Last Time On...

Last Time On... Episode 6

Last Time On… Episode 6

The good people of Torun still had hope in the first few years after the Impact. Their magic protected the city, and their faith gave them the belief that the earth would heal. Their heroes were dead, but so was Rellos Zek – in a strange way, they were comforted that the war was over. To memorialize the war, the people of Torun built the Hall of Heroes.

Never once did they imagine that their heroes would set foot inside of it.

Their footsteps echoed in the expansive hall. The hall’s cathedral-like ceiling, tall enough to brush heaven, had cracked and crumbled over time. Discrete shafts of afternoon sunlight poured onto the granite floor, casting tall shadows from a long row of pillars. It was completely silent.

It was a peaceful sight, and the heroes stood still in reverence, gazing upward and trying to take in all of the graceful architecture at once. Slowly, as their eyes adjusted, they began to see the faint outline of people milling about the great hall. They were spirits, no doubt, dressed as soldiers. Though transluscent, the heroes knew that these were the very soldiers that they lead into the final battle of Shokahn. They even recognized some of the spirits: captains, generals, and footmen alike. There were hundreds of them, perhaps thousands.

The spirits parted for the heroes with a solemn respect. The soldiers saluted, bowed, and knelt. Even thought their heroes had returned, their faces showed sadness and pity.

The heroes entered a chamber off the the main hall that was inscribed, “The Memorial of the Final Battle”. This chamber held detailed, scaled-up statues of the five heroes facing Rellos Zek and his minions. High on the wall above the statues was a mural of the sun, the moon, and a meteor.

The sunlight from the main hall entered this chamber and threw strange shadows across the statues, disguising the evil spirits that waited inside. The evil spirits were tangible enough to draw blood as if they were real. They looked like the footmen of Rellos’ army – skeletal soldiers and a wight. They ambushed the heroes amongst the maze of statues, using the shadows to their advantage.

The heroes were split, but Rosey and Hack struck quickly and banished the spirits. Though travel-weary and worn down from their earlier battles with the gangs of Torun, the heroes fought cohesively. Their skills were diminished, but their trust and teamwork was not.

The second chamber off of the main hall was labeled as, “The Tomb of the Lost Warriors”, a mass grave dedicated to the warriors who died in the final battle of Shokahn. Inside, an enormous, continuous slab of white marble covered most of the floor. Four faceless and nearly formless statues stood in the cardinal directions around the marble slab, all facing inward. Four silver and gold ornamental weapons – staff, spear, sword, and mace – were piled in the center of the slab, each one obviously going with one of the statues.

The heroes paused and reasoned. To Rosey, it looked like the east and west statues were both designed to hold two-handed weapons. Hack’s historical knowledge told him that lowly spearmen were usually depicted in paintings as facing the rising sun. Gaebriel’s knew that most religious mass graves positioned the cleric and knight across from one another… with all of these clues, the heroes were able to eventually reunite the weapons with the correct statues.

Upon placing the the final weapon, a deep rumbling shook the chamber, and the main hall grew dark. They could hear doors opening, but they also felt an evil prescense waiting to greet them.

The great hall was now black save for three shafts of sunlight, the pillars and arches swallowed by darkness. The blackness moved and shifted with a swarm of shapeless evil spirits. These spirits gnawed and gnashed the heroes as they ran towards a cone of sunlight, draining their blood and seemingly their lifeforce.

Rosey arrived into the beam of sunlight first, but he was badly injured and stumbled to the floor. Blackish blood from numerous cuts sprayed across the floor in front of him. Hack ran to Rosey’s side, but a horrific sight froze his effort to aid his wounded friend. It was Borel.

Borel was Rellos’ High Necromancer. This wasn’t Borel exactly – to Hack, it looked more like an impression of Borel, crafted from shadows. Borel emerged from the shadows at the end of the hall, his wild hair standing out above his black and blue robes, brandishing his devilbone staff. All as if painted from a palette of various shades of shadows.

Hack had slain Borel once before. It wasn’t something he was anxious to repeat.

Borel summoned whirling scythes and blasted the heroes with necrotic magic. Orra and Gaebriel ran through the gnashing darkness, protected by their faith and armor. Charley, Rosey, and Hack were constrained to dart from sunbeam to sunbeam – though even the sun did not protect them from Borel’s magic.

