Monday, March 27, 2006

Final Fantasy Journal

Here it goes, get my typing gloves on, there. Besides keeping my hands warm on cold nights while I type, my typing gloves also provide a layer of material between my skin and the touchpad on my laptop that prevents me from accidentally moving my cursor to another part of the page. Don't help with spelling though.

Here I will try and keep a regular post going about the happenings in my RPG, that's my RPG, the one I created. Anyway, I'll do it in summary form as each session tends to carry on into pages in narrative form and I don't have that kind of time on my hands. But I have gloves on my hands. :)

The Players:

Nate- Plays a Ronso Warrior, Telemic of Clan Rhade from the western continent, he's foreign and so is still trying to learn common from another Ronso in the group. Telemic is on a quest to rescue his sweetheart, a High Elf maiden...? Ok....

John- Plays another Ronso Warrior, Wawlimus of Clan Purtuk, he's the son of the High Chief who rules a bunch of local Clans. Wawlimus is on a mission to gain leadership experience and to grow up before he has to take over the Clans. Very prestigious.

Jeremy- Plays a Human Warrior, Kenji, from the town of Wutai, which was destroyed a short time ago, he appears to be the only surviving member of that town, thanks to a magical blade.

Ferris- Plays a Moomba Rogue, Ruggar, from the Shining Claw Tribe, located north of the town of Byfree. Ruggar has a bit of lore in spellcasting due to the tutoring of a mysterious red-cloaked mage who afterward disappeared.

Brad- Plays a Ronso Rogue, Zaragos, who watched his family get slaughtered by pirates and only survived by joining their crew. Zaragos was betrayed by those same pirates and now merely seeks adventure, and hopes for revenge.

20 Years After the Tale of Byfree Part 2

1025 AG

It started with a storm, Kenji, Wawlimus, and Telemic were aboard a ship in this storm, the latter two as guests. The ship ran aground and shattered, the crew panicked and it was every man for himself. The Ronso worked together and secured a large section of flotsam for themselves and Kenji did the same. They were the only ones able to make it to land, the rest were devoured, alive or dead, by sea trolls.

The three awake in warm beds to the smell of hearty broth and the smiles of a rotund woman and an attractive young lady. They are now in the town of Byfree. The villagers talk about the storm and how they now have more helpers to secure the harvest. Ruggar, ever the mischievous sort, is curious about the new arrivals, especially the fact that the Ronso can understand to a degree his chirping dialect, and he follows them around.

Apparently the villagers don't consider it an option for the three to leave, and suspecting some sort of strange cult the party bolts out of town and onto the only road out. Kenji is not trusting anyone and so tries to distance himself from the Ronso and Moomba, but when confronted by some strange shelled creatures after the road becomes overgrown he is glad for the added security a party brings.

After surviving the encounter, the party decides to head into the forest, following a more well-traveled path. This leads them to an encounter near a large log cabin, with a small group of Imps, which they finally dispatch. After the battle they meet up with the owners of the cabin, Pladar and Leogar, brothers and woodsmen, protectors of Byfree. They stay the night with the two Gigantos in their cabin and are told the story of why they will not be able to leave Byfree. (Ref Tale of Byfree parts I+II, Nate did not read this story so doesn't know what happened, it fits cause his character can't understand Common anyway.)

The next morning they go with Pladar into the forest to hunt some more Imps and have a great huge battle against a whole band of them, this takes pretty much the whole session. Afterward Pladar is in stitches after watching them bumble about haphazardly while trying to work as a team. Ruggar makes an impressive display of getting a head shot with his bow on an annoying Imp Shaman who was causing them some trouble.

Afterward they head to the Moomba village a little further into the forest, Ruggar's village, and are treated to a traditional lunch feast of fried root paste, fish, rabbit, and dark brown fermented palm leaf ale. They then head back to Byfree with Pladar to see what needs to be done around town, but they are determined not to stay long.

They meet a many of the towns inhabitants and do a bit of shopping in the local shops. Interestingly enough there has been another survivor of the shipwreck found, Zaragos. How he survived that long in the ocean with sea trolls about is a miracle. They get to know each other and Pladar leaves them promising to that if they still want to attempt to leave the peninsula they need to get stronger, and he will show them to places where they may fight more than just Imps.

