This is a recovered file from an early backup of a BBS page planned
(hence the modem reference further down) - I am waiting to see if my
older brother can dig out a harddisk containing the original and if
the harddisk can be restored to life...
I am placing the text here for placeholder purposes of this never
before published story
The story of a thief.
Einar Petersen (C)1998
The author does not condone nor condemn the behavior of certain
characters, the experimentation they perform is not meant as an
encouragement of any kind toward use of any substance or compound,
nor to encourage behavior of any kind.
The resemblance between compounds and substances in real life, their
names or uses is to be taken as pure speculation. This story and
events depicted are not intended as any form of realistic
description of cause or effect of substances /compounds under any
They events/substances/compounds and components of the story are
purely a result of the game and should not be taken as guidelines or
encouragement to engage in such behavior or use of the above
The author does not assume liability for the consequences resulting
from misinterpretation or interpretation of events or behavior in
the story and the acting thereupon.
I understand and agree and certify I'm over 18 years old
I do not agree to, or understand the stated terms!!!
MODEM AND LEAVE
THIS PAGE IMMEDIATELY!!!!
About the story:
This tale is partly based upon a game of the imagination. A game
focused by our Dungeon Master - Robert Waagstein. Robert and the
players have all been an integral part of the writing process and
much of the entertaining dialog and twists are their doing.
As a player I did put myself in an awkward position by insisting on
being a scribe as well.
But nevertheless I took it upon me to describe our wonderfull
journey through the island of Coyri 'Osu.
A land teeming with legend and fame, a place where you can rest and
find the beauty of life, among elves and men who are at their best,
when things seem to be at their worst.
I welcome you to read, and join the tales of Tanon the Mute, Black
Skull the Warrior Priest of Tempus and Xupis the elven thief.
A big thank you to the regular players and guests who provided me
with invaluable inspiration and made this an interresting tale.
Dungeon Master Robert Waagstein
Black Skull Niclas Thorsteinsson
Tanon the Mute Jógvan xxxxxxxx
Xupis Einar Petersen
Methrod Mbuba Gudmund Nielsen Helmsdal
Sunstone Leivur Gylli Trónd
Xupis the elfin thief of the Sylvan Race, is very crafty and smooth
in his dealings with the world. Some would call him silver
tongued. However his fellow travelers do not exactly appreciate his
linguistic "skills" or craftsmanship.
He is quite the master of stealth, but hopeless when it comes to
picking locks and finding traps. Due to this picking pockets and
dealing through henchmen has become one of his recognizable traits.
He likes to operate alone, but is clearly capable of exploiting the
benefit of being in a group.
Xupis as most elves is a friend of nature and capable of turning the
offerings of the womb (i.e. Mother Nature) into whatever item he
might need. However being a thief of heart, stealing or using stolen
valuable as trading incentive, is his preferred way of acquiring
items that he might fancy in his pursuit for justice.
Tanon the Mute is also an elf of the Sylvan Race. He is a "do
godder" and quite naive or trusting. He has been a mute ever since a
Hobgoblin cut out his tongue as punishment for trying to speak their
language. Tanon serves as a bodyguard for the rich merchant Cvedak
Daig whom he has served loyally for quite some time. He is however
unknowingly being exploited by his "benefactor" who is nothing but a
sly and miserly merchant.
Since Tanon does not posses any linguistic abilities in respect to
verbal communication, he uses a blackboard to communicate. He is not
exactly the type that people or elf would approach in the street.
Being a big menacing person with an animalistic grunt does nothing
to further this.
Black Skull the albino priest of Tempus is quite the audacious
fellow. He sees himself and his fellow Tempus worshippers as the top
of the food chain, and is never afraid to prove his point. A
character flaw that constantly lands him in one excruciating
situation after another.
Being a priest one gets the impression that Black Skull or Bead Head
as Xupis starts calling him, is a little too familiar with the
inside of a jail cell.
Black Skull washed ashore as a child and remembers nothing of his
human origins. The priests of Tempus who found him as a child, have
brought him up a strong believer in the superiority of Tempus, the
Methrod Mbuba, the black Magician from the forrest is little known.
He has no relatives, they were all killed when he was gathering
berries and he aspires to become the greatest mage on Coyri' Osu.
As the adventure starts we find all but one of our friends in or
near the harbor city of Ilvartinan, an area where they supposedly
have spent most of their upbringing.
Xupis roamed around for a while, before finding the exact tree he
needed. With a swift blow from his long sword he chopped a rather
young branch off, very close to the stem. He mumbled an apology to
his tree brother and thanked him for the gift.
With another stroke he cut the thin end of the branch and planted
it. The chances were quite good that it in time would grow into a
strong and beautiful tree.
He was always careful to give thanks, the womb should always be
treated with respect.
It took some effort, but after removing the outer bark, he started
slicing up the second and inner bark.
It was a much lighter material and quite moldable. He wondered how
he could utilize this particular material to the best extent. And
after a while an image built in his mind.
It took nearly 20 minutes for him to slice the bark into adequate
building blocks, then he got a fire going.
The clay pot he had formed from mud of the riverbank simmered nicely
and he threw the outer bark into the pot. He added a dash of ash
from the fire and stirred the liquid. He threw most of the long thin
bark threads into the pot. For a while he let it boil while stirring
it. The threads were taking on a nice brown color, so it was nearly
time to remove them from the pot. A couple of minutes went by and
Xupis carefully took the threads out. Not many people were aware of
it. But the forest offered some of the most durable materials in
existence and a weaved belt was something that could last for 20
years or so, if treated properly.
He got on with the weaving, the few strips of bark he had left
untreated made a nice pattern in the belt.
Soon after he was done, and pondered for a while about what to do.
He started clearing the area and within a short while, only an elf
or a ranger of exceptional perception would ever be able to notice
that anyone had camped here.
Xupis started whistling, it was a nice day and a trip to town was
never a dull experience for a master like himself.
Black Skull roamed around the city, he wasn't quite sure what to do,
so he visited the store.
"Got any pipes?", he asked in an accent clearly no local.
"Pipes eh?", the old man said eyeing him.
Black Skull stared right back. His eyes were crimson of color, and
his skin seemed like it had never experienced daylight.
"Yes pipes", Black Skull answered in a demanding tone. He was
completely without hair, say two bushy eyebrows that covered his
"Pipes yes...we do have some", the old man said allowing himself
another glance at the big fellow that had entered his store.
He couldn't help but wonder about the cap covering the bold head,
the darkness of it was almost overwhelming. But he overcame his
curiosity and fetched a tray.
"Anything particular I could interest you in?", the old man asked
warming up to a sale.
Black Skull examined the pipes carefully, an avid smoker he wished
to add another pipe to his collection, but this one had to be
"Are these the only ones you have old man", he said while weighing a
particularly nice pipe in his hand.
"What do you mean", the old man said suspiciously.
"Err... I mean, have you no other pipes", Black Skull said in a
The old man cast another glance at him and disappeared into the back
room. He returned moments later with a dusty wooden box.
A powerful blow sent dust swirling into the air, right at Black
Skull's head. A grim look started building on his face.
The box squeaked when the old man opened it but when Black Skull saw
what it was all anger drained from his body "It's magnificent!!! How
much?", he asked eagerly.
"5 silver pieces", the old man answered not quite sure if he had
asked a high enough price.
The pipe was glorious, the fine carvings were those of a master
"I'll take it.... ", Black Skull stuttered in excitement "And by the
way do you have any tobacco?", he added.
"Tobacco", the old man weighed the word on his tongue for a while
"Well... what sort of quality were you thinking of", he asked the
albino with a devious smile.
"What sort of quality do you have", Black Skull inquired.
"Oh, we have plenty of differing types... but I think I have the
exact sort fitting a gentleman of your stature... could you please
wait a moment?"
Black Skull nodded, he caressed the pipe. The instant he had seen it
he was sure that this would be the one. He was sure this would be
his life long companion. Sure women were interesting enough, but
there was nothing like a pipe. A pipe was the perfect companion, it
never talked back, and could give hours and hours of pleasure
without a single unsatisfied tweak.
The old man returned with a tightly sealed box which he opened as
near to Black Skulls nose as he dared.
The fragrance sent Black Skull into the upper spheres of existence,
there was no doubt in his mind.
The tobacco was excellent, indeed it would be more than fitting for
"How much", he asked cheerfully. It was as if a long lost friend had
returned and nothing short of the best would be good enough for him.
"Oh... since it is a man of the clergy I think we can agree to a
fair bargain", the old man smoothly suggested.
"How much would 20 pounds worth be", Black Skull asked making plans
for a trip to the southlands.
The old man glowed with delight, his eyes had grown to unbelievable
size, and the hairs in the back of his head were tingling
"5 gold pieces", he offered while slowly moving the box back
and forth in front of Black Skull to let the scent do its work.
"You got yourself a deal there old man", Black Skull answered with a
"Oh great Tempus. Thank you and may his power and wisdom follow you
wherever you go", the old man said with the biggest smile he could
Black Skull threw a couple of coins on the counter. The old man
counted his money and after making sure everything was in order he
handed Black Skull a pouch.
"Thank you my good man", Black Skull said warmly, squeezing the
"You're welcome", the old man answered, anxiously thinking about
whether or not his hand was broken.
Black Skull nodded and was quick to cram the pouch in beneath his
robe. The pipe fitted well into his inner pocket, he nodded a second
time and the old man held up a brave facade until Black Skull had
left the store.
A strange muffled scream followed Black Skull for the rest of that
day, but he didn't think much about it. He had a pipe, and the day
had only just begun, he headed for the town square.
The marketplace was bustling with activity and Black Skull had a
content smile on his face.
He started preaching "Oh great men of the sword gather round for the
Word of Tempus".
An elf approached with nonchalance, Black Skull had noticed the way
the elf seemed to just slide between his listeners, as if looking
for something in particular.
"And I tell you... Tempus is for all beings be they men or elves", a
spontaneous applause grew to ear-splitting strength.
"Tempus is great.... Tempus is the power", the crowd yelled
infatuated by the preachers words.
"Excuse me Sir.... would you know the way to the hardware store",
the elf asked pulling his robe.
"Huh....it's over there", Black Skull answered torn from his
thoughts, What a strange little fellow.
The elf thanked him and was on his way and Black Skull contemplated
following him, there was something about him. The chime of a bell
slapped the thought right out of his head, it was time for the
morning sermon at the temple.
"Tempus favors the devoted my friends.... join me to the temple", he
"The temple, the temple", the crowd roared and followed the priest
from the town square.
The hardware store wasn't hard to find and Xupis opened the door
which squeaked a bit.
"Yees", an old man said and approached him slyly.
"I was wondering if you have any ropes?", the elf asked looking
"Ropes", the old man asked eyeing him suspiciously, what use could
an elf have for ropes?.
"Yes ropes, is that a problem old man", the elf asked impertinently
emphasizing the last two words.
"No... no problem", the old man answered slipping into the back.
When he returned he was staggering forward, it took a lot of effort
to bring the rope bundle to the counter.
Xupis swallowed, it looked to heavy "So how much would 50 feet of
this be?", he asked fondling his hidden wallet.
"50 feet... You can't by 50 feet. This here rope I'll only sell in
one piece", the old man answered almost offended by the fiendish
suggestion to cut the fine rope into pieces.
"Well then... could I by 50 feet of another rope?", the elf asked
gazing across the counter.
"Elves and their damn pickings", the old man murmured, and staggered
back into the storage with the rope he had just brought into the
He returned moments later, his face was red and the rope seemed to
weigh heavily in his arms.
He slammed the bundle on the counter. Xupis coughed and waved the
dust away from his face.
He wasn't quite sure if this was what he needed but decided to check
"Do you mind", he said pointing at the rope. The old man stared into
the ceiling before answering "Sure go ahead he said", with a puff.
Xupis went over the rope it seemed nice and had a good weight. Not
to light and not to heavy, and best of all, it was black!
"How much", he asked the anxious old man who was clearly eager to
"Only 8 Gold pieces", the old man smiled.
Xupis thought for a while, the price was clearly to high but he was
in a good mood. He fished a belt out from his backpack.
"What'll you give me for this beautiful belt", he asked the old man.
The old man looked at him with suspicious eyes "Nothing.... I don't
need a belt..", he answered putting his hands down on the bundle.
Xupis drew 8 shiny coins from his wallet "It better be a damn fine
rope", he said putting the money on the counter.
"Oh but it is", the old man assured him with a smile. Xupis didn't
like that smile a bit, and an uneasy feeling started gnawing at his
"Got any grappling irons", he asked regaining some confidence in
"Grappling irons?", the old man said with an odd pitch in his voice.
"Yes... for climbing trees and mountains you know...", Xupis
"Trees and mountains... an elf?", the old man said looking him
straight in the eyes.
"Yes... aehm I fell as a child, I've never been quite sure of myself
since then", Xupis tried.
The old man laughed out loud, it was a whining laugh, an elf with a
"No this is not a Blacksmith", the old man giggled wryly.
"Well then good-bye.", the elf said and marched out. A horrific
outburst of laughter turned quite a few heads outside the store,
while the elf walked away with big red ears.
The sermon was nearly done when Black Skull suddenly exploded in a
violent coughing fit. Desperate not to disturb his fellow
worshippers he managed to slip away, nearly undetected.
As he stood there in the vestry he realized he would have to do
something about his cough. It had followed him for a long time now
and it hadn't improved over the years.
Would it be noticed if he slipped away? Black Skull pondered for a
while and made up his mind. Tempus for one probably wouldn't mind,
after all he had said his prayers, right?
Sure there wouldn't be any problems whatsoever. Silent as a snake he
oozed away and headed for the herbalist.
The street was dusty and Black Skull felt a tickle every breath he
took. He hawked to loosen up his throat and for a moment id did
Finally he was there, with steady paces he stepped upon the small
porch, the wooden house did not look too well kept but nevertheless
A young woman appeared "Can I help you", she asked staring at him
with big eyes.
"Yes.. I was looking for something that could help me with my
throat", Black Skull answered somewhat haughty.
The young woman looked around. She seemed a bit confused but turned
toward Black Skull.
"Will you excuse me for a moment", she asked with a hint of a smile.
"But off course", Black Skull answered. These herbalists were all
alike, they liked to torment people keeping them in the unknown.
Never a straight answer always just use this and you'll be fine, oh
how he hated waiting.
The woman disappeared into the back but moments later the drapes
moved again and out came the most hideous hag Black Skull had ever
"A cough eh", she asked staring at him with beady eyes.
"Well.. cough and cough it's not that bad... just from time to time
it can get a little to loud, you know", Black Skull answered a
"Yes to loud... well we do have this young man", the hag said and
fished out a bag of mixed herbs from beneath the counter.
"What might it be?", Black Skull inquired.
"I call it t'ea", she answered with a whining voice.
"T'ea... I see, might it be possible to try some", Black Skull said
suspicious about what the old woman was trying to sell him.
"Try.... well, I suppose you could", she said leaning toward him.
After waiting for a few minutes the old woman returned with a
steaming mug of tea. Black Skull noticed leaves of different sizes
floating around in the dark brown fluid.
"Can't you just eat the leaves", he inquired.
"Oh no.... that would be very bad for you, very very bad", the old
Black Skull wasn't sure whether to believe her or not, then again
she hadn't been run out of town like a quack so she might be on to
something. He took a big sniff, the steam tingled in his nostrils
but the smell wasn't unpleasant at all. Could this really be a
He drank the hot potion, taking good care not to swallow the large
leaves. It felt good and indeed his throat seemed to find the rest
it so desperately wanted.
"How much for the t'ea?", Black Skull asked and went for his wallet.
"1 gold piece", the hag answered without hesitation.
"1 gold piece a pound", Black Skull asked
"No for the tea you just had", the hag answered seemingly
"For that... for one lousy cup!", Black Skull was furious.
"If you don't like my prices you can take your business elsewhere",
the old woman threatened.
"But you're the only herbalist in town", Black Skull shouted. The
old woman just stared at him without moving.
Well if that's how she wants it then let her, Black Skull thought
and stood up straight. He placed his large knuckled hands on the
counter and stared right at her with his crimson eyes.
"I'll have 20 pounds of t'ea herbs... and I'll pay 1 gold piece a
pound or would you rather face the rage of 'Tempus?", he said
flexing his well grown muscles.
"But off course Sire... I did not mean to offend Tempus, no, no, I
will be pleased to give you 20 pounds and I'll even throw in the
sample for free", the old woman said clearly jittery about what
could happen if she refused.
"Good", Black Skull said and waited for the woman to start moving.
Moments later he left the store light in his heart, that would teach
her not to mess with Tempus. On his way back he passed through the
Quite a lot of people were assembled around the caravan merchants
who were in deep discussion.
"Ouay", he heard someone say in the oddest manner. Ouay? What in
Tempus's name was that supposed to mean.
He looked in the direction the sound had come from, and there he saw
the biggest elf he had ever laid eyes upon. The elf was showing
people out of somebody's way. Ah Cvedak Daig one of the wealthiest
merchants in town. But what was that elf shouting? Certainly it was
the most beautiful elven tongue he had ever heard spoken.
Tanon the bodyguard strode forward, his mind was focused on one
thing. To get his master where he wanted both safely and speedily.
"Ouay", he said and pushed some nosy peasant aside.
Finally they were there, and Cvedak immediately started mingling
with his fellow merchants. The bodyguards had formed an iron ring
around the traders who were discussing loudly now.
Black Skull didn't catch it all but from the bits and pieces he did
get he could make out that the merchants were consumed in a
discussion about who might posses the most valuables compared to the
"Happiness is not in goods but in the enrichment of your spirit",
Black Skull started preaching.
"What?", the nearest merchant answered somewhat unclear about Black
"Do not speak of such wealth in front of the poor", Black Skull
admonished the trader before noticing the strange elf he had seen
earlier that same day.
As he had done during the sermon earlier, Xupis slid like an eel
through morning dew.
He was unstoppable and today would be a good day.
All of a sudden he noticed the merchants. Gemstones and gold, it was
almost too good to be true!
It was not like he was obsessed with wealth or such. But there were
times when he simply couldn't resist such offerings, but he had
always made sure to share his taking with those who needed it the
"Gway", the large elf said pushing a small mob of spectators back.
The priest noticed how the elf seemed to be homing in on something
and he had almost slipped past the bodyguards when a fig of his coat
got stuck in a bodyguards swordhandle.
The bodyguard looked down "Hey what are you trying to do?", he said
putting a hand on the elf's shoulder.
"Nothing I was just admiring your sword", the elf answered slyly.
"Admiring my sword....", the bodyguard said gazing at the long sword
in his belt "Why would you be doing that", he added looking
suspiciously at Xupis.
"Because I'm an Elf", Xupis answered with pride in his voice.
"What?", the bodyguard answered a bit thrown off.
"You see we elves like beauty and this sword I tell you.....", Xupis
"What about my sword", the bodyguard asked trying to figure out what
might have triggered the elf's interest in his plain old long sword.
"What about it you say... what about it!!! This sword simply has the
most beautiful carvings I've ever seen", the elf answered with a
"Carvings", the bodyguard said looking at the plain handle.
"You mean you don't see them", the elf asked with surprise.
"No not really", the bodyguard answered with disappointment in his
"Oh silly me... it must be my elven vision, we notice very fine
details and this handle", Xupis took a deep breath before continuing
"This handle is one of the finest I've seen", he added.
The bodyguard unsheathed the sword halfway and studied the handle
"Wow I never knew it was that special... I got it from my Father
when I turned 14", he said completely swallowed up by his sword.
The elf knew he was off the hook, there was no situation he couldn't
wiggle himself out off, his charm and wits had brought him far
greater rewards than any treasure ever could but right now he needed
a little something to help him on the way. Not everybody in this
world would share or give away anything without asking a price, and
being in such a place the elf knew he would have to live by those
The bodyguard was still admiring his sword and the elf saw
opportunity knocking and if it hadn't been for that rounded pebble
lying there he probably would have made it. Instead he found himself
lying on the dusty ground in front of the bodyguard.
Several pair's of eyes turned upon him and the bodyguard looked down
"Wow these boots are amazing!", the elf exclaimed with astonishment
in his voice.
The bodyguards face lit up with excitement, he was quick to
rip of his boots "Do they have carvings to?", he asked eagerly
"Oh yes, you haven't noticed... look here right around the toes...
simply astounding", the elf tried.
"Oh yes, see for yourself, right here at the toe", Xupis said and
pointed at the tip.
"Wow I didn't know these were so fine boots", the bodyguard said
with joy in his voice.
"Oh but they are", the elf said quite pleased with himself.
They chatted for a while the elf picked up this and that about
the tours of duty and all other information about the bodyguards
employer he found useful.
"It's good to know that Cvedak has men like you in his service,
nobody is going to slip by you. That's for sure", the elf said.
"No just look over there, you see that peasant?", the bodyguard
pointed at a man of the fields.
"Yes what about him", the elf asked curiously.
"I'll bet ya he is a thief", the bodyguard said nodding confidently.
"And just imagine I swear I hadn't noticed", the elf answered taking
a closer look at the man.
His hands were worn and his back slightly bent, this was a man
shaped by hard labor. He bore the signs of hard toil. Work had most
certainly been a integral part of his life ever since childhood.
this man did not have the dexterity nor probably the wits to be a
thief. He almost laughed out loud but caught himself before doing
"Yes he is devious isn't he", the bodyguard said looking at the
peasant who hurried along when he noticed he was being stared at.
"By the way do you fancy a drink now and then?", the elf asked
brewing up a plan.
"Yes as a matter of fact I do!", the guard answered with a smile.
"Well if yea fancy a mug of ale, do drop by at the Dragons Den
tonight", the elf offered.
"Maybe I'll be doing just that my friend", the bodyguard answered
looking around to spot other mischievous elements in the crowd.
At that instant Xupis knew that this was his chance, it was no
longer a question if it was possible, it had become a matter of
Swiftly tiptoeing past the bodyguard took him right in behind the
fat corpus of Cvedak Daig. He waited for a fraction of a second
before he made his move.
Success, Xupis thought as his hand gripped the wallet. He withdrew
his hand and was back before the bodyguard noticed a thing.
"Well I'll be seeing you then", Xupis said cheerfully to the
"Oh yes, take care my friend", the bodyguard answered and turned his
hawkeyes back toward the crowd.
Black Skull had been watching the whole thing. I knew he was a
thief, he thought and started following the elf.
Xupis unaware of anything but the delightful tingling from the pouch
jumped into the air when the priest put his muscular arm around his
"Tempus is very needy", the priest said in a deep voice.
"Tempus?", the elf stuttered.
"Yes Tempus!", the priest answered confirming Xupis's worst fears.
"I'm not sure what you mean", Xupis tried desperately wanting to
shout for help.
"The pouch", the priest said still holding his arm around his
"What pouch", Xupis asked innocently.
"That pouch right there", the priest said pointing at the bulge in
"Oh that pouch", Xupis answered putting up a smile on his face.
Black Skull nodded with a content look on his face, that feeling he
had noticed this morning had been right. He was good at this, it was
almost as if Tempus himself had told him to be on the lookout for
this strange little elf. Sure he had heard of elven thieves but not
until today he had seen one in action. Such stealth and speed always
interested the priest there were times that skills like that could
come in handy.
"Do you by any chance fancy a drink", the elf asked him.
"...Sure", Black Skull answered a bit surprised, a drinking elf?
They walked for a while before they reached the Dragons Den, an inn
of more respectable quality than most in this town.
After ordering a few rounds of mead the priest coughed as if to
clear his throat. Xupis knew very well that the cough wasn't a mere
effort to clear the airways and gazed around.
"Oh the money", Xupis said as if he had completely forgotten all
The priest nodded before opening his mouth. "I'll take half", he
"Half.... no way I'll give you a quarter", the elf answered.
"Half!", the priest repeated seemingly annoyed with the evasive
"One third... not a gold piece more", the elf haggled.
"Listen....", the priest said putting his arm around the shoulder of
the elf "When I say half.... I mean half, is that clear".
The elf looked at him and showed all his pearly teeth "Off course...
what was I thinking", he shook his head before taking a look around.
There was no one in sight that paid attention to their wheeling and
dealing so he snatched the pouch and laid it on the table.
His hand was quick to flip through the contents and he took his
share and with amazing speed he slid the pouch over to Black Skull.
Black Skull glanced nervously around, he was not used to dividing
plunder, but realized that the thief was trying to pull a fast one
on him. If the towns guard by chance saw him with the pouch they
would make him out to be the thief, after all he had been there
"Oh no you don't", the priest mumbled as he got up from his chair.
As if on cat paws he moved to a dark corner, transferred the gold to
his wallet and let go of the pouch.
While Black Skull was engaged in ridding himself of incriminating
evidence Xupis decided it was time to slip away. After all he had
business to attend.
The priest came back to the table and sat down "Nice doing business
with you", he said with a grin.
"Likewise", Xupis answered smiling back. He got up from his chair
"Look I really have to leave now... maybe I'll see you later", he
said and nodded.
"Maybe", the priest answered and took another sip from the mug.
Xupis slipped out and found himself on the street he had to find a
blacksmith he needed some equipment for his quest and it would
probably be better if he got it here and not to close to his
The blacksmith was not far away, Ilvartinan was not an especially
large town but the harbor city was bustling with activity.
Xupis knocked on the door, the steady pounding on an anvil came from
somewhere in the back.
A young lad opened "Can I help you", he asked looking at the elf.
"I need to speak with the blacksmith", the elf answered trying to
peak inside, that boy had very elven traits.
"He is out in the back, come with me", the boy offered and opened
Xupis was quick to enter and glanced around the place. It was a
typical blacksmith's house. Beautiful wooden beams reinforced with
iron plates, bolts and such. There was nothing which disclosed
wealth of any sort but Xupis knew that the blacksmith could be a
"Well I'll be... Xupis its been a long time", the blacksmith gasped
in surprise when he discovered the elf.
"I suppose", the elf answered indifferently. The blacksmith wiped
some sweat from his forehead and then stretched a muscular arm
Xupis grabbed the enormous hand sternly. Not many people dared shake
hands with the blacksmith due to his huge stature.
"I need a couple of daggers", Xupis said hinting toward the boy with
"Son fetch me the horse shoe iron, it arrived this morning at the
harbor onboard the Moongrazer, just tell the captain you are my
son", the blacksmith shouted to the boy who was sweeping the floor.
"Your son", Xupis asked somewhat surprised. The last time he had
visited the blacksmith had been with his father, and back then the
blacksmith certainly didn't have a wife. Xupis lost himself for a
moment, 15 cycles ago right before it happened.
"Xupis!", the worried voice of the blacksmith pulled him right back
to the world he now lived in.
"Yes... sorry, I was just thinking", the elf answered a bit beside
"About your father", the blacksmith asked with genuine concern.
"Yes... but let us leave the past where it belongs", Xupis answered
quite uneasy talking to anyone about the events that had shaped his
"I understand", the blacksmith answered with sorrow in his voice.
Afec father of Xupis had been a great friend and an ally. The world
seemed so empty without good folks.
"Are you looking for anything in particular", he asked stroking his
beard the way he always used to do.
"I'd like a couple good for climbing", Xupis answered glad to be
back on track.
The blacksmith pondered for a while and then lifted a floorboard.
Underneath in beautiful wrapping was the most wonderful pair of
climbing-daggers Xupis had ever seen, their design was distinctly
elven and they seemed immensely well handled.
"I bought them from your father the last time you were here.... I
think he would like you to have them back", the blacksmith said
wiping a single tear from his cheek.
Xupis eagerly took the daggers and played around with them. The
balance was eminent and some twitching and bending told him that
these were the ones.
He looked up and smiled, the blacksmith smiled back.
"How much would you want for them", Xupis asked.
"Oh I can't take anything for them", the blacksmith evaded.
"But I insist", Xupis demanded.
"No really, I don't want anything", the blacksmith insisted.
But they were perfect and Xupis knew he had to leave something
behind, so he took out a several gold pieces more than they would be
sold for under normal circumstances and stuck them on a shelf
without the blacksmith noticing.
"You know there is something I also need!", Xupis said looking
around the place, he hadn't heard anyone coming through the door but
one never knew.
"And that might be?", the blacksmith answered with a smile.
"A grappling hook", Xupis answered cheerfully.
"No problem my friend", the blacksmith answered and scurried into a
shed. He returned with a grappling hook of the exact proportions the
elf had hoped for.
"It will do nicely", Xupis said weighing the hook in his hands.
The blacksmith nodded quite content, he was a man who honored his
craft. The hook was the result of hours of concentrated work. For a
quality product like that there was always a customer. After some
haggling they agreed to a price and the blacksmith offered him
inside for a pot of t'ea.
The distinct chamomile fragrance spread through the room. It was a
delightful odor that told of the wonders of the womb.
Xupis took another sip "Splendid... where did you get this?", he
asked with interest.
The blacksmith cleared his throat "Actually Elion has gathered the
herbs, he is showing remarkable talent in that direction".
Xupis smiled, the initial surprise of seeing Elion in the
blacksmiths doorway had dissipated and he couldn't help but admire
the blacksmith. An elven woman for a wife, that was a feat left
undone for most men. Just too bad he hadn't gotten a chance to meet
her. The blacksmith had told him that his wife Seyodi passed away
earlier last winter. He had been unable to reach the elven before it
was to late. So during the great snowfall she had died in his arms.
The mysterious illness that no healer in town was able to cure ended
her life all to soon.
It was a story that left Xupis with a lump in his throat, elves
weren't prone to decease, and should someone become sick, the womb
would have an unprecedented arsenal of herbs and healing potions for
"It must be from his mothers side", the blacksmith said absent
Xupis nodded in agreement. Elves were naturally in contact with
nature and the fact that Cedree's son had an inborn instinct for the
offerings of the womb was only natural. After a while he had
finished his t'ea .
"I've had a splendid stay I tell you.... how time flies when you're
in good company", Xupis sighed. Time to move on!
"Do you have to leave now?", the blacksmith asked.
"I'm afraid so... I have many errands and little time", Xupis
answered a bit tired.
"Well then, fair thee well old friend", the blacksmith offered.
"And to you.... and to you", the elf said and embraced the
Moments later he was on his way to the Dragons Den.
Tanon had searched every inn on behalf of his furious master. "Tanon
find the scoundrel who robbed me and bring him to me.... I will
teach him what justice is", the words still echoed through his mind,
perhaps because of guilt over not finding whoever that did it. He
couldn't quite figure out how someone had slipped by the wall of
security that surrounded his master and his friends.
Tanon sat down quite exhausted, this was the last place he could
think of looking but he didn't expect to find anyone here.
"Mind if I join you", a huge red eyed fellow asked.
Tanon looked at the man, he was completely without hair except for
his eyebrows. Tanon shuddered "Okay", he scribbled on the
"Black Skull", the large man said and put his hand forward.
"Tanon", the elf scribbled and shook the newcomers hand.
"So what's your story", the priest asked looking at the elf, he was
obviously a fighter. Black Skull was impressed by the elf's size, no
wonder Cvedak had hired him for his personal bodyguard.
Tanon started scribbling. Black Skull stared at the blackboard as if
enchanted, but after a while a picture had appeared in his mind.
The priest shook his head Hobgoblins, well it was no surprise
really. He had heard of nastier creatures, but none that took such
pleasure in tormenting their victims.
Tanon described his futile battle, in vivid detail the priest
learned how they had cut out his tongue and left him for dead. The
feeling of brotherly love he had experienced earlier almost turned
into burning hatred against all Hobgoblins as the story went along.
"I know this wizard that might be able to help you", the priest said
when Tanon had finished his story.
"Really?", Tanon scribbled frantically.
"Yes, if you like I'll take you there tomorrow", Black Skull
Tanon put a fist against his heart and then wrote "Thank You!"
Just then Xupis arrived and noticed the priest talking to the
Damage control, was the first thing to race through his mind.
He went over to the table "Black Skull.... mind if I join you?", he
Black Skull and Tanon looked up "Sure sit down old thief", the
"Thief!!!", Tanon scrawled being careful not to show Xupis what was
on the blackboard.
"Oh no", the priest answered with a rumbling laughter.
The priest stifled his grin "Xupis here is the most honest man I
know... just friendly bantering", he added with a smirky smile.
Tanon nodded "I see", he wrote on the blackboard. Xupis swallowed,
it didn't seem like the priest had told the bodyguard anything or by
now he would have been in custody or on his way to jail, perhaps
"Mead anyone", Xupis asked waving for the serving wench.