In the end, it was a short fight. They were surprised at how quickly Borel’s shadow surrendered and faded back into the wall. The evil spirits left with him, and light returned to the great hall. Hack had a feeling they hadn’t seen the last of him…

After a rest, the heroes ventured down a spiral stairway. The stairway lead into a long, ornate room, complete with balconies, massive structural pillars, and a winding pathway across a deep pit. There were several archways and doors leading into adjacent rooms.

  • And, I can’t adequately describe how poorly this battle went for the heroes. I’m out of time and out of steam. There were three skeletal archers, two skeletal soldiers, and one blazing skeleton. Suffice it to say, due to a combination of bad luck, superior monster tactics, and room geometry, the heroes got a severe beatdown but eventually won the day. Perhaps others can embelish a little bit! *
Last Time On... Episode 5

It is easy to see how the rolling hills between Aluar and Torun became the birthplace of civilization. The gentle slopes were once covered in green – light shades of grass punctuated with dark clusters of trees. The wide Goldrun River cut through this landscape. The water reflected the yellow-orange light of the evening sun, making the river look like it’s namesake: a slowly flowing river of gold. Crowded herds of animals drank from this golden water, attracting predators, scavengers, and the first curious humans.

Tribes became settlements became hamlets, and soon the countryside was dotted with farms and mills and townships. The city of Torun grew from this, a testament to the knowledge and organization of mankind. It represented their mastery over nature, magic, the divine, and even their own animal instincts.

Thousands of years of growth were reversed in a cosmic wink. An impact scarred the earth, burning the world and the sky. It’s cruel to imagine it as a random act of coincidence, that all of civilization’s progress was destroyed by happenstance. It’s more comforting to imagine that it was a deliberate act of evil, or even punishment from a vengeful god. These things, at least, give meaning to the last few pockets life.

These rolling hills between Aluar and Torun are dying. The grass is a tough, yellow-brown reed. The few insects, animals, and birds that still cling to life are skittish and rare. The Goldrun River is a flowing mass of grey blue ash, barely one fiftieth of it’s original width. The water winds through a dry riverbed, but even the water doesn’t know why it continues to flow. Always downhill, thinks the water.

The heroes did not receive a warm welcome home to Torun. At the Westown Gate, after climbing hundreds of steps, they were stopped by a group of bandits – highwaymen, really – that demanded a toll for entering the city. Behind the the bandits, a wizardly looking man leaned against a wall, chewing simultaneously on tobacco and a long piece of grass. The bandits stood across the gate expectantly.

Rosey could see Fair Street and Westown Square behind the bandits. They were blocking his way, and he was tired. They were all tired. It had been a long journey from Aluar. Charley was sick. They’d just climbed what seemed like a thousand steps to get to the gate. It was hot and hazy outside, and they were sticky with sweat.

Rosey thought about sneaking in, but decided he was too fed up to bother. With a sigh, he strode forward, through the crowd of bandits. He saw Gaebriel do the same. Sometimes the two of them shared one mind.

As he brushed by the shoulder of a stupefied bandit, Rosey made eye contact with the wizard. He had dusty hair and a sunburned face. He was an ugly man. The wizard returned his stare and spat. Brown spittle collected in his rough chin hairs. The wizard shifted his posture, enough of a sign for Rosey to know what was coming next. So, before the wizard could utter a single arcane word, Rosey slyly unfurled a shuriken from his belt with a flourish. The shuriken whistled through the air, striking the wizard in the chest.

To his right, Gaebriel was already summoning a vengeful light. Yes, sometimes they were of one mind.

Orra pushed the last of the dead bandits over the edge of the great Westown Gate stairway. The body plummeted down nearly eighty feet to the riverbed below. Hack wondered if they should be buried, for he respected all death-customs, but Orra declared that these scoundrels did not deserve the honor of a burial. Hack briefly wondered how much this desolate world was affecting Orra.

The heroes found Torun to be empty and quiet. They heard occasional shouting and screams echoing through the cobbled alleyways of the city. The buildings were dilapidated and clearly unmaintained. Most were stone, but even many of those were cracked and crumbled, the famous white roofs stained grey. The streets were filled with rubble and waste. The glistening towers of Torun no longer glistened.

