Kelfour Edition volume III number XII
The official GemStone IV encyclopedia.
_______________________________________________________________________ / \ \ | | Secrets of Black Swan Castle! See Pages 4 & 27 | @_/_____________________________________________________________________/ | | | | | GemStone III(tm) May 1993 | | Vol.3, No.12 | | /\ | | / \ | | ( `) _ _ _ ___ | | |/-\/-\|/ ) / ) / ) / __) | | ||o o|/ /_/ / ____ / / _/ ( ____ __ __ ____ | | (| > / __/ / __ ) / / ( __) / _ ) / / / / / ___) | | ___ ( ~~/ /\ \ / ___/ / / / / / (/ / / (_/ / / / | | //--\---(_/--\_) (____) (_( (_( (____/ (_____( (_( | |_____// \\.\ -- /.//\\ _____ _ _ _ _ | /--\/--\ // .\ /. \\//\ / ____) / ) (/ _/ ) (/ | //--\/--\\( .\/. )\\// (__ ___/ / _ ( _) _ ____ ____ | | ||\` .. '/./// ___) / _ / / ) / / / ) / _ ) / ) | | KE's ||.\ /..\ /./ / (_ / (/ / / / / / / / / (/ / / /) / | | THIRD ||\|\ .. /|/|(_____) (____( (_( (_( (_( (____/ (_((_( | | YEAR || \.\.././ | | | ||\ \.\/./ /| The Kronicles of Kulthea | | || \|\../|/ /)________________________________________________| \______// ~~~~~~~~~~~ | | | | Kelfour's Landing Local News ................................ 1 | | The Cost of Living ...................... Hilgavolkas LaJolla 2 | | Exploring Black Swan Castle (with Maps) ... | | ....................... Gilinfandorial Dyn'Un Lycaeon 4 | | Monster Chronicles: Manticores & Threks ...... Jarran Terraxx 10 | | Becoming a Bard ............................. by Erion Kulsen 12 | | Scenes From the Inn (Conclusion) ................ Sean2 Lladd 14 | | Wilderness Report ...................... D. Forrest Hobgoblin 17 | | Illusions ....................................... Simon d'Ker 18 | | Big Bad Mik ................................... Bugg Hornwort 19 | | Healing Thyself: Herbs in the Field ....... Alyssya Sandorala 20 | | The Looking Glass War, Part 2 ....... Lord Gallenod Varynesti 22 | | My First Death ................................ Shiloh Strong 26 | | The Battle for Black Swan Castle .......... Mordstrom Parthus 27 | | Ram's Guide: Substitutions for GemStone III .. Ram Youngblood 33 | | Undermining Kelfour's Part 7 ............ Llorien Silvanestii 34 | | The Wizard and the Wolverine ............... Natasha Cheridan 37 | | House Haunting ............................. Lloyd Llowd, PhD 38 | | | | Various Limericks by Bugg Hornwort | |_____________________________________________________________________| | | | Kelfour Edition of the Kronicles of Kulthea is devoted to the multi-| | player roleplaying game GemStone III on GEnie Information Network. | | Submissions may be edited for space, accuracy and readability. | | Contact Editor Rasputin Santare; Assist. Editors Kalagay Halatil or | | Jarran Terraxx, or Publisher Lady Phaedra Bleu - by sending GE Mail | | to P.HERRINGTON for details. | | _________________________________________________________________|___ | / / \_/____________________________________________________________________/ KE Celebrates 3rd Year _________________________________________ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ @)____________ Kelfour Edition ___________) Three years ago, under the | ;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; | guidance of Publisher Phaedra | ;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;''''''',;;;;; | Bleu and founding Editor Usul | ;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;' ';;;; | Lu'Nak, the premiere issue of | ;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;' ;;; | Kelfour Edition was published. | ;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; ;;; | | :';;;;''''''';; ,,;;; | Now, to mark our Third Great | LOCAL : ';; ;'''' ;;; ;;;;;; | Year, KE presents our special | N E W S : ,,,, ,,,,,, :;;;;; | Anniversary Edition: 38 pages | :,;;;;;; ;;;;;;;; ;;;;; | of the best information, com- | ;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; ;;;;;; ;;;; | mentary, fiction and how-to's | ;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; ;;;;; ;;;; | this side of the Great Library | ;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; ;'' ;;;; | of Nomikos! It is a testimony | ;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; ;;;; | to the creative ingenuity of | ;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;,,,,,,,, ;;;; | the people who breathe life | ;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; ;;;; | into GemStone: The players! |_________________________________________| Enjoy! @)________________________________________) The Merchants are Coming! Change to Essence Wave ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Thursday, May 20, starting at 8 PM The Essence Wave spell has undergone Eastern time, some of Kulthea's most a recent change. While it relies on famed merchants and artisans will be the same factors for success/fail- here to provide YOU with the finest ure and functions essentially the of garb and gear. same way, it no offers immobility. Gladiatorial Games Approach If successful, the spell still ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ knocks the target prone, holding it Saturday afternoon, May 29, starting there for a few seconds; but that's at 1PM Eastern time, a mighty assem- now accomplished with an imposed RT blage of raw power and magic will instead of making the target immo- gather in the Arena to do battle for bile. There will be the usual drop glory and prizes! Sharpen your sword in the target's Defensive Bonus for buff up your wands and pick your being prone, but not to the degree foe! Or bring a picnic and cheer afforded by true immobility. your friends to victory! Want More Experience? Possibly the most popular event held ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ in all of Kulthea, the return of the Remember, varying rewards for good Gladiator Games is sure to produce examples of role-playing your char- winners of all Kulthean persuasions! acter are awarded by Game-Masters. Surprises and upsets happen often These bonuses can double any earned and, of course, past winners protect experience and can really add up their 'crowns' with vigor. when you stay in character! Upcoming Town Forums Date Topic ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Chair-GM ----------------------------------------------------------- 19 May More Guilds a'building Giacomo 26 May Sordid Sorcery and Similar Stuff Reline 2 June The Search for Assistant GMs Elvanion 9 June The Anything Goes Topic Kygar 16 June This Old House (and how to make it better) Elvanion ----------------------------------------------------------- Town Forums are conducted each Wednesday Night in the Moot Hall Assembly Room at 10:00 PM Eastern time. -1- _________ The Cost of Living / \ _____ \ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ \@| ~|_|~ | by Hilgavolkas LaJolla | |~| | _| |~| | would like to explain but were worth 250 silvers to /@| _|~|_ | the nature of life and Eissa's priestess. Tourmaline stones \_/ ~~~~~ / death in Kelfour's; that were worth 50 silvers to the gem- ~~~~~~~~ is, the ways and whys of cutter, and 500 silvers to Eissa's resurrection from untimely death. priestess. With the influx of all the new gems in our lands, I have I am sure that all of you have at found that what the gem-cutter will one time or other died and found appraise gems at seems to be the yourselves standing before Eissa's same value Eissa's priestess gives gate. The dear goddess can usually them. The lady priestess is getting be counted on to return us to this sharp in her years among us. hallowed plane. After all, our pur- pose in life surely isn't finished. If you are dead, you need resurrec- (The golems are still hungry). tion. Those who are in their first year of training are automatically One warning: Eissa only returns the resurrected by Eissa when they souls of the pious who have obtained depart, even if they have no deeds. deeds from her temple and the inno- Eissa does not require deeds of cent who may have no deeds but are level 1 characters. There is a pen- still in their first year of train- alty for excessive departing, but ing and know no better. you will always be resurrected. I shall explain the penalties later. What are deeds? Well may you ask. First level characters get five They certainly are important, a "free" departure deaths (when you pledge of your piety and support of voluntarily depart or your body Eissa's temples. These tokens are to decomposes before you are resurrec- redeem yourself from the land of ted) before the departures count death, should you find yourself fac- towards penalties to a character's ing Eissa in the spirit world. statistics (STATs). To obtain a deed, go to the Temple A first level character can be and look for the black arch. Through resurrected by a cleric. This saves that arch lies a small nook. Eissa's the young one from accumulating yet priestess is just beyond the tapes- another death to be counted against try. Once the acolytes have ushered him or her and from the bother of you before her, you should announce re-equipping. Clerics do not get any yourself by hitting the chimes twice experience for resurrecting first