Xymor

To the Victors Goes More Hardship

The battle was won but the heroes were far from being safe. Maggie and Roman were down for the count, viciously attacked by Rylos Goan who lay dead with his face fully melted. Nolofinwe quickly administered first aid to his comrades before they could bleed-out and die. During the brief respite, Nolo and Arien tried to plan how they would escape with their unconscious friends, particularly with the heavily muscled body of Roman Kahn. In a sudden moment of recall, Nolo remembered he had a single remaining healing potion and administered the contents to Roman.

The barbarian awoke in an instant, still in his rage condition left over with his last stand against Goan. He roared, grabbed Nolo by the neck, and lifted him off the ground. While choking, Nolo noticed Roman’s eyes looked like that of a cat and his exposed teeth showed long fangs.

“Ro…man….it….is….Nolo… friend,” Nolo struggled to say as Roman slowly crushed his throat.

“Roman!” Arien shouted as she ran to her lover’s side. She touched his arm and cast a spell. A brief shower of cold water issued from her hand and onto Roman’s face. The effect broke his rage. Immediately, Roman released Nolo and stood there a moment to calm himself.

Nolo, slowly standing up and rubbing his neck, spoke, “We need to get out and now.” He gestured to Maggie’s body, indicating for Roman to carry.

Roman ignored him, looking at the dead body of Goan at his feet. He picked up a blade from the ground, knelt before the corpse, and started to saw off the head. “No!” Roman shouted. “I will not let this creature live again. I will have his head!”

“Oh, Roman,” Arien gasped.

From all around, and from no particular direction, the trio heard a soft-spoken, yet raspy, voice speak, “You must leave Burran! There is nothing here for you but death. Go away and live.”

“I think that’s our cue to leave,” Nolo said.

“NO!” Roman shouted. He ignored the threat and continued to claim his prize. Suddenly a bolt of greenish light struck Roman. He fell unconscious, unable to complete his goal.

“Leave Burran now,” the voice spoke again. “There is nothing but death for you here.”

Nolo and Arien looked at each other and jumped into action. Arien ran to Maggie, and with the help of Jarra, attempted to lift and carry their fallen assassin. They failed. Nolo stabilized Roman and tried to lift and carry Roman. He too failed.

“Leave Burran now or die,” the voice echoed in the room.

“Oh be quiet!” Nolo spat in frustration, “We’re trying to leave.” He felt a strange surge of magical energy close to his arm.

Again, Arien and Jarra tried to lift and carry Maggie. And again they could not. Arien thought she noticed that Jarra was barely trying to help. Perhaps, Arien thought, Jarra’s fear was getting the best of her or was there something else involved?

“Jarra, honey,” Arien said, “I need your help here. I need you to give it all you got! Heave!”

In the meantime, Nolo, instead of trying to lift Roman, decided to drag his body to the staircase. Once there, he thought for a moment. He tried to lift Roman again but realized that he, in his human form, would never have the strength to carry his comrade. “That’s it! How silly of me for not thinking of it before,” he whispered. He closed his eye and began to shape shift his body into a large ape.

Finally, Arien and Jarra were able to lift the petite body of Maggie and carry her to the staircase along with Nolo.

“You will die in Burran if you do not leave,” the voice echoed.

Arien rolled her eyes and sighed. “Now dear,” she said to Jarra, “We got the easy part done with but now I’m gonna need all your help to get Maggie up the stairs. Okay, honey?”

“You know,” Jarra said, “I remember Master Goan keeping some strange potions in his private office. I think he stored them in his locked safe.”

“Well child,” Arien said, “Why didn’t you say something earlier. Lead the way.”

Nolo, in his ape form, jumped up and down, made some high-pitched howling sounds, and pounded his chest. For a moment, Jarra forgot where she was, and giggled at the hairy beast. Nolo lifted up Roman’s body and went upstairs. Arien and Jarra, struggling to carry Maggie, were right behind him.

Once upstairs, Jarra led the duo to Goan’s office. She showed them the locked safe. When asked, she did not have a key nor did she know where her previous master kept his keys.

“They’re probably on his dead body,” Nolo concluded. He and Arien sighed in unison.

Jarra mentioned that she would be willing to go back down and get them. She did not seem afraid of the voice or of the green magic lightning attacking her. Arien refused to allow it. Instead, Arien used her Acid Splash spell to melt the lock. Upon opening the safe, the three of them discovered, to their delight, four healing potions.

Quickly Nolo and Arien administered to potions to their fallen comrades. Roman, once again woke up along with Maggie.