Rosey suggested that they go to the statue fountain in Westown Square. It was nearby, and he explained that he has stashed a trove of treasure underneath. It might be useful. He said that he’d need their help to disarm all of the traps he set, as he no longer had his keys.

The heroes saw few people on the main street. Those they did see were going about their daily business in terror, ducking into buildings and alleyways, suspicious of everything. They saw some sleeping in doorways, and saw signs of families hiding in abandoned, boarded-up buildings. It was clear that not too many people still survived in these empty streets, and those that did were scared and untrusting.

The heroes ducked into alleyways of their own, thinking that it might be safer to avoid the main streets.

Orra always felt like a rat trapped in a maze in the winding alleyways of Torun. The buildings towered above him, all at least thirty feet tall, making an artificial canyon. As he walked, he kept a watchful eye on the rooftops and doorways. He tightly held his axe and shield. Seeing the city like this gave him the creeps.

The dragonborn caught a scent of fire in the still breeze. He sniffed again to make sure. Yes, fire. Burning rotted wood… and humans? He was alarmed, and picked up his pace.

Quickly turning an alleyway corner, he saw the source of the fire. A three story building was ablaze. A human woman was hanging half-way out of the top floor window, screaming and crying, trying to breathe in clean air. Below, through the smoke, Orra made out a dozen men dressed as brigands and thugs. They were humans, half-elves, half-orcs. Maybe a dwarf or a tiefling amongst them, too. He noted that they all worse at least one piece of red fabric, be it an armband or a tunic.

Grotesquely, each had a reddish scar inscribed on their forehead and cheeks. It wasn’t a brand, it looked more as if a knife had been used to carve the round mark. One of them called out to Orra, “Go home!”

Orra inhaled deeply and charged forward. He used a moment of surprise to his advantage, and exhaled a burst of his own fire. Dragonfire. Three of the brigands were instantly scorched. Behind him, Orra heard his friends gather arms. He ran into the center of the mob of brigands, drawing their attacks. He raised his shield and reveled in the blows raining down upon him. This was when he was at his best, and more importantly, when his friends were at their best.

The paladin fought back the pile of red-scarred brigands, clearing enough room for Rosey to run into the burning building. Orra nodded to himself. Rosey was a good man.

Six seconds later, Rosey ran back out of the builidng, engulfed in flames. Orra shook his head silently to himself. Rosey was a good man, but he wasn’t fireproof.

He drew the mob’s attacks long enough for Gaebriel to summon a divine wind, striking several more brigands down. Hack phased behind the crowd, but Orra saw a warcaster strike the Eladrin in the jaw with a lightning-charged staff. Orra called for Lilo, the Aluaran cleric, to aid Hack. This was Orra’s opportunity, and he thought the battle was under control.

Orra wrapped himself in his cloak and burst into the flaming building. He coughed against the smoke, but ran deeper, seeking the stairs upwards. His blackened armor protected him from much of the fire, but the smoke filled his lungs and stung his eyes. He focused on the human woman. It might not be too late. He ran harder.

She was still alive when he found her. Orra tucked her small frame into his cloak, and ran back down through the burning building. With purpose, he burst through the entrance door into the clean air. They both collapsed on the cobbled street, gasping for clean air. He could breath fire, but smoke and ash were a different story. He had a feeling he’d be coughing up black phlegm for the next couple of days.

Gathering himself, he saw that his friends had indeed killed the rest of the brigands. He turned to question the woman.

The woman explained through deep sobbing that these red-scarred men were the Redround Clan. Orra pieced together that her husband was in debt to them, so they came to kill him and his family. The Redround Clan owned Eastown. Orra noted that they were currently in Westown, so their influence must be very strong.

Orra gave the woman some bread and gold coins. It was small pittance for what she would have to face, but it calmed her down. She told the heroes about Emanuel (what Orra took to be the old Emanuel Street), a protected market area that many people lived. Emanuel, she said, was organized and had soldiers and walls. She thought that she’d seek refuge there.

