Thursday, December 30, 2010

History: Downfall of Varanath

About 70 years before the High King's Sword novels, the House of Varanath fell to a Black Wizard who became overly ambitious. He and a hired army stormed the House and city to take the House and it's repository of knowledge and artifacts.

Because Richard and Amber, two of the four Chosen, called this place home, Targon and Catiana used the House as a place to store artifacts they did not want loose upon the populace of Martapa. The Black Wizard wanted to take over the Wizard council, as well as Martapa, and sought to gain these artifacts and books of knowledge for himself, some 3,000 years after the Chosen.

But the descendants of Amber and Richard were savvy in the ways of magic and had safeguards to stop any who were not allowed to take the artifacts from obtaining them. But even these could not stop the Wizard and his troops. In a last ditch effort to save the artifacts from being taken, the wife of the current lord, a gypsy by birth, cursed the library, only allowing "the blood of Varanath to open the way."

Well, the Wizard had just killed all the members of the Varanath family, save the baby in the gypsy's womb. He killed the gypsy and removed the baby, sending her away to be raised until she could learn the magic which would open the library. But the guard he sent the child away with grew to love the child and hid the child from the Wizard. He was killed for his efforts, but the child returned later to defeat the Wizard in the form of Noshi Bluecrystal, last of the line of Varanath.

This is the premise of my novel I wrote about Noshi, Sebastion Blackthorne, and Miyaca Snowbird. These three characters make cameo appearances in my High King's Sword novels, but are pivotal to some of the major character development of my main characters in the High King's Sword.
Tomorrow: Magic Item

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Overveiw of Notitia

Notitia is the capital of the Ariellan Empire. Situated on the northern coast of the southern continent on the eastern tip, this city is a warm, comfortable place all year long. It was placed on the ruins of an old monastery which housed all sorts of knowledge, destroyed by Shaniko and his undead. The people who rallied to the first emperor used the caves as a place to hide as they built their new city when they still feared attacks from Shaniko's troops.

The first part made was the wall around what is now the palace of the emperor, allowing hundreds of people to find shelter in the time of attacks. Only a portion of the city could fit there now, but there are two other walls that surround the middle of the city and the very outer section of the city, though the city is beginning to grow beyond the last wall once more.

The first point one would notice is that all the people of Notitia are black skinned. In my world this is not a point of racism, but just how it is. If you look at how Earth is set up, those closer to the equator are darker skinned, and I just gave my people the same out look. On the plus side, I gave them a whole empire :).

The buildings are very roman in appearance, highly decorated and tiled, with usually only a single floor. The roads are cobbled, the rich ride horses, chariots or ride on carried platforms. Most people just walk.

The guards look like roman legionnaires, people dress like the Romans, down to pallas which denote position in life. Taverns and inns are single floor, but usually come with baths and food when you buy a room for the night. The down side is the inn costs one step higher in your roleplaying system. Businesses run only from sun up to sun down, even the open air market.

At some point in the future I hope to detail more specific areas in Notitia.
Tomorrow: History

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Character: Leomaris

Leomaris was addition when I needed to give some dynamic to the Emperor of Ariella. He needed a conscious, and Leomaris became just that. Just because some one is a "bad guy" doesn't mean he is all bad. Just means he doesn't mesh with your hero's goals.

Leomaris was born to a poor family, destined to be a clerk in some warehouse somewhere. But the royal family saw him one day playing in the streets and snatched him up for a playmate for their son, Dardanos. As was custom, the royal heir had playmates of lower classes so they had someone to push around and let their aggressions out on. But not Dardanos. He grew to care greatly for his poor friend and when he went to school, so did Leomaris.

Leomaris grew wise in the presence of the soon to be emperor and their friendship grew. More a scholar then anything, Leomaris loves to study about the time of the Chosen.

Leomaris is human, around 45, and six foot tall. At a 150 pounds he is wire thin and knobby kneed. His complexion is a dark ebony color and his hair is curly and black, cut very short, as is the style of the men of empire. His eyes are hazel and ringed with amber.

Leomaris wears a white toga with a blue palla, along with the imperial seal. The blue palla denotes him as in the Assembly, part of the government that runs the day to day operations, where as the Emperor is in charge of overall operations, expansion, and the military.

Leomaris is a quiet man who listens more then he speaks. When he does speak especially on a topic of his liking, he may talk for hours, rambling from one subject to the next. He is a friendly man who will chat with anyone, from wealthy merchant to lowly slave. He tries to see the best in everyone and cares deeply for his friend the Emperor.

