Friday, March 25, 2011

Lum, Chap 2

A few days of travel have passed. Revikh has angered me, he has no honor. Leaving us to fight, while he rests and watches and acts like a noble in a slum. Among the Tribes he would be taught a lesson, likely with a boot to his backside.

It is not long into another day before we hear yipping and barking from the woodline. There we see gnolls. They are not many, so we will kill them.

I call the beast to me, and charge to meet my dog-faced foe. I swing the ivory morning star, its magic fire ignites. I feel the crunch of a smashing skull, see the gnoll’s face distort and the life leave its eyes as it falls. Rel shoots his bow, but misses bad. He hits trees. I crush the rib cage of another gnoll, and see a purple light blast one to dust. It is Ivy, and her power.

The elf misses again, as I smash another skull. Drakha breathes the flame of the dragon at the last. We have no time to rest, as a large pack of gnolls comes to view, emerging from the woods. Maybe 40, maybe 50 gnolls stand ready. Fun!

I stand my ground, rage in my veins. I lay about me, killing with each strike that lands. Purple lines of power pick foes from my back, as Ivy adds her magicks to the fight. Arrows fly into Drakha’s foes, Relowen has remembered how to shoot as he begins to find targets among the horde. Drakha breathes flame again, and gnolls flee.

More fall to us, to my weapon. I roar in their faces, enjoying their fear. Lum crushes, smashes! I call out to my ancestors! The gnolls flee into the forest, and my rage carries me after them. I take two from behind, their heads lolling around on broken necks. Then arrows strike me, hurting me, clearing my head. My left arm hangs at my side, two arrows sticking from it.

I take cover, hearing my companions behind me. I hold my hand up to stop them, and we see many, many gnoll archers and warriors. We withdraw, and so do the gnolls. It is best for both of us, as I see an arrow sunk deep into my thigh. My rage had blinded me to the pain, and it rushes through my nerves now like a wave. We regroup, and Drakha works healing magics on the worst of our wounds. I take many wounds when the rage calls.

We take what little valuables the gnolls possess, and move on. It is late day when we come to a village. We ask about provisions.

These villagers have no honor! Farmer thinks Lum is a fool! A gold coin for five potatoes? Treachery! “Is potato THIS big”, I ask, holding hands out like carrying a baby. “No” the villager says. I glower at him, and flex my muscles.

“Then more potatoes” I say. He gives me eight potatoes.

We make camp, and I hunt. I enjoy the hunt, the stalk. It is not long before I return with a boar, and begin stripping it for meat. There will be bacon in the morning.

I am awakened from sleep in the night. Fire! Pain! I roll, making sure I am not still burning. I look up, seeing skeletons approaching. One is a mage, and throws fireballs. He is the one that awoke me, and I will make him pay. My rage comes without me seeking it, and I charge.

My first strikes find only air, in my rage I have misjudged my foes. The skeletons are more nimble than I thought. It takes only moments to find my stride, and I begin to smash. I take chunks of bone from my foe with each swing. I do not feel pain, but I know that I am being cut by their swords, that I am bleeding.

The magic of Relowen’s arrows takes the caster down, moments before I finally smash my foe. They are powerful skeletons, only six of them giving us a challenge worthy of the Silver One.

I step to assist Drakha, crushing, smashing. Ivy and Rel take down the archers, leaving just two foes. I strike with all my might, crushing a spine into powder. One remains, and Relowen kills it before I can smash it. I take a moment to catch my breath, releasing the rage.

There are no more skeletons, and so I return to sleep. The morning comes with bacon, and I eat heartily of it. We decide to travel on.

It is not long before we are met again by Revikh. I demand he answer for his treachery, abandoning us to fend for ourselves after demanding we follow him blindly. He does not, smug and sneering. I charge him, intent on kicking him in his nethers. He uses foul wizardry to halt me and lay me low. He then summons gryphons through some magic device to carry us further on our journey. He is a smug bastard.