Gaebriel questioned her about the Library of Marach. The woman said that she’d never been there, but heard it was full of cultists. They wore inky robes and burned books for power. She sounded scared and superstitious about the place, and Orra directed the conversation away from the subject.

The heroes emerged from the alleyways next to a building they had never seen before. It was an enormous hall, similar to a cathedral but less ornate. It must have been built after the Impact, but before things got too bad, for it looked newer than the surrounding structures.

Above the entryway, high above them, an inscription read, “Hall of Heroes”.

A sculpted mural on the front of the building depicted them – Hack, Charley, Rosey, Orra, and Gaebriel – fighting Rellos. It was glorified, but it was clear. It was the last battle.

An old, weathered, balding halfling slept in the entryway. He cringed back from the heroes, and flinched when Gaebriel spoke, “What is this place?”

The halfling coughed and said in an elderly voice, “The Hall of Heroes – it’s haunted, you know.”

“Haunted? What is inside?”

“Spirits be inside. I’ve gone in, I have. The spirits can’t see you, you know. You can walk right through them, and they can’t see you.”

“Evil spirits?”

“Nay, not evil. They seem kind. They are soldiers and knights and kings. But they can’t see you, you know.”

The halfling paused, a dark look fell on his face, and he continued, “Once a spirit left. Last week. He be scary. He had a skull-face and was wrapped in black cloaks. I hid, I did. Spirits never leave, but he left, he did.”

The heroes looked at one another. They had to go inside. They had to see for themselves.

Gaebriel's Last Time On... Episode 4

Leaving the elven tomb, Gaebriel dropped behind the group. With his mind weighed down by heavy thoughts, his body slowed accordingly. The others, especially Orra, made sure never to outpace the distracted invoker too far but they gave him his space. The Deva’s muttering and fidgeting betrayed his calm avoidance in the tomb.

”” Gaebriel muttered, the last word caught by Charley’s ears. The bard saw Gaebriel rub his eyes and then his newly shorn head before pulling the hood of his robe up, concealing his face.

”...same but different…unbound…” He spit the last, rambling nonsensically as far as Hack could tell. The avenger wasn’t one to worry overly much about philosophy and the abstract.

”...abandoned?” The end of the question came from the invoker’s unsure lips, heard by Orra, causing a frown on the dragonborn’s face. His friend was usually calm and sure, this uncertainty was…strange.

”...that power needed no longer… I am truly free.” The words were spoken hesitantly and with wonder. Rosey, the slyest of the group, heard the most and his keen eyes saw a small smile on Gaebriel’s lips.

Nothing intelligible was heard from the invoker for the remainder of the trek, just nearly inaudible mutterings. He trudged along, head down, walking with the new staff as if he had used it on a thousand journeys while also occasionally holding it far from his body as if it were completely foreign. Whatever he pondered was obviously consuming him.

Rosey's Last Time On... Episode 4

Civilization, finally! Or what passes for it, anymore. Figures the elves would figure out a way to survive this mess. I hate to admit it, but I never really had a doubt. Dependable bastards, even if they act all high and mighty. For a second I could have sworn Dimona herself had managed to weather these last… what are they saying, three hundred years? But it’s just her great… great… hell, I can’t keep track of how great it’s been. Three hundred years! Great great great great granddaughter, and the spitting image. Only I don’t remember Dimona being this hot for the Hack. Has it been three hundred years since any of us were… intimate? Seems like only yesterday Miriam and I gave child-making a first shot. And a second shot. A third and fourth shots.

I wouldn’t have minded killing a few bad-apple elves, but I’m kind of glad we were able to talk some sense into them. Seems like it’s been fight after fight since we woke up; I’m happy to have a break. ‘Course now this Lilo lady wants us to go take care of some ghosts. I just can’t win.

- Later -

Well, two close calls so far for me, but at least I know I can still count on my buddies to watch my back. And I hate to be proud of it since we used to be the most well-oiled fighting machine this land has ever seen, but I think we’re starting to gel again. All our skills seem to be coming back, maybe even a little too fast, but better that than too slow. I keep telling ‘em, “I can sneak up on those bastards from just about anywhere if you just keep ‘em busy,” but it’s taking a while to sink in. Oh well, we’ve all got a lot on our minds. You crawl before you walk.

