean to press the attack; instead, she kicked the nearby torch... lifting it off the stone floor and into an arc which sent it sailing down the hall.  Taken by surprise, the Prince drew both blades up for protection, but couldn't stop her as she bowled him over and disappeared the other way into the darkness.

The Prince looked up just in time to see the torch sputtering out.

Panicked, he got into a crouching position with each blade pointed each direction, and waited for the attack.

Straining to listen in the pitch black, he could hear her breathing somewhere down the hall.  It was labored from heavy exertion... then a gurgling sound as if she were choking up fluids... slowly devolving into a hair raising growl felt more than heard.  He peered down the hallway at what he thought were red lights, and then the Prince knew...

Wolves eyes don't glow in the darkness without a source to reflect, he thought.  Where is that light?

The twin lights bounded toward him followed by a howl, and before he could bring the other blade around, she avoided a weak thrust and leaped on him with her full weight.  He felt crushed under what felt like twice her normal size.  He felt her breath as she snapped for his throat... grunted as he banged against her head with his left blade to no avail.  Ariya had him trapped, and it was just a matter of time before she tasted his blood.

He rolled slightly to his left and emptied that hand to bring it up against her head, then quickly twisted to the right to bash her against the nearby wall.  Ariya howled; he repeated, with more strength brought by encouragement.  Ariya backed off and bit into his thigh.

Now it was the Prince's turn to scream, and he jerked to bring his right blade slashing down on her head.  He felt it bite into her skull, her weight lift and disappear... leaving the Prince to pant for breath and grimace on the cold stone floor in the darkness.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Somebody's Watching Me

He watched the slim fighter slip down the stairwell and into the area below.

The scene in his crystal ball shifted as the Prince roamed short corridors which led to empty rooms... slowly closer to this hidden chamber in which Xis sulked.

The skeletal figure turned to Ariya. "Find him.  This time destroy him and bring his corpse back if you can, but get those swords he carries."

Ariya Thule nodded and departed noiselessly. Xis hissed and leaned back in his ornate chair.

Are these interlopers worth the trouble of keeping them?  Would it be better to simply kill the other two as well?

He turned to gaze upon the raven haired cleric trapped in the violet energy field on the platform.  Such a marvelous tap for spiritual energy.  She really is a conduit for so many gods, and so confused... so easy to confuse...

And the magician... the strong willed wizard from the southern lands.  His mind was such an effort to trap and bend, but what could be tapped from him before he is reduced to a husk?

Xis hissed again and pondered the possibilities.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

At The Altar of Kae'Aboth

When the hanging fell, the Prince walked into total darkness.  He knew there was a small passage beyond, and felt his way along the right wall.

Presently, the passage turned right and continued for another twenty feet or so until he hit a dead end.

This can't be happening, he thought. There must be an entrance somewhere.

After groping for some five minutes, he made his way back to the wall hanging and listened for any movement beyond.  Satisfied, he slowly lifted the hanging up and looked into the room.  All was as he left it.  He grabbed a dying torch from a sconce and returned to the corridor's end.

Waving the torch a little to build it up, he scanned the end for any sign of a secret door.  After several minutes, he spotted a smaller stone that was too square for a natural cut; he pressed it, and a section of the wall on the left slid back.

Leery of hanging around here too long, the Prince dashed through the door and came into another chamber.

The area was large... maybe 100 feet or more in length and roughly 30 feet wide.  A quick scan showed no other exits to the room in his immediate area, but the far end was shrouded in shadows.  The ceiling vaulted with an apex of 40 feet; all was supported on pillars at equal points.

The Prince looked around and saw dead torches ensconced along the walls.  He grabbed one and lit it from his dying light, then moved further into the room.

The pillars were intricately carved with chaotic scenes of all sorts.  He spared them a quick glance and moved toward the other end of the chamber... halted a bit when he saw what appeared to be an altar at the other end.

Slowly, he approached within twenty feet... conscious of possible traps designed to destroy the infidel enemies of whatever god was worshipped here.  He backtracked to the end from which he came, and suddenly noticed a stairwell descending into the darkness.

So at least I can get out. He thought.

Back toward the altar, he approached from the other angle... stepping in a random pattern to increase his odds of not hitting a trapped stone.  Eventually, he got within ten feet of the structure.

It was seven feet in length or so... rising up to 3 feet and carved with symbols of a god he knew.

"Kae'Aboth." He spoke the name aloud without thinking, and the altar subtly vibrated the dank air here.

Curious, he approached the altar and begin to wipe the dust and cobwebs. "Kae'Aboth," he said again.

The air here began to lighten, and the Prince felt the nagging buzzing that had been in his head slowly fade. He cleaned it further and spoke more firmly. "Kae'Aboth, hear me.  I am allied with a priestess of yours."