with the little mallet. Then kneel level characters, so they are and make your offering. Just drop it usually left to Eissa's forgiving in front of you and hit the chimes hand. I think clerics should make with the mallet one last time. The the effort to help these young ones priestess will inform you if your now and then, so that they offering was sufficient. understand the process when they are older and resurrection by a cleric A suitable offering is gems and is much more important. silvers equal to: 100 * your_level + 100 * deeds_you_already_have If you are level 2 or older and have + 101 silvers. died, find a cleric to intercede for you. If you have deeds and are Deeds are more costly as you go up resurrected by a cleric, one deed is in training, so buy many of them redeemed for the resurrection. If while you are young. you have deeds and depart for some reason, Eissa will resurrect you, We used to find that agates were charge two deeds, and you will have worth 25 silvers to the gem-cutter, a death counted for that level. -2- More... These deaths are used to penalize will not suffer from this death. For your STATs when you go to train. If two deaths, the penalty is 4 points you die and depart with no deeds to for the 2nd death added to the 2-pnt pay Eissa's modest price, she ushers penalty from the first, for possibly you through the gate to the land of a total of up to 6 points deducted the permanently dead. You will not from all your STATs when you go to be resurrected, and your relatives train. You are going to feel this will never hear from you again. If one, because it is likely that you you die without deeds, find a will come out of training with some cleric! A cleric can resurrect you. STATs lower than when you went in. You will have to take a death pen- It is harder to get every STAT back alty when you go to train, but at up by 6 points with random rolls. least your character will be alive. For a third death, the penalty is 6 On penalties: penalties are only points plus the 4-point penalty from calculated when you go to train for death two plus the 2-point penalty your next level. Deaths that count from death one, for a possible 12 towards penalties will show when you points off every STAT when you go to type the EXP command, under the train. You are going to come out of heading "Deaths this level." The training with lower STATs than when penalties work as follows: you went in. For one death, there's a possibility In summary, each successive death is that up to 2 points will be deducted a possible 2 penality pts. more than from your character's STATs across the previous death, added to the the board. A die roll is then made penalty points of the preceding across the STATs as is normally done deaths. Dying without deeds and a when training upon reaching level, cleric can become very expensive. My toward reaching your character's best advice to all of you is to potential. It is likely that these purchase deeds and be very nice to points will be completely recovered clerics. Your life depends on it! by the die rolls, and your character Mikhail on Halflings ,---, ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ | -/-| by Bugg Hornwort ,(__-_), /|| ||\ / |@\__/@| \ Mikhail, shooting skeet from the wall, / /|@@@@@@|\ \/ Had a shaft knocked and drawn to the full. ( ),|@@@@@@|,( ) Said he, "There's no truce, ''' /\@@@@/\ ''' I've just found a _real_ use For halflings..," / /\@/ \ Then he smiled and yelled, "...PULL!" `__/ \__' _ \@\ /@/ ( ), ,,,,,, Said Phaedra, it really upset her, (@@@) (@@@) \ \ |o.o | Since she'd a use that was frankly much better. \_\ ( = ) "Shooting hobbits is abhorrent, \*\_) (__ Since I've found they're absorbent, |*********\ Let's strap each to a chronic bed-wetter." (**GS3**\*\ (*******\ \ Now it was Mikhail's turn to stare, \*******\ \ As he scowled, passed his hand through his hair. /**__***,( ) Said he, "I'm appalled. /**/ \**\''' What's the sense of it all... \__\ /__/ ...just so halflings can run 'round in pairs?" (****)(****) -3- ____________ Exploring Black Swan Castle / \ ___ ___\ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ \@| \~\ /~/ | by Gilinfandorial Dyn'Un Lycaeon | \ ~ / | _| |~| | ou can't be serious!" ing lightning down upon the castle. /@| |~| | I yelled in disbelief The bolt struck the munitions shed \_/ ~~~ / at the mage sitting which housed the iron balls for the ~~~~~~~~~~~ next to the fireplace catapult, melting half of them. inside the Wayside Inn. "You mean to tell me that no one in this vast "Next a force of war trolls arrived, land since its discovery and breech- bearing two massive wooden cata- ing three and a half months ago, has pults. One was placed low to strike been in the place? Or even tried to the walls and drawbridge, while the get in?" other was erected atop a small hum- mock to set seige upon the inside of "You learn quick, lad," sneered the the castle. wrinkled old mage as he shifted his weight within his silken blue robe. "Although the denizens of the castle "Ever since its discovery Black Swan put up a valiant fight, all were has been an eyesore of bad memories eventually slain, and the castle was for every person who's attempted to laid to ruin. As if to mark their get in it," he continued, "and that victory, the evil mages which accom- is just for those who've actually panied the war trolls called down survived the damn thing." great magic and distorted the white marble image of the Swan Keep into a "All right, old one, why is it so black, monstrous swan which looms in hard to get in? What exactly is the a horrific pose over the land it place? What lies within?" I ques- surveys," he concluded. tioned, my curiosity at a peak now. "Yes, but what of its discovery? Why He coughed for a moment, then leaned has no one dared the ruins since its forward on his oaken staff, staring initial discovery?" I asked, eager into the fire. "Well, you see, lad, for adventure and excitement. the Castle was built about 200 years ago, as legend has it, by a powerful "Ah, well the mages that were on the Lord Fighter from Zor. He fled here Lord Fighter's side created a power- with his family and remaining sub- ful ward which banned teleportation jects when the Unlife struck at Zor. magic within the castle confines. They originally left with the masses The half-open drawbridge was ruined which quit Zor and founded Quellburn beyond repair," he replied, in a but split off in mixed decisions by wheezing voice. the leaders. "But you said there was a moat. "Soon after, the Lord Fighter found Couldn't one swim the moat to the a beautiful land amidst the cruel drawbridge and climb in? Or what of wilds. A land where no creature of vines? Surely one could swim to a harm would dare set foot. He and his strong vine on the castle wall and people so fell in love with the climb it!" I retorted, frantic for place that they set about erecting a knowledge to help me. castle and a keep to lay claim to their new home. The keep itself was "Well lad, many in this land don't fashioned into a great marble swan know the art of swimming, and fewer while the outer walls carried strong still survive the tentacles of the ramparts and a tall guard tower. monster which lurks below the moat," he snapped back. "That is why half "The castle stood for a great many of them drown in the first place. years, until the Unlife learned of They just jump in the moat and then it and sent legions to attack. The say, 'Whoops, I don't know how to Unlife heralded its attack by call- swim,' end of story." -4- More... I realized my presumption and calmed filled with dark green algae, and down. "I'm sorry. I don't wish to be moss lined the cracked granite rude to you, wise one. It's just-- walls. Surely there was no way to climb up the walls, I thought. I "Its just that you think you might commenced walking around the moat to know how to get in. You want to be find a sure hold onto the castle the one to lay claim to its discov- wall on which to climb upward. I ery, as there are no maps available. thought my prayers to be answered You want the credit," he said, with when I caught glimpse of a strong a big grin on his wrinkled face. vine which clung to the minute crevices within the giant wall. "Well, yes. I suppose so," was all I could respond with. Being so excited, I didn't even think to take care as I leaped into "Ok, lad, then mark my words. Those the moat and started paddling for who did make it in could not use the vines. Many tremendous bubbles their magic rings to leave. Many of I could feel beneath me from a them claimed experience with Unlife source unknown. Panic-stricken, I before leaving the place. Take any reached the vines and frantically precaution you can before going in," tried climbing them, only to find he said, leaning back. As I watched, that they broke half way up and he fell asleep against his staff. plunged me into the waters again. Suddenly a massive black tentacle I quietly left the inn and returned grabbed my leg and pulled me under. to town with a plan. I stashed away Screaming with fear, I let out all of my silvers within the bank, almost all of my