Roman quickly assessed the situation and growled in frustration. He lost his trophy and feared that Goan may return. While Nolo rummaged through Goan’s personal office, stowing away anything that looked valuable, such as parchments and scrolls, Roman knelt down in the center of the office and, using his finger dipped in his own blood, drew a strange symbol on the floor. It was a symbol his mother taught him to use when a task was uncompleted. It was a symbol of three interlocking triangles, all connected, but with no beginning or end.

“Vengeance,” Roman whispered. He sprang up, growled, grabbed and lifted Jarra, and ran out the front door. His three friends followed behind him.

Roman did not get very far. Right outside, Shora Craghammer and her guards were investigating the dead, broken bodies of the children strewn across the front of the building. Immediately, the four heroes were stopped and questioned. Without hesitation, Jarra ran towards the guards, crying and screaming about how the heroes killed her friends and Master Goan and how they planned to abduct and use her in ghastly ways.

Nolo and Maggie were shocked in silence by her betrayal. Roman, had he not been completely spent and exhausted, would have flown into a rage. Arien, while surprised, kept her composure and quickly acted as the representative of the group. For each difficult question Shora and her guard’s asked, Arien answered with persuasive tact. She partially told the truth of what had happened, excluding the fact that it was Nolofinwe’s spell that slaughtered the children. But Arien did explain that the dead children were controlled by the monster, Goan, and that their deaths were unavoidable at the time. She invited Shora and her guards to investigate the building and see for themselves. Through it all, Jarra continued her accusation against the heroes.

Shora sent a couple of her guard’s into the building. After several minutes, they returned and confirmed Arien’s story, to the dismay of Jarra.

Jarra quickly changed her tune. She rushed over the Arien, crying and sobbing, begging for mercy and forgiveness. She claimed she was so scared and uncertain about everything that had happened. She claimed Master Goan had controlled her for so long, she didn’t know who to trust or believe. Arien forgave her. Roman privately snarled to himself.

Shora, while believing the heroes, still insisted that they stay in a single place for further questioning. She told them that they were to return to the Chain Ward and wait for her to speak to them again tomorrow. The heroes agreed.

The heroes returned to the Night Glow with Roman demanding a hot bath. Arien quickly paid the innkeeper for another night and for Roman’s request. Nolofinwe, now being associated with his new friends, was forced to pay for his own room at the Night Glow even though his home is in The Stalk.

After a quick tryst with Arien in the bath, Roman spoke to Jarra in private. The conversation was short but intense. He told of his mother and how she taught him the importance of trust and the danger of betrayal. Roman pointed out that Jarra had betrayed him and his friends two times. The first time, he was willing to forgive. But the second time was one too many for Roman to allow such a dangerous person near himself, his lover, and his friends. He threatened her that if she betrayed him and his friends again, he would have to cut off her fingers. He gave her a choice – leave and never be seen again or stay and never betray the group again lest she have to accept the consequences.

“Do you want me to leave?” Jarra asked Roman.

“Yes,” Roman answered, without hesitation.

“But where would I go? You killed all my friends,” Jarra whined.

Roman did not fall for that trap. “We didn’t kill your friends. They’re still alive. And you have many homes to go back to.”

“No I don’t. You ruined it. I have no place to stay,” Jarra spat.

Roman smirked. “You cannot play me for a fool, girl. You are part of the thieves’ group in this town. You have a large family and many places to stay. But if you insist on staying with us, you need to ask yourself how much you value your fingers.”

“What?!” Jarra spit. Within a second, her tone and demeanor changed to that of a vicious child of the street. Roman recognized such beasts and knew she was too dangerous to have around.

Roman grunted. “Tomorrow morning, I want you gone and I don’t ever want to see you again. Do you understand?”

Jarra nodded.

The next morning Jarra was gone.

Just like last time, Arien started to panic for the little girl. She wanted to go out and look for her, but this time Roman stopped her. He convinced Arien that Jarra had made her choice and there was nothing to be done about it. Arien huddled against Roman’s chest and cried, but she accepted Jarra’s absence as destiny.

In the morning, Shora visited the heroes. She told the story of what happened after the heroes left to return to the Night Glow. Three of her guards found the large hole in the basement of the orphanage and attempted to climb down and investigate. But in their spelunking endeavors, they were attacked by strange and evil magic in the form of green bolts of lightning. One of her guards died while they tried to escape.

