The Lance of Marduk
Of Green Glades and Golden Grains
I had been in fox form for about a week on my journey. I grew tired and craved the comforts of man. ‘Twas in a tavern that I decided to rest. A strange dragonborn with a strange accent invited me to his party. Strange, but kind. I accepted his offer to join them, but rejected his offer for a drink. My father… No, the man who raised me… I just needed some rest. The next afternoon, I had a peculiar and intense craving for bear meat, so I enchilada’d one for my new mates on the way to the Keep. I spent most of my time confused and insecure – these companions were very familiar with each other, and I was the newcomer – yet I believe I impressed them with my skills. Actually, I gave them quite the surprise when we first entered. As they debated over the best way to avoid the floortraps, I shifted into fox form and leapt over them. The action was so normal for me that I forgot it was not such for the others. I noticed something else strange (this group is full of strangeness). Several times I caught the dragonborn staring at me. Each time I was the first to look away – eye contact was not yet comfortable for me. Either way, if the look on his face was sadness, then he caught me pawing Father’s letter. If it was lovestruck… Well, I wouldn’t be surprised; there appears to be a lot of quest-cest between these adventurers… Anyways, a dragonborn’s infatuation is the least of my concerns. I hope to be less awkward and more friendly towards my groupmates tomorrow. ‘Tis time to retire.
Green glades & golden grains,
For me, today was a quest failed. Descending further into the Keep, we were greeted by a horde of Hobgoblins. I, for most obvious of reasons, was confined to the back. However, I managed to do the best I could and enchilada’d one of the Hobgoblins, granting Phalanx a turn to heal. Just as suddenly, a dire-spider broke the Hobgoblin’s ranks. Bjorn, reacting quickly, broke one of its legs – literally. In an attempt to impress these new friends, I shifted into fox form and attacked the eight-legged beast. The spider promptly bit me and knocked me down. Ah, well… Somehow I was able to get back to my paws and make my fourth kill. In the meantime, Phenex was busy making one of the Hobgoblins her bitch. Aryawwn was very much unhappy. I am quite aware that she wants to be Phenex’s bitch – or so I gather – but I honestly don’t think a Hobgoblin is much competition… After she had finished threatening her almost lover, I noticed her curiosity in the side corridors. Truthfully curious myself, I took this as an opportunity for small talk. I attempted this twice; my attempts were fruitless – I’m pretty sure I creeped her out… Phenex’s bitch led us further down into the Keep. This did not give me a good feeling. In fact, I felt rather uncomfortable when first we spoke to him. Shortly after we entered the crypt of Sir Keegan’s family, the worst happened: I and Phenex became entrapped in a gelatinous cube… Wonderful. She was able to escape, but apparently found my company more agreeable than her more familiar companions’. Though extended periods of time usually do not faze me (half-elf), I was truly bothered. Firstly, I easily should have spotted the trap. Secondly, I wanted to slaughter the wretch that led us here. Finally I evaded the annoyance. By that time, most of the enjoyment was over. There will be other small battles, I suppose, but I have yet to be of actual help to this group. Shamefully, I followed the others to the reward in the side room. Phalanx took for himself an enchanted amulet. His glowing smile brought my spirits up a little, and I made a small smirk at his happiness. Thus the day was ended and we decided to take a rest. I read Father’s letter once more before laying myself down… I will not forget. These trivial trials will end soon, and sure enough, we will be headed out on my quest for vengeance. I just need to convince everyone of my trust and worthiness… Enough for today.
