Almaric's Tale

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SpankyTaz
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Almaric's Tale - Confronting the Wizard

Keeping closer and personal seems the way to deal with this man, Almaric thinks to himself.

[/OOC Initiatives for Round 2: Almaric (13+1)=14, Har-Assad (17)]

Before Almaric can make a move, Har-Assad barks a short phrase at him while pointing a finger and then with a clawing, twisting gesture, coils the digit into a clenched fist as he draws his hand back towards his chest.

[/OOC Har-Assad casts a Hold Person spell at Almaric. Almaric needs a 16+ to save. He rolls, (5)-penalty for being the only target(2)=3. FAIL!]

Almaric experiences a brief moment of pain, almost like a full body cramp and then discovers he cannot move! Taking a breath, he is relieved to discover that his lungs are not paralysed but when he tries to curse the foul spellcaster, he finds that he is also unable to talk. He is completely at the mercy of this heinous man.

With a clear sigh of relief, the wizard relaxes.

"You have fallen to my obvious superiority! But I shall deal with you soon enough. For now, there are more pressing matters."

The wizard turns his attention back to the fountain. He casts another spell and Almaric sees a barely visible figure form at the edge of the fountain. The figure reaches into the water and pulls forth a small emerald. It shakes off the excess liquid and the wizard pours a small amount of water from his wineskin over the gem. Har-Assad carefully takes it from the translucent figure and holds it up to the sky to examine its facets, an expression of satisfied rapture spreading across his smug face.

What Almaric sees next is horrifying but due to his paralysis, the young hero is unable to look away or even close his eyes. The wizard is oblivious to the movement. The green dragon statue stops emitting the fog and with a surprising suppleness it turns to face the wizard. The wizard suddenly becomes aware of the movement and he looks up just in time to see the dragon open its mouth and emit an intense cloud of the green vapour. In an instant the wizard is consumed by the deadly cloud and he disintegrates to the bone while screaming in agony. His bleached skeleton falls to the ground even as the tortured, dying scream echoes away through the wood. The dragon returns to its previous stance and the fog resumes.

A few minutes later, Almaric feels the sensation of life enter his muscles. He is free to move once more.

[/OOC: Almaric is uninjured. Almaric has *LUCK*, *FINESSE* and *AUTOMATIC SUCCESS* bonuses available for use at any time.]

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Almaric's Tale - Confronting the Wizard (aftermath)

After massaging his muscles awake, Almaric regards the pile of bones.

Looking down upon the remains of the wizard, he can see not much survived the deadly fog. The bones are white, but a tinge of green laces through the pile. Nothing looks to have survived with the exception of a small pile of coins from a disintegrated pouch, a silver ring which dangles from a skeletal finger and a curved dagger. The emerald that the wizard removed from the fountain lies on the ground, off to one side, where it rolled upon Har-Assad's demise.

[/OOC: Almaric is uninjured. Almaric has *LUCK*, *FINESSE* and *AUTOMATIC SUCCESS* bonuses available for use at any time.]

SpankyTaz
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Almaric's Tale - The end of the road

Not wanting to incur the wrath of the dragon statue, Almaric carefully scoops the coins, ring and dagger into a small pile before scraping them into a sack - all the while taking care not to touch them with his bare hands.

Regarding the gem on the ground, Almaric wonders whether to pick it up himself. Since nothing happened until the Wizard took hold of the crystal and held it to the light, he decides to put some distance between himself and the statue before attempting anything.

Carefully watching the dragon statue for any signs of movement, he flicks the gem east with his boot and rapidly follows it. Nothing untoward happens, so he repeats the process until he's at the edge the clearing before finally rolling it into the sack with the rest of the loot. The statue does not move. Standing motionless the anxiety slowly erodes and Almaric realises the emerald is his.

Once done and without any further thought of the wizard, Almaric continues down the road, east.

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After the harrowing battle at the fountain Almaric is almost relieved to take to the road once more. It continues twisting and turning through the wood. The green fog overhead is thick and he can’t see the sun, but when the trees break he can feel the warmth of the sun’s rays. Somehow, the sunlight penetrates the fog providing illumination and life to the wood. At last Almaric can see what appears to be the end to the long road.