I have not flown before. It is good fun, though I grip tightly. I also have not been teleported much, but only moments after landing, we teleport from the mage city to a great fortress floating in the desert. Revikh tells us we will finally have answers, and for this I am happy.

We meet Revikh’s master, Eldrin. He is a scholar, and tells us our crystal items, our riddles, are Divinite. He tells us we faced a demigod, a servant of evil. I demand to know more, but am cut off by cries of an attack on the fortress. The fortress is suddenly besieged by dragons and foot soldiers. Powerful magic to move an army.

We must flee, and the evil one, named Shayan, he leads this army. We leave the defenders of the fortress to their work, and move to escape. We are attacked by invisible foes, someone shouts that they are hellcats, and immune to fire. I pull my greataxe off my pack, and begin to chop about, seeking my foes. One of the defending mages casts some spell to reveal them, but pays for it with his life.

Surrounded, we fight hard. Ivy’s magic, my axe, Rel’s blades, Drakha’s morning star. The battle is hard, and we must fight quickly, there are dragons about. I tear one apart with my axe, see that 2 more have been felled by my companions. Rel falls to the ground on my left as Ivy drops another cat with her magics. Drakha and I step into the last hellcat, chopping hard, and Ivy finishes it. I help Rel up; we move to continue our flight.

A great blast of sound calls my attention, and my jaw drops as Eldrin banishes Shayan somehow. We deal in great power, pawns on the board are we. The kings are mighty. We are given some supplies by Eldrin, and sent on our way to the capital. Among the items he has given us are curious bracelets of magic, if we speak his name into them, he will hear what we say to him. He tells us to summon him if Shayan finds us.

I think about my path. It is no small task to solve this riddle, no small fight we wage.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Lum, Chap 1

It is morning. The dawn light gathers before the rise of the sun to shine on us. I rise, and look about the camp. There are four of us. The fifth is nowhere to be found, that honorless goatlover Revikh.

My eyes meet Relowan’s. He is an elf, small but nimble. Two swords hang on his hips, one long and one short; his bow is in hand. He loves the bow, but it does not love him as much yet. It is a fickle lover, sometimes it does not sing his song. But I can see he will be its master yet. They call him a ranger, and he is good on the hunt. We nod to each other, no words exchanged. I raise an eyebrow, he shakes his head. He has not seen Revikh either.

I turn my head to the left as I begin my morning stretch, and my eyes rest on Drakha’s sleeping form. She is a dragon priest, and I respect her. A half elf, her skin and hair are gold. She wears the hide of a dragon as her breastplate, but it is not silver, so I am pleased by this.

I look to the right, letting sleep fall away from those muscles in turn. I look at Ivy, bundled up like a child. She is a child. Only 16, and only a few inches over 5 feet. She is a warlock, and will have great power…but she needs wisdom; she is so young. I do not know if I like her. She is feisty, but thinks of Ivy first. But then, we have not traveled together long. These two are not bothersome to me for their magic, ours is a tribe that has known magic long.

It is the riddle that binds us, and it is the riddle that brought us together. We were in Fairhaven only days ago. Seeking, each of us, though seeking different things. Ivy her parents, me a riddle…but all of us have something of crystal upon us.

Then the sky crashed down. A great stone fell from the air, smashing the palace into so much dust. The ground shook, and even my strength could not hold against the heaving. I fell, but was not hurt. To the palace I ran, though I could not tell you why. I simply felt the need, much like when the rage takes me.

I wonder if I should have resisted, as I found myself facing death, five times over. Dragons, black and red and blue, surrounded me and others. There was a great, dark winged man. Another man appeared in magic, and bid us defend ourselves. The dragon attacked, and this magic man fought with us…the dark man disappeared.

It was a difficult fight at best. I saw Drakha spit fire, and felt her magical energy softening the blows I received. I saw Ivy shoot lines of dark magic at the dragons. I saw Relowen shoot arrows into the dragons. But mostly, I saw the maw of the black dragon attempting to devour me.