He didn't expect much, but the effect was more than he bargained for.  The remaining dust swirled and reached into the air high above the altar.  A form appeared, female and powerful, but transparent.  He thought it looked almost like Qova.

"I answer the summons for Kae'Aboth... I, Elanda, his servant.  Who speaks the Great One's name and claims his cleric as friend?"

"Well, names are relative," he made a "who me?" face. "His cleric is lost... trapped somewhere down here, and I need the means to free her. I ask for your aid."

"And what aid could I give you, mortal?" the figure lectured down.

"Give me arms to destroy her captor, and I will lead her back to this altar so that she may properly re-consecrate it," the Prince replied.  Give me a weapon capable of destroying the mightiest of undead, even if for just awhile."

Elanda smiled. "You have chosen wisely, mortal, and your petition will be granted. You will do well to keep your promise or die trying." And with those last words, Elanda slowly vanished... and on the altar lay two broadswords.

The Prince unsheathed them.  Both were of fine quality with unusually sharp blades etched in northern runes.  He read them by torchlight; they said "we seek and destroy the walking dead."

The Prince grinned, strapped both scabbards to his waist, grabbed his torch and headed for the secret door.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

An Awakening

It was like staring at the same scene for hours, and suddenly realizing that you were seeing a different viewpoint.

His eyes focused on... a ceiling?... the broad beams spanning the stone ceiling of a place deep underground.

My, my, he thought. What have you gotten yourself into now?

Like early morning sleep shaking off, the Prince found he could move.  But he didn't.  He rolled his eyes to each side as far as he could.  There was someone on his left, but he couldn't focus enough to see who.  He returned his eyes to center and listened.

Water dripped on stone somewhere nearby... a whisper of feet somewhere behind him.  He froze back into the posture and expression he formerly held.

A face loomed over his... upside down.  The Prince forced his eyes not to automatically snap up toward it.  He relied on perepheal vision to take in what was offered.

Blonde hair... fixed, icy eyes... and a subtle breath on his face.  She examined him closely, and slapped him.  He let his head slightly rock from the blow, but showed no response... especially as realization dawned.

Ariya Thule.

Ariya withdrew from his field of vision and moved to his left.  The Prince sensed her checking who ever was there... another slap.  After a minute, she quietly stepped away.  The Prince heard a door open and close.

He waited... for no other reason than in case she was waiting.  After five minutes, he thought, he became convinced she was gone.  He slowly turned his head to the left.

He was on a platform of sorts... wide enough to accommodate his frame.  Roughly three feet to his left was another platform occupied by someone.  The Prince focused his eyes in the gloom.


The magician didn't move.  He stared straight up at the ceiling, unblinking and with no expression as if he were waiting for something to appear.

The Prince decided to take the next obvious move.  He eased up from his place of rest and quickly looked behind him.

A single door stood roughly ten feet back.  Torches lined the walls, sputtering down but still enough to reveal the contents of the room.  Tables lined the walls and were covered with odd glass objects, pewter and assorted other things he didn't recognize.  His scan of the room showed another resting platform on the other side of Arbiddance, but it was empty.

No other exits.  Except...

He raised up a little more to pay attention to a wall hanging.  With one more glance at the door, the Prince placed his feet on the floor and slowly moved toward the hanging.  He carefully lifted it and gazed behind to find a passageway.

He quickly moved back to Arbiddance and looked down on the impassive face.  He snapped his fingers lightly... touched the bearded face.  No response.

"Sorry, friend..." he whispered. "Nothing I can do for you.  That blonde bitch is loose again, and I need a weapon, so off I go and I'll try to come back for you as soon as possible."  He eased off, leaned back and grinned down. "But only if you promise to be good while I'm away."

And behind the tapestry he disappeared.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Among Thieves

"The coins," a tiny man whispered over the table, "show the likeness of Aris IV, yet appear freshly minted."  He dropped the gold pieces and wiped his mouth to hide a smirk. "You wouldn't be trying to pass on some counterfeits, would you?"

Malek leaned forward. "Sadly, no.  They've simply been kept locked away for some time.  They're more than genuine, I assure you."

The smaller man casually glanced at the bosom of a passing wench. "I see.  Alright.  Suppose I'm daft enough to follow you into a wizard's lair, past his baronial guards, and deep below.  What then?  I'm guessing you're not looking him up just for a chat.  Is he wanted?  Does he have some thing of value that requires a dagger in his kidney, or what?"

Malek sighed. "It's immaterial, Yrmus.  I simply need a skilled hand to help out here.  I've arranged for the company of two sellswords.  I've bought them already, just as I'm paying you up front.  I feel sure there's the promise of loot as well.  At least, they seem to think so." 

Yrmus waved a hand. "Is your plan any more complex then this?"

"Complexity," Malek smiled "endangers goals.  Neither the wizard nor his companions have been seen for some time.  I strongly suspect they are dead.  We merely need to verify this.  That's all."