The road again forms a circular platform, only this time it is twice as large as the previous two he found. The north and south sides of the platform are lined slabs of green marble. The slabs are twenty feet tall and ten feet wide and spaced roughly ten feet apart. All of the slabs have etched markings. Some have many lines of markings whiles others have only a few.

At the east end of the platform Almaric sees a massive valley that falls away from the area. The valley is lined by towering cliffs that stretch miles into the distance. From the edge of the platform, the valley floor must be a thousand feet below where he now stands. The ever-present fog cloud enshrouds the valley like a blanket. Not a single bird or animal can be seen in the valley.

[/OOC: You have gained: Har-Assad's dagger and silver ring, some platinum and gold coins and a large emerald. Almaric is uninjured. Almaric has *LUCK*, *FINESSE* and *AUTOMATIC SUCCESS* bonuses available for use at any time.]

SpankyTaz
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Almaric's Tale - The Tablets

Almaric goes around the platform and examines the tall slabs of marble, searching to see if there is anywhere that would allow the emerald to be slotted into. He finds no such sockets and so he looks at the markings, trying to see any patterns that would give a clue as to their possible purpose.

The writing on the slabs appears almost alien, but then something about it strikes a chord in Almaric's memory. Some of the symbols match those on the map he found in the bandit base camp.

As he stares at the slabs he suddenly feels as if he is being watched. With a slow turn, he is frozen with shock. Not fifty feet from where he stands, a massive apparition begins to take shape. A giant green dragon, clearly an ancient creature, appears. The dragon stares at Almaric while wisps of green vapour float from its nostrils. The monstrosity moves with a deliberate motion that reminds him of his venerable grandfather. This dragon is very, very old.

“Do you see anything you like, young adventurer?” says the dragon as more of a statement than a question. “I have watched you while invisible and I can see you are no threat, but as you are curious about what you have found, I am curious as to what has brought you here. Tell me your story, and do not leave out a thing!” commands the dragon with a powerful, but cracking voice.

[/OOC: Almaric is uninjured. Almaric has *LUCK*, *FINESSE* and *AUTOMATIC SUCCESS* bonuses available for use at any time.]

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Almaric's Tale - Telling his tale

"Great Dragon, my name is Almaric and whilst travelling to the village of Larm, I was attacked by brigands. After being rescued by kindly folk, I decided to track down the villains and recover my belongings and horse.

"I spent several days exploring the forest north of here, battling Killer Frogs, Stirges, Zombie Soldiers, Monster Centipedes and a Giant Bird. I also encountered Orcs, an Ogre and a Shade but I didn't have the skills to fight them, so I avoided them.

"I found an altar deep in the forest which imbued my sword with magic and a wall of green fog that remained stationary over the lakes.

"Not long after that, I found a cabin that had three bandits in it. I killed two and, after he had told me what was beyond the fog wall, I let the third man go free. He had told me that a Wizard, Har-Assad, and his bandit followers were looking for a Dragon's grave or lair - they didn't know which they'd find - and they had a slave woman in his tent. I vowed I would rescue the woman and free her.

"I found her after I'd had a run in with a small group of Kobolds, but she was actually an Assassin working with the Wizard. I wounded her and she agreed to tell me all she knew in exchange for her freedom. I agreed and, after hearing her tale, I let her go. Also in the Wizard's tent I located an old map of the area, drawn on animal hide, with strange writings on it - which look the same as the markings on these stones. I took the map to a safe place, out of the Wizard's reach before pressing on.

"I followed the Wizard and his men down a cobbled road and found the bandits turning against the Wizard. He ran and the five bandits attacked me, but I prevailed.

"I caught up with Har-Assad at a fountain with the statue of a Dragon, that seemed to be the source of the fog. He tried to tempt me into reaching in to the fountain but I declined, so he cast a spell on me which froze me to the spot. Har-Assad then used his magic to retrieve the green crystal, but as he examined it the statue moved and breathed the green fog over him, leaving nothing but bones, the crystal and a few metal belongings. Eventually, I began to move, collected up the treasures and ended up here."