Both Tanon and the priest nodded. Xupis knew that if he wanted to
remain free of suspicion he would have to put on his best face.
The wench arrived "Can I help you?", she asked in a pleasant voice.
"Mead for all three of us", Xupis answered with a nod.
The wench left them for a moment and then returned with three mugs
of foaming mead.
Xupis was quick to pay, throwing in a little extra for the wench.
That afternoon was spent drinking, Tanon soon forgot his worries
about not living up to Cvedak's expectations. Tomorrow his new
friend would take him to a wizard that might be able to restore his
voice, how fortunate somebody had snatched Daig's wallet.
"Oh my it's getting late... I really have to leave", the priest said
all of a sudden.
"Sure you just go ahead", Xupis answered without further thought.
Tanon wrote something on his blackboard and showed the priest.
"Sure tomorrow, right after the morning sermon", the priest answered
with a smile, he was starting to feel quite drunk now and it felt
"Would you know where the bootblack is. I'll be leaving town soon so
I need a pair of good wandering boots", Xupis said looking at the
Tanon nodded and started drawing on the blackboard. A moment later
he was done and showed Xupis.
It was a map of town with an x marking the bootblack's store.
"Hey thanks... you wouldn't by any chance be a gambling man", Xupis
Tanon shook his head "Not really", he wrote.
"That's too bad, I was going to ask you to play cards with me",
"I'm not very good at cards", Tanon wrote.
"Oh come on... you can't be that bad", Xupis said with a smile that
could melt a glacier.
Soon after the game was afoot. Tanon had explained that he only knew
one game and that was a kids game. But Xupis nevertheless had
decided that it at least would be a start.
"How about putting some stakes on the table.... sort of make it into
a man's game", Xupis tried. Tanon was very uncertain, he was not the
wealthiest of men and gambling was something his mother had warned
him against time and time again.
"Okay", he wrote after hesitating for a little while.
"Don't worry we'll only use copper coins, it's not much but it'll
make it more fun for the both of us", Xupis said.
So the game went on, Xupis took a few hands but then started letting
Tanon win on purpose. The game slowly started gathering a crowd when
a rough looking character pushed into the crowd.
He glanced at the table and said with arrogance "Ha... why don't you
play a real man's game?".
Tanon was about to get up from his chair, but Xupis's hand stopped
"Okay", Xupis said with a daring look in his elfin eyes.
The newcomer sat down, he scratched his stubble and ordered a mug of
"It's on me", Xupis offered gesturing at the mug.
"Whatever you say little fellow", the newcomer laughed roughly.
Xupis choose to overhear the insult and started dealing the cards.
Soon after they had attracted quite a crowd.
The room was heating up and Xupis wiped some sweat from his brow,
this was the part he didn't like. But there was no way around it, he
needed a lot of cash and experience if he wanted to pull it off.
The game had grown long and the pile on the table likewise. "Wizard
King takes the Queen", Xupis exclaimed slamming his card onto the
"Ah Thursday is my bad day", his opponent argued while Xupis swiftly
moved the winnings to his side of the table.
Xupis looked at his opponent "Another game? - double or nothing!",
he offered triumphantly.
A murmur went through the crowd and his opponent thought for a
"Nah I don't think so.... anyway thanks for the game", he answered
with a crestfallen intonation.
"Here my good fellow have some mead... you deserve it", Xupis said
filling the losers mug.
The stranger took a healthy sip. "Good mead eh?", Xupis asked.
"Yes thanks", the stranger answered thinking how expensive it had
Xupis knew that he had to take care of the rest of his errands
before it was too late, the day was well underway and the hourglass
While Xupis had been gambling a situation arose in the town square.
There in the middle of it Black Skull and a Priests of Lathander
were dancing around each other like roosters in heat.
Apparently they were involved in a fight of sorts and were lashing
out at each other while retaining some ceremonial dignity.
Black Skull received a good uppercut and ended on his bottom. He
rubbed his chin and got back on his feet. A good punch sent the
Lathander priest down.
"Make way..... step aside", Black Skull heard the words but paid no
attention to them, the other priest had gotten back on his feet and
was charging right at him.
All of a sudden a multitude of strong arms grabbed them.
"What the....", Black Skull managed to utter before a powerful voice
"Shut up priest... You are under arrest for disturbing the peace"
"What", Black Skull yelled in a voice so ferocious that it would
have scared all but the sturdiest of men.
However the members of the towns guard were use to such nuisance and
didn't pay any attention to the outburst. Instead they dragged both
the priests away from the square.
Xupis arrived at the scene moments after, he understood from the
exited talk that there had been a fight.
"Between whom", he inquired.
"Black Skull and one of those Lathander priests", answered an
enthusiastic Tempus worshiper he had noticed this morning in the
"Who won?", Xupis asked curious to know.
"Black Skull off course", the follower yelled.
"He did not", another fellow interrupted.
"What?", Xupis said somewhat confused about the interruption.
"Black Skull didn't win", the man said.
"Oh yes he did!", the enthusiastic follower tried.
"No he didn't they were both dragged to the jail", the other one
A punch that would have sent Xupis into the gutter was avoided with
elven elegance and the friendly man who had provided him with the
proper information went flying down.
"Hey that guy just hit Salter...", somebody yelled and Xupis took it
as a sign that it was time to leave.
The muffled sound from the boots of the town guard grew ever
stronger. That was close, Xupis thought strolling away from the
square as if he hadn't one single care in his life.
Later that day he returned to the square, usually it was the best
place to get the latest gossip and rumors. He walked up to a
merchant who was talking with a prospective customer.
"...did you hear it, this time that albino priest will pay dearly",
the merchant said with excitement in his voice.
"Really?", the customer asked with genuine interest.
"Oh yes, he might even be incarcerated for years...", the merchant
Xupis slipped away, he had heard enough. He would have to ensure
that nothing about his little escapade this morning would reach the
judge's ear or he would be in big trouble, so he loafed around town
for a while and finally found the jail.
The keeper, pleased to get visitor explained him about the two
priests. Apparently their religious rivalry had turned into some
sort of competition, and it was not a seldom sight to see the two
have a go at it.
"But this time he won't get no warning I tell ya..... he'll pay
dearly for what he has done", the keeper said.
Xupis listened carefully and made up his mind, he got up from his
chair and nonchalantly checked if he could see the keys anywhere.
"So are you in charge of locking and unlocking all these cells",
"Oh no.... that's the garrison commander, he has all the keys. He is
the only one who decides who gets in and out of the cells",
the keeper said looking down seemingly a bit ashamed.
Xupis thought for a while, if he could place the priest in some sort
of debt to him he would be a good ally if things got rough. But if
there are no keys I'll have to get hold of some acid or something.
Xupis looked around once more, without luck "I really have to leave
now... you know errands and such", he smiled.
"Oh yes... off course I didn't intend to keep you waiting", the
keeper excused himself.
He was quite keen to get the elf out of there. If there was one
thing he didn't want to talk about, it was the reason why the
commander now had custody over the keys to the jail and not him.
A moment later Xupis found himself on the street again looking for
the mage tower, probably the only place in town where he could get
hold of some metal eating acid, because that's what it would take to
get the priest out if needed. There was no way the prison could be
set on fire, it was all iron and stone. And even if he could have
set it on fire the priest couldn't get out because the garrison
commander had the key's. I wonder why?, Xupis thought while
Finally he reached the tower. He looked up, it seemed as if it
stretched right into the heavens. He knocked on the wooden door.
There was no answer.
He knocked again and this time something happened. Without a sound
the massive door swung open and an elderly man greeted him.
"Can I help you?", the old man said stroking his beard.
"I suppose you could", Xupis answered and stepped inside. The door
closed silently behind him.
"Follow me", the old man ordered and started up the stairs.
If there was something Xupis hated it was stairs, it was all to easy
to get caught there for one, but the possibilities for traps were
endless. No stairs were dangerous and to be avoided if possible.
They entered a round chamber. It was quite large and had a crescent
shaped window that allowed the light to get in. Xupis took a look
The walls were crammed with books and the shelves seemed to be
strained to their utmost extent. There were a few books with elven
titles but that was not what he had come for.
"I was wondering if this is the right place to acquire some metal
eating acid", Xupis asked putting on the most innocent look he could
"Acid why do need acid", the old man asked suspiciously.
"Oh its a hobby...", Xupis answered. The old man didn't believe him
for a second.
"An elf with a hobby", the old man giggled barely audible.
"Yeah everybody got one these days", Xupis said indicating he had
heard the last comment.
"Oh I see", the old man answered somewhat uncertain, Elves and their
"How about that acid", Xupis pressed.
"Acid... well it is extremely expensive", the old man tried.
Xupis's hand went for the pouch "How much?", he asked.
"50 Gold Pieces", the old man answered pretty sure that the thief
didn't have that kind of currency.
"Hmm.... okay", Xupis answered counting up the gold.
The wizard stared at the money. It was not that he hadn't seen such
amounts before, but this was an elf and they were certainly not
known to flaunt such wealth. The world sure is changing, the wizard
thought as the last gold piece hit the table.
He scurried over to a shelf containing a myriad of bottles and jars
and returned with a glass bottle containing a fluorescent yellow
"Be careful with this, one drop will eat right through your flesh in
a matter of minutes. Be sure not to get any on yourself, you
understand", the old man lectured
"Off course.... Don't worry I'll be careful", Xupis answered, he
knew all to well about the dangers acid could pose. But what other
way was there to get through iron bars.
"Say you wouldn't be on the lookout for a job", the old man suddenly
asked with a strange look in his eyes.
"A job.... oh I'm not sure - what kind of job?", Xupis asked. He was
certainly not use to anyone approaching him so bluntly when it came
to work, then again these wizards probably didn't operate from the
same moralistic values as did others on the island.
"It is a practical joke of sorts.... you see the wizards of Middle
Ring and I have an ongoing thing.... we get bored at times so we
borrow things from one and each other", the wizard was studying
Xupis thoroughly while he explained.
"Borrow things?", Xupis asked studying the wizards face.
"Yes, we remove things from each other without being noticed... and
then we give it back and have a good laugh", the wizard said with
Xupis was not quite sure how to handle the situation, it could be a
sting, but why would a wizard care to involve himself with such
"I'm not sure if that would be something for me.... is it okay if I
get back to you?". Xupis answered with a shrug.
"Sure.... come by and see me in the morning", the wizard smiled.
Xupis left him with an eerie feeling, there was something fishy
about the whole deal but he couldn't quite place it. He had a
premonition that if he undertook the job something big would be
awaiting him, and it had nothing to do with the guild of Middlering.
The cell was dirty and Black Skull could hear the priest of
Lathander murmuring something.
A sudden flash of light exposed what it was that the priest was
doing and Black Skull covered his eyes as best he could.
The flash was very bright and Black Skull felt a sting as he tried
Everything seemed to be covered in a bright haze and Black Skull
realized what was going on. He was quick to shut his eyes completely
and murmur something that the other priest found incomprehensible,
that is until he felt an irresistible urge to sit down and relieve
himself in the middle of the floor.
The pained grunts from the other cell told Black Skull that he was
in the clear, he opened his eyes.
His cell mate was not enjoying himself, he was furious, yet there
was nothing he could do. Black Skull might not be a master magician,
but what he could do, he did well.
"Guard.....", he yelled loudly into the night.
The keeper entered "Phew what a smell", he said with disgust in his
"He did it... I want to be moved to another cell", Black Skull
"Shut up or I'll pound you", the keeper said flexing his huge
Black Skull knew there was no point to arguing, he was too tired,
and the keeper was already removing the mess.
The night went peacefully and when the cock crowed the city once
again got to its feet as it had done so often before.
Dawn had barely broken when Black Skull found himself in a court of
"All rise in the presence of the honorable Judge Eckhart
Vanderlust", the clerk announced in the instance a door was flung
A short fat man in a black robe strode his way to the Bench. His
hair was greasy and his cheeks shone in a bright purple color.
"Be seated.... this honorable court is now in session", the judge
uttered banging enthusiastically with a small wooden hammer.
Black Skull sat down, as did the rest of the people assembled in the
hall this early morning.
The judge scratched his head and realized he hadn't put his wig on,
he looked frantically around then discovered it hung loosely from a
pocket in the robe. His head dived under the desk and when it
returned moments later the wig was firmly secured on it.
He cleared his throat and floundered around with his papers until he
got them into order.
"Will the defendant please rise", the judge said staring at Black
Black Skull got on his feet and towered before them. Judge Eckhart
swallowed a lump. He had never liked Black Skull or the priests of
Tempus. Such a violent order, at least that was what he'd always
The judge glanced nervously around before speaking "I hereby declare
the case Black Skull vs. the people of Ilvartinan open".
"And is Aalaype Nikanan present?", the judge asked nervously, he
didn't quite fancy the order of Lathander either.
The priest stood up "I'm here", he said in a menacing voice.
"Well good... I declare that case open as well. Let the proceedings
commence!!", the judge said pounding his mallet rapidly.
The crowd grew silent with expectation, was Black Skull going to get
it this time?
"Your honor", the Counsel for the Prosecution stepped forward.
"This is a case to be viewed most seriously. It is as your Honor
knows not the first time we discuss these matters nor will it be the
last if leniency is shown", he didn't get any further before he was
"Objection, Counsel is speculating", the defense advocate jumped to
his feet, both Black Skull and Aalaype looked at him closely before
looking up to the judge with the most innocent faces they could
The judge thought for a while "Objection sustained, will Counsel for
the Prosecution refrain from speculation".
"He will Your Honor", the prosecutor nodded in respect.
"Good then... present your case", the judge insisted. It was not
that he didn't expect to see Black Skull again but the law was the
law and speculation about a defendants behavior in the opening
statement was not prudent.
Eckhart Vanderlust was not happy, the case had dragged on for hours
now and all that had been revealed was what they already knew. Black
Skull and Aalaype apparently had some sort of competition going,
they were both young men not seasoned by life. Still untamed and
inexperienced, at least that was what the judge had jotted down as
he sat there daydreaming.
"And that's what I think about the whole deal", the prosecutor said
crossing his arms across his chest. "I rest my case".
Eckhart looked up somewhat confused "Oh... aehm... yes. Does the
defense have anything to add", he asked looking at the advocate.
The defense advocate got up from his chair. He paced back and forth
for a while before beginning his speech.
"Your honor....", he paused for a moment. The intermission had its
effect and he continiued.
"These young men, are aware that they did something wrong. However I
will ask the court to have in mind that their adolescence barely has
come to conclusion. These young men are not so far along the path
that they cannot mend their ways. And that Your Honor is precisely
what they wish to do", he looked to his defendants. They nodded as
agreed and looked down with shameful eyes.
"I urge your honor to take into consideration that these fine young
men themselves have offered to provide the court with ample
compensation for whatever damage they have caused".
His words did not fall well into Black Skull's ears, he hadn't
mentioned anything about compensation, he turned his head and met
Aalaype questioning face, apparently he didn't know a thing either.
The judge chewed on the defense advocate's speech and sighed
"It is the opinion of this court that Black Skull of the house Taarq
and Aalaype Nikanan of the order of Dawn. Will each offer the
court a compensation of 20 Gold Pieces or face one year of hard
Black Skull swallowed, 20 Gold Pieces that wasn't to bad,
considering he had just increased his personal fortune considerably
the day before.
"How does the Defense feel about that?", the judge asked looking at
The defense Advocate nodded happily toward the defendant's, he had
done it again. They would be free to walk out of here provided they
didn't do anything stupid.
Black Skull wondered for a while and then decided to pay up. Heck
money was the least of his concerns now all that counted was to get
out so that they could finish the fight.
"I agree", Black Skull uttered and sat back down.
There was a slight commotion in the room and what of Aalaype.
The young priest looked like he could need assistance and the
Advocate scuttled over to the table.
"Is there a problem", he whispered.
"I have no money", Aalaype answered in a low and frightened voice.
It was a chance Black Skull simply couldn't resist "I could
pay", he whispered loud enough so that only the Advocate and Aalaype
"You would.... but why?", the Advocate asked a bit surprised, was he
"So I can hear him say it!", Black Skull whispered triumphantly.
"Say what?", the Advocate asked.
"Who won this round!", Black Skull said rubbing his hands together
in a gleeful manner.
Aalaype mumbled something biting his teeth hard together.
"What?", Black Skull said loud enough so that others could hear.
"Tempus", Aalaype mumbled barely audible.
"Who I can't hear you!", Black Skull teased.
"I said TEMPUS!!!!", Aalaype yelled. The room grew very quiet and
everyone stared at them.
"He... he", the Advocate tried "Everything is in order. The
defendants agree to pay the fine of 20 Gold Pieces each, I'll see to
that the amount is in the courts possession this afternoon".
"Good.... then I declare these proceedings closed, the defendants
are free to go", he swung his mallet again and a sigh went through
the crowd. Black Skull had made it yet one more time, and Aalaype...
well he had made quite a fool of himself. The Tempus followers were
quick to rush out and spread the news while the more quiet followers
of Lathander walked out in disappointment. Okay Aalaype was free....
but it was no victory.
The stone walls of the temples were well maintained. The mounted
torches lit the hallways adequately but the room Black Skull found
himself in now was lit very brightly.
The inner sanctum was finely draped in red white and black, and the
chair the high priest sat in was exquisitely carved.
"It's terrible really. These new times have brought whole new ways
of being. People are foused on rules and regulations now. Oh I
remember the good times when a priest could pick a fight with
whomever he wanted without the towns guard meddling in his affairs",
the high priest said in a schrill voice.
"Oh yes these are disturbing times indeed", Black Skull agreed. He
wouldn't mind wringing his hands around that judge's neck.
Still the law was the law, even the order of Tempus couldn't change
that. Not at the moment anyway. People seemed to have strange
aversions against war nowadays.
"So I heard you got your hands on some new herbs this morning", the
high priest said looking hopefully at Black Skull.
"Oh yes... the hag, forgive my rudeness, the old woman she called it
t'ea", Black Skull answered.
"T'ea, you say.... hmmm", the high priest said looking at the herbs
again. He took a good fistful and put it up to his nose.
"Pleasant smell", he said after a quick whiff or two.
"Pleasant indeed!", Black Skull answered with pride. This was
certainly something that came in well, with respect to his standing
in the ranks.
The high priest snapped his fingers and an aide appeared "Bring us a
pot of boiling water and two cups", the high priest demanded. The
aide scuttled off leaving the two men alone.
Another day had gone by and the morning was particulary nice. Birds
sang and children played on the streets.
The bootblack studied his handiwork with pride when Xupis entered.
He turned his head and eyed the customer, not very nice shoes he
noticed to himself.
"May I help you?", he asked with a broad smile.
Xupis looked around as if to make certain no one was eavesdropping.
"I don't know... I need some rather special shoes!", Xupis answered
slyly tightening his lips.
"Special you say.... anything in particular", the bootblack asked in
equally shrewd manner raising his brow.
"You know... there are so many unfortunate elements out there",
Xupis answered evasively.
"Unfortunate elements.... you mean riffraff and the sorts", the
bootblack asked more directly, finally they were getting somewhere.
"Yes the sort that keep their hands off other peoples possessions",
"You know I have these special boots", the bootblack said picking up
a pair from beneath the counter. He walked over to the door and shut
"There now that should do it, see here, just click like this with
your foot and voila", the bootblack pressed a secret spring and a
cutter the size of a razor blade sprung out from the lining between
the sole and the boot itself.
"Very nice...", Xupis exclaimed "But how about the riffraff... is
there a pocket for valuables?", he added looking closely at the
The bootblack smiled "I'm glad you asked, see these heels?", he
pressed the spring and the blade withdrew, then he twisted hard
while pressing down on the heel. It turned like a lid and revealed
quite a roomy compartment.
"These will do nicely... that is if they fit properly", Xupis said
picking up the one which was still on the counter.
"Oh they will, I'm certain of it", the bootblack answered giving
Xupis another of his big salesman smiles.
"And best of all, you see this", the bootblack said pointing at a
slit on the side of the boot.
"Uhm...", Xupis said looking and putting on the boot at the same
"Perfect for daggers eh?...", the bootblack asked with pride.
"I believe it is!", Xupis said admiring the handiwork, the boots
very black and shiny, yet not fancy in a way that would create
He put on the other and paced back and forth. They will do nicely,
he thought while wiggling his feet to make sure they were a proper
"How much", Xupis asked after some thought.
"For those boots.... I'll give you a good price", the bootblack said
"How do 50 Gold Pieces sound", he said with confidence.
"50 Gold Pieces... I'll give you 10", Xupis answered without
"10 for that you must be mad", the bootblack said with astonishment
"35 Gold Pieces and they're yours", he added.
"20 and that's asking for a lot", Xupis answered pointing a finger
in the air after stroking his chin.
"25 Gold pieces... that's my final offer", the bootblack said
pinching his beard.
"Done!", Xupis answered with a smile, the boots were expensive but
with all this extra gadgetry they were well worth it.
The bootblack smiled he had made a good deal, and for every gold
piece landing on the counter his smile got bigger.
Xupis left the bootblack's. He was quite happy with the boots and
whistled an old song as strolled along to the mage tower.
He knocked on the door, it took a while before anyone reacted. The
door squeaked as it slid open"
"Yes?", the servant said looking at the elf.
"I'm here about the job your master offered me", Xupis answered.
The servant looked at him for a while, studying him from top to toe
"Enter", he said leaning slightly forward.
Xupis stepped inside and the door shut tight behind him. The servant
pointed him to a chair and disappeared up the stairs.
Moments later he returned "Follow me please", he said gesturing to
the guest to come with him.
Xupis got up from his seat and glanced around, there was an eerie
feeling over it all, all of a sudden he wasn't sure whether or not
he should have returned. He had a feeling something big was on its
way and he wasn't sure what it meant.
The servant opened a door and showed him in, Xupis looked around. He
had entered the wizards study. The room was dome shaped with little
windows all the way around. The last rays from the sun converged on
an altar like table in the middle of the room. But the way the
shadows fell, it couldn't be that late already?
The wizard seemed busy studying a thick book of sorts and seemed
unaffected by Xupis's arrival. Xupis coughed gently, but the wizard
read on. Xupis coughed again, this time louder.
That caught his attention. He looked up, a bit confused at first but
then he closed the book. "Yes", he answered in that distracted way
only wizards do.
"I might be interested in that job you were talking about.... but
there is one thing", Xupis said pausing, a bit unsure of how to put
"And that is", the wizard asked looking at him with interrogating
"What's in it for me?", Xupis blurted out without thought.
The wizard nodded "What do you need?", he asked with a look that
"What do you have?", Xupis asked uncertain of why he had even
bothered to allow himself to get trailed off from his task this way.
"I could give you some of that metal etching acid you were so fond
of", the wizard tried.
"Nah... I lost interest in that, etching metal art wasn't that
fascinating after all", the elf answered slyly.
"How about some magic gloves", the wizard asked with a strange
"Magic Gloves?", Xupis answered somewhat bewildered. What the heck
did he mean anyway? - magic gloves!
"Yes the finest magic gloves you can think of", the wizard said with
"What do they do... these gloves?", Xupis asked still a bit in the
"They allow you to climb walls!", the wizard said giving him another
of these odd glances.
"Like a spider", the wizard added.
"Hmm... and what exactly was it that you wanted me to do", Xupis
asked with interest.
"As I explained it is a practical joke of sorts.... I just need the
yellow staff from the wizards guild of Middle Ring", the wizard
answered somewhat uneasy.
"And the gloves?", Xupis asked.
"I'll give them to you when you return with the staff", the wizard
Xupis thought for a while, but it wasn't a hard decision after all,
he was already to deeply involved to back out now, should he ask for
"I still need some sort of incentive", Xupis said looking the wizard
straight in the eyes. For a moment Xupis though they flared up in a
different color but it was probably his eyes playing tricks on him.
The white haired wizard thought for a while, that little slyboots.
He mumbled something and in a flash of light a dagger appeared.
"What about this dagger", the wizard said motioning Xupis to study
the newly appeared dagger.
"A dagger I'm not sure...", Xupis said somewhat disappointed. He
already had a pair, reasonable daggers were available basically
"Oh but this isn't an ordinary dagger" the wizard said as if he read
"This is a magic dagger which inflicts far more damage than you can
possibly imagine, and it cannot be used against the original carrier
once he has bonded with him"
"Really?", Xupis said with interest, he picked it up. It had good
balance. Suddenly it heated up in his hand and started glowing.
"It likes you", the wizard smiled mysteriously.
"Likes... is it alive?", Xupis looked at the dagger with amazement
in his eyes.
The wizard smiled before answering, with all the magic around them
people had a hard time believing it when they saw it, even if they
had it in their very own hands.
"You could say that... it was forged before our time began. It is a
long story but I will tell you when you come back!", his smile
didn't fade completely but a streak of sadness came over his face
and he looked thoroughly at Xupis. Was he the right choice?
Xupis slid the dagger into the boot holster "You got yourself a deal
there", he said offering his hand to the wizard.
The wizard shook his hand, Xupis shrugged it of but something in him
yelled to get out now before it was to late, all while another part
of him said things would work out fine.
On his way out he met Black Skull followed closely by that there
bodyguard, what was his name... Xupis thought hard to remember Ah
"Hey can I have a word with you", he asked the priest as they met.
"A word.... but sure", Black Skull answered stopping his ascent in
the middle of the stairs.
"In private!", Xupis emphasized.
"I've never been tossed out of my own home before", the wizards
voice boomed behind him.
"Oh No, no that's not what I meant", Xupis said turning around, "You
see I have a debt to settle with the priest... I'd prefer to do it
outside", he explained.
"Outside, a debt?", Black Skull was confused, as far as he knew any
debts between them had been settled the other day.
"Yes outside", Xupis hinted annoyed that Black Skull took so long to
"Oh... yes off course", Black Skull answered finally understanding
that the elf wanted to have a say without spectators.
"I'll be right back if that's allright with you?", the priest said.
The wizard nodded and Black Skull started descending alongside the
elf. Once they were outside the elf looked around.
"What are you seeing the wizard about", he asked.
"What are we seeing the wizard about? What's it to you?", Black
Skull answered a bit annoyed.
"Just friendly consideration... but I guess you're not interested",
"Interested in what", Black Skull demanded.
"In whatever", Xupis evaded.
"Listen up elf, not that it is any concern of yours but we are
visiting the wizard because of Tanon's tongue", Black Skull started.
"You mean lack of tongue .... right?", Xupis began.
"Whatever that's semantics, the tongue or lack of it, not
important... what is important is why you dragged me out here",
Black Skull sputtered.
"Oh that.... well if you're planning on striking a deal with this
fellow bargain!", Xupis said looking cunningly at him
"Bargain?", Black Skull said before he stopped "Oh bargain", he
added with a nod of understandment.
Xupis also nodded then he looked up towards the top "Yes he is
easily, how shall I put it 'squeezed'... no squeezed is putting it
wrongly, he is quite generous today, if you know what I mean"
"I see...", Black Skull nodded.
"Maybe I'll see ya at the inn later?"; Xupis asked hopefully.
"Maybe!", Black Skull answered, perhaps this Xupis fellow isn't all
bad after all.
Xupis left and Black Skull pondered for a while, then he went back
"So can you help him?", Black Skull asked with anticipation.
"Well it's expensive", the wizard answered, the priest didn't strike
him like someone capable of producing such a sum with short notice.
"How expensive", Tanon wrote.
"750 Gold Pieces", the wizard answered seeing the disheartened looks
on their faces as he broke the news.
"750 Gold Pieces... but that's a small fortune", Black Skull cried.
"Yes I know but that's how much it will cost, it is only enough to
cover the remedies I need", the wizard answered. "I'm only doing it
because I feel sorry for Tanon", he added whispering so that Tanon
"Can't we offer you something", Black Skull tried. 750 Gold Pieces
where would he find that kind of money, and worse of he couldn't
disappoint Tanon after all in his drunken stupor the other day he
had promised to help Tanon and Black Skull was not one to back down
from a promise.
"Well I do need a service", the wizard began then it dawned upon
him, the elf had put them up to this.
"You see we wizards borrow stuff from one and each other - you know
a practical joke kind of thing", the wizard said.
Black Skull and Tanon did not quite follow. "Nobody likes a joke
like a wizard ha ha", the old man tried.
Black Skull and Tanon still didn't get it and the wizard was
desperate now. He didn't want to compromise himself before them,
according to the law it is stealing but wizards have always operated
on their own principles, and they did give each other the items
back, but would they believe it?
"Do you mind if I smoke???", the wizard suddenly asked to interrupt
the awkward pause that had arisen.
"No, no go right ahead", Black Skull answered taking out his new
"Oh try some of my tobacco", the wizard offered passing the pouch to
"What a pleasant smell, what's it called", Black Skull asked with
"Oh.... I think it is called Giggle weed!", the wizard answered as
Black Skull handed him the pouch back.
"Funny name for tobacco", Black Skull said lighting his pipe. A few
puffs later he understood.
They had been discussing for quite some time, brushing every topic
from the weather to the mysteries of the universe.
Tanon had not tried the tobacco and was somewhat annoyed at the two
who seemed bound together by some sort of deeply intimate bond.
"What's the matter Tanon.... Cat got your tongue", Black Skull
The wizard rolled over, it was a long time since he had enjoyed
himself like this.
Tanon smashed his fist into the table "Draw bead head", he yelled in
an agitated voice.
Black Skull reeled from his chair, in an act of stupendous bravery
the priest drew his sword only to find out that he couldn't hold on
to it, and it went flying into the corner.
It cracked him up completely, and Black Skull fell back into the
chair with a throbbing laughter. Tanon had gotten to his feet, his
hand was on the sword handle he was not about to take any more.
"Black Skull is right you are awfully quiet", the wizard said
followed by a raunchy laughter.
Black Skull almost choked on the puff he was taking, and set in with
a hysterical grin.
That was it, Tanon had reached his boiling point but rather than
draw blood he grabbed Black Skulls pipe.
Black Skull stared mesmerized as Tanon's fist pulverized the fine
pipe, then he burst into a loud almost unstoppable laughter. The
wizard joined in and they laughed like they had never done before.
"About the job", the wizard tried as he got his laughter under
Tanon just stood there without a sound, he seemed frozen, the wizard
murmured and in the blink of an eye Tanon was sitting down again
with a smile on his face.
Black Skull was confused now but didn't want to show it.
"Oh yes the job.... we will need some incentive", he started.
The wizard looked at him then his gaze turned to Tanon who was
nodding his head enthusiastically.
All this envy and greed, what has gotten into people these days....
well what the heck!!!
There was a flash of light and on the table lay a sword of
magnificent proportions and style. Black Skull looked longingly at
"How about that sword", the wizard asked.
"Oh it's a beauty allright... but I can only wield a sword if it is
forged by a smith in the Temple of Tempus, but Tanon might want it"
Tanon nodded with excitement, the sword the wizard had produced made
his own look like a rusted nail.
"Well how about a morning star?", the wizard asked looking intensely
at the warrior priest.
"A morning star? that would be great", Black Skull answered,
doctrine says nothing about bludgeoning weapons.
The wizard got up from his seat and left the room. Moments later he
returned with a morning star in his hands. The weapon seemed awfully
light to Black Skull it looked like the magician needed no strength
whatsoever to carry it.
Suddenly the wizard started swinging the morning star. The pointy
ball swirled around wit insane speed. The wizard seemingly a master
of the weapon started doing little neat tricks. He turned and
swirled around the room until the morning star slammed into the
The thick wooden study table fragmented into tiny splinters far more
violently than would be expected.
"Oh dear I did it again didn't I", the wizard mumbled.
Black Skull laughed heartily, and the other two joined in. After
mumbling a few incomprehensible words the table started
reassembling, bit by bit.
The two visitors stared mesmerized as the wizard moved his hands
coaxing the fragments back into their original form. It lasted a
short moment then the show was over and the table appeared as solid
as it had ever been.
"About the tongue... of which creature and how old can it be", Black
Skull asked when he had overcome his astonishment.
"Any creature that talks", the wizard answered handing the morning
star to Black Skull.
"As for age I'd recommend less than a week or so!", he added looking
at them with that gaze of his.
"A week?", Tanon wrote.
"Yes any older and it will stink oh so badly", the wizard answered.
Black Skull and Tanon couldn't help but smile, this certainly was an
odd wizard, not that they knew that many, but nevertheless he
definitely was in a league of his own.
Black Skull tried the morning star for weight and it felt very good
in his hand. It was light yet the balance was perfect, there was
something odd about it that much he knew.
