Festival of the Lion

Paladin Quest 2: Bandits

“There is no escaping the light, your shadow will be judged and found useless, the wicked will fall before the righteous.” Azrayael’s booming voice sounded through the bandit’s lair.

“Ha! A lone man, outnumbered, you have no chance fool.” Came a response from a mysterious shadowy throne down the stairs.

The two door guards turned and came outside and into the light, some clanking of heads together and their bodies tumbled back down the stairs into the dark lair.

Seeing their companions dispatched so easily put the other bandits on their guard, they were not so overconfident now. Azrayael fearless, even when outnumbered charged down the stairs, it was a very dimly lit cavern with torches, unnatural stairs made of cold stone leading down to a damp kind of mossy cave, on the far side Azrayael could make out a throne made of bone and cloth scraps from what had to be people’s clothes.

“Your torture and murder of the innocent has ended”. The paladin’s noble voice sounded.

“Enough of your pointless banter, guards, Attack!” The figure on the throne commanded.

Longsword in hand, heavy steel shield in the other Azrayael was ready. A quick shield slam to the face and a slash across another one’s arm made two of the four guards drop their weapons right away. The other two attempting to flank the paladin by moving around and striking at the same time.

Azrayael turned to face one as the other’s mace found his ribs, a few bones breaking and a loss of breath wasn’t enough to stop this paladin. A desperate slice at the bandit in front of Azrayael, but not quite fast enough as the bandit parried the blade. The bandit from behind went to swing again but the lone paladin jerked his sword from the first bandit’s blade and thrust it between his own arm and chest to find the face of the bandit from behind.

The second bandit with the slashed arm picked up his scimitar with his other hand and threw it at Azrayael, a nice try but left handed using an unbalanced weapon does not have a high likely hood of hitting anything, let alone someone moving around in the art of combat with another.

Azrayael threw his longsword at the fourth bandit easily piercing his leather armor and impaling him, the bandit with the sliced arm went to pick up his scimitar when Azrayael charged him and bashed his chest with the shield. The bandit flew backwards into the rock wall his head jerking around the edge and a loud snap confirmed, this bandit’s neck had been broken and he was not going to move again soon.

Azrayael turning to face the dark throne again, just in time to see the dark figure stand and his eyes glow red. Azrayael lifting his right hand had just not enough time to sense the strong aura of evil before getting blasted backwards by a dark beam of energy. Ten to fifteen feet and sliding across the floor into the bandit with his sword in his chest.

Azrayael’s skin had been seared and his armor melted in several spots. Breathing heavily, he ripped his sword from the bandit’s chest and stood again to face his foe.

“Your dark magic is merely parlor tricks to the might of the light! The silver hand will extermina——-” Azrayael was cut off and had to dive out of the way of another beam of darkness, with a roll he was back on his feet and facing the dark figure again.

“You did me a favor, now I wont have to pay them” The dark figure responded.

“You will fall as well”. Azrayael promised.

“Not today, I wont.” The dark figure shot a white bolt that seemed to follow Azrayael as he tried to tumble out of the way. Despite what should have been an easy dodge, the bolt struck Azrayael with such an intense impact as it slammed into the paladin that Azrayael’s helmet was knocked off and his shield slid across the room. When he looked up the dark figure was gone. After gathering his equipment Azrayael searched the bandits and found nothing of value, further investigation of the cave he found a note left on the throne that said:

“The dark one will return, and none shall be spared”.

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The Present

Saphir clutched at her mother’s dress. She felt her mother’s soft hand on her long black hair. Her family had come to the Palace of Ethe’ron for a special celebration. She tried to bury herself more in the soft velvet skirt folds. She was young, only 17 years old, in human years she seemed only 9. She was to meet the prince today. It was the young prince Lai’thors birthday and all the nobles of the 8 houses were there.

She noticed 3 other young elves such as herself. She recognized the 2 young sons of Ken’soul household, Me’gil and Tinech they were only a few years older than her. (The older boy, Me’gil, was 27 years old (about 14) and the younger, Tinech, was 22 (about 13)). The other was a new babe, she didn’t know what the young ones name was, but was being held by Lady Pran.

