A place for random posts about painting and modelling miniatures for historical, fantasy, and science fiction tabletop games.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

The Elven Tower - Part Three

The following is a excerpt from a manuscript recovered from the ruins of Ihram of the Pillars. Research shows it was written by a third century scholar named Furud al-Wahhab al-Bayati and recounts the legend of the Light Bringers during the chaos after the fall of the Immortals.

Journey Into the West

Chapter IX– The Elven Tower (Continued)

After the last of the beastmen were dead, the remaining Lightbringers brought order to the chaos in the tower. Never have I been so busy. My Khanum put me in charge of the kitchens and feeding all of the slaves who had been set free. The Wolf and his men-at-arms with the help of Arnie worked to get the freed slaves organzied and working on the defenses of the tower. My Master, the Blade Dancer and the Mamlūk were both bed ridden with serious injuries. The Hashishi I saw sulking around the camp, looking suspiciously at everyone. Occasionally he would come to the kitchen late at night looking for a hot meal and I would see fresh blood on his garments. Evitable someone would missing the next morning,

I asked the Wolf what was the column of light we saw upon the top of the tower and where did the Khanum get her armor and spear from. He told me that the Khanum had opened the door to the House of the Rising Sun and was whisked away by a djinn known.* When she returned from where ever she went, she was armed and armored as such.. He would say no more, the other membrers never openly discussed what happened other than they were ambushed by the villains known as Leonius and Gemini, confederates of The Demon. I remeber this Leonius from thenattack on the Hastinov Estate a couple of months ago.

*Dept. of Arcane Archeology: During the course of translating this text, there was vigorous debate as to what this House of the Rising Sun was. Some argue it is a gateway to the mythical realm of the Djinn. Others however argue that it is a reference to the Gates of Don and the Djinn was actually a being from the elven pantheon of gods known as the Piper.

The injured members of the Lightbringers were slowly recovering; all of them had been grevely injured in some way. The right side of the Bladedancer had been laid open taking her eye. The Mamlūk has lost his left ear and a portion of his jaw. My master leg had been shattered and he could barely move. The Bladedancer would have normally used her divine gifts to speed along their healing but her injuries prevented this. There were no priests or priestesses of sufficient rank or skill among the freed slaves. 

The Khanum ordered horses and a wagon made ready, she planned on taking them to the elven shrine in the hopes that its ancient magic would heal them. She left the Wolf and the Hashishi in charge of the Tower, both of whom protested this greatly. She however was adamant and they conceded to her wishes.  I, most faithful servant and retainer, was allowed to go; maybe I would finally see the Unicorn.

The journey to the shrine took three days as the terrain was rough and hilly. We had an escort of ten heavily armed men-at –arms, most of them were elves except for Arnie and one of the humans from the valley, a Thracian woman named Letta.  During our journey to the shrine I had an opportunity to observe the Khanum. She had changed since she entered the tower. There was now a strong air of otherness about her; in the same manner as a swanling sheds it down and becomes a swan, she was shedding her humanity.

In the company of so many elves, I could see how much more like them she had become. There were times when she was very quiet and would stare off into the distance. Once I was bold enough to ask her what she was looking at. She would smiley sadly and only say “That what was and is now gone". To this day, I am not sure what that was suppose to mean, but it sounded very elvish to my humble ears.

We finally made it to the shrine and we made camp. When the sun had set and the stars awoke, the Khanum left us to walk deep into the shrine.  She returned shortly after, had us bring the wounded and followed her. She guided us to what looked like a large natural pool which glowed with a blue light. Out of the center of the pool grew a large white tree which was in bloom. Its flowers had white petals with a deep blue throats and gave off a wonderful smell. She bade us undress the wounded and place them in the pool. Once we were done, she told us to leave, and that she would call us when they were ready. Three days passed as we waited to see if the ancient elven magicks would heal her comrades.

When we returned to the pool, we were surprised..........................

Friday, July 6, 2018

The Elven Tower - Part Two

The following is a excerpt from a manuscript recovered from the ruins of Ihram of the Pillars. Research shows it was written by a third century scholar named Furud al-Wahhab al-Bayati and recounts the legend of the Light Bringers during the chaos after the fall of the Immortals.