Then the wizard started speaking "Those are very special weapons,
when used righteously.
The morning star will not burden the carrier and it will be as if it
had no weight at all, however used wrongfully it will become so
heavy that it will be as useful to the carrier as a glass of water
in a firestorm. The sword bites hard and deeper than any other
weapon you ever held in your hands but mark my words should you use
it unjustly, it will become as blunt as a doorknob and even be
reluctant to leave your hand", the wizard looked closely at them
while he warned them. By the look of their faces he felt that they
would honor the weapons, there was nothing more that he could do.
It had gotten late when Tanon and Black Skull returned to the
Dragons Den, the inn was crowded with all sorts of people,
merchants, hunters, sailors even a dwarf had found his way to the
inn, and was sleeping off what seemed to have been a mighty stupor.
That is if one should judge from the number of empty mugs in front
Xupis was getting quite intoxicated and all the easy wallets were
quite hard to resist. Twice he got up from his chair with a smirky
grin but each time Black Skull pulled his shirt landing him right in
the chair again.
"Listen priest if you keep doing that I'll sma......", before he
could get any further the leg on his chair broke. Xupis went flying
toward the floor like a rock. The loud bang when the hair hit the
floor stopped all conversation in the inn. Heads turned in surprise.
When the regulars realized what had happened, the silence was broken
by a raunchy laughter.
"I think I'll go to bed", Xupis exclaimed still lying on his back in
a sitting position.
Black Skull couldn't help but smile when he looked at the elf. There
he sat like nothing had happened, his mug was still in his hand,
although not as full as it could be. The fact that he had turned 90
degrees didn't seem to bother the elf the slightest.
"Okay....", Black Skull answered "But be sure to come by tomorrow,
Tanon and I are heading south you know, and I'd like a word before
we leave", he added offering his hand toward Xupis.
Xupis got up and stood there swaying for a moment, he straightened
and brushed his clothes, then with resolute steps he headed for the
stairs. The railing came in handy that night and as he ascended up
the stairs his mind did the same. How he managed to get the door
opened and locked securely behind him was a mystery. But somehow he
made it to the safety of bed and closed his eyes before beginning a
As the hours went by Tanon noticed Black Skull probably had a drop
or two to many.
"Get your hands off me", the serving wench yelled slapping the
"Ho, ho, ho", Black Skull laughed. Tanon wondered what time it might
be, a look through the window told him all he had to know. He got up
from his seat, the inn was not crowded as it had been earlier. He
approached the innkeeper and wrote something on the Blackboard.
"A room... my pleasure", the innkeeper answered with a smile toward
"I DON'T SLEEP WITH ELVES", the priest yelled at the top of his
"Jerk!", Tanon wrote, "I sleep at home".
"Oh, but off course....", Black Skull mumbled looking for his mug.
The night was still young and he was in a good mood.
The following morning Black Skull was brought from sleep by a
powerful pounding, but it wasn't in his head he realized when it
"Go AWAAAYYY I'll kill YOU...", the priest yelled infuriated.
The knocking disappeared, and Black Skull returned to the softness
of the blankets.
A sound barely audible indicated somebody was fiddling with the
lock, the tiny click from the lock didn't reach Black Skull. He was
far to intent on getting his well deserved rest.
Tanon had found a bucket with wash water and set a water trap in the
semi opened door.
The priest still wasn't aware of anything but when the pounding
began again he jumped up and was at the door within a matter of
seconds. The fact that the door was half open didn't reach him
before it was to late. The water splashed down and stopped Black
For a moment he stood there completely disorientated, what the heck?
But when he saw Tanon's smiling face the situation dawned upon him.
"I'll get you for this...", he murmured and closed the door. It
didn't take him to long to get dressed and he went down into the
The innkeeper had set the table wit all his heart desired, almost
that was. He gestured at the innkeeper who immediately arrived at
their table. With two fingers he indicated he wanted a private word
with him. The innkeeper leaned forward and Black Skull whispered
something to him.
Moments later he arrived back at the table with a concoction of
sorts, Black Skull downed it in a few gulps. The effect of the drink
became evident after a while, at least if that blissful smile meant
It was late afternoon when Xupis finally emerged from his room he
refused the offered breakfast, "But a couple of drinks
would be nice", he said and sat down in a quiet corner. Somebody
nodded and Xupis returned the greeting. He tried to massage his
temples but decided that a spot of fresh air would probably do the
"Have the priest and the mute left town yet?", he asked when the
innkeeper arrived with the beverages.
The innkeeper stood for a while pondering "No I wouldn't think so...
they talked about coming back when they had finished their errands"
"Errands?", Xupis asked not quite awake yet.
"You know provisions and such for the trip south!", the innkeeper
Trip south? Oh yes that was right, they were also headed out of
"I'd like to settle the bill if you don't mind", Xupis said drawing
a pouch from his coat.
"But off course sir", the innkeeper said with delight. He knew the
elf to be a good tipper from the previous evening and hoped a little
of that generosity remained.
The stables were situated on the opposite side of town and
when Xupis got there he felt quite tired, okay it was his own fault.
Nobody had forced him to act like he had the evening before.
The door tweaked as Xupis opened it and stepped into the front
The manager looked up "What can I do for you", he said with a smile.
He had built his business and a considerable fortune on that smile.
He knew that it made him look both friendly and trustworthy to his
customers at the same time.
"Wait let me guess... a horse?", he said jestingly.
Xupis smiled, so it was right what they said about him. The manager
was one of those people who could sell sand in a desert or ice in
"Yes that's it", Xupis answered watching the man carefully.
"Oh forgive me. How rude of me.... Edward Willowby, my friends
call me Ed", the manager said getting up from his chair with an
"Xupis", the elf answered shaking his hand. The managers grip was
firm and it was evident that this man had done his share of fair
work in his time.
"Hope I'm not to rude, but to get straight to the point... What sort
of horse might you be looking for my friend", he said and placed a
hand on Xupis's shoulder.
Xupis skewed his head and looked at the manager who withdrew his
hand knowing that overt familiarity maybe wasn't the right way to go
about a sale to an elf.
"I'm looking for a good riding horse", Xupis answered looking out
the window, he longed to get back to the wilderness, human
settlements and cities weren't exactly his up of t'ea but he was far
better at coping with them than most elves.
The manager opened a door and gestured Xupis to follow him. When
they came to the stable boxes the horses neighed greeting the
manager. A good sign, Xupis thought and cast his gaze around the
There were many nice horses but there was one in particular that
Xupis liked, it was a beautiful golden brown one.
"What's his name", Xupis asked looking him over in an examining
The horse stuck it's muzzle forward in anticipation when Xupis
approached with his hand.
"That one, that's Grímur", the manager answered with a smile, "a
fine choice if you ask me", he added.
Xupis studied it closely, it was a fabulous horse that much was
certain, but Xupis wasn't sure he could afford such a splendid
"How much", he asked looking at the horse.
"75 Gold Pieces", the manager answered "off ourse with saddle and
reins", he added.
The horse snorted with excitement something good was in progress and
it was part of it.
"Easy boy!", the elf said while padding the horse in a gentle
manner. The horse calmed down and watched them with deep insightful
The deal went down quickly, Xupis didn't even bother to haggle, his
reward would be greater than money if he was able to pull this one
Late in the afternoon he returned to the Dragons Den. Tanon and the
priest were eating heartily.
Xupis joined them at the table "Still headed south?", he asked
looking at the priest.
Black Skull chewed a couple of times and swallowed before answering.
"Yeah.... and you what are your plans", he asked looking at the elf.
Xupis smiled "Actually I'm heading south as well so if you don't
mind a traveling companion we could join up", he said.
"Sure why not... the more the merrier", Black Skull answered giving
him a good pad on his back.
"So where exactly are you heading", Xupis asked with anticipation.
The priest pondered for a while before answering "Middlering, and
how about you?"
"Middlering, now how is that for a coincidence, I'm heading
there as well, got some business to take care of", Xupis answered
"What sort of business", Tanon wrote looking Xupis over.
"I have to fetch something and bring it back here you see!", Xupis
"What?", Tanon wrote.
"That's privileged information, you know customer provider stuff",
Xupis answered knowing that his answer didn't satisfy the nosy
"So do you guys know the way", he added before Tanon could pry
further into the matter.
"No!", Tanon wrote. Xupis turned to Black Skull who stopped in the
middle of a gulp, "Aehm no... do you?", he asked after swallowing.
"Honestly?", Xupis asked looking at his traveling companions, they
"Well neither do I.... suppose we need a map huh?", he said. They
The door opened slowly "May we see the map maker", Black Skull
"Do you know what time it is my good man", the caretaker said with
an accusing look. She was in her early sixties, beautiful black hair
just starting to lighten.
Black Skull looked down feeling a little guilty "Yes Mam but you see
my friends and I have to leave town tonight and we desperately need
a map. You see we're not familiar with the island and we'd rather
avoid to much trouble on our journey.
"Hrmf", the caretaker opened the door wide enough that they could
"You coming", Black Skull said to Xupis who had placed himself on
top of a barrel.
"Nah you go in... I'll wait here with the horses", he answered.
The door squeaked a bit when it shut behind them and Xupis started
staring at the cloudscape above.
He wasn't sure how long they had been inside, but when they came out
they clearly weren't satisfied.
"So did you get a maps showing the way to middlering", Xupis asked.
"No he didn't have a map over this region, he only had one of the
island", Black Skull answered annoyed.
"Off the entire island?", Xupis asked a bit sceptic.
"Yes the entire island... but that wasn't the problem", Black Skull
"Then what was the problem", Xupis asked suspicious.
"He wants map in return", Black Skull answered.
Tanon was scribbling something on his blackboard "He only wants to
sell map with lines!", he wrote
"Lines?", Xupis asked fealing really dumb.
"The sea", Tanon wrote.
"So what happens now", Xupis asked looking at Black Skull.
"Now, now we draw a map", he answered.
"You draw a map", Xupis said with disbelief.
"Yes we draw a map, is that so hard to understand", the priest asked
annoyed at the doubt in Xupis's voice.
"No... but what are you going to draw, the man already has a map of
the island", Xupis answered.
"What.. well, we're going to draw a map of Tanon's home region, for
you're not from around here are you", the priest said looking at the
"Right", Tanon wrote. It was evident he was as annoyed as the
"Well I guess it's better you get started then", Xupis said handing
them the reins to their horses.
"You're not coming with us?", the priest asked with surprise in his
"I'll come by in a moment... I just remembered I forgot to say
goodbye to someone, I'll drop by as soon as I have done that -
okay?", Xupis answered.
The priest looked at him for a moment and then smiled oddly "Sure,
you do that", he said blinking at Xupis.
Xupis stood there for a moment wondering what the priest meant by
gesturing like that. Oh no he thinks I'm going to steal the map....
am I?, he thought.
Xupis looked around, the street was empty. Nobody around if he was
going to do it now was as good a time as any. He tried the door
knob, it turned.
With a swift pull the door was opened, that way it might squeak
less, and who would believe a burglar would pull a door that swiftly
if he was seen? He needed the gloves, it was the only way he could
get into the Dukes castle unnoticed.
Madam Crumbly as the caretaker was called was working in the kitchen
and hadn't noticed a thing. The wonderful odours esaping her pots
made his stomach stirr. But he managed to tiptoe past her and up the
Unfortunately for his plan the map maker heard him approach and
"Yes", he asked pushing his glasses up the nose ridge.
"Uhm hello I need a map!", Xupis answered.
"A map?", the map maker answered looking like a big question mark.
"Yes a map - you do make maps , the sign says cartographer you
know", Xupis answered as an eerie feeling began to creep up on him.
"Yes I have this map for you!", the map maker answered pulling out a
light blue paper with some lines on it.
"For me?", Xupis asked bewildered "What is it?", he added.
"It is of the sea", the map maker said with a strangely distracted
"Oh i see", Xupis answered.
"Yes the sea", the map maker repeated, pushing his glasses back in
"Well... thank you then", Xupis said as the map maker handed him the
"You're welcome young man", the map maker answered going back to his
Xupis was a bit uneasy when he left the building, he had been to
sloppy in there. Imagine if it hadn't been an old distracted man,
but well armed guards. Xupis shook by the mere thought.
Not more than outside he ran into the priest and the bodyguard.
"Aehm... hello!", he said looking as innocent as he could.
"You still here?", Black skull asked somewhat surprised.
"Well... yes I just came back actually", Xupis answered. He
couldn't have been in there that long, what kind of map had
they drawn that they thought they could convince the old man with?
"So you coming with us?", Black Skull asked looking directly at him.
Xupis swallowed while Tanon eyed him suspiciously. He wasn't exactly
sure how to act but after a while Xupis answered in the most evasive
way he could by posing a question, "Inside?", he said.
Tanon nodded looking intensely toward him. Xupis still unsure of
what to do spent another moment thinking then sat down on the stairs
leading to the front door.
"Nah you go ahead, I'll tend the horses while you take care of the
Black Skull shrugged and knocked on the door, Tanon followed him up
Moments later the door opened and the housekeeper peered outside.
"You again... what do you want", she asked clearly annoyed by the
"Well we have this here map....", Black Skull started.
"Bartholomew, Bartholomew!!!", she shouted.
"Yes", a tired voice answered from upstairs.
"It's those men again... they say they have a map", the housekeeper
"What?", the voice answered.
"A MAP!!!", she screamed at the top of her lungs.
"Oh tell them to come up", the voice answered.
She signaled them to come in "How about you?", she asked looking at
"Huh me?... oh no I'll tend the horses thank you!", Xupis answered.
The housekeeper looked at him with a penetrating gaze which sent
shivers down his spine.
It didn't take long before Tanon and Black Skull returned to the
"So you got the map then?", Xupis asked.
"No he said our map wasn't detailed enough", Black Skull answered
infuriated that the scheme had failed. Tanon was nodding equally
annoyed at their failure.
"We are going back to the Dragons Den to better the map, you want to
help us?", Black Skull asked.
"Well actually... yeah I'll be there in half an hour or so", Xupis
answered brewing up a plan. There was no way those two would be able
to create a map which would satisfy the old carthagrofer, but maybe
he could pull it off if he tried once more. He'd have to be more
careful this time though, he thought as they started away from the
map makers house.
It took a while before Xupis could slip back in as a lovers quarrel
decided to descend on that very street where he was waiting.
When the couple had shouted, cried and made up all in the time span
of a single draught of beer he made his move.
The door opened as if by magic, there was no moaning squeak from the
hinges and no revealing thump as he closed it. So far so good!
With steps more silent than a feline on the lookout for prey he got
past the kitchen and up the stairs. The map maker was busy studying
a map on his wall and Xupis noticed the map they so desperately
needed right there on the table.
Okay, not a sound now and we'll be fine. At that instant a
floorboard squeaked embarrassingly high, it was as if that very
thought had jinxed the whole venture and the carthagrofer turned
"Yes?", he said somewhat surprised at Xupis being in his study.
Think quick... the chair. Xupis nonchalantly placed himself in one
of the guest chairs.
"Aehm that map of Middlering", he started unsure if his nonchalance
would clear the old man of the suspicion one would automatically
have about someone appearing without a sound in your own home.
The carthagrofer looked at him with puzzled eyes, it was as if the
situation wreaked havoc with his mind "Oh yes that map you want it
now?", he asked fumbling with his harts.
"Yes, I'd like that very much", Xupis answered with growing
confidence. He was actually pulling it off. At that instant the
little voice in him started nagging again.
"I need that map", he murmured to himself.
The old man didn't seem to take notice, so much the better. "Do you
have a map in return", he asked.
Xupis rolled his eyes from one side to the other "Map? Well yes I
do", he answered quite pleased with the progress he was making.
"Can I see it?", the old man asked.
"Yes but of course", Xupis said fumbling for the map the old man had
given him earlier.
"Oh it's beautiful... what is it?", the old man said with delight.
This was turning out even better than Xupis had dared hope for
"...Aehm it is of the sea", he answered putting up a big smile.
"But it is so beautiful", the old man mumbled trying to get a better
look at it.
"Here take the map", Xupis offered handing it to him.
The wrinkled hands reached out eagerly as Xupis let go of it.
The old man studied it closely "This is a good map", he said with a
smug grin on his face.
"Yes very nice indeed... isn't it", Xupis answered absent minded.
His thoughts were far away.
The old man folded the map up nicely and put it in his desk drawer
"Why don't you take this map in return", he said handing a map of
the entire island to Xupis.
"Well thanks!", Xupis answered graciously accepting the map. He was
quick to fold it up and stick it into his pocket.
He was about to leave when the old man interrupted him.
"Come here young man", he said waving at Xupis to follow. There
wasn't much for the elf to do but to do as the map maker bode.
The old man looked around as if to check if they were alone in the
room "Look out for prying eyes" , he warned with a mysterious look
on his face.
Xupis glanced around the room, the only way anyone could see them
would be through the window, and it was covered with thick curtains.
The map maker held up his index finger "Wait just a moment", he said
and locked the door.
Xupis was starting to sweat, this was not turning out the way he had
The old man picked up a cane from a corner and pulled down a map
which unfolded like a curtain covering the wall.
The map was magnificent, there were countless islands randomly
divided in a huge sea, and to the side was a great bulk of land. An
entire continent with nothing but forests mountains and plains
covered one third of the map.
"We are right here", the old man said and pointed at a small speck
approximately in the middle of the map.
Xupis couldn't believe his eyes "But then mainland is so big", he
said with disbelief. His mind had trouble imagining the sheer size
of the land mass. He had always thought that the island was big, but
this continent... it was huge!
"Yes indeed", the old man smiled. He seemed far away for a moment
but Xupis was to fascinated by the map to disturb him.
"One day you will set your foot there", the map maker said still
absorbed in his own private thoughts.
"You think", Xupis asked feeling a strange longing fill his heart.
"I know", the old man answered thoughtfully "No one has seen the map
and stayed for long. Just look at it, it is a big world out there.
Think of all that there is to see, all you can experience if you
break the bonds of this little island. Imagine all that is possible
and all the people that remain to be seen. Oh yes... you will go,
eventually. Shortly after you have finished up what you must, here
on this island. That much is certain".
His words imprinted themselves on Xupis's mind, he had long felt
something building inside him perhaps it was this longing that he
felt when he looked at the map. Had this been under ordinary
circumstances Xupis would certainly have wondered what the map maker
knew about his task and what he meant when he was referring to that
thing he had to do. But Xupis was to enchanted by the map to let
such suspicions surface. It had gotten quite late when Xupis came
out onto the street. He blinked a few times in order to familiarize
his eyes to the dusk. The last words of the old man still rung in
his ears. "Beware of the dark ones", Xupis repeated to himself. I
Wonder what the map maker meant by that?
"You what are you doing here?", a voice boomed from behind just as
Xupis was about to mount his horse. He turned his head and stared
right at Black Skulls face.
"Huh me?", Xupis tried innocently.
"Yes you!", the priest boomed looking very hostile.
"Uhm.. nothing", Xupis answered with an innocent voice.
"Nothing.... ha! We saw you leave, you've been talking to that map
person... wait a minute you haven't. No... even you couldn't sink so
low", Black Skull said.
Tanon pulled Black Skull's shirt and showed him the blackboard.
"WHAT?", it said with big letters.
"Let me think", Black Skull said getting a firm grip on Xupis's
shoulder. After a few seconds thought he dragged him onto the stairs
to the map makers house.
He banged loudly on the door, nothing happened. He banged again and
the door opened.
The map maker looked at them somewhat puzzled.
"What was he doing here!", Black Skull demanded.
"Nothing I've never seen this young man before", the map maker said
Xupis recognized that the map maker was wandering again "No that's
right these thugs just pulled me in from the street", he said hoping
to gain an advantage. He couldn't explain exactly what he had done,
technically he hadn't stolen anything but still....
"We want the map!", Black Skull thundered out of his mind.
"What map", the map maker asked genuinely confused.
"The one of the island, it had Middlering on it and everything",
Black Skull yelled.
"Oh I sold that map months ago", the old man answered.
"No you had it here an hour ago you haven't lost it have you", Black
Skull was getting desperate now.
"Lost... no I don't get lost - I make maps", the old man answered.
Another face appeared in the door "You again!", the housekeeper
snarled gripping a broom.
"Shoo get out of here", she yelled waving the broom at them.
"Ah this is futile let's go back to the Den", Black Skull said
grinding his teeth.
It took them a moment but a short while later the horses had been
secured and they were sitting at a table at the Dragons Den.
"Still southbound", Xupis smiled.
Tanon looked at him "Hmfr", he said nasally nodding slightly eyeing
"Not until you tell us what you were doing there", Black Skull said
Xupis looked at both of them and puffed while shaking his head "Ah..
what do you think I was doing, I asked for the map you simpleton!"
Black Skull pinched his eyes together "The map?", he said growling.
"Yes the map... What else?", Xupis answered looking quite annoyed.
"Let me see if I got it straight you got us the map?", Black Skull
"NO I GOT THE MAP FOR ME ITS MINE!!!", Xupis answered clutching
around the map.
"You didn't steal it did you?", Black Skull suddenly asked. Tanon
turned his head, was he hearing correctly?
"No I traded it", Xupis answered injured at the accusation.
"For what?", Black Skull said suspiciously.
"A map", Xupis answered looking straight at his two companions.
Black Skull wasn't satisfied though "What map", he asked the elf.
"A map of the sea!", Xupis explained.
"The sea you say...", Black Skull weighed the words carefully.
"Honest?", he added.
"Honest!", Xupis answered.
"Allright... let's see it then!", Black Skull said smiling.
"Just remember it's my map", Xupis claimed still holding on to it.
"Yes, yes, the map is yours... right Tanon", Black Skull turned
toward Tanon who scribbled on his board. He held it up with a smile
and nodded, though he felt somewhat odd about the way Black Skull
talked about stealing and such, he had claimed he was jesting
earlier when he called the other elf a thief.... but there was
something not right about the whole thing.
A few hours later Tanon was sitting proudly on his horse, he had
lent it from his master who had also agreed to lend him an old chain
mail, a couple of woolen ponchos and whatever else he had asked for.
Heck old Cvedak had even agreed to lend them a donkey for the
priest. But Black Skull had flatly rejected that as an option. "I
Ain't riding no donkey", he yelled and slapped the poor beast on the
"Hiho", it yelled and sped off into the street. They had spent
nearly half an hour before catching it and bringing it back. But
that was all earlier in the day, now he was riding along a road
whose tracks became less and less visible.
"Are you sure we are on the right road", he had written just a few
"Sure we are", Xupis had answered looking like he was studying the
map intensely while nodding in an affirming way, well that elf was
hard to understand at times.
Well whether or not they were on the right track it was wonderful to
be back in the forest again. Tanon remembered every sent as it
reached his nostrils like old friends and was enjoying himself
"Listen up", Xupis said "It's getting late now, I suppose we'd
better strike camp pretty soon".
Half an hour later they found a suitable spot and Black Skull had
already made himself comfortable next to the fire.
"I'll take the first watch", Xupis said remembering the warning.
"This close to town... ain't nothing out here but squirrels and an
occasional fox", Black Skull tried. He was tired and not in the mood
for watch duty.
Tanon scribbled "Second", on his blackboard and then there wasn't
much more discussion since Black Skull realized he'd have to take
the third watch.
The hours passed and an occasional owl howling in the distance kept
the master of the watch awake. He was drowsy to say the least but
after a cup of steaming hot t'ea he felt more awake. Suddenly
something caught his attention. Were those voices? He listened for a
few minutes before he was sure.
"Pssst... wake up", Black Skull whispered carefully nudging the
Xupis was the first one to get up "Hobgoblins", without another word
Xupis jumped up, he got his hands on his sword and dagger and jumped
into the relative safety of the shadows. Too late he realized he had
left his leather armor behind by his paraphernalia.
Tanon was up now and jumped into the shadows forgetting his armor as
well, was this the same voice?
The priest shook his head and threw Tanon his armor, then he toppled
the logs over and kicked some dirt onto the remnants of the fire
after which he made himself unseen.
3 eerie looking hobgoblins were headed straight toward the place
where Tanon and the priest tried to hide in the undergrowth. The
priest held both hands on the handle of his sword "Tempus", he
whispered drawing strength from the mere mentioning of the word.
Xupis had decided that these beings were not to be toyed with. A
quick stab in the back might very well lessen their numbers giving
them a better chance.
He snook up behind the big oafs as he used to call them. The dagger
seemed vibrant in his hand and almost took on a strange glow under
the star strewn sky.
Black Skull had been watching from his hiding place, the elf had
potential that much was sure. If he got out of it alive he might
discuss the opportunity to enroll him in the order of Tempus.
Tanon was excited these weren't the hobgoblins who had taken his
tongue but he would enjoy killing these as well.
As Xupis was about to close in for the attack one of the Hobgoblins
stopped, and before they knew it he was facing the elf who seemed
quite small with nothing but a dagger in his hand.
The hobgoblin smiled and showed it's evil teeth. But just as he was
about to raise his sword a loud voice boomed through the night.
"STOP YOU ARE MAKING A BIG MISTAKE!!!", Xupis yelled at the top of
"Huh?", the hobgoblin froze as he stood from the surprise. Who was
this little fellow who spoke to him in his own tongue. Well perhaps
it wasn't important he would be a dead little fellow soon, unable to
ever say a single word again.
Just then Tanon and Black Skull attacked, Xupis was not going to be
alone. The commotion temporarily caught the hobgoblins attention and
in that split second Xupis performed a disappearance act.
Tanon swung his sword like a true berserker and splits a hobgoblin
head. His ferocity was equal if not greater than that of a beserker
but he had the cold calculative moves of a true warrior.
In an inspired attack Black Skull swung his sword, but the Hobgoblin
was faster. With beastly speed it evaded the deadly sword which
grazed Tanon instead.
Infuriated by pain Tanon thrust toward his opponent, the hobgoblin
took a few steps back while he tried to fend for himself. But every
time he parried Tanon got rougher and rougher until he simply
couldn't withstand any more. The last thing he saw was a pair of
eyes that seemed like they were glowing like a piece of charcoal in
Black Skull withdrew his sword, it was covered in blood but the
hobgoblin was not about to give in. With deadly lashes he attempted
to corner the priest up against a denser part of the forest where he
wouldn't be able to move properly. The priest tried a direct stab
but his attack failed.
Tanon came at him howling like a madman, the hobgoblin swirled
around and further wounded him.
3'rd time the lucky one, Xupis thought and drove his dagger deep
into the hobgoblins back.
The hobgoblin stood straight up and realized something was very
wrong then he fell to the ground.
In an act of outrage Tanon drove the hobgoblins own sword trough the
unconscious hobgoblin, afterwards he gave the other two the same
As Tanon stood there heaving for a breath of fresh air, Black Skull
couldn't think of a finer statement toward an enemy like this, than
what Tanon had just done. Although he would have questioned that
hobgoblin not killed him.
They searched the bodies but found no evidence that could explain
the fat that they were this far north, likely they were scouts sent
out by the horde, to gather intelligence about the Northlands which
succeeded in driving them south many a century ago.
After a thorough search around camp they didn't find evidence of
further scouting parties, likely this was a team somewhat ahead of
themselves. Young ones not heeding warnings of their elders about
the Northlands. It didn't matter now they were dead that was the
important bit. Nevertheless the campfire was kept very small for the
rest of that night.
Black Skull had been contemplating preaching the word of Tempus to
the elves but decided against it in the face of his mishap the night
before. A second day passed before they got back on the main road.
On the third day they came upon a wagon bumping up the road.
"Who goes there", a voice yelled in common.
"Elves and a man", Xupis yelled back at the wagon. The merchant
stuck his head back out and eyed them as they came closer.
"Care to see the goods", he offered pulling the horses to a halt.
"Sure why not", Black Skull answered, the horses could do with a
little rest and so could he.
The merchant pulled the canvas aside and revealed quite a collection
of arms in the trunk of the cart.
"That's a lot of armament you're carrying", Black Skull said looking
the merchant straight in the eyes.
"I guess, but with all the trouble in the south I believe time has
come to arm ourselves to the teeth, woe to the unarmed one, the day
the horde starts sweeping across the lands", the merchant answered
unaffected by Black Skulls statement.
Tanon nodded, through his work as a bodyguard for Cvedak Daig he had
learned of the recent movement in the south. The horde was beginning
to rear it's ugly head again.
Their numbers had sswelled to many times what they had been when the
Northlanders drove them from their territory.
Tanon pointed at a collection of daggers lying discretely in a
"Aah an excellent choice", the merchant said rubbing his hands "Care
to try them", he added with a smile.
Tanon nodded and picked them up. The holsters were made to fit under
most garments on the arms of the carrier, yet they were readily
accessible in the face of danger.
"Strap them on", the merchant offered while taking something from
the bottom of his wagon. When his arms withdrew he was holding a
large wooden target in his hands.
He jumped down from the wagon and counted a number of paces he found
As he got far enough he unfolded a tripod and placed the target on
Tanon wriggled his joints and moved his head in order to loosen up.
"Go ahead and try", the merchant said heating up to a sale.
The daggers came flying in a regular shower, and the thump, thump,
thump when they burrowed into the target were an unpleasant reminder
of the throwers accuracy.
"You some kind of expert?", the surprised merchant said as he
started out to fetch the daggers. Tanon shrugged as the hint of a
smile started building on his face.
They talked back and forth for quite some time but soon it was time
to leave. They shook hands and parted most pleased with respectively
purchases and sales.
Another night passed uneventfully and early in the morning Xupis
woke the others.
"I'm going out to look for mushrooms", he said and slipped out into
Tanon got the fire going started boiling some porridge. While taking
care of the cooking he noticed the priest had situated himself a bit
away from him and that he apparently was in deep meditation. Time
passed and Tanon almost burned the porridge while staring at the
priest in fascination.
A while later Xupis returned to the camp, he took a deep breath.
"Something smells good!", he said looking at the pot next to the
Tanon offered him by gesturing at his empty bowl and the pot. "Sure
that would be nice", Xupis answered sitting down.
The porridge was wonderful and it reminded him of his youth, he
hadn't eaten porridge for ages. While he was enjoying his bowl the
priest joined them by the fire.
Tanon offered him a portion as well, and the priest scooped it up
heartily, while loudly complimenting the cook.
As they rode along Tanon and Black Skull had started exchanging war
stories, actually Black Skull obviously was doing most of the
talking but Tanon did throw in a few punchlines of his own via the
Xupis wondered how much of what the two told each other was true and
how much wasn't. However they were mostly enjoyable stories. But
when the priest started singing his Tempus war songs it got a bit to
much. Though the song was clear and crisp and not altogether bad,
war and bloodshed was not something Xupis enjoyed that much.
He took point leaving the other two to their conquests and heroism.
7 days had passed since they left Ilvartinan and the journey offered
little excitement say crossing a stream or two. The trees beautiful
as they were, were still trees, and though mother nature was showing
the most splendid side of herself Xupis was in a strange mood.
And toward evening he had all together stopped giving himself time
to enjoy the immense beauty surrounding him. The further south they
got, the more he enveloped himself in deep soul-searching.
Xupis torn from deep thought when the priest yelled his "Who goes
there", in the brashest manner ever.
"Followers of the Sword", a voice boomed back. Obviously the three
coming closer were not warriors in somebody's service. These were
ronin, the tough mercenaries searching the lands for a place to do
The priest decided it might be time for him to hold a sermon in
honor of Tempus and offered the mercenaries to join him, they
The sermon was short but effective, the men bonded with the priest
and decided to strike camp along with them.
The night grew old but the party learned that the south was
relatively quiet, and that this was the reason that they were going
north to seek employment.
They called themselves Karok, Turok and Ren'taan. Ren'taan was
clearly the leader of the pack, but was unwilling to divulge which
religion seemed stronger in the south. Lathathander or Tempus, it
was as if he was hiding something but the priest decided against
digging to deep.
The days that followed after they parted company with the
mercenaries passed quickly, and suddenly they found themselves at
the city gates to Middlering.
"Business or pleasure", the guard asked loudly when they rode up
toward the entrance.
"Huh?", Black Skull answered surprised at the number of guards
patrolling the area.
"I said business or pleasure", the guard repeated annoyed that the
Tempus priest hadn't paid attention the first time he asked.
"Business", Xupis answered stepping in to avoid trouble.
"Right... and how many in your party", the guard asked counting.
"Just the three of us", Xupis answered putting up a convincing face.
"Very well... you may pass", the guard said signaling the men behind
him to let the group through.