I raged, and the Beast came to my call. I struck with my morningstar, carved from a tusk. It is also magicked with flame. It is my mightiest weapon, and against the face of the dragon I did strike, with all my strength. I endured its claws, I felt its acid breath take flesh from my arm. Drakha, though I did not yet know her name, healed me, her magics making my arm new. Still, I fought not just a dragon, but the pain of the wounds it gave me. I made it feel my pain, too.

When the dragon was dead, I ripped a tooth from its head for my necklace. I will carry its strength and cunning with me, a foe I have felled. I yelled out to my ancestors, screaming my victory and letting my rage go.

Revikh, the man of magic, bid us to follow. We talked but little, and followed him away from the city into the wilds. That was days ago.

Last night, we were attacked by trolls. We beat the trolls down, burning them with our fire to stop them from regrowing parts. They wore crystal collars, and so they are a new part of the riddle. Something sent them after us.

Revikh was nowhere to be found. The coward left us. I will have words with him, and those words will be short. My fists may speak, or perhaps the Beast.

But for now, that must be put aside. It is time to eat, and to move on.

Picture created by Heromachine

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Lum, prologue

I stride to the top of the hill. It is a big hill, high in the daylight. It looks over the tree tops, and I stand at the crest to look over them too. I see for leagues. An ocean of green, like my eyes are green. Not my grey ocean at all.

I miss my ocean, the salt air. The birds of the north. The hunting and fishing I also miss. I think on my brothers, even now at war with the Bringers of Fire. We are Warders of Silver, and we have no love for their evil ways.

A bird flies from a maple before me, and I watch it rise. It leaves its roost, just as I left mine. I left my love, who I will marry at Wintersun. She will bear fine sons for the Tribe.

I am not smart, but I like to watch and to think. I am strong of arm and heart. To me, the heavy morningstar, carved from a tusk, on my hip is no harder to lift and swing than a twig is to a child. I once upended a horse to strike its rider. The horse lived. The rider did not.

The wind moves my kilt, and my dark hair. I lift a mug of ale to my lips, and drink deep. It is my favorite mug, reinforced with iron bands for smashing goblin faces. Sometimes I use it, sometimes the tusk morningstar. The ivory is magicked with fire. Sometimes in battle, I use the great axe on my pack. I know each of these weapons, they are long companions. I carry a small battering ram strapped to my pack, too. It is no burden. I have sieged before, it is strong like me. It breaks doors, I break faces.

I let my hand touch the skinning knife on my belt. It is crystal. It has always been with me. It always returns to me. It is a riddle, and I hate riddles. But it is my riddle, the one the Dragonspeaker gave me.

“Go forth in the world” he said. “Go and share your gift with those not of the Tribes. It is with them your riddle will know an answer. The riddle of crystal is yours to solve, Lum.” And so I go.

The Dragonspeaker has spoken, and the voice of the dragons is his. We hold the dragons on high, for we are their divine children. We of the Warders of Silver are blessed with the Touch of Silver. They call us “Shifters”. I walk closely with the Beast, and you can see the Beast without when I call it. That is when my foes tremble. That is when I send them to their ancestors.

They call me a Barbarian, a Berserker. They are right. I can call the rage, and fight on through what would kill others. I fight with my ancestors’ strength when I rage.

I watch over the ocean of green as the bird returns. It is a blackbird, and it sings a song of spring. I take another pull of my ale, and feel its coolness dive to my belly. It is time to stretch, and I place my giant mug on the ground.

I stretch, axe in hand. I work, practicing strikes and parries. Swing for the head. Block. Chop the kneecap. Parry. Step right, slice with a backhand. Kick and step through.

I work until the muscles are loose, until the sweat beads on my body. I think on my path to this place. I may not be smart, but I can think about my path, and learn from my steps. That is how we become wise, the Dragonspeaker tells me. I need not be quick of thought, if I am willing to think long on a puzzle. I am Lumfarangdelarukh, of the Warders of Silver. I am called Lum by those who would speak of me.

Such is Lum's voice. Simple, but not boring. He can use some big words, he just takes his time getting to them.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Just plugging along...

