I proudly slung my new magical heavy shield across my back and mounted my mighty war horse Yarrick. The spoils of glorious battle had been good to me and my adventuring companions. My companions and I had acquired much gold and many powerful magical items after liberating the kingdom of Cadia from its tyrant ruler Abbandon the Despoiler, and its slave trade. One such Item was a mysterious dark magical stone that we’d found inside the Daemon Prince’s body after we slew the devious creature. I had actually had the pleasure to deal the final blow to the insidious creature, but in the end it was a team effort to defeat this defiler of humanity.
My party and I were traveling toward a giant magical city that the spell weavers in the group had spoke of called Arcanus. Apparently this city was a glorious architectural marvel and had some of the most intelligent minds this world could produce. Our goal was to find out to what purpose this dark stone served.
On the horizon, we could just start to make out the cold and unwelcoming mountains we had to pass. The snow covered dark grey peaks blended into the rain clouds that filled the distant sky until one had to consciously make an effort to pick them out of the backdrop. The mountains, it was said, had only a 35% survival rate to those who dared tread its peaks and passes.
“A mountain with a body count? I really don’t like the sound of that…” Said our Paladin of Torm named Alrick. A noble man, he was a very skilled warrior and very devout to his god. Along with him, traveled, Jet a sword carrying spell caster, a ranger named the Silver slayer who carried a bow, a rouge, whose’ name had always escaped me, and a dragon born cleric of Kord named Torm. Which was strange for the Paladins gods name was Torm….
All of these men were trustworthy and formidable in combat. I had deemed myself blessed my Kord that I had the fortune to join a band of such men. Although we had, parted with two party members, a Tefling named Randomquest and an artificer named Rangrim we still had the numbers to face most things that could come our way.
A couple hours latter the mountains started to dominate the horizon. We were close to the base of the mountains, when out of nowhere a strange magical rift opened in the air above us and forward of our position about 7 feet. It was as if a god had taken a dagger and ripped a hole into the fabric of reality. I started to draw my flaming sword when a familiar figure dropped to a heap on the ground before us. Rising slowly, brushing off his robes, stood Rangrim the artificer. He wore bandoliers around his torso holding various vials full of strange liquids. I was relived to see that he hadn’t exploded when he had hit the ground, for I had him many times blow things up with the bottles he carried.
He had another strange device with him this time, it was like a metal tube with a handle, and he had it resting on his shoulder, holding it up with one hand.
“Hello Rangrim, nice of you to drop by…” I said to him dismounting and walking to greet him. The others in the party did the same, all of us exchanging hellos.
“What in the hell is that thing?” Jet said and pointed to the tube.
“Glad you asked my friend! Let me demonstrate,” Rangrim replied and stepped away from us. He pointed the tube towards a distant rock. All of a sudden a bright purple blue light spewed from the tube and a ball of this light landed on the rock, exploding in a dazzling display of light and broken fragments of rock and earth. It was times such as those that I was glad I was on the same side as these magic users. Part of me thinks such things are dangerous to life, and are strangely unnatural. However, most of the equipment I use harnesses magic, so I cannot object too strongly. I simply don’t trust it as much as many do.
After staring at the destruction the device brought, we briefed Rangrim on our destination and purpose and he agreed to come along with us on our quest. We continued on passed noon and found ourselves at the base of the gigantic mountains. We talked amongst ourselves, as to what possible routes to take, weather to go over the mountains or around. It was looking like we were about to go over them, and I started to adjust and tighten my cold weather gear on my horse and myself when the Rangrim said,
“What if we went THROUGH the mountains?” I knew when he said that, I wasn’t going to like the result. Before I could object various party members were wondering how this could be done, and Rangrim and Dylan got to work. They pulled large pieces of what seemed to be scrap metal and wood out of a bag that seemed like it would have been impossible to fit all of these things in. I sat back in my saddle as the two worked sorceries beyond my understanding.