"If it's Doomwatch," Yrmus muttered, "then they likely won't be found, and perhaps we won't either."  He leaned back. "Forty percent of the loot."

"Twenty," Malek countered.  Yrmus glanced off and grinned.

"You'll do better than that."

Malek casually traced the letter C on the table with his finger, the back of the letter facing Yrmus. The smaller man gazed down, gazed up, and formed another C to sit back to back with Malek's tracing.

"Twenty," he sighed.
Outside, the two met with a pair of large, armored men.  Malek stepped up to them and pinged their chainmail.

"No," he stated.  "Leather only."  Both looked at him as if he suggested wearing girdles. "I know, I know, but entrance requires stealth.  You'll put your mail in this." He produced a bag from under his tunic. "It will hold whatever you need."

The two fighters glanced at each other and then nodded their assent.  The four walked away from the tavern into the darkness as Malek explained further.

"We approach the house from the southern side.  There will be one guard on duty on the premises.  Others will be patrolling the road, but that won't matter.  I've arranged for a diversion to be made just before dawn.  The guard on the door will go to the guard house for reinforcements... while he's away, we'll have perhaps two minutes to climb through the window and get inside.  From that point on, stealth is the word.  Once we are below, you may then change back into your mail.  Understood?"

Everyone else nodded.

"Fine," Malek smiled. "Leave nothing in your rooms.  You won't be coming back here no matter what."

Monday, December 21, 2009

Doomwatch 2

To his lordship, Mor-Kilen, Master of Wik and the Scribes of Haraj,

Sire, I send you greetings and wish to update you as to the steps I've taken since I departed your presence a fortnight ago.

Following your instructions to locate the renegade magician and, if possible retrieve the pages of the Twilight Tome which scrying revealed to you as in his possession, I followed word of his passage with two companions to a remote Barony far west of Talus.  After ten days, I gained word he had deposed some minor baron of little importance and taken the title for himself after the death of one of the aforementioned companions deep in some local ruins.  I disguised myself as an onion seller and scoured the area in question to find a rather fine residence built into the side of a hill and under heavy guard.  This, I was assured, was the residence of the new Baron.  First approaches earned me a lick on the back from a pole arm by one of the patrolling guards.  I later returned to a local tavern and gathered the following information from local gossip.  I have had little time to validate the information, but the majority rings true:

I was told that the magician, Arbiddance, with two or three companions, gained entrance to a series of underground areas which may or may not be related to the infamous Doomwatch.  The general consensus is that the ruins are not related to that fatal place lest the Duke descend on the area and take command of it himself as he has done with other supposed entrances.

I was told that Arbiddance has gained certain powerful magics from underneath the hill which aided him in constructing the domicile and overthrowing the local Baron.

I was told that he imprisoned the former Baron somewhere within that complex, and that there are more than a few local residents willing to draw swords for him if he were somehow released.

I was told that the former Baron had drawn into the exploration of the ruins an evil priest and a mysterious cut throat from the wintery north.

Finally, I was told that Arbiddance and his band have not been seen in over two months, and that his commander of the guard has been keeping the affairs of the Barony in order on his own authority not because of allegiance to Arbiddance, but out of fear for the former Baron since no one seems to know exactly where he is held within those ruins.

After hearing these bits of information, I decided to investigate the ruins and the residence myself if at all possible.  I found the area security to be amazingly lax just before dawn, and forced my way in through a window.

I searched the residence to the best of my ability.  Having found four rooms impervious to my lockpicking skills, I retired from the scene and  have elected to return again and venture into the basement where the actual entrance to the ruins is hidden.  After I have investigated this area, I will send my next missive with more informaton.

My loyalty is only to you.  Regards,
To Malek-Taus-Dalan

Let the crow whisper these words deep into your mind.  Free your thoughts, and allow my commands to form in front of your eyes as mist from the spring morning.

I am pleased with your initial report and your efforts to track down the traitorous thief Arbiddance.  I feel as you do that he is somewhere afoot within these ruins of which you speak.  Indeed, your report corroborates information I obtained through other means more esoteric.

I charge you as follows: seek entrance into the depths below.  Find the deposed Baron and free him so that he may regain his former status.  I know of the Baron Falang; he will not be ungrateful.  Seek out the traitor and ascertain his fate.  If he is dead, then seek proof and return to me with a full report.  You will find under your bed enough coins to hire any help you may need at your own discretion.

The pages he stole are secondary.  If you find them, then good.  If not, it is of no real importance since copies were penned long ago.  It would be nice if you did find them, since I hate damaged tomes.

If you find the traitor alive, seek audience with him and, when within striking range fulfill your duty to the order and your masters.  But before you strike, be certain to speak the following words: "Mor-Kilen bought the blade that is to be bathed in your blood."


Friday, December 4, 2009


...will return on the Winter Solstice.  Stand by.