The next morning after some confusion about misplaced weapons Pladar shows up to guide them through the forest, but this plan is short lived as Louise, a young lady who runs the Item shop with her twin sister Thelma, reveals that Imps have kidnapped little Nancy, the towns sweetheart and the only girl to be born in 20 years. Needless to say this takes precedence over any leisurely monster hunting that may have been planned. So off into the woods everyone goes, hunting down the Imps that had the gall to kidnap their precious Nancy.

The party stays together an navigates the twisting forest pathway quite well, trying to get all the treasure and defeat all the monsters, before rescuing Nancy. They run into a Lesser Hill Troll who nearly wipes them out, but they use some Phoenix Downs and get back in the game, dealing many critical blows to the savage beast before it has the chance to regenerate. Unfortunatly they forget to decapitate it and cauterize the wound and soon after they leave it regenerates and heads off into the forest holding onto a big grudge. They then easily cleave through all enemies until they come across the Gigantos and a troupe of Moomba hunters who have found where Nancy is being held.

The battle is fierce and swift, over 25 Imps are either killed or routed and Nancy is rescued very quickly, the powerful Gigantos brothers holding nothing back. They then return to Byfree with Nancy and everyone has a party, but not before they search the rest of the forest paths for treasure they may have missed. Everyone is happy to have Nancy back safe, but the leaders of the town suspect something strange is going on with the Imps to have them perform so bold an attack. They resolve to investigate the matter as soon as the Imps settle down and return to their natural habits, which should take a few days because the huge defeat they suffered will make them skiddish for a while.

to be continued.........


Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Been a while

Well, it indeed has been quite a while since I updated this blog. Things have been very busy lately and I have had hardly any time to do anything for myself. Well that's mostly a lie cause everything I do is sorta for myself anyway... That sounds selfish... Anyway, I have been hard at work on my RPG, trying to get the system flowing smoothly, finishing the basic game design, and creating a weekly campaign and weekly dungeon raids. Over and above that there is the Kotei coming up, it's on April 22nd in Vancouver, but time keeps flying by. I am most likely going to use my Mantis Orochi deck, as I have no play experience with Phoenix Control, I hope I do well, but I haven't been able to devote much time to refining the deck past where it is currently. I'm still running it out of The Castle of The Wasp, instead of Amarasu's Pride like everyone tells me to.

But I have an idea, at first I was going to attempt another narrative style of story to tell about my FF RPG campaign, but since we play every week that is a bit much. So I am going to do what I've seen a few other GM's do, I'm going to keep everyone up to date in a point form style telling what people did, what they fought, and the overall events that make up their fantasy world. So maybe I'll start that today. I think it'll give some insight into the game for any of my players who dare read it, and a glimpse into the world of RPG for those that have never experienced it.


Saturday, March 04, 2006

FF RPG Fiction. Tale of Byfree, Part II

--- Five years later ---

The sun was halfway through its daily descent from the middle of the sky into the sea when the three travellers crested the rocky pass. Nenaki looked over at his companions to gauge their reaction as they gazed for the first time on the place he liked to call home. The valley was green, with patches of golden fields illuminated by the declining sun, from here they could see the glistening waters of the sea as it disappeared over the horizon. One of his companions, a female Ronso, looked over at him and he grinned and stretched out his hands, sweeping them over the breadth of the valley.

"Welcome to Byfree Penninsula my friends, we should increase our speed if we are to make it to the town before nightfall." He said.

The other Ronso started eagerly picking his way over the rocky trail and Nenaki turned and gestured for the female to follow. They made excellent time and were soon on the floor of the valley jogging casually toward the sunset. The sun was just slipping under the waves when they arrived at the gate of the town.

