East of Winter

Gnolls in the Cradle under silver moon
Little boy boo caught in a typhoon

I returned to Cradle with a formidable group of companions.  Three I knew and three who were new to me.  My brother Imildrak, who understands the undead a little TOO well.  The indomitable lizard beast Skulk.  The suspicious Tiefling warrior Abby.  Glim "Doublelock" Garrick the mischievous gnome.  Runt the spider lord.  And the first adventurer I've seen with any true potential, Esmerelda of the dancing flame.

When we arrived at cradle we found that a tower we previously captured was overrun with devils.  As it so happened the Tiefling Abby was in league with this infernal syndicate.  She was able to negotiate a peaceful resolution to the situation, much to my chagrin.  The consortium of devils stayed in the tower clearing undead that wandered too close.  Me and my companions pressed on to clear the remaining two towers.  

My distrust of Abby was heightened after meeting her Tiefling retinue, so before entering the first tower I attempted to bind her with a protection from evil spell.  The spell seemed to aid rather than hinder her which was quite perplexing.  We encountered a Revenant, a damned soul who remembers what life was like all too well.  Doublelock spent the fight pleasuring himself with a disembodied hand.  During this fight Abby proved her loyalty by putting herself in danger to protect me.  My suspicion was greatly diminished, however, I am still on guard lest this all be part of some clever ruse.  The druid Runt transformed into a spider…or perhaps he is a spider monster that let slip his humanoid guise?  Time will tell.  My justifiable suspicion of Runt was lessened as his webs made it quite impossible for my enemies to avoid the cleansing flames of Rhollor.  We destroyed the revenant with the grim knowledge that it would rise again inhabiting a random corpse.  This is just one more reason why the dead should be cremated, praise be to the cleansing fire of Rhollor.  

We continued to the second tower as dusk was rapidly approaching.  Incorporeal specters flew straight out of the walls as we tinkered with the trapped main door.  Imildrak used a gust of wind spell that was particularly effective against the spirits who were blown hither and yon like so much debris in the breeze.  Skulk rampaged through the specters bashing them with the shield he fashioned from ice dragon hide.  The encounter left us depleted and with night closing in we holed up in the tower to rest.  

After an invigorating 4 hour trance I awoke and relieved Imildrak of his watch.  An hour into my watch all hell broke loose.  A contingent of witherlings accompanied by a large gnoll skeleton assaulted the tower from the sewers below.  A warband of living gnolls approached the main door of the tower.  The gnolls are visiting the city at night in large numbers, what are they up to?

 We fought through the night, defending the tower from the infidels.  The rest of the party was weary, so I unleashed everything I had to protect them.  Our enemies were consumed in a righteous firestorm.  Blessed be the roof that is on fire.  We require no water.  Let the motherfucker burn.  Amen.  

Esmerelda showed great piety by immolating her foes.  Despite her racial handicap I believe that she has great potential.  I have begun to share the tenants of my faith with her via longwinded speeches and Burning Tower pamphlets.  Glory to the everburning flame, may it burn on and on and on and on etc.

After we retake the city I plan to dedicate the church to Rhollor.  I could hold funeral services for the emerging populace.  Cremations only of course.  After seeing first hand the depravity of the undead the funeral rights prescribed by Rhollor will become more popular.  Many in the party have begun to make plans for what Cradle will become when the undead are gone.  Imildrak wants dominion of the sewers, typical that he would seek out the shadows.  Runt is hatching a plan to breed mules.  His plan has a slight flaw, but perhaps he will work it out.  The light of our hope sustains us in the darkness.  Praise be to the holy light of Rhollor, may he lead us safely over the hot coals and deliver us unto the hospitality of a warm hearth.  


State of Play
Or How I Stopped Worrying About the Avalanche

So when I started this endeavor I was really hoping to get a lot of experience for myself as a GM.  I have GM'd more sessions in the last two weeks than I have in the last twenty years.  Mission accomplished.

I also hoped to get all of my friends into the same game, with no pressure to show up every week.  That has gone very well; in fact it might be too well.  It is a lot to keep track of.  And I definitely feel that I owe it to all of you to put in the effort and come up with a fun and entertaining game.  Now that we are turning the calendar to June, I think it's time to reflect on what's been working and what hasn't.  

We have 14 players registered on this site!  Even though some haven't played yet, we still have about a dozen or so characters in the game (and some still haven't signed up for website but have characters).  Just about everyone has run multiple sessions (or is scheduled to).  So we must be doing something right!  That said, as of next week the Disbanding Rules are back in play.  That's Item 4 on the House Rules Wiki.  