Green glades & golden grains,
In the Dark of Night
I awoke with a start as a shout split the fabric of my dreamings. Hastily I shouldered my rucksack and snatched up my scythe.I swayed as I stood – it must’ve been somewhere around 2 in the morn. In my haze, I perceived our two tanks, Phalanx and Bjorn, blocking the entrance of our treasure room. Shaking my head and steadying myself, I watched in confusion as Aryawwn lowered her weapon and began walking towards our assailants. Phalanx boldly stepped in and sacrificed his health, taking each arrow strike as a drop of rain; he swatted them away just as easily. Moments after cutting down those pesky flies, the arrows, he went down – as did Aryawwn and Phenex. Willing myself out of my stupor, I reacted with fire, enchiladaing the boss of the horde and healing Phalanx with flames. Immediately I was struck back, taking a great amount of damage. Phalanx stood and returned the favor, healing me and puking acid on everything within reach. Finally we were able to get some fresh air and elbow room. Unfortunately Phalanx was soon down again, but I had the chance to advance and attack the wretched minions. One fell to my blow and another retaliated. I took an arrow to the knee. A shrill scream seared my senses and I turned sharply to see Phalanx back up, bloody sword over his shoulder and standing over the still erect body of a headless Hobgoblin. Turning, he snarled at the rest of our foes, and they began shaking in their boots. Using their fear to our advantage, the ladies and I rushed the archers. I viciously attacked with flame and claw, phasing between beast and half-elf more rapidly than ever before and only getting shanked twice. Aryawnn healed me before we and Phalanx finish them off. She promptly passed out…
As soon as Aryawwn recovered, we decide to head out – and by “we”, I mean everyone but groggy me (oh, the wonders of sleep deprivation!). Anyways, the decision led us stumbling into a rather large and spectacularly decorated room: in the center on a finely chiseled dais, a sword-wielding golem; on the side, a standing dragon in each courner; and guarding the exit, four cherubs holding water basins. Something didn’t smell right…it was then that Bjorn took one step too far. The golem animated immediately, taking a swing at the unintelligent dwarf. I chastised him for being imprudent – it was just as I had expected. He learned from his mistake rather quickly, and while he and Phalanx wandered over to the dragon statues, I accompanied the ever-curious Aryawwn in her inspection of the cherubim. I don’t know why everyone seems to let her wander off by herself all the time – it never seems to be a good idea… Phenex eventually joined us and mumbled something about putty; I wondered to myself what in the cosmos she needed that malleable clay for… During our investigation, we found that the cherubs had water runes inscribed inside the basins. Ecstatic, I called out to Melora, goddess of wilderness, nature, and sea, in praise! …Phalanx reminded me that nothing in this Keep represented Melora, only his god… Well then. No sooner than those disappointing words had escaped his jaws, some invisible barrier set itself up between the ladies and the gents. Apparently the cherubim were another proximity activated trap. Something told me to suspect Aryawwn for this. I didn’t blame her, but I was a little annoyed that another one of us was being less-than-cautious. Quickly the small chamber began to fill with water; while the men worked away at the two cherubs nearest them, I took this opportunity to beg Melora for halp. One of my teammates alerted me by hacking away at one of the cherubim. I gaped my mouth and stared at the disgrace – no, it was the perversion of these beautiful pieces of artwork into booby traps that was the disgrace here. It pissed. Me. OFF! In a fury, I gritted my teeth , followed my friends, and swung my scythe at the last one. Unfortunately, I am not quite as strong as my companions and only maybe chipped it… Damn, my weapon sucks.
And then the worst happened… Behind the door hid a troop of undead minions, a ghoul, and a homonculus. These foes… The epitome of many’s nightmares. I had no trouble staring them down. In the Upperdark, I had watched many a foul being become a ghoul or create a homunculus. Such acts against nature must be destroyed. Although I tried to kill them with fire, Bjorn was the one to deliver them… after I accidentally set him on fire. I’m sure there will come a time when I am not useless, but today was not the day. Once the big two were taken care of, the fight was rather easy and short-lived. During the last moments of battle, Phalanx showered the minions in acid and I took out three of them. We all took a moment to catch our breaths before looting the room. Between these moments, I had a feeling of great victory and the words “level up!” flashed through my mind. Strange… In our last search of the room, I happened to find a bag of holding. We were all very impressed and everyone agreed to let me have it. I smiled in satisfaction – not because this could benefit our next adventure, but because for once I was allowed a share of the non-monetary spoils. ‘Tis finally time for all of us to get our full rest.