The town was alot quieter than Nenaki remembered it, the war had lasted far longer than it should have, and youths were conscripted into the armies even from towns as far away as Byfree. As they made their way through the empty streets calls of welcome came from open windows and merchants paused in packing up there stalls to say hi to the returning Ronso. Nenaka greeted all with a wave and some words, he remembered these people, they looked much older than when he had left, but their spirit remained, they were genuinely pleased to see him. As they approached the Plump Quail the door suddenly burst open emmiting a golden glow onto the darkening street, and a shape appeared in the doorway and rushed out to meet them. Nenaki was almost moved to tears as he noted that all his closest friends in the town had gathered to welcome him home, and he rushed to meet the approaching shape that could only be Spencer. The two good friends embraced shortly and then Nenaki turned to introduce his companions.

"This is Nenaki's younger brother, Batak," he said indicating the stocky Ronso on his left. Then, turning and regarding the female Ronso on his right affectionatly said "This is Kamelka of Clan Gagazet who is pledged as bond mate to Nenaki."

Spencer clasped each of their forearms in turn, the traditional Ronso way of greeting, and welcomed them to Byfree. They entered the inn and the party commenced, Spencer introduced Batak and Kamelka to two of his and Nenaki's previous companions who had also returned from the war. Leogon, a nine foot tall Gigantos in the brown and green robes of a Geomancer, who had brought his two young twin sons along as well, and Mandelfin of Snowglen, a Wood Elf Ranger of some renown throughout southern Almek, on whose shoulder preened a magnificent Barred Osprey, the birds size made the slight Elf look quite lopsided but he held himself with grace worthy of a high court in any land. After the introductions were made the drinks started flowing and with them came the much anticipated tales of the war, of the strange metal monsters, or machina, used by the Krueganians, of great victories snatched from the jaws of certain defeat, of routs, and ultimately of victory.

The celebration lasted long into the night, but after a while the townspeople retired for the evening leaving the four ex-adventurers and Nenaki's two companions to more private talks. At first the conversation remained light and upbeat, but eventually spencer posed the question everyone had been waiting for.

"Is it really over? Seven years of brutal conflict and then suddenly an end? The last report we had recieved down here said things were still a stalemate, as they have been these past five years. What has happened to stop this war so suddenly?" He asked.

"Nenaki is not sure, we were assigned tactical missions, incursions and such, they had become routine, fighting over the same blasted patch of land we were for nearly five years, we were successfull, but it seemed not to make any difference. Then, a call to withdraw. No superiors knew what was going on either, it wasn't a rout, there was no pursuit. When we were miles away we saw what was happening, airships, Almekian airships were spreading something over the battlefields, not just ours, but all up and down the lines. Like a black cloud is fell and clung to eveything, even from so far away we could hear the screams of the dying, it was a desperate time, no one knew what was going on. Kermodei Clan lost two elite units that were still on missions, Gagazet Clan lost five." Nenaki said, choking back rage. "It was criminal, even for our enemies to meet such an end. All the commanders feared similar repraisals, we attacked with unholy magics, they would counter with unholy machina, but our general told us it was all taken care of, and that we were to depart, our part in the war was finished, as the war was soon to be. He smiled smugly, the glint of madness in his eyes, there was nothing we could do to. Nothing good will come of this for Almek nor Kreugania, best that we not be near to that disaster. Maybe Nenaki is wrong, but to prepare for the worst will bring the best as a pleasant surprise in the morning."

The six veteran warriors talked later still into the night, discussing the possibile events that might unfold from this war, how to cope, possible solutions for peace should the war continue. All this talk was in vain, however, they were not in a position that had any power to change anything, and even if they had they were already too late. The whole world was far too late to do anything but watch.

The sun crested the Highwind pass and found Nenaki at his usual place on the rocky knoll overlooking the valley. This time he was not alone, Kamelka sat at his side marvelling in the beauty of the scene for the first time in her life. They sat and enjoyed the view for an hour or more, but then Kamelka grew restless and challenged Nenaki to a race back to Byfree. Grinning widely Nanaki nodded his acceptance and then they were off. Nenaki knew the path very well even after so many years, but he did not take his time in concern for his future bond mate, this was a competition and Ronso females took competition with their future mates very seriously. Kamelka, however, did take her own time to enjoy the sight of her future bond mates barely clad form as he started a quick descent. She smiled knowingly and moved away from the path at the back of the knoll to the top of the cliff facing her destination, with a slight run she leapt far out into the open air. Wind rushed through her fur and her eyes teared slightly, the vertical cliff ended at a rock filled slope that continued sharply to the bottom of the knoll, the rocks were approaching quicky. A quick twitch of her legs and arms at the last second and Kamelka somersalted through the air, feet landing firmly on a large boulder, her legs absorbing part of the tremendous impact, the boulder visibly taking the rest as it cracked open. Before the massive rock was even finished it's groaning cry she was airborne once more, this time jumping further out and down the slope, veritably bouncing off boulders as she approached the pathway that finally wound around the front of the knoll. She saw Nenaki round the corner and timed her last jump so that she was able to handspring off his head as he raced the path below, she giggled slighty as she landed on another boulder further down the knoll and waved at him before leaping high into the air once more.