“Go on.” her mother pushed “Go play with the others.”

She shyly stumbled forward. The young boys were together in an impenetrable huddle. The two older boys were guarding Lai’thor. After giving a curt bow she stared at her feet and she demurely gave the Prince congratulations on his birthday.

All three of the boys stared down at her. She saw a grin form on the distorted face of the Prince.

“Thank you” he replied “why don’t you come here and become my servant for my birthday as a present to me?”

Saphirs heart jumped to her throat. She tucked in her chin towards her chest more and stepped back a few small steps.”But… We already got you a present” She moved her eyes toward the table filled with many wrapped boxes.

“But, I want YOU for my birthday” he replied in a harsh tone and grabbed Saphirs arm and pulled her toward him. She felt his hand dig into her arm.

She was trapped, and there was no escape.

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The Paladin's Starting Quest!
Backstory

Azrayael left the Redrock mountain village with a sense of accomplishment, his first mission had gone so flawlessly, perhaps a Paladin was his true calling.

Azrayael walked for a good hour or so to the next town about three fourths of the way to the next town he saw in the distance:

A broken down wagon could be seen in the distance, what was left of it anyway. A few slain bodies lay around the destroyed wagon several large wounds in their sides and necks showed traces of some kind of beast, the cattle pulling the wagon had been half-eaten while clearly being trapped by the reigns and hitches, flies and other vermin had gathered to pick at the remains. Paladins are trained to fear no enemy, Azrayael however was still new to the “real world” and seeing horror of this caliber struck him with confusion and a severe uneasy feeling.

While trying to inspect the bodies, Azrayael heard a low growling behind him. Spinning around while drawing his long sword he slashed in a huge arc and all the strength he could muster. With a soft groan the wretched creature with dark green skin and mangled teeth slumped over dead. “The undead!?!? Here? Damnit, the plague of undeath must be spreading.”

Raising his right hand towards the other bodies on the ground he sensed a hint of evil in each one. Letting out a sigh, he realized they were all infected.

“Must not take any chances now”. He gathered the bodies in a pile and began building a pyre.

The stench of the burning undeath was overbearing, a gruesome task, but much less than the later stages.

As the bodies burned another zombie groaned from nearby a pile of rocks he had not noticed before.

Rounding the corner, he found a massive hole in the ground and a zombie trying to crawl out of it.

“Be purged!” With a glint of holy light on his sword he plunged it deep into the zombie, the zombie exploded in a burst of black blood and rotted flesh.

Azrayael could hear other zombies in the cavern below.

“Well I certainly can’t let this den of evil be aloud to fester” Azrayael was no longer afraid, the light would protect him!

He jumped down the six foot drop to realize the shroud of darkness covered his new foes.

They swarmed Azrayael in the darkness, he cut and sliced, there must have been six or seven he cut down before he was overwhelmed and dragged down. Fear gripped him and he thought about Darkshire and how he had failed them, the one town of Redrock village was hardly redemption for the one he had doomed. He struggled in the darkness trying to punch and kick at the seemingly endless undead. “Heir’oneous, hear my call” he let out.

Suddenly a flash of blinding white light from the entrance filled the cavern, Azrayel saw he had been dragged five feet away from his sword and another twenty from the cave entrance. The flash of light darted around the room faster than Azrayael’s eyes could adjust to see what it was, the flash looked like ten long swords that had been set ablaze, they cut with such perfect precision, melting zombie heads and slicing others clean in half. The zombies holding Azrayael were decapitated and Azrayael fell to the ground.

The cavern had been cleared with in seconds and near twenty new undead creatures lay in pieces, burning on the cold cave floor.