Middlering there it lay, stretching into the horizon. It was the
largest city on the island as well as the seat for the governing
council. The town was bustling with activity and life. It was a
prosperous town known far and wide for it's crafty blacksmiths and
artistry. Though the bountiful rural farming areas were renown as
well for their high quality produce. Only one other town of the
island could match the productivity of Middlering, it was called
Sundon and lay further to the south. A steady trade route was
established between the two cities but it was in the trade with the
Northlanders true wealth could be gained. Though this was a fact
widely overseen due to the easy transportation routes connecting the
Even on horseback it took them quite a while to reach the temple
Black Skull dismounted and handed the reins to a young boy at the
"You take good care of him... right?", he said looking somewhat
strictly at the boy.
"Yes Sir", the boy answered and started pulling the horse away, the
horse resisted. But a word of reassurance whispered in its ear by
its master made things easier.
Xupis looked at the two still mounted on his horse "I'll head to
town, who knows we might bump into each other if you stay in town
for a while".
"Who knows?", Black Skull said contemplating giving him a good-bye
blessing. Finally after a lot of contemplation he decided on a
"May your God be with you!", he said with a smile.
"And with you", the thief said with a hint of a two fingered salute.
Tanon raised his hand in a gesture of fair well.
"You to Tanon... you to", Xupis said trying to relax the uneasy
horse, then he was off.
Tanon tapped Black Skull on the shoulder, he turned around to face
the elf. Tanon was pointing at a structure in the distance while
holding his blackboard up.
"Temple of Lathander?", it said. Black Skull studied the words and
looked in the direction his companion was hinting.
"Yes that's their temple!", Black Skull answered disappointed to see
that it was in fact bigger and displaying superior craftsmanship
than their temple.
Black Skull felt more tapping on his shoulder and turned his head
"Bigger", the blackboard said.
"Materialism and correct belief don't follow suit hand in hand",
Black Skull answered loathing the answer. The elf shrugged his
"Forget them, let's go inside, you'll love this"
With those words Black Skull did about and marched straight for the
temple doors. He was stopped by a guard.
"What's your business here", he demanded.
"My business... I'm a follower of Tempus I've come to say prayer and
"That'll be a gold piece each", the guard tried.
Tanon wasn't sure which sounded louder the clank when Black Skull
rammed his fist into the display armor of the guard or the loud thud
from him when he hit the ground.
Other guards were about to react when an elderly scarred man
appeared from behind the veil.
"Let him pass", he ordered with authority. The guards obeyed his
bidding and scuttled back to their posts "I see you have the spirit
within you Welcome", the old man offered.
"Well thank you", Black Skull answered.
"To many of the younger priests wouldn't have had the guts to stand
up to the guards", the old priest said.
"Then things are truly bad here in the south", Black Skull answered.
The old man nodded and exhaled heavily "This here your companion he
a priest as well", the old man asked.
"No Tanon here is a true warrior and adventurer, we traveled
together south from Ilvartinan and faced a hobgoblin scouting party
The scarred man looked at them "If men like you here acting as role
models I believe the Temple can be strong once more", the old man
said with a thoughtful look in his eyes.
"Well... I suppose", Black Skull answered", following the old man in
through the portal.
"No that is certain, but come you must inform the master of the
guard about those hobgoblins".
Xupis had found the tower after asking around and decided the best
way to get some information on the wizard and his possessions would
be by a personal visit. He was feeling quite tired, he had been
waiting long before the wizard finally had time to see him, it was
something about an experiment that couldn't be disturbed. But now
that he was here he might as well make the best of it, and just as
he was planning a closer examination of the window the wizard came
"Fabulous view eh?", the wizard said padding Xupis on the shoulder.
"View... Aehm yes, magnificent", Xupis answered scared that he had
let someone sneak up on him like that.
"Please sit down", the wizard offered. He was dressed in a deep blue
robe with a yellow belt tied loosely around his waist. His mild face
surrounded him in a trustworthy aura.
Xupis sat down in a chair, it adjusted to his proportions in the
strangest way Xupis had ever experienced.
"You like it", the wizard asked him pointing to the chair.
Xupis somewhat baffled by the chair found himself saying "Aehm.. yes
fine". It wasn't that he hadn't tried comfortable chairs
before, it was the way this chair seemed to follow his every
movement in support that surprised him.
"I did that myself", the wizard said proudly.
"Jolly good job", Xupis complimented.
"Now that you say it... yes I think so too", the wizard smiled.
Xupis sat back, he was watched the room while contemplating what to
say, when the wizard interrupted his line of thinking.
"Healing potions are 500 Gold Pieces", the wizard said.
"Healing potions?", Xupis answered thrown off track.
The wizard put up a crooked smile "You have seen battle a short
while ago, have you not?", he asked.
"Well yes, but I am fine", was the only thing Xupis could think of
"Fine today perhaps, but what about tomorrow?", the wizard asked.
Xupis looked straight at the wizard, he didn't like the underlying
tone in the wizard's voice. Too many things told to him by people
these last months had turned out as essential clues to his very
existence "I don't plan to see battle for a long time", Xupis
The wizard smiled "No I suppose you don't, but Xupis don't count to
much on plans. They have a tendency to turn you in directions you
didn't expect or didn't want at first".
How does he know my name, Xupis thought. But then he remembered
presenting himself to the hall porter. What a silly thought, off
course he couldn't read minds... could he?.
"Now to your errand...", the wizard suggested sensing the confusion
in the elf.
"My errand... well I'm looking for something that can aid me in
battle if I meet up with those horrible hobgoblins again.
"Hobgoblins eh...", the wizard looked thoughtfully at the elf "How
about a silenced armor?... incidentally I have one. I'm certain it
would come in handy for whatever tasks you might undertake".
"A silenced armor...", Xupis felt deprived of his tongue for a
moment. Such an item was worth a fortune and an indispensable tool
for someone like himself.
"Yes a silenced armor, would you like to see it?", the wizard asked
in a friendly manner.
"Yes", Xupis stuttered exited about the prospects opening before
The wizard left the room for a moment. Xupis got up and started
studying a painting on the wall. The more he looked the further the
image seemed to draw him in. The snow clad mountains with a lush
forest in a valley beneath seemed almost magical to him. Just as he
reached out toward the picture he felt a hand on his shoulder, and
the feeling dissipated.
The wizard looked at the elf. Very few felt the power of the
painting without being trained in the ways of the elements. Perhaps
the painting was drawing the elf on purpose...
"Nice picture isn't it Xupis", the wizard said with a big smile.
Xupis nodded he was not in the mood for words just now. The painting
had filled his heart with a longing like that map. His thoughts
swirled back for a moment. Had there been a mountain chain like the
one in the painting on that chart? He shook the feeling and followed
the wizard to the table.
With careful hands the wizard placed the armor on the table. It was
thin as silk yet Xupis felt some sort of immense strength radiating
from it as he let his hand run through the fabric.
The wizard looked at Xupis who was studying the armor with
tantalized eyes "It can be yours for mere 5000 Gold Pieces", he
That was the problem, no matter how much he wanted to have the item
it was unattainable to him a price like that was way out of his
reach, his quest for the truth had cost many times that but an
investment of that magnitude would take years to make good for
itself, he would have to do without it.
"I'm sorry but I haven't got 5000 Gold Pieces", Xupis answered with
disappointment in his voice.
"How about doing me a little favor then?", the wizard tempted.
"What sort of favor would that be", Xupis asked with renewed
The wizard looked at Xupis with a gleam in his eyes "It is quite
simple really, all you have to do is to make a 2 week journey to a
tower in the forest and fetch a box for me", he answered.
That was a remark which made Xupis suspicious "Why don't you fetch
it yourself", he asked.
"Aehm because I have to study... I really haven't got the time for
strolling around the countryside. You know I have duties to uphold
here in the city", the wizard answered evasively.
Duties? Xupis didn't believe him for a second, there was another
reason but he didn't want to pry to deeply in the subject instead he
simply answered as if he understood and accepted without question
what the wizard had just told him "I see", he answered without
"I have to warn you... it could be dangerous!", the wizard said with
a grave look on his face.
"Why are there any dragons left", Xupis laughed.
A sad expression started showing on the wizards face "No the last
one was killed some 20 years ago actually", he said.
"Oh... but why do you think it is dangerous?", Xupis asked knowing
that he wouldn't like the answer.
"Because I sent others and they haven't returned", the wizard
"I see", Xupis said thoughtfully "Can I think about it?"
"But off course, don't let me pressure you", the wizard said folding
the armor nicely until it fit straight in the storage box he had
brought with him a moment ago.
Xupis looked at the armor with longing eyes as the wizard shut the
lid tightly on the box.
"Where can an honest man stay for a reasonable price", he asked.
"Oh I believe the Foaming Mug would meet your demands nicely", the
"May I offer you a drink later", Xupis tried. he had almost
forgotten what he had originally come for.
"I don't know I really must study", the wizard answered.
"Hey where is the fun in that?", Xupis asked with a crooked smile.
"Studying can be fun", the wizard answered without hesitation.
"Sure but how often can you find yourself a fine wench while you
study", Xupis suggested.
"Well... er.. I might just drop by when you put it that way", the
wizard said responding perfectly to Xupis's lure.
Xupis got up from the chair, he had a lot of preparation to do so he
had to get moving.
"Well thank you very much for your help and until we meet again
good-bye", he said and shook the wizards hand.
"You're welcome young man", the wizard replied with a firm grip.
Moments later Xupis was on his way.
Tanon was having his measurements taken by a blacksmith who was
showing a little to much enthusiasm for his own good.
"Mmmm", Tanon grunted pushing the blacksmith back.
"To tight isn't it?", the blacksmith said with a funny look on his
"No what my friend here is saying is that he prefers some things
left alone if you get my drift?", the way Black Skull said it made
the blacksmith realize that perhaps he should heed his advice.
"If you want the best armor in town, I gotta do the measurements
properly", the blacksmith snapped.
"Yes properly", Black Skull said emphasizing the last word.
The blacksmith threw his head back and puffed "Men", barely audible.
"What did you say", Black Skull said menacing.
"I said amen", the blacksmith answered offended at the verbal
attacks from the bald man.
Black Skull nodded, if it wasn't for the fact that this supposedly
was the best blacksmith on the entire island neither of them would
allow themselves to be treated this way. However there really wasn't
"Okay done, now you", the blacksmith said pointing at Black Skull.
Black Skull eyed the smith with a look that would have sent shivers
down anybody's spine.
The blacksmith scuttled about and took his measurements and after a
lengthy discussion with himself he was satisfied "Okay no more
measurements today... you come back in 4 days then we will adjust
the armor", he said pointing at Tanon.
Tanon held up 4 fingers. "Yes 4 days... is that so hard to
comprehend", the blacksmith said with eyes skyward.
"Is that enough time to properly forge a piece of armor", Black
Skull asked suspicious.
"Ah you silly big man...", the blacksmith waved his hand "I'm not
going to forge the entire armor now, I already have the main
elements ready all I need to do is to find some in the right size
and put them together, then I can fit them properly".
"You mean you don't make the armor yourself", Black Skull was
growing even more suspicious.
"No the smiths at the workshop take care of that, I just put them
"The workshop?", Black Skull wasn't sure if he really wanted a piece
of armor from this man after all.
"The building behind us", the blacksmith realized that they were
slipping away from him and opened the back door.
"Come, I'll show you", he said signaling them to follow.
The factory was filled with sweating men and dwarves. Each of them
was working on a separate project, one had a gleaming weapon in his
hand, another a plougshard.
This strange mixture of tools and men were an awesome sight indeed.
The men labored with great skill and consideration restoring their
faith in the blacksmith. Nobody running an operation like this could
be half bad.
"I wonder what carrot-head is up to now", Black Skull whispered to
Tanon who was staring at the biggest ax he had ever seen. The dwarf
looked up and smiled as he wielded the weapon like an expert.
"Carrot-head?", Tanon wrote distracted by Black Skull's
"Xupis... the orangish hue of his hair... you never thought about
it?", Black Skull giggled.
Tanon nodded in understandment, but had a hard time pulling his
attention from the magnificent weapons that were being forged,
something was on the way, why else would such arms be made.
"Come now let us give them room to work", the blacksmith said laying
his hands on their shoulders.
Two heads turned slowly toward the blacksmith who despite his
considerable size felt small between the two warriors.
They left the factory just in time to meet up with Xupis who was on
his way to the Broken Skull, an inn of ill repute.
The loud whistle from Black Skull startled the blacksmith "You give
me a heart attack", he said and strode ahead of them into the shop.
"So what are you doing?", Xupis asked.
"We just had our measurements taken", Black Skull answered.
"Measurements?", Xupis was bewildered.
"Oh yeah... we've ordered ourselves a new set of armor each", Black
Skull said proudly.
"I see... so how long will you stay in town then", Xupis asked.
"Oh I'd expect a week at least", Black Skull answered approximating
with his hand.
"I see", Xupis said looking at the shop "Any good?", he hinted.
"Oh yes the best", Black Skull said blinking to Tanon. At first
Tanon didn't understand but then the copper dropped, he nodded
enthusiastically to affirm his companions statement.
Xupis looked at them, what an odd pair. But hey one blacksmith could
be as good as another.
Xupis dismounted and tied his horse outside. Black Skull and Tanon
followed him into the shop.
"Can I help you", the blacksmith said with an examining look.
"I suppose you can... my horse needs to be re-shoed, an you fix that
while I wait?", Xupis asked.
"Sure that'll be 1 gold and 6 silver pieces", the blacksmith
When Xupis drew two gold pieces from his pouch the blacksmith
regretted he hadn't asked for 2 pieces straight but a price was a
price, even if it meant little or no profit.
"By the way I want to see you again in 9 or 10 days", he said and
pointed at Black Skull in the most whimsical way.
"We have to go, but where are you staying?", Black Skull asked.
"At the Foaming Mug", Xupis answered, and before he got any further
the blacksmith cut in.
"I know that place, good choice", he said before fetching some
unfinished horse shoes.
"The best place?", Xupis said looking oddly at his former traveling
companions as soon as the smith was outside hearing range.
"Oh yeah you should see the fatory in the back....", Black Skull
"Just cheking", Xupis warned holding a hand up as the blacksmith
"You know each other?", the blacksmith asked.
"Why don't you tell him Xupis. He'd probably love to hear about it",
Black Skull said tauntingly, then they were off.
It took little more than an hour or so before the Black Smith was
done and the horse could leave with brand new shoes. The Broken
Skull wasn't to hard to find, it was a place everyone seemingly knew
but never frequented.
Xupis tied his horse outside "Hey you", he shouted at a kid loafing
outside the place.
"What... me?", the kid answered wondering if this was a law enforcer
on the lookout for troublemakers.
"Yeah you with the cap.. come here", Xupis shouted looking round
making sure nobody was listening in.
The kid approached slowly. By the looks and the way the foreigner
acted, he probably wasn't a law enforcer after all. When he got
close enough to touch the foreigner spoke.
"Would you like to earn a gold piece", he almost whispered.
The boy opened his eyes wide with delight "A Gold Piece?", he said
"Shush", the foreigner warned putting a finger to his mouth "You
heard me", he added.
"Sure I'd like to", the boy answered now keeping his voice down as
was appropriate in this neighborhood.
"Okay I'll give you a gold piece to mind the horse, and I'll even
throw in an extra when I come back out for your efforts... how does
that sound", the foreigner smiled.
2 gold pieces, that was more than he usually made in a week "Sure
Sir", he nodded.
The foreigner looked around and handed him a coin "Take good care of
him... Okay", he asked.
"You can trust me Sir", the kid answered. The foreigner nodded, the
boy was probably right but one could never be sure. Anyway Xupis
suspected the promise of an extra gold piece would be enough to keep
the boy alert, and it would probably discourage him from taking the
"Just remember to leave the horse in the staples next time Xupis",
the elf whispered to himself.
"What was that?", the boy asked.
"Nothing", the foreigner with the strange name answered and started
toward the door.
"Okay Sir", the boy said but was drowned out by the noise when the
Once inside Xupis scouted around the place and found the place
occupied by usual types one could expect in a place like this.
On his way to the counter he purposely hit his foot against a hair
"Blast!", he exclaimed and added a little curse in the thieven
tongue of Middlering.
A few heads turned, but no one got up. He ordered a big mug from the
bartender, and sat down in a dark corner.
It didn't take long before a shady character sat down by his table,
he looked at Xupis for a moment then he spoke.
"Your leg okay?", he asked innocently adding a little gesture only a
thief would understand.
"It is fine thank you", Xupis answered with a smile; Contact at
"So you've been in town for long", the thief said nonchalantly
knowing the answer.
"No just arrived, and you?", Xupis inquired.
"A while", the intruder avoided skillfully.
"Thought so", Xupis said nodding. He was sure he had gotten
through to the right folks.
They huddled together whispering, ever alert to the fact that
someone could be listening in on their private conversation.
"You shouldn't take using the tongue so easily", the scruffy fellow
"You're right, but I saw no other way of finding out", Xupis
answered with a streak of a smile on his face. He wouldn't mind the
least if the whole world knew, as long as he could find justice for
what they had done.
"Hmmm", the shady man nodded. In a way the foreigner was right, no
one would walk straight up to a perfect stranger asking him if he
was a thief or not. At least not someone valuing his life as much as
the foreigner seemed to do, dressed up and all.
"I need a skillful craftsman", Xupis whispered. This was the
important phase of their conversation. It was the part that could
result in his arrest should the fellow turn out to be an enforcer.
"Skillful you say", the fellow said with a twisted smile.
"An expert really", Xupis fished. If the stranger made the
suggestion he would be the one encouraging the venture not vice
versa. Perhaps a mere technicality but still...
"I can accommodate you with anything you need", the character said.
"Anything?", Xupis asked knowing exactly what to say.
"Yes anything... Smiley here is the best in the business", the
The name was most likely to be a nick. But nevertheless the stranger
had a name now, Smiley... what an appropriate name, Xupis thought
seeing the mans face lighting up.
"You name it Smiley here does it!", the man said.
"A safe...", Xupis asked.
"A safe?", the man answered cryptically.
"Yes a safe", Xupis answered intended not to be the one making the
"Cracked or just poked", the thief grinned.
"Poked really", Xupis answered smiling back at him.
"Anything in particular that has your interest?", the thief asked,
with potential items and targets racing through his mind. The answer
came as a shock to him.
"A small yellow staff", Xupis said without a hint of expectation on
"Like a wizards staff?", the thief asked nervously.
Xupis nodded looking him straight in the eyes. The man started to
hesitate, a wizard's staff - that could be dangerous, he thought.
"Can you deliver?", Xupis asked sending the stranger a gaze that
seemed to be piercing straight into his darkened soul.
"Yes but", the stranger started. Xupis stared at him with cold eyes.
"No hesitation just one of two words, a simple Yes or No will do
nicely", he smiled sternly.
"Yes... it can be done", the stranger answered in a lowered voice,
he wasn't happy with the prospects but a word was a word, and he had
Tanon was leafing through the books at the library, under the
pretext of wanting to study the historical archives he had gained
access to the wizard's private chambers.
His gaze swept across the room as he tried to spy a way into the
building. The servant watched him with interest as he pulled out a
book. Tanon ignored him completely as he paced over to a chair and
For every new book Tanon pulled from the shelf, it seemed the
servant was mumbling something to himself. Obviously he was
memorizing which books had Tanon's interest in order to enable him
or someone else to check up on his research later.
While reading Tanon tried to visualize the interior of the house, or
rather what he had seen of it. Suddenly a presence tore him away
from his thoughts.
"Can I help you", the elderly man said with a gentle smile on his
Tanon was about to open his mouth when he realized and hauled out
The wizard watched him write. So this is the mute, he thought
looking the large elf over a second time.
Tanon had finished writing when the wizard spoke again.
"You know, I could help you with that", he said.
"You can find the book for me?", Tanon wrote.
"Oh sorry... I'm thinking about your tongue", the wizard suggested.
"How", Tanon wrote while hope started filling him up.
"Say you find me a certain sum, how do 700 Gold Pieces sound", the
wizard said waiting for the elf to react.
"Paint?", Black Skull asked with a puzzled expression on his face.
"Yeah you told us we could go do some damage!", the young priest
"With paint?", Black Skull asked very disappointed.
"We could paint slogans on the temple", the priest suggested.
"Slogans... paint... priests of Tempus..", Black Skull mumbled.
"What was that", an eager voice inquired.
"Nothing... I suppose we could do something like that", Black Skull
replied suddenly feeling very old and wise compared to his young
As one could expect in Middlering Black Skull and his followers
ended up at The Broken Skull, their mood was high and beating up a
lonely priest of Lathander on their way hadn't made matters worse.
"See, him over there", someone whispered in Black Skull's ear.
"Yes what about him?", Black Skull whispered back, glancing
suspiciously at the fellow that had the nerve to sneak up on him
like a thief in the night.
"Your friends mentioned you might require his services", the
stranger said in a low tone and pointed at the group of young
Priests who were busy ordering a fifth round.
"Services?", Black Skull asked innocently.
"Eh... yes, services of the how shall I put it... typographical
kind", the stranger said with a twisted smile.
"Oh those services", Black Skull said with a warm and crooked smile
spreading across his face.
"It won't be cheap", the stranger said "But I suppose you have
realized that you'll need someone who can do the job and be off
before anyone notices", he added hinting toward the young priests
who were getting louder by the moment.
"How much?", Black Skull asked with anticipation.
The stranger got very close to Black Skull "Say five Gold Pieces",
the stranger whispered so quietly that it was impossible even for an
elven eavesdropper to overhear.
Black Skull thought for a moment, then he nodded. "Five it is", he
laughed and counted the sum from his wad.
"And what do you want put in words and where?", the stranger asked
"THIEVES DEN, I want him to write THIEVES DEN on the wall of the
Lathander temple in town... and in huge red letters", Black Skull
answered making sure the stranger understood that he wouldn't
"He'll do it... be sure of that, before the night is over you can be
sure that someone will get a big surprise", the stranger giggled.
With that over Black Skull rejoined his comrades, they were getting
very eager now and started getting restless.
"Let us roam the streets, I'm sure you'll have a rewarding
experience if you come with me!", Black Skull boasted in a loud
"Let's go!!!", the priests chanted mesmerized by the prospects of a
rewarding night. The priests of Tempus would get their fair share
It took Black Skull a while to find the Temple of Lathander, as
quiet mice they snook around to see what had been painted on the
wall, much to their disbelief they found nothing.
It was getting late and the priests were in a grumpy mood and when
they finally returned to the temple they were met by humongous red
letters painted on the wall. The message was very clear it said
This was to much for the priest, he had not come this far to be
offended by those Lathanderites and let them get away with it "Let's
make them pay!!!", Black Skull growled loudly.
"Yeah lets get some paint!!!", one of the priest yelled in a
"Paint?", Black Skull howled offended by the mere thought of such
"Yes Paint...", the priest shouted vigorously.
"The only paint you will see tonight is the red color of Lathander
Blood as it spills", Black Skull sputtered.
Black Skull looked around, they were a ragged bunch but they would
have to do "What we need are swords and weapons.... it's payback
time", he bellowed.
"Yeaaahh payback!!!", the priests screamed furiously.
Black Skull got his hands on the youngest of them "You rush straight
into the temple and start removing that paint... the rest of you,
you're with me", he yelled taking command of the small mob that had
Moments later they were at the gates of The Temple of Lathander but
the fight was over before it even started, the twelve drunk priests
and their followers were no match for an armed party of
Lathanderites and the towns guard who were waiting for them.
Among the gathered people Black Skull noticed a grinning face, and
as the towns guard pulled them away the man blinked to him and gave
a slight nod, then Black Skull recognized him. It was the stranger
from The Broken Skull.
The thief was waiting for the wizard at the Foaming Mug, if he
showed up he would do what he could to keep him there, if the old
man didn't come.... well at least that was one thought Xupis didn't
care to explore any further for all of a sudden a puff and a cloud
appeared next to the table and there stood the wizard.
Xupis clapped his hands eagerly and so did several of the regulars
who frequented the establishment.
"A drink?", the thief offered gesturing at the bottle on the table.
"Don't mind if I do", the wizard answered and reached for the
bottle, the night was young and he was going to enjoy it.
The serving maiden returned to the table "Excuse me Sir, an I get
The wizard looked up and a big smile spread across his face, the
thief winked at the wizard.
"I told you, didn't I", Xupis said nodding.
"Indeed you did my young friend... indeed you did", while he spoke
the wizard seemed radiant, his skin glowed like gold and an aura of
supreme dignity came upon him.
Tanon was lying in the bed at The Broken Horn where he had decided
to lodge for the night, he tossed from side to side on the hard bed.
There was something in the air and he wasn't sure if it was good or
bad. Tanon shrugged the feeling off maybe it was just the built-in
healthy paranoia every elf shared, well almost every elf shared
about human settlements. Finally Tanon's mind started to fade into
oblivion and he fell asleep, but it was going to be a restless
"Ha, ha , ha", the wizard laughed and touched her arm gently. The
maiden's face lit up in a smile brighter than the sun.
"So Mary, are you really interested in the stars?", the wizard asked
with a longing gaze.
"Oh yes I simply adore them", the maiden answered gripping his arm
"Then my fair young friend, you have come to the right one, tonight
I will take you to the stars and beyond", the wizard said with a
"For real?", the serving maiden asked enthusiastically.
"For real and beyond", the wizard answered with an odd glimpse in
"Oh I love elder men... they are so.. so"
"Mature?", Xupis interrupted. This whole thing was turning out even
better than he had dared to hope.
"Yes exactly", the maiden answered almost drowning in the wizards
"Can you show me some more tricks", she asked still holding on to
the wizards arm.
"Oh yes.... indeed I can", the wizard answered and rose with a
resoluteness reserved for younger men.
He was quite tall and his clothes added to the effect, the robe
fluttered slightly as if a mighty wind was brewing underneath in
some hidden and forgotten sea.
In one swift movement Mary was swept off her feet as the wizard took
her in his arms and carried her toward the door. She seemed light as
a feather and Xupis couldn't help but admire the grace with which
the wizard strode away.
Take care old man... take care, Xupis thought feeling very pleased
"Have one on me", he shouted before even thinking about what it
would mean to his personal finances.
Ah well money is nothing but dead metal anyway, Xupis smiled and
took another sip of wine.
Black Skull paced up and down the ell floor, he had tried to bend
the bars but to no avail, he was stuck, imprisoned with his little
band of followers and to make matters worse he had found out that it
was politicians who ruled here. That meant that they were bound to
face charges even though Middlering was the main seat of Tempus on
"Guard!", he shouted infuriated by the bleak prospects.
"You lot be quiet in there", a voice boomed back.
"You better do as he says or things will get worse", one of the
followers tried pleading that Black Skull should remain calm.
Black Skull shrugged, he had never expected such cowardice from
fellow men of the order, but such was the place where he found
As he sat down in a dark corner he couldn't help but wonder how he
could mold the priests of the town, they could certainly need the
practice if the horde really was massing in the south.
"Now cast the spell", the white bearded mage said to his apprentice.
The chalice was filled with exotic herbs and substances making it an
extremely potent mixture.
"I'm not sure that I can", the apprentice answered mesmerized by the
beautiful multicolored smoke rising from the surface of the liquid.
"Not sure....", the mage uttered, he felt the urge to abandon his
pupil arise. How could anyone seemingly brilliantly clever come so
far, yet be so unsecure and uncreative. The elderly mage shook his
head and looked at the young Deefrex with a stern expression on his
"That is not something you should concern yourself with... the
council decided you were ready so get on with it"
"Yes sir", the apprentice answered looking down with shame written
all over his face.
"Cenrospi... Daydor... Ehoga", the apprentice started.
The old man jumped toward the boy, but too late and before he could
stop his pupil Deefrex had already swallowed the contents of the
chalice and uttered the words.
The chalice fell to the ground and as the vortex formed with
swirling clouds and strong beautiful lights Deefrex was pulled into
the nexus that connected A'lhim the place of places and reality as
the mages knew it.
The old mage sat down heavily and sighed "Don't worry I'll get you
back... I will spare no time. Nor thirst, nor famine, nor sleep
shall hold me back. This I promise!".
The strange lights started building in Tanon's room. Tanon rubbed
his eyes and tried to blink but the odd vision did not disappear.
Then Tanon tried to pinch his arm but much to his terror the elf
realized that he was not dreaming.
Tanon jumped to his feet wearing nothing but his underpants, he
quickly reached for the sword and grabbed the handle.
The light grew in intensity and a multitude of small cloudy eddies
started forming. First it seemed randomly but then they all
converged in the middle of the room where a bright perfectly shaped
sphere had started forming.
There was a blinding flash of light and a large puff of clouds that
dissipated almost as soon as it appeared, left in the middle of it
was a thin red haired freckled figure.
Tanon could not believe his eyes and gripped the sword even tighter
and took a few steps back.
"Hello", the apprentice said and reached his hand toward the half
Hello? Tanon jumped back in surprise. What in the name of holy
mother earth was this?.
Deefrex looked at the startled elf "My good man, if you tell me
where I am, I'll be straight on my way", he said.
Tanon edged his way toward the bed side table, he stared at the
boyish figure who had appeared and decided to chance picking up his
"On your way?", Tanon wrote and added rather rudely "Who the hell
The red haired boy stared at the elf, was he dumb or something.
"Why aren't you talking?", he asked eyeing the elf suspiciously.
"Long story..." Tanon wrote "Back to my question!", he added
thumping on the blackboard.
"So it has nothing to do with me?", the boy asked to reassure
"No", Tanon wrote quite annoyed about the way the boy behaved.
"Phew... for a moment I thought that I....."
Tanon was getting tired of this little game, who was this stranger
who had entered his room and done so without even opening the door.
"What time is it?", Deefrex commanded.
Tanon looked at the boy as if he was mad.
"Time! day - night - morning?", the young mage demanded.
Just then the cock gave off his first cockcrow "Morning I suppose",
Tanon wrote after which he pulled the curtain slightly to the side
without once taking his eyes of the boy.
The first beams of light flickered into the room and as Tanon slowly
edged his way toward the chair where he had flung his clothes before
going to bed small dust particles whirled around in the light
displaying their dance.
"You mind?", the elf wrote trying to get the other one to turn
around, not because he was shy but it would make it harder for the
boy to attack while he got clothed, which in fact would be quite a
difficult maneuver to achieve if the elf didn't let go of the sword
for a little while.
The boy bearing no thoughts of malice took the request exactly the
way the elf had hoped and turned his back to Tanon.
Tanon was very quick getting dressed that morning and as the cock
gave of his second cockcrow he tapped the boy on the shoulder with
the broad side of the sword.
The apprentice swallowed a big lump, was this going to be the end of
him? To his great relief the elf herded him down into the taverns
dining room where he gestured him to sit down by the table.
"What are you doing here?", Tanon wrote and sat down on one of the
heavy wooden chairs.
"Aehm... you never actually told me where I am", the freckled boy
"You don't know where you are?", Tanon scribbled.
"Yeah, you could say that... but what did master want by sending me
here?", the boy mumbled while he nodded.
"You're on Coyri 'Oso", the elf jotted on the blackboard.
"Coyri 'Osu... then I'm definitely not home, which sphere is Coyri
'Osu?", the apprentice asked and looked out through the window. The
people here sure dressed funny that much was sure.
The knock on Xupis's window was barely audible but Xupis a light
sleeper almost jumped at the sound.
Realizing it was daybreak he hurried to the window and peeked out.
In the back alley stood the most miserable sight Xupis had seen for
a long time it was the ruffian from The Broken Skull. His clothes
were smoking and his skin seemed brown and scorched.
Xupis unfastened the locks and opened the window. "Water...", the
thief begged in a hoarse voice.
Xupis was quick to offer him some water and while the thief
voraciously gulped down every drop of it Xupis slipped into his
clothes. He offered the thief a hand and pulled him inside.
"So what went wrong", Xupis asked looking at the ragged clothes the
"The tower came alive", the thief began.
"It came alive", Xupis said with disbelief.
"It was horrible, one minute I was climbing the outer wall the
"The tower came alive", Xupis interrupted.
"Yes exactly", the thief said with horror in his eyes. "It chased me
until daybreak and then all of a sudden it was gone", he continiued.
"So you have no artifacts?", Xupis said somewhat disappointed, the
burglar had probably been caught by some kind of hypnotic trap
because a running tower would have caused quite a stir all over
"No but I won't go back", the thief said firmly.