He gives everyone the benefit of the doubt, he is friendly and will chat with anyone if they let him, but he is blinded by his love for the Emperor in some areas.

Leomaris doesn't really come into play until the third book, but I find him a fun character to have. He can always be used as just a guest appearance while the party is in Notitia, the capital of Ariella, or as a long distance contact or employer.
Tomorrow: Over all view of Notitia

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Item: Sword of Undead

This sword, once the property of Eric of Calabay, was one of the weapons the Chosen used to fight the minions of Shaniko. Because Shaniko used undead to make his army large the Gods knew they would need something to fight undead.

The Sword of Undead is a saber with the hilt a dragon where the neck and head is the grip, the wings the crossguard. It sparkles with a faint blue light, but if undead are near it will glow brighter and brighter the closer the wielder gets to the undead.

The key to this sword is that it damages undead so they stay dead. If an undead is hit by mundane weapons they will simply reform. But with this sword the damage is permanent and will eventually destroy the undead in question.

In game terms this relic is the highest plus your system has and gives an additional bonus to undead (the highest available). The wielder is also immune to any freezing abilities an undead my use and any fear affects.
Monday: Leomaris

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

History: Bard College of Calabay

Originally Calabay was a small fishing village. But the leaders of this village, a long string of interrupted men of the Calabay line, wanted more for their village. They helped some refuges who were filled with scholars and asked only for tutors to teach their children so they would be better prepared and learned. The scholars agreed, especially since it meant safety for their people, and over the years the people of Calabay became more and more educated. A running joke among the southern Houses is Calabay is the "Educated Barbarians of the North".

After awhile, and once they became the House Calabay, one of the sons of the House became quite talented as a bard and begged his father to start a college for all levels of bards so there would be music available for all. Since the people of Calabay were happy to help their people on every level of wealth (this changes a bit before Noshi Bluecrystal's Northern Alliance, but only for about fifty years) the college was built.

Originally all people were admitted, no matter if they could pay to be trained or not. But as the years passed more and more of the poorer people were not let in unless they had a sponsor, which didn't happen often. In game terms the further your player characters are from the Time of the Chosen the more likely they will have to pay or find a sponsor.

Here everything is taught from musical instruments to story telling. Also tutors are trained here to teach the wealthy or any who can afford such things. If a person is trained here part of their training is to stay for two years to teach their subject at the school, usually under the supervision of some long standing teacher. If a person is very talented the school will ask them to stay or return at a later date as a permanent teacher.

Students stay anywhere from just a few years to a decade of training, depending on what they are studying. Room and board is part of the tuition and a lot of students do small teaching jobs (like teaching someone to read or write) to help supplement their income.
Tomorrow: A Magic Item

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Place: Ukiah's Cabin

Really not any place in my High King's Sword novels, this place is vital to my original novels (which may or may not be edited someday far in the future). This is where the Chosen meet each other and learn that the Gods are out to use them. Always a momentous place when the Gods ask you to die in there stead.

Ukiah, a mage of immense power, made this cabin of fine fir timbers with his bare hands for his love, Dyani Blackwolf. For all intensive purposes the cabin is one room, though a small side room was added when Amber was born. As one walks in there is a fireplace to the right of the door, the small room off to the right. The table Ukiah made (with magic, though he didn't tell Dyani that) sits near the fire. There are also five chairs, none of which truly match each other. Straight across from the door is a small niche big enough for a bed fit for two people. The bed has four posts which look like trees stretching upward, the canopy magical so as to appear as the foliage of trees.

The small room is separated from the rest of the cabin by a embroidered silk drape, though it is thick enough not to be able to see through. A single person bed and a chest lay inside, a single window looking out.

Underneath the heavy, woven rug in the middle of the cabin is a surprise. Without the aid of magic or knowing it is there, one can not see the hatch to a basement. In this basement are murals of elves in everyday life and a room four times larger then the cabin itself. Inside lays treasures of elven life gone by. Everything from magic items to the mundane. Ukiah tried to save us much as he could of Dyani's people as they were being killed by Shaniko and his minions. This room is extra dimensional, and can not be detected by normal means of finding a hollow places underground.

Some good roleplaying uses of this might be the party is looking for elven artifacts, they are lost in the woods near Willowdale and find Ukiah who can help them find their way, or they just find the building abandoned and use it for shelter one night. If you bring Ukiah into your campaign, be careful. He is, for all intensive purposes, an immortal, granted long life by the Gods and more powerful then some of the minor Gods. To anger him is truly to bring down the wrath of the Gods. Despite all his power, he is a kindly old man and will help if he can. He is dead after the time of the Chosen, but his cabin is still there, a place for Targon, God of Magic, to escape to on occasion.
Tomorrow: Some History

Monday, December 20, 2010

Character: Amber Blackwolf

To say I have a personal attachment to this particular character is an understatement. Of all the characters on this world, this is my first character I created and a character with a lot of me in her. She is very insecure and sensitive about what the world thinks about her. When I was in college, that was me to the letter. Though she doesn't show up as anything more then reference in my High King Sword novels, she is still there for me to cherish.