The pair just reached the gates of the town, Nenaki winning just by a horn, when the first of the tremors hit. At first the Ronso thought his body might just be a bit too exhausted, but then he noticed that some of the taller buildings were swaying as well. Soon screams rang throughout the town as roofs started to collapse, and furniture shifted violently inside the confines of wooden walls. People started streaming in panic out of their homes as some of the older ones started to fully collapse, Nenaki and Kamelka quickly assumed command of directing people out of the streets and if they could make it, into the empty fields of grain beyond the reach of the wall should it too fall. The quake lasted for a full fourty minutes, before there was a pause. The townspeople gathered in the fields had taken count and they knew how many were still missing inside the town, and they endeavoured to return to search for them. Only Mandelfin, of any of the ex-adventurers, had had any experience with quakes before and he urged the townspeople to wait until after the aftershock had hit before they searched the ruins of their town. Many believed, but some, desperate to find loved ones could not be restrained and they scrabbled through the rubble lined streets calling out various names.

The aftershocks hit a few minutes later, before anyone had returned from their search, and this time the quake lasted for over an hour. Mandelfin knew this to be strange, the aftershocks were supposed to be more severe in some cases, but not normally this much longer. He expressed his worries to his close friends.

"I do not believe this to be an act of nature, and I do not know what could have caused Mighty Terrax to shake his foundations so. I fear this is the work of some great evil, or some hand has chosen to judge the world blindly for the acts of a few nations of men. This turmoil will not end tonight, of that I am certain." He said seriously. "Look, Rydia still circles up above, she will not even land when I call to her, the animals know when to flee and fly when we poor few do not."

Leogon agreed, the quakes he felt were no natural thing, but neither did he sense, in his link with the god of the earth, any malice toward the mortal races. This was something created outside the divine realm.

A third quake hit shortly after, this one lasting even longer, and the people set up a large camp in the fields. The quakes lasted for the better part of a week, remaining about 2 hours long each, but lessening in strength. And though the pauses between them increased in length none of the people dared to enter the town for fear that a destabilized building would fall even during the calm. When it was finally decided that the quakes were finished for good, the villagers entered the town to survey the wreckage and attempt to save anyone left alive. The distruction was final in most places, even some of the cellars had caved in and ruined foundations, but the worst travesty besides the death toll was the shore. It appeared as if a massive sword had come down and cut half the town away from the mainland and pushed it into the sea to forever be lost under the waves. Where there had once been a gentle slope toward the waters edge there was now a sharp drop to brown debris filled water. The land that had been swept into the water seemed to completely fill what had once been one of the finest deepwater harbours on the west side of the continent. The only things that bolstered the spirits of the townspeople were the fact that the towns wall was still entirely intact, and the arrival of a local Moomba tribe, apparently unaffected by the quakes, who provided fresh meat in the form of wild boar and hares.

The townspeople perservered and fought on as only Humans could, first starting the task of clearing the rubble and burying the bodies, and then moving to the task of scavenging the reusable rubble to use in creating more adequate shelter before winter. Some of the villagers also banded together to harvest what remained of the crops in the field, for all of the supply warehouses had been located close to sea and had not survived. Even with the extra food from the Moomba hunters as well as the three Ronso it did not look good for the townspeople.Seeing this, Mandelfin vollenteered to brave the pass and seek out help and supplies from whatever other towns had survived, he hoped to be back before winters worst closed the high pass.