Well, I had a blast expanding the log entry into some real fiction. It's early yet for Zarkov, so he doesn't really have a voice at this point. As the game progressed, he started to really flesh out and develop. I hope that will come across in future stories.

The Ian story is kind of on hold right now, as one of the characters may be getting a retcon in the game, and I'll change the fiction to suit it. If it takes too long, I'll repost part one before continuing.

The next series I'll put up are the stories of Lumfarangdelarukh, but everybody calls him Lum. He's a barbarian I've been playing in a D&D 3.5 game, and he's dumb as a brick, but built like a brick shithouse. Not the most original character concept, admittedly...but 180 degrees from what I normally play. Maybe even 270. So, he's a ton of fun.

Last time I played him, we got attacked by a plant creature called "the root of all evil". I started planning tactics, relaying them to the DM, and one of the other players said "Hey, Dangerboy...aren't you raging (berserk) right now?" "Oh, yeah", I said, "I charge in blindly and hit it with my axe." I knew it was going to hurt, but it was fun anyway. Incidentally, that plant swallowed Lum whole, and I got to miss most of the fight. The laughs, however, were well worth it.

In case you haven't noticed, I adore cooperative storytelling and role playing. There are a lot of gamer stories out there...but few tell the tale of how they passed Go and collected 200 dollars. Just sayin'. It's always about the fun you have, not the things you do.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Zarkov Barbossa, Chap 3

And now, the conclusion of Zarkov's first adventure with the Inquisitorial Cadre. Do please let me know what you think in the comments.
To catch up: Part 1
Part 2

And now, Chapter 3...

We moved deeper into the Shatters, our nerves tight and trigger fingers ready. The scent of blood heralded something ahead, and we slowed our pace accordingly. Turning a corner in the passageway, we came to a crossroads of sorts, and a scene of devastating carnage.

Bodies of troops lay all about, shredded by bullets. We noticed quite quickly that almost all of the entry wounds were in their back, and a bit more looking about revealed a heavy stubber set up to fire down the hall. The operator had taken his own life with a sidearm, likely after filling his comrades full of bullets. I noticed an empty holster on the gunner’s chest, and held the revolver in my hand. The leather of the holster read “Give ‘Em Hell”, just like the inscription on the GM-6.

“Looks bad gang”, I said.

“How does anyone turn from the Emperor like this?” Venus asked, a look of pure disbelief on her face.

“Same way they end up with 8 eyes”, Barick said. “Something vile is in this hole with us.”

We made ready to continue down the left hand path, and I realized I was going to have to lie to Sergeant Raynard when I returned topside. I’d just tell him his friend died doing the Emperor’s work. It was a lie, and a damned lie at that, but it would ease his heart a bit.

I nodded to Barick, and we settled back into a marching order. We had not progressed far when the tunnel we were in opened up suddenly into a chamber, a dead end as best we could see. Evidently the miners had found some sort of ore or another here, and expanded their dig. Just as we crossed into the room, I heard a shot and reacted quickly, slamming into the wall on my right.

“Right side, right side!” I shouted, and watched as most of the team followed suit. Ignace, however, huddled to the left side wall, becoming a target. I leaned out from the wall, getting a quick look into the small chamber. I could see four hostiles, and in that quick glimpse they looked like mutants as well. Solid rounds impacted the stone around me, and I retreated against the wall again.

I looked at Ignace on the wrong side of the tunnel, and asked “You didn’t grab any flash-bangs, did you?”

“Negative”, he responded, as he fired his lascarbine at one of the mutants.

“Well, shit”, I said, with feeling. The twists had a good field of fire, and I didn’t want to put myself or my team into that field. “Next time we have our pick of supplies from a Munitorum clerk, grab flash-bangs. Never know when you’ll need ‘em.”

Venus spoke suddenly, asking by vox in my microbead what a flash-bang did. I told her, between dodging shots and firing my shotgun into the chamber.