Journey Into the West

Chapter IX– The Elven Tower

I am Furud al-Wahhab al-Bayati, most faithful supplicant of Ishtar, humble son of the burning sands of the Alasiyan Desert. This morning I found myself sitting here in the bustling grand bazaar of the fabulous city of Ihram of the Pillars. As I sit and listen to the sounds of the bazaar I slowly sip my scalding hot kahve and I think back to the days of my youth. I had left my poor village in the desert hungry to see the world and to find grand adventure. The world I did see and adventures me did have. Adventure, I have learned, is a dangerous trade, one fraught with incredible peril. 

During my days in service to the hairy little berserker Oberron, I travelled with many brave adventurers, my life had never been more exciting or more imperiled. They were the Lightbringers: the fiery Khanum, the lithe Sword Dancer, the savage Wolf, the taciturn Mamlūk and his brother the oafish Hashishi. Then there were all of their followers, the dour spellblade, the mad nightblade, the dwarven wall of muscle, the elven soldiers, the freed human slaves and a dog named Tycho. Those brave humans, elves and dwarves stood against the greatest evil the world has ever known, but today I tell the story of the Tower of Eammon Tor and its capture by the Lightbringers.

I remember waiting in the party’s hidden camp watching them march off into the gathering darkness of the late evening. They were going to gain access to the tower via a long forgotten sewer entrance. With surprise on their side, they hoped to eliminate the leadership of the army, throwing it into chaos. We were to watch the tower from afar and if we saw an opportunity we were to make our way to the slave pens and start freeing slaves.

Personally I thought it was a ridiculous plan that only a fool would attempt. They would be outnumbered forty to one and there was no telling what horrors lay hidden in that crumbling tower. The fact that the twins came up with this plan only illustrates the dubiousness of it. 

It was warmer down here in the foot hills of the borderlands, but still cold in the evenings. I had brewed a kettle of shay bālqrfh (Transl. cinnamon tea) and nursed the campfire as we waited. The sky was clear and the stars shone brightly in the night sky. The moons rose and crossed the night sky. Pantera, the red moon of chaos, chasing after Matera, the white moon of the gods. It is said by the older herdsmen of my village that one day Pantera will catch Matera and the final battle between the gods of law and chaos will begin.

As the night stretched on the moons had set and still no signs of anything unusual coming from the tower. Everyone in the camp was on edge, we should have seen something by now. We saw little activity in the fortified camp outside the gates of the tower, the beastmen maintained their normal patrols.

The sky to the east had begun to lighten, the sun would soon be up, but still nothing. As the first rays of dawn broke over the horizon a pillar of light shot straight up into the air from atop the tower. Shortly afterward the boom of thunder and jagged bolts of lightning began to come crashing down. An epic battle had begun at the top of the tower.

Arnie the dwarf turned to us and told us to follow him. I made a silent prayer to Ishtar and begged her for protection. The dwarf led us to the hidden culvert and we soon entered the lowest level of the tower. We found ourselves in a large chamber with a cesspool. I did not know what smelled worse, the cesspool or what lay next to it. Two great and horrid creatures laid half out of the pool, they bore many wounds and were quite dead. It seemed my master and his comrades had made their acquaintance.

We soon began to climb stone stairs leading up were we found ourselves in a circular room dominated by a massive marble crypt. It was hand carved with exquisite detail and bore the graceful and elegant writings of the elves. In the center of the crypt a shield had been inserted, I recognized the shield. It was of ancient elven design and been recovered from the depth of the lost dwarven vault by The Mamlūk. Why he would leave it here of all place I did not know, he would not have placed it there without good purpose. Littering the floor of the chamber were the bones of the long dead, some poor unfortunate souls from a time long forgotten. At the end of the chamber there was another staircase but it was blocked by a pile of dead bugbears. We had to drag the horrid smelling bodies out of the way before we could go any further.