Incomprehensibly, they put all the strange pieces together into the strangest contraption I’d ever seen. The body of it was like a very large cart with strange controls mounted at its head. In the place of good old normal wheels, there were long thick interlocking pieces of metal, that were stretched over many smaller wheels mounted to the cart, so when the wheels turned, the metal strip moved and the machine was propelled across the ground. I heard them call this strip a “tread” and it seemed to work very well. But most unsettling of all this abnormal hobnobery was a giant spinning drill mounted in the front of the cart. It was like a hand drill that a carpenter uses, but it was very big and seemed to run all by itself.
I watched in horror as Rangrim and Dylan proceeded to bore a huge hole into the side of the mountain. They started to make very good progress and they started to disappear into the hole. Every one of the party members stood out side, refusing to go in. Everyone’s faces seemed to say, “There is NO way, I’m going in there after that thing.” I sighed and spurred my horse into the tunnel after them. As I got inside, I found them stopped inside a huge cavern so big you couldn’t see the far walls.
“Wow! I bet there’s a whole system of tunnels that will take us to the city!” Dylan said. Before I could even begin to protest a masked figure ran by us, and out the tunnel.
I turned to yell after the figure, and chase him. But Rangrim and Dylan had turned around the machine and were speeding towards the exit, Rangrim screaming,
“Flying spiders! Run!” I laughed a little to myself. Flying spiders? How bad could such a thing be? I turned back to face the cavern drawing my flaming sword. As soon as the flame on my sword illuminated what was coming at me, I urged my horse to turn and run out. A giant swarm of small red, winged spiders filled the entire cavern in an instant.
I cleared the entrance to the cave, and all of the creatures rushed out. I kept fleeing, then turned to see they had amalgamated into the form of a giant spider.
I decided that if it couldn’t be defeated, I would at least try to buy my friends some time to leave. So I had my horse turn around and bolted toward the swarm. The first swing of my sword missed the swarm all together, the spiders making a hole to avoid my long sword. I saw Jet charge it and get engulfed into the swarm. He started to blast at them with fire spells, incinerating thousands of spiders with each swing of his sword. Rangrim opened up with his metal tube, blasting holes into the swarm. The rest of the party joined in and did there part, hacking and blasting, and finally enough of them were destroyed, that the remaining spiders scurried back into the cave.
Jet, who had been lifted up on the tied of arachnids, was left to fall to the ground in a heap of twisted limbs. Aggravated, he gathered himself up.
“Well that fucking sucked. No more going through the mountain,” he said. I was relived that we had come to the conclusion that it was a bad idea and we were all still alive.
The Paladin turned our attention to the figure who had run out of the temple brining with him a swarm of flying spiders.
“What is your name wizard?” He said as we all turned to face the man.
“I am Eladrin, wizard baron. I have been attempting to find my way through the mountains to the city of Arcanus. I was very fortunate that I ran into your artificers drill. I thought I would have been consumed by the swarm,” Eladrin said. After further words with the Paladin and the magical members of our party that I didn’t pick up on because I was watching the drill machine with the suspicion that it might explode or something, it was decided that he would accompany us in our journey over the mountains.
I was in a way, relived that this wizard did not seem to be on the side of evil, and that we had made a new ally. I was, however, not so relived that Rangrim decided to bring his drilling machine with us as we started to scale the mountain passes… It could not be helped.
We traveled onwards for several hours. The cold of the high altitude of the mountains was starting to aggravate me. It was the first time I’d ever seen such cold and I wasn’t sure if my war steed could take an entire journey though the mountains. In retrospect, I’m not sure if it was the cold that was angering my or the fact that the others seemed to not mind it so much.
I was leading the party march along with Jet, with the artificer close behind and the rest of the party either riding in the machine or walking along side it. All of sudden I heard one of the party members call out, “Contact!” I wasent sure which one it was, for I had drawn my sword and was staring down one of the strangest creatures I’d ever seen. It stood about seven feet tall, with six arms, and skin that was a deep blue, which seemed to be as smooth as ice itself.