Born to the Warrior Leader Dyani Blackwolf and the Master Mage Ukiah she was a elven half breed that was trained to be a Wolf Warrior, but was despised by both worlds. She was strong willed and honor bound, sticking to the Aniwaya (code of honor of the Wolf Warriors) even when the Clan itself had given up on it. Living through the loss of her friend, Jared Swiftarrow, and her father the War of the Gods changed her. She married Richard Goldenstein, becoming the mother of six children and helped Richard rule over his House. When Richard died centuries before herself she took to traveling to different Clans, hoping to bring them back to their great status and left the the ruling of the House to one of her many grandchildren.

Amber was a half-elf, five hundred and twenty winters at the time of her death. She was five foot tall, 90 pounds wet with a lithe, athletic figure. Her face was angled and well defined, her skin a creamy pale, with a hint of tan to it. Her forest green eyes were big and oval. Her hair, almost bright red, was curly and hung to her waist. Her bangs hung over a gold circlet, with feathers hanging off the back of the circlet.

Amber wore a one armed shirt, that left her right arm bare as well as her stomach. Hunting leathers for pants which laced up at the side, with boots which laced up in the front and come to mid-calf. Quiver and short sword at her hip. She carried a hunting knife in her boot and a short cloak and bow on her back.

Amber spoke her mind when she is asked to socialize, otherwise she kept to herself. She didn't normally lie, but did so to protect someone who was harmed or weaker then herself. She was quiet, but quick to anger. She was nervous in crowds but hung on deeply to her few friends.

Amber had issues with Knights before she met Eric and Richard and she always hated the Black Wizards. She helped those in need, kept her word and upheld her honor.

Amber is used as an example of a great hero through my High King's Sword novels, though she would laugh at the title. Nothing more then background, it might be interesting if your players are in the time near the Chosen to come into contact with her.
Tomorrow: Ukiah's log cabin

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Item: Magic Bags of Holding

In my first novel involving Tarkil, there is a scene where he hands a bag to Kenna and tells her everything should fit in there. He's referring to the contents of a large chest and the bag is only about pouch size. Kenna seems skeptical, but everything does fit.

This bag, and ones like it, are magical bags with extradimensional space. The outside of the bag can range from the size of a pouch to the size of a backpack. The inside can range as well, but the size of the outside will effect the inside of the bag's size. Most roleplaying games have a magical bag so just use those if you want to keep balance in your game.

In Martapa the bags are rare, but well cared for. Most bags of holding are the size of pouches and can hold up to 10 cubic feet of items. The holding size ranges all the way up to 30 cubic feet of space, but the outsides of this are usually backpack size. This should be a special magic item, placed by the GM in a treasure. I wouldn't give these out willy-nilly.

The appearances of the bags are usually plane, but small runes of magic are usually sewed around the edge of the opening. These glyphs are what allow the objects to be placed in the bags that would otherwise be to big to fit in the bag.
Monday: Amber Blackwolf

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Some Thoughts

There is always a reason for a writer to put down with pen and paper (or in this day and age computer) a fantasy world that comes to them, battering down the door at night when you are trying to sleep. I'm no different.

The world of Martapa has been with me since a bunch of boys going on men took me into their group in college and decided I needed to be sheltered. (Which included teaching me how to use short swords and staves...don't ask.) My original foray into Martapa was about the Chosen, four young people thrust into danger to fulfill their destinies. All of them were based off my friends and myself (along with several other characters I added later as I added more close friends at college). My friends were supportive of the endeavor, but when I got out of college and work ensued, my world went to the way side.

I picked it up now and again over the years, but when my husband and sister said they needed a roleplaying fix (it had been years since we had played in a roleplaying group) I suggested my neglected world. Two years of Internet roleplaying (imagine doing 2000 words of description every other day or more) and I had quite the flushed out world along with a good story arch. (Though I base a lot of my novels on our roleplaying, quite a bit had to be fixed to actually fit into a story arch.) I joked about writing the exploits of our characters into a story, but only dabbled at it. I had two kids under three and parents to help out.