Frankly, the forums and the calendar on this site weren't designed to deal with a game as large and disparate as ours.  Just please know that I'm trying to come up with a solution.  I'd really love it if the Calendar would let you create an event with a certain number of RSVPs; or even notify only a list of invitees.  If anyone has suggestions on dealing with that I'm very open to them.  This is probably the single biggest frustration I have with the game right now.

The other challenge I have, and this is a personal one, is managing large player groups.  And my biggest issue with this is I feel that I am letting you down when I'm in that situation.  I can probably spin something off the top of my head for a 4 or 5 player group.  But past that I feel I'm having trouble keeping everyone engaged and entertained.  And that's not fair to the players.  The problems with the Calendar are feeding into this as well as it creates larger groups.

You are all welcome here and I am damn glad to have everyone in this game.  But you deserve a fun experience.  At some point I'm going to get there for large groups.  Until then, let's try to either a) keep the groups to 5 or fewer players and b) give several days notice before a larger session.  With time I can try and come up with a better balanced and more engaging story for that many people.  

I'm super pleased that we have so many characters on the website.  It is fun to see them here, breathing life into this crazy world I built on this website.  Their avatars and back stories are all amazing.  It wouldn't be enjoyable without them, and by extension all of you.  It's also great for when you or I forget your character sheet.  

I'm also working on a dedicated Web Page for the in game Calendar.  I'd like it to allow everyone to edit the calendar.  Almost like a makeshift diary for your characters.  There are some other enhancements that are in the works too.  Just know that I'm continuing to not only come up with adventures but features for this world as well.

Thanks for being a part of this.  I hope you're having as much fun playing as I am orchestrating this crazy thing.  See you at the table soon!

The Tragedy of Vepha and Lhoris
as told by the bard Soraya


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Battle-worn lovers fled before the Horde

to Cradle, before winter, before the close

Days turned weeks, months, while outside the storm roared

Bright hope faded, beneath the endless snows     


The ice lasts centuries; even elves must fade

Gentle repose, Vepha would hold, ‘til ice thawed

But no salt to be found, though he searched and prayed

In despair, desperation, a darker god


So Vepha was lost, beyond all recall

Twisted with age and madness, Lhoris endured

alone in the town, undead in his thrall

‘til heroes returned to Cradle, by treasure promises lured


And freed, them, at last, from their tragic doom

Two souls at rest, two trees, in bloom

Cult of Osiris
Slavers and Caravans

Abby informed me of a group of slavers operating close by.  We agreed (for once) that something must be done about it.  Skulk, Imildrak and a wood elf archer accompanied us.  We came across a shrine to Osiris, the god of death.  Even a small offering, such as a silver piece, will grant you a boon.  We found the city of slavers to be quite formidable.  Towering pyramids and ziggerauts erected on the backs of countless slaves.  Massive edifices dedicated to Osiris and crackling with eldritch power.  Skulk located a cross roads near the city where we ambushed a caravan and liberated a considerable sum of coins.  We were observed by a bird familiar who no doubt has informed the cult of Osiris of our deed.  We thought it prudent to leave the area forthwith before the inevitable reprisal.

Beachhead at Cradle II

Sad song, unwary when the winds came.  Forgotten by Magi, forsaken by madness, lost in the winding ways, Cradle-men become monsters.   

Ask the bard, Skulk will not sing it to you.

Go we back to the deep dark.  Found Madelf who killed in vain.  Raised the dead.  Howl death and put deep frost in Skulk bones until we spill blood of last survivor.  Put him in ground, so city can start to forget.   

Many deep dead.  Eaters, yes, but more.  Ogre.  Goblin.  Maybe some secrets still left in Cradle, but madelf raise no more.   Tower closest Sprigand walk, cleaned out, winding ways beneath, ours.

Ours, tower in Cradle becomes.  Ours, foothold has become.  Ours, Cradle soon.

Beachhead at Cradle
This Old House

Skulk having idea.  

Walk anywhere from Spriggan long, inhospitable.  Need safe places along road.  Need safe cabin.  Need no dead from Cradle wrapping slippery stink meats around throats while we sleep.  

Skulk go to drinkhouse, and Skulk tell them; Skulk tell Drinkmuch Longname, Belt Flute, Glimmer Rick, Fireglasses, Fu-oo-oo-er, and Gnarlroot Stonechild Leafspeaker.  Raise jink-jink, ask around.  Rising river lifts all rafts, yes?  