“Oh no! It’s the deadly Plethora! The ones responsible for the mountains body count!” Cried out the Paladin. At first, I was confused at the strange name for the creature. In the common language, Plethora means and overabundance or excess, but then I noticed again the number of arms the possessed and thought no more on it. I then decided to try to find a peaceful way out of this situation. I called out,
“What is your business here?!” Jet looked at me like I was an idiot, and the biggest Plethora responded,
“This is OUR mountain! What is YOUR business here?!”
“We are passing through to get to the city of Arcanus.”
“You cannot pass with out paying a price!” The Plethora responded.
“You can have the artificer!” Called out the rouge, prodding the unwilling Rangrim forward.
“Wait wait wait,” interrupted Jet, stepping in front of Rangrim, “Would you all be interested in a new age fancy drilling machine? It goes through rock, dirt, snow and your enemies with ease!”
To my extreme delight the Plethora all glanced at each other in apparent interest, and the leader said,
“Yes, that will do fine, you may pass through the rest of the mountain undisturbed by our kind.” I smiled as the reluctant Rangrim stepped off his contraption and the blue monsters boarded it and drove away. As we watched the machine disappear down the path we had just came from, the Rouge said,
“It’s not too late to give the artificer to them as a bonus gift…” At that, I had to laugh.
The end of the day came and we settled down a little bit off of the road. I seemed to be the only who remembered that fire wood may have been needed, so I struck up a fire. The rouge and I had the second watch. I had perched myself atop my horse and was actively surveying the darkness for signs of movement. Those Plethora creatures couldn’t be the only strange thing on this mountain. Along with the flying spiders I wasn’t sure what else we’d encounter.
My answer came to me unfortunately, as I saw and heard movement near the edge of the fire light. I drew my flaming sword and nudged my horse a bit closer to the source of the sound.
“Who goes there?! Show yourselves!” I said sternly. I kept staring, and started to make out tall slender shapes. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the Rouge creep up beside me, straining to see the things. As I concentrated harder, I could make out the shapes to be tall, slender lizard people.
“What is your business here?!” I yelled again. My fellow adventures started to awake and pick up weapons.
“You can’t see us!” One of them yelled to me.
“I’m looking right at you!” I responded with anger.
“YOU CAN’T SEE US!” The lizard man insisted.
“I’ll not ask you again! What is your business here!” I yelled getting annoyed. One of the lizard folk hissed back to me,
“We are sneaking!” The rouge and I exchanged glances. Sneaking? I wasn’t sure how to respond to that.
“Your sneaking?” Replied the rouge.
“We are sneaking!” Yelled the lizard.
“Okay, well, go ahead,” I said, gesturing to the path beyond us. The lizard folk crept along the edge of the fire light, looking at us the whole time, and proceeded to slink off into the distance.
“What the hell was that all about?” Inquired Torm.
“This place gets weirder the more we stick around,” stated the Paladin. Although I frankly agreed with him, as long as things could be talked down, I didn’t care.
The rest of the night passed with out any problems, and in the morning we got going again. Conversation in the party was scarce, it seemed as if the magical folk weren’t talking about the arcane dialogue did not occur. Perhaps it was because we were being alert, perhaps it was because we had nothing to say to each other. Either way, because of this our next encounter was spotted and heard as clear as day. As if the things we had encountered we’re not strange enough, this is what stood before us.
A construct made entirely out of ice, three goblin like creatures, and behind all of them was a goblin looking shaman. I’d never seen goblins in a climate such as this, but if we had encountered flying spiders, creatures willing to not kill us for a magic drilling machine and sneaking lizards who’s only interest seemed to be sneaking: Anything was possible.
Because I was leading the party, I decided to go with the old standby phrase in goblin,
“What is your business here?” The goblins seemed to be surprised at a human speaking their language, but I learned many odd things fighting in tunnels fore 4 years.
The shaman responded,
“This mountain falls under the kings’ jurisdiction! And we are tired of taxation without representation! We also demand a vote in the legislation! Not a big vote though, we understand that this is a small part of the land.” I stared at them confused, not exactly sure what they were talking about. My party members were asking what they were talking about, and I told them I’d handle it.