Rydia, Mandelfins faithful osprey returned just after the weather started to turn, she circled the makeshift village calling out plaintively as if heralding a great hero on to the underworld, it was a haunting sound. Then she flew off back toward the pass, she returned a few hours later and circled the village once more, finally landing near Spencer and Nenaki's temporary accomodations. She hopped toward them, and in her talons Nenaki spotted a bloodsoaked piece of parchment. He retrieved it and read it aloud.

"Rockslides partially block the pass, no help from outside. Trolls in the pass on my return trip, 30 in number, I have taken fatal wounds and soon shall pass on to the earthmother. I send Rydia to you with this warning, I pray to Gaia that she finds you in time. Prepare."

He looked to the ground as he finished reading and handed the note to Spencer. Then he raised his head and let out a beastial howling chant, one that Spencer had heard only twice before, the ancient Ronso chant for the soul of a fallen warrior, Kamelka and Batak came and stood beside him and joined in the chant, heads held high, honouring the brave warrior. When they were finished the town had gathered to find out what was going on, and Spencer quickly set about ordering night watches to be set, fortifications to be made ready, and weapons be prepared. Trolls were never a good thing.

The next morning advance scouts apon the now much smaller rocky knoll reported a large grouping of trolls moving slowly down from the pass into the valley, they were following the path, but they didn't look terribly organized. Spencer realized that they might actually have some hope of fighting off these brutes. If they were indeed crag trolls as he guessed then it would be easier to distract and seperate them from their group picking them off one by one. Still with thirty or more to contend with it might not be the wisest thing to meet them in the open plains. The five veteran warriors, Leogon's two sons, and a few of the battle experienced townspeople gathered to try and organize an effective strategy.

Nenaki stated that they could not risk the inexperienced townspeople in anything but a defensive fight, but that a few of them might be able to strike out silently before the enemy could charge the defenses, this perhaps would slow the plodding advance, and give the trolls, small minded as they were, something to worry about. Spencer agreed, and assigned Nenaki, Kamelka, Batak, Leogon and one of his sons Pladar to be the advance strike team. The selected warriors each went to prepare, Nenaki braided his hair with steel beads and grabbed afew throwing hammers. Kamelka retrieved her helm, armour and cross spear, all buffed to a brilliant shine that hurt the eyes in the bright morning light. Batak donned very odd armour that was jagged and sharp on all the edges, as well as massive iron gauntlets shaped into massive razor sharp griffon talons. Leogon mixed a muddy concoction and painted himself and his companions with strange runes, while his son Pladar equipped heavy leather armour and unwrapped a strange ten foot long bundle to reveal a tremendous zanbato that he spun as easily as if it was paper. When all was ready Nenaki took the lead and headed out to meet the invading trolls.

The Trolls were not too far into the valley yet when Nenaki and his party came apon them. They were seemingly milling about in the middle of the road, grunting to each other and pointing first toward the forest to the north and then down the path they stood on that lead to the town. Nenaki deduced that they argued about which scent to follow up first, one thing about trolls, no matter which of the many forms of troll one came across, they all had excellent senses of smell, and apparently this group had caught a whiff of the Moomba tribe in the forest. One troll started pushing another around and Nenaki signalled that it was time to act, while they were already distracted. As one they leapt into the middle of the group.