Green glades & golden grains,
Hero for a Day
Today I write under the influence – of victory! I can hardly believe it’s been an entire week… This feeling I have is that of divine ecstasy! Ah, but let me recall the details for you, dear reader.
Upon the morn after my last words, we entered the second to last chamber. It was probably the largest we had encountered thus far. On the far end was a black-clad priest, face tattooed in blood and chanting, atop a sharp-edged dais. A thick stream of blood poured from the ceiling into a deep pit in the center, in which also dangled thick chains. Immediately the dwarf and I sensed the presence of several vampires, two berserker bitches, and a dark one. I dropped to my paws and snarled. Springing forward, we positioned ourselves for attack, Phenex making her way around to a door on the side. Her action later proved to be stupid, but that will be explained in a few moments. Soon after establishing our set-up, the priest engaged Bjorn in an exciting (though short) duel, in which he basically long-distance phased through Bjorn in a failed attempt to attack, Bjorn provoked an attack to teleport to the priest, then the priest Matrix-dodged the dwarf’s attack. Meanwhile, Aryawwn and I got battered by the berserker bitches and the dark one stuck a dagger in Phenex’s shield. Noticing that the dwarf was basically dying, I called out to Phalanx for help after taking out one of the vampire minions. He successfully healed Bjorn, divinely challenged the priest in a moment of egotism, and made a move to attack… which failed. Phenex realized that we needed her assistance and backhanded the shield at another vampire minion; she managed to lodge it through the wretch’s eye before absconding. In the same breath, Bjorn epically smacked the priest with his hammer and Aryawwn made herself vulnerable to the berserker bitches before I could stop her. I half-enchilada’d one and fully-enchilada’d the other, minorly healing Aryawwn with my flames, as Phalanx made his way over. He not only healed both Aryawwn and Bjorn, but epically bloodied the priest with a prayer to Bahamut. Phenex finally rejoined us, shouting “Get away from her you bitch!” as she struck the berserkess hovering over Aryawwn… The quest-cest is real… While we dished out and took more attacks, I and everyone else noticed the priest’s chanting grow louder and more sinister. I attempted to take out one of the bitches with fire, but she became enraged and fell Phenex. The priest healed her afterwards anyways…In revenge, Phalanx roared ferociously and smote the priest once and for all. He bitch slapped Phalanx just before death, so Phalanx very smugly puked acid at his minions. As usual, Aryawwn was actually effective from the ground – and healed everyone! The dark one finally decided to close the distance between us. Phenex was the one to strike him first, but this move allowed the bitches to bloody Aryawwn. I turned my attention to the dark one as it shanked Bjorn after he attacked it with fire. Swinging my scythe over my head, I delivered a lightning strike; swinging Boop over his head, Bjorn delivered the final blow. We faced the berserker bitches and finished one off as the dark one disintegrated, blinding the others in its ash. Phenex was left hanging by Bjorn… but joined us in our fight with the last bitch. Aryawwn made the mistake of standing and took some damage. Finally the bloodbath finished with Phenex’s slaying of the last bitch. We decided then that it was a good idea to jump into another bloodbath…