We sure did kick the shit out of that ooze though. That’s the most alive I’ve felt in a long while. Before the Impact, things had gotten a little too easy. And who knows, maybe that’s why we failed. If we failed. I can see it in their eyes though, even if it’s buried beneath the confusion: they’re starting to have a good time again. At least I think they are. Gaebriel though, it seems like it’s taking a little time for the blood to come back. His eyes and his hair… I don’t want to trouble him, but I don’t believe for a second he’s not a little curious what’s happened to him.

Well, there’ll be time to think about that. Lots of time, I’d imagine. Feels like we’ve got a long way to go, even though we don’t know what we’re going toward. Just gotta keep moving, stay active, stay sharp. If I had a choice I don’t know that I’d pick this path, but it certainly is a thrill.

Last Time On... Episode 3

Last Time On… Episode 3

It was night by the time the heroes exited the Ingido Pass. The air was crisp, dry, and cloudless on this side of the Adelbore Mountains, and the stars shed just enough light to see the profile of the Aluar pine forest laid out in the valleys below them. Tomorrow they would venture down into the forest, but for now they were weary. The heroes found a small rocky outcropping to camp beneath.

They were exhausted, but their confidence was growing. They were learning to fight as a unit again. Everyone was remembering their roles, and some of their powers and skills were coming back like muscle memory (after all, they were now level two). The heroes were very far removed from what they once were, but now they had the first inklings of hope that they could, one day, regain that glory.

As the heroes drifted off to sleep, they re-ran the battles of the day, trying to remember and learn…

Charley recalled the bridge.

At one time, it passed over an underground river into the dwarven city of Kentlock. Now the bridge was little more than a hundred paces of crumbled stone passing over a dried riverbed. The footing on the bridge looked precarious. It wasn’t a long fall into the riverbed, but she knew it wouldn’t be easy to get back up.

Charley was so intent on the architecture of the bridge, that she didn’t notice the kobold ambush until Hack and Rosey had already snuck underneath the bridge to flank their foes. It took a nudging from Gaebriel for her to jump into action. She’d always secretly known that she was the least perceptive of her companions, and losing all of her skill had exacerbated the problem.

She saw that Orra had already charged into the fray, drawing attacks from a swarm of kobolds. Charley ran to aid him – but no sooner had she taken four steps when the bridge gave way underneath her. She fell, landed on her back in the dry riverbed, rubble falling all around her. The hard fall knocked the wind out of her. As she lay in the darkness underneath the bridge, trying to stagger to her feet, she could hear the sounds of bloodshed above. Kobolds were weak little creatures, but now the heroes were weak, too…

The hole that she fell through was ten feet above her – she jumped once, twice, thrice, but couldn’t grab onto the ledge. It wasn’t fair! She’d seen Rosey clamber up from the riverbed with ease, and Hack – well, Hack had just teleported! She’d have to go to the edge of the riverbed and climb up.

Quite abruptly, the ground began to shake. It was an earthquake. Charley knew that she wasn’t safe underneath the bridge. She ran, but it was too late: the stone bridge crumbled on top her, half-burying her, knocking her unconscious.

Her friends had saved her, of course, but now, falling asleep, she played the events over and over in her mind. She had learned that her agility and reflexes aren’t what they once were. She resolved to do better next time.

Rostam Rose thought about the entrance to Kentlock.

Swarms of decrepit skeletons swarmed out of the dwarven homes carved into the walls of the Indigo Pass. They were the dwarves that once lived here, he was sure of that. The main tunnel had collapsed, leaving the heroes with their backs to a small alleyway.

There were enough skeletons that he couldn’t come up with a precise headcount – maybe fifteen or twenty. This wasn’t his forte. He didn’t care for swarms of anything – he much preferred having the numbers on his side. It made it so much easier to gain an advantage in combat and fight from behind the enemy, where he was known to do his best work.

Plus, the weird indigo-colored light in this tunnel made the skeletons look like glowing fairies.

He was worried that they would have trouble defeating this many skeletons (based on their debacle in Goldrun), so he was surprised at how quickly his allies destroyed them. Orra’s mighty fire breath turned several to ash, Charley’s blast of song shattered many more, and Gaebriel’s divine rebuking disentegrated all but two. Just like that. Maybe there was hope for this group yet.