Drinkmuch Longname thinks he is clever.  Spends jink-jink on spirits' mash.  Makes gods angry he does not measure lots.  Makes gods angry he did not take the knucklebones he rolls.  Many want jink-jink.  Need to be talked into rising river to lift all rafts.  Act like it is a favor, instead of just best for tribe.

Skulk leaves guiding spears, marks road to cabin with good paint.  Come to cabin and we meet Clever Bear.  Is probably a god.  Tricks us into killing its enemies.  Smites Drinkmuch Longname, takes fickle godnap and leaves.

Make shrine for clever bear, just in case.

Long march brings to Cradle.  Rising on town's edge, a guard tower.  Living there, things with no life, who have forgotten to die.  Made of dead meat.  Made of cold skins.  Foolish to live like that. Beneath tower, cavern.  Many more dead.  

Old doors are foolish, have forgotten how to open.  Key to broken door is fire.

Dead man shimmers through like water.  Sings dead song, but falls for a clever trick.  Must face Skulk instead of trick man!  Sucks at bones, the great cold.  Skulk has runes!  Skulk has great magic!  Kill shimmerman with fire and silver.  

Strength fails us.  Take our glitterstone and jink-jink home.  

First steps.  A long walk.


Forbidden Fruit
Ice Dragons and Elf Pudding

I was just sitting in the tavern with my brother Imildrak, sipping my mineral water and talking idly of making deals with devils.  Imildrak was very intent on making a deal with a devil (not THE devil mind you, any devil would do).  When the Tiefling Abby came along with an adventuring contract we both decided that it was close enough.  We enlisted the aid of Skulk, a resourceful Lizard person (if you can call it a person) and an excitable flail wielding ape (human) by the name of Jempy Drucker.

We set out on our quest to recover two missing guild members as well as return with the magical apple they were set out to find.  This reminded me of a parable about how awful snakes are at selecting produce and I related this story at some great length to my party members, no doubt to their delight and amusement.

On the road to our destination we noted that a certain species of hideous hedge row was both sentient and evil.  They are flammable, and as with most things the pious thing to do is burn them in a holy conflagration.

We made our way to a dungeon labyrinth that would lead us to the tree that bears the magical fruit.  While exploring the complex we came across some kobolds who beseeched us to find their white dragon.  The evil beast was stolen by goblins.  The pitiful wretches made such a scene that we ultimately agreed to find the dragon.  Immediately after embarking on their quest we agreed that as both the dragon and the kobolds were vile creatures we would cleanse them all in the righteous fires of Rhollor.  (It may have just been me who was adamant about the fire, but we all agreed that the world was better off without them.)

Meepo the cowardly kobold led us to goblin territory where we encountered rats, goblins and undead.  Note that all these things are also flammable.  Praise be to Rhollor.  We rescued a gnome and three kobolds being held prisoner by the goblins.  The sniveling kobolds refused to fight for the return of their dragon, however, the gnome was more than willing to help exterminate the goblin infestation.  He was quite zealous in his execution of this task, and I must say that I was impressed.  I was significantly less impressed with the pathetic kobolds and I implored Skulk to lead them into a corridor that we knew to be filled with rats, and if necessary, clean up the survivors.

As Skulk ran this pious errand I pressed on with my brother Imildrak, the Tiefling Aby, the liberated gnome and the useless Meepo.  We found the Ice Dragon all right, but it instantly froze Meepo to death with its chill breath.  In a hard won fight we brought down the beast.  We brought the body of Meepo back to the kobolds and told them that we had slain their god.  They announced their intention to leave the tunnels.  I announced my intention to burn them for their sin of cowardice.  I always keep my word.

We returned to goblin territory to finish what we started.  We found a large chamber filled primarily with non combatant goblins.  It was a slaughter.  A pious and holy slaughter in the name of Rhollor, praise be his name.  My brother sent in an animated skeleton which caused a great panic.  As the fleeing women and children ran past Abby she felled them with her sword.  There is hope for her yet.  The gnome was likewise indiscriminate in felling both the warriors and the women.  Many of the goblin non combatants escaped the chamber and I consider this to be the biggest failure of the mission.

