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Descent: The Chasm

Posted in Uncategorized on January 6, 2019 by isabellawolgoth

 

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That tavern was a wonderfully warm experience. Shav got his mulled wine by the fire, and later that night, a scarlet woman. I heard them make love in his room, albeit I do believe the redhead put too much accent on her own passions than Shav could. He grunted like a pig and was done with the act.

I was denied a feeding. What can I say? I expect the best in my targets, male or female. I won’t take anything less. I can be a turtle when I need to be. You know…the long walk to the next lake or pond? I have found over the years that it’s the agony that builds to the mind-numbing explosion when I take my repast.

We were at it early the next day, but I had to be very careful of the sun in such a state, so I slid my hood up past my brow, thankful for the solace of shadow. Shav was earning his keep already, leading us to the correct portal at the edges of the citadel. All night long I had meditated on Tzeentch, attempting to authenticate his presence in this world. But I came up empty handed. That’s the power of Tzeentch all over again. The power to appear slowly, mutation by mutation, until his minions  are suddenly thick as thieves, slipping through the night as easily as a shark through water.

“Portal keeper says we take the fancy black portal gate to the Chasm,” Shav reported, kindly pointing out the same to my right. “You haven’t been taking care of yourself I see.”

I twitched a brow at him, and he knew what that meant: None of your business. I wouldn’t exactly faint in sunlight yet, but in a week, that experience would be patiently waiting for me. I had time. Plenty of time to feed before that day.

How can I explain the Chasm? Overwhelming, monstrous, and foreboding are too small to serve for a proper description. Perhaps it is simpler to imagine the highest mountain you have ever seen, and then with a magical weapon, sheer it in half, staggering out a few floating islands of rock from the fallen half for decoration. Now populate that inequality with loathsome aberrations: pink skinned bodies with bristling mouths for heads; pale skinned humanoids recently risen from the grave, and a mix of brains springing about on overly large feet. Yes, I did say brains, but these brains must be from titans, for they are large (about the size of a full grown mastiff).

“This trail?” I asked doubtfully.

“The very same milady,” Shav said, lacing some sarcasm in to put a shroud over the disorienting landscape. How did any of us know when one of those floating hillocks would suddenly stop floating and hammer down on us indiscriminately? Sure, I love killing murderous fiends in a similar fashion with my spells, but to have it done to me and mine? Not bloody likely.

I pulled my hood back to get a better view of our direction. Shav shot me a look, but I nodded to the lack of sun. The shattered mountainous half that remained intact conveniently hid me from direct sunlight. His truly was a vampire’s paradise if no renovated Underdark tower could be had (and I would happily expunge a drow warparty if any were to be found).

We strode past fallen brick walls, broken forts, and large patches of weedy beds ripe only for the wind whistling through the human remains that yet moldered in their shade. The accent of death was everywhere. Broken plates, strewn furniture, lost relics. All had come to a sudden halt. A sudden halt with no prior warning, nor invitation.

“To your left!” Shav cried.

I whirled, inviting the magic into my hands, the magic of ice to be exact. With a crack the forms were covered in a thin layer of ice, hateful eyes staring out at me, waiting for a second chance to kill me.

But there would be nothing like a second chance for them. I was already whirling my arms into a searing halo of flame that blistered and burned their flesh to the bone. Such are the fortunes of war. But I wouldn’t be happy until the final combination, which came upon the foe only seconds after the flame: disintegration!

End of Chasm Descent Part 2

Authors Note:

I realize that Tzeentch is a Warhammer deity, however, my poor character doesn’t know there are realities called Warhammer and Neverwinter, nor would she know that the Chasm is largely a play on  Warhammer themes.

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A Touch of Tzeentch at the Chasm

Posted in Uncategorized on January 2, 2019 by isabellawolgoth

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Fate would not have us disturb that dragon, for the next day a missive arrived hot from Protector’s Enclave, written by Sgt. Know himself.