“Hail brother paladin! I am hardly Heir’oneous, but I am one of her faithful, I heard your plea and sensed the undead” Came a strong, confident voice. Azrayael’s eyes adjusted to see a very majestic half-elf, half-human Paladin in royal Templar Plate armor, wielding a sword of the finest craftsmanship he had ever seen, on the blade was inscribed “Holy Avenger”. “My name is ‘Oppression’ and I seek my half-brother, a full elf ranger, goes by the name ‘Tyranny’. Perhaps you’ve heard of him?”

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The Lady Returns

The darkness pierced his soul. “Is this it? Is this all there is?” He thought. “No, have some damn faith!” He urged himself over and over and then…light. it slowly engulfed him. He felt peace, like he’d never imagined.

He woke up abruptly, gasping for air and sweating profusely. The nightmares were becoming more and more vivid, and more and more frequent. He said his prayers and went out to the front of the house; His father would’ve already begun heating the forge.

He approached his father slowly.

“Another of those dreams?” His father asked. After a quick moment of silence he said, “It’s not finished.” Seeing the shocked look on his son’s face he said, “this mace, it’s got imperfections.”

He stepped up and looked closely at it, and sure enough, there were very minute fissures in the handle. He had been working on this one for weeks.

His father said, “If we don’t take care of it when we have the chance, we have to go back and set it right.”

That night the dream was more real than ever. He was six years old, and he was alone. His father and sister missing. Dark hooded figures haunting his every glance. He was too terrified to cry, he saw them everywhere, even when he closed his eyes. He finally mustered up the courage to run and immediately was knocked down by the force of a skinless arm, cut clean at the wrist. He looked up and saw another bony hand clutching a dagger. The figure raised the dagger and lunged. He closed his eyes, expecting to wake up…nothing.

He gathered himself and opened his eyes.

Before him stood a powerfully built man with white hair, adorned in armor seemingly made of light. In his right hand he held a massive mace.

The man did not say a word, he simply pointed.

When he turned around in the direction that the man was pointing, he saw his friends, and he remembered. He remembered the world, it’s injustices, and those who fought and gave their lives to save it.

“That world needs a judge, be my vengeance.” Came the booming voice of St. Cuthbert.

He stood and righted himself. He would be retribution, he would once again judge.

He closed his eyes and bowed his head. When he looked up, he was among his friends again. Corinthas was alive.

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Saphirs Dilemma

Saphir paced endlessly in her room.

What could she do? Rather, what WOULD she do?

What was Saphirs dilemma, you may ask? They were heading to the elven city of Ethe’ron.

Would… would the King still be alive? Or could of he passed on? He was in a fragile state when Saphir left Apri. Or when Saphir was exiled from Apri really.

If he HAD passed on, then his son… his evil vile son would have taken the throne. The Queen Mother would have given no objections. She was well known for doting and spoiling her son. Even if the truth of what happened to Apri came to her (Lai’thor probably lied about what happened there) she would have done nothing about it.

Saphir froze.

Apri… her eyes began to water and she angrily wiped at them. What had happened to Apri? A new noble house would have been set up there. Which family had risen up? Or who had taken over?

It seemed like a thousand questions raced through Saphirs mind all at once. It was hard to keep everything in check. Anger was raging through her.

As if ready to burst, grabbed the nearby book provided for her in the room and angrily hurled it at the wall. Feeling only slightly better, she moved to the bed and lay upon it. Staring at the ceiling above her, she tried to rest her mind.

If she had the opportunity to kill Lai’thor, then she would. An enter and exit strategy needed to be planned, just in case.

Drawing out a very simple map of the layout of the kingdom, she took herself back many years and thought of the streets, its defenses, and its people.

(the simple map)

Saphir remembered that Ethe’ron was laid out so in case of a war all the outer towns can close their gates and they can hold out since there are walls between each town.

They have enough land space inside to continue to cultivate and generally continue having commerce without running out of resources. Even the towns have a set of towers on each side to take care of and use when the kingdom was on high alert.

Even if one of the towns is breached, Ethe’ron itself is still surrounded by walls to keep it safe.