air supply under as I figured they would interfere the water. Now completely terrified, with any swimming attempts I made. I broke free of the beast which held Then I considered what I would and me under and swam to the surface. I would not need. I decided to take my barely made it to the shore when the blessed broadsword and a few wands beast lurched out of the water and at most to keep me company, as well dove back in when it realized I was as the usual shield and leather out of reach. armour. I carried a small magical ring upon my finger just in case After some time, I calmed myself and trouble should happen outside of the summoned my courage to continue. I castle. After packing up, I was all don't know if it was stupidity or set. I headed out to the place where stubborness, or both, which drove me the castle was found. to go on, but I did. After surveying the area around the castle, I deter- A sinkhole near the lower edge of mined that climbing the walls was what we playfully call Hobland led impossible. I was low in spirits as me to the other side of an under- I sat next to the ruins of a broken ground and underwater passage which catapult at the edge of the moat. ended up on a muddy path. I sat and contemplated. I followed the path around a small graveyard and saw the image of the Then, something within me -- the evil bird for the first time. There Ranger's spirit, I call it--told me it stood in the distance, staring at I was missing something, but what? I least three stories above me as if knew the answer was near. So close. it were looking only at me. My heart I leaned back for a moment and lay skipped a beat while my mind raced my head upon the catapult's broken with the tales of horror which I had basket. heard of this place. I caught hold of my nerve and continued onward. "Catapult!" I shouted. That was it! That mage, Qylux, spoke of two cata- When I came upon the moat, I saw pults! Quickly I sprang to my feet that its black murky waters were and looked around from the viewpoint -5- More... a military commander. I was looking dark apparition, which began wailing for a hill. After all, to hit the at me. Being of the 8th year as a inside of a castle you need a high Ranger, I learned long ago to be point to get an easy vector for your cautious of the unlife's minions, so ammunition. I spotted the hill. It I quickly found a door which led out was actually a small hummock which I of the tower and found myself atop climbed, and there stood the wooden the ramparts of the castle walls. I beauty. This catapult had not been continued my maps while keeping con- harmed in the least except for vines stant look out for any signs of evil and flowers beautifying it. that would dare to show. At the northwestern end of the ramparts, I I thought to myself, "This has to be found the only suitable place to how everyone got in." I looked upon jump when I was ready to leave. the catapult and found a crank and turned it eight times, then jumped I swiftly made my way back to the into the basket. All was fine except guardtower, past the cunning appari- I couldn't reach the pull rope to tion, and down into the courtyard trigger the catapult. Thinking fast, again to face the ghosts which lived I summoned a friend by the name of there. After all, I was here to map Valerik via my skill of mental tele- the place and warn of its dangers. pathy. Within an hour or two he arrived, and we were set to redis- I discovered the burned-out shell of cover a place in Kulthean history. the shed which the old magician told of, almost as if he had been there He loosed the rope and I went flying first hand! Indeed, the entire area up and over the wall and landed in was a sorrowful, woe - ridden place. the moat. Quickly, to avoid the moat The next thing to explore was the monster, I swam to shore and found keep itself. I said my prayers as I myself at the southwestern part of walked up to the black ebony doors the wall's outer edge. I returned to and walked inside. Valerik and the catapult and tried again. This time we cranked it seven The floor creaked with my every move times, and I jumped into the basket. and I began to feel uneasy. I felt a presence. A cold dark presence was Once again Valerik gave the rope a with me within this keep. Deciding swift tug, and I was flying in the that I was in danger, I took only air. This time I landed ungracefully quick sketches of the rooms, and on a pile of straw. When I stood up, avoided the rats and spiders which I realized that I was inside! seemed to loom all over. I made my way to an upstairs bedroom in which After sending to Valerik that I was lay bloodied bedclothes and a single alright, I began taking notes of my wooden wardrobe. surroundings and drawing crude maps of the area. Hoping to find some small proof of my visitation to this place of evil, Soon afterwards, I heard a ghostly I opened the wardrobe and discovered presence warning me of the place. I an opening in its back. An opening turned quickly to face the wretched just the size of a person. Gathering ghost of a half - eaten man which my courage, I squeezed through the tried to no avail to strike at me. opening and looked upon a wondrous I felt pity for the poor creature, glowing passage. grabbed my blessed weapon and put it at peace with itself. Then I went on Suddenly, fear seethed throughout my to explore this new area. bones. I dropped my sword and shield and stood there frozen. I walked through the courtyard to the guard tower. I entered the tower "Sssoo, you would defy the powers of and walked up a small broken stair- Black Swan!" a cold horrific voice case and came face to face with a called from above me. -6- More... I could move my eyes enough to see a "You can't set rings inside of Black ghastly spectre hovering by my face, Swan Castle. A ward has prohibited incanting a spell to cast upon me. I it ever since the quest three months summoned my inner strengths to break ago. Can't ring in, can't ring out. free and managed enough energy in my That's how come no one ever goes panic to remove my golden ring and inside. The only way out is to swim. replace it upon my finger. And swimming is too dangerous with the moat monster. So, as long as its My surroundings shifted around me; I not feasible for me to go in there, was back in town square. "Whew!" I I'll never try it," he replied. exclaimed as I sat on a stone bench and took a breather. "Oh. Yeah I forgot," I commented as I began to contemplate using that "Whew, what?" asked Mara who came dastardly catapult again. over and sat beside me to check my injuries. "So Gilin, where did you just ring in from anyways?" inquired Mara with "I barely made it out of Black Swan a fresh smile. Castle alive. Guess I'll have to set some rings for that location and map "Hmmm? Oh, one of the rooms inside more of it later." Black Swan. A specter almost got me," I answered. "Can't do that," replied a mage who was sitting across from me leaning I sat there tapping my gold ring back against the giant oak tree. when suddenly that ranger's sense returned to me. What could it be "Why not?" I inquired. trying to tell me this time? ________________________________________________________________________ / \ Map of area surrounding Black Swan Castle \ \_@| | | [ ] | | \ (Climb Tree/Down) | | \ | | [A]----[A]----[A] | | | ########### |(Climb Hummock/Down) | [A]# #[A]-----[B] | | (South eastern lower | ########### | | | portion of Hobland) [A]----[A]----[A] | | _ | ______ | | [ ] [ ] /\_____\ | | | (Down/Climb Trail) / / / / | | | [ ]----[ ] / / / | | [ ] / ___________\/_____/ | | / [ ] _/\ _____ // / | | [ ] (Go | / \ \ =!\ // /\\ | | \ Sink hole) | | O | \ ^--===// /= \| | | [ ]>============<[ ]----[ ] \_//\ \ \(@)))))) \ | | / \ \_____________\ | | | O |/_____________/| | | A = [MOAT ACCESS] \_/ \_/ | | | | To enter into the moat, GO MOAT. | | To leave the moat, type SWIM SHORE. | | | | B = [THE CATAPULT] | /@ | To use the catapult, GO CATAPULT. | \_/_______________________________________________________________________/ More... -7- Swimming the Moat have never used the catapult before, ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ or if you have added items to your Have at least 2 ranks of swimming. inventory. The launcher must pull a You must be fairly unencumbered, as rope as soon as the rider is in the well; otherwise, you will drown and launching basket. To get inside the die. Leave excess coins in town and basket, GO CATAPULT. keep only the bare essentials you'll need for survival. If you are launched into the moat, pay attention to where you land once Using the Catapult you swim out. If you land southwest ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ of the castle, you are too light. This contraption needs 2 people to Either take on some extra items or operate it, a rider and a launcher. silver, or lower the number of total Wear your shield and put away your cranks used to launch you. weapons if you are the rider, as you may be forced to swim. If you are launched into the moat and come ashore at the northern end To operate the catapult, TURN CRANK. of the castle, then lower