As we climbed the stairs to the next level, I caught a strong whiff of something coppery, death. We soon found ourselves in a circular passageway that was drenched in blood and gore. The bodies of dead bugbears lay everywhere, but none of the Lightbringers were evident. Nailed to the wall by a large iron spike was the head of a particular fierce looking bugbear. I would later found out that this was none other than Ulrik Eye-Gouger himself. The Mamlūk had borne him great ill will and it would seem he finally delivered his vengeance upon the bugbear chieftain. The rest of the floor contained even more dead bugbears and a room full of treasure.

We pushed on and upwards, we walked into a maelstrom. The next level was the ground floor of the tower and the sound of battle could be heard coming from the upper levels. The dwarf and the humans ran towards the doors of the tower dispatching several orcs. With a mighty heave the dwarf flung open one of the door and we could see the fortified camp and the slave pens below. The tower shook and dust rained down on us as another lightning bolt rocked the tower. Arnie and one of the man-at-arms began killing beastmen, while the female warrior came with me to release the slaves from the pens.

With the help of the freed slaves, the beastmen in the camp were soon overwhelmed. Arnie came and found me, dragging me out of the safe cozy little hut that I had found. He and the other retainers dragged me through the chaos back into that slaughterhouse inside the tower. Arnie led the way, felling any one that got in his way. Arnie was extremely devoted to the Khanum, for she had freed him from captivity. He was determined to go and fight by her side. We finally made it to the top of the tower and I gasped, there had been a lot of stairs and I was short of breath.

The top of the tower was littered with the scores of the dead, most of them were ogres and orcs. The Wolf was down on one knee clutching his massive two handed sword, he was covered in blood and his breathing was labored. I could see the female elven spellblade crumbled on the ground, split in twain next to her master The Mamlūk, who was gravely wounded. His brother was beside him desperately trying to stanch his wounds, while the mad female nightblade walked among the fallen enemy killing any who still breathed..

I looked around for my master but could not see him, I walked among the dead until I saw his arm sticking out beneath a pile of dead beastmen. I called to Arnie for help and together we hauled the bodies off of my master. He laid at the bottom of the pile, greviouly wounded. I called out for the Bladedancer for aid, but heard no anwser. I looked around and saw her body on the ground. Her face a ruin from a savage blow.

At first I saw no sign of our Khanum, but I spied a figure exiting the minaret attached to the top of the tower. At first I did not recognize who it was. As the armored warrior approached, the wind blew and I spied red hair flowing out of the helmet, it was her, our Khanum. Her old garb had been replaced with armor of silver and jet, her head covered by a winged helm plumed with black feathers.

She now wielded a long spear crafted of ancient dawn redwood and tipped with a leaf-shaped spearhead of bright orichalcum counterbalanced by an orchicalcum butt-spike. She took off her helmet and spoke to the others, her voice was heavy and low, colored by anger and frustration. She told them that someone named Leonius had escaped and taking with him both of the Banes and the Fire Seeds.

She reached down beside the Bladedancer and took the enchanted staff the cleric always kept wrapped up. She took the staff and began to heal the wounds of the fallen. The Bladedancer was the first to be revived, who opened her one good eye looked around at the carnage. The nest to be revived was The Mamuk  and my master.

She then gathered the ones that could still fight and led them down into the tower. There were still fighting going on in the tower. The Wolf, The Hashishi and Arnie rose to their feet, and followed her. Soon the dying screams and wails of beastmen could be heard echoing out through the tower as the heroes let loose their frustration on the remaining beastmen. I stayed behind with my master and prayed to Ishtar to grant her grace upon him.

The Lightbringers had won a great battle, but it seemed to be a pyrrhic victory.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

The Elven Tower - Part One

The following is a excerpt from a manuscript recovered from the ruins of Ihram of the Pillars. Research shows it was written by a third century scholar named Furud al-Wahhab al-Bayati and recounts the legend of the Light Bringers during the chaos after the fall of the Immortals.

Journey Into the West

Chapter VIII – The Journey South

Once more, I, the most humble servant of Ishtar, Furud al-Wahhab al-Bayati, and true son of the dry lands of the Alysaian Desert do continue the telling of the tale of the brave heroes and heroines who stood against the greatest evil the world has ever known. As I sit here in my study overlooking the courtyard of my home I can feel the warm wind heated by the desert sun upon my face, the warmth fades and I begin to shiver as I remember the days after the fall of the ancient dwarven vault.