“You might want to hold your ears and close your eyes then”, she said. I braced just in time, it seemed, as suddenly she was bright enough to cast brilliant light into the chamber, along with a thunderous boom. The mutants all brought hands to eyes, temporarily blinded, and we moved forward and started taking shots at them.

It was difficult to target them, though, as I was distracted by Venus. After going bright, she began to hover off the ground, discharges of purple arcs of power rising from her skin to strike the tunnel ceiling. I tried to remember fire discipline, and emptied out the shotgun in short order. Only two of the mutants were down at that point, so I pulled out the revolver and took careful aim, just like taking shots on the practice range.

I heard a metallic ping! and watched as Ignace was knocked back a step, but he seemed to shrug off the hit. Still, the cold grip of worry wrapped itself around my heart. He put the lascarbine to work, and didn’t seem to be hurt, so after a quick glance around to check the rest of the team, I settled back into a kneeling shooter’s stance.

As bullets and las-bolts continued to fly, I settled the front sight over one of the twists and slowly squeezed the trigger on the big revolver. It fired with a throaty roar, and my target went down like a joygirl in a whorehab. Good handgun for hunting therapods, I thought.

I felt an impact on my chest, like taking a punch from an Ogryn, and I didn’t see who dropped the last twist. I was busy picking myself up from the ground and making sure I hadn’t grown any extra holes. Luckily, my flak armour held, and I was likely just dealing with cracked or bruised ribs. That I could handle.

We took stock quickly, clearing the chamber, and I turned to Venus. “You OK?”

“Yes, I think. Just a bit shaken. The warp is not stable here”, she said.

“So the lightning…”

“Not intentional” she interrupted.

“Nice work on the flash though. Glad to know you can do that”, I said.

She smiled at the praise, and I turned my attention to the cogboy. “Any new holes?” I asked, eyeing the ragged tear in his red robes where the bullet had struck him.

“I am well within tolerance, thank you Zarkov”, he replied. I couldn’t tell if he was pulling my leg or being dead serious, so I decided to take him at his word. We formed up again, me on point, Barick on tail, and kept working our way through this little section of a very big mine.

We spent another two hours clearing tunnel by tunnel, chamber by chamber, with no further contact or incident. It was tense work, though, and the muscles across my back were tight with the strain.

I was starting to get hungry, and gave thought to calling a pause to hit the ration bars we were carrying, but I noticed that the light looked different here. The more I strained my eyes, the more I realized the light was taking on a pink tint. We walked a bit further, weapons ready, and we all looked at each other in turn, realizing the pink glow was coming from a chamber ahead of us, just around another bend in the constantly meandering tunnel.

You might think a pink glow doesn’t sound all that bad. Believe me, you wouldn’t have wanted to be standing with us, seeing the way it cast the stones in a sinister light. My stomach started to tie itself in knots, and I took a deep breath.

Venus spoke. “There is unrest here, something stirs the warp.” If she could feel a bad influence in the immateria, the stuff between the worlds, then this was bad news indeed. I had the feeling we were about to find out what happened to the guardsmen, and I prayed to the Emperor that he would watch us for a few minutes from his Throne. We all made the sign of the aquila, then made ready to enter the chamber.

We came around the corner to observe a brightly lit chamber, suffused with that pink glow. The source of the glow was evident: a large crystal, perhaps 4 meters in height and one in diameter stood like a monolith in the center of the chamber. As we looked upon it, the light within it began to pulse slowly.

Venus shouted to us to stand ready, sensing something happening in the immaterium, and I readied my shotgun. Suddenly, I felt as if I’d been thrown out of a dropship, as the light went from pink to green in a nauseating flash. A rush of foul air moved past us as a true monster appeared near the plinth of crystal.

It stood two and a half meters, sickly green with flesh hanging from it in strips. A cloud of flies buzzed around it as it gazed hatefully at us through one large cyclopean eye, set dead center in its face below a single decaying horn. The mere sight of it made me want to vomit, but I choked down that response and raised the combat shotgun to my shoulder.