Xupis just nodded, he knew that getting into a wizards tower could
be hard but not impossible, all the same he decided it might be a
good idea to sharpen some of his skills.
"Is there a master of the guild in town? I'd like to study the finer
arts of locksmithing and finding traps", he said looking at the
"You're going in yourself?", the burglar said with hesitation.
"Why that is for me to know and you to find out", Xupis answered
with a smile. There was no way he would expose himself further to
this failure of a thief.
"I suppose I can help you", the burglar answered after a moment of
thought "Tomorrow at the broken skull... noonish", he added.
"Tomorrow, sounds fine... I suppose I don't have to show you out",
The thief smiled and nodded lightly, the elf had beat him fair and
square. Without further delay he slipped out the window and into the
early morning shadows, he might just be able to get back home
without anyone noticing.
Deefrex stared around the bar the regulars had not yet started
coming say one shady character standing at the bar desk mumbling
"But what are you doing here?", the boy asked.
"I'm looking for a tongue", Tanon wrote he was beginning to get the
impression that the boy had appeared in his room by accident.
"Really and where are we again?", the mage apprentice asked.
"Coyri 'Oso... it is an island", Tanon wrote "The local wizard can
explain!", he added.
The barkeep paced over to their table, it looked like the previous
evening had taken quite a toll on him, but nevertheless he was on
his feet, ready to serve his customers.
"Can I get you anything?", the patron asked as he stopped.
"I would like some t'ea", the boy answered "and a thick loaf of
white bread with butter I'm famished", he added.
"We don't have any t'ea", the barkeeper answered.
The boy chuckled oddly "Then some juice thank you!", he tried.
"We don't serve none of that fancy foreign stuff here", the
"What is this place then?", the boy sputtered annoyed that the man
seemed short of the quite ordinary.
"This here is a bar", the heavy set man wheezed "We serve normal
alcoholic beverages and if that don't suit you then why is you
"Aehm... water would be nice", the boy said trying to smoothen thing
"Water?", the barkeeper asked somewhat surprised.
"Yes water!", the boy answered straight back at him "You think that
would be possible?"
"I suppose", the barkeeper shrugged and turned toward Tanon.
Tanon waved him off and the barkeep dragged his weary feet back
toward the desk.
"Bread and water for the kid, nothing for the elf", he yelled and
started talking to the man at the bar.
A second day passed and Black Skull was still in prison, he had
grown weary of his imprisonment and loudly demanded to be put before
The other priests failed in keeping him still and the guard entered.
"What's the problem here?", he asked and looked at the miserable
bunch of priests who had a very hard time containing themselves.
"I demand to be put before a judge", Black Skull yelled.
"So you do...", the guard laughed and turned around but that was too
much for one of the young priests no one turned his back on the
mighty Black Skull of the North in contempt no one.
He raised his hands and concentrated but all he got from it was a
mighty fizz and a loud bang. "No sweat kid, I've already tried, I
think Tempus isn't too pleased with our performance last night",
Black Skull said to the young priest who couldn't have left the rank
of acolyte more than a few months ago.
The young priest sat down in despair "Will we never get out of
here?", he mumbled.
"By Tempus we will", Black Skull announced loudly. The promise
cheered them all up for a moment but after a while the enthusiasm
died back down and most of them went to sleep.
Black Skull stood alone by the window and stared out on the starlit
sky when he heard some noise coming from the outside, it sounded as
if someone was scaling the wall.
At that instant a well known face popped up outside the bars.
"Xupis is that you", the astonished priest whispered.
"Yes... it's really me", the little elf muttered "Hang on a second
I'll just make myself a little more comfortable".
The priest suddenly cheered up, had the elf come to break him out?
But he was a follower of Lathander wasn't he? Black Skull was a
little bewildered, but before he could think any further the elf
broke his concentration.
"Would you be interested in getting out of here?", he asked.
Black Skull stepped back and shook his head, no it wasn't a dream,
if it was a dream he would have been the one on the outside not that
thief "But yes off course", he answered.
"What would you do if I got you out?", the elf asked.
Black Skull thought for a while before answering "Well thank you I
The elf looked disappointed "Only that?", he asked.
"What else can I say", the priest answered.
"Okay let me put it another way... what would it be worth to you if
I got you out?", Xupis asked.
"I dunno, depends on the sentence they plan to give me", Black Skull
"Okay then we'll wait until they bring you to court - good night!"
"Good night", the priest answered.
As silently as he had arrived the elf slipped away and his slender
figure disappeared into the night.
Black Skull stood there for a while pondering about what had just
happened, why was the elf so eager to help him... there had to be an
ulterior motive, well he'd find out soon enough better to get some
sleep, maybe they'd be presented to a judge tomorrow.
When Xupis woke up he knew it was too late, outside the whole town
was bustling with activity, well there was nothing he could do about
that so he jumped out of bed and dressed as fast as he could. The
elf bolted downstairs and didn't even bother to answer when the
landlord asked if he wanted any breakfast. As fast as his elven legs
could carry him he headed for the courthouse.
"Disturbing the peace, encouraging civil unrest, planning a skirmish
against the Temple of Lathander, do you have anything to say in your
"Yes your honor", Black Skull started "We were just out in town
minding our own business when we on our way home noticed some nasty
red huge letters on our temple"
"What did they say", the judge asked with interest.
"I cant say it out loud", Black Skull muttered.
"Well if that's the case I'd say you have no excuse", the Judge
"Wait.....", Black Skull said summoning all his strength.
"Come on we have a busy schedule here", the judge added urging Black
Skull get on with his final statement.
Black Skull clenched his fists together "It said THIEVES DEN"
The judge looked fatherly at the accused priests and fastened his
gaze upon the Lathanderite who was busy whispering to his council.
"Now did you do that", the judge asked
"No your honor we did not", the Lathandrian priest answered.
The judge turned toward Black Skull "Can you prove your
"No Sir, my fellow men of the robe washed it off". Black Skull was
no happy with the answer and a slight giggle from the audience in
the courtroom followed.
The judge looked at the priests for a while before deciding on how
to proceed with the matter.
There was a tension in the courtroom which spread through the air
like the strangeness which follows a bolt of lightning.
The judge coughed and then began saying his judgment "hmmm my dear
priest, as you know this is a peaceful city and we wish it to
continue having such a city - therefore if you have any problems
kindly leave them outside the city walls...."
He paused for a moment before continuing. "I find that your attack
on the Lathanderites was totally unprovoked and...."
"Unprovoked!!!", Black Skull howled.
The noise from his hammer boomed through the courtroom at the judge
knocked hard on his desk "Order, I will have order in this
courtroom", he demanded.
But there was no stopping Black Skull now he simply had to have his
say "But we are priests of Tempus and thus should be free to
"Worship yes", the judge interrupted "Make war within the city
Black Skull couldn't believe his ears, had the proud south sunk so
"Since you're a newcomer I will show lenience, I hereby sentence you
to 20 days of community labor", the judge continiued.
"What is that", Black Skull asked suspiciously.
The judge gave him a pleasant smile that he wasn't quite sure he
liked, but Black Skull paid attention to the judge all the same.
"You will help out at the orphanage. My wife runs the place so don't
expect that you can just loaf around without me hearing about it"
An orphanage children, diapers! Black Skull felt as if a noose had
been laid around his neck.
"But your honor kids live in the orphanage I'm a warrior....
The judge cut him short "That is correct and that is why I am
sending you to work there so that you can help the children to
understand how delightful and wonderful life is, so that they can
appreciate it fully".
"Can't I just spend 40 days in prison?", Black Skull said with a
"You will face your sentence and follow the rulings of this court to
the letter or I will hunt you down and incarcerate you for the rest
of your life", the judge snapped.
"Oh okay... if that's how you feel", Black Skull rebuttled.
The judge gave Black Skull a menacing look and the priest refrained
from further ado.
"Your duty starts tomorrow - make sure that you wash yourself and
appear presentable when you go to work"
Black Skull nodded and looked down, these were miserable times
Xupis couldn't help but let of a slight giggle. The mere thought of
this man taking care of a bunch of children was absurd Beadhead
would definitely need a drink.
The inn was crowded and the two of them Black Skull and Xupis
blended right in. They choose a dimly lit table toward the back wall
but that didn't prevent a Lathanderite to come up to their table.
In a fatherly manner he placed his hand on Black Skulls shoulder "We
forgive you!", he said with a smile.
That did it. Black Skull fought to keep his temper but before he
knew it he had paid a messenger boy five silver pieces in order to
topple the Lathanderite over when he left the establishment.
It took a while but finally the Lathanderite decided to leave, he
laughed and jested on the way out but as he took the final step
through the door a tiny leg appeared from the darkness behind a
The priest took a nose-dive and ended up in a puddle of mud that had
appeared as if by divine intervention.
An expectant hush fell over the establishment which was broken by
Black Skull's thundering laughter, this in turn triggered an entire
chorus of sniggering and grins.
The Lathanderite to embarrassed to find out what had really happened
decided to get out of the situation as soon as possible and left
without further incident.
"You know Xupis, I really have to go but perhaps I'll see you
Xupis nodded and took a sip, he wiped the foam from his mouth and
smiled "Perhaps", he said cryptically with a nod.
Black Skull had been at the scribe, with a lot of enthusiasm he had
convinced the man to sell him some paper a pen and a small pitcher
On his way to the temple he ran into Tanon and someone clinging to
the elf as if they were friends.
Then he noticed something strange. There was a glowing sphere over
Tanon's head which suddenly turned into a flock of flying birds.
Tanon was quite obviously annoyed and was about to write something
when he recognized Black Skull.
"Hello there", Tanon wrote and held the board in the air, Black
Skull nodded a greeting in return.
"Whence have you come", the priest inquired.
"Oh we were at the inn...", Tanon started. "And your friend?", the
"Long story", Tanon wrote.
"Oh I see... well maybe you can tell me later I have some important
business to attend to", Black Skull said attempting to avoid being
drawn into a lengthy discussion.
"Sure", Tanon wrote and showed it to the priest.
Black Skull smiled and nodded "Well.... then I'll be off I guess.
See you around".
Tanon nodded and the two of them, the elf and the child mage started
walking down the muddy streets again making sure their hoods were
secure in the biting wind which was growing.
"So you want a new tongue", Sunstone asked.
Tanon nodded. "Then why don't you just take it from someone", the
Tanon was astounded "You can't just kill anyone and then take his
tongue", he scribbled doing his best to keep the blackboard dry.
"Well have you tried?", the mage inquired. Tanon looked at him with
an annoyed expression on his face.
"Elves don't go around killing anyone or anything to gain personal
profit", he scratched hastily with increasing difficulty.
"Oh I see", Sunstone muttered trying to understand the place he had
ended up in
Meanwhile Black Skull had returned to a dry and well warmed room in
He sat down on a chair and started composing. It was going to be a
choral work for two and he would name it Elianor.
At that very moment it seemed as the heavenly shutters were closed
for the rain stopped and a streak of sunlight peaked through the
dense cloud cover which had put its dreary hand on the scenery.
"I was wondering", Sunstone started "Would you like me to help you
Tanon looked at the young boy and shrug his shoulders then gestured
with his hands that he was open for suggestions.
Tanon and Sunstone were in an oval chamber waiting for the towns
mage. When he arrived he looked at the child mage with interested
"Deefrex... am I right", he uttered seemingly in an attempt to guess
the boy's name.
"Woah that's incredible", Sunstone started. How on earth could the
old man now his name of initiation "Where am I", he inquired.
The old man stroked his beard in a very speculative manner "You are
on Coyri 'Osu in the Moon sea"
"Where", the baffled boy inquired. The old man huffed and gestured
for him to come closer.
"Come hither I'll show you", the old man demanded.
Deefrex walked up to him like a puppy eager to please his master and
the old man put a wrinkled hand on his forehead.
A bright light seemed to fill Deefrex's mind and at that very
instant it became clear to him where he was. Then all of a sudden he
realized why he was on Coyri 'Osu.
He was sent here by his master to help Tanon get a new tongue and
when he had accomplished that his mentor would come for him...
The cemetery looked like a great waste and a dark dreariness sank
over them as they crossed into it through the magnificently crafted
"No - no way!", Tanon wrote when the idea sunk in. He grabbed the
young boy by his neck and stopped him dead.
"Okay, okay it was only a suggestion", the boy managed to say while
wriggling away in an effort to get loose.
Tanon looked at him with hard eyes and shook his head.
"I get the picture", Deefrex replied, relieved that the huge elf had
let go of him.
Tanon stared at him for a moment to make sure that the boy fully
understood the implications of what he had suggested then he turned
around and marched straight up to the nearest tavern.
The orphanage was an old building, the walls were weather worn and
the stone set foundation has dark green mosses growing on every
available spot. A bushy and thorned shrubbery climbed up the
southern wall and functioned as a sanctuary for several bird-nests
and several beautifully colored birds were busy gathering and
bringing supplies to their youngsters.
Inside Deefrex a mere child himself was showing the orphans some
magic tricks and as the glowing sphere drew near one of the small
boys he noticed the child had an exceptional natural ability for
magic, for as the sphere came up to him the boy projected thoughts
that caused the sphere to whiz back and forth through the room
changing color at every turn.
Deefrex immediately took an interest in the child and as soon as his
little show was over he decided to teach the little boy a few basic
skills he was going to need when growing up.
"So Tom do you know what this is?", Deefrex asked looking at the
"A book", the boy tried.
"Yes a book... and do you know why we have books", the mage
The little boy backed away and looked at the mage with scared eyes
"To hit little boys when they have been bad"
Deefrex almost dropped the book in astonishment "What"
"I'm a good boy", Tom whimpered.
"I know you are", Deefrex said taking a step toward the youngster.
"Really", the boy asked looking at him with innocent eyes.
"Yeah sure", Deefrex confirmed making the boy feel somewhat more at
"Do you really think books are used to hit little boys who have been
"Most of the time", Tom explained.
Deefrex couldn't help but laugh, the sniggering caught on and soon
the small boy was giggling like never before.
"You thought", Deefrex laughed and lifted the book.
"Yes", Tom sputtered looking a little suspicious at the same time.
Deefrex smiled and threw himself into a chair next to the boy "What
would you say, if I told you that books contain stories and laws
that say hitting small boys isn't allowed?"
"Uhm I dunno?"
"Well they do... come sit here I'll show you", Defreex said padding
the armrest on the huge chair.
The boy came over at sat next to him with timid steps.
"Do you know the alphabet?". Deefrex asked.
"Lafabet?", Tom asked trying his best, this man sure spoke funny.
"No Alphabet A-B-C-D... etc.", Deefrex explained.
The boy looked at him with big eyes full of wonder which told
Deefrex that the child had absolutely no idea what the mage was
"Okay you see this one", Deefrex said pointing at a picture "This
here is a feline creature do you know what we call them?". The boy
shook his head and looked up at Deefrex again.
"See the letters C-A-T... what do you think they mean", Defreex
"COW?", the boy answered thinking about how funny it would be to
have a striped cow, yeah he'd definitely get himself one of those
when he grew up.
Deefrex shook his head....
"HORSE?", the boy tried noticing the despairing look on Deefrex's
"No No No", Deefrex started before realizing he would have to take
it very easy "Okay try this. Can you say K-A-T..."
Now that was easy "Kat", Tom pronounced proudly knowing that the
teacher would be proud if he knew.
Deefrex lit up like a candle "Yes that's it. CAT as in mouse
"Oh I see", the little boy answered and looked at the picture for a
moment, he still found it quite odd that someone would call a cow
for a cat.
The marketplace was crammed full of people but in the confusion
Black Skull finally spotted the man whom he was looking for.
"So troubador would you be interested in a job", he asked and looked
at the cap in front of the entertainer. The meager earnings didn't
excactly impress and Black Skull wondered if he had made a bad
"Ah the people here simply don't appreciate music", the musician
said and threw the few copper pieces he had made during the day into
With resolution he placed the cap on his head and fastened the lute
on his back "Whereto?", he asked freshly.
There was something about his manner which appealed to the priest
and without further ado he gestured the trouhbadoure to follow him.
"You see I have these...." and that was all which could be heard
before the two of them dissapeared behind the corner.
"Who's there", a female shouted.
"Black Skull priest of Tempus", the albino announced with pride.
"Eh.... and George the Minstrel", another voice cut in.
The door opened and out came a dazzling female with the most radiant
"We are looking for Elianor", Black Skull began.
"Why?", the woman asked suspiciously.
"About some work", Black Skull hurried to explain.
"Oh but we already have a magician", the woman answered a little
"No you misunderstand - your husbond sent me", Black Skull said with
the biggest smile he could present.
"Oh you.... but you arn't supposed to come untill tomorrow", the
beautifull woman answered with a twittle of a smile.
"Well I figured I might get to know the place", Black Skull began.
Elianor looked at the big priest with dreaming eyes "Please come
The place was huge and built like a maze but as the tour came to an
end the three of them sat down in the kitchen.
"T'ea anyone", Black Skull offered.
"I have'nt had that for ages", Elianor said blinking in a most
seductive manner "Please wait I'll put the kettle on".
That look was more than Black Skull could resist and with resolution
he rose and announced that he would take care of that.
In one swift move he moved the already hot kettle to the middle of
the stove and it didn't take long before it came to a boil.
A sweet odour filled the room as Black Skull poured the steaming
water into three large mugs.
"Oh that smells simply divine", Elianor announced.
"Yes it is an exquisit blend!", Black Skull agreed putting the
kettle back onto the stove in its resting place.
The troubadour examined his cup and then decided to down the
colored water and leaves in a big gulp which was something he
probably shouldn't have done judging from the coughing and puffing
Black Skull laughed and even Elianor couldn't help but sniggle. The
troubadour not sure about how to react said nothing and simply
Black Skull restrained himself and thumped on the troubadours back
in a friendly way.
"See the importance with t'ea is how you enjoy it. For instance what
you just did downing half of it in one go", Black Skull just shook
The troubadour nodded and tried a carefull sip with a much better
A while later the t'ea had done what Black Skull intended and he
cleared his throat.
"I'd like to perform a song for you if I may", Black Skull began.
Elianor looked at him with eyes sparkling like those of a man
looking at a Dragons horde of gold.
"A song... how wonderfull... I'll just gather the children"
"Aehm children?", Black Skull had not excactly planned a large
audience but before he got further with his thoughts Elianors voice
cut right through his mind.
"Yes the children they love a good song"
Black Skull had a resigned look on his face while he nodded as if in
agreement to what Elianor had proposed and as soon as she had left
the room he pulled his piece out and hastily scribbled a few
changes. He then showed them to the troubadour who agreed that the
changes he made probably were in their best interrest as the
audience would probably consist most of children.
The children were awaiting the pair eagerly and had great troble
staying still untill Black Skull emerged in the door opening. The
priest sent elianor a charismatic smile gave a slight nod to the
troubadour and started singing.
The song wasn't very long, the alterations made had cut it several
verses short but it nevertheless did the trick. The song was
receiveds with wild appraisal from the youngsters and with an
affectionate smile from Elianor.
"Beautifull song", Sunstone said offering a Gold Piece to the
priest. Black Skull declined the honor saying that the children had
more need for a contribution a comment that triggered an entire
range of emotions in the Lady Elianor.
She came up to the priest with a seductive look on her face "Could I
ask you a favor", she smiled.
Black Skull felt the blood rush through his body, he hadn't been
with a woman for quite a while but he couldn't. Not with this one
she was already married. Darn shame, Black Skull thought loosing
himself to an inner fantasy.
"Well can I?", Elianor asked.
"Huh.. what?", Black Skull muttered "...Oh off course", he added
with a smile.
"Could you play with the children for a while?"
Black Skull looked at her with great surprise "Play with the
"Yes play with the children", Elianor repeated.
Black Skull coughed "How... I mean". He didn't get any further
before Elianor interrupted him.
"Oh I dont know... use your wisdom - sing with them play - whatever.
Remember there is a boy in every man", she twittered.
"And a man in every boy", the priest added as if to reassure his
Elianor nodded and started leaving. Black Skull who hadn't excactly
planned for childcare hesitated. Taking care of hildren... him?
However it didn't matter what Black Skull wanted. The simple fact
was that before he could say or do anything Elianor had dissapeared
along with the young mage and the troubadour, leaving the priest
alone with the children.
"It seems I'll stay a while", he began "I think I'll sing you
There once was a warrior
A most valiant man
He rode a horse white as snow
The eyes, the eyes they had a glow
The sword he used on many a beast
He fought most...
Pretty soon the room was in turmoil with the boys running around all
wanting to be the hero but when his song of the beastslayer ended
Black Skull noticed that all the girls were sitting in the corner in
a moment of sheer inspiration he made up a song of a warrior maiden
and less than five minutes later even the girls were quarreling
about who was a greater hero Beastslayer Verran or Ismelda the
Xupis had decided that they would have to accept the mission, or
rather he would have to accept the mission. He could always worry
about the others later which was why he found himself heading for
He shuddered when he entered, he had never quite fancied those
wizards. They were dangerous yet so interesting. But the mood
swings... one moment they could be the happiest person around and
the next BOOM!!!
Xupis closed his eyes as a chill ran down his spine. No! definitely
look out for those wizards.
"Aah it's you", the old man exclaimed shaking Xupis's hand. The
thief smiled and nodded.
The old man looked at him "So you think you're a man with talents
for performing the impossible", he said.
"Definitely!", Xupis said while he lit up his face with a confirming
"Hmm", the old man said stroking his beard. For a moment the wizard
was measuring Xupis with an intense look.
But just as he was about to speak a knock interrupted their
conversation. The wizard looked at a mirror and waved his hand. A
shimmering image of the door appeared and outside stood the boymage
and a child which couldn't be more than 5 years of age.
"Yees...", he said, still looking at the mirror. After another
moment of contemplation the wizard turned his attention back toward
"Would you excuse me for a moment", the comment was more a statement
than a courtesy for the old wizard had already gotten up from his
chair when his said this.
"Off course!", Xupis answered with a submitting nod.
The robed wizard scuttled out leaving Xupis alone to ponder about
the mysteries of the magic world.
In another room in the tower a rather agitated wizard tried to avoid
the boymage's suggestion without insulting him. How could he, merely
an apprentice see the potential in such a young child. Even masters
had great difficulty spotting talent. And they had the training and
experience to recognize such things.
"But I am telling you he is an excellent learner, he already knows
alphabet as well as rudimentary reading and writing", Sunstone
"You must I'm a very busy man", the old wizard tried.
"But an apprentice could make life so much easier", the boymage
The old wizard looked at the small child chasing a herd of imaginary
butterflies he had conjured up with the mere flick of a hand "How?",
he asked skeptically.
Sunstone thought for a while before answering "Well he could clean
up, you know fetch books n'stuff".
The older man looked at the pair of them, the boymage a scant image
of a wizard, a rough and self centered young soul. A dangerous
combination in a wizard and then at the child who was now staring at
the butterflies mesmerized by the way they were changing shape and
color. Run errands? He would think about it, it was a serious
decision not only for himself. I wonder if the boy truly understands
which world he suggested that the child entered.
"Listen if he turns out to be a decent kid at the age of 13 he can
become my apprentice. He really needs to be among children that are
his own age for now... He can come to the tower once a week until
then and if he is interested. Well that'll be up to him".
"Yippee... Did you hear that?", Sunstone was ecstatic.
"So forest of the whale you know it?", the wizard asked pointing at
the oddly shaped woodlands.
Xupis placed his index finger on the map "Yes just North of here...
The wizard nodded and looked at Xupis funny how good things came in
odd packages these days but the guild would pay and then the true
adventure could begin.
"...the one with the big clearing!", Xupis mumbled and put on
a serious face.
"Absolutely... I see the job will be well handled in your capable
hands", the wizard said rubbing his beard.
"But off course", Xupis verified "By the way what exactly is it you
want me to fetch", he added somewhat concerned about the task
itself. He itched at an opportunity to get into the vault but he had
to earn the wizards trust. Its a pity I'm really starting to like
this old geezer, Xupis thought when he was interrupted by a voice
that seemed to invade his mind with a force like no other he had
The wizard spoke with determination "It is a square box that sits in
the tower which is marked on the map"
"The tower but why haven't you gone there yourself", Xupis asked a
"Its a long story, but to cut it very short - nobody from our
chapter can enter"
"Yes our guild... we were once involved in some unfortunate affairs
and those of us who survived were banished from ever setting foot in
the forest again.
"What would happen if you did", Xupis asked innocently.
"You don't want to know", the wizard answered and strangely enough
Xupis suddenly found himself more interested in the task than in
"Does anybody live there?"
"Live?", the wizard smiled "No... nobody lives there!"
"Oh good, I hate creepy places teeming with life, it makes the job
so difficult", Xupis said while a satisfied smile crept over his
"Yes doesn't it", the wizard smiled.
"About the box how does it look?", Xupis inquired.
"Oh you'll recognize it when you see it", the wizard said with a
"Yes it's black", the old man mumbled.
"As the night?", Xupis pressed.
Xupis wasn't sure if that was something he liked to know it didn't
sound very pleasant, no magic did really.
"Anything I should look out for?"
The wizard stared out the window with a sad look before he answered
"Yes beware of the guards!"
"Guards? but you said nobody lived there!"
"The guards don't live - they guard".
Xupis was getting a bad feeling about the whole thing and felt like
quitting everything right there and right then but he kept digging
for more information. There was something compelling with this job,
a feeling that something great might grow from it.
It was one of those ambivalent feelings you get when somebody waves
an extra bag of gold for less than a weeks work and the bag for the
job you have just completed.
Xupis rubbed his forehead "So this is a one man job you reckon?"
"No, no - there is strength in numbers", the wizard pointed out with
a strained expression.
"Got any suggestions then?", Xupis demanded.
"Yes bring a priest!".
Xupis looked at the wizard with distrust "A priest?"
"Yes a priest.... and a mage", the wizard repeated while adding
another element to the cocktail.
"Both?", Xupis asked hoping that it wasn't paramount to bring a
The wizard looked at the thief... a sly one indeed, he smells
treasure that one for sure
"You must bring both it is most important", the wizard stressed.
"I see..", Xupis said a little disillusioned.
"And bring a fighter along... you know for morale"
"A fighter sure no problem", the thief answered. Xupis was starting
to feel a bit tired but he knew there was something he had to try.
"By the way old friend we discussed a certain item yesterday!"
"We did?", the old man said a little surprised.
"yes we did", Xupis confirmed.
"Oh", the wizard wasn't exactly sure what the thief was referring to
but he had a nagging suspicion about what was coming up.
"The silenced armor... you think I could borrow it?", Xupis asked.
"Yes... and keep it when I return with the item you requested?", the
The wizard looked at the thief who in turn stared at him with
pleading eyes "I suppose". the old man answered.
He pounded the leather armor, the man on the receiving end laughed
eerily. Thud after thud his opponent found his strength drain away.
"Here take this", a spectator yelled and sent a stubby sword flying
into the arena in a beautiful arc.
The weaponless fighter threw himself toward the blade and caught it
"Let's see who'll take the price now you Arakian scum", he growled
and threw himself into the fight with redoubled strength.
The cheers were immense and Tanon rooted for the home team as well.
"Kruta, Kruta", the crowd screamed in hypnotized awe.
"Twenty gold pieces on Kruta not bad", the bookmaker said and took
Tanon's bet. That very instant the crowd roared wildly and as Tanon
turned he realized he had lost the wager. The Arakian held Kruta's
head high in the air and growled.
For a moment the crowd was silent and then the cheers began "Ro'tin,
Ro'tin...". Tanon stared at the warrior who displayed his opponents
head to the crowd while taking their applause a feeling of nausea
came upon him, he had never expected them to kill each other.
The big elf shook his head and headed for the nearest inn. The place
looked quite shady but Tanon didn't mind, he had to get these images
out of his mind and a drink seemed like an easy solution.
As he entered he saw Xupis discussing something with one of the
customers. The character nodded and Xupis slid him a pouch.
"Fifteen in advance and the rest tomorrow when you take me to your
The man took the pouch, "Until tomorrow then"
Xupis looked at him and then pointed a the throat "Tomorrow or
else...", the semi circular motion and the expression on Xupis's
face were more than enough to convince the recipient that there was
ample reason to keep up his end of the bargain. He scuttled off like
a scolded dog a couple of the other customers laughed and showed him
the same gesture.
"What was that about?", Tanon wrote and sat down by Xupis.
"You want to earn ten gold pieces", Xupis asked.
"Sure", Tanon jotted and signed the barkeep to take an order.
"Follow that man who is leaving the bar and report about his
whereabouts, especially if he meets anyone and places he visits"
Tanon nodded and got up, he looked at Xupis who immediately slid him
a small pouch.
"Listen I'm paying you to do this!", Sunstone argued.
"Well not nearly enough it is one thing to kill a man but to uncover
a grave... the mere thought of it gives me the creeps"
"Grow up, they're dead what harm can they do", Sunstone said turning
his eyes upward in a gesture of disappointment. The two men had
already received ample compensation what had they expected?. He
handed then the shovels without another word.
"I'll keep watch", he said and started to look around in a gesture
to ensure no one caught them in their venture.
What a strange fellow that elf, why mind whose tongue it was, it was
not like anyone would complain. The thought was quite amusing to the
young mage and he forgot all about time and place as he stood there,
but suddenly the sounds of a desperate scuffle caught his attention.
"Help us", the rather bloated fellow screamed while he fended a bony
hand with his shovel.
The other man was on his knees "What do we do? What do we do?", he
"Fifty gold pieces say you fight", Sunstone yelled, as a glowing
sphere started growing between his hands.
"I can't", the man cried petrified by the attack.
"You jump that on,e I'll take the other - just bash those dry bones
to pieces", the mage shouted as the sphere suddenly sped forward.
"J... Jump it? You must be out of your mind!", the bloated fellow
howled and took a wild swing at the nearest skeleton. Just then the
glowing sphere hit its designated target sending bone fragments out
in all directions.
"Fifty gold pieces?", the man shouted trying to count the skeletons
which where closing in.
"Fifty", the mage replied firmly.
Sun Stone's words almost had a magical ring to them and the man
jumped from the dig.
As they both approached the small horde of undead, a swift blow from
the mage missed the ribcage of what seemed to be the scariest
skeleton he had ever seen.
The magic sphere had taken a lot of Sunstone's strength and he
wasn't sure he'd dare use more magic to stop those rattling heaps.
The digger who had been on his knees suddenly leapt up and was on
top of the nearest skeleton doing his best to dismantle it joint by
That's the spirit, Sunstone though and took a serious slash from a
Blood gushed from the wound but it didn't seem to bother the mage
and in a fit of rage his shovel cracked a skull and split one of the
attackers in half.
"Yeah", the bloated fellow shouted and slashed the legs off another
The last two undead apparently decided that time had come to skip
the fight, you don't undie twice.
But Sunstone was certainly not going to let them get away with their
A hissing closed in and the final two were swept up by a small
tornado which ripped them into pieces before they were more than
twenty paces away.
"That'll teach them", the chubby fellow said and leaned heavily on a
"Yeah it sure will", Sunstone answered triumphantly.
Xupis who had found Tanon was looking for Black Skull, he was quite
sure he could lure Tanon into the quest without payment but he
wasn't so sure about the priest though.
His small hands knocked on the temple door and after a short wait a
"We seek Black Skull of the Northlands", Xupis began.
"Ah you must be the two elves", the guard replied with a nod.