In 2004, after fiddling around for who knew how long, I realized I needed to write my story. It became a selfish reason for I knew I would never finish my endeavor if I didn't start it. My dad's recurrence of cancer made that all too clear. My father loved fantasy books. If there was ever a man who memorized the Lord of the Rings, it was probably him. And when he thought I was really going to sit down and write a book, he was so supportive. He would tell me often that he'd love to see my name in print right next to Tolkien on his shelf. So I wrote for him, knowing full well that my dying father would never see the end product.

I lost my father in 2005 to cancer, 2 weeks short of his 60th birthday. Obviously I never finished before he died, but everyday, as I work on this labor of love I have him mind, knowing he is looking over my shoulder waiting for me to get my butt in gear and get my book published. Published so it can sit next to his Tolkien books on his shelf.

So in the time of remembering, this time we share with our loved ones, remember why you started writing your book and keep that firmly in mind as we start the new year. You may never get your book published, but don't let it remained unfinished.
Happy Holidays and a Happy New year to all of you.
Tomorrow: Magical Bags

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Place: City of Tsi-wa

The city of Tsi-wa was the capital of the elven nation for a long time, though it moved to Qalataqa around the time of the Chosen to save the elven nation from Shaniko and his minions.

This city was huge in it's hay-day, covering acres and acres of land both on the ground and in the trees themselves. Buildings are always made of shaped wood, (meaning they are still living, but shaped to serve a purpose). Shapes are more rounded then straight up and down. Houses are in the treetops, business and inns upon the ground. There are tenders who make sure the trees and other plants used for buildings and supports are well cared for and living with out sickness.

This is the training city of the Wolf Clan, Dragon Clan, Pegasus Clan and Unicorn Clan. The Leaders and High Guards for each are stationed here. Since most Warriors remain unbonded, and those who do need to be trained, the city is quite large and nearly self-sufficient. All Warriors from the north are trained here, both in weapons and magic. Whole families live here, though those children who are not chosen to train (which is rare) usually leave for another elven city or even for one of the human communities.

Other races, save Akicitia, are not allowed here near the time of the Chosen (though at the beginning all races were welcome). The Great Library of Tsi-wa, containing a mass amount of elven history and lore, is open to all elves and the rare person from other races. Anything elven can be bought here, though the prices would be high for any outsiders.

The imports here are low, mostly speciality foodstuffs, and they export little else save Clan Warriors and books. They worship primarily Targon, though Catiana, Wesa, and Iktomi are also revered.

Near the time of the Chosen the city was abandoned because of the Wizard Shaniko. The Akicitia of Mahatalo's Clan remained, protecting the city and were there when Amber Blackwolf and Richard Goldenstern came seeking the Staff of Veo.
Tomorrow: History

Monday, December 13, 2010

Character: Akiola Riverbridge

Akiola isn't much more then a background character in my novels, someone who writes about history and I use for small quotes at the beginning of several chapters, to give the mood of the chapter and the story world. Sort of like Anne McCaffery used her small harper songs at the beginning of each of her Pern Harper books. But if you are adventuring in my world, he is someone your player characters could run into.

Akiola was born into a family of privilege in the elven city of Tsi-wa (Gee-Wah), he grew up studying poetry and history. When he was of age he went to the Bard College and quickly rose through the ranks to become High Bard of Tsi-wa. He studied the ancient civilizations, human, elven, and dwarven, as well as the interactions of the Gods. He died of old age around the age of 1,500 years.

Akiola was/is (depending on when you adventure) a Wood Elf. Standing at five foot two inches and a hundred pounds he was lithe and willow thin. His cheek bones are high, his dark green eyes very oval and slanted. His skin is a pale tan color and his long silver gray hair is kept in a nice pony tail.

Akiola wears long silver robes marked by the sign of Vates, a gold and silver cord around his waist to mark his rank as High Bard. Soft, silk slippers to allow his movements to be quiet in the library. When he speaks his voice is soft and melodious. When speaking of his favored subject of history his voice is filled with passion. He is a kind hearted individual filled with passion and a great desire to know the truth.

Akiola doesn't care for people who do not respect the past, but he is studious, patient and a student of all knowledge, even if he can be singled minded at times. As author of Discussions of the World, he is sought out quite often to clarrify bits of history.
Tomorrow: The city of Tsi-Wa

Friday, December 10, 2010

Money System of Martapa

Since a lot of what I'm writing about here is for you to use in a roleplaying campaign I thought I might take a look at the money system of Martapa

In Tiana the money comes in six types of coins: Gold ducats, Silver Eagles, copper Pennies, Platinum Dragons, Steel Knights, and Half Pennies.