“Okay… well, if you let us pass, I’ll have a talk with the king, and I will set it up so his people will come and speak to your people,” I said with confidence. Although, I knew not of which king he spoke of. The only kingdom I’d ever belonged to fell, my king slain, and I hadn’t really bothered to memorize the governmental jurisdictions of the other kingdoms that covered the lands.
“No, you may only pass if you return with an officially sealed document granting us an audience with the king,” the shaman responded, an edge of defiance to his tone.
“Okay...” I said under my breath.
“Ciaphas! What the hell is going on?” Jet asked me, slightly irritated. The others started to ask the same and I responded,
“Shush! Don’t worry, let me deal with this!” I thought to myself, and then remembered all the random items I had in my possession. Luckily, I had a bit of red sealing wax from my sergeant days for official reports, my service ring I’ve always worn along with paper and a quill. I wrote down an official sounding sequence of words in common and goblin, which, I’m sure wouldn’t make any sense if actually analyzed, but I folded it up and with the help of a little flame from my sword, I sealed the letter with the wax, imprinting my ring into it. I trotted my horse to the shaman, and handed him the document.
The shaman opened it and scanned over the freshly written document. He smiled and shook my hand.
“You may pass though, we appreciate the cooperation, it is so hard to get messengers to the king requesting an audience,” the shaman said. He and his minions thanked us once more and moved on down the road towards who knows where.
“Care to explain what that was all about?” The Paladin asked. I explained what I had done as we continued down the road towards our destination. As I had expected, no one had any objections to my actions. If violence is avoidable, why not avoid it?
That day passed by with out any other incidents, which was fine. Night time was uneventful besides the cold biting at my ass. We got going early the next morning and as if Kord had gotten annoyed with me for not fighting my way out of situations, we came upon an already commenced combat.
We came upon our old friend named Randomquest, the Teifling Warlock. Surrounding him, and seeming to be beating him to a bloody pulp stood a bone golem holding a giant scythe, a minuitar holding two giant axes, and a man in pitch black armor, holding a sword engulfed in black fire.
The solution to this problem was obvious.
I charged forward on my horse to the man with the black sword of fire, drawing my own fiery sword and took a swing. I missed, and then he comes back at me with a sweep to take out my horse’s leg, which I parry with my sword. I knew I could trust my party to join in with me, the rouge coming in for the flank on the black warrior, stabbed him in the ribs with his katar. The wizards opened up with a barrage of explosive magic, while Jet charged up and finished the warrior in the black armor with a single hit of his sword.
We then converged onto bone golem. It swung at me with its scythe, which I managed to doge at the last second. I stuck my sword into it, cracking most of its frame. My companions finished it off, but not before it managed to slice Jet a couple time. He was fine, and he was the first to go to the minuitar and start hacking at it. The artificer aimed and fired with his metal tube, nearly knocking it over. I charged the Minuitar, and got a lucky break, stabbing my sword into its lung and twisting it. It yelled out in pain, fell down, and died.
Since no one was hurt, we greeted Randomequest, and continued on. I skip the dialogue we had, for most of it was arcane jabbering between the magical folk that I can’t understand or spell.
As we continued through the mountain, the Paladin noticed we were being followed.
“Call me crazy, but that snow bank if following us…” he said, pointing out a snow bank that looked rather familiar. We all stopped to look at it, seemingly in awe. No one was doing anything, so I decided I would, and I rode up to confront it.
“You there! What is your business here?” I said sternly to the snow bank, feeling like a fool. To my shock, it responded in common,
“I am a snow bank! I belong here! What is YOUR business here?!” I stumbled over my words for a second and replied,
“We are just passing through, we are trying to get to the city of Arcanus,” I waited for a bit as the snow bank said nothing, and did nothing. Then, a couple of Plethora, came out of the snow.
“Ah! Our friends who gave us the drill! How are you today?” one of them said.
“Umm, fine… this snow bank has been following us though,” replied Torm.