"Black Skull told you about us", Xupis asked proudly. "Oh yeah...
you wait right here I'll fetch him", the guard answered with a
strange notion on his face.
they go to nearest bar and they disuss the job
what's in it priest asks
how much is lots
priest suspicious wants to talk to employer
and suddenly mage appears pretty beat up
thief quickly fastens note bead head to the tempus priests back in
whatever happoned to you oh some skeletons in the graveyard It's all
yes they're supposed to are for the dead
who is this guy the thief asks
tanon explains who the mage is and introduces the people to the mage
a mage you wouldn't be interested in a job?
already got one
I'm a wiz apprentice
why are you here then
aehm I'm waiting for my master to bring me back I'm helping tanon
get a tounge
Hey I'm helping him to do that too the priest says
then while you're waiting why don't you join us for a little
I dont know
there'll be lots of gold - fame and glory the thief said with
not really interrested in suh matters
Tanon is coming - right mate the thief said slapping tanon on the
YES - tanon wrote
I guess I could come too then
Hey tanon by the way I got you a tounge
but No money
dont worry I got that covered - the mage hands tanon a gem worth at
least 800 GP's
tanon excited wants to see mage now
now? well okay!
they leave for the mage
don't disturb me
I said don't disturb me
mmlmlmrrlmgbhhlg the wiz said and everything went silent
puzzlement in the band
but they soon discover it is a spell dampening all noise in and
around the tower
guess there is nothing to do but to got to sleep tanon suggests
Well there was that little business about caring for the dead
priest turns head - bravery? very interresting
tanon tounge and gem in pouch - priest and thief go to cemetary
the mage says good-night he is weary because of the wounds and
decided not to join them
but says is that your official title
that on your back
what on my back
the note saying bead head
elves finding it hard not to laugh but explode in an almost
DID YOU DO THIS
NO NO GIGGLE GIGGLE
MUST HAVE BEEN SOMEBODY ELSE
Just then a scream from the graveyard grabbed their attention
Don't know let's find out
llong swords drawn they entered the cemetary
6 skeletons appeared
the guys win
Morning after tanon sees mage and gives tounge + diamond
where did you get the tounge
uhm I don't know the wizkid gave it to me
never mind... come back at 11 the mage says
Thief walks out of Lathander temple - after his story about a couple
ofskeletons and a priest of tempus they were more than willing to
see to his wounds, he was in a good mode and there was plenty of
time to prepare.
Black Skull does community service and starts with a story
explaining who the good of war tempus is.
Elianor arrives can't you sing about something other than the usual
blood and gore that follows the drinking tempus heroes
Oh but off course I understand, thats how they see you
Yes like a beautifull rose hyggur djúpt í eyguni
see I knew it you're not hopeless Elianor leaves him with a smile
There is a plant called troll....
at that moment the apprentice arrived
uncle Sunstone uncle Sunstone do the light trick again the kids
priest annoyed to be interrupted but hey if that mageling
entertained the kids he could have a smoke
and a up of t'ea.
he returns with the tea and lights his smoke
Elianor says we're not supposed to smoke a kid says
You're not smoking when I'm holding the pipe are you?
ahm there is still smoke in the room a kid insisted
you the priest said looking at a ruffian
you wanna try he lokkede
it'll make a man out of you
Tanon - are you ready to receive your new tounge
excited nods etc.
wiz arrives with a tiny glass the size of a thimble
Tanon emptied the glass in a single drag
wiz arrives with another
Tanon again emptied the glass in a single drag and falls down in a
Thief sees local brewer and exchanges receipes in turn for
Tanon is drunk and tries to get to know his new tounge it's a bit
too big but he is happy
He now has a tounge and speaks with a lisp
Tanksss mussar wiz føtur
yes yes you paid for it it's quite okay
Xupis gets a dark robe in the clothes store and returns to the
listen - tanon - xupis - tanon - xupis
how about the job xupis asks
I lost him - where's my money
money you expect 10 GP for loosing him?
you can have 2
2 I considder that an insult
consider yourself insulted
priest meets tanon and priest heals tanon
days go by
tanon & priest see blacksmith and get suited in new armor
pay and leave blacksmith
tanon fer aftur til arena bets on the underdog and looses again
after real potato mash fight
priest fær at vita at bardagin við Sundon verður um ein mánað tvs.
góð tíð til at fyrireika seg
They visit the viz and thief scam is busted
keep all gold you find
priest fær holy symbol - fighter helmet - mage fær ring íð økir um
intelligense men minkar um wisdom
priest heldur at gruppan man acepta og tað ger hon
viz krevur eisini 500 av the loot.
bs punishment done
xupis keypur bow men suckar at skjóta
hey what's that
Sunstone hyggur áhygaður eftir ljósinum sum verður intensari
mage appears & ston argue about gem and zap away
short 1 mage but they deide to leave anyway - lets make the best of
they ride for 2 days toward the forrest
night falls and tanon takes the first watch
sound - unknown to him
sound closes in
tan wakes the others when they come into sight - they know as little
about the creatures before them as tan
x hides in shadows
prist shout who goes there
death they creatures yell in hideous common
the creatures gang up on them and all are hurt
then beast fail and sword flies into other beasts throat
x + priest swirl around, back to back with swords in their hands
baddies miss again
x cut's the last down, "That'll teach you not to mess with an elf"
they find a few copper coins
priest takes care of their wounds
Priest meditates and takes are of their wounds
BS discovers the fur is worn n'torn
as they ride on they suddenly come upon a black man
Who goes there
I am Methrod Mbuba one day I will be most powerfull wizard to walk
where are you going
to city to find magic men
where do you live
nowhere anymore my family is killed when I was plucking berries
oh I'm sorry
So would you like a pipe Methrod?
"Oh.... I mean would you like smoke in the lungs", the priest tried
"Oh smoke in lungs.... same as home old custom", Mbuba answered
"Well would you?", the prist asked again
"Smoke in lungs for Mbuba?..... Yes thank you", the black man
answered with a smile
Mbuba offers berries
Haha you so white me so black pretty funny
Mead anyone xupis ansked after cheking his barrel
They drink some mead
Why dont we make camp for the night - it is late anyway and weary
travellers need their rest.
they make camp
so what's the bone for Mbuba
beauty, is nice yes
well suppose it is the priest answered
the pipe was lit with giggle weed
laughter and drink
we're going to a city only we need to make a stop on the way! Xupis
Oh I see Mbuba answers fnis
"Would you like to join up with us", the priest added giggeling
following up on Xupis's thinking.
"Sure is okay... you funny guys", Mbuba answered with a shining
"Specially you... speak very funny, what with tongue?", the black
"None of your business", Tanon answered
"Sorry me stranger... but very curious"
"So Black Skull homemade name"
"Homemade?", Black Skull said.
"Yes from black head ornament?", Methrod asked
"HA, ha, ha... no no! It's a nickname I got from the priests when I
was young", the priest smiled. He had been coloring his head with
charcoal as a youngster just to see what he would look like with
hair on and one day a priest had seen him. Well from that day on the
bald little fellow had been nicknamed Black Skull... he wasn't small
any more. Today the name Black Skull was not said with disrespect
but with great admiration for the one that had been so small and
scrawny who had now grown into a man of admirable stature.
I see Methrod said chewing on another of his black berries.
The forrest was dense and hard to get through and on the 8'th day
they came upon a bear eating berries from a bush
The bear was huge and the priest immediatly took an interrest in the
Mbuba you're a man of the forrest - do you know that animal the
The elves shook their heads in dissapointment, did the priest really
know so little about wild life that he couldn't recognize a bear.
"Oh yes that is M'gole I thinks you call it bear", Mbuba answered
with awe in his voice.
"Bear eh...", Black Skull said weighing the word on his tongue.
"Yes bear", Mbuba affirmed.
"Say Mbuba is it dangerous?", Black Skull inquired. The elves shook
their heads again and started gazing around.
"Oh yes M'gole wery powerfull - very dangerous!", Mbuba answered
with wild eyes.
"I see...", Black Skull said looking at the beast with longing eyes.
The bear turned around, a menacing growl told them that they ought
to retreat without delay. The horses neighed and tried to sidestep
while their riders fought for control.
The bear growled again and the horses started to panic then all of a
sudden Black Skull spurred ahead in a valiant charge.
The bear stood up in its full height and lashed out with a deadly
Black Skull barely avoided the deadly swing and with a swift blow
the bear was beheaded.
The mighty two-handed sword dripped with red blood and the priest
seemed completely mesmerized by the scene playing out next to him.
Finally the muffled silence was broken by a heavy corpse falling
toward the forest floor.
The thump when it fell onto the ground could be heard far, but
rather than installing a dead silence it inspired further sounds.
Once more the forest came alive and the birds started singing, life
"That was close", Tanon said riding up to Black Skull for a closer
"I guess", Black Skull answered coarsely.
The bear is skinned
meat is cooked
Fur is treated with herbs n'stuff
Xupis buries the remains - thanks for the blessings
Xupis and Tanon prefer the dried mushrooms X collected earlier
After a few days of riding they finally arrived at the edge of the
And there not far away they could just discern the tower.
They ride forth
The outer door is locked but x picks it in an unattended moment and
the door swings open
it is dusk now and suddenly there is a swoosh from above
a gray gargoyle sweeps down from above
in a combined effort our heroes manage to escape the horrendous
claws and fangs
the body falls down and turns into stone
right by they find a stone tablet with markings
priest copies markings which none of them understands
x notices it is a hatch of sorts and Tanon moves it
beneath it they find gold beyond compare 1000 GP it turns out to be
they enter the tower it has turned quite dark now
the priest kicks in a door to a circular stairwell
they search 4 rooms, one filled with junk (they remove junk and find
another hatch, they decide to cover the hatch again and search the
rest of the tower.
at the final door Black Skull stopped, did he hear something?
Xupis confirms that there definitely are voices behind the door and
movement of sorts
Tanon tries to kick the door in but bounces back
"Ouch... that hurt", Mbuba said
Tanon withdrew with a sulky expression
Xupis tried his skills but fails
In a gallant effort Tanon and Mbuba threw themselves against the
wooden door that opened with a bang
The beings stopped, they seemed like a cross between fighting
roosters and humans but they lacked any definition that could
classify them as one or the other.
Before anyone could react Tanon sent a hailstorm of daggers toward
the beings, a couple of them immediately fell to the floor.
Just then Black Skull barged into the room with his sword
drawn. The beings howled in fear but charged directly toward the
priest. He expertly performed swift series swoops and cut down
A fifth creature fell before Tanon's long sword leaving the two
warriors with a supreme victory, chests heaved and hearts pounded
was it over were there any more lurking in the darkness.
After a short while a silence had fallen over the tower, it was not
the ordinary silence of an old house. There was a haunted feeling
over it and unease crept upon them.
They decided to advance further up after searching the last room.
The hatch below could wait.
Not more than up the stairs Xupis felt a strong hand stop him.
"More chicken men", the priest whispered slowly drawing his sword.
There would be bloodshed and he wanted to make damn sure it wasn't
He emerged from the stairwell with a terrible roar "Cut them down,
every last one of them", he shouted with a ferocious intonation.
Mbuba fell before one of the chicken men, was he dead? Xupis leapt
forward with his sword drawn and lashed out. The creature evaded his
sword easily and with a mocking laughter it crossed blades with the
Xupis knew that he probably didn't stand a chance against such an
overwhelming foe but knew that there was no other way but to fight.
Then Xupis felt a terrible pain in the back of his head, after which
everything turned black.
"Aaaargh!!!!", Black Skull yelled in anger when his sword hit Xupis.
Luckily the sword hit the elf broad side, but Xupis went down all
In one giant leap Black Skull stood where Xupis had been standing.
His honor could not permit him to do otherwise, what would Tempus
think if he caused the death of another valiant warrior, if such a
description fit the sly elven thief.
He clove the creature in half before it could unlock itself from the
sudden surprise that the falling elf had presented and moments later
it was over.
Tanon helped Black Skull to pull their two unconscious comrades
downstairs into a room they could barricade. After that he
improvised a couple of snares and returned to the room where they
had installed themselves.
"How are they?", he asked looking at the two figures stretched out
on the floor.
"They'll be allright!", Black Skull answered and put a wet compress
on Xupis's head.
Xupis moaned and tossed himself back and forth. Black Skull felt the
shame like a dagger piercing his heart, just a second later and the
elf might have been cloven in two.
He shook his head and tried to chase his thoughts away.
The walls were gray and dreary, but the room could probably provide
them with a measure of safety, at least until they could get Xupis
and Mbuba back to their feet.
Tanon sets rubble snare
I struck you
Mbuba - at least he is honest
Tanon.. why change xupis's faith
underwear is like faith
sometime it gets dirty and you need to change it when it gets smelly
- oh I see
Tanon removes snares
1'st floor revealed no doors
but xupis finds a secret passage
wait xupis finds a trap in the bookshelf door
tries to dismantle but is hit by a dart - ziing
sucks out some blood and the only effect is a slight buzzing feeling
it was a good sting
Tanon opens the door
a skeleton lies on the floor
the priest greets the skel which suddenly rises up
BS reached for his holy symbol and thrust it into the skels path
skel flees head over heels
they pursue and cross a corner
a bunch of skels are waiting for them and they begin to lash out
swords are drawn and the boners are engaged
Mbuba strikes one with his staff and it falls broken to the floor
the priest squirts holy water after the rest of them and they
disintegrate before them
in the rubble Mbuba finds a book he finds fascinating for unknown
as they ascend the come upon a circular room full of doors suddenly
more skels appear and Tanon and the priest charge after them half
the time throwing curses at them and the other half flashing holy
symbols at them.
xup + mbup follow them
they went up the stairs and entered a small circular chamber -
obviously it was the spell casters work room
they found 3 flasks with a cork on but empty
9 flasks without
but they find nothing else
go down again and try other doors
x peeks inside - problems he whispered as he drew his sword
the others did likewise
x charges and they cut 4 skels down before they can even react
find rubble pile and a hatch below the rubble, it turns out that
there are a few other doors and x picks one open, it is the wine
cellar. They take 5 bottles each of extremely fine wine.
next is the prison block, the priest checks the cells, and when he
is in the last one it slams shut.
the priest yells and tries bars bend in anger but to no use
tanon arrives and manages to bend a pair of rusted bars enough that
the priest can get out
there is another hatch like the one in the rubble room and they
Tanon lifts hatch and they throw a couple of copper coins into the
pit, there is a slight splash but nothing else
they lower Tanon into the dark pit.
there is some murky water beneath but nothing else
he is pulled out again
they return to the rubble room and remove the rubble from the hatch
and open it
they enter a hallway leading NW and SW
after searching the SW tunnel they enter an oddly shaped room carved
into the rock
the priest has a bad feeling, there is an altar and the priest finds
a symbol of sorts, he squirts it with holy water and it evaporates
they make their way back to the entry point and head NW
priest gives the other guys in the party a few holywater nades each,
which he by the way had forgotten he had made earlier.
the cavern they arrived at was badly lit, but from what Xupis could
make out there were at least 20 baddies or so and the box they had
come for. There was no doubt in his mind when he turned to the
"It is here", he said with awe in his voice. The darkness of the box
had impressed him, never before had he witnessed such blackness. It
was beyond anything he had seen in his 138 years of living. It was
They huddled together - and after a short planning they attacked.
With a roar beyond comparison they charges one immediately went for
the box but Xupis cut him down with a swift stroke.
Nades immobilized several but they kept coming and all of a sudden
Mbuba went down.
Xupis was by him in a single leap and clove the creature in half
that was about to end the magicians life. Another creature attacked
him enraged by his comrades fate and Black Skull jumped into the
thick of it, he valiantly swung his morning star.
It swished and howled as the pointy ball tore through the air but
all of a sudden things went wrong. The chain suddenly got stuck on a
pike on the priests armor and sent the ball in a trajectory that
lead it to a sudden collision with Black Skulls head.
Black Skull didn't say a thing, it was like time had stopped and
every movement took an eternity, all sound seemed oddly distorted
and he felt a strange sensation come upon him.
For a few seconds his body just stood there and wavered, then with a
spectacular crash, it fell.
The creature laughed with a menacing voice, but suddenly it stopped.
The eyes opened wide in astonishment, right in front of it stood
Tanon. His sword was dripping with blood and his chest heaved
rapidly back and forth in anger.
Xupis looked at the two, something seemed wrong, the creatures arms
fell down by its side and the rusty sword fell down with a clank.
The knees wiggled and the beast started to slump forward. At that
instant the creatures head fell to the ground and hit it like a ripe
Xupis looked around, there was nobody left. More than 20 corpses lay
strewn across the cave floor. Tanon was still standing in front of
the corpse his body rocked back and forth in a strange rhythm. He
turned his head toward Xupis.
With his head somewhat askew he smiled, Tanon was obviously pleased
with what they had done.
"We won", Xupis managed to stutter staring at Tanon.
"Yes....", Tanon answered and fell lifeless to the ground.
"Not now", Xupis yelled in despair, he was alone in a cave with 3
fallen comrades, a prize possible of invaluable worth and a lot of
dead creatures, that might have friends lurking around the next
Well there was nothing to do but to search the place, but first the
box. Xupis grabbed it eagerly. It felt cold and yet not unpleasantly
so. He jammed it into his backpack and went exploring. He could be
reasonably safe that their backs were covered but what lay ahead?
He went over to Tanon and took his sword, he would need all the help
he could get, and if that meant nicking the sword Tanon had gotten
from the Magician so be it... he could always give it back. He piled
them nicely in a corner and hid them under corpses of the fallen
creatures. He made sure they were okay... well as okay as wounded
people could be and was off.
The further in he went the narrower the cave began, but all of a
sudden he felt a breeze, an opening? He sat down for a moment and
said a silent prayer. But no glowing warrior arrived nor did any of
his fellow companions join him miraculously healed from their
wounds, he was alone like it or not.
Slowly he edged himself forward, this was not the time to be
reckless. The breeze grew stronger and all of a sudden Xupis saw a
starlit sky. Evening already? All sense of time had disappeared once
they had gone down into the caverns. He scouted around but found no
evidence of guards, the forest was right by, there was no doubt in
his mind he would have to chance crossing the clearing to get into
denser wood. But first he would have to haul his comrades to the
He returned to the cave, they were still there and alive. He tried
to wake them but without result, lucky me he thought as he searched
the cavern and bodies.
The bounty was plentiful 21 copper pieces and 800 gold pieces, that
would be 150 for them and... Nah better divide it equally the other
solution would be to heavy in the long run anyway, and it was only
money after all.
He took them, 30 meters at the time, pulling them over rocks and
sludge until he finally got to the opening. It was still dark
outside and an occasional owl hooted in the distance.
Here goes nothing, Xupis thought as he pulled Mbupa's body across
the clearing, no alarms went off and no beastly attackers came out
of the night without warning. Xupis was getting his confidence back
and the 2 hours it took to haul them to reasonable safety he almost
felt like whistling, but only almost.
When he was confident that they were far enough from the entrance to
be discovered by anyone passing he stopped. This was where he would
He undressed the weary warriors and wrapped them in their sleeping
gear, but only after putting some leaves over their wounds as best
as he could remember his mother doing it.
After they were wrapped up the real work began, he found enough
branches and shrubbery to cover them completely so that they
wouldn't be spotted. After that he went out searching for more
shrubbery and mosses. He filled their clothes and used their now
empty backpacks for heads. The contents were safely dug down under
an easily recognizable rock.
He threw the rope around a branch and placed the 3 dummies in a pile
of shrubs that hid them completely after which he tied them to the
He climbed the tree and tried the contraption he had created.
Instantly 3 figures sprung up from the ground in the darkness. Xupis
almost startled himself before climbing down.
He hid the dummies again and climbed back up in the tree.
Priest and Mbuba wake up - "Where are our clothes" - embarrassment
Xupis pulls rope - dolls spring up "Auuah!", Mbuba shouted.
They get their clothes
Priest checks on Tanon, he has some bite marks on his leg
Poison! - suck what they can
Mbuba finds leaves and mosses and places them on Tanon's wounds.
After that the priest and Mbuba tend each other and try to meditate
in order to gain strength.
Tanon gets worse and falls into an unsettled fever
Priest makes some t'ea and they try to feed him etc.
Xupis asks about the horses
The horses... oh they are all alone, where the hell are we anyway
Xupis thinks the tower is that way
Mbuba and the priest fetch the horses and priest makes a sketch of
the letters on the stone tablet beneath which they found the gold.
When they returned Xupis had grown very tired and decided to climb a
He fell into a restless sleep
"What", Xupis yelled back annoyed about being disturbed
"Has Mbuba tended to your wounds?"
"Well would you like me to look at them"
"... I guess"
"You'll have to climb down then"
Xupis climbs down
"Auch, Yikes that stings", Xupis grumbled
All done and Xupis climbs back up into the tree and falls to sleep.
BS sits down and starts a new composition, the valiant fighters.
Mbuba mumbles in his sleep
After a couple of hours the priest woke Mbuba and the Magician took
the next watch.
The pattern continiued for some time but all of a sudden the thief
was ripped from his sleep.
"XUPIS.....", the Priest yelled at the top of his lungs
"WHAT!!!", Xupis yelled back in a bad mood.
"You slept for 12 hours"
Huff and puff - X climbs down
"Is Tanon okay?", he asked when he reached the forest floor.
"I was just about to change the herbs under the bandages".
Do the stuff
Mbuba & priest in mock battle, fist fight. Armor falls and nose
bones are removed
Xupis looks at them.... will they never grow up?
"Xupis you count", Mbuba asked looking at the elf.
"Hmmm.....", was the only thing Xupis could think of saying as he
got up from his comfortable position.
"1, 2, 3....", he counted before any of the two were really
Mbuba was the first to react and sent a swift kindney punch
hammering into BS's side.
P - uppercut - kaboom - Mbuba staggers
P - left hook - -------- - -------- ---------
M - right hook - misses
P - Rabbit punch - but fumbles utterly
M - grins and tries another right hook - but misses
P - jumps from side to side while Mbuba prepares for another hit
M - Gets in a perfect combination sending the priest a couple of
M - all to happy and closes in for another attack
P - Gets a pounding uppercut straight in and Mbuba falls like a log.
Black Skull was very content "Damn good fight", he said giving Mbuba
"Yes damned good..", Mbuba answered with a smile.
"Xupis how about you", the priest tried eager for another fight. He
was exhilarated, a very unusual thing Black Skull rarely truly
"Oh I dunno...", Xupis tried in an evasive attempt. He didn't like
to fight, he was more the verbal kind.
"Come on elf.... I won't hit too hard", the priest grinned.
That did it, one thing was that he didn't like to fight, but nobody
mocked him and got away scot-free. Xupis slid behind some bushes and
packed his armor into the backpack.
"Okay", Xupis said emerging from behind the bushes. His muscles
flexed in the shimmering sunlight while bird song filled the air.
"You go first", Black Skull said laughing arrogantly. Xupis moved
with unseen swiftness and
got a good combination in.
The priest leaped back somewhat surprised by the ferocity of the
attack, he took a wild swing at Xupis but missed out completely as
the elf jumped aside with lightning reflexes.
Damn, Black Skull thought as his fist swished by Xupis's head. In
that same instant Xupis dodged in a different direction and threw a
punch at his left kidney.
But this time the priest was too fast and Xupis was way off.
The priest uplifted by the experience tried a combination but was to
slow for the little elf which danced around him like a butterfly.
Xupis was starting to feel the fatigue set in, he hadn't fully
recovered from their previous engagement but gave himself to the
fullest. A rapid punch to Black Skulls stomach had quite an impact
on the big man.
But a punch just glancing of Xupis's head put a damper on Xupis's
hope for a victory.
A straight hook took another bit of strength from the priest who
obviously was in trouble having exhausted himself to much in the
previous fight. Black Skull tried a hook, but missed the first time,
if that elf got as much as one stroke in he would be finished he
knew that much.... beaten by an elf? Not a chance.
As these thoughts whirred through Black Skull's head fatigue really
started to gnaw at Xupis, he tried an uppercut but missed out. In a
desperate attempt he went for Black Skull with a kidney punch
leaving himself wide open.
A heavy fist thrust itself at him and Xupis went flying down.
Tanon wakes - discovers he is naked "Where are my clothes" he yelled
His comrades laughed, they had completely forgotten about that,
Xupis pulled the rope and Tanon's clothes stuffed with bushes and
moss jumped up from hiding. Tanon almost leapt to his feet, but
realized his condition in time and remained under the carpet.
Tanon get dressed in his under garments still very weak
A day goes by and Tanon recovers from his fever, he is still weak
but the next morning he had stirred enough to get up and about.
Talked about what happened in cave - Xupis's ingenious dummies to
scare off potential attackers, Tanon not to happy, clothes full of
Hey those were the only bushes I could find without, leaving you
guys lying alone and defenseless.
"Hmmmm.....", Tanon reluctantly accepted the explanation.
"Hey where is my sword", Tanon suddenly exclaimed.
"Your sword....", Mbuba asked puzzled, the elf had a sword in his
sheath, was he still delirious?.
"Yes my sword", Tanon was about to explode.
"Oh your sword", Xupis said with the most innocent voice. "I've got
it... you know if I ran into some baddies while you guy were out".
The innocence almost gleamed from him as he gave Tanon his sword
"I believe this belongs to you", Tanon almost hissed handing the
unfamiliar sword he had found in his sheathe to Xupis.
"Yes that's it I guess", Xupis said inspecting the sword before
putting it into his own sheathe.
"It is getting late, why don't we go back to the tower and sleep
inside", the priest suggested.
"Inside.... I don't know", Tanon said a bit reluctant to leave the
green and beautiful forest he found himself in.
Tanon didn't get far with his protests, Xupis brought up in close
proximity to the city didn't posses the phobic tendencies many elves
shared about cities in general, and Mbuba whose only interest was to
get into one of the big cities to become the greatest magician ever
was more than willing to return to the tower.
"Well that settles it then", Black Skull grinned and swung his body
upon his horse's back.
A little while later they were back at the tower and improvised a
pen for the horses.
While the animals grazed in harmony they went back to the tower
well, Xupis leaned over looking into the dark water. Some pebbles
lying there fell into the water causing rings to spread on the
surface. The little waves bounced back and forth against the wall
until the surface calmed down again.
"Think we should investigate the well Xupis", Black Skull asked as
he joined the elf who stood there in silent contemplation.
"Investigate?", Xupis was a bit puzzled by the priest's suggestion
and turned toward Black Skull.
"Yeah look for treasure and such!", the priest continiued with a
gleam in his eyes.
Xupis's face lit up in a smile "Well sure we could". They had
already found more than necessary, but he sure wouldn't mind an
extra gold piece or two. Who knew the well could be filled, just
like that hole under the stone tablet.
They were quick to prepare themselves and as Tanon came walking
along to check up on them Xupis was already deep into the well.
"What's happening", Tanon asked looking down at Xupis.
"Oh you know, Xupis and his treasure hunts", Black Skull shrugged
holding on to the rope.
"What", Xupis yelled looking up into the light.
"Nothing Xupis", Tanon yelled back at the elven thief who
immediately went back to searching the deep watery pit.
Half an hour or so progressed before a disappointed Xupis finally
emerged from the well, "I guess it was never anything but a well",
he exclaimed in a weary voice.
"No I guess not", Black Skull added to end the conversation.
They packed up and went inside, Mbuba had cleaned the living room,
well cleaned would perhaps be to strong a way to put it, but he had
done his bit and laid fresh wood in the fireplace and as they
entered he was trying to get the kindle wood going.
They were quick to put their gear down and tuck themselves in,
finally Mbuba got the fire going. The flames danced in their secret
ways and reached for they sky. All of a sudden Xupis said.
"Hey do you smell something?"
"Smell?", Black Skull answered in puzzlement.
At that moment smoke started wallowing out from the fireplace and
within seconds the place seemed filled with a thick fog.
Xupis was the first to get up "The chimney is constipated!", he
yelled trying to find the bucket.
Mbuba was on the fire before anyone else could react and threw a
bucketful of water onto the fire. It hissed violently and a jet of
steam shot out from the fireplace, making it even worse to see
anything through the dense smoke.
Tanon opened the door and kicked the little lever which held the
snare in place, it sprung but Tanon was aware of it so he didn't get
Waving his arms in front of him Black Skull left the room the room
"Way to go Mbuba... didn't you check the chimney?", he mumbled.
Moments later they were all outside taking a breather.
"I told you we should have stayed in the open", Tanon started
"Shut up Tanon...", Black Skull answered annoyed at the elf's
Tanon looked down in a sulking manner while Xupis who had gotten his
breath back suggested that they camped down in another room, still
unaffected by the smoke. The others agreed, some more than others
but nevertheless they went back in. The night passed rather
uneventful and finally daybreak was upon them.
"The Box... who has the box", Tanon suddenly found himself screaming
into the air.
He blinked once or twice, where was he.... oh the tower.
He took a deep breath, his clothes still had the burned niff to
them, it was a most unpleasent odour, he needed a bath and clean
clothes. Ah well best to get up then.
He got dressed and woke the others "Xupis, who has the box?", he
asked when he was sure they were all awake.
"I do..... why?", Xupis asked suspiciously.
"Wouldn't it be better if I cared for it.... after all you are quite
small", Tanon suggested.
"Small, I'll....", Xupis yelled, but got cut short before he could
wind himself up.
"Xupis wait, Tanon has a point, wouldn't it be better if one of the
strong guys had the box", it was Mbuba who supported Tanons
suggestion in an attempt to calm things, maybe if they made a joint
decision Xupis wouldn't mind so much.
"You are all in agreement", Xupis sputtered looking angrily at them.
"I don't really care", Black Skull said evasively, he had his eyes
on Xupis and was certain they would be able to track him down if he
"If you are not with me you're against me", Xupis said bitterly.
"No we're not against you... we just thought it would be better
if....", Mbuba tried.
"Sure better!!! Xupis can't be trusted.... Xupis will turn and run
or even worse maybe he'll loose the box.... and then what?", Xupis
was furious but managed to remain fairly calm when he adressed them.
"No it's not like that", Tanon tried, but in vain. Before he knew it
he box came flying towards him.
"And a good morning to you to!!!", Xupis yelled as he threw the
little black box at Tanon.
Tanon caught it and stared at Xupis for a while, well if that was
how he wanted it...
He showed the box into his backpack and soon after they were on
-They head back toward town
-After riding a while they come upon 3 fellows
-The priest immediately greets them in common
-Xupis having looked at a butterfly for a while turns his head and
sees the 3 figures
"Orcs...", he mumbled with fatigue, hadn't they seen enough fighting
for this trip.
"Hi there", he tried in a rustic orchish.
The leader of the orcs who had been eyeing them suspiciously
clenched his fists.
"Prepare to die", he shouted in the most hideous manner he could
"This is not good", Xupis said turning to the others.
"What did he say", Black Skull asked.
"Prepare to die", Xupis answered somewhat reluctant thinking about
the prospects for the future.
"We'll see about that", Tanon answered preparing to throw his
Off course it couldn't go well, Tanon all to eager for battle sent
his shiny daggers flying in an all to obvious manner. The orc leader
grinned as he parried every single dagger with his shiny arm braces.
"Did you see that?", Tanon answered with disbelief in his voice.
Nobody answered, everyone was to busy preparing themselves for the
Mbuba looked at the others and noticed a faint glow around almost
every item the little band was carrying.
There definitely was something magical about Black Skulls morning
star, Tanon's sword and helmet, and Xupis's upper torso seemed to
glow all over.
"Why do you glow Xupis?", Mbuba asked him curious about the strange
elf he had only recently met.
"Huh...", Xupis answered surprised at the question while trying to
bend the bow and aim at the same time.
"I said why do you glow Xupis?", Mbuba asked again a little louder.
The arrow went flying high and wide, it missed out completely. The
orcs laughed as they came thundering straight against them, these
travelers would be easy prey.
"I don't glow...... you been eating to many berries", Xupis answered
There wasn't time for another shoot but the dagger could be drawn in
time. He jumped up on the back of the horse and galloped ahead,
right before he met the orcs he jumped into the air and caught a
branch swinging himself into the safe shadows of the leaves.
The other 3 inspired by the apparent act of bravery stormed ahead.
Mbuba reached for his daggers and threw them.
They swished by the nearest orc and fastened themselves in a thick
Things were not going well at all and all of a sudden the two sides
In a mighty swing Black Skull lashed out at the leader, just grazing
Tanon who was to close to them ended up on the receiving end of
Black Skull's attack.
He snarled in pain when the great sword hit him, but fortunately
Black Skull had managed to get some control over the sword at the
time so the damage wasn't overwhelming but nothing could change the
fact that the priest had fumbled his chance away.
Tanon roared in anger as he violently attacked the leader of the
The leader quite amazed at the elf's amazing speed and vigor
retreated a few steps back.
Something he shouldn't have done. For out of the tree fell a small
elf with a shining dagger in his hand. The wound it made when it dug
into his spine didn't seem that large, but there was nothing the orc
could do as his legs gave in.
Xupis drew his blade from the fallen orc while Tanon, Black Skull
and Mbuba cut the last two down in a ferocious attack.
The silence after the battle slowly dissipated and it didn't take
long before the birds were twittering away again.
"I don't know about you, but I could certainly do with a mug of ale
now", Xupis said walking toward his horse.
"Ale?.... Sure why not!", Black Skull answered sitting down leaning
back toward a tree.
Xupis fetched the mugs and poured some of the home-brew into them,
he handed them their respective tankards and sat down on top of one
of the orcs.