A few had makeshift weapons like tree limb clubs or large rocks, but most had only their knobbly fists with which to defend themselves. Two were down on the ground spilling their brown lifeblood from fatal wounds before they even realized they were being attacked. Batak moved from one of the dying hulks to another one with a surprised look on its face, he drove his gauntlets upward into its throat and violently pulled them free, blood bubbled from the hole and the troll swung wildly. Batak dodged easily and brought his forehead horn foreward into the creatures chest repeatedly, staying under the deadly flailing reach. Elsewhere Nenaki was pummeling two trolls simultaneously with lightning fast fists and feet, acrobatically evading the dazed and bleeding creatures swings. Pladar was just pulling his zanbato out from where it had stopped halfway through the rocky body of a troll when the remainder of the beasts started gaining some semblance of order, the one nearest him eagerly raised its club high in both hands planning on crushing the young Gigantos with one strike. Then a blur of silvery armour and brown fur fell from the sky landing on the trolls raised club and driving her spear through its neck, the razor sharp crossguard nearly severing it's head. Pladar smiled his appreciation at Kamelka as she jumped vertically off the dying troll revealing another angry troll moving foreward to take its companions place, Pladar raised his giant sword and turned to face it. A bit further behind Pladar, Leogon was sitting on the ground in the middle of a set of arcane runes drawn in the earth, his eyes were closed and his lips were moving, the tempo of his chant increased and he reached to his belt, drawing out a small clay bell. At the completion of his spell he rang the earthen bell once, sending a crystal clear note across the battlefield, it seemed that everything, even time itself stood still, all was quiet and then the earth exploded in the center of the mass of trolls sending shards of jagged stone spraying in all directions, imbedding itself in many trolls hides. Seeing the very earth turn against them the dimwitted trolls fled in panic, trampling more than a few of their injured companions in the process of racing back to the safety of the pass. Batak pursued for a while and picked of an injured lagger before the trolls made it to the rocky ground where they proceeded to defend themselves with a steady and deadly barrage of flying rocks. In all 14 of the smelly beasts had fallen, Pladar went about chopping off their heads with his zanbato while the others started a fire and proceeded to use the flaming brands to cauterize the bloody stumps preventing any of the trolls regenerative powers from reviving the dead creatures. After this they headed back to the town, satisfied, but knowing that it was still far from over. At least, Nenaki thought, the crag trolls were so stupid that they could probably surprise them the same way the next day.

The next day was cold and clear, and surprisingly calm. No scouts reported any movement from the high pass all that day. The vetran warriors conferred amongst themselves as to whether the trolls would have been smart enough to descend silently at night and skirt the valley and travel through the forest to avoid being seen. None thought it was probable but they sent some scouts out that way just in case, sure enough they returned without seeing sign of any approach. That night was spent in restless anticipation, trolls were normally most active during the day, using the warmth of the sun to energize their bodies, but there was always the threat of a night attack. Villagers were set as pickets outside the town walls, but nothing showed itself that night either.

After a long night of watchfulness the day finally dawned cool and moist, a slight drizzle making things just a bit uncomfortable out of doors. The Vetrans were used to fighting in worse, but the villagers soon began to loose heart from just standing in the rain for hours on end. Since no sign was recieved from the scouts the villagers were allowed to rest in shifts, standing guard for a few hours and then working on fortifications, then a few hours rest. Even so the stress started to affect all by midday. Just as the sun threatened to break through the clouds directly overhead the scouts reported movement from the pass, a group larger than the last was making its way into the valley, and it was not just ignorant crag trolls anymore. This new band was apparently led by much larger and smarter mountain trolls, smarter than crag trolls at least. They watched the slow approach gauging how best to engage this new threat, it was possible that the same ploy would work again, but the trolls were greater in number and already spreading out across the valley into an organized formation. It was agreed that this would be a defensive standoff, whether they had any hope of winning they made no mention. They put on brave faces and returned to their work, not wanting the villagers to panic and waste their slim chance of success.

The troll horde reached the outskirts of the fields later that evening as the sun was going down. There they stopped and reorganized, it looked as though this was no unruly mob of roving trolls, but an experienced warband. The mountain trolls shouted commands at the milling crag trolls and formed them up into lines, many had large sacks of stones which they dumped in huge piles where commanded. Though the crag trolls were armed with nothing more than their fists and a few clubs, the mountain trolls were well equipped, they sported large iron battle axes and hammers, wickedly serrated greatswords and sometimes massive spiked sheilds. There was one among them that stood out, he was larger than any of the trolls beside him and he paced rapidly, overseeing the distribution and placement of his troops. He wore a dented breastplate and an iron torque shaped like a serpent, on his back was strapped a large battleaxe and at his waist he casually wore a bloodstained kilij, a sword akin to a scimitar but much wider, heavier, and more difficult to weild. But the one thing about him that evoked the sense of dread that the defenders now felt was the belt of skulls he wore around his large waist. They weren't just any skulls, they were Ronso skulls, and they were fresh, pink meat and bloody patches of fur still clung in places and swarms of flies followed him wherever he strode. Nenaki and Kamelka had to hold Batak to prevent him from foolishly leaping to attack in his rage at the sight. This was not going to be a battle easily won.