Pausing to take a drink from his waterskin, Almaric regards the dragon.

"That, to the best of my knowledge, is my tale to this point. I was looking at the great stones to see if there is any way to remove the fog, perhaps a place to put the crystal as it seems to be of the same material.

"I feel that you are a powerful entity, and I know my life would be yours for the taking if you so wished. If you tell me to return the crystal to the fountain and leave, I will. I await your judgement."

To emphasise the point, Almaric drops to one knee and bows his head to the Dragon while he awaits its judgement.

The dragon pauses and considers what the young human has told it. Finally, it speaks.

“A grand adventure for someone so young. I suppose you are wondering what this is,” says the dragon as it sweeps a wing toward the slabs and valley. "I will tell you if you give the map to me, everything else is of no import."

Almaric quickly realises the dragon is not asking for the map. His tone is more of a demand.

[/OOC: Almaric is uninjured. Almaric has *LUCK*, *FINESSE* and *AUTOMATIC SUCCESS* bonuses available for use at any time.]

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Almaric's Tale - A deal is agreed

"I would gladly return the map to you, but it will take me a couple of days to collect it and return, unless you know of a quicker route that I may take.", says Almaric. "Would this be acceptable to you?... If I may be so bold, by what name may I address you?"

The dragon peers intently at Almaric.

"Since I know not where you need to go, how then can I tell you of a faster route? Perhaps you are not as bright as I had hoped. I give you one day to bring the map to me here. Do not tarry or dawdle, since there are forces in play that will seek to snuff out your insignificant life and I can only hinder them so long.

"My name would be unpronounceable to you, but in ages past I have been called 'Tiolth' by races such as yours. Go now and make haste. Do not seek to trick or evade me mortal - others have tried, all have failed."

With that, the beast fades back out of sight and Almaric finds himself alone at the end of the road, standing amongst the inscribed stones.

Deciding that he had better do as instructed, Almaric sets off back to the Travelling Man at his best speed.

----------------------------------------------------------------

[/OOC Roll for surprise. Almaric rolls (1)-1=0, Bugbear rolls (4), Almaric is surprised. The Bugbear is 23 yards away.]

Almaric has just passed through the final clearing and is almost back to the road leading to the inn when he suddenly encounters a large, hairy beast-man who looks like a cross between a hobgoblin and a bear. The creature charges towards the startled warrior, bellowing a war-cry just prior to throwing a spear.

[/OOC The Bugbear attacks Almaric with a thrown spear and rolls (17)-Almaric's shield-less AC(5)+surprise mod.(2)=14. HIT
Damage from spear, (7)HP]

The spear strikes Almaric hard in his right side, almost spinning him off balance.

[/OOC Initiatives for Round 1: Almaric (1+1)=2, Bugbear (10)]

The Bugbear continues its run at Almaric and closes the last of the gap before the warrior can react. It swings a morningstar two-handed at the injured human...

[/OOC The Bugbear attacks Almaric with a morningstar, rolling (19)-Almaric's AC(7)=12. HIT
Damage from morningstar, (2)HP]

The impact rocks Almaric but although he is badly injured, he remains standing and retaliates...

[/OOC Almaric attacks the Bugbear with his longsword. He needs a 6+ and rolls, (14)-**(Bugbear AC)=HIT
Damage from longsword, (6)+STR mod.(2)+Fighter mod.(1)+sword mod.(1)=10HP]

The blade bites deep into the shaggy hide of the creature, drawing forth blood and an angry roar, but still the beast stands ready to attack.

[/OOC: Almaric is engaged in combat with a Bugbear. The Bugbear is injured and Almaric is badly injured (having lost 8 of his 11 HP). Almaric has *LUCK*, *FINESSE* and *AUTOMATIC SUCCESS* bonuses available for use at any time.]

SpankyTaz
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Almaric's Tale - Fighting the Bugbear

[/OOC Initiatives for Round 2: Almaric (1+1)=2, Bugbear (10)]

The Bugbear swings his morningstar at Almaric once again...