your coin- The crank is located on its side. age / inventory or raise the number Eight turns of the crank wind it up of cranks used to launch you. completely. The number of turns of the crank determines how far you are Be careful. You can crash into the thrown, based on how much you weigh. castle wall, usually when you are on Always start with 8 cranks if you the heavy side. ________________________________________________________________________ / \ Black Swan Castle: Moat and Castle Layout \ \@| | | [ ]----[ ]----[ ] From anywhere within the moat, you can SWIM SHORE. | | | \ | / | You incur a 15-second roundtime each time you | | [ ]--[MONST]--[ ] enter the moat. You also suffer CP loss each | | | / | \ | time the current drags you under and away from | | [ ]----[ ]----[ ] your landing place. | | | | MONST = If the moat monster drags you under, you must SWIM UP | | and then SWIM SHORE. | | | | [F]------[ ]-----[ ]-----[ ]-----[ ] A [Straw Pile] Where you land | | | | when you are launched. | | | (Go Shed)-[ ] | | | | / | B [Guard Tower] GO TOWER | | [ ] [ ]-----[D]-----[ ] [ ] | | | | \___ | ___/ | | C [Guard Tower, Inside] GO | | | | \ | / | | STAIR to reach the tower | | [ ] [ ]-----[ ]-----[ ] [ ] loft, which has 2 doors to | | | | ___/ | \___ | | the ramparts. | | | | / GHOSTS \ | | | | [ ] [B]-----[ ]-----[A] [ ] D [Black Swan Keep] GO DOORs | | | / | to enter the Keep. | | | _[C] | | | | / | E DARK APPARITION | | [E]------[ ]-----[ ]-----[ ]-----[ ] | | Go East Door | | | | F [Moat Jump] This is the only place that you can jump from to | | enter the moat and swim to safety. JUMP and then SWIM SHORE. | | | _ | *** Note that gold rings DO work now within the castle's confines. | \/_______________________________________________________________________/ More... -8- ________________________________________________________________________ / \ Black Swan Castle: Keep Interior \ \@ | | | [G] | | Go / \ | | [S] Door / \ R = Giant Rats | | | / \ G = Great Spiders | | | / [G] S = Specter (Drop/Immobilize Fear) | | [X] [G]---[G] | X = There is a hidden opening | | |Up/down / | in here. Open wardrobe and | | | / [R] then GO OPENING. | | [ ]-----[ ]----[G] / | | Go Go / | | Door Curtain [R] | | | | | [R] N | | | Go Arch | | | | W - + - E | | [ ] | | | | Go Door S | | \|/ | | V | | To Courtyard | | | | | | *** If other explorers find any secret or hidden areas not listed, | | please let me know. As yet, I've found no other secret passages | /@ | than in the wardrobe room. --- Gilinfandorial, Ranger-at-Large | \_/______________________________________________________________________/ ( ! ! ( _/ \_ _/ \_ ( ^^ ) / \ / \ ( ( ) |"""""| |"""""| (_(__ | I | ___ __ ___ | I | (_(_(_ | | | |_||_| | | | __ | | /\/\/\/\/\/\ | | | | | __ __ | | | I_I_I_I_I_I | || || | I_I_I_I_I_I ^^ ~\~ ` ' ~/~ | "" "" | ~\~ ` ' ~/~ ]] I I [[ ]] ] I I [ [[ ]] I I [[ __ __ __ | | | __ __ __ | | | __ __ __ ||_||_|| | I | | || || || | | I | ||_||_|| | | [[| |] | ||_||_|| | [| |]] | | | II | [[ | |]]| vvvvvv |[[| | ]] | II | | | | | |~~| ! |~~| /\/\/\/\ |~~| ! |~~| | | | | ___ _| |_ |_|__|__|_/^\ | | | I I | | | /^\_|__|__|_| _| |_ ___ | |_||_||_||_||||||/~~~\|__|__|______|__|__|/~~~\||||||_||_||_||_| | | [[ I I ]] [[ I I ]] | \ I I I I | I | II II II II II | I | I I I I / | | | _____________ | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | ^|^ | | | | ___|________________|_____|___|_____|_____|__|_____|________________|___ -Kaitlyn of Elanthia _________________________ _____________ __________ -9- ____________ Monster Chronicles: Manticores & Threks / \ _____ \ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ \@| ~|_|~ | by Jarran Terraxx | |~| | _| |~| __ | /@| |~|__|| | Last month we took a stabbing the victim with a deadly \_/ ~~~~~~~ / look at Hill Trolls. stinger, has an OB of 75. With these ~~~~~~~~~~~ Now let us turn our three attacks, the manticore is a attention to a combination of two formidable opponent. monsters: Manticores & Threks. These two critters act as a pair and are a The Manticore also has the ability deadly combination. to get critical hits rather easily, making it all the more dangerous to When venturing into the foothills, fight alone. Even a fairly weak hit remember, you are not dealing with can produce a critical and leave you just one potential enemy, you are in dire need of a cleric. dealing with two equally dangerous monsters. Both are quite capable of However, if you do have to drop your taking you out of action for a long parry when fighting the Manticore in while. order to hit him, remember that as long as your parry is lower, it When dealing with these two, please leaves you wide open to an attack keep in mind that both are equally from another Manticore or its deadly capable of hitting you with almost counterpart, the Threk. the same chance of success. First, however, we will take a look at what The Threk is no less dangerous than is considered the more dangerous of the Manticore. The Manticore is a the two. The Manticore. level 9 monster, the Threk a level 8 monster. Both types of critters will appear very rapidly, and sometimes in sets The Threk has a DB of 50, putting it of two, when they detect someone in very close to the Manticore. The their area. The Manticore is a very Threk also has three separate types fast critter, capable of striking at of attacks. Its weakest attack is you twice for every one of your own its charge, which has an OB of 30. swings. So as you can see, playing Its second form of attack is its parry-tag (an expressions that means claws, which comes with an OB of 50. dropping your parry to 0, swinging, This leaves its final attack, and by then parrying up again) will not far its most dangerous: the bite, work with the manticore. It is much which it has an OB of 70. too fast for this particular method. Instead, you have to be able to hit These two make quite a deadly pair it while protecting yourself or else of monsters. However, despite this you will find yourself in need of a fact, you will find that both of the cleric. monsters run quite often. You will find yourself chasing either of them The Manticore has a DB (Defensive all over the foothills trying to Bonus) of 55, making it a relatively finish them off. easy critter to hit. However, its OB (Offensive Bonus) does vary, from As far as treasure goes, the only as 60 to 75, depending on which one treasure the Threk has is its thick of its three attacks it uses against hide, which Jarlik the Furrier will you. The weakest of these attacks, pay 45 silvers for. The Manticore the one with the lowest OB, is its on the other hand, can carry better swing, which has an OB of only 60. treasure, ranging from single items But be careful. It's still strong such as amulets, rings, and precious enough to kill. The second attack -- stones, to chests. However, it is claws -- produces an OB of 70. And quite rare to find a chest on a the final attack, which involves Manticore. More often than not, you -10- More... will find stones or nothing at all. As for the Manticore, it is no less On the chance that you find nothing, strange - looking. The first thing do not be discouraged, Jarlik has that will alert you that one is near been known to pay 35 silvers for the you is the rather disgusting smell. tail of a Manticore. Just make sure making it nearly impossible for one you are very careful when handling to sneak up on you. its tail; the stinger is still on it and can cause you some pain if you Upon spying one of these creatures, are careless enough. the first thing that comes to mind is that it seems to be made up of On the descriptive side, both the three separate entities: man, lion Manticore and Threks are two of the and scorpion. strangest looking creatures that you will ever see. However, the Threk is Its head looks very much like a mans by far the easiest to describe here, head, however (fortunately for all) so that is where I shall start. it is not quite as intelligent. Its face is that of a wild man and not The Threk resembles mostly a lizard one to be likely forgotten anytime of an extremely large size. Unlike soon. Its body is that of a lion, its smaller cousins, the Threk is in strong and powerful. Yet its most no way harmless. Like some lizards, bizarre feature, is its tail which the threk has green skin, four legs, resembles that of a scorpion. Making a very long tail, and a long snout. this one formidable creature. However, what also makes this large lizard so unique, is the many Many would think that its stinger is and various kinds of sharp teeth in its most dangerous weapon. However, its maw. This is most likely why the this is not necessarily true. The Threk prefer to attack with their Manticore will move its stinger in mouths. small circles in an effort to get its prey focused on it. Then, when Their skin is like most reptiles, in the victim has its attention locked that it's basically scaly. It is on the stinger, the Manticore will also a big deterrent to its enemies. strike out with fists and claws. Any opponents foolish enough to Although this feint can be dangerous underestimate this creature by forgetting