2 Half pennies = 1 copper penny. 5 copper pennies = 1 Silver Eagle. 5 Silver Eagles = 1 Gold Ducat. 5 Gold Ducats = 1 Steel Knights. 10 Steel Knights = 1 Platinum Dragon.

Common currency is half pennies, copper pennies, and silver eagles. Gold ducats are not common, but are usually reserved for big purchases, such as a horse, wagon, wedding dresses. Platinum dragons and steel knights are usually used by nobility and the business they frequent.

Trade bar, used to transport raw metals to the mint, are usually worth 500 of what ever type of coin the metal is.

Other countries use the same price system, save in the Empire they are called: Half pennies, penny, silver griffions, gold lions, steel swords, and platinum legions. In the areas controlled by the Black Wizards the coins are called: half pennies, copper pennies, silver ghosts, gold harpies, steel talons, and platinum staves. The coins, for the most part are similar in size and shape (to keep with the same weight and thus the same worth), but Tridon and Ariella stamp what ever the name is on picture. The platinum legions bare the visage of the current emperor (or past ones). The Black Wizards have runes upon them, simply stating the value of the coin.

Most places use barter a lot more then coins. Two bags of flour for a shovel, a chicken for some onions, a bag of potatoes for a pie. Coins are usually only used in cities and any inns along the roads.
Monday: Akiola Riverbridge

Thursday, December 9, 2010

History of the Temple of the Gods

This temple is the most elegant of all the temples on all Martapa. Built on the original location of the village of Stormvale, the temple is meant to honor all the Gods, both Light and Dark. High King Peter understood the Balance and how all the Gods influenced the lives of mortals, whether they worshiped said Gods or not. He wanted to pay homage to them all and thus built the temple.

The temple is circular, to represent the flow of power of all the Gods. Nice large pillars line the outside of this small, round building to represent the nine major Gods, standing on a marble porch that circles the building. There are nine steps to the front door and every Gods' symbol is etched upon not only the doors, but the steps as well so none are forgotten. Even Kahalla's symbol is here, despite the fact he was banished later on. People tried to take off the glyph, but once chipped away, it simple returns the next day.

The pillars are decorated in fanciful depictions of the Gods, some as animals, others as winged elves, others as other mortal shapes, representing the fact the Gods take a great interest in the lives of the mortals. Upon the door is are two small fist size circular impressions where a lock may be. There are no handles upon the door. When Peter was High King, the doors were never closed, only later was there need to close them.

Inside the building is a circular room larger then what the building appears on the outside. The floor is tiled with the symbols of the Gods. The walls are covered in depictions of winged elves and the words written in ancient elven saying "I bring together the gate to the heavens and call forth Catiana's children, the bringers of the way" under the picture of a winged elf holding an object of power.

Originally this building was tended by representatives of all the Gods, but as time progressed the priests slowly left the building, especially during the time of the Chosen, when Shaniko hunted down many of the priests of the other Gods. The out buildings which are there can house over a hundred people and there is a forge that could be used once more if cleaned out in these later times.

Eventually the relics of the Gods were housed here by the Gods themselves when the building was abandoned. The keys were lost before the time of the Chosen, found by them, and lost for some time before the priests of the Cataina found them again. They and other faiths manned the temple until about twenty years before the time of the High King's Sword. At that time it is abandoned and overgrown.
Tomorrow: Money System for Martapa

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Place: The Rolling Rooster

This inn is one of the two inns which Tarkil owns, unknown to his family. It's his "retirement fund" as he likes to think of it, just in case he needs to escape with money somewhere away from his family.

The inn isn't adjacent to the open air market, but close by on the northwest corner. The tavern is the smallest part of the inn, holding only a dozen tables in a close area. Most of the space is devoted to the 24 small rooms upstairs, the kitchen, an office, and living quarters for the help down below.

Though well lit, the tavern can be darkened to allow for unseen business deals. The interior is well maintained, though this is still an older building. The interior is mostly wood, the outer first floor river rock. There are two fireplaces, one at either end of the tavern (one near the door, and one near the entrance to the kitchen).

The rooms up above are all for double occupancy (though more people could fit in them). There are no suits or bunk room. The cost per room is 5 silver eagles per night and a silver for a day's worth of meals. (Ale or wine is extra). The accommodations are average but clean, the food unimaginative, but edible.

At the moment the "owner" of the inn is One Eye Jack. He claims to have lost his left eye in a knife fight, but the truth is he fell when he was younger and poked out his own eye when he landed on a sharp stick. The healers were able to save his life, but not his eye for he could not afford to pay for a highly skilled healer. He reports to Tarkil by several intermediaries once a month and gives what little profits there are to him. Jack knows he has it good and tries not to skim too much that Tarkil will notice.