[/OOC Bugbear attacks Almaric, rolls (14)-Almaric's AC(7)=7.A VERY CLOSE MISS]

...but Almaric manages to get his shield in the way just at the last moment. The impact still knocks him back a step.

Knowing he's in trouble, Almaric calls out, "Shennan, I need your aid!" and slashes out at the ferocious beast-man.

[/OOC Almaric attacks the Bugbear, he needs a 6+ and rolls (11)-Bugbear AC(**)=HIT
Damage from longsword, (2)+STR mod.(2)+Fighter mod.(1)+sword mod.(1)=6HP]

The sharp edge of his blade carves across the beast's chest, opening up a deep gash. The Bugbear looks severely wounded.

There is the sound of a far-away rallying horn and then a spectral image begins to form alongside Almaric. The spirit of Shennan, one of the fallen soldiers laid to rest by Almaric, has heard his call for aid and responded. Within seconds the shade fully forms and draws his sword to attack the Bugbear...

[/OOC Shennan attacks the Bugbear. He needs an 8+ and rolls (11)-Bugbear AC(**)=MISS]

...but his swing is slightly off and all he manages is to shave a tuft of fur from the creature's ear.

[/OOC Initiatives for Round 3: Almaric (19+1)=20, Shennan (5) and Bugbear (5)]

This time it is Almaric who is quicker. He launches a series of left and right feints at the Bugbear, followed up by a straight-ahead lunge with his sword-tip...

[/OOC Almaric attacks the Bugbear. He needs a 6+ and rolls, (19)-Bugbear AC(**)=HIT
Damage from longsword, (6)+STR mod.(2)+Fighter mod.(1)+sword mod.(1)=10HP. KILLSHOT!]

...which stabs through his foe's abdomen, ruining his vitals before exiting his back. With a last fading howl, the Bugbear falls.

As he staggers back from the combat, Almaric is greeted by a sword salute from the spirit of Shennan. "A final farewell young hero, be safe." And with that, the shade fades from view to a war horn sounding recall.

Almaric finds himself alone, in sight of the road, with a dead Bugbear at his feet and blood seeping from his wounds.

[/OOC: Almaric is badly injured, with only 3 HPs remaining. He will no longer be able to call to Shennan for aid. Almaric has *LUCK*, *FINESSE* and *AUTOMATIC SUCCESS* bonuses available for use at any time.]

SpankyTaz
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Almaric's Tale - Back to the Travelling Man

After quickly checking his fresh wounds and bandaging himself...

[/OOC First Aid administered for (3)HP
NOTE: You can only use a Healing Salve once/day. However you do have a Healing Poultice and Healing Potion available]

... Almaric examines the Bugbear for anything of value. His search uncovers forty-nine gold, fifteen silver and five copper coins, as well as the bloodied morningstar. Taking them all and adding them to his packs, Almaric once more presses on to the Travelling Man.

----------------------------------------------

It is almost midday when Almaric enters the welcoming atmosphere of the inn where the sounds and smells of cooking are coming from the kitchen. He estimates that he still has enough time to complete the round trip to deliver the map to Tiolth and get back before nightfall with maybe an hour to spare.

[/OOC: You find/gain: 49gp, 15sp, 5cp and a morningstar. You use/lose: 1 bandage. Almaric is injured, down to 6 of 11 HPs remaining. Almaric has *LUCK*, *FINESSE* and *AUTOMATIC SUCCESS* bonuses available for use at any time.]

SpankyTaz
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Almaric's Tale - The deal completed

Dashing upstairs to his room, after putting the coins and the morningstar in the chest, Almaric quickly grabs the strange skin map. Clashing his door behind him, he thunders down the stairs into the taproom just as Hugo emerges from the kitchen, a towel over one shoulder, a ladle in hand and a slightly alarmed look on his face. Before he can speak to the young warrior, Almaric is out the door and back along the road to his meeting with the Dragon, leaving a bemused Hugo in his wake.

--------------------------------------------------------

The return trip to the end of the strange paved road is uneventful and by the late afternoon, Almaric finds himself once more amongst the strange stone tablets. Within moments of his arrival, Tiolth appears.