Their rest was well deserved and enjoyable, together they had
averted another foe and won another battle, but Xupis couldn't help
but wonder how long their luck might hold on.
It was time to move on and they got on their feet.
"Damn fine mead", Black Skull complimented nodding toward Xupis.
"Well thank you", Xupis answered gracefully. He had always known his
brewing techniques were comparable to a master brewers but it was
always nice to get a compliment.
The trip through the forest passed quite peacefully for a few days
and Mbuba even found himself to almost nibble of on his guard.
The forest thinned out and they found the road and headed straight
for Middle Ring. All of a sudden they noticed the scared screams of
children in distress.
Xupis listened carefully to make out where the noise came from.
"It's up ahead, right around the bend", he shouted alarmed by what
The party spurred their horses and steered straight toward the
As they came around the bend they were a bit puzzled with what they
saw. High in a tree sat two little boys scared half to death.
Beneath the tree stood 3 figures. They were not men nor beast but
reminded them most of wild boars, yet they were dressed in torn rags
seemingly those of peasants.
"Hold it right there", Black Skull yelled in an attempt to draw the
boar men's attention.
The boar men stopped and looked at the newcomers for a moment "Stay
out of our business", one of them yelled back at them.
They stopped, so these were not plain beasts after all, but what the
heck could they want with 2 little boys.
"No wait.... why are you after those lads?", Tanon asked pointing at
"They tried to spear us", the boar man leader answered, the other
two grunted in unison affirming what the first had said.
"They're little boys... little boys sometime do things they
shouldn't... right lads?", Black Skull said blinking at the boys
"Yes.... we're sorry", the boys tried looking at the ogres beneath.
"Sorry?... sorry won't do! You wanted to eat us and now we will eat
you....ha, ha, ha", the boar man shouted at the little boys who
crept together in the branches.
"No that would not be right... you cannot eat little boys", Mbuba
"I told you to stay out of our business", the leader yelled furious
about being cut short.
"Hang on.... obviously you have no manners or honor, you will leave
those little boys alone", Xupis said looking threatening at the boar
"Get moving or face the consequences", the leader threatened.
"Consequences, smonsequences", Mbuba said spitefully.
He didn't get any further before the two boar men came hurdling
Xupis quickly drew his sword in defense, the horse startled by the
He almost fell of the horse and lost his sword. The long sword went
flying through the air hitting Black Skull on his head stock on. It
fell to the ground and so did Black Skull.
"Damned", Tanon exclaimed and threw himself into battle. The horses
neighed and stomped around as their masters drove them against the
The leader was now shaking the tree violently, the two boys were
barely hanging on and were scared witless.
Tanon noticed what was going on and lashed out with his sword. He
cut deep into a boar man and Mbuba finished him off.
The leader was still shaking the tree when Tanon came flying off the
horse and landed right next to him. The leader grunted violently and
lashed out at Tanon with his hoof like hands. The blow came straight
and hard, Tanon didn't stand a chance to get out of the way.
Instinctually he thrust his sword forward and managed to stab the
leader before he went down.
The leader snarled in pain and ripped the sword from his stomach, at
that moment Xupis had gotten in behind him and slit his throat in a
The leader fell to the ground and stayed there. The last of the boar
men panicked and fled, Xupis tried to get him with an arrow but
They checked on Tanon and Black Skull, it didn't seem to serious,
Tanon was already recovering from the blow although Black Skull had
a big dent in his head.
"You can come down now", Mbuba said looking at the two boys who were
still crouching together in the crown.
Lucky for them they had chosen a rather old tree with its roots
planted firmly in the ground. The two boys looked at them unsure of
what to do.
"It's safe I promise", Xupis said with a smile, then he realized he
was still holding the bloody dagger in his hand. He dried it in the
boar leaders shirt, or what was left of it and sheathed it.
"Come now... don't be afraid, Mbuba here might not look exactly like
us but he is okay...", the elf said with confidence while nodding.
The boys climbed down "Are they okay", the older one asked pointing
at the two who lay on the ground.
"Sure, they're fine.... they just need a moment to recover.. right
Mbuba?", Xupis said turning to the magician.
Obviously the boys didn't believe them and wanted to get away as
fast as they could.
"We have to leave now", the oldest one tried while edging away from
"Oh no you don't", Xupis said gripping them by the collar.
"Let us go... or our father will...", the oldest tried before Xupis
"Listen up kids, I'm gonna let go of your collars... but I want you
to remember what you just saw us do to those two boar men you see
lying on the ground. If I hear a tweak of disagreement from you
two... or you try to flee, you can imagine what we might do!"
Mbuba turned away from them pretending to take an extraordinary
interest in the bark of a nearby tree. Which was a good thing
actually for if he had kept looking at Xupis and the two boys he
would have given in to a laughter which would have undermined
everything Xupis was trying to do.
"Are we clear on that", Xupis demanded.
"Yes", the boys answered in chorus, they were certain that they
didn't want to evoke the wrath of the ones who had slain the
terrible boar men, both that and they were to tired to run anywhere
It didn't take them to long to make camp and to pull the two boar
men away for a proper burial. But before laying them in the ground
they searched the bodies and found a couple of transparent bottles
containing some sort of potion. One was yellow the other ruby red.
The boys had gotten some of their spirit back and had a hard time
keeping in their place.
Xupis drew 25 silver pieces from his pouch and laid them out in a
circle around the boys, the boys looked with interest and could
hardly keep their hands off the silver coins.
Mbuba looked at the scene with puzzlement, then Xupis drew 2 gold
pieces from his pocket and said.
"These are yours on one condition....", he hesitated before
"They are yours on the condition that you leave the silver pieces
alone and that you stay within the circle until we leave", he
dangled the gold pieces in front of them. The boys stared at the
money with big eyes.
"Okay?", Xupis asked still dangling the money in front of them.
"Y.. yes sure", they answered with excitement, stretching their
hands in the air.
Xupis dropped a gold piece in each of their hands "Now remember,
stay put or you'll have to give the money back".
The boys nodded eagerly and studied their newfound treasure.
"And if you stay there like good little lads, there is more where
that comes from right Xupis?", Mbuba added.
"Right Mbuba.....", Xupis answered sending his eyes at Mbuba.
A couple of hours had passed, the fire burned brightly sending
warmth and light into the darkness.
Xupis decided it was time to play a little trick on the untrusting
bodyguard. Under cover of darkness he snook over to Tanons backpack
and lifted the box.
Let's see his face when he discovers that, Xupis chuckled silently.
-All have mead even the kids
-Tanon has recovered now and the priest has been awake for a moment
-something and got back to sleep.
-The morning after they mount and get on their way, they boys sit on
Tanon's and Black
-Middlering in sight boys excited
-So where do you live
-The Foaming Mug
-That's an inn
-Yes our father owns it
As they rode in people eyed them with fearfull respect, their
clothes were battle worn and they way the company moved witnessed
about a tight knit group on high alert.
-Arrive at the Foaming Mug
-Tell the story
-Free stay and drink as long as they wish - thanks for saving my
-Xupis goes to the Broken Skull in an attempt to get to somebody
with magical knowledge
-but who will take more interrest in money and not the item
"I had it right here", Tanon yelled and searched the backpack again.
"Maybe you lost it", Mbuba said throwing the drink down in a single
"Wait...", the priest tried, but to late. Mbuba had already
swallowed the entire contents of the glass. Black Skull had no idea
of how long it would take before the drink took effect, the last
time he himself had taken one of those he had ended up in jail for
Tanon was completely out of it "I never lost anything in my life",
"He, he, he.... you funny guy Tanon... Then why have you got
somebody elses tongue in your mouth? ha, ha, haa.. har, har", Mbuba
succombed to his own humor and rolled over in a ferocious laughter
Tanon stiffened, what the hell.... did he think he could say
something like that and...
"I heard him mumble about the Broken Skull", the priest interrupted.
"Ha, ha..... black skull - broken skull", Mbuba wiggled on the
floor, this was hilarious... I wonder if all cities are like this,
he thought as more funny remarks started brewing in his fogged mind.
-Xupis arrives at the Broken Skull and meets with shady character.
-They discuss the situation and find out that it might be possible
to find someone who
-could identify a magical object without the wizards guild knowing
-Shady guy leaves and Xupis is about to follow him to make sure he
isn't being set up when
"Xupis.....", a slurry voice called.
The voice booming through the street seemed familiar, but who in
their right mind could it be, Xupis turned around to see who it was.
He noticed Tanon, Black Skull and a very drunk Mbuba on their way
-"Shsssh", Xupis signed to them to remain silent and turned his
head, the contact had started moving now, everything depended upon
"BUT XUPIS.... WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?", Mbuba yelled as the three
of them came up behind him.
Xupis turned his head "Shut that blabbering fool up", he turned his
head and caught sight of his contact.
Xupis felt a heavy hand upon his shoulder as he was about to start
after his contact.
"WHY YOU NOT WANT TO TALK TO ME?", Mbuba yelled yanking Xupis's
Xupis didn't an answer, instead he swirled around and planted a fist
straight up Mbuba's jaw. The tall black man was out like a light, a
small dust cloud rose as he fell to the ground.
Without a sound Xupis swirled back around, but his contact was lost
in the crowd.
"Damned", Xupis exclaimed wanting to kick Mbuba, instead he kicked a
barrel so hard it broke.
"What's the problem", a voice boomed behind them. They turned
around, it was a towns guard patrol.
"Problem... no problem Sir", Xupis replied so fast that the patrol
leader took a special interrest in them.
"Then what is he doing on the ground", he asked glancing
suspiciously from one to another.
"Aehm... he fell", Black Skull tried. He had no intent of going to
jail for disturbing the peace.
"Don't I know you", the leader said looking at Black Skull.
"I shouldn't think so", Black Skull said nervously.
"Arn't you that there Black Skull fellow who lead the attack on the
Temple of Lathander a while back...", the leader probed.
"Wow... you see, I told you the act would work", Xupis exclaimed in
the most excited voice he possibly could.
"Act?...", the patrol leader was confused.
"Yes doesn't he look just like him!", Xupis almost yelled
exhilarated by the effect his comment had on the patrol leader.
Now they were all confused, Black Skull and Tanon hadn't a clue what
Xupis was planning and Mbuba was starting to murmor as he lay there
on the ground, but it seemed to throw the patrol of guard so they
decided to say nothing.
Xupis felt daring so he took it one step further, he jumped up on a
crait and knocked on Black Skulls head plate. Twok, twok, twok it
said as his knuckles gently knoked on the plate.
"Doesn't it seem real", Xupis asked as strong hands grabbed him.
"If you do that again....", Black Skull started but stopped when he
The patrol members were laughing their heads of.
"He is a real comedian", one of them yelled and put his hands on his
"Yeah right....", Xupis said smiling.
Black Skull let go of the elf, who dropped onto the ground. Xupis
was quick to get up.
He brushed his clothes while encouraging the patrol to visit their
performance in the square in a couple of days.
"We just might do that", the leader said giving the sign to move
out, as Mbuba staggered to his feet.
The patrol left laughing, Xupis waved at them "See you soon....", he
shouted. The leader waved back and was gone.
"Xupis you have some explaining to do", Black Skull said towering
Xupis didn't like the way Black Skull stared at him.
- Back at Foaming Mug
-Mbuba is put to bed
- Xupis explains that he wants the box examined, it might be worth a
lot more than the wiz
-pretended.... if it wasn't special why had he bothered to send them
to fetch it
-In the evening they go back to the broken skull, Mbuba has sobered
up so he is also with
-them, he remembers nothing of the fist etc.
-Shady character returns and Xupis explains the guardians of the
item wish to come
- shady char explain it will be on their own recognizance.. he will
not be held responsible if
-magic identification guy takes it badly that more arrive.
-go to an alley
-it dissolves and they appear in front of wiz
-what object would you like identified
-just a box
-oh wiz very interested wants to buy
-decides on tower wine instead - extremely fine worth a fortune
-they learn it is a box of teleportation
-moving without traveling or was it the other way around
-wiz takes another sip
-cant you teach us to use it
-sure... but it'll cost you
-1 bottle of wine
-murmur, they don't understand
-oh by the way do you understand these scriptures
-wiz looks yes
-what do they say
-oh I see
-back in alley
-Black skull goes to tempus temple
-asks about battle
-my name is black skull
-3 days from now
-I was wondering, I still suffer some minor damage from my trip, is
it possible to be
-sure, go to the east wing and ask, a healer will see you shortly
-A beautiful woman prepares the room for black skull and they chat
-are you going to tend me bs asks
-no my tutor
-who is your tutor bs imagines an old hag
-an even more stunning woman enters BS is hooked irreversibly
- while he is tended he tells about his quest and ends up singing
about the black box
-adventure, they go out eat etc. he scores.
-Mbuba returns to alley
-dissolves - returns well equipped but out of town - a new
staff for fighting etc. + ein cloak to protect him
-as evening comes the friends gather, Mbuba arrives a little late.
-they decide to go visit the wiz who gave them the job first thing
in the morning
-the plan is to lure themselves to accompany the wiz to the safe
create a diversion while
-Xupis slips off with the staff the wiz of Ilvartinan asked for
remember he gave you
-sword and you mace okay
-mbuba is to leave himself out of the exchange as the wiz might be
suspicious of letting
-another wiz into the innermost sanctum
-go to sleep
-morning after they visit the wiz
-BS and Tanon admire something and divert the wiz's attention.
-Xupis gets the staff and stuffs it under his garments
-Xupis invites wiz to town - dunno got lot to do with the box
-oh come on... how often do you get out
-wiz agrees and they go out later in the evening - wiz scores
-Battle 2 days and counting
-It is nearly noon when Xupis get's on his horse, and is on his way
to Ilvartinan when he
-suddenly realizes the teleportation box
-X heads back to town and goes to the wiz
--can you grant me a favor
-can you get me to Ilvartinan and back today
-today? why is speed of the essence
-my friends are leaving tomorrow and I would like to see them off
but I have pressing
-business there as well
-yes the war down at Sundan
-who knows they might not return
-a matter of personal urgency
-Yes I believe I can help you
-returns moments later with the box
-murmur and they dissolve
-pop up in the middle of the town square
-we're in Ilvartinan!
-Isn't that what you wanted?
-Yes... it's incredible!
-Nah just a little magic
-Not little my friend Xupis said while his consience grew darker
-While I take care of my errands please go see the blaksmith, he
will invite you in I'm
-certain of that
-x expalins where to the wiz and the wiz is off
-x goes to other wiz and knocks
-servant opens, wiz is busy
-I think not - tell him x is back and that he has the stuff
-just tell him... he will be very displeased if you don't
-servant leaves him for a moment
-follows him to wiz chamber
-x pulls out the staff
-magnificent the wiz says
-so our agreement
-yes the gloves
-oh the gloves.. I almost forgot
-wiz leaves and arrives with cloth bag
-x asks about the weapons - do they get to keep them? they're facing
a horde in few days
-and need all the help they can get
-weapons... well okay I suppose
-whats the deal with the dagger then x asks
-wiz explains story of two weaponsmiths and mages one gets
"infected" by evil and
-murders his own brother with his own sword. as the frenzy passes he
realised what he has -done and makes weapons for the entire army of
xxxxx they devastate the opposing horde
-for all the weapons are magical and cannot be used unjustly and
will aide those carrying
-them in battle or whereever they may go.
-The partiular dagger is the weapon of vvvvvvvv ´who died gloriously
saving the king xxxxx
-from ertain death by asassinating the asassin sent to slay
-wow amazing story
-time has flown while the wiz has told the story
-thanks then I'll be off I need to go back today!
-Yes to Middle Ring
-yeah my friends leave tomorrow why
-okay I'll be off then...
-good day to you to
-x arrives at blacksmith
-good to see you
-chit chat - weather - the son - the wiz x tells about the friends
and the battle, yes the
-hordes seems to grow stronger every time, if only we could rid
ourselves of them once
-and for all
-wiz ... friends remember for us to know good we must also know evil
for without them we
-would just be... no purpose just be, floating in the seas of
infinity like snowflakes in a mild
- the son is very taken wit wiz and wiz takes a liking to him
-I think your son is destined for greatness smith
-I know he is, I know.....
-after more chit chat they return to middle ring
-x thanks wiz and they part ways
-x goes looking for friends and find them at the foaming mug
-tells them he has been to Ilvartinan and delivered the stuff
-But that's 14 days on horseback every way
-"But how?", Tanon asked
-The box you dullard Mbuba said before Xupis could answer his
-the gang hangs out and gets drunk
-Xupis why don't you come with us
-With you to war?
-Aye what greater glory could there be, the priest said. He was
getting quite plastered
-now and set in with a song
-the whole inn joined him, and a glorious battle of the older days
was remembered again
-so what do you say Xupis are you with us
-I really don't....
-wait Xupis, the priest hauled him in close
-in a loud whisper he told Xupis
-think of all the treasure that can be won in battle
-yes riches beyond imagination
-yes save the hide of a wealthy warrior or pick up whatever he
-Oh come on it'll be fun
-fun is hardly the word I would use... but okay if you insist.
-Yahoo.. Xupis is with us
-Mugs collided and mead sputtered to all sides
-it was ages ago since Xupis had ever felt such kindred with anyone
maybe these could be
-the ones to ask...
-the party raged on most of the night but before it came to an end
more had joined them
-a beautiful warrior priestess with a strong interest in BS as well
as the usual wench or
-two BS left together with the priestess who was named Verza. Mbuba
had great fun for a
-long time before he decided it was time to leave. He grabbed a
couple of wenches and
-Xupis retired as well, his sleep was unrestful and troubled.
-When the cock crowed people started pouring toward the temples, the
horns blew for the
- it was a raggedy group who attended the morning muster at the
-Black Skull who spent the night at the temple had just finished
meditating when he was
-summoned to see the high commander
-BS is bestowed with the honor of leading a group
-he is assigned 3 warriors
-2 human males (cool names)
-1 elven female Shada very nice
-Xupis arrived at the temple, and as much as he disliked it he rode
into the courtyard.
-He had bought another horse, so now he possessed no less than 2
-He left the ordinary one in the care of the stable master, with a
genuine deposit should
-he not return from Sundan.
-After searching for a while he found the group assigned to BS,
Tanon was there looking up
-and down a female elf. She looked very nice but he couldn't help
but kick Tanon gently
-over the legs. Don't just stand there like an oaf go over and say
-but what if she finds me ridiculous
-suit yourself Xupis said and moved toward her
-But...., Tanon didn't get any further before Xupis was standing
next to her
-Hello, I'm Xupis
-Hi there Xupis I'm Shada... you're with our group
-You could say that Xupis answered smoothly
-And I'm Tanon another elf interrupted
-Nice to meet you Tanon
-Xupis backed down, obviously Tanon took a great interest in this
one and he wasn't about
-to try anything to spoil his chances, the poor boy deserved a
struck of luck
-Hello Xupis, berries?, Mbuba offered
-There they were, chewing berries and drinking some wine when BS
-He rode toward them. On his war-horse he seemed even bigger than
before and his armor -gleamed in the sunlight.
-Our group has been assigned to the utmost right flank, I am your
commanding officer and
-you will do exactly as I say
-Tanon here will be my disciplinary Captain, he will see to that you
behave properly while we
-pursue our goals..... is that clear. BS looked sharply at the two
guys in the back.
-Xupis and Mbuba chuckled but managed to keep it from becoming
-Okay then mount, BS yelled at the top of his lungs.
-the group got on the horses and were ready to leave
-a trumpet blared and was followed by a multitude of shouts
-The days in the saddle were weary, nothing of interest happened
except the odd game of -dice, a game Tanon seemed to grow very fond
-Days became weeks until they finally arrived at a gigantic plain.
-This is where the battle will stand Shada whispered
-You think so Tanon inquired, he had grown more than fond of the
elven woman and she of
-Night had fallen and the camp was bustling with activity - like a
-BS looking for Verza, finds her and goes for a final stroll
-sources report horde is nearing and ready to strike at any time.
-Tanon has gone for a little walk by himself and Xupis and Mbuba
advane on Shada
-they both check her sword which is all to heavy for them
-Tanon returns to the camp with disturbing rumours
-the horde might already be here tomorrow morning
-Shada "Well then tomorrow will be the day of reckoning for them"
-agree the horde must be kicked at any cost since they do not want
-bs returns to camp, go to sleep you will need all the strenght you
-daylight was breaking when the alarm sounded
-the horde, the horde
-the horizon was filled with dark moving figures and on the plain
the warriors were forming
-the armies clashed as the company slovly advanced on the right
flank when BS suddenly
-breakaway group to our left, charge!!!!
-as they got closer they identified the group as hobgoblins
-Tanon gets a strange look over him
-BS closed his eyes and saw Tempus stride across the sky one foot on
the white the other
-on the black
-Mbuba and Xupis were not as eager as the others but rode ahead
-The hobgoblins looked meaner than one would expect, they stood tall
and their eyes
-glowed with evil
-Tanon was the first to meet them, he lashed out with his sword and
cut one down
-dregs will die Tanon yelled at the top of his lungs
-Tkret charged as well chops one down
-Xupis drew his sword and did some wind chopping
-Mbuba looked closely at the enemy group, in the middle of it there
was a large shadow
-"Do you see that", Mbuba asked Xupis who all of a sudden stopped
-"Trolls", Xupis answered dishearted. It was a troll allright,
enveloped in some sort of
-darkness keept it from being hit by direct sunlight
-"I hate trolls", Mbuba said pointing his fingers oddly toward the
creature, there was a sound in the air, a muffled hum like that
which you can sense right before a lightning storm. Then it came, a
bolt of pure energy shot out from his hands straight toward the
troll. It screamed terribly when the glowing needle thrust itself
into the hideous body.
-The horse neighed and reared, the front legs stamped out into the
air, all of a sudden the horse seemed to regain control of itself
and planted a hoof directly on a hobgoblin. The hobgoblin flung its
sword wildly with the result that it cut down one of its comrades.
Xupis and Mbuba were thrilled "Encore", Xupis shouted and spurred
"Stop what are you doing!", Mbuba yelled.
"Wait and see", Xupis yelled back followed by a devious smile.
Shada jumped from her horse followed by the other human Grak,
instantly the hobgoblins poured toward them. Her sword cut swiftly
and hard and one after another fell before her.
"Just like the old days", Grak yelled as another beast lay before
his feet in a pool of blood.
"Yeah the good old days!!!", Shada yelled back, taking a snarling
swing at an unfortionate hobgoblin that was about to turn and run.
Tanon was not about to let the others get ahead of him, if anyone
deserved to kill the hobgoblins it was him!
With that in mind he charged his horse into the middst of it all and
dismounted. Immediatly the beasts were upon him.
Black Skull was somewhat surprised when Xupis cut down a hobgoblin
coming at him. But he was soon to repay the favor as one tried to
get Xupis from behind.
The forward surge of creatures seemed to hesitate, and Xupis took
advantage of that recess.
"Priest, give me the saddlebag with the oil and the bottles", he
"What for....", Black Skull yelled back.
"Never mind just give them here..... we don't have much time", Xupis
Just then the hideous troll reared its ugly head. Black Skull
noticed the look on Xupis's face. Off course, he thought and threw
the saddlebag to the elf who hurried away.
How Xupis got back unscathed was a mystery to Mbuba but he was
relieved to see him thundering back on his horse.
"What in heavens name do you think you are doing!", Mbuba shouted
when Xupis arrived.
"Relax... I have everything under control here take this", he said
throwing a leather pouch filled with lamp oil to Mbuba.
"Oil... what do I need oil for", Mbuba asked.
"This", Xupis answered taking a couple of empty bottles from the
Suddenly it dawned upon Mbuba, that mad little elf intended to set
the troll on fire but how did he plan to accomplish that with all
the hobgoblins between him and the troll.
"Stop worrying", Xupis said as if reading his mind. He tossed the
empty flasks to Mbuba and started tearing the sleaves of his shirt.
"Fill them up Mbuba", Xupis said shredding the cloth he had just
torn from his garmant.
Mbuba filled the flasks and handed them to Xupis, he in turn handed
a couple of extra flasks along with some cloth to the magician.
Grak was bleading heavily but was still standing, covering his back
was Shada who was having trouble keeping the beasts at bay.
"Hang on I'm coming", Tanon yelled cutting his way through the
living mass of hobgoblins between him and Shada.
Tkret was in trouble, he had just split a hobgoblin in half when he
came face to face with the troll. It laughed menacing and Tkret lost
his sword as his hands went up to his face.
His eyes felt like they were on fire and he slumped down right where
The troll obviously not content with the damage it had done got
nasty. A bony hand gripped the fallen human and broke his arms like
they were twigs.
Tkret sreamed in agony and fell silent as he passed out. The troll
displeased over the limited joy it got by torturing the human tossed
him aside like he was nothing but dung.
"That ugly.....", Mbuba bit his teeth together and lit the oily
rags. They flamed up nicely before he tossed the improvised fire
The glass shattered as it hit the ground only a few metres from
where the troll stood, it stopped and hesitated for a moment then it
lashed out again striking at Black Skull.
The priest barely avoided the blow but remained on his horse. It
stomped wildly every time a hobgoblin got to close and crushed them
to death. Black Skull was thrilled, his valiant animal had almost
killed as many as himself.
Grak cut down another hobgoblin but he was tired now, his legs
trembled and to late he realized what was happening.
The troll grinned as it lashed out, Grak didn't stand a chance. In a
last resolute attempt to make a difference he threw his body
backward and pushed both Shada and Tanon down.
The blow when it came didn't seem so terrible, the white silence was
quite pleasant and then Grak wasn't aware any more.
Xupis could not believe what he was doing, he couldn't remember a
single time in his life that had he gone on such a fools errand, but
nevertheless here he was.
The troll dwarfed him but thankfully it's back was turned to him,
thoug luck had nothing to do with it. Just hope Grímur is allright,
Xupis thought as he advanced upon the furry creature. The shadow
felt old when he entered, Xupis felt the little voice in him
shouting at him, ordering him to turn and run. He shook violently as
he lifted his arm for the final assault. The troll stopped, there
was something wrong. But it was to late, the flames stung like a
million hornets. It was like someone showed a glowing poker straight
from the firelakes of Ilozea into his back. The flames grew and grew
as the troll turned around, he stopped in surprise.
There was no one behind him yet that nobody seemed to have stung him
something terrible. Tanon drove his sword deep into the flaming back
of the Troll. The troll snarled again, this time more in rage than
in pain. It swirled around barely giving Tanon time to withdraw. It
roared... the vibrations hit them like thunderbolt shaking them from
the inside and out.
All of a sudden Shada went down, a hobgoblin was about to thrust its
sword into her lying body when he himself was penetrated by a mighty
sword. Black Skull smiled as he drew the sword from the quivering
"Take my hand Shada", Black Skull said and grabbed hold of the
woman. In a fration of a second Shada was up again and about.
In a simultanious lash she and Tanon got a hobgoblin. The three
pieces fell to the ground and as their eyes met, at that very moment
they knew their fates would be interlocked indefinately.
"Yes...", Mbuba yelled as he threw himself into hand to hand battle
with a hobgoblin.
Again Black Skull charged, this time directly toward the troll. He
swung his mace high and valiantly as his horse galopped toward
At that instant the troll felt another sting in his back, this time
it wasn't fire it was a tiny blade. He turned around, the elf
couldn't be more than 20 meters away and he just stood there unsure
of what to do.
"Xupis........", Tanon yelled as he realized what was going on.
Xupis had lost his sword and in a moment of madness charged the
troll with nothing but a dagger.
The troll turned back, he knew that voice. It was the last he ever
heard for as he faced the sound a mace hit his head, while a mighty
sword thrust all it's way through his body, penetrating his black
He fell down with a loud thump, and the cold shadow dissapated.
There was a moment of silence as the hobgoblins realized what had
happened. Then they attacked, this time more ferouciously than ever,
they knew time was up and had decided to do whatever damage they
could before it was over.
It was a mighty clash and when the dust settled all but two were
still standing, Shada and Tanon embraced and fell to their knees
laughing. Xupis had found his sword and sheathed it.
The field was dark with blood and to this day it is said, that if
you look closely, you can still see where the battle of the plains
Back in camp Xupis was going over the days event when it suddenly
A troll, there had been a troll, and where there were trolls there
No troll would venture far from it's home territory without great
reason and the horde attacking a town would hardly be sufficient.
It was more likely that the troll had tagged along for his own
pleasure. And if that was the case well, then they stood a good
chance of finding the lair. At least they could attempt to
Xupis opened a bottle of wine
- xup and Mbuba + Grak who has been partly healed by the healers go
looking for the lair
-tanon is to proud to go look for loot, and Shada wants to stay with
-BS has left the group with ordres to take things easy untill he
returns has gone looking
-for Verza and he finds her, they stroll around camp hand in hand
-x +Mbuba + Grak have luck and after tracking the troll tracks they
come upon a lair, actually Grak falls into the hole which the troll
-find 750 GP's and a lot of bones
-they return to camp after agreeing to divide the loot among
themselves, hey the others
-didn't want to ome so why should they share?
-Back in camp x says he must go back to the lair to perform a burial
-he searches the camp and finds a priest of Lathander, they get a
load of candles, one for -each soul. then x+priest+ Shada and Tanon
ride to the lair
- Tanon & Shada sit outside on guard while x + priest descent an
light a candle for every
-fallen one in the cave.
-mbuba was walking the camp untill he found a gathering plae for
-they talk laugh, exhange fireball bragging etc.
-eat a lot of giggleberries
They had lit a total of 15 lights, they had almost burned down when
the priest started blowing them out in a gentle manner. Rest
peacefully, he said every time he put out a candle. One by one the
lights died and the cave grew dark and silent.
-When x and the priest emerged Shada had fallen asleep in Tanons
arms, he woke her
-very gently it is time to seal the lair and ride back to camp
-BS mad at first but realizes honorable intent and forgives absense
-BS sit's down and sings a song for the dead, many Tempus followers
join in and thus they
- to honor the dead.
It was surely a battle to be remembered for years, a fight their
grandchildren would talk about about, and whose children in turn
would pass on to their own children.
The heroes of the plains would never be forgotten but right now
there was still some
cleanup to do. Several fleeing enemy units had been seen heading
southwest and Black Skull had managed to convince the commander to
assign the company to patrol duty.
When they were fully rested Black Skull briefed them about their
-Patrol Along road to wiz forrest for 8 to 10 days. then regroup
with the rest and head
-back to middlering.
After riding for only 7 days they came to the mountains, the peaks
towered high above in the misty sky and seemed to stretch into the
The steep climb had brought them into an area barely vegetated by
anything than mosses and they were just about to turn back when
Black Skull suddenly ordered them to halt.
The rumbling didn't sound like thunder it was something else, there
was something unsettling about the whole deal and the horses seemed
to be very nervous.
They didn't have to wait long for an explanation, a hurdling rock
just gazing by Tanon landed only a few feet behind them.
"Where the heck did that come from", Tanon yelled in surprise.
"Look", Grak screamed at the top of his lungs while pointing wildly
at a ledge above.
They looked up and saw what had to be the biggest man alive in the
realms. He picked up another rock, but before he could fling it at
them Xupis sent an arrow at him. The arrow didn't hit and Xupis
wondered why he had bothered sending it at the giant in the first
place. It did however distract the giant enough to let Mbuba have a
go at him. The strange radiant energy bolt hit the giant spot-on. He
howled in pain, and tossed the rock at them with such power that it
almost pulverized when it hit. At the last possible instant Grak
drove his horse to safety but caught some shrapnel from the debris
flying to all sides. He fell of the horse with a groan.
The giant leapt down, the ground shook as he strode toward them
obviously infuriated by his faliore to destroy his opponents.
"Charge.....", it was Black Skull who valiantly sounded the attack
and spurred forward on his huge beast. The others followed, if it
was their fate to meet death in the mountains so be it.
Heavy arrows lashed into the giant whom it didn't seem to bother
more than the sting of a mosquito. As the group and the giant came
closer to eah other his true size revaled itself to them. But
nevertheless a chain of events were in motion, it would be no good
to turn and run, for the giant would catch up with them within a
very short time.
Black Skull was the first to clash with the giant, his sword cut
deeply into the giants leg.
The giant howled again and an avalanche started thundering down hill
on the opposite side of the ravine. He lifted his huge foot and had
it not been for the incredible speed of his horse Black Skull would
be a chunk of minced meat lying on the rocky ground.
Tanon harged forward as did the others. Mbuba pulled out his staff
if he couldn't do anything else he might as well try and give him a
good blow to the shin.