about that deadly stinger trying an attack from behind, will can be positively fatal. Just keep find two surprises waiting for them. in mind that the Manticore can get One is its long and powerful tail; critical hits rather easily with its the other being that despite its stinger. large size, it is extremely fast and capable of whipping its head around Despite the deadliness of these two to snap at you with its powerful monsters, I started hunting there teeth...making this one adversary at level 6. As long as you play it that you do not dare underestimate. smart, you can hunt here too. _____________________________________________________________________ / \ | THREKS: This odd creature looks unnatural, as though some wizard | \___________________________ had been meddling with its shape. It | ________________________ \ looks like a large, 4-foot-long lizard, | / \ | with an uncomfortably large variety of | | MANTICORES: | | teeth in its long snout. | | | \________________________________________/ | The first thing that \___________________________________________ | strikes you about the manticore is its noxious smell. At first it \ | appears somewhat like an unkempt lion, but after you wipe away the | | tears brought to your eyes by its vile stench, you see that its | | head is more like that of a man, and it has a long segmented tail | | like that of a scorpion. | \_____________________________________________________________________/ -11- ____________ Becoming a Bard / \ ________ \ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ \@| ~|~|~~\~\ | by Erion Kulsen | |~|__/~/ | | |~ __ < | _| |~| \~\ |eing a bard, can be and entertainers who also delve into /@| |~|__/~/ |rewarding, and one of the realms of magic so as to benefit \_/ ~~~~~~~~ / the most enriching themselves as well as any which they ~~~~~~~~~~~ experiences one could choose to call companions. They are have in GemStone. Just about anyone users of both the essence and arms can successfully play one. All you realms, combining the two so as to need is just a little creativity and become powerful additions to almost the expectations to enjoy life as a any adventuring party. Drawing from bard. Many who decide to become the essence around them and using bards, realize that this is the only their voice to amplify and channel profession for him/her, wondering this power, they can weave powerful why in the world anyone would want songspells. They can then direct the to play another profession. songspell at any individual, any or all foes in the room, or use the Bards are well-travelled musicians magic to benefit the whole party. =========================================================================== How to Become a Bard Rolling: I suggest NOT training in you would like. It is not very cost wands and directed spells. For me, effective... so to speak. For those this was a waste of 16 development who want A LOT of power points, you stats. It helped a bit at first for will need a high Empathy. hitting turtled monsters, (meaning a monster that is parrying at its full THE HARD WAY: Roll a 98, 99 or 100. defensive bonus), but later on it Then put your rolls in the following will not help you nearly as much as order from highest to lowest. ______________________________________________________________________ / \ | EMpathy | | REasoning -----\ | | COnstitution \ Development Stats | | AGility / | | Self Discipline -----/ | | STrength --------------> High Potential (96+) | | QUickness --------------> High Potential (96+) | | INtuition | | PResence | | EloQuence -------------> Prime Requisite (Development Stat) | \______________________________________________________________________/ I know what you are thinking... "Why will determine the number of points are Strength and Quickness so low on you can spend on skills. You will the list ?" Well first off, if you want at least 40 development points want a lot of development points you potentially and perhaps to start off need HIGH development stats. around 36 or so. To achieve this, the Potential Development Statistics The key here is, now that you have should be at 90 or better and your the possibility of a large number of Initial Development Statistics some- power points, you will need HIGH where in the mid 80's. potentials for Development Stats. As these Stats (CO, AG, SD, EQ, RE) You also need high potentials in ST -12- More... and QU. An average of 96 for the two because I wanted a 100 in EMpathy. is good. After all, you are leaning more towards magic instead of arms No matter which way you put your in this case. This is also a rather numbers into ST, QU and EM... you difficult way to roll. Potentials do will still need that 90+ average for not always go as you would like ;-) 40 development points to place in your development stats. Try to get EASIER WAYS: Perhaps an easier way all potential 90's. This is your is if you receive 2 numbers that are main goal. If you do not get close 96+ as well as your 100, is to put to that, reroll again. If you do not the 100 in EM then your 96's in ST have the 96 average in ST and QU... and QU. Another variation is to reroll. Whether or not you keep on rearrange the order of the stats by rerolling if your EMpathy is low (90 putting ST and QU right below EM. - 97), is up to you. This will give you a better chance at higher potentials for ST and QU.. There are different variations for though a lower chance for the other rolling what you want, those I just Development Stats. Mind you, any mentioned are but a few. If you find bard will receive an initial roll of a way that looks like it would work 90 in both EMpathy and EloQuence, if better for you, then by all means. you do not put in a higher stat than the automatic 90. Because of this, RACE: Any race will do, though I the 90 in EloQuence works for you in would not suggest halflings, as they all cases when trying to get 90's in are very weak. It is also well known your Development Stats. that fair elves have always loved music and posses enchanting voices. AN EASIER WAY OUT: Roll 2 numbers Though, I will admit I am a little that give a 96+ average, put them in biased considering I am a fair elf. your STrength and QUickness stats, High men will give a good STrength respectively. Put all the remaining bonus but a penalty to QUickness. rolls from highest to lowest in this Though, Half-elves have all around order. RE, CO, AG, SD, IN, PR, EQ, good bonuses, so if you can decide.. EM. go for that race. Halflings would be VERY difficult to play, as they have This way leaves you open to chance a -20 to STrength. Go through the for a lower EMpathy.. but it is much rolling process once and take a look less frustrating. Trust me ;-) but at the Race Tables and decide before I still opted to roll the hard way, you really begin to roll. =========================================================================== Skills If you want to be really magically you a 10% chance of learning the orientated you will have few extra spell. development points for other skills. The following is along those lines: From there train in Body Development ________________________________ (3) when you can. If you have extra, / \ Runes (5) are good. During some time | Ranks Skill Cost | in your career, try to get a couple | ----- ----- ---- | ranks in First Aid (2), Perception | 2 Edged Weapons 3/9 | (2), Climbing (3) and Swimming (2). | 6 Spell Lists 4/* | (Numbers in parenthesis are the cost \________________________________/ for 1 rank per level in that skill). Spells: Get 4 ranks if you miss your If do not wish to concentrate that roll. Any research points will carry much on spells, then change the way over to the next try if you fail the you train in them. Try 4 ranks the roll. Each rank in spells will give first time, 3 if you miss, then 3 -13- (Continued Page 16) _______________ Scenes From the Inn (Conclusion) / \ ____ ____\ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ \@| +|~| __ |~|+| by Sean2 Lladd | |~|/~~\|~| | _| |~/~/\~\~| | /@| _|__/ \__|_|ell Aleea, it looks You know, it really is too bad that \_/_____________/ like I eat alone their is no guildhall in the town. tonight. No, no ale for me this Why? 