Shora believed there was something truly dark and evil underneath Burran, something that has been in the shadows and hidden from average folk. She feared that it had been around for a long time and the heroes had inadvertently poked at it. Since they were the ones that killed the manticore, Shora asked the heroes to investigate the trouble. Arien, speaking for the group, agreed to Shora’s request.

Afterwards, Roman went to the storage facilities and picked up his manitcore corpse. Roman, with the large dead body, led by Nolofinwe and followed by Maggie and Arien, went back to the Stalk region and walked to Haldo’s Hides. He entered the establishment by himself and was able to convince Haldo to work on the manicore, particularly extracting any poison and converting the spike tail points into javelins. As Roman started to leave, he notice a large tapestry on the wall made of various skin patches. One of them, a small square piece of red skin, had a tattoo of a left-handed gauntlet held upright and four octopus-like, black tentacles wrapped around the palm. Roman instantly recognized the symbol and it took all his willpower from going into a full rage.

Roman demanded Haldo to tell him where had gotten the patch of skin and when. Haldo, bewildered, explained that over a year ago, a young warrior type with blonde hair approached him with a dead red kobold and wanted it stuffed. Haldo refused the task. Angered, the warrior left the carcass lying on the ground and left in a huff. Roman asked if the warrior was still around, but Haldo seemed to think he had left Burran a while ago. Roman demanded, as part of the manticore deal, that he be able to take the patch of the red kobold skin from the quilt. Haldo obliged and gave it to him…

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The Man With The Melted Face

Long into the future, in a land far, far away…

Roman, Arien, Maggie and Nolofinwe found themselves staring down a hidden staircase in the Burran Orphanage. Arien, still invisible due to her sorcery, sneaked down the staircase into a basement. Her footsteps aroused the suspicion of a thug hiding behind some crates and she quickly exited to warn her companions. The heroes spent some time debating their next move until Roman kicked down the secret door and announced to those waiting in the rooms below that he was coming down.

The companions filed into the basement where they came under attack by the thug and several orphans that darted from cover. Roman leapt through the air to land in front of the thug and struck him down while the rest of the companions used their magic and might to render the orphans unconscious. During the battle, they noticed one of the orphans was the missing Jarra. Arien went to her and questioned the child. Jarra admitted that a man named Rylos Goan ran the orphanage and used the children as thieves. However, Goan gave much of the riches gathered to the “Dark Thing” in “The Pit”.

Despite their weakened state, the heroes decided to press on into the next room, reasoning that leaving the thieves den occupied would only cause further trouble later. After Maggie picked the lock to the next room, Roman flung the door open to come under attack by Goan and more orphans. A dark satyr in the back of the basement quickly jumped down a black pit in the corner of the as Goan and the orphans viciously attacked Roman. The barbarian fell to the onslaught as the others fought off their enemies. Nolofinwe revived Roman who called a retreat.

However, their foes gave chase. Maggie was caught and struck down by Goan and his minions. The remaining heroes decided to stay and defend their fallen comrade. Roman fell to Goan’s rain of blows, but Nolofinwe was able to cast a poisonous spray to finally send Goan to his death…

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Sad Little Orphans

Long into the future, in a land far, far away…

Roman, Arien, Maggie and Nolofinwe decided to investigate an orphanage in Burran with the hopes of finding the lost Jarra. Maggie had discovered a Thieves Cant symbol that indicated the building was a thieves’ den, but the group pressed on. Roman climbed to the top of the roof and made his way down a chimney. Nolofinwe transformed into a cat and peered inside one of the windows where he saw young children running in the halls. Arien turned herself invisible and peered inside. She saw a hooded man with part of his face heavily scarred sitting at a desk and talking with several children. And Maggie knocked on the front door.

One of the young girls opened it and invited her inside. Maggie stayed in the doorway but quickly came under attack. The man rushed forward and punched her in the throat as several of the orphans jabbed her with their daggers. She pulled away and the orphans followed her outside, eventually drawing enough blood to drop her to the ground. Nolofinwe soon arrived and created a thunder bolt that killed all of the children in one vicious wave. He then healed Maggie, and with the still invisible Arien, they entered the orphanage.

Meanwhile, Roman found himself in the kitchen area with three orphans. He rushed out and knocked out a girl and growled at the others to flee. The reunited group then used a key to open a secret door that led to a descending staircase…

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Child Killers

Long into the future, in a land far, far away…

Roman, Arien, Maggie and Nolofinwe battled against a sword mage, dust mephits and small children in The Stalk district of Burran. During the fight, Arien cast web on the ragged boys, making them easy pickings for the rest of the group. As the dust mephits fell in battle, they exploded into clouds of dust, temporarily blinding some of the companions.