Rumors are easily found here, because the regulars like to talk, even if you don't buy them a drink or food. This is a good place for beginning characters to rest and recover between adventurers, since the prices are reasonable and the place is serviceable.
Tomorrow: History of the Temple to the Gods

Monday, December 6, 2010

Character: Kredoc Bloodhelm

Kredoc was a character on paper and never really flushed out until I started to write my novels. Afterward, I began to really feel a love/hate relationship with him. He is so awful to Tarkil, yet in his own way he is trying to do what is best for Bloodhelm.

Kredoc is the second son of the previous Lord Bloodhelm and is the father of Tarkil Bloodhelm. He is the spymaster for the House and deals with any information that comes to the House before the Lord does and sends what information must be sent out. He has never been ambitious enough to want to be Lord of Bloodhelm but has always liked the intrigue of spying. Thus he has conditioned his son to do such as well.

Kredoc is human, 56 winters old, six foot in height and about two hundred and twenty pounds. He has put a bit of weight on in his older age, but is still fairly lithe and wiry. His face in narrow, though oval in shape, his skin a pale tan. He has blue eyes and low set cheekbones. His hair is silver gray, though some of the original blond shows through.

Kredoc always dresses like a proper gentlemen in a billowy black shirt, with a red button up surecoat with brass buttons. He wears close fitting black pants and calf high boots. He usually carries a dagger on his person, but can use a a saber handily enough. He is usually blunt and to the point, but when he needs information or needs to hide it, he has a wicked tongue. He can make the statement, "The sun is up" sound like more then it actually is.

He is generally very calm, even in stressful situations. He is hard to get along with in most social situations, because he is so coarse and to the point. He does better doing the behind the scenes intrigue then face to face.

Kredoc is well informed and studies the facts before jumping to conclusions. He trusts no one, not even Tarkil and especially not his brother or his brother's children.

In my novel Kredoc is a thorn in Tarkil's side and adds twists to Tarkil's path. I purposefully make it hard to read him and leave the reader wondering is Kredoc helping or hindering Tarkil.
Tomorrow: The Rolling Rooster

Friday, December 3, 2010

Prologue part III

“So, today it begins.”

Lee’s whispered words were punctuated by an explosion so sudden it rocked the sleepy dawn.

The northern guard tower was engulfed with a blast of flame. The light was intense, sun like in the near darkness. Screams of fear and pain echoed in the streets below. Stones and debris, along with dying men, rained down upon the cobbles and houses even as a second ball of flame engulfed the southern tower. Pain and fear echoed across the city as people began to flood into the streets.

“Run. Save yourselves.” Lee whispered to those who were too far to hear her, knowing it wouldn’t matter in the end. They would be the first civilians to fall to the blades and axes of the murders who were coming, to the magic and mayhem which would ensue well into the evening. She knew for she had seen. She knew she couldn’t have saved them all, but she hoped some would live to see tomorrow’s sunrise.

A third explosion sent splinters of wood and metal screaming down the road and into the massing crowds. Destruction and death seemed to spur the citizens to life, their flight of terror becoming more frantic, many running by Lee without even seeing her.

Lee smiled despite the death which awaited her. Some would live. Some would see Devonshire set free once more by the defenders of freedom.

Through the scorched and broken gates marched death itself, the body minotaurs and mercenaries, weapons in hand. The head a Black Wizard wrapped in the shrouded black robes of her order. From the distance Lee watched the man who was at the Wizard’s side. His hood was up, his features indiscernible, but it meant little to her. She knew who he was.

Her neighbors fled for the western gates as fire and death began to spread. Lee remained where she was. Stoic upon her stoop, the wind playing with her grey hair and worn clothes, the sun began to crest over the very mountains which had just been breeched. She watched a contingent of mercenaries rushing into buildings and slaughtering any who stood in there way. Others of death’s hand were so focused on their prey they rushed past her as if they did not see her.

The Wizard and the cloaked man quickly made their way toward Lee. They would have sensed her aura of magical powers and would find her a great threat, despite the fact she would offer little resistance. She reminded herself to be brave, that Targon was with her, and all this was about to end. She had only to endure so little to protect so much.

The minotaurs’ shod hooves rang on the stones as they raced toward her at the command of the Wizard. Weapons in hand, they surrounded her, as if one old woman would prove a problem for twelve full grown bull-men. But they knew what she was, knew Lee might have magic to aid her. It was unfortunate her power lay in seeing the future not throwing around spells of destruction. She might not have had to stand so idly by and await her death if she was capable of such feats.
Lee paid them no mind, keeping her face steady, staring past the swords and the Black Wizard to the cloaked man who stood just feet away from her.

