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 The Final Struggle

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Number of posts : 761
Registration date : 2007-04-26

PostSubject: The Final Struggle   Tue 18 Jan - 13:52:19

The Final Struggle

In last week’s thrilling instalment our heroes had been cunningly concealed awaiting their moment.* The Bloodaxe horde had swept** through the monastery ravaging all in their path, and the brethren’s blood bathed the sacred cloisters and hallways of Verena’s holy stronghold, causing the goddess to weep tears for her faithful worshippers,*** cruelly slain by fell opponents. In a daring bid for freedom, the party tried to spirit the doomstones from the grasp of the orc shaman and his minions, but their stealthy exit was rather less than stealthy, and orc guards roused the drunken rabble, who began to pour up from the lower levels.

*Cowering like the craven blackguards that they are
**Although their dusting was of a very poor standard

The orcs were funnelled into a passageway between courtyards on the upper level where three determined defenders could hold a line. The elf, Oakshadow began raising dead orcs and turning them against their former comrades, and it was these zombies who joined Snorri holding the line. The Sea elf struck the orc shaman with a freakishly accurate shot but he was still up and well back from the action, protected by his elite black orcs.

Their way blocked, Getz led Digger and sole survivor Klaus the clownsmith round to the left, only to come upon the river of orcs still emerging from the lower levels. They hung back, unable to proceed further for fear of encouraging a pincer movement that they would surely be unable to hold.*

*OK basically they were hiding

Oakshadow now flew to the left and began exercising her dark arts again.* The orcs, having failed to tidy up the many corpses from the earlier battle now found bony hands reaching for them and a tumultuous conflict broke out as raised zombies fought within the mass of tightly packed orcs, spreading fear and confusion amongst them. However deplorable the fell necromancy might be, it could be that it was saving the situation. The witch elf now fouled up a casting causing her left hand to become temporarily frozen, hampering her spell casting efforts.

*Make sure you combine the exercising of your dark arts with a proper balanced diet and active lifestyle for best results

This was the scene then as you rejoin us, with orcs and zombies tangling as the shaman directs enchantments from behind his bodyguard. The foremost orcs pressed forward inexorably against our makeshift zombie line. Fortunately the shaman was having some problems with his castings or it might have gone ill for the doomstoners.

Carstein now managed to remove the shaman’s threat temporarily as he successfully bewildered him, causing him to curl up in a ball on the floor. Snorri was unconcerned as orc swords continued to bounce off his doomstone enhanced defences.

The orcs were formidable opponents and when attacking in a wedge were capable of forcing back the meagre zombie line. Digger returned to shore up the defence whilst Carstein sent shadow knives slicing through opponents. Oakshadow flew across overhead targeting the fallen shaman whilst the Sea elf scuttled to find a higher vantage point from where he could continue showering arrows.*

*Which also had the convenient side effect of not being anywhere near slashing orc swords claws and teeth.

Meanwhile Snorri was pushing forward, fighting towards the shaman, but the zombies at his side were being culled by Bloodaxe blades. Digger was now on the scene and made an impression whilst Carstein at last fired up the doomstone again, sending a devastating barrage of fireballs against his nearest opponents adding at least one more body to the pile of dark elf fodder.

Oakshadow may be a mistress of the necromantic mysteries but she’s no great shakes with a blade: Descending to cut the shaman’s throat, she managed to simply bounce her knife off his armour. With the shaman stirring and after making a quick assessment of the tactical situation, carefully weighing the options as to whether to fight valiantly for her comrades or well, not, she disappeared towards the relative safety of the nearby South east tower.*

*She later described this as not a retreat, simply advancing away from the enemy arguing that the tower could have been full of goblins any way

Her zombies were doing fine work holding up the assault but now Carstein fell to an orc who nearly ripped his arm off, Snorri having thoughtfully moved away leaving him dangerously and unexpectedly exposed.* Despite valiant quarterstaff work the wizard was no match for his snarling black orc opponent and as he fell the fire doomstone rolled an unfeasible distance across the melee practically into the arms of the shaman, who grabbed for it. Our last zombie in the area also fell leaving just Digger, the Sea elf having climbed out of danger.**

*Good work Snorri
**Anyone else notice the elf habit of disappearing when the going gets tough?

The wounded Getz at least managed to offer some assistance from afar now, sending a crossbow bolt into the Orc who had dropped Carstein, enraging it and causing it to charge towards him. Snorri now dropped one of his famous doomstone showers on the Shaman and his entourage, killing one, but harming the main target not one jot. The Shaman drew a wicked looking bastard sword and moved toward the dwarf, clearly set on adding a second doomstone to his collection.

Beefy Klaus* now put his brawn to good use, intercepting the black orc aiming for Getz whilst Oakshadow scaled the South East tower. Snorri now was engaged by the shaman and discovered quickly that his doomstone protection had no effect whatever against the dwarf bane weapon wielded by his opponent, who landed a near fatal blow with his first strike.