Sila and Ignace couldn’t handle the sight of the thing, and I heard their footsteps receding down the hallway. Barick started firing at it, and Venus assaulted it in her own way, using her psyker abilities against it. I pumped rounds into it as fast as I could cycle ammo. The thing seemed wobbly, and I began to recite ablutions at it as I’d once heard a priest in our merc company do. I wasn’t sure if I got the words right, but it seemed to make my gut settle down, so I kept it up.

It charged us, and we scattered to force it to select only one of us to engage. It chose me, and raised a sword that was rusted and dripping with mucus. I used the shotgun to try to keep it at bay, firing whenever I had a clear shot. It hit me a few times in the ribs, but my armour managed to hold up against its weapon, and I moved with each hit to absorb as much shock as I could. It stank like a rotten grox tossed into a latrine pit, and I had to fight to keep from gagging, even as I tried to keep my face from being chopped in two.

Venus did something to it with her mind, and it dropped to the ground like a puppet with its strings cut. It then blinked out of existence with a grotesque wet ripping sound. Having an Emperor-sanctioned psyker around has its advantages.

“We are returning to you”, I heard the cogboy’s voice over the vox. The crystal began to flash, and I’d swear it was angry, if such a thing could be. Barick pumped a few shots into it, but they just chipped tiny slivers off of it. It flashed faster, and I didn’t want to know what else it could pop into the room.

“Run!” I yelled. “Everybody out! NOW!” Venus complied immediately, but Barick looked as if he would stay. I showed him the three grenades I’d just pulled off my belt, and he smiled broadly. Then he sprinted down the tunnel. I ran to the plinth, pulling pins and dropping the grenades at its base.

Then I sprinted, adrenaline and a bit of fear pumping my legs like an athlete. I was counting down from five in my head, and averaging plenty of footfalls between each digit.

Safely down the tunnel, we all heard the meaty “crump” of detonation, and I rested against the wall, my chest heaving with exertion. Sweat, and maybe a bit of blood, dripped down my body.

“The light…it’s normal again”, Sila said.

“The Emperor Protects”, Venus replied, making the sign of the aquila again.

“Stay here, team”, I said. I walked slowly, reloading the combat shotgun as I went. I peered around the corner to see the crystal laying in countless pieces, a glittering gravel pile instead of a sinister obelisk. I let out my breath in a deep sigh, only then realizing I’d been holding it.

I returned to the other acolytes. “Mission accomplished, I think.”

“You know that was a fraking daemon, right?” Barick asked.

“And yet we are still well within tolerance” Ignace replied. I laughed, deep and long, and the others joined in. “Was that humorous?” the techpriest asked without tone, and it threw us into a true laughing fit, my already bruised sides truly hurting.

After a break to eat some ration bars and rest briefly, we made our way out of the Shatters, and back toward the great seal. I tapped the appropriate code out at the door, and we heard the gears start to turn in response.

The commissar stood in the doorway, awaiting our return. He stepped in to meet us, one hand on his bolt pistol.

“The mine is clear”, Ignace told him. A sharp sound whipped our heads around in unison, though, and we were shocked to see the miner that Barick had sent out standing there before us. He’d changed since we saw him, and now had 6 eyes in his enlarged head. The stone had changed him, just as it had changed the others; it had just taken longer to do so. The commissar’s bolt pistol barked once, and the poor miner’s head exploded in a cloud of blood and smoke.

“Correction”, Ignace said, “The mine is now clear.” Barick looked at me sheepishly, and we left the Shatters behind us.

“Shattered Hope”, someone had scratched into that door. Truly, it had lived up to its name, destroying dozens of lives. The miners had discovered something better left unfound, had been tainted, had rebelled and died. The very guardsmen who had attempted to reclaim the place for the Imperium had succumbed, perhaps having lingered too long beside that massive gem of evil.

We’d been lucky, scoring one in the win column our first time out, and managing to do so with only a few scrapes and deep bruises. It was time to record an after action report for Inquisitor Jonas, and I looked to the commissar.

“Tell me commissar”, I began, “do you have any amasec?”