Almaric places the map in the dragon’s enormous taloned claws and the creature grunts with approval.

“This has been lost for far too long. It was a certain inevitability that someone would find it and make their way here. However, I believe the wizard has erred in his conclusions and mixed his research sources. The green gem he sought is nought to do with my Green Flame. You have discovered, though purely by chance, the Grave of the Green Flame. A grand title for a graveyard. This is where we green dragons come to die. You see, we are not like our brethren dragons who die on their mounds of treasure. Green dragons preserve our history and lineage. That is what you see on the slabs. Each slab represents the entire history of each of the clans. The name of every green dragon in each clan, barring the occasional accident or banishment, is recorded on the family stone. There are more details, but I will not share that with you. When we are close to death, we come here. We record what is needed and then take our final flight into the valley. As you can see, there are tall cliffs with innumerable perches and ledges large enough to accommodate a dragon of my size. I will find one to my liking and that will be my grave. This has been the way of the green dragon since the first of our kind hatched.

“From what I understand of your story, the wizard you battled thought the map led to an unguarded lair filled with treasure. I suppose it was simply a matter of misinterpretation. While some of us do bring an item or two of sentimental value, we do not bring our hoard. That is typically disbursed among our offspring prior to our departure, and as for the valley, I assure you, it is not unguarded. You know of the green cloud and fog, but there are other hidden defences in the valley itself.

“I know of only one such gem that could match the description of this legendary Green Flame. It was rumoured to be in a city beyond a black wall, or was it a wall of blackness? I do not rightly recall as it came to my attention many years past and I had other, more important things to concern myself with rather than a pretty bauble. Seek it if you wish, chances are that anyone capable of gaining and keeping such a gem will most certainly have collected other treasures as well. Perhaps your destiny lies along that path. Perhaps only your doom.

“But my time draws near, and as much as I have enjoyed our conversation, I must leave and so must you. As I have said, there are guardians in the valley and they do inspect this lost road from time to time. If they discover you after I leave, you will perish. I thank you for sharing your story with me. It gives an old dragon some comfort. Here is a gift. Now be gone as fast as your feet can carry you.”

The dragon turns and strides slowly to the edge of the platform overlooking the valley. He spreads his massive wings and takes flight. The grace of his flight is intoxicating but then his words of warning awaken your sense of self-preservation. Looking at the ground where the dragon stood, you spot a jade ring in one of the gouges left by its massive claws when it took flight.

[/OOC: Almaric is injured, down to 6 of 11 HPs remaining. Almaric has *LUCK*, *FINESSE* and *AUTOMATIC SUCCESS* bonuses available for use at any time.]

SpankyTaz
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Almaric's Tale - Time to leave

Almaric reaches down and picks up the ring. Slipping it onto his finger he feels a slight tingle but nothing else. With a last look toward the valley, he takes to his heels and runs back to the lake. Without a pause, he dives into the water and swims under the fog for the last time.

Wading ashore, Almaric decides not to risk returning to his lodgings in the dark, and so sets up camp in the bandit cabin. He spends some time collecting enough wood to fuel a fire for the night and after securing the cabin against intrusion by wild animals, Almaric settles in for the evening.

After getting his fire going and filling his belly with rations and water, Almaric finally gets around to examining the dragon's gift. The ring is carved from solid jade and is obviously magical. It bears a faint inscription written in a script he cannot decipher. Deciding that that is probably the extent of what he can learn about it for now, Almaric turns his attention to the wizard's dagger. This turns out to be a fine blade with an edge almost the equal to his longsword. It is perhaps a little more flamboyant than he would have chosen for himself but it probably matched the style of its previous owner. The silver ring is just that, a plain silver band that Almaric estimates to be worth thirty gold.

After counting the coins that he liberated from Har-Assad and the brigands, he reaches a final tally of twenty-three platinum and sixty-eight gold coins along with one hundred silver pieces.

Reaching into the sack that holds the emerald, Almaric draws forth the gem and even in the dim light of the cabin he can tell it is truly beautiful. Barely able to fit within the palm of his hand, he slowly and carefully studies the green stone. This must easily be worth five hundred gold. A veritable fortune!