As the sword mage continued to dodge behind a corner after casting his spells, the heroes moved forward to confront him. He teleported to the rooftop to escape the onslaught, but Roman and Maggie followed him up. Meanwhile, Nolofinwe turned into a mushroom armored elk to run around the building in hopes of cutting off the attacker’s retreat. However, Roman caught the awaiting sword mage by surprise on the roof, badly injuring him so Maggie could deal the final blow.

After the battle and a search of the bodies which turned up an ornate key, they continued to the orphanage where Arien hoped to find the missing Jarra. Once there, Maggie tried peering into the window, but found they were blocked. She then noticed a triangular smudge on the building indicating that this was in fact a thieves’ den…

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Heroes of Burran

Long into the future, in a land far, far away…

Roman, Arien, Maggie and Nolofinwe discussed the local temperament of Burran while enjoying drinks in the Bowling Boulder. A patron interrupted their conversation to invite Roman to take up a bet to lift the boulder inside the bar. Only the owner, an orc named Gangor Fist, had ever been able to lift it. After much cajoling, Roman accepted the challenge. Arien noticed that the orc secretly undid a latch that hooked the boulder to the floor before lifting it. With this knowledge and his strength, Roman easily lifted the boulder and tossed it into the spore stomping pit. Betting money exchanged hands and Roman enjoyed his payment of free drinks. They drunkenly left the bar after a night of carousing and dancing to crash at the Night Glow.

The next morning, Maggie woke to find Jarra missing. She and Arien went to search for her as Roman and Nolofinwe decided to head to Haldo’s Hides. Roman was approached by Paff in the Chain Market, who claimed to have a map of a temple that could, might possibly, contain a portal to the surface, as well as treasure. In exchange for an even split of any treasure, he would give them a map of the place and lead them there. Roman brushed him off and after getting their paperwork in order, the entire group headed to The Stalk to do their individual business.

While they were travelling toward an orphanage to see if Jarra was there, the heroes came under attack by several young, dirty boys. The children were joined by a sword-wielding wizard and two dust mephits. The group shook off the sleep effects of the mephits as Nolofinwe caused the ground to sprout forth vines to entangle the wizard. Arien shot her magic missiles at him, only to be rebuffed by his shield. Roman throttled one of the boys and threw him into the wizard before a mist surrounded the wizard and he teleported away. Meanwhile, Maggie attempted to battle three additional boys that tried to sneak up behind them. The dust mephits then blew blinding dust into the air, causing Nolofinwe to lose his sight…

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Slaying the Manticore

Long into the future, in a land far, far away…

Roman, Arien, and Maggie continued on their journey to the city of Burran in the caverns of Xymor. Roman, still enraged from a battle with bullywugs, grabbed Ich-Tell by the throat, held him over a high waterfall and accused him of knowing about the bullywug ambush. The pathetic cultist swore innocence and with help from Arien’s soothing voice, Roman roughly released him. They all jumped down to the ledge below with the help of Arien’s featherfall spell.

They eventually arrived at a beach where beggars emerged from tents. Arien offered to help a young human girl named Jarra and soon there was chaos on the beach as the rest of the poor mob wanted help also. Arien shooed them all away as the blind ferryman arrived. For the price of a ruby, Dargoll agreed to transport them to Burran, which was an enormous petrified mushroom jutting up from Black Lake.

During the journey, a manticore attacked. It shot tail spikes at the heroes, eventually killing Ich-tell. Arien continued to blast the creature with her sorcery, enraging it. It flew directly toward her and landed on the boat. Roman flew into his own rage and jumped on the back of the beast while trying to choke it. Meanwhile, Maggie darted in and out of the melee, eventually using her rapier to slay the beat.

The group made it to Burran where the guards at the gate were surprised to see the manticore slain. They directed the companions to the Bowling Boulder tavern. Inside, the heroes noticed that word of their deeds had spread among the townsfolk. To their surprise, they were approached by an elf they recognized from their times in the magmium mines. Nolofinwe introduced himself, saying that he escaped from the mines by using his druidic powers to change into a mouse and slip past the guards. He was deeply saddened to hear of Mortimer’s death and agreed to guide the others throughout Burran…

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A Sad Goodbye

Long into the future, in a land far, far away…

Roman, Arien, Mortimer and Maggie searched the lair of the now dead Jax Newlife. As Arien examined the glowing orb on a pedestal made of clawed hands, Mortimer picked over Jax’s body. He found the necromancer’s wand of magic missiles, two bone darts and a pouch stitched with an image of a humanoid wearing stag antlers. The image resembled Arcano, a creature that Mortimer saw in his dreams when he first acquired his own magic powers.