” Proceed to Protector’s Enclave with all possible haste. –Sgt. Knox ”

I passed the note off to Shav who immediately shrugged. “Tell him we want more pay.”

It was happening already.  The emergence as a reliable identity. Someone who serves a soldier who serves a commander who serves a king. These are deep waters, and a creature like me cannot not be too careful.

It was noon when Shav had our trip planned and routed. He lead the horse by its reign and I accepted the head nodding pace. It gave me time to think about how this dimension was put together. For example, I didn’t select the spells, they came through the elements and even through the ether of arcane energies. Furthermore, the speed at which I rose from being an adept to Master of the Flame. In all of my experience, this transformation of my intention amplified through the elements and the arcane ether seemed radically advanced.

There were no arcane intermediaries to speak to about this, or even about what would come next form me. I sense the coming of my grand mastery lurking in the future before me, taunting me, luring me towards it. And what would that finally mean? That at last I would be able to afford fearing no man. Indeed, with my new empowerment, a ray of disintegration, enemies simply ceased to be. Gone all but for the dust.

“You know about the Chasm?” Sgt. Know asked once we were finally before him.

“The result of Mount Hotenow’s eruption,” Shav nodded, “and a fountain of chaos to all the world.”

“Yes,” Knox said, taking a load off at his table in his office just off the square. “And this fountain of aberrant chaos must be stopped, or stemmed even if not stopped. That’s where Isabel comes in,” he took off his helmet, shooting me a knowing look. “I’ve heard the reports from my spies. Good enough to be a master magus, or so they say. Think you can burn out the chaos down in the Chasm?”

I nodded. “And freeze it, and disintegrate it as well, but we are going to need a healthier reward this time.”

“Yes, yes, of course. I will arrange something with the king’s exchequer. You won’t be sorry.”

I stepped out into the purity of winter’s maw, leaving Knox to the hungry notions of my bodyguard. I drifted away immediately, thinking about Knox’s word choice: “aberrant chaos.” I have heard those words used before in another place, a place like this one, a place overran with Tzeentch. I myself was once a priestess of a cult of Tzeentch, but at the end of the day, I was simply a struggling magus looking for increasingly powerful spells and teachers. I had thought Tzeentch would be a teacher to me, but failed to learn to summon him for his wisdom and gifts.

“I will see to it immediately,” Knox nodded at me as he said his goodbyes to Shav. There was an understanding between them. I could see it in Knox’s bearing toward Shav, for it was a bearing that transferred hope to me at all cost. We watched the snowflakes swirl around him until he vanished in the shadows of the city.

“If we want more pay, we have to leave in the morning. The pay will be tripled, and we have a bath and a room awaiting us just four streets over. I vow to drink the first cup of mulled wine by the fire.”

“Ah, a tavern. How wonderful on a night like this.” I smiled, but smiled because I knew I would have a strong chance of feeding tonight. I had decided to never feed upon Shav because it would only complicate matters.

And then just like that, I knew.

It was Tzeentch, and he was looking for me.

Ebon Downs: Undead Roastery

Posted in Uncategorized on December 26, 2018 by isabellawolgoth

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Shav and I worked out an impressive method of relying on each other in fights. He would beat his shield, attract the attention of the enemy, and once they thronged him, I let loose with the elements. Shav was never harmed by the elemental spells, for the elemental spirits and I had an agreement. I would, as I matured in the ways of magic here in Neverwinter, eventually choose one elemental force to specialize in. Winner takes all.

We took this tactic to the crypts in Ebon Downs.

Hoards of skeletons and all manner of haughty wights fell to our device. I especially liked when the brighter undead minion occasionally caught a glimpse of my true self–a vampire. The look is something in between hatred and surprise. You, the eyes said, should be helping us, not hunting us.

What can I tell you? The minions have always served the more intelligent being, be that lich or vampire (and you can probably guess which of the two I deem the better). And so it went. I created frosty beds for the foe to sleep eternally in, reserving the firey infernos for their bosses.