Our leap of faith was done so in vain. Rather than sticking the landing like the badass bosses we all believed we were, we slipped down the chains and crumpled in a sort of misshapen circle. It was hilarious, really, but the timing sucked. Here of all places? Anyways, while Bjorn, Phenex, Phalanx, and I all groaned in discomfort and disappointment, Aryawwn’s banner floated down majestically to the center of our ensemble and Aryawwn herself practically pole-danced down the chains. Whatever. Too late to convince Aryawwn to make an attempt at intimidation, we gathered ourselves together, standing back-to-back for a full examination of what we were up against. Besides some skeletal minions and a wight scattered about, at the far end was what looked like a sacrificial altar with a well in the center; at the opposite end, a priest with a ram’s head helm wielding a skull-topped staff; and directly in front of me, a gaping black hole in the wall with tendrils whispering and reaching out of it – it was terrifying. The priest oh so kindly introduced himself for us, but whereas he called himself Kalarel, the voices told me he’s actually a loser whose real name was Karl. What, he needed a cooler name? Hah, oh Karl. Ending his prologue, he turned to face us. Of course, Phenex couldn’t resist flicking him off. Karl became angered and threw a shadowball at Bjorn, which he successfully deflected, but at the same time I noticed Phenex’s sudden attraction to the portal. Aryawwn shouted “Stop her!” and I swung out with my scythe, careful only to drag her back and do no harm. She thanked me with much gratitude as I watched her rage eyes fade. The three of us recovered, and while I shot out a bolt of lightning, the other two rushed up to Karl’s altar and attacked him face-to-face. He took the attacks like some macho egotistical douchebag would and bitch slapped Bjorn before teleporting in front of me. Karl, what a bitch. Phenex took that opportunity to examine the open book on his altar (not the sacrificial one in the back) and actually managed to begin reversing the incantation that created the portal. – Oh, by the way, that portal was supposed to summon the demon god Orcus. Yeah – While Aryawwn blissfully turned a deaf ear to the portal’s whisperings, Bjorn was seduced by the voice of Vairis, Phalanx heard his wife’s cries, and Karl decided it was my turn to get bitch slapped. That bastard and I locked in a little tussle before Aryawwn pretty much skipped over to heal me. Karl took a moment to complain about his pathetic minions before teleporting away again. “Yeah, that’s right Karl!” I called after him, but was cut off by something more immediately infuriating. That voice… His voice! Oh, how it angered me! Rage surging throughout my body, I hefted my scythe and sprinted at the portal… Oh wait, the portal. Well, shit. I turned toward the back of the room in frustration. Phalanx had just smashed the wight, allowing us to finish off the skeletal minions who he had been healing. Karl redirected our attention towards him, but we couldn’t seem to put a scratch on him. He cackled tauntingly and engaged in this really stupid monologue about how weak we and our gods were. Figures. Ad hominem, what a Karl thing to do. I dropped my scythe down a little and rolled my eyes. Right when I thought he’d never end, Phenex sauntered up, rage eyes full on, and loudly proclaimed “I HAVE NO GODS!”, stabbing him in the chest as he turned in surprise. Taking my fox form, I joined my companions in their attempt to put him and the last two minions down. Phalanx and Bjorn got distracted by the portal’s whisperings, but I was able to tear one up and take a bite out of Karl in one impressive move. Coming back to reality after taking an arrow to the knee, Bjorn decided to use a different tactic: seducing Karl with his lacy silken Brunhilda’s Secret panties. The group and I were horrified, but hey, it was a pretty good distraction. As they flirted a little more, I readied my scythe for a lightning strike. Bjorn looked my way, and I nodded when I was ready. He responded with his own curt nod and swiftly jumped back before I swung my weapon down, electrocuting that pathetic excuse for a villain. Karl turned and glared at me ferociously. I smirked and raised an eyebrow. That’s when he made a small gasp and fell to his knees, then his face. Bjorn stood behind him, holding a bloody knife and bearing a mixed expression of guilt and smug satisfaction.