With a roar Tanon threw himself, sword first at the giant. The sword
dug deep into his leg with Tanon clinging on to the handle.
Black Skull's horse reared and kicked loose a rock that compared to
the giant could best be described like a glass bead and as the
saying goes luck favors those who dare.
The giant infuriated at Tanon shook his leg in order to rid himself
of the infestious thing which seemed to hang on to it for no other
reason than to cause him pain.
Tanon flew 20 meters before hitting a sloping rockface, it broke his
fall without every bone in his body shattering, which would have
been the case had he gone only a few feet longer.
The giant set his mind to go for Tanon, something he shouldnt have
done. For when he stepped forward, he planted his foot on the pebble
The giant unaccustomed to such bad luck ended up on a ledge 20
meters below in the ravine. They ran to the edge to see what had
happened. The giant just lay there without moving.
"Is he dead", Grak shouted from where he lay. He didn't get an
immediate answer and the wait seemed unbarable to him.
"I suppose", Black Skull finally answered afrter studying the giant
for what seemed to be an eternety.
"It doesn't look like he is breathing", Mbuba added in an attempt to
assure himself that they were really alive and the giant was dead.
After some discussion they agreed they'd better check if the giant
was just unconsious or not, and so it happened that Xupis was sent
down with a rope.
Xupis slowly descended, ready to bolt the instant the giant moved a
muscle. When he finally reached the ledge the giant was already
cooling off, but now there was no doubt, the giant was dead!
"Okay pull me up", Xupis shouted after examening the giant's body.
"We need to find his lair, it so happens that giants are known to
keep live animals... even people imprisoned untill such time as they
want a bite to eat", Shada said with bitterness in her voice.
"I guess we'll have to do just that then", Black Skull answered
already planning how to divide them into teams enabling them to
cover more ground in less time.
It took them most of the day to find the lair and when they finally
did it was not a pretty sight.
-there is a shaft leading upward
-xupis wears glowes and climbs
-it narrows down to a couple of meters and on a ledge xupis finds a
-the others ask if he has found anything
-no he answers
-he picks up the ruby and it oozes into his palm and all of a sudden
the gloves dissapear.
-BS searches the kitchen and finds a shitload of gold over 2000 gp's
-saddlebags are filled and a happy crew leaves for Sundon for the
-the trip back takes a while longer than expected as the heavy
ladened animals refuse to
-travel to swiftly
-BS is eager to get back and meet Verza and the others just want to
move on with their
-lives now that the campaign is over
-X pulls BS aaside and shows him ruby and glowes, Mbuba stumbles
upon them and can't keep his mouth shut with respect to Tanon, Tanon
can't keep the secret to Shada, and she in turn tells Grak. After
some lenghty discussions as to the ownership of the ruby they then
decide to visit a jeweler who can split the stone up as soon as they
get to Sundan.
-arrive in Sundan
-X worried that splitting the stone might affect gloves tries to
split to perform some
-experiments - listen I have to go etc.
"See I knew it. Entrusting a ruby to Xupis, that's like shutting the
stable door after the horse has bolted.....", Tanon said grabbing
-let me go
-Mbuba take the stone
-x kicks Tanon in the groin
-Tanon smashes his head into the wall before the pain sets in then
-X hand goes for the sword
-BS break it up guys
-His distrust is dispicable, if he ever does anything like that
again I swear I'll kill him.
-BS but you were about to leave
-yes to perform some experiments away from the public eye
-I suspect the ruby has something to do with the glowes new
-then let's perform these experiments you talk about BS says and
pulls Tanon to his feet
-Tanon doesn't say anything but is both mad and sad at the same time
-they try experiments, it seems that if you place anything directly
in the palm of the glowes it dissapears. 5 berries at the time on
each side, both in palm and on the top of the hand. Distance
apparently doesn't play a role as Mbuba proves by riding to the
other sidde of town with Tanon.
-X is still reluctant to part with the ruby and wants to buy out
whoever doesn't want to hold on to it
-BS interested sort of a common treasure, for times when it might be
-Mbuba happy about the arrangement for now
-they get an estimate on the stone and pay off the others
-jeweler advices that the Dancing Squirrel is the best place in town
and they go there and ask for lodging, which they get.
-Tanon is sorry for what he did back at the jeweler and buys the
finest wine available
-x reluctantly accepts and sips the wine in silence
-they send folks out to look for Shada and Grak, s&g arrive at
-bs goes to the temple finds verza, she has some business to attend
but promises to come to the dancing squirrel later that evening, and
sends bs a little wink of the eye.
-bs meets high priest of the temple, is debriefed and presented with
the order of Gpan
effetively promoting him from lowly priest to warrior priest won
under test of fire.
-Mbuba is out getting himself a new horse, the beast he buys is even
bigger than the previous, he gets scale armor for the horse
-tanon & x were still at the squirrel, tanon threw the barkeep a
pouch of gold
-keep the liquer coming.... yes sir
-then he gets an idea and orders boar slowly fried by rotation over
-owner happy, sees banquet coming
-Mbuba returns wearing the braces of the orc leader, they have been
polished and shine like diamonds, he has spent a long time examining
them and today he found them to be magical with the help of a local
guildsmember he met during the campaign.
-look beer takes beer mug before anyone can blink faster than fast
-they clap .... again
-okay beer - swish and he is drinking
-BS comes back and tells them he is promoted
-huraa etc... bs says that it is time to celebrate
-shada comes and says Grak has moved on
-as the night progressed the mood grew merrier
-bs asks if he can take the horse inside
-Verza arrives and BS and Verza slip off down to the staples
-an expensive bottle of wine on the horses head, it licks happily
-I name thee Gonmec Giantslayer, the horse neighed in approval and
slurped some more wine from the trough.
-they return to inn and party
-verza challenges bs to an arm wrestle
-bs wind both times, although he wasn't sure wether he really
deserved to win the last time
-as the evening turned to night the place was still packed, mbuba
had found himself a wench and was very happy. His rumbling laughter
filled the room time and time again.
Two bards were entertaining and people were dancing and laughing
when an elven maid approached Xupis.
"You seem so sad.... why", she asked with the loveliest smile Xupis
had ever seen.
"Oh it's nothing.... to much wine", he tried.
"I almost forgot.... I'm Kaaty Letelah", the elven woman said
presenting herself properly.
"...child of the river?", Xupis asked with a longing gaze. He
couldn't help it but completely drowned in her eyes. Those lovely
eyes, it was almost as if they glowed.
"Yes... and you are Xupis I hear, what does that mean?", she asked.
Her voice seemed so soft and fine that it burned itself onto his
He swallowed before answering "Hard little one.... I almost died at
childbirth, my mother was killed when my family tried to escape the
dukes wrath....", Xupis stopped.
"The dukes wrath?....", Kaaty looked at him with puzzlement.
Xupis realized he had let his guard down. He had never opened
himself up like this for anyone, could he tell her?
He decided that he had to, once you say A you must say B. A saying
his father had loved and cherished. Father....
Xupis thought with sadness in his hearth, my dear dear Father. He
had never really known his parents, well his mother that was
obvious, but the images of his father were pale, those of a young
At a very young age his father had entrusted him to the care of a
young blacksmith apprentice for whom he had the utmost respect.
The last he had seen of his father was him being dragged away on
foot by two guild bounty hunters on tall war-horses. But his fathers
faith in the blacksmith had not been in vain. The blacksmith had
protected him and raised him as if he was his own. But that was all
so long ago.
"It's a very long story....", Xupis answered looking at her with sad
She just looked at him, her finely chiseled face looked radiant and
was filled with empathy.
"Let's go for a walk.... the moonlight is beautiful and the night is
young", Kaaty answered slipping a fine hand into his.
-X tells all to maiden and they agree to spend more time together -
she is an archer from the south - not interested in warring but when
the people of Sundon called upon everyone to help - Heafan Gteeri
their chief had asked 20 of their finest archers to join forces with
the army assembling on the plains of Sundan.
"And here I am", she said smiling. That's when he knew it he was in
love, dare I tell her or will she take offense that I turn to her
with such feelings without really knowing her?
Xupis decided to wait, they had all the time in the world for now
she was a friend. Though in his heart he knew she would always be
"Think we should get back before they miss us?", she asked him with
that soft voice of hers.
"I guess!", Xupis answered giving her hand a tiny squeeze. She
turned her head and smiled.
Black Skull had started smoking again, the pleasant cinnamon smell
spread through the room as he passed the pipe to Mbuba. The magician
took the pipe eagerly and inhaled deeply.
He held the smoke in for a moment before exhaling again. He coughed
lightly and passed the pipe back to Black Skull who accepted it with
a subtle smile.
Mbuba grabbed a few berries from the pouch "Giggle berries?", he
asked offering a couple to Black Skull.
"Sure why not", Black Skull responded stretching his arm toward
Mbuba dropped the berries down in Black Skull's hand, who eagerly
withdrew it and tossed them into his mouth. He chewed them with
another of those subtle smiles and that's when Mbuba cracked. A
hysterical laughter filled the room and it took quite a while before
it died down again only to be interrupted by a silly giggle now and
Tanon blew on his fist "Come on baby do it for me", he whispered and
threw the dices.
They whirled around and it seemed to last forever before they hit
the tabletop. Three or four times they rolled around before falling
"7 wins", Tanon yelled ecstatic. The other players looked at him in
dismay. The pile in front of him had grown and grown during the
evening and it seemed like his luck never ran out.
Just then Xupis and Kaaty came back in. "Hey Xupis, care for a
game", Tanon yelled. He was drunk and in a good mood, Shada was
rubbing his shoulders enticing him to leave. As she said, there were
better things to do.
Xupis wasn't sure whether or not to play when Kaaty gave him a
friendly bump with the elbow. "Go ahead if you like, I have to go
talk to a friend of mine", she said pointing to another elven female
who was busy fending off a drunkard.
"Sure okay", Xupis said smiling at Kaaty, she was wonderful. He had
never felt so at ease with a female before and the fact that she
seemed to like him didn't make things worse.
She tiptoed over to her friend, and Xupis sat down at the table.
"Must you", Shada said seductively nibbling on Tanon's ear. Tanon
shuddered "Just one more game.... I'm feeling really lucky"
"Hmm...", it was obvious that Shada had completely different plans
for the evening, but she accepted Tanon's choice, at least for the
"I'll just go get you another mug, dear", she said with a smile.
Tanon's face turned all red "O... okay", he said gasping.
"Xupis you want one!", She asked nodding to Xupis.
"Sure why not", he answered with a satisfied smile on his lips.
"Xupis... Xupis, you hear the wonderful news", Mbuba almost cried
yanking Xupis's sleeve.
"What news?", Xupis asked puzzled by Mbuba's emotional state.
"Black Skull and Verza have decided to get married in one month",
Mbuba said in a tearful but happy voice.
"No way....", Xupis answered astonished.
"Yes... yes it is true... is it not wonderful?", Mbuba asked looking
Just then Shada returned with the mead and Tanon grabbed her hand.
"We're also getting married", he exclaimed
"We are?", Shada was delighted, she had come to love Tanon intensely
and the fact that he wanted to marry her couldn't have made her
happier. She wrapped her strong arms around him and planted her
voluptuous lips right on his in a passionate kiss.
"Oh this is double wonderful... Black Skull and Verza and Tanon with
Shada... this is most wonderful evening", Mbuba said throwing
Tanon's mug back in a single draught.
"Hey my beer....", Tanon complained after getting some air back into
"Don't worry I'll get you plenty beer", Mbuba said joyfully
strolling off to fetch a new mug for Tanon.
"Well here's to you!", Xupis said raising his mug "This one is for
all you lovers out there", he added offering his toast to all in the
"To all the lovers", a chorus of voices answered in unison.
-X and Tanon gamble
-Tanon gets new beer
-They gamble on
-in the end 900
-Xupis ends up 890 ahead.
-x happy to have taken some of his earnings from Tanon and hopes he
will learn a lesson about gambling. To quit while you are ahead and
not to engage in foolish bets.
-Kaaty returned and sat down next to Xupis, they talked long and
intensely, it seemed like the party was dissolving
-its getting late I think I'll go to bed Kaaty said
-x follows her up to her room and kisses her hand in the most
chivalrous way he could.
-Kaaty thinks he is fabulous and gives him a kiss on the cheek.
-X bids goodnight, thinks he'll go out to enjoy the sunrise
-Kaaty lights up in a smile, I love sunrise she says
-Well then join me
-They go for a stroll and find a green meadow in the town park
-flowers are in bloom and the light mesmerizes them
-to the wonderful sounds of bird twitter Kaaty falls asleep leaned
up next to Xupis
-Xupis takes her and carries her in his arms to the room, and sits
down for a moment in the chair, he dozes off.
-when he woke he was met by the most beautiful sight Kaaty smiled
and offered her hand to him.
-Xupis smiled and took her hand, this was indeed a joyous evening.
-late afternoon when people get up
-that which seemed like the worst headache in the world just got
worse and Mbuba had trouble concentrating on anything.
-stumbles down and gets a drink, shaking becomes more subtle but
Mbuba knows that he is by no means cured and asks for the nearest
-directions, but there is another a bit further but better
-he gets proper directions and is off
-X is enjoying fruits and hot honey water, Kaaty has gone off on an
errand when Black Skull and Verza arrive
-they sit and BS tells X that a messenger from Middlering has
arrived and asked them to come to the wiz
-Xupis immediately thinks about staff
-no no, he wants us to participate in an experiment
-yes move us to the mainland with the help of the box
-X I don't know I cant really go
-BS why not?
-X oh it's far to complicated
-BS try me
-Verza gets up, I'll be at the temple if you need be, kisses him
lightly on his forehead
-Verza leaves, but BS grabs her hand and yanks her back, he plants a
big one, and she lights up like a forest fire laughs and strolls
-X tells him about the Duke (Father locksmith, blackmailed by the
guild of Middlering to produce a copy of the keys to the dukes
mansion - his pregnant wife held captive etc.
Guild frames father, he and wife escape to the north, manage to
throw off pursuers.
But I can't leave until I have accumulated enough power so that I
can clear his name.
-The puzzle fell into place, so that explained why Xupis knew so
much about the activities of the underworld and why he fitted right
in. He had a mission to accomplish, and a hard one at that.
"We could help you!", Black Skull offered with a grave look on his
"I don't like to involve you, you're my friend", Xupis started.
"And that's why I can't stand idly by watching you do this alone,
I'm sure Tanon and Mbuba feel the same way".
"If it is all the same to you I'll think about it.... what if we
talked it over when we come to Middlering. I suppose you're eager to
go back, the mainland, high adventure and all that!", Xupis said.
"Allright by me, I was planning on taking that crazy old wizard up
on his offer", Black Skull answered.
"Offer", Xupis asked with interest "What sort of offer".
"5000 gold pieces each.... we bring our own provisions and means of
transportation to Middlering and then he takes are of the rest",
Black Skull answered.
"5000.... that's an awful lot for partaking in an experiment like
that, I know the box works. Why would he offer that kind of money
for a simple thing like that?", Xupis asked suspiciously.
"I don't know and I don't care.... the wedding is going to cost an
absolute fortune, I promised Verza a ceremony in style and what
better honeymoon than a trip to the mainland", Black skull answered
with a shrug.
"You got a point there", Xupis answered with a smile.
The trip to Middlering passed without much fuzz, but the closer
Xupis got to Middlering the quieter he grew. His silence seemed to
put a damper on everyone in the company but no one wanted to ask in
fear of an answer that would put them even more down.
-Back in Middlering
-x gathers info on Etoban Fel's whereabouts
-Etoban will return in 20 days or so from a trip to Ilvartinan.
-X sends a messenger with a document that offers power over Xupis's
entire fortune. Collectible in Middlering. The messenger bears a
cryptic note saying:
One will be judged not alone for what one does, but also for what
one hath not done.
But reputation is only what males or females think of us, character
is what Gods and angels know of us.
"And that's how they framed my father for murdering the dukes wife,
but if I can get my hands on Etoban Fel and present him to the duke
I'm sure I can cleanse my fathers name".
"How?....", Black Skull asked with genuine interest.
"Etoban carries the ring of Naomi... the dukes wife around his neck,
like some sort of prize.
I think he is proud of having caused his enemy the Duke such
unbelievable pain. I intend to get my hands of Etoban and rip his
shirt open in front of the Duke".
"And how do you expect to do that, there is no way a man like Etoban
will be taken without resistance, the guild will protect him at all
cost", Tanon said reluctant to get involved.
"I'm with you!", Kaaty said putting a hand on his shoulder, the
warmth from it felt wonderful and Xupis knew that whatever happened
his debt to her could never be repaid in full.
"Me to.... as I said before, I'll go", Black Skull confirmed in a
If there was anything in this world he loathed it was treachery. The
time for purification had come, the gleaming sword of justice would
cut out that infestation of a man... for good!
"I am also with you", Mbuba added. His family slain by villains he
knew exactly how Xupis felt. There was no greater rage than to see
the guilty get away scot-free, and if he could take part in bringing
one like that down, so be it.
There was a moment of silence, the flames in the fireplace cast
mysterious shadows on the walls and foretold the future in their own
Many eyes rested upon the large elf when he finally spoke.
"I.... I guess I'm with you to", Tanon said and offered Xupis his
Xupis looked him straight in the eyes and took his hand "Thank
you!.... thank you all", he said with moistening eyes.
He looked around and swallowed a lump. He had never dared hope for
more valiant help in his task.
But here he was, surrounded by friends from near and far, it would
be a glorious night.
The door burst open and a large bearded man entered, behind him came
a young boy.
He cast a single glance at them before he spoke "I knew you were up
to something your trip to Ilvartinan, the message and Etoban's
sudden appearance there had to mean something".
"Cedree my oldest of friends, you are right tonight all that was
wronged shall be vindicated", Xupis said looking at the bearded man.
"Then tonight is a night to be remembered, son go fetch the others",
the Blacksmith ordered.
"Others?", Xupis asked with surprise, what others?.
"The Annerenah brothers and their cousins Adie and Torstain of
Homral", the blacksmith answered.
"They're here", Xupis asked with disbelief in his voice.
"Yes Xupis, your father had many friends, to bad we couldn't help
him at the time. But you Xupis, you're his heir and to you we pledge
The Annerenah brothers, Xupis dared not believe what he heard, never
were 3 brothers more famed and respected than these. The 3 brothers
entered, one bigger than the other.
Their fiercely red hair was unusual, but was said to be the result
of their family ties to the north. The huge swords resting at their
side spoke a clear language. These were warriors taking great pride
in what they did and whom they associated with.
After them came two smaller fellows, their hair wasn't red as the
Annerenah brothers, but the golden locks did have a faint streak to
them. One of the two bore the finest bows Kaaty had ever seen, with
a large quiver on his back he proudly wore the green uniform of a
The other was clad in sinister gray and bore no visible arms. The
wooden container hanging from his belt didn't disclose a thing.
The way it was tied around his leg as well as its size and shape
were masterly concealed so that nothing could be read from it about
the contents. His eyes were alert, and by the looks of him it was
clear that this was not a man you wanted to meddle around with.
Last came Elion Cedree's son, he carried a metal crossbow and had
fastened a quiver on his back. The arrows gleamed in the flames and
it seemed like they were made from pure metal.
The Duke - how can I thank you
Just make sure everybody knows my father xxxx of xxxx was innocent
and that the guilty one has been brought to justice
I will the Duke swore.
As they left a terrible screams tore the darkness, the hour of
justice was upon them.
-the company gather around campfire away from the castle
-blacksmith and others leave
Left by a small campfire sat a lonely figure, the injustice of the
past finally vindicated.
ELF GIRL NAME sat down next to him and stretched her hands toward
the warmth from the fire, he turned his head and smiled as she slid
her arm around his waist and sat closer.
Xupis closed his eyes and took a deep breath, he could finally start
XUPIS PART II
-They arrive at the wizards place
-X has 2 extra packhorses
-wiz pays in advance
-folks are happy
-x spyr um hann kan tosa við wiz
-x biður um ein boga so hann kann raka betri
-x gives money back and gets his new bow bewitched instead
-x test bow along with Kaaty
-it works splendidly
-return to wiz
-cling on to everything
-appear on a beautiful white beach
-all the equipment is there
-wiz murmurs and fumbles with the box
-and then ZZZAP he disappears
-They are left in a desolate place.
-So BS, what did the wiz say about going back
-the deal was to the mainland & back right?
-uhm actually I have to deliver a msg. to the temple at (WaterDeep),
I didn't exactly plan on going back
-while Tanon and BS argue x finds his net and tries it out, the
weather is magnificent and they might have to wait for the wizard
-Mbuba and BS along with Tanon grow restless after waiting for 1/2
-they ride to the nearby forest to investigate after riding along
the forest for a while they turn around a bend and see a city in the
distance, they return to the others and tell them
-in the meantime they've prepared a meal of newly caught fish
-they eat and talk about heading for town
-Mbuba and Xupis agree that leaving a marker behind would be prudent
- they collect rocks, it takes quite a while, but they don't wish to
use wood because someone could pass by and use it for firewood, or
worse the tide could take it
-they camp in a clearing away from the open beach
-Xupis and Kaaty enjoy the privacy of the large tent, however they
are soon joined by the others as they've apparently made camp right
by a mosquito waterhole
-see you should have brought a tent Xupis grinned, be prepared
that's what I've always said.
-the night passed without further problems
-they ride to town
-excuse me what is the name of this place?
-Where is it situated?
-to the south!
-which country is this?
-country..... villager grows suspicious
-we're strangers and we're lost
-aaaah, well this part of the realm is called xxxxx
-what is the nearest big city
-oh it's xxxxxx
-what is the fastest route there
-I'm leaving tomorrow - you can come with me ... eager captain
smells easy profit
-Tanon refuses, he hates/fears water
-no way, I'm going on horseback that's final
-You can't be serious, on horse it will take weeks and weeks, while
on the sea we can relax and enjoy ourselves
-Listen I said I was going to ride, there is nothing you can do to
change my mind
-no absolutely nothing
Da Da DA DA - da da da- da da da da - daa da da da
-x rides out to witch/wise woman asks about sleeping trouble
-she can cure that... just use this potion right before you want to
sleep and you doze off
-x returns to the inn, the folks have requested rooms and are
planning to hit the sack
-let's have a night cap then
-I don't know (Tanon)
-come on it's on me
-Xupis fetches the beer from the keep and puts the potion in Tanon's
-he divides them out among the people and observe Tanon closely
-Tanon, gets slurry and Xupis talks to him
-the other are laughing and are generally having a good time
-Okay, by me ... good night", Tanon said and rested his head on the
-excellent Xupis exclaimed
-what is excellent
-I've convinced Tanon to join us on the boat, it isn't to late he
asked the captain who was about to leave.
-no no by no means, but we're leaving before daybreak, you know the
tide and such so you better come down to the ship and spend the
-"Oh I don't know, I'll have to ask Tanon", Shada said attempting to
wake him up.
-she fails and they carry him down to the docks and put him in a
-Black Skull, Mbuba and Xupis take care of the horses and all the
rest of their paraphernalia
-the boat rocked gently when Tanon woke
-are we on a boat
-starts shaking violently
-why are we on a boat
-Xupis said you agreed to it
-Tanon gets up but his legs refuse to move and he falls back down
-Shada cares for him
-Mbuba was sitting on the deck taking in every bit of sunshine he
could, the wind had died down but they still had some forward
-Xupis wakes and goes up to the helmsman, they talk about steering a
ship etc. important in storms to steer into the wave etc.
-Mbuba goes below
-BS comes up to the helm, Xupis stands there with his hands on it
with the helmsman leaned up against the railing behind him smoking a
-BS and Helmsman exchange tobacco experience and some tobacco as
-the helmsman knocks his pipe out and stuffs it with what BS has
-they smoke in silence
-Black Skull asks about Mbuba and finds out he has gone below
-Black Skull goes below knocks... no answer only strange murmur from
inside enters his room
-Mbuba looks up from the bottles he had in front of him very annoyed
.. you destroyed everything now I'll have to start all over.
-Black Skull hey sorry I just wanted you to see the flying fish
-there is no such thing leave me alone Mbuba yelled hysterically
-sure no problem, BS leaves and goes to his cabin
-in his cabin he finds pen and paper and returns to Mbuba's quarters
he puts a note on the door quietly pushing a needle through the
paper. It say's Do Not Disturb!!!
-Noon approached and it grew hotter, the sailors were lying lazily
on the deck, the heat was making it impossibly to do much else when
there was a sudden commotion at the bow
-a hideous creature that looked like it was covered in bladder wrack
was making it's way over the railing.
-sailor tries to stop it and is tossed into the water
"TEMPUS!!!!", Black Skull yelled and jumped to his feet "TANON....
TROLLS", he continiued shouting at the top of his lungs
Black Skull Stormed ahead but was overtaken by 3 deadly arrows
whistling right by him. All of them reached their target. The troll
was most annoyed and shot out some sort of tentacle at the offender.
Black Skull was quick to react, his blade swiftly cut the outgoing
tentacle before it could reach Kaaty. The remains of the tentacle
withdrew as the troll let out a furious snarl. The other bit fell to
the deck and quivered oddly before it lay still. Black Skull kicked
it sort of to make sure it was dead. The tentacle reacted with a
spasm, sending Black Skull crashing into the railing which groaned
from the heavy impact.
Another set of arrows whisked by and burrowed into the troll. By
that time Black Skull was back on his feet and charged directly
toward the creature. The others invigorated by the sight charged
forward, Xupis among them.
The troll didn't stand a chance, the persistent sailors with their
tenacity ended the fight before it even really had begun. The troll
sank together under the massive onslaught and ended up like a
quivering mass on the deck.
"Get that thing off my ship", the captain yelled in a defiant voice.
"Aye Captain", the sailors answered pushing the stinking corpse
"Clean that deck you maggots", he yelled at the sailors.
"Aye captain", the sailors replied without hesitation before they
undertook the task of scrubbing the entire deck clean from any
remnants of the fight.
The rest of the trip passed much without incident, Tanon gained
enough confidence to make an appearance on the deck within reaching
distance of the hatch.
The town when it appeared was a sight of liberation and the fortress
overlooking the bay impressive. The sleek ship sailed into the
harbor without fuzz and the mooring lines were cast ashore. Soon
after the gangway was lowered and men came onboard to off load her
-they go look for a map maker and find one
-they get a fine map over the region for 75 gold pieces x pays
-they decide to ride straight on after taking in provisions, after
all"WaterDeep" is quite a long way from "the.city.they.are.in"
-they head north
-BS and Tanon talk to their babes and find out that they probably
have to postpone their weddings due to the delay in getting to
-as they ride towards the mountains an ominous feeling crept upon
-You still have some of those dried mushrooms left he asked Xupis
-Sure x says and starts to hand him the mushrooms, but before he can
give them to him he is overwhelmed with a sudden urge to laugh, for
no obvious reason.
-Soon after all of them were shaking violently, only Mbuba seemed
impervious to the strangeness that come over them.
-The laughter got worse and all except Mbuba and Xupis, that due to
his well groomed dexterity still remained seated, ended up on the
A figure came striding toward them, he eyed both Xupis and Mbuba.
"Curious", was his only comment. Mbuba and Xupis dismounted, the
laughter was dissapating and they strode toward the newcomer. His
outfit was a dead giveaway, this had to be a magician of some sorts.
Xupis had nearly reached him when he suddenly froze. It was not like
anything else he had ever experiensed, but it felt like a giant was
holding him in place, and mo matter how much he struggled his body
didn't twitch even an inch.
Mbuba was very aware that something was terribly wrong, this was
certainly the one responsible for the mysterious laughter attack. A
diversion for him to get in close range? Mbuba's mind raced ahead,
why would anyone want to stop them like this. They knew noone on the
mainland and had no enemies there, or did they.
Mbuba didn't know what to think and got even more puzzled when he
disovered that the mysterious wizard was attempting to examening
Xupisis hands. He struggled for hour after hour, but the gloves
wouldn't budge, even though the wizard had straightened Xupis's arms
completely. The glowes were still invisible, but a faint glow
visible only to those who could understand such matters told Mbubas
that this was the way the wizard had come upon the gloves.
It was obvious that for every hour that went by the wizard got more
frustrated until he started yelling furiously.
"I'll get you for this.... I, I swear", and especially you... you
faul little creature... they will be mine I promise you".
He started walking away from them but turned around again with his
fist clenched in the air "Damn you, damn you all", he shouted and
was on his way.
It didn't take long for the effect to wear off, Xupis who was in the
middle of taking a step forward went crashing down into the ground.
Mbuba was quick to help him to his feet.
The others were stirring as well.
Black Skull swung up on his horse, he was like a mammoth protecting
its young and spurred his horse in the direction the strange wizard
had disappeared. The others followed his example, but after riding
for half an hour or so the horses wanted to slow down. There was no
one in sight, he had slipped away without a trace.
It was getting late when they decided to make camp. Suddenly a
scream caught their attention. It was the scream of a very
frightened human combined with the rumblings of a heavy wagon moving
at very high speed.
A dust cloud came closer and closer until the merchant in the wagon
pulled it to a sudden halt.
"Flee.... flee, for goodness sake", he shouted
-they don't understand
-sschsh cant you hear
-they listen and start feeling odd trembling
-all of a sudden the ground exploded and a creature unlike any other
-the teeth in its mouth were as big as large daggers and its clawed
hands looked as if they could rip a man in half given the chance
The beast roared and the ground trembled, its skin seemed like it
was beset with scales and impenetrable to any weapon. The arrows
when they burrowed into its flesh must have stung something
terrible, yet the beast remained silent. Tanon jumped from his horse
which was proving to be unmanageable and therefore a great danger to
them both. He held his sword high as he jumped. Another set of
arrows streaked toward the beast yet only one of them hit its
target. The beast hissed like a giant snake and venomous liquid
sprayed from it's mouth.
"Cover your eyes", Mbuba yelled, but it was too late. The merchant
stared terrified at the beast when it turned his head toward him.
The pain was terrible and he fell to the ground. The beast was about
to strike when Tanon caught up with it. His sword lashed out and
chopped one of it's legs clean off.
The beast turned, a fraction of a second to late to see the mace
coming at it. The mace collided with its head and threw it off
balance. Another huge sword dug deep into its side and stirred its
wrath. The mouth opened wide and its teeth came right at Verza when
two arrows crossed over the linings of its mouth into the soft
palate. Blood spurted as the beast withdrew its head. Xupis bit hard
together as he raised his sword. With immense power he thrust the
sword into the large bulky body. The beast shifted about and faced
Xupis with such strength that his sword was torn out of his hands
before he could withdraw it. He stared into the red glaring eyes.
Was this it, had his final moment come. The head launched forward
and Xupis closed his eyes as his frozen body wouldn't allow him to
do anything else. Just then something swung by very close to him.
The roar right in front of him and the horrendous odor made him open
his eyes again just in time to se the beast flung backwards. As it
landed on its rear it roared again, the sword still sticking out
from its back burrowed another 10 inches into the soft flesh beneath
In a swift throw the beast was back on its feet, only to get another
blow from Black Skull's mace. The beast was clearly confused by now
and attacked randomly. Shada jumped back with the sword in front of
her. The beast didn't take notice and dove straight at her.
The massive sword burrowed deep into the beast before it realized
what was happening but by then it was to late. A stream of glowing
light penetrated deep into the monster that suddenly stopped moving.
It fell heavily to the ground and just lay there for a moment, what
could be its chest seamed to heave and quiver a few times before
exhaling one last time. Something green oozed from its wounds and as
it lay there it dawned upon them. They were victorious!
Tanon laughed "Yes", he yelled in excitement, the others sighed in
relief as well. Black Skull suddenly got a thoughtful look in his
eyes, the merchant. In all the commotion they had forgotten all
He lay near by the wagon, the beast had taken out a good chunk of a
wheel as it had lashed out at them, but he seemed allright. That is
besides his eyes which were red and inflamed.
"I can't see", he cried "I can't see".
"There now take it easy, your sight will return again, we only need
to tend your eyes", Black Skull comforted him "Do you have any
water", he added.
"Water.... yes in the large barrel in front, take what you need", he
answered a bit more relaxed by Black Skull's assurances.
"Oh we have enough I think, I was only thinking of bathing your eyes
with some herbs", the priest said still supporting the merchant in a
semi upright position.
"Anything you say... you saved my life", the merchant said thankful
for his luck. Had he not run into these folks he would never have