Orra remembered the puzzle in the dwarven temple.

They found a long-lost back entrance to the temple is an equally long-lost alleyway of Kentlock. The temple was trapped with pressure plates and spears – but Rosey disarmed it in short order. What fascinated Orra about the temple was the puzzle.

There were five words and a blank written over a sealed door: BUGLES, UNREST, GROTTO, LETTER, ESTEEM, [BLANK]

Intruiging! He was sure that the five words would somehow reveal the sixth word, and that sixth word would open the sealed door. His dragon-mind raced, and he noticed quickly that the frist letter of each word spelled out “bugle”. Ah-ha! The second letter of each word spelled out “unrest”, and so on. So, the missing word must be s-t-o-r…

“Storm!”, Orra declared to the door.

The door did not move.

Charley put her hand on Orra’s broad shoulder, and said, “I think that it has to be six characters – storm… storms?”

Though she said it quietly, the door groaned and slid open nonetheless, revealing a magical lute. Orra, who had no jealousy and only endless goodwill towards Charley, was happy that she had been the one to solve the final piece of the puzzle, and happy that the reward was useful to her. She deserved it, and they would all benefit from the music she would play.

Gaebriel pondered the stone tablet.

The heroes had entered a large, long courtyard in Kentlock. Ruined dwarven shops, homes, and stairways were carved into every wall. Gaebriel was cautious, and was not surprised when they were set upon by grey, stench-ridden oozes and stirges – strange mosquito-like four-winged bat creatures.

One of the stirges made the mistake of flying at Gaebriel, who was feeling more powerful, more sure of himself with each passing fight. Gaebriel invoked his divine armor, flinging the stirge against a stone wall. Before the stirge could take wing again, Gaebriel called down a vengeful light upon the distorted creature. Seeing it was still struggling for life, Gaebriel scorched it again, leaving nothing but a seared corpse.

Once, he did this to dragons. He had lived so many lives and been reborn so many times, but in none were he as powerful as the last one… this one? This seemed like the same life to him, but different in some subtle way.

In this room, Gaebriel discovered a stone tablet with dwarven carvings in it. Charley translated and read the tablet aloud: “Attention, all ye who enter. Here once stood Kentlock, a fine dwarven city. It is fifty-four year after the impact. I, Dranilbin, am the last resident. The drought and earthquakes have ruined us. I leave now – pray that I make it to the homeland.”

In the starlight, Hack examined the silver-hilted sword he had found.

It was stuck in a frozen pool of water in Kentlock, the hilt sticking in the air like the Excalibur of the ancient legends. When they stumbled upon it, three zombies were fighting over the sword, each tugging at the hilt. It looked as if they’d been doing this for years upon years.

Hack fought side-by-side with Orra. They surrounded the largest of the three zombies, an unsual corpse that seemed to be growing rotting flesh by the second. The foul creature spilled bits of rotted flesh as it moved, and the stench gagged Hack’s eladrin stomach.

As Hack and Orra fought, they fell into a natural rhythm. Orra drew the zombie’s attacks and Hack’s focused attacks tore the creature down. For a minute, it was like old times, before they woke up in this ruined world.

Hack had always been somewhat of a loner, but now felt unusually alone and increasingly abandoned by the Raven Queen. This romp through Kentlock had invigorated him. Sometimes it was good to have a steady ally to fight with.

But now, as he examined his new sword in the starlight, he grew aprehensive about tomorrow’s journey into Aluar. Maybe he would be better off on his own. Maybe it was better to face this strange new world alone than to have to see Dimona’s people.

Last Time On... Episode 2

Last Time On… Episode Two

When they reached Goldrun, the heroes were sunburned, sweating, and nearly sunstroked. They were exhausted. What of their legendary endurance?

Goldrun was worse than they had feared. The entire city was gone, save for a few crumbled stone foundations, the town hall, and a large stone temple to Correllon. The town hall and temple still stood due to their fine dwarven construction, but all of the wooden doors and glass windows had long ago eroded away.

The heroes entered the temple, which gave blessed shade from the sun. Sand and dust was thick on the floor. Orra and Gaebriel brushed clear a series of religious symbols that were hastily carved into the stone altar: “Why have you cursed us? Our souls are restless.”