We were riding down out of the cold, windy forlorn mountains back toward the lowlands. It was still the season of spring, but you could not tell it riding on the back of a donkey down a treacherous mountain path a goat would think twice about taking. The icy wind that blew off the snow covered peaks cut through the winter gear that my master had purchased me. He of course did not seem to notice the wind or the cold, even half naked as he was. My master, if nothing else, was a true barbarian at heart, his recent conversion notwithstanding.

The party had grown larger with new recruits drawn from, the ranks of the freed slaves we had liberated from the beastmen camps in the high valley. A dwarven vault guard named Arnie and several of the freed human slaves had joined the party. They seemed able bodied if not the smartest people I have ever meet, but they might be good for stopping arrows, especially any pointed towards me.

The elven twins had convinced their friends that seizing a long forgotten crumbling elven ruin located south in the beastmen infested borderlands was a good idea. The Twins, never have I meet two people who had such a burning desire to embrace death as those two. They managed to get the Khanum, the flame haired beauty, mistress of the bow, and bird charmer to endorse this folly, so south we rode.

The journey to the south was uneventful for the most part. One of the twins, The Hashishi, had been recently cursed by Ereshkigal, goddess of the underworld for his crimes against her. No one would talk about why he had been cursed, but I surmised his clumsiness no doubt had a part to play in it. I have seen crossed eye camels with more grace. His curse seemed to involve him waking up naked in a tree, a very strange curse.

It was not until we came across a dirty little hovel in the middle of the wilder lands that things turned interesting.  The poor farmstead once belonged to some luckless peasants who had fallen victim to the savagery of a pack of Rusiyyah, blood thirsty barbarians from the far north. Interesting enough, one of the more recent members of the Light Bringers was a Rusiyyah. The Wolf was a barbarian who had been raised in Thrace. He had renounced the dark infidel gods of his people and had embrace the faith of the Thracians. He went as far to claim that he was a champion of Ashur, King of Heaven. The others seem to humor him, but I think he was mad. I always kept a careful eye on him, waiting for him to creep in to our tents at night and slit our throats. 

 Image result for Ruins

The heroes charged into the hovel surprising the raiders and a brief melee ensued as the heroes made short work of them. Her greatness, the Khanum, however was less than pleased. During the fight, The Wolf ordered the men-at-arms to protect her, which they did my dragging her away from the fight. The blistery tongue lashing she gave The Wolf and men-at-arms could have melted steel. Shortly after we left the farm, my master came to me with a new addition to the party, a young puppy. I hoped the young hound might fill the vacant void in my master’s heart after the loss of his hound Tycho.

The heroes made camp that night near some ruins that used to be an elven shrine. We had visited this sacred elven place before, and supposedly meet the guardian of the ruins, a mystical beast known as a unicorn. I never saw it as it came when I was sleeping, but I wanted to. I have long heard the stories of this magical creatures and longed to see one. A strange fog arose that night and I watched as the other retainers fell into a deep sleep which soon claimed me. When I awoke the next morning, it was clear that the guardian had come but I missed seeing it once again.

Two days later we arrived within eyesight of the Tower at Eammon Tor. My hairy little master and the graceless Hashishi, scouted out the ruins and came back with troubling news. An army of beastmen had taken over the tower and were using slaves to rebuild old fortifications and build new ones. The heroes formulated a plan using secret knowledge acquired from the slaves they had freed in the valley of the lost vault. I stayed safely behind in the camp with the other retainers. Only the two female elf henchwomen went with them, Noelia and Tatanye. Both elves were skilled warriors and magicians. I wished my master good luck and the blessing of Ishtar upon him. I promised to look after the puppy he had rescued from the farm. As much as I wanted to go with them, Furud al-Wahhab al-Bayati, was not a warrior or a magician, just a simple man.

The true accounting of what transpired in the tower remained a mystery to this very day. Even among those who went into the tower, there was some confusion about what exactly happened. One thing that remained true is that our most beloved Khanum, Ivanova, was never the same afterwards.