Kivar. Fara. Lo’tess. Shea. Men’lay. Corra. Yen’sira. She had hoped none of them fell to the crazy princes’ madness like Apri did.

A sigh escaped her. She was told it would be a week of travel before they reached there, and since she highly doubted she’d be welcomed back with open arms… it was time to execute a web of lies. Starting with her companions…

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Heironeous' Champion

Azrayael heard a familiar voice in the darkness. “Azrayael….. my champion…..come to me”.

He opened his eyes and saw he was in his room in Mordent, the recent events that unfolded the previous week all came rushing back like a tidal wave hitting a sand castle.

The death of his brother paladin Kacaga and the faithful hand of light Corinthas. The destruction of the dark one…… Azrayael knew the dark one could not be defeated so easily nonetheless they had destroyed his host and it would sure to be a setback in his plans. The winter wonderland massacre. The ice fortress where he had retrieved the gem of great power. Thinking he had lost Pip and Rex, only to have them both return being spared by the holy light. The war with the ice giants and the loss of Boot the great dwarven fighter they had traveled with, quite possibly the second best Dwarf he had ever heard of.

Breaking his chain of thought he heard the familiar voice again. “Azrayael, my champion, it is good to see you doing so well, come outside the inn you have to see this.”

Azrayael started heading towards his armor stand and the voice sounded again. “No my champion, you will not need protection.”

Azrayael hesitated, he did not like being outside without his armor, it felt like going to breakfast without clothes on.

Faithful to Heironeous he obeyed her command.

As soon as he left the inn he was hit with a bright light and a haze that seemed to make him feel at peace, without concern and without doubt. There keeping a steady ten feet from the ground hovered a winged woman with a fifteen foot wingspan dressed in golden armor that was draped in a red cloth pieces, pointing with a flaming sword that burned with gleaming light to the temple nearby.

The temple was cold, dark, and rugged. Azrayel found his way through the labyrinth of the temple as if he knew the way. At last coming to the center piece he found the center brazier with glyphs on the wall behind it. He felt a chill crawl up his spine as he tried to make out the glyphs. They didn’t make much sense and seemed to glow when his fingertips neared them. “How did he get here?” he thought. Confused and a bit light headed he moved closer to the dimly lit glyphs, as hard as he tried to make sense of them they only looked like ancient markings forming a story he would not know. He let out a deep sigh asking Heironeous for aid. To his astonishment they began to swirl and blend together, the entire passage illuminated the very dimly lit room and formed words he could read.

“In the darkest of times you will be tested. Should you fail the darkness will consume you.”

Did this speak of the prophecy of the dark one? Could this be his destiny? To stop the great evil which caused the war. It must be, his redemption for all the ill he had caused.

“How could a lone paladin stop something so powerful?” he said aloud without thinking he was talking out loud.

The glyphs swirled and changed and again seemed to form words he could read. “You will not be alone, there is one who will be with you in the end, and without working together neither her nor you will be able to stand against the darkness.”

Azrayael felt an empowerment like nothing he had felt in his life, an accomplishment like none he had felt, even becoming a paladin and passing the trials that took years did not compare to this. He had his calling, his reason for existing. To bring hope, to bring light, to bring salvation. A hand print appeared on the wall where the glyphs had been, it had a slight blue glow to it. Azrayael pressed his hand to this new blue glyph and he it resonated loudly, he moved his hand away and there was now blue chalk on his fingers.

The floor began to shake and a crack began to form in the ground. Panic swooned over him and he looked around for something to grab on to. The gap grew in size quickly expanding it’s diameter rapidly blocking the only exit. Nowhere to run the gap crept on him like a shadow, he fell into the chasm. This rush, this fear, it was not normal, it was not real. Azrayael had fought the undead, werewolves, giants, and even dragons he did not fear these things. Falling on the other hand he had no control over. Adrenaline shot through his body, his heart rate accelerated and beads of sweat formed near his brow. He could see the ground coming up fast, lit up unnaturally.