As if to prove their restlessness, a small army of dusty, cracked skeletons rattled and shook and crawled through every open window of the temple. The heroes were surrounded and outnumbered. In the ensuing battle, Orra and Charley were nearly burned to death by a skeleton engulfed in flame. The heroes fought with arms and legs that now seemed virgin to battle.

The heroes survived, wounded, and they knew how far they had fallen.

Humbled, they entered the town hall with trepidation. Their caution was well placed, for a sand-and-rock colored visejaw crocodile lurked in the basement. The beast clamped it’s jaws around Orra’s thick legplates, crushing him and dragging him into the rubble. Charley responded with instinct, jumping down after them, spinning a blast of arcane magic with her dirty harp and talented tongue. Her song caused the crocodile to writhe in panic, and Rosey, feeling weakened but still on top of his game, jumped into the sky with a flourish, plunging his dagger deep into the crocodile’s scaley heart.

In the ruins of the basement, the heroes uncovered a magical cloak and a handwritten note, preserved for ages underneath a fallen stone slab. The ominous note read, “The sky is still dark, and now the air is thick with the ash of our smoldering crop. Marsi didn’t surive, and now Tira is sick with a dragon’s cough…”

Gristol was the oldest dwarf (and therefore the oldest resident) of Goldrun – the village of Goldrun, not the city. The city hadn’t stood within his lifetime. The village was tiny in comparison, only one hundred people, cramped along the bank of the stream that used to be the mighty Goldrun River. The village had a smattering of trees, livestock, and tenacious gardens. They were meager sources of food, but it was all Gristol knew.

Gristol was surprised, cautious, and then excited when the visitors arrived. He had never seen a dragon-man or anything remotely similar to the grey-purple skinned man before. They were kind, and had proven their goodness when the one named Rostam Rose presented a goblin head (the vile creatures!), so Gristol shared the village’s shade and water.

The visitors were fit and well-fed. They brought their own food, and bought some of his village’s dried fruits and nuts with gold coins. They had hearty appetites; he wondered how they found enough food to eat as much as they did.

They were also very inquisitive. Their questions surprised Gristol. The pretty half-human woman asked the most, inquiring about the world and history and people he’d never heard of before. Gristol answered the best he could. He felt ignorant. His ancestors had told him that the fire came and the skies darkened about three hundred years ago. Some said they were cursed, others that a god had fallen to the earth.

He didn’t care about these myths. The only thing that he knew for sure was that the stream was twice as wide when he was a child and that everything kept dying. More all the time.

When the dragon-man suggested that the elves of Aluar might know more, Gristol quickly agreed with relief. He’d never seen an elf before, but he was sure that they would have answers.

At night, when it was cooler, the woman played music for the village. They hadn’t heard any in such a long time, and certainly none as beautiful as this. She sung of heroes and dragons and a time long past. The villagers danced and laughed. It warmed Gristol’s soul. Earlier, the dragon-man had told him that someday the Order of the Lost Twin would come back to this village, and they would be saved… Gristol didn’t know of this order, but for the first time, he dared to hope.

In the morning, the heroes left for Aluar. They bid Gristol and the village a fond farewell and headed towards the Indigo Pass – a dangerous tunnel underneath the Adelbore Mountains. They, too, had begun to hope. Maybe they’d find more signs of life in the forests of Aluar.

Orra's Last Time On... Episode 2

Orra sat near the dying embers of a campfire staring at the darkened night sky. Surrounding him were the dingy huts of a pathetic band of dwarves and humans who occupied the banks of the once mighty river. Seeing no recognizable constellations in the heavens his thoughts turned inward where storm clouds seemed to cover his heart. The turmoil brought on by awakening in a strange land had only been compounded by the realization that it was actually the ruined remains of a formerly verdant area. To make matters worse, he had been ambushed by a band of ordinary skeletons and laid low by their fiery leader. The troop of goblins that followed had only added to his embarrassment. Everything felt wrong about this new world, and nothing seemed to be going right for him in it. He gazed up at the dim stars, searching for the grouping that represented Bahamut. “Why, great father? What have I done that you have diminished me thus?” he prayed. Feeling no answer at all he nearly despaired. Only the sense that he must help these poor wretches gave him resolve to go on, to find his former home. If he could send aid back to these poor people then his life would have meaning again. Above all he felt he must find meaning in the chaos and ruination of his surroundings and seek answers from Bahamut.