*No relation to Santa

Klaus now killed his attacker* and Digger continued to hold his own, warming to his pick and shield combination that had been forced on him by the tragic loss of his trusty two handed pick ‘Shafter’. Snorri’s flail now bit home deeply on the shaman, ripping his spine clear out slaying him instantly. At this the orcs broke and fled, harried by the zombies that now numbered more than a score thanks to Oakshadow’s continued dedication.**

* He was quite humane, sparing his opponent any humorous remarks, such as ‘That’s an orcful wound you’ve got there’
**Even this does not sink to the level of Klaus’s puns

Carstein, badly shaken up, recovered his doomstone and was carried to rest up in his quarters. Digger Tracey searched the remains of the Shaman, discovering a wand, some energy crystals, an amulet and a ring which were divided amongst the party. The bane sword he gave to Snorri, who took it to Klaus’s forge where it was melted down.

Zombies manned the defences or possibly zombied them, their numbers thickened still further as Oakshadow wandered through the sea of corpses, an animator’s dream. The remains of the roostmeister were conveyed to the tombs and interred and over the next few days, we recuperated, researched and repaired. The secrets of the library were plundered by our wizardly pair, Carstein learning much about dark elves from a number of accounts of the mysterious race.

The completely unconnected with dark elves elf, meanwhile found a number of highly suspicious chaos related tomes and writings on various necromantic topics that seemed highly inappropriate for a monastery dedicated to the goddess of justice. Carstein, badly injured and also heavily involved studying his doomstone searched the library for writings relating to Yarazan or the Doomstones, but when he found that section, it seemed that relevant volumes had already been checked out…

The monastery was a grim place in those days: Zombies at the entrance and on unsleeping watch in the towers, the shaman, raised as a wight trailing the elf wizard, a deadly slave ready to kill, crush, destroy at its mistresses command.* Bodies, burials and bereavements were the theme of the week whilst we waited for the sea elf to return. Getz had ordered him to civilisation to bring help, help that we felt would be sure to be encouraged by the lure of the several thousand crowns in the monastic treasury and a substantial amount that had somehow found its way under a loose flagstone in the Flagmeister’s quarters.

*And not just Will Robinson

Some good news at least, Klaus was not the sole survivor we had thought: His dog Scratch and Digger’s horse Silver had also survived and within a few days Klaus was his old self again, telling humorous stories and entertaining us with his hilarious anecdotes.* He seemed quite energised at the prospect of rebuilding and worked in the smithy repairing the portcullis as a first priority. The elementally manufactured tunnel that had given the attackers their access collapsed back to solidity in the presence of the crystal of air, with the orcs nowhere to be seen, the aerie was secure at least for the moment.**

*We agreed that if after seven days the elf had not returned we would draw lots to see who got to kill him.
**Secure from enemies outside its battered walls any way

Apart from studying the doomstones for those who wielded them, there was the chance for some training as well and Digger worked hard on his longbow which had proved a drastic problem for him in terms of accuracy. He also badgered Klaus and Snorri to see if they could fix or replace Shafter.

Getz and Carstein were laid up in the infirmary for long periods, enduring regular visits from Klaus in healer mode* and the whole party spent a lot of time discussing the witch elf, usually in hushed tones out of zombie earshot whilst she worked in the library.

*Which meant lots of doctor, doctor jokes

The elf eventually did return with an advance party of artisans and half a dozen monks borrowed from the nearest temple. Taking no chances, a squad of twenty soldiers armed for bear also accompanied them, and several wagon loads of equipment and supplies arrived a few days later. The various masons, carpenters and other tradesmen wandered around the place measuring and tutting, barely able to contain their avarice on surveying the damaged walls and burned out buildings, whilst the new brothers conspicuously avoided the party, viewing them the way a middle aged parent watches a gang of unruly teenaged boys at his daughter’s 16th birthday party.

So we are left in a delicate situation: The greatest threat to the party? Well it’s a toss up between the witch elf and the doomstones, possibly in combination. Surely that can’t be right, shouldn’t it be some evil daemon or the Bloodaxe Alliance or something clearly big bad and nasty, rather than, if I may borrow a phrase, an enemy within? Or is the witch elf as she claims, simply a misunderstood victim of dwarf propaganda? Her fleet of undead are a persuasive argument that she may not be the best person to have around, equally that she is not the best person to make an enemy of.

The new masters of the monastery are keeping their feelings to themselves, but when the new roostmeister and further forces arrive, it would certainly be best if we were not here. Just as important: Will Digger get Shafter repaired? Will Getz ever be able to use his trusty right arm again?* Will Snorri ever get the hang of his doomstone? Will Klaus crack a funny joke at any point?

*Hey he uses it for a lot of things, OK?

Meanwhile has the Bloodaxe alliance threat been defeated, or was this just a fingernail of their strength? Are they regrouping out there somewhere in the mountains even now? Where is the infamous Werner and was his ‘let’s chain her up and torture her to death’ approach to the witch a good call? What does Oakshadow keep plotting in her pink diary? Does anyone in the party trust her at all now? How can we go on with the quest if we don’t trust her? What happens if her pet wight slips the leash? What nefarious powers is she gaining from her hours in the library? Why hasn’t Carstein gained any from his hours there? Where are Yazaran’s missing writings and what secrets do they tell?

Where is the fabled fourth doomstone? Has Oakshadow discovered its location, and if so, will she tell us? What are we going to do with the fourth doomstone if we get it? What are we going to do with the other three if we don’t? Should we be destroying these vessels of chaos, or is there a deeper hidden purpose in our possession of them? Meanwhile a stranger has arrived with the sea elf. Who is he and how does he fit into the jumbled jigsaw that is our doomstone cursed lives?


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