The impact was brutal and knocked the wind out of him. His eyes shot open and he saw he was in a familiar room in the Flaming Horse Tavern. Azrayael quickly looked around the room, “Was I dreaming just now?”. His armor was nearby on the stand and seemed to radiating that same faint blue glow that had been in the temple.

He lit the bed side lantern and confirming his suspicion his fingers had been smudged with blue chalk.

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Love Letter #1

My Love,
It has been mere hours since I left your side, and already I yearn to be close to you again. I’m afraid I don’t know how long I will be gone. There are many great dangers that lie before me on my path, but none are so great that they should keep me from returning to your arms. You have filled me with such joy and such love, feelings I have no know since I was a child. For this I am eternally grateful to you and hereby give you my word as a Halfling that my heart will always belong to you. I must go now, my comrades are in need, I will write you as often as I am able. Farewell for now my darling. May you stay safe and well and may the gods shine their light upon you and your kingdom.

With all my love,
Pip <3

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Magic Lessons
Dragon's Story part 1

Low to the ground he stalks his prey. Down wind from his target, his green scales helping him blend in with the surrounding trees of Olinin Forest. With the instincts passed down from generations of hunting he waits, concentrating on the arcane arts of his forefathers. He feels the energy coursing through him as he channels his arcana, focusing it all into a single projectile of power. Extending one claw he aims carefully. Once confident with his line he’s ready. A flash of energy and a bolt flies through the air smashing into the tree trunk sending splinters through the air. But not before a speedy squirrel jumps out of the way.

“Awwwww Ogre Spit! I’m horrible at this. I’ll never be good at magic.” A blackened scorch mark still smoldered on the tree trunk. Somewhere in the bushes the squirrel chittered in protest of being target practice. Dragon hung his head low and let out a deep sigh. Wisps of green vapor expelling from his nostrils. With a “hmph” he slumped to the ground, curling up into a ball in a very obvious “Dragon Pouting” position.

“Stupid Squirrel…” he grumbled.
To hide his shame Dragon brought his wing over his head. Rattling the chains on his anti-flight harness. An uncomfortable everyday factor to his life. Made of wood and chain the harness covered the base of the wings in such a way that he was unable to bring himself to his full wingspan. Making flapping quite difficult. Dragons are not graceful fliers as is with so much mass. Built with flight as an afterthought. The harness kept Dragon quite grounded and kept him out of trouble. His master, Ashford, had installed the device 50 years ago shortly after Dragon felt he should be able to fly where ever he wanted. Dragon was not aware that the average human had never seen a dragon, nor was he aware they feared them. He was treated quite poorly by the nearby farmers. Even when he apologized for eating their sheep. (What a silly notion that animals grazing in a field actually belong to someone) Eventually Dragon understood that he needed to be grounded for his safety. Humans were mean, even meaner then Ashford, especially the shiney knights.

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The Encryptions of an Assassin

This encrypted text is to chronicle any and all assassinations preformed by Saphir Liadin. This text is for assassins and his/her guild only.

First entry was written after Saphirs 3rd mission and covers all 3 kills including her initiate kill. More will be decrypted when more missions are given, completed and an encrypted text sent.


If Valek sent me to you, then surely you could help me get my revenge. I knew I wasn’t ready to go after that forsaken Prince right away. There was an initiate kill though to get into the assassins guild. I had to kill a random person I didn’t know, and I have yet to know why I did. It does not bother me however; I must do what I must. I have forsaken all else. The “ritual” killing was first a man of some stature, I do not know who, or what he was but if the assassins guild wanted him dead, then he would die by my hand. I was unsteady at first, but I soon entered his study and quickly killed the man. It was my first step into the world of assassins.

I was later assigned another mission before the festival. However I was to kill a pet trader’s shops owner. Instead of sneaking this time, I disguised myself as a beggar, and acted the part thusly. I easily killed him, though I did it with imprecision. It had to look like a crazy beggar had done it after all. It wasn’t ‘til the group I traveled with I later realized who my client was, though she wasn’t very good at hiding the fact that she had hired my guild. She claimed through slogans that she “Kills the competition” and all I had to do was smirk in satisfaction.