He glanced first at the building behind her, at the symbol of some one who predicted the future. Her husband proudly put the sign there forty years early, though she doubted it would be there for much longer. His gaze turned from Lee’s business to her, though it was hard to read his face swallowed by the depths of the hood. It mattered little. He belonged to a Black Wizard, Tridon’s enemy. She didn’t really care what he felt.

“So, Seer, are you the only magic user this pitiful city holds?”

The female Black Wizard’s voice was soothing, gentle in a noble sort of way, with an air of authority. An authority which should not be ignored. But Lee planned on ignoring the Wizard.
Lee drew herself up straight, taking strength in the knowledge she needed to give Margaret enough time to reach the inn, to hide herself and the scroll away.

“Do you not speak? Perhaps you write your prophecies down for all to see, hmm?” The cloaked man began to inspect his fingernails for specks of dirt, seemingly bored with their conversation, the chaos continuing around them.

Lee noted the Black Wizard did not look pleased by the man speaking, but neither did the Wizard stop him. She was not surprised the Black Wizard appeared to fear the cloaked man. After all, even Black Wizards feared the man’s master.

Lee kept herself steady as her neighbor, a woman of middle years, was pulled out into the street screaming in fear. Lee wished she could give the woman strength, but there was little which could be said to stop what was about to occur. Lee turned her attention back to the cloaked man, abruptly speaking.

“The sword of the High King will reach out from obscurity and find you and Marius, Vandalar. They will find you and send you to your dead God. I only regret I will not be there when they do so.”

The cloaked man took a step back, visibly shaken by Lee’s words. The Black Wizard’s face turned white, her fear clearly written on her face. Lee knew they weren’t seeing an old woman giving empty threats, but a sorceress giving them prophecy. It wasn’t something any, even a Black Wizard, would take lightly.

The Black Wizard glanced at the cloaked man in askance, but he said nothing.

Vandalar took a step back toward Lee as more explosions ripped through Devonshire’s western section, the smell of burnt wood and flesh reaching her nose. Her stomach turned, but she knew her suffering would soon be over.

“Who? Who are they?”

“Do you think I would tell you? Do you think I would smash the hopes of all Tridon just so I could breathe a few more lonely breaths?”

Lee tried to meet his gaze, but she could not catch his eye. From what she had seen of the man, she wasn’t sure if she wanted to, but she had to buy time. Margaret had to get to Joseph’s.

“I will kill you in the most painful of ways if you don’t tell me. I’m quite capable of such efforts.”

Lee was sure he could, a man of his depravity would most likely be very creative. An explosion close to them rained down small stones and dust, many of the minotaurs ducking reflexively, though none ran in fear.

“I am old and it is time for me to return to Targon, Lord of Magic. I will not break my vows to him simply to give into your false promises of life or an easy death.”

And I will not trade my life for Margaret’s. She tightly clutched her shawl, steadying herself with that one small action and thoughts of her granddaughter.

“Perhaps Targon’s mages aren’t all cowards, after all. But it matters little. I will see to the destruction of your kingdom, of your world, and bring my master back from the dead. All you have done, woman, is point out a danger Marius didn’t know existed. I thank you. Marius thanks you.”

“I didn’t tell you to warn you. I told you so you will cower in fear.”

Vandalar chuckled darkly, his hand straying to the saber at his side. “I fear nothing, not even death. What will you give me so I kill you quickly?”

Lee glared at the man, wondering how long the Black Wizard would allow Vandalar to continue to take charge.

“You will die in a way most foul. By both magic and sword.” Lee’s words were steady, strong, taking heart from the fact she was giving Margaret time.

Vandalar reached forward, his breath sour as he placed one gloved hand about her neck. “Why do you taunt me like this? The more you infuriate me the more I will take great pleasure in personally killing you.”

Lee gasped for air, focusing on Margaret’s face in her mind’s eye to feel no pain. The girl would be to Joseph’s by now, especially if she heard the explosions. The child would not have turned back. Gods, she hoped she hadn’t. Margaret would have run all the way to Joseph’s. It was alright to give in to the pain and return to Targon.

“Stop! Van, we need to know if there are any other mages here! You can’t kill her just yet.”

The pressure on Lee’s throat eased, Vandalar releasing her at the Black Wizard’s fearful words, and he stepped back. He rubbed his face in irritation, glaring at the woman Wizard. She took small satisfaction the Wizard cowered slightly at his attention.