And then shit went down. On our way back to the altar with Karl’s incantation book, a tentacle caught and fell Phenex. Bjorn and I tried to drag her away, but I had another moment of weakness, and both Aryawwn and Phalanx were busy trying to undo the incantation… which Phenex hadn’t finished undoing before because she was too pissed at Karl to not deal with him. Eventually the portal took out Bjorn and Phalanx too; we were pretty much screwed. Aryawwn and I did the best we could to counter the spell, but we were also busy trying to save our comrades. So of course it was no surprise when the book turned to ash. Well it was a surprise, but gee, go figure. At that time I had been going in and out of fox form in distress, and I really had no idea what to do. “Get to the amulet!” Aryawwn finally concluded before being pulled to unconsciousness herself. I stared at my teammates briefly – Phalanx ironically tied to the altar, Aryawwn and Phenex collapsed inches from each other, and Bjorn pitifully sprawled out… I was their last chance… Settling myself, I sprinted over to Karl’s dead body and loomed over it. Around his neck hung a large amulet, tugging his head slightly towards the portal. Somehow, I heard the voices of my companions all urging and encouraging me. They needed me, and I needed to be their hero. I phased out of fox form and attempted to stuff Karl’s body into the bag of holding, recalling that no living creature should ever be put into it. Somewhat stupidly, I thought that would do the trick, but I was interrupted anyways by an interesting situation… When I tried to shove Karl’s body into the bag, I ended up touching the amulet. A strange sensation came over me and I dropped the bag, clutching the amulet as Karl disintegrated. Jumbled images of doom and destruction flashed before my eyes for what felt like both an eternity and only a few seconds, till finally appeared the face of Orcus. “I SEE YOU” his voice bellowed. I had nothing to fear. Lowering my head and baring my teeth, I let out a vicious snarl as electricity surged through my body. My grip on the amulet strengthened, crackling energy filled the air, and a white light emanated from my palm, filling the room. I heard Orcus scream, then the amulet shattered, scattering throughout the room. I felt my hair settle back down to my shoulders, and as the light in the room faded, I turned to see my teammates rising and butterflies fluttering where there was once blood. We all stared around at each other in astonishment – then erupted in celebration! I watched the others, grinning but still too shocked to move, as they all embraced each other, still covered in blood, laughing and crying. “Hey, where’s Syd?!” someone called out, and they all turned in my direction. My smile grew as everyone rushed in for a tackle-hug, even a few kisses. They lifted me on their shoulders and cheered. I was paraded around the room to the beat of their victory chant until we all calmed down a little. We laughed and began looking for loot; besides lots of gold, Aryawwn nabbed Karl’s dagger, Bjorn his helm, and I an elven cloak. It was too good to be true –
The time had come to return to Winterhaven. Before heading too far beyond the Keep’s premises, our little party collapsed the entrance, making sure no one could ever wander back in, and nothing could make its way out. We encountered a small ensemble of the Royal Guard, who, upon our blood sodden approach, made a saber arch for us to walk though. “You don’t even have to ask”…”it pretty much sucked!” I heard Phalanx and Bjorn proclaim. All of the townsfolk stared at us in wonder as we marched our way through town. Phalanx decided to make a pit stop at the local Smithy to order a Bastard Sword, and Phenex to retrieve some white paint, while the rest of us returned to the Inn. I was introduced to the local Lord, who was surprised to see us, as the newest party member – I giggled awkwardly. After cleaning ourselves up, we descended into the Tavern and were greeted with cheering. The others stood kind of awkwardly – it was a long applause – but Phenex and I milked the attention. I’ve never been so appreciated in my life… Eventually the noise dwindled back down to the murmur of a typical bar setting, and Aryawwn and Bjorn decided it was time to establish a less-racist relationship. I attempted to make merry myself, but was interrupted by a Halfling bard who, to a small tune, informed me of a letter of great importance addressed to a “Lady Terragon” at the pigeon house. I rushed out to receive it and was very pleased by its contents; it had been sent by a much loved childhood friend…Making my way back to the Inn to rest – I felt my cold coming back – I ran into Phenex, who had a lute at hand. She begged me to assist her in its sound quality with my lightning powers and I willingly obliged. We practiced every night for about a week to get it right. Finally, upon the morn of our last day in Winterhaven, we rose early to set up. Densely, I realized she was about to serenade Aryawwn. Ahh, the yuri gods strike again. It was quite moving actually. We left that day with Aryawwn’s hand in Phenex’s and I with a new letter next to my heart.
Green glades & golden grains,