Tomorrow would be a new day. Tomorrow they would seek the passage through the mountains. Perhaps tomorrow he would not fail miserably at everything he attempted. Perhaps tomorrow Bahamut would smile upon him. Only the dawn would tell whether it would be a day of triumph or another day of defeat in this barren and desolate land.

Last Time On... Episode 1
Episode 1

Last Time On… Episode 1 

They woke up naked.  A dry, breathless heat filled the abandoned waystation they found themselves in.  A fine layer of dust and sand covered their bodies, blown in from the abundant cracks in the shuttered windows and closed doors. 

There was a mutual confusion among them.  A short, heated conversation revealed that, indeed, none of them had any idea what had happened. 

Searching the waystation, they managed to find clothing, weapons, and some basic supplies. 

Outside, in every direction, were barren fields of dead, yellow grass.  Sand and dust swirled across the plains, leaving small drifts.  The only features were a mostly-buried cobblestone highway that lead to the east, and a large marker stone with some sand-covered inscriptions. 

Hack the eladrin was the first outside, and the first to notice three goblins and two dog-sized fire beetles approaching the waystation.  They had an unfamiliar reptilian pack animal in tow, burdened with supplies.  Without pause, Hack swore an oath of enmity and charged into battle.  He had recognized that he felt weakened, but didn’t understand how much so until his strike barely injured the goblin that he swung at. 

The rest came to the same realization:  Orra’s armor protected him well, but the enemies did not run from him in fear.  Gaebriel simply felt deserted, suddenly unsure that he could channel the power he needed from within his own self.  And where were Rosey’s reflexes?  A blast from a fire beetle staggered him until Charley came to his aid. 

They won the battle, but they felt defeated.  They were more bloodied and winded than they had been when they finally slew Deathlung, Rellos’ dragon, just ten days ago.  Was it ten days ago?  They had lost so much. 


Gaebriel walked to the stone marker by the side of the road.  With a tattered sleeve (he was not fond of material things, but he did miss his vestments), he wiped the sand away from the face of the stone.  Underneath, a carving read, “Goldrun – 20 miles”.  That’s when a small piece of his mind seemed to break, like a wine glass underneath a warboot. 

He had not been to Goldrun, but he knew that it was a medium-sized town known for three things: mining in the Adelbore Mountains, fishing in the mile-wide Goldrun River, and farming in the verdant fields.  These verdant fields in which he now stood – dead grass and sand.  The Adelbore Mountains, off to the east?  Known for their beautiful snow-capped peaks?  Gabriel could see from where he stood that they were grey and brown and barren, blasted by sand. 

They wouldn’t survive here for long, not under this sun and this heat.  Their only hope was to move on to Goldrun and try to make sense of whatever had happened. 

Last Time On... Preview

You were once great heroes.  You were the champions of the world, loved and adored by all.  Living legends.   

The world was on the cusp of an unprecedented era of peace and prosperity.  After decades of war, you had finally driven all evil from the land.  All that remained was your arch-nemesis Rellos Zek and his Black Armies, holed away in Shokahn, City of the Dead.

All heroes have villans, and yours was Rellos.  You remember facing him in battle – the last battle, the one that would rid evil from the world and end war forever.  You recall this clearly, because it is the last thing you remember.  Rellos’ armies lay in ruin, you had him cornered, and his fate was sealed.  You surrounded him.  He showed no fear, only loathing. 

That’s it.  That’s the last thing you can remember. 


You’ve just woken up, disoriented and breathing in sharply as if you were holding your breath.  For a full minute you can still grasp at the lingering shadows of dreams, dreams full of fire and death and silence.  The dreams fade and you are jerked back to the present as you realize that your body is now weak and powerless.  Your enchanted arms and armor are gone, and more disturbingly, so is all of your skill and knowledge of battle. 

You have a feeling that your former glory is now nothing but myth, and you can only hope that somewhere inside of you still resides the soul of a hero.


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