Lee moistened her mouth, spitting at Vandalar’s feet, her eyes narrowed upon him. “I would give fear to those who think they are masters of such things.”

The clash of weapons further into the city rang in Lee’s ears, the Black Wizard’s puppet watching her intently for a few moments. She felt relief Margaret didn’t have the spark of magic in her yet. The Black Wizards would pass her over when they searched for those who could use magic. She feared the black hearted man before her would have fun revenging himself upon Margaret if she had the spark.

“I ask again, are there any other mages?”

Vandalar’s voice was quiet, but filled with anger, the emotion not lost despite the noise of death and destruction swirling around them.

“If I won’t tell you about those in my prophecy why do you think I would give away my colleagues? Just kill me, you will get no more of use out of me and I tire of this conversation.”
Vandalar stood watching her for a moment. His inaction made Lee unsure of what he might do next and that scared her more then her death. The man seemed unpredictable even in her visions. Abruptly Vandalar turned from her to continue further into the city, his hand flashing in the air over his shoulder.

As the Black Wizard and the mass of minotaurs moved to follow, one of the minotaurs stepped forward, closer to Lee, a heated look upon his face, though not for her. He nodded respectfully to her, but raised his axe. She did not flinch, she knew it was time. She pictured Margaret and the life she was giving her granddaughter, knowing the sacrifice was worth the gift.

As the sun finally crested the mountains an axe swung unerringly through the morning air to fulfill its purpose.
* *
Monday: Kredoc Bloodhelm

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Item: Dragonbow of the Gods

The Dragonbow of the Gods was created by Targon, Catiana, and Taniger for Amber Blackwolf, one of the four Chosen. They figured one of the Chosen would be an elf and bows were their specialty.

This bow made of magical imbued oak makes the weapon as tough as steel and can be used as a staff without fear of breaking. Shaped like an elongated dragon, the tip of the tail and back of the head serve as anchoring points for the string. The wings serve as anchoring points for the string. The wings serve as the notch for the arrow, either side able to serve as the notch since even the Gods had no idea what eye the person would sight with. It has a gold tint with the dragon having emeralds as eyes.

The bow is unique in the fact it doesn't require any physical arrows, though they can be used. When the string is pulled back if a physical arrow isn't in the notch a magical arrow comes to light, the color depending on the person, their mood, and if they require more damage against undead or demons.

The most unique characteristic is the bow is meant specifically to take out undead and demons. Demons and undead feel compelled to turn away from the wielder.

In game terms, the bow is the highest plus available, and is a demon/undead slayer. This is also a relic and should not just be handed out in a random treasure. Introduce this with caution and only if your characters are in great need.

This weapon has a history of disappearing so after the party defeats that "Demon King" as a a GM you could spirit the bow away and still retain lore so as not to overbalance your campaign.
Tomorrow: A little more of my prologue

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

History: Unicorn Mounts

As I alluded to earlier, each clan has a mount that resembles their name. The Gryphonclan had Gryphons, the Pegasus clan had pegasi and so on. And this held true for the Wolf Clan as well for quite some time until the time of Moonshade, the first female Leader of the Wolf Clan. She was a fine leader, a beauty in her own right, and a woman with a temper. No one wanted to get close to her save Targon, God of Magic.

Targon was never one to get close to mortals. He had, on occasion, had a tryst with a mortal, but Moonshade intrigued him. First he knew the Wolf Clan would spawn the mortal able to use the gift, so he had been careful to protect the Clan as best he could without intruding. But in watching over the Clan he found himself falling in love with Moonshade. He tried to keep himself distanced from her, but could not help himself. Not that Moonshade was amendable to such advances at first. It took Targon, a God of all things, time to turn Moonshade's head and the love between them grew greatly. He disguised himself as Skaska Blademaster, so as to be among the elves without revealing who he was and eventually a child was born of the union.

Targon took great pains to disguise the fact the child was his, for the baby was the only half-god in all of history. Eventually Moonshade died of wounds in protection of her charge, which grieved Targon greatly, but he continued to watch over their child and extending grand children. To help in this, he created a magical herd of unicorns to serve as intelligent mounts for the Clan Leader and his guard, knowing his child's line would continue to lead. The oldest of these unicorns was Swiftwater who eventually became the mount of Amber Blackwolf, descendant of Moonshade and Targon and the first mortal to use the Gift of the Gods.

No one knows Targon's secret, except Aiyana. Since she is the Goddess of Love, there was no way her father could keep such things from her. She teases him about it from time to time, but she has told no one, not even Jared Switarrow, her true love and companion of Amber Blackwolf.
Tomorrow: Dragon Bow of the Gods