Some of the mountain trolls took practice shots with the stones to gauge the distance they would have to throw. They were still well out of bowshot when they found the correct range, not that arrows would have any effect on their tough hides in any case. For a while they made a casual game of trying to take out any defender foolish enough to stick his head out above the wall, they made leering gestures and foul noises, and did a good job of destroying any of the villagers remaining hopes of survival. After the sun had dipped below the horizon the troll leader barked out a harsh cry and all the other trolls answered in a voice that echoed off the valley walls, then they began their attack. At first it was a steady bombardment by the mountain trolls, they concentrated their efforts on the weakest link in the wall, the gate. They also kept up constant suppressive fire, forcing the defenders to merely sit and wait, listening to the steady pounding of stone on wood. After about fifteen minutes the huddled defenders heard another sound at their wall, those that peeked over briefly saw the crag trolls using their bodies as rams against the weakened walls, they came away bloody from each strike, but apparently unphased. This strategy was not without fault, however, for a few of the crag trolls were taken out by errant missles thrown by their allies, who just laughed coarsly and continued their barrage as if nothing had happened.

A large group of trolls had just breached the gate, casting aside the splintered wood with ease they strode confidently into the village, swiping away and crushing the life out of all available villagers. That is when Nenaki gave the cry for attack. Batak sped past him in a blur, impacting the lead troll with force enough to knock it down and retaining his momentum to get him clear of his victims death flails and on to his next target. Leogon was again sitting farther back from the wall in the midst of a circle of arcane runes, this time the circle was much larger and the runes were augmented with various semi-precoius stones at regular intervals. Leogons body was siffused with a gentle green glow, and when he opened his eyes at the completion of his spell they gleamed with pure jade fire. The ground started to shake and rumble and from the earth in front of him a large form began to rise. In the dark it was difficult to tell if it was friend or foe, but when all fifteen feet of it had fully emerged, Leogon commanded it to destroy all the trolls and the golem turned to do its creators bidding. Elsewhere Kamelka was just a blur, jumping and striking her opponents from above, distracting them enough to give young Pladar an exsquisite array of upturned necks on which to practice with his zanbato. Nenaki was there too, fists covered with arcing bolts of electricity, wading through the mass of smelly bodies inside the gate, breaking bones and stopping hearts with each strike. Finally the gate was cleared of invaders as Leogon's massive golem crushed the last one with a brown rocky fist, it then turned and plodded slowly out the gate toward the remaining mountain trolls. The defenders could hear the trolls quail at the sight of such a formiddable opponent and the barrage of stones finally stopped, but then the trolls leader barked his troops back into order and called for a charge.

As one, the mountain trolls grabbed their weapons and rushed the wall, the golem stood steadfast striking out as they passed around it, like a river around an island. Many trolls were instantly killed this way until their brutish leader heafted his axe and charged yelling a guttural battle cry. The axe moved so fast that before the golem could finish his first swing it was on its side missing a leg, the leader then quickly severed all its other appendages and gave a cry of triumph, blostering his attacking horde. The trolls then reached the village walls, shrugging off any arrows that were directed their way with ease and slamming into the stone structure with tremendous force. The defenders now realized that the attack through the gate had been a ruse to get their attention off of the crag trolls hammering away at the actual walls, for when the charging trolls hit for the first time many sections of the wall immediatly gave way under the stress. Other sections gave way soon after and the ragged defenders faced a full on assault of mountain trolls. Many could not stand to face their fate and fled, weakening what defense they could have put forth. The trolls gave whoops of glee as defenders fell before their cruel weapons, often hacking at the bodies and licking their blades. The beasts continued to stream into the breaches constantly widening them for others behind.