Some time passed and the Festival was coming to end. It was then while I was up with the King of Mordent, that an ambassador of Tristina, (that snarky wench of a ranger) seemed in sort of daze and murdered the King in front of all the festival goers. It was a terrible and disorganized assassination in my opinion, but I suppose her escaping with her life wasn’t in the equation, because she thusly killed herself afterward. Good riddance.

A day or two had passed with the new King on a rampage for war; I received a missive by means of Raven tapping on the window of my temporary room. Tied to its leg it was a new mission. I was to kill the other Tristina ambassador, the drunken cleric. It was deemed too dangerous to take on the paladin Ignatious, but the price for blood would be satisfied with the cleric.

I continued to travel with my (mostly) incompetent companions (To be honest the only ones I can tolerate is the druid and the cleric, but god forbid if the druid asks if I’m ok one more time…. But I digress). We eventually reached a port in which we found the cleric, to my luck. I soon learned though that he was to depart on a ship to (probably) Tristina. After a time he Claude (who was traveling with the cleric), the druid and my partys cleric went to escort him to the ship. I managed to follow, disguise up and remember the ship they took him to.

After he was on the ship they left him. I fortunately had a half hour to spare between then and when the ship departed. Using my skills, I passed off as a boy and got onto the ship and traveled down to the rooms on the boat to find the cleric. I did find him after some incidents of my own. He and a few other crew members were drinking, I joined in and after a few minutes all of the party was some sort of drunk. I had the fortunate luck that the drunkards decided to all go up to the cleric and say some sort of rousing speech about a man they did not know.

During my turn I, myself, made a decent rousing speech. By that time the ship was departing in 5 minutes and the Skipper had found us below deck. It was while the attention was on him I slipped in the knife to make a fatal wound at the cleric. He fell over, dead. The crew looked at me wondering what happened. I said “He probably passed out from drinking too much, that lightweight!” The crew jeered and we all went to the deck of the boat to start preparing to sail. It was then I made a hasty escape, saying I had forgotten an important item and that I would not be able to make it back in time. They could however keep my passage money for all the trouble.

The measly 200 gold passage fee was nothing compared the fantastic 4,000 gold I received few days later for my accomplishment. It was also one step closer in getting enough recognition and experience for my ultimate goal.


End of encryption. A new encryption will be sent once another assassination is completed.

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Becna Prison Blues
Claudes Story Part 1

Joker

Claude sat comfortably in a chair, his legs propped up against the bars, a book on the history of Pelor in his hands. It was a well lit room with all of the accommodations one would expect from a cell. In the corner was a straw bed which was changed weekly with new sheets and bedding. A small table and chair for eating, and a small pile of books given to him by Seth due to his good behavior. His fellow prison mates were not so lucky.
Blake was curled up in the corner of his bed rocking back and forth pathetically. It was recently discovered he had murdered a bard out of jealousy. Claude had heard it was the Innkeeper’s daughter that had won his creepy lust. Besides the pathetic whimpering at night, he wasn’t too much of a bother.
The only other cell in the small prison room contained a much more troublesome captive. A hobgoblin named Krog. The leader of a local goblin outfit, he was charged with taking over the local mines. Not to mention, he killed all of the miners barring one. Quiet he was not. When he was not passed out snoring and making other bodily noises, he was awake and yelling. For some odd reason his captors felt the need to imprison him and give him a fair trial…. a courtesy his victims did not have. Which was all nice for the group that caught him, but they didn’t have to put up with the threats of violence during his every waking hour, only stopping to eat, sleep, or defecate (which he would throw). It was much nicer before he came in.
In the 2 and a half years Claude had stayed in his small cell, he hadn’t really had any other interactions outside of the guards. Blake was the first real prisoner. Occasionally Hadley the blacksmith would get a little to deep in his cups and end up in a cell till he sobered up but mostly Claude had the place to himself. He preferred it that way.

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