At the end of a hunt, we always diced up the treasure between us–easier to carry this way. At any moment in those dark dens, I could have revealed my true nature to Shav, but he was doing so well. A down on his luck fighter suddenly adding up to something. I would have to find my source of nutrition soon though. If not Shav, then someone else, and that leads me back to poor Fryyd. Would the first tavern knave I grabbed at midnight become the next hapless Fryyd? How many Fryyds am I allotted?

Could I be that type of undead?

I was a bit weaker, and the sunlight made my eyes blink the next day, but I had refused to take a life to keep mine going–so far. Shav rousted me from my tavern bed, pointing out toward the tavern commons with an insistence. I didn’t question the silence, but welcomed it. I would have to sink into the darkness of a crypt soon or grow weaker by the hour. Blinking away the light, I made my way to the bar and grabbed a chair, trying my best to seem as though I had no idea.

And it wasn’t hard to achieve that look.

“I tell ye,” a tavern swain said at his table, “I saw the dragon down by the great mire. T’was as plain as the nose on me face it was!”

Shav shot me a raised brow, his particular way of saying, “seeeeeeee.”

“Flapping his great wings, he was, hav’en his time in the sun like a preening sparrow. Well, I snucks out of there fast as you please and will never go back. Never, I say!

And with that, the swain drained his cup.

I gave Shav my typical smirky look in exchange. Dragons. They usually aren’t that hard to beat for a student of the arcane just as long as they were a mountain. And while I had no particular grudge against this particular dragon, this Vartilingorix.

Helm’s Hold slaughter

Posted in Uncategorized on December 25, 2018 by isabellawolgoth

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Weeks had flown by, and the question of Fryyd’s death had long left me. He was a weakling, and as we all know, the many worlds that sit upon the one have absolutely no love for a weakling. To continue thinking about Fryyd would lead to instability.

I moved as the magic moved. At first I was little use in combat except as some kind of arcane dead eye. See the enemy. Time the attack led by the fighter, and punctuate it with a piercing cold beam of wizardry. But then it came to me: If ice was good, what about fire? Devil’s used it, why not an undead sweetie like me?

So I meditated on it in the moonlight down at the local graveyard. I invited the element to bring its presence before me if even in a dream. During the day, I investigated festering dungeons, overran towns, and battlefields. Some of the creatures recognized my vampyric nature, but I showed them no fidelity. I killed them just as my cohorts killed them, would flame do any less? It burns the target and the caster if the that caster is not paying attention to the ebb and flow of the arcane poem being written even before a single spell is cast. Like Eberron, so Neverwinter.

The flames came as I plundered Cragmire yet again with a group of nobs who couldn’t think their way out of a closet. Charge, charge, charge, kill, kill, kill was the philosophy of the nob. They felt nothing from the shadows as I do. Run, run, run in a vain search of renown and fame. I wish they could have seen old Fryyd die instantly from a blade out of the dark. But then again, even if they did witness Fate’s hand, they’d not recognize it even as it killed them.

I grew to be much a punctuater of the arcane. I now could summon a searing wind and a flaming turmoil from the very hair. Elementals, subtle beings most cannot see, look for fame and renown just like my fellow explorers. The one difference: the elemental spirits are much more useful.

I investigated where one might find a fair body guard to watch my back. Apparently they are as many as the leaves on a oak. But I was looking for a bit more. You remember how I am, right? I must drink either blood or spirit, and I rather know the keg I’m taking into to.

Shav, a robust fighter, seemed to fit the bill, so I took him for a tour of Helm’s Hold and slaughtered the Hellfire Warlocks. They fell in droves of course, their eyes questioning how a mere mortal could outcast them in fire. Problem was, as you know, I wasn’t an average mortal at all.

I took on over to the tavern on the hill where we discussed tactics and how to kill even more relentlessly the next time out. As we were discussing these matters, I noticed the tavern keeper, or who I thought to be the tavern keeper edge over toward us.