Spencer had managed to rally a few of the defenders and was making a valiant stand at the head of the road into the center of the village, but the trolls swarmed around the small knot seeking easier prey, finding other access points to the center of the rundown village. The other veterans joined his group quickly, but they were now surrounded by the trolls still pouring in and the groups that were rampaging through the village. Then they saw the troll leader striding in through the ruined gate, kicking aside all the bodies, and surveying the wreckage. Batak could not hold back any longer, seeing once more the belt of Ronso skulls he yelled a berserker scream and charged forward recklessly, Nenaki and Kamelka failing to hold him with them. As he approached the brute two guards jumped out in front of him barring his way. He savagely tore into the first one ignoring a large cut to his shoulder. His armour was streaked in blackish blood and gore hung from all the sharp angles, his horn was coated just as thickly. He made short work of the defending troll and moved to take on the next one only to see it fall with a large axe imbedded in its back, the larger leader smirking over the body at him. The troll quickly drew his kilij as Batak lunged over the corpse, swiftly parrying the vicious attack. Or so it seemed at first, Batak had scored a hit, tearing the trolls cheek right off its face revealing a mouth of rotting jagged teeth. The troll growled, reached up and tore off the loose peice of flesh hanging from its jaw, and then laughed a disturbing gurgling laugh. The onlookers then noticed that Batak was not renewing his attack, he was turned toward the troll, gasping for breath, blood streaming from a gaping would in hs neck. As Batak regained his bloodrage and charged the troll again another group of trolls engaged the watching defenders, cutting off Nenaki's view of his brother, he did not see him alive again.

Fighting for their lives now as well as the lives of the few villagers that fought beside them, the verterans put all their effort into it, where they thought they had been giving all before, they now realized that they were tapping hidden reserves, shrugging off injury and performing their attacks and parrys as if fully refreshed. All the trolls that chose to face them were faced with a deadlier enemy than before, and fell back before the assault. Pladar was cutting huge swaths in troll flesh, his brother Leogar had run out of arrows for his great longbow, and was using it as a massive club against all who opposed him. Leogon was still calmly casting spells, spraying shards of earth every direction, and calling huge stone hands out of the earth to crush the life from his assailants, but he was tiring and the green glow surrounding his body had dimmed signifigantly. Kamelka was darting from open space to open space, thrusting her spear in exposed troll flesh at every turn. One of her crossguards had been broken off and he spear was stained black, but still she attacked. It was a sign of how tired she was that she rarely took to the air with a jump attack, and unfortunatly when she finally did a troll was ready for her. She instinctively dodged but the swing was too fast and her body too tired, a spiked club snagged her leg and tore he out of the air, winding her. Nenaki moved to her side and fended off the attacker. He had just collapsed the trolls lungs with three quick strikes when he heard its leader bellow a victorious roar. He cursed fate that he could not be with his brother when he fell, but he offered up a small prayer to Ignus that he, Kamelka, and the remaining villagers would somehow survive to honour his brothers heroic death.

Seemingly in answer to that prayer, a tremendous force shook the ground and a pillar of red flame burst upward from where the leader had been. Then, almost immediatly, it was followed by dozens of other similar eruptions, none as large as the first, but all equally devestating as they poured through the ranks of trolls on either side of the defenders. The heat was so intense that even the trolls engaging the few remaining fighters fell, their skin blistering and cracking. Remarkably the flames didn't harm anything but the trolls, only the ground was slightly scorched to mark its passing, and piles of ashes and the occasional puddle of iron marked where a troll had been. As the flares subsided the group of defenders still heard the cries of battle within the village, although the majority of trolls had been destroyed in the firey blasts, there were many still running free. Then they noticed a slight figure entering the crashed gates, robed all in red with a gleaming golden staff, he looked around and gestured to the group to remain where they were. He continued past them entering the village, shooting gouts of fire or shards of ice from his staff at every troll he came across, the defenders watched dumbfounded as he continued unapposed. The screams of dying trolls were heard late into the night outside of the town as the people gathered the wounded into appropriate shelter, and all the women and children came out of hiding to find their loved ones. Nenaki searched for the body of his brother late into the morning, but all he ever found were the gauntlets, shiny and clean, untouched by the flames. He said the customary prayers and went to look after Kamelka.

The next morning the village woke to find a spectacular sight, on the knoll outside the town was a great grey tower, rising skyward like a mythic sentinel guarding the road to the pass. It seemed as if it had always just been there and they had merely never taken note of it before this day.

The End, for now....

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