We broke into the final room of the goblin stronghold and took down their leadership.  Some shifty bugbears and a goblin caster.  There was a hole leading down further into the dungeon that we followed from there.  We discovered more goblins, some warriors, some workmen.  We cleansed them all.  However, when confronted with a particular bugbear the Tiefling Abby started acting very suspicious.  The bugbear insisted that all the goblins were being controlled by an evil wizard who was using some sort of tree magic to subjugate them.  As if they would have been productive members of society had they been left to their own devices.  There was only one pious thing to do, burn it with fire.  The Tiefling initially intervened to defend the bugbear, but when the beast showed its true colors by attacking us she chose the side of righteousness and aided in bringing down the Bugbear and its pet firesnake. 

The Bugbear did tell us the truth about where to find the evil wizard and his tree.  I charmed the wizard and separated him from his minions.  From there it was a small matter for us to overpower him.  We recovered the healing fruit.  The two lost adventurers had been twisted into vile abominations and the only thing that could cure them was the fruit.  We returned to camp with both the fruit and the missing persons.  The guild opted to keep the fruit for some other purpose and to kill both of the creatures that were once our comrades. 

For some reason that I can't fully explain I was compelled not to destroy the tree.  I convinced my party to spare it.  The more time passes the more I grow to regret that decision.  The wizard was using its poisoned seeds to spread the blight of those hideous hedgerows as well as to work his vile mind control magics.

Upcoming schedule
3 Day Weekend

5/29/17 is Memorial Day.  I'd love to run some long sessions if not that day then that weekend.  If anyone is interested it'd be good to start getting groups together.

Slay the Goblin Druids & Dog Men
Why trees and sand are evil side kicks

We knew coming to the edge of civilization would force a change to our preconceived notions about the world around.   The thing is, there is a difference between coming to an area and knowing that you might have to work closer with people you didn't before, such as our party having to deal with three Tieflings at once when most have had little to no interaction with Tieflings, versus coming to a land that teaches us that trees are evil and only exist to guard goblin druids. Also, sand is an insistent parasite making the jobs of shape-changing jackals easier.

Fellow adventurers, you may have gathered that unexpected challenges threw themselves in the way of our tracking down the dwarves who went missing on the trek from town to the potential mining location.  We headed in the direction of the shield mountains and badlands, hoping that our missing Dwarven friends were partying  or simply got delayed from the group for some similar reason.  The good news, more than likely our missing Dwarfs are alive.  The bad news is, goblins are all druids and there a slavers using jackal men as kidnapping muscle.

First, you might be thinking, Goblins are not druids.  They are just pests who try to eat our pets.  We saw otherwise on our journey.  The goblins in the forest heading towards the Shield Mountains call upon the forces of nature and have the trees shift around at their will, moving in front of them, covering them in darkness and muffling their sounds.  Due to quick reflexes, sharp eyes and even sharper weapons, the enemy trees and goblins are down.  We must stay vigilant in the future to ensure we eradicate any remaining goblin druids and their trees, or else they may move closer into our town.

After we took out the trees, Abby, Fenriss and I were first hand witnesses to the burgeoning romance between Brekka and Tut.   The romance had to pause when we stumbled upon 3 unknown dwarves.  Under them impression that 4 dwarves were missing, we decided it was best to make sure the remaining dwarves did not wander off into the badlands alone and high.  Abby helped me convince the dwarves that they should be secured to our Donkey, "Bob."  The non-bard was very convincing in her speech, and with the dwarves secured the non tieflings went to sleep and the tieflings kept an eye out.  In what seemed like the blink of an eye, 2 of the dwarves, now in the shape of jackal men, lying dead at the feet of Bob,  while Abby and Brekka fought the remaining jackal man.  The group was able to destroy the remaining jackal man.  While searching his body for clues, I was able to read a note, with the help of my patron, that informed us that there is a slaver unit in the area, kidnapping anyone they can get their hands on in order to throw them into a gladiatorial pit against the one they call the champion so that their master can honor the evil "Graz'zt."  With this new knowledge, we have returned to update maps and converse with our fellow adventurers regarding best methods for taking down a slaver ring and slaying a champion.

Also, in the badlands there is a Bone Pit.  We circumvented the pit as we were hopeful that avoiding a conflict would help us reach the missing dwarves in time to rescue them, but based upon our adventures so far, I would not be surprised if the bones are tress is disguise, hiding dreaded goblin druids.

One final note to future adventurers, buy a war donkey.  The donkey will be your best friend and impede your certain death at the hands of shape-changing dog men.  

Across the Shield Mountains
a lesson in things not being what they seem

Yera, Fenriss, and Abby strolled down the dusty streets of Sprigand, chatting amiably in infernal, as had become their habit. They hadn’t encountered any other tieflings in town, and it was sometimes best not to be overheard. They’d been to visit Ladtun, the dwarven guildmistress, to see what new adventures might be available in the East, and were discussing their options.