Mortimer opened the pouch and pitch black smoke poured forth with ethereal claws to surround him. Maggie tried to knock Mortimer away, but found herself under attack. Arien cast magic missiles at the claws, causing some to dissipate, but it did not help much. Roman attempted to chop off Mortimer’s hands, but only managed to knock the pouch away. And still the smoke poured out, targeting Mortimer. Maggie tried to stab the pouch, but was again attacked. Arien blasted it with firebolt causing the pouch to close, but only after in consumed the smoke, the claws and Mortimer himself.

Roman picked up the pouch and encouraged his dispirited comrades to move on. Outside the chamber, they triggered a trap filled with white mold spores. Ich-Tell fell into the pit, but was rescued before succumbing to the spores. They continued following Ich-Tell to Burran, but were interrupted by a group of bullywugs. The vile creatures proved no match for the heroes and fled once they realized the battle was hopeless…

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Slaying the Necromancer

Long into the future, in a land far, far away…

Roman, Arien, Mortimer and Maggie continued their battle against the undead army created by Jax Newlife in the caverns of Xymor. A mummy continued trying to frighten the raging Roman to no avail as it took a solid beating from the group. Eventually, Maggie struck the creature in a vital spot, causing it to unravel into a pile of ribbons. The skeletons in the cavern continued raining arrows, but were soon put back to death.

The group continued after Jax, but soon had to face an animated rug made of humanoid skins. It was eventually cut to shred after trying to strangle Roman. Maggie snuck forward into a chamber where she spotted Jax hiding behind a pile of rocks with his wand of magic missiles in hand.

After reporting her findings, the companions moved in to attack. Arien and Mortimer tried to distract the necromancer as Roman charged in for the kill. Jax attempted to again flee and blast his way out, but he could not withstand the might and magic of our heroes…

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The Necromancer's Lair

Long into the future, in a land far, far away…

Roman, Arien, Mortimer and Maggie searched a cavern in Xymor where skeletons recently emerged for a losing battle. The area appeared to be a necromancer’s morgue. Searching through the debris, Mortimer found a vertebra inscribed with arcane runes. He decided to spend some time examining the artifact as the rest of the companions explored the nearby area, tended to wounds and had some cuddle time. Mortimer discovered that the vertebra could be used to stare extra spells, so he pocketed it.

The heroes then headed into a chamber that had two locked chests. Maggie examined them both and found nothing amiss. Ever cautious, Roman used his glaive to move one of the chests which caused rocks to tumble from the roof. With the trap disarmed, they opened the chests to find them both empty. The group then entered a chamber where two zombies tried to dump more rocks upon them at the entrance. They avoided the surprise and quickly dispatched the undead.

In the next large cavern, the heroes faced more undead foes including a rotting mummy. The necromancer, Jax Newlife, offered the companions eternal life whether they surrendered or not. Undaunted, the foursome entered battle. Roman flew into a rage as he tried to take down the mummy, avoiding the creature’s frightful visage. Arien created mirror images of herself to confuse her adversaries as she launched magic missiles against Jax. After being wounded by his adversaries, Jax fled from the cavern, but his minions remained behind to continue the battle…

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Zombie Furries

Long into the future, in a land far, far away…

Roman, Arien, Mortimer and Maggie decided to take a much needed rest after an intense battle with an ogre zombie. Mortimer conjured Edgar again to keep watch on the southern tunnel as Roman kept watch on a chamber to the north. During Roman’s guard, a zombie meandered into the area. Roman easily took his glaive to the undead and destroyed it. Later, during Maggie’s watch, another zombie wandered by. It wore a tattered bear fur costume but did not heed the sleeping companions.

The next morning, Roman used a tale about his former fighting companion named Meatball to discuss tactics with Maggie and Arien. His strategies were put to the test as three costumed zombies attacked. Roman kept the creatures bottled up in a passageway as Maggie darted in and out of the melee. Arien and Mortimer rained magic from further away, until skeletons clambered in from chamber to the east. Roman flew into a rage and ran to slay the skeletons as Maggie finished the last zombie.

The skeletons fell to sword and spell with that last crumbling to a blast from Arien’s magic missile…

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