“I am looking for a little help,” the elven woman said out of the blue, “cause it looks like what we have is a succubus out of control, doing her worst to pervert the citizens of Helm’s Hold.”

“Tell you what,” I said, “pay the tab and we will listen.”

Fryyd, Cragmire, and the Question

Posted in Uncategorized on December 20, 2018 by isabellawolgoth

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I found Fryyd while running through Cragmire with a motely collection of fighters, healers, rogues. Fryyd was kneeling in the shadows of a ruined library,  a library ignored by the hoard I ran with. Fryyd shivered in fear.

“What is this fear,” I ask in my sweet voice, a voice I reserved only for a few, else it’s haughty tavern tart through and through. You can’t be a sweet tart all the time.

“The dead,” he said, nodding to the dark corners of the library, “they walk.”

“But the dead live in Cragmire, silly,” I whispered, “or didn’t you know?”

“We were looking for books to sell is all. Me, Toabs, and Emmy. We had what we wanted, and then Emmy screamed. I looked. She had an ax blade growing from her head.”

“Come,” I said, gently pulling Fryyd up from the dust and blood. He stood easily enough, so no breaks. His skull, while powdered in dust, was unharmed. And because I did not smell burnt flesh, I knew no spell touched him. “I assure you, you will live as long as you do exactly as I say when I say it. Ok?”

“Yes,” Fryyd agreed.

Though I was still attuning to Neverwinter’s ether, I could lay down some major hurt on a moldy pile of bones. Fryyd had nothing to worry about as long as he obeyed. Funny, right? Seems as though a vampire finds ways to stay in power even in the dark ruins of a place like Cragmire.

Speaking of vampire, that dreaded word, my powers (infernal though they be) were sharpening down here in the murk, and so was my hunger for blood. Such memories that spring up, memories back when I was a beast in a coffin dug in somewhere in Eberron. Simpler times, indeed; however, I caused more trouble than I needed to be in back then, back before I grew the practice of personal reflection.

“Your group left you behind?” Fryyd asked.

“Yes. I think so. They were not too disciplined. I wouldn’t be surprised if one or maybe two of them lay dying right now somewhere ahead.”

“Barbarians,” he said, peering into the shadows as if looking for them.

We turned around, pointing our boots towards the entrance somewhere behind, and did a mad trek through the shadows with nothing more than my vampire sight to lead us. Cragmire is a ridiculously large site. Too many doorways, ramps, stairs, perfect places to find oneself waylaid in the dark.

“I think I see a room we raided up to the right,” Fryyd said, not conscious of the sound of crunching masonry, and clacking bones. A rictus grin rushed from the dark, its notched sword hacking effortlessly into Fryyd’s neck.

“I’m bleeding,” he coughed, sinking to the floor out of shock. And there was nothing I could do about this, for the skeleton’s sword had reset, went high, and was now chopping down onto Fryyd’s neck again. The clunk of his head hitting the floor beat me to the punch, but my ice spell did land from my hands, freezing the moldering set of old bones with a definitive crack as soft bone fractured under frost.

I whirled and hit the target with the metal butt of my staff, happy to hear the foe shatter into a pile of ice covered bone. But all of that triumph did not bring Fryd back. I agree, I d didn’t really know  him at all. He could have been a murderer. He could have been a thief. It didn’t really matter because what he represented was the grisly fate of us all. True, we may not be beheaded by the undead exactly, but Death itself stalked all of us.

I pulled Fryyd into a nearby cellar and shut the door.

Shutting the door on death as immortal, or on the man who was?

Wizardry and Moon Flowers

Posted in Uncategorized on November 26, 2018 by isabellawolgoth

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I eventually found a man, a young acolyte, who offered a basic course in spells in the shadows of a great row of moon flowers around back at a tavern called Whistler’s. I had no idea who Whistler was, and finding out the specifics yielded more than one answer, so I gave up and focused on the strange little class.