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Four days in town had Abby restless, and she could tell it was having a similar effect on her companions- there was very little to do in Sprigand proper, and Raffin, the scout she’d been watching, had been annoyingly inactive. She was positive he was up to something, but damned if she’d been able to figure out what it was. She needed to travel, to clear her mind.

“Don’t you know anything? Didn’t they tell anyone where they were going before they left?”

The tall half-elf looked terribly frustrated, and had clearly been asking around for some time with no luck. Yera looked at him curiously.

“Should we see what he’s looking for, perhaps?” she asked.

As it turned out, the man- Tut, he called himself- was looking into the disappearance of a few dwarves who had traveled out to the Crackhammer Hills a tenday past. Ladtun had mentioned them- apparently one of them had returned, but could not say what had happened to his companions.

After agreeing to assist Tut, Yera suggested they recruit at least one additional companion before venturing into unknown territory. Nearby, a man- unfamiliar, probably new to town- sat under a tree, his eyes closed, staff propped up next to him, and the party decided to approach him.

Luckily, he was indeed a martial man, and explorer, and was willing to accompany them to find the missing dwarves. He introduced himself as Brekka, and suggested they go to speak to the one dwarf who had returned from the expedition, Aril.

Aril appeared to have begun drinking when he returned to town two days ago, and seemed determined to continue until Sprigand ran out of ale. He blamed himself for the disappearance of four of his party while he was on watch; he had fallen asleep, and when the morning came, the dwarves were simply gone. Brekka comforted the distraught dwarf, though who knew how much of the conversation Aril would actually remember?

They purchased supplies in town before setting off, including a war donkey Yera named Bob. He seemed a fierce creature, and Abby thought he probably deserved a more suitable name, but he was Yera’s donkey, so she kept her peace.

The weather held as they set out of town, clear and crisp, and Abby played a cheerful little melody as they walked to Cradle, happy beyond words to be traveling again. After a day’s travel, they made camp at the old abandoned house, as they had before.

Curiously, it seemed someone had been there in the past couple of days, as they found a small wooden falcon statue within, dedicated to the goddess Freya, whose domain was fertility. Well, clear enough what they had come out here for, and more luck to them, she supposed. Brekka, fascinated by it, decided to keep it in his pack.  

The night was interrupted by some sort of goblin problem. Abby wasn’t terribly clear about it; by the time she’d stumbled to the door of the cabin, groggy with sleep, several of the goblins had been summarily dispatched and the others had run away like cowards. She’d checked on Bob, who had stared down the goblin menace with utter disregard, and then returned to her bedroll and her dreams (such strange dreams, since she’d come to the east, a problem for another time).

After they’d passed undead-infested Cradle (and someone really would need to come back and take care of the remaining wandering zombies, there had to be a better way than destroying them individually), Tut lead the party into the mountains, seemingly at home in the strange rocky terrain, and even able to ensure Bob was able to pick his way calmly over stones which would have surely defeated any normal donkey.

Between them, Fenriss and Brekka kept the party well supplied, and they traveled easily along twisting mountain paths to the summit. The air grew crisp and cold, but the sky and their path remained blessedly clear, and the party relaxed enough to talk and laugh with each other as they traveled.

It was perhaps this which caused them to be off guard when they found the cairn in the mountain pass, a stone monument to a warrior chief of the lost Bloodfang tribe. Some few of their scattered descendants survived in Remidon, and Abby was sharing a legend-ballad she had learned from one of them when she was rudely interrupted by a hail of arrows. Kobolds!

The sneaky creatures had gotten the jump on them, and bloodied nearly everyone, but were quickly outmatched once the party realized what was going on. Brekka and Tut proved to be quite effective with their weapons in melee combat, and Yera, Fenriss, and Abby picked off those who thought they were clever to lurk in the rising cliff face above their path. Brekka insisted on binding his kobolds and burying them, possibly under some fear of their rising as undead? Abby had never seen an undead kobold herself, but one never knew.

They crested the summit of the mountain the next day at sunset. There, they got their first glimpse of the Badlands, spread out before them, miles of sand gleaming red under the dying light for as far as they could see, broken only by an unsettling pit of bones and, far in the distance, a waterfall thundering down the last of the mountain peaks, behind a massive set of statues, visible even from the high mountain peak.