“Ah, that is simply protocol. You are our friends here, how would you like to stay in our ice castle? It’s near by, and we have rooms that aren’t ice cold for you,” I looked at my companions and the paladin said,
“Okay guys, meeting over here for a sec?” We all huddle around the Paladin and he says,
“I don’t know if we can trust these things, it seems a bit too convenient,” I roll my eyes at him and turn my horse around.
“Where the hell are you going?” Jet called after me.
“To an ice castle.”
The Plethora lead me, and my party who reluctantly followed me, to a giant castle made completely of ice. We could see Plethora all over the place, and as we entered the gates of the castle. The inside of it was like any other castle, except everything was made of ice. We were lead to our respective rooms, where I decided to retire for the night. After getting my armor off and making myself comfortable, I started to doze off in my rather comfortable bed when I got a knock on my door.
I got up to open it, and standing there was my entire party.
“What’s… going on?” I asked, wondering why they were bothering my sleep.
“Can we come in?” The paladin asked. I let them in and we all sat around a table that was in my room.
“What? What was so important it couldn’t wait till’ morning?” I asked annoyed.
“We bought a magic carpet, that fly’s, and it can hold everything including your horse!” Rangrim said all excited.
“Wonderful…” I said knowing that nothing good could come of this, “anything else?”
“Yeah, we got information about a white dragon on the top of the mountain, and we should go kill it,” The Paladin said.
“Wait, we’re gunna go out of our way to go fight a giant dragon for no reason?” I asked.
“Yeah, what are you? Scared? A coward?” Torm inquired.
“Kord damn it…” I replied.
So the next day we all gathered a top the magic carpet. We started to fly towards the place on the mountain where the dragon was. The plan we formulated was to have the close combat troops charge in first, and Rangrim would fly around on the carpet blasting the dragon. It seemed like a good plan to me, and as we approached the giant cavern that was the lair of the white dragon, me, the Paladin, Torm, Jet and the rouge, got off the carpet.
We all started to move into the cavern. We got about 300 feet into the cave, when the white dragon exploded out of the ground about 100 feet ahead of us. We were sprayed with snow and frozen earth as the dragon got its footing. It spread its wings and I charged. I urged my horse to go as fast as it could. When I got up next to it, I slashed at it 3 times, making deep scores into its stomach, blood flowed out and stringy muscle became visible.
The dragon reared up higher, and roared. It was a deafening sound that instilled fear in me like nothing had ever done. I couldn’t move as the dragon flew over me and breathed fire on the party behind me. I forced myself out of my daze and charged the rear of the dragon. I could hear magic crackling through the air, and the yells of the close combat members as fire rolled over them. I stabbed the dragon in the back leg hard, plunging and slashing, hoping to do enough minor damage for it to get weak.
The leg I had been stabbing rose up, and came down in an attempted to squash me and my horse. Luckily, Yarrick was quick enough to doge the foot, but the tail, which I hadn’t noticed, caught the side of my head. It nearly knocked me off my horse, and it took a second to gather myself. My comrades were still beating the crap out of it, and I lead my horse under the tail of the dragon near its stomach. I plunged my sword into its gut, where it looked like there might be something important. I willed the power I could only use once a day of extra fire to come from my sword.
The sword sliced into the hide with ease, and I pushed it in till it was down to the hilt. I twisted the sword and the dragon roared in pain, and started to fall. I pulled out and managed to get out of the way before I was crushed under the dragon.
As I rode around to the front, I saw I wasn’t the only one responsible for the death of the dragon. The dragons head and chest were a bloody mess of charred and shredded flesh. A large pool of blood was seeping out of the back of the dragon where I had stabbed it.
“Well, it seems we’ve killed the dragon,” I said, and we proceeded to gather the dragons horde that was hidden under sheets of ice in the back of the cavern. With the help of The Silver Slayer, I took the skull of the dragon and had the wizard we’d met in the beginning of our mountain shenanigans, transfer the magic on my existing shield, to the skull, so I could use the top half as my new shield.
We all got onto the carpet, and started the last bit of the trip to Arcanus.