Finally, he settles down to try to sleep, thoughts of dragons and green flames, gems and cities hidden behind black walls, all jostling for his attention. After a while, the weariness of his body overtakes the excitement of his mind and he falls asleep, dreaming dreams of adventure and treasure.

Nothing happens during the night that Almaric is aware of, and at first light he cracks open the cabin door and peeks outside. Everything seems normal and nothing is different from how he remembered things yesterday. Gathering his things, he heads out of the door and starts the journey back to the Travelling Man, deciding that he really needs a hearty breakfast when he gets there.

-----------------------------------

Mid-morning sees Almaric stride through the door of the Travelling Man inn and into a wall of questions from a concerned Hugo and a concerned look from Kel.

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Almaric's Tale - What Next?

Between mouthfuls of breakfast washed down with milk, Almaric tells Hugo and Kel his tale of Wizards, Assassins, Brigands and Dragons. They sit mesmerised by his story.

When his tale is finished and he can't eat any more, Almaric excuses himself and retires to his room to sort out his possessions. As he works, Almaric comes to the conclusion that he should really start keeping a journal of his adventures.

After resting for the next couple of days to get back to full health, Almaric thinks that it is time he moved on, his endeavours to rid the area of bandits completed. Before continuing on to the village of Larm, his original destination, he decides to return to Dolmvay to visit Dyson the Mapmaker and the Houses of Learning.

[/OOC Almaric rests up for a full day and recovers (3)+(2)=5 HP. He also gains a total of 2,365XP (inc. 15% bonus after using Bonus card) for a grand total of 5,038XP - which is enough to make him a 3rd level Fighter.]

Packing his belongings - the jewellery, gems, platinum and gold coins in a pouch at the bottom of his backpack - he decides to leave some items in the chest in case the next traveller needs the help that he received.

[/OOC The chest now contains: Shield, Morning Star, Short Bow, Quiver with 20 Arrows, Thieves Tools, Sack]

Going down to the bar room, Almeric thanks Hugo and Kel for their help, hospitality and friendship during his time with them. Returning Hugo's quill and inkpot to him, he also gives Hugo and Kel each one of his Bloodstones, insisting they accept them.

[/OOC The gifts to Hugo and Kel, along with the gear left in the chest has earned Almaric a further XP gain of 115XP]

Almaric tries to purchase supplies but Hugo will not hear of it. Instead he arranges enough supplies for the journey to Dolmvay and helps Almaric packs his belongings onto Osgar. With a last shake of Hugo and Kel's hands, Almaric mounts up and rides off down the road to the city and whatever lies ahead, leaving two new friends and a great fireside story behind.

----------------------------------------------------------------

[/GM Note: You have survived! That in itself is worthy of celebration, but your character can’t rest on his laurels for too long. He has discovered the existence of a special gem, the Green Flame! Now it is time to find the gem and become wealthy beyond measure and immortalized in songs of adventure for centuries uncounted. Now all you need do is find an unknown lost city, hidden behind a wall of blackness, to recover a legendary treasure, guarded by the Gods only know what monsters and traps... What could be easier?]

[/OOC: Mark off the gear you have left behind/gifted. Almaric is fully healed. Your new XP total is 5,153. Almaric has gained a level (roll 2 separate d8s for your HPs, let's not try for 1s this time!) and choose a new class proficiency from the Fighter proficiency list (I would recommend 'Weapon Focus: Swords'). His new class title is Swordmaster. All of your bonuses have been reset.]

SpankyTaz
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Almaric's Tale

That concludes this chapter of Almaric's Tale.

Both the player and I had a lot of fun playing through this. We started on 24th Feb and ended on the 9th April.

We are currently working on the next chapter but I am committed to running ACKS at my gaming club for the next 18 weeks so there will not be any more from Almaric for a while... assuming I haven't bored you all to death LOL

sulldawga
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I really enjoyed Almaric's Tale. Thanks for sharing with us.

Good luck with your ACKS game with the club.

moorcrys
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Hey Spanky,

Thanks for posting all of these. A great read!

Cheers -

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