By mutual agreement, the party skirted the bone pit, having no interest in becoming the latest set of bones, and set out to investigate the waterfall, surely a useful oasis for anyone traveling further into the desert, as the missing dwarves had.

As it turned out, the area surrounding the falls held no sign of the dwarves, or of any recent habitation at all, but would certainly be a useful feature for any future travelers trying to make it through this hostile terrain. While Tut, who had proven to be a skilled cartographer, recorded their find, Yera wove them the tale of Lovers’ Fall, named for the statue, or, rather, for those long-lost souls who had inspired it, their names and even species worn away by time and nature. Deeply affected by the tale, Brekka left Freya’s falcon token at the base of the statue, accompanied by a copy he’d made of wood during the long trek.

Of the following days, alternating daytime heat like a forge with nights so cold her breath steamed in the air, the less said the better, as far as Abby was concerned. Tut, Brekka, and Fenriss searched diligently for signs of the dwarven party, though what they could possibly see in these endless, identical sands was beyond her. At last, though, they spotted the remains of a campfire, black ash stark against the red- a recent campfire, used no more than two days ago.

From there, it was relatively simple- for the trackers, at least- to follow the tracks back to their owners- three dwarves!

The party greeted them with considerable delight, and the dwarves were equally glad to see them, having been lost in the Badlands for days, since they had returned to their campsite to find their company had moved on without them.

“Aril told us you disappeared,” Abby said, “what happened?”

The dwarves shuffled around, looking embarrassed, but admitted they had snuck off from camp to drink and to indulge in some less accepted substances.

“Weren’t there four of you?” Brekka asked, still skeptical.

“Ah…poor Garamund. The…lizard people got him. Tragic.”

Lizard people in the Badlands? Abby was beginning to understand exactly why the magi had put the Edict in place to begin with.

The dwarves wanted to reunite with their company, who had set out to mine the Crackhammer Hills, but Abby convinced them to return to Sprigand to reunite with Aril. The dwarves agreed, but refused to leave until the morning, being determined to drink their way through their remaining ale before going a step further.

Yera suggested they secure themselves to Bob, to ensure they didn’t wander off course while drinking again, to which the dwarves begrudgingly also agreed.

After several rounds of ale, Tut and Brekka slipped off to sleep, while the tieflings remained awake, chatting with the dwarves.

Until the dwarves’ eyes changed to endless empty black. Yera and Fenriss cut off in mid-word, collapsing to the ground in unnatural sleep, and Abby felt the same oblivion pulling at her own will.

No! She threw off the urge and sprung back from the creature that was now so clearly not a dwarf, drawing her sword. She shouted for Brekka and for Tut, knowing that Yera and Fenriss were likely beyond such recall.

Abby battled back the first of the not-dwarves, which turned into a jackal-man when it fell. It cost her heavily, and she tried not to think about how much of the blood on her armor was hers. And there were two more.

Brekka woke, and ran to assist her, striking a jackal with a fearsome blow of his quarterstaff. Its head rocked back, but it moved slowly back, looking back at him with those empty eyes. Brekka went pale, and fell into the same spellbound sleep as the others. Tut, she was afraid, had already been captured.

The hideous creatures were strong, much stronger than anything they’d faced so far. Even the strongest blow Abby could land only bloodied it, and she wasn’t sure she could survive its best shot. And she had no help, now. They might be beyond her.

But they were not beyond the power of her god.

She reached into the bright faith that was her core, and summoned the strength she needed, a golden protective aura flaring around her. The creatures’ next blows bounced back, unable to reach her, and she grinned, brandishing her sword as she felt the power bubbling up through her blood.

When she swung it next, the blow connected with the jackal-dwarf’s spine with a thunderous roar. It collapsed under the blow, and- blessings be unto Triskelion- Abby saw the others stir, pulled from their unnatural slumber by divine power.

Yera blasted the remaining shifter with some of her odd purple fire, and after another sword wound, the creature decided the odds no longer favored it, and tried to flee, shifting into an actual jackal and running out across the sands.

Unluckily for it, it wasn’t faster than Fenriss’s bow.

The jackal-creatures carried a letter in an odd tongue, which Yera, the cleverest of them all, was able to read.

It implored them to round up slaves for the fighting pits of their master, the demon lord Graz’zt.

Abby clenched her fists, fury overpowering the giddy relief of not having died. Slavers. And selling people to a demon, to fight and to die for his amusement…if Raffin or his masters had the least to do with it, she would kill them herself. She was going to have a serious talk with him when they returned to Sprigand. It was time to stop pretending.


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