“You must make decisions early on which type of magic you wish to specialize in,” the bearded fellow ranted on. “I have explored far too many cellars, attics, and yes…dungeons with would-be wizards who couldn’t scare the dust off of a table with their poorly chosen spell paths.” Prybes, our wizard tutor, soured at the memory and consulted his mug of ale for a moment. “In conclusion, for I am much too overwhelmed at the moment, if you need a good gimmick to catch the eye of a guild leader, there’s no sin in studying the ways of ice. Now please excuse me, I just came down with a chill, and there is something I must do. If any of you are still interested, I will meet you back here next week.” Prybes shot me a nervous look as he bundled up his scrolls and notes. I have seen such a look before, the look of a frightened man.

Later, I took the back road out town, meandering along the last of the autumn roses that grew wild in the scrag forest alongside the road. The moon was out, bright as a silver platter, drifting along with a patch of shredded clouds, hidden but still in plain sight.

Taking a left at the bottom of the hill, I considered the town once more, how even now it bustled with life even in the dark. Up and over the iron fence I went, my wiry vampyric strength still sharp after all this time, all this time of traveling. I had changed for sure. Less maniacal, less impulsive. I was centered…just like the moon.

Graveyards are misunderstood places. The one I currently browsed through for likely shelter had once seen a golden age of crypts, and then a century later, an age of sacred symbols hued from stone, marching away from the crypts on the hill, stopping at the somber, weedy graves down by the fence. History at a glance.

I chose a crypt already sacked by gravediggers. Chances were good that nobody would give a damn twice about such a place. If they let it go to seed after robbery, then most likely the family line was deceased.

Settling down in the back behind the modest tomb, I found what was most likely an old chapel now familiar to vermin instead of a paid priest. Such a place enjoyed a subtle atmosphere, something far past sacrosanct. I soaked it up, thinking both of Ilyana and magic at the same time.

I  knew what I had to do.

In order to synchronize my talents with this dimension’s idea of magic, I would have to do a moon to sun vigil. No sleep allowed, and definitely no blood. If I did it right, I would be ready to march into the fray by noon the next day…if it had to be.

 

Back into the Fray!

Posted in Uncategorized on November 24, 2018 by isabellawolgoth

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Portal for One

What can I tell you? Gates open all the time across Britannia, but this one wasn’t blue or red. This one was flat black.

Ilyana was off to the east attending vampire business with Duke Draven, moving up in the ranks of undead society with the nobles, talking about the price of land when that gate dropped thirty feet from me.

I had been tending our herb garden, picking what was ripe, rooting out what was weed.  I stood, dusting off my hands, waiting for someone to step out. But nobody did. I was beginning to think it was for me.

The gate resembled a flat black scar, a scar stretching from the ground to at least two meters up. I could easily go through. I knew gate magic, and I’d rather it be me who found out about the gate’s destination than Ilyana. I had been through it all in one shape or another.

I gathered my black cloak about me, slid on my hood, and took a deep breath as I stepped through.

Neverwinter

I felt the gate collapse behind me, ripple past like a wave, and open before me. I reluctantly stepped out into a busy market, men and women of all races bustling that way and this way. A well dressed lad in the middle of the street was offering to buy “coins of Waukeen,” while another, an attractive woman mounted on what appeared to be a giant snail, advised one and all to buy her “charms right away, for they might just save  your life in a dungeon.”

There was no fear that I was lost, for this was like Eberron.  And Ilyana? She was old enough to fend for herself. She would be able to trace me with the use of the vampire court’s Eye of N’yarla, an aged sorceress keen when it comes to seeing what lay behind physicality.

I would have to find a tutor, someone experienced in the methods of attuning. I sensed that my magic would not translate well here in this ether, but that would soon be fixed if I knew a thing or two about myself.  I would pray for a man tutor, so that I may easily take advantage of his mind as he schooled me.