'Cause things like this problem night, perhaps a glass of that white with young Miktors family don't have wine you are servin' their lordships to happen, and with an active guild, over there with. What's on the spit they usually do not. this night? Aye, that will do nicely ...just have the cook carve off a Most guildhalls would take an active couple o' slices and whatever goes interest in the community they are with it. in. It makes good relations with the townspeople, mostly. It is also good Ah, thank you lass, that looks fine. for business if ya know what I mean. And so do you, by the way. I noticed Each hall usually has two or three you have a new scarf, found yourself permanently assigned members besides a new fellow? Oh-h, so that is what the Guildmaster or the Hall Master. you spent my tip on? It looks very Usually there is at least a couple attractive. Shows off them saucy of fighters, as well as at least one eyes of yours right nicely. Now, journeyman level healer. The more save them looks for the youngsters, active the hall, the more personnel the only thing I want to be flirtin' get assigned to it as staff members. with is this dinner. Well now, that is sauce for me, eh? Oh, be off with Well, most of them are senior guild you, you are spoilin' my dinner... members; fairly close to retirement, Ouch! it was just a joke. or retired, who want to help the guild as it helped them earlier. As Hai! Varnick! Kellmer! Come on over! most mercs do not have much in the Have a seat here lads, I was just way of family the guild is about all finishin' up my dinner. And here they really know.... the only real comes Aleea with a pitcher and a "home" most of them have ever had. couple o' mugs. You are a wonder, Some are paying off ransom debts or lass. No, I'll stick to the wine for probably working off a guild fine or now... judgement. Those guys are usually assigned to bigger guild halls so Aye Kellmer, you are right, I have as somebody can keep an "eye" out on not been around much. It has been them. fairly quiet as far as I have been concerned. Although, I gather the Ransom? Well, a ransom is usually auction they had held the other day acknowledged by most merc companies, stirred up some fun! Heh, heh, heh. well, the honest ones anyway, if Myself, I've been out on the cliffs a mercenary is captured in battle or down the coast a ways. Found another if a company is forced to surrender, enchanted sword...aye, that is it then the guild will cover the ransom here. Other than that, it has been for all the captured or surrendered kinda quiet for me. How has it been mercs. with you lads? Why, I even heard about a group of What is that?! Both the missus and guildbonds who were hired to guard a the new babe? Miktor must be goin' merchant caravan and ended up being crazy about now. Has he taken them captured! That is right, the entire to the healer's tent? Too expensive? caravan, guards included! How? Well, Aye, you are right, it would be too actually it was quite a plan. One of much for a lad just starting out. the teamsters was in the pay of the Aye, that young hothead would not thieve's guild and put a sleeping take "charity" from anyone... draught in the dinner pot and in the -14- More... water barrel. Ho, ho, ho... children and such makes us, err, the guild, look real good. Well, at any rate, the robbers had captured the whole train, applied to Another way the guild helps out is the merchant's guild to ransom the acting as impartial arbiters. Well, merchants, and also applied to the most people in a town are born there mercenarys guild to ransom the guard live out their lives there, and die team. Oh the guild paid alright, but there. Most all their relatives live was not to happy about it. Seems we, in that town, and them that are not er, the guild was the laughing stock related by blood are often related of the six nations for months. I do by marriage. They are friends with not know what the guild team had to the rest. Makes it hard for people do to work off the ransom, but I am to not choose sides in an argument sure it was not pleasant. Heh, heh. over fence rights or field right-of- I do know that all guard teams are ways, you know what I mean? now required to carry all their own supplies as well as eat separately The guild is a neutral party. See, a from their clients. Sort of like merc never really makes friends in a shuttin' the barnyard gate after the town; most do not stick around that cows get out. long, and those mercs who do stay in one place, well, the townsfolk are That kind of thing does not usually usually a little wary of us. They happen as most mercs would rather go seem to have the same misconceptions down swinging, but it happens often and notions that you fellows do, you enough so that there is a standard know, that all mercenaries are kill- policy. Usually its entire companies crazy lunatics. Now I ask you, do I that the guild has to ransom. The strike you as a kill-crazy, infant- company ransom is usually covered by raping lunatic? Har, har, ver-ry contract and the client reimburses funny! Just for that Varnick you can the guild. If it is not covered, pay for the next pitcher! then guild has an entire company to assign or collect profits from until Well, of course we are friends! But, the ransom is paid off. I know one you have gotta admit that Kelfour's company, actually, the one I was in, Landing is not your normal town. For that had to work bandit patrol for another thing, here I'm not really a five years to pay off a ransom. That merc, more like just another one of happened a few years before I was many adventurers. No, the places I sold, uh, joined the company. have been telling you about are not even of this world... What is that?! Hmph! Where was I? Oh yeah, takin' Did I say that? I meant to say that a drink...Ah-h-h. What I started out they're not even on this side of the to say was that most of the active world! What else would I mean? No, halls have healers assigned to them. no, truly, I misspoke myself. Quite often, it is a master healer with one or even two journeyman or Ah, here is Aleea with our pitcher. apprentices. So? So most of the time Pay up Varnick! Fill up your mug these healers are not real busy. So Kellmer, the night is still young. they have free "clinics" for anyone who needs their services. Now then back to where I was goin'. Well, perhaps to wrap it all up, Most healers being the kind of folks cause I think you boys can see where they are, will go and make visits I am heading. My point is just this: to families in the town if they hear Mercenaries are not animals, we are of any troubles. Why, it makes good not killers-for-hire and we are most sense! If there is a disease in a definitely NOT assassins. We are village or town it is best to nip it people, individuals with a desire to in the bud, before it can spread and see the world, to have some kind of cause an epidemic. You have to admit adventure, and perhaps to have some lads, helpin' the poor and curin' fun along the way. Most mercs are -15- More... a bit standoffish, yes, but that is Becoming a Bard (Cont'd from p 13) because it is hard to leave on a job ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ where you might die if you've loved again if you miss again. ones or family behind you. There was something I remembered reading by a The spell list you train in depends philosopher who put it like this: "A on your preference. Query 'SPELLS' man who has a family gives hostages in the Tomes and take a look at the to fortune." Bard Base List and the Open Essence List. Both are very good. However, No, being a mercenary is a job, just only the Open Essence Spell List is that. It attracts a certain kind of implemented at the present time. individual. Usually that individual You can train in both lists, as some is a loner, someone with no family, people tend to do; or train up to someone who has to leave his or her the 5th or 8th spell in Open Essence past behind, for whatever reason. It then train in the Bard List. Some go is hard to put into words, lads. You even higher in Open Essence, leaving have got your family and loved ones training in the Bard List until they and for you that's the way it should reach the Lord Levels. be, the way it is right. A merc can not be that way and most do not want It is not written in stone on how to to. Lots of mercs can not understand create a character. All of the above the reasons why you live the way you is my personal opinion and should do, anymore than you can understand not be taken as the only way to do why we live the way we do. it. Try your own methods for rolling and training if you do not like what Me? Oh, I am probably an oddity by I have suggested here -- although I anyone's standard. I have no family, believe the above information is a but not by my choice, and after all, good place to start. However you fightin' is what I am good at, so I create and train your bard, trust in might as well make a livin' at it. this: it can be one of the most re- warding and enjoyable experiences Enough though, I am getting maudlin that you can have in GemStone III. again! I am who I am, and what I am, just as you two are who and what you @@ @@ @@ are. As I said before, we all need @;;@ @;;@ @;;@ each other out here to survive... @;;;;@ @;;;;@ @;;;;@ @;;;;;@ @;;;;;;@ @;;;;;@ What's that racket? Why, its Miktor! @;;;;;;@;;;;;;;@;;;;;@ Over here lad! What is the problem? @;;;;;;;@;;;@;;;;;;@ Whoa, lad, calm down now and speak a @;;;;;;;;;@;;;;;;;;@ little slower. The child is worse!! @;;;;;;;@;;;;;;;;;;@ : No, no, it will be alright, I give @;;;;;@;;;;;;;;;;;;@ :: you my oath! @;;@;;;;;;;;;;;;;@ :: : @;;;;;;;;;;;;;;@ :: Varnick, Kellmer, go with Miktor and :: @;;;;;;;;;;;;@ ::: get the wife and child to Surtey's :: """;;;;;"""" ::: tent! I will stand good for it! Give :: ::: ::: him this sword as a pledge, and tell :: ::: ::: him that I will be along with the :: ::: :::: money, just as soon as I get to the :: ::: :::: bank! No, no arguments, there is no :: ::: :::: time! :: ::::::: :: :::::: Aleea! Here is for the meal and the ::: ::::: drinks. Of course I am going to help ::: :::: the lad! I will not see any child ::: ::: suffer. Not after what what I went :::::: through. I really must go lass, but ::::: I will be back, never fear. \\ ::::: // -16- _____________ Wilderness Report / \ ____ ____\ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ \@| ~| | | |~ | by D. Forrest Hobgoblin | |~|--|~| | _| |~|--|~| | /@| _|~| |~|_ |i ho, again! This is Tangle-poo... errr... Brelga wasn't \_/ ~~~~ ~~~~ / D.Forrest Hobgoblin impressed _at_ all and she stormed ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ commin atcha from out when she saw that the flies were the wilds of Kulthea! the size of Torkans! After waken' up with this splittin' So, I'm kicken stuff around and then brain-cramp the other day, I found I hear this CRACK, SPLINTER....WHOA! meself headin' over to visit my good I fell right through the floor into friend Liz at the Costal Cave this wierd workroom filled with all Estates. I see you smellies like to sorts of vials, herbs and little vacation there as well, but hey, gadgets. But before I could steal what's up with those deRangers and anything, this shrimpy smElf popped the cracks in the wall? through a trap door. Luckily I was able to duck under the table before I sees this ranger guy puttin' all she saw me! So after a bit of sorts of things inside this little whatchin her stare out into space niche and telling some mangled (you smellies are _so_ strange) she healer that it's a "Perma-Chest." A walked over to this BIG crystal and what? Ok, sos they leave and I get touches it with both of her hands. this idea... I tip-toed over to the Allovasuddenlike, this ghod-awfull, small hole, stuck my hand inside, ear-splitting, screatch screamed out grabed a big 'ol handfull of stuff and just about riped my head off! and.. Wonderfull, my hand got We hobs have very sensitive hearing, stuck! Like I tried to pull and y'know. For some reason this twist it out see, but it was too screatch maked her really happy and big! she left. I thought I'd give it a try... Why not? I reached over Finally, that smelly beat-up healer and.. BONG! BONG! BONG!... BLAM! comes back and starts laffin when he So much for _that_ thing... If I sees me. "Here, lemme help you with could only get my hair to lay flat that," he chuckled to me. Thinkin and to stop smoking! that these healers are some pretty sharp fellas, I said "SURE!" BAM! P.S. Whoever taught that Healer our WHAM! As I'm layen there thinkin mating dance should be beatin! I about how I really didn't want keep thinken' its Brelga and that _that_ kind of help, he said to me, hip-twist gets me killed everytime! "Next time, let go of the junk and yer hand will slip out, you feeb!" ,---, Who would have known? So I'm a | -/-| little greedy... What _is_ a feeb, ,(__-_), anyway? /|| ||\ / |@\__/@| \ Brelga and I decided to go over to / /|@@@@@@|\ \/ this 'ol Inn for a little flea- ( ),|<<**>>|,( ) swapping and what a mess you ''' ``` smellies have left it! *BLECH!* I IMLACH mean, we Hobs aren't that picky an' ~~~~~~ all, but when I went to make a by Bugg Hornwort sandwich in the kitchen I almost passed out from the smell! Smelled Imlach grew distressed and quite red like a Goblin's toenail! <shudder> For he misheard what Catrissa said. You wonder why we call you smellies? When she said to Miyu, Sheesh! Doesn't anyone do the "Yes it's true, of us two dishes anymore? Needless to say, He alone has no skill to imbed." -17- _________ Illusions / \ _____ \ ~~~~~~~~~ \@| ~|_|~ | by Simon d'Ker | | | | _| |~| | /@| _|~|_ |t was a quiet day. Lazy asleep. I am crazed. I AM diseased. \_/ ~~~~~ / day. A day for exploring Orcs do not smile, orcs do not bow, ~~~~~~~~ and experimentation. A orcs do not speak. Orcs are mean and rarely felt little time in life's combative and stink (well, he still continuum. smelled orcish). My mind whirled through the possibilities of various Relishing the feeling of freedom explanations and the repertoire of from survival mode, I chose to spend responses. I remembered the one orc some time with a centuries-old spell visitor in Kelfours some time back. book, now in my possession. Was there repercussions? I had not heard. Had not asked. Perhaps the Opening it carefully, I began to same, genetically unusual orc? search the pages for that new spell, the next goal in achievement. After "Hello orc," I finally responded. He reading through many possibilities, sat down. With this orc being in a I found it. The Spell of Illusion. completely defenseless mode, I began A weapon often used throughout our to feel more curiosity than ani- history - defensive in nature but mosity, and began the questions. very effective when in combat with "Who are you? Why are you so differ- those enemies of some intelligence. ent? Where are you from? Have you ever been to the town of Kelfours? It was a simple spell, very easily How do your fellow orcs respond to learned and added to the now growing your congenial and passive nature? list of accomplished magic. Done. Learned. Ready to be invoked. He answered, and more. I learned of his growing up, his feelings isola- Gathering the necessary arsenal of tion, loneliness, his goal of find- weaponry and armor, I headed out to ing human friends and his banishment the hunt. Excited, almost giddy, at from the orc tribe to which he once the prospect of surprising an orc by belonged. "No," he had not been to changing size and shape, perhaps I Kelfour's Landing. He talked and I could change into a black dragon. listened. He answered and I asked. It was quiet in the forest. A tork, His goal of human friendship had not worthy. Karnelin, silly, stupid, certainly been accomplished. I found vicious - no, not yet. him intelligent, although verbally unskilled, generous, honest and very I sat, my back to a boulder, almost brave. I welcomed him as a friend. hidden, at a turn in the path. Yes! After many hours of sharing tales, an orc. Ugly, big, armored and with the sun began to sink and I felt the sword. danger of the night closing in. I explained that I must return. He was I jumped out, swiped at him with my saddened, but understanding. He gave sword, readied my spell - and then his thanks for my time. As we were stopped. The orc had not returned prepared to part, I expressed frus- the attack, had only defended. This tration at his predicament. orc was not well - diseased perhaps. Then the most, the absolutely MOST, "If only I looked on the outside how amazing thing happened. The orc just I feel on the inside, " he said. smiled. Smiled! at me! Of course! I readied a spell, waited and cast the Spell of Illusion at He bowed and spoke, "Hello My Lady." the orc. My illusion image was one of a most handsome, virile fighter; Now wait a minute, I thought. I am silver hair, fair complexion, human -18- More... of course. Again and again I cast re-invoke the illusion. So, perhaps, the spell in his direction until I someday when you turn a corner and was completely drained of power. We find me talking to an orc, you will still meet periodically so I may smile -- and know. Big Bad Mik ~~~~~~~~~~~ by Bugg Hornwort, (In Service to Lord Kieron) Most evenings in Kelfours you can see him arrive, he stands six-foot-six, an' weighs two-forty five Kinda broad at the shoulder, and narrow at the hip, an' folks know if you're a halfling you don't give no lip, to Big Mik. Big Mi-ik..., Big Mi-ik..., Big Bad Mik. He slipped into town in a pouring rain, his only concern was quick financial gain. With a bad case o' greed and fingers lightning-quick, all the townsfolk soon learned to fear the name, of Mik. Some folks say he came from Trelkinaark, where he used to light the Ice Kral Queen's spark. They say he likes women mean, and long-in-the-tooth, but only dead men have ever asked for proof, from Big Mik. Big Mi-ik..., Big Mi-ik..., Big Bad Mik. Then came the day when the alarm bell rang, and shouts of "KEL!" rang out in seoltang. Clerics were prayin', an' hearts beat fast, an' adventurers feared they'd soon breath their last, 'cept Mik. Through the blood an' debris of this kral-made hell slipped the shadow of a man that the folks knew well - grabbed a kral by the neck, an' squeezed out its life, while he gutted six others with his pocketknife, Big Mik. Big Mi-ik..., Big Mi-ik..., Big Bad Mik. Well he backed ten more up against the wall, But then the lights went out, an' he could feel himself fall. The next he knew he was in a kral ship's hold, with five other folks, an' one's stone-cold, but not Mik. There was Xura, an' Palma, an' Penna too, And Llorien, all recruited for the Ice Kral zoo. With just a net and a dagger they soon broke free, and they killed every kral that they could see. With Mik. Big Mi-ik..., Big Mi-ik..., Big Bad Mik. For the warfaring Kral it was a black, black day as fifty more warriors met a watery grave. So they took the ship, and could have sailed to the dock, but instead chose to park it on a great big rock, did Mik Now, they say in the midst of the Thieves Guild lair is a Kral figurehead made into a chair, An' the thieves' guildmaster has a heart of gold, (but you know it's someone else's, that he stole). But that's Mik. Big Mi-ik..., Big Mi-ik..., Big Bad Mik. That's Mi-ik, Big Mi-ik..., Big Bad Mik. -19- ____________ Healing Thyself: Herbs in the Field / \ ______ \ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ \@| /~/~~\~\ | by Alyssya Sandorala ||~| |~|| _||~| |~|| ne of the important of us find beyond our skills to /@| \~\__/~/ | aspects of life in tend-- gashes and serious bleeding \_/ ~~~~~~ / GemStone is having and deep lacerations. It also has ~~~~~~~~~~~ herbs and potions to virtue for such wounds to the eyes cure your ills if a healer is not as blinding and swelling. Purchase present when you get hurt. I tend to of this herb will get you two doses, explore our world in the wee hours, and it runs to the expensive side. and it is not often that I am fortu- My latest quote was 900 silvers, but nate enough to find a healer when I believe me, it is worth every silver really need one! Syiah Kintaru, the when you are bleeding to death in herbalist, has at times seemed the the field! best of companions to me. His house is located NE, E, E, E, E, E, S, E, Third on my "must-have" list is Go House, from the Town Square. Arfandas Stem for healing of major injuries to your head. Use this herb The herbs on my basic list are those when you are bleeding from the ears I feel are most useful for a newly or have lacerations and a mild arrived adventurer, for whom a 2- concussion. These injuries also tend concussion point per round (2 / rnd) to be beyond the skill of most of us bleeding wound is indeed life- to tend in the field. Purchase of threatening! All of these herbs will this herb will give you two doses, leave behind them some other injury and the latest price I was quoted to be healed but will stop that was 562 silvers. bleeder before it stops you. The final herb on my basic list is By far the most common injuries I for those of us who use magic of one have seen are fractured and bleeding kind or another. Overextending limbs. The monsters around Kelfour yourself in the field can be more seem to delight in smashing our than an inconvenience. It can be bones and making us bleed to death. deadly if that nervous system injury I wonder why? After all, aren't we prevents you from ringing back to just trying to make the world a town or searching a dead foe for better place to live in? booty! Belrama Potion will help with uncontrollable convulsions and My choice for the most useful herb sporadic convulsions. Purchase gets to have in the field would, without you four doses, and my latest quote question, be Edram Moss. This lowly was 450 silvers. dried moss is the first line of defense against those nasty compound Many young characters will balk at fractures and severed limbs. (Not the expense of these herbs and the "missing"--that's different.) Edram space they take up on your item Moss comes in four doses and is well list. But believe me, when you tote worth the price; the latest quote to up the cost of the experience you me: 562 silvers. It is useful only have gained so far and the cost of for fractured and bleeding or sev- the equipment you just lost when you ered limbs. Don't waste your time or died in the field, the price and silvers using it for other things. item usage seem much more I believe that necks are considered reasonable. In the case of herbs, limbs for this purpose, but I'm not the homily, "An ounce of prevention entirely certain. beats a pound of cure," takes on a whole new meaning. Next on my list of herbs is Pasamar Grass. This herb is especially Carry your herbs in a pouch valuable since it heals those specially designed for that use. irritating torso injuries that many Herb pouches are available at the -20- More... General Store (SE of the Town field will do no good if you get Square) for a nominal cost. You can killed while eating the herb. wear this pouch on your belt for ease of access. Here is a recap of the herbs in this article. Remember, the price you pay Using herbs in the field requires will differ. The herbalist's charges caution and preparation. Most times, are based on profession and trading eating the herb will cause a round skills. For reference, my profession time (plus taste REALLY bad!), so be is thief, 12th level, with 6 ranks prepared for it. Be sure to parry of trading. 100, and don't sling your shield to get the herbs from your pouch! For those of you who, like me, wish Sheathe your weapon instead! There to delve further into the mysteries is a much lighter penalty to your of healing for the non-healer, there defensive ability than if you wear is an excellent list of herbs com- your shield. If you have time, get piled by Lord Caretaker D'Boldhomme to someplace safer, or at least out available as part of Zepath's Maps of the room the monster you are in the GemStone Library (page 930, fighting is in. Round times for herb selection #8). Using this list, you usage depend on the severity of the can become proficient in the art of injury and the type of herb eaten, FULLY healing yourself, including and can vary from 8 seconds to 40 those nasty scars that seem to crop seconds! Healing yourself in the up all the time! _________________________________________________________________ / \ Herb Area Cost Dose \ | @/_______________________________________________________________/ | Edram Moss Limb / Neck (?) 562 4 | | ~~~~~~~~~~ | | Fractured and Bleeding Severed | | | | Pasamar Grass Body/ Eyes 900 2 | | ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ | | Gashes and Serious Bleeding Blinded (eye) | | Deep Lacerations Swollen (eye) | | | | Arfandas Stem Head 562 2 | | ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ | | Bleeding from the Ears Lacerations | | Mild Concussion | | | | Belrama Potion Nervous System 450 4 | | ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ | | Uncontrollable Convulsions Sporadic Convulsions | | _________________________________________________________________ | @\ HAPPY HEALING! \ \_/________________________________________________________________/ __________________________________________________________________ / \ WEDDED BLISS? \ | @/----------------------- by Bugg Hornwort -----------------------/ | | | Imlach and Catrissa have wed. | | Doubtless years of sweet bliss lie ahead, | | If one rule they hold dear | | As the months turn to years: | | NO POINTING and LAUGHING in BED. | | @\----------------------------------------------------------------\ \__/________________________________________________________________/ -21- _____________ The Looking Glass War, Part 2 / \ _________ \ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ \@| ||=|=|=|| | by Lord Gallenod Varynesti | ~~ |_| ~~ | _| |_| | he battle raged over The marshal seemed satisfied with /@| _|_|_ | me. There was some- that answer. "Ah," he said, "a wan- \_/__________/ thing odd, though. dering mercenary. Mayhap you would All the combatants seemed to be care to join in our event?" using practice swords. Behind me I saw no sign of the portal I'd "It would be my honor," I replied, fallen through. bowing. The other two bowed in return and led me to a camp less A practice battle? I studied the than a mile away. combatants. They had some skill but seemed stilted in their movements, Something was wrong, but I couldn't as if they weren't really trying to quite put my finger on it. I assumed harm each other. Their weapons were I'd pitched through the mirror into some type of light cane, and their whatever scene the mad astrologer armor ranged from patchwork leather was viewing. Wherever that was. Or to serviceable chain mail. A motley whenever. How would I get back? Then crew, they were. I remembered something else. One of them noticed me and charged The gnome had spoken to the troll over, waving his toy sword and yell- about sending someone else through. ing, "For King Richard!" I now had a To change the course of history by dilemma, for I was carrying real killing some or all of these people. weapons and did not wish to injure Practice weapons. If they didn't him if this was only a mock combat. have anything more than that, a single black stalker could mow them He swung. I parried with my shield down like summer wheat, let alone an and slashed at his sword. Finely armed squad. I shuddered. honed shaalk went through the cane like a hot knife through butter. The marshall turned out to be Lord Roland of Canterbury, an officer in My opponent seemed stunned at this the service of one Baron Geoffry turn of events. He stared dumbly at Wulfstan. I was led into the camp, the hilt in his hand. "Whoa!" he where I overheard several people cried. Then he called, "Foul!" A comment on my shield. Apparently, man in chain mail bearing a simple the eagle was the emblem of a knight staff hurried to where we stood. in the rival Middle Kingdom. "My apologies," I began, as the mar- We halted before a large tent. "I shal reached us. "You did not allow shall announce you to the Baron," me time to warn you that I had no said Lord Roland, who then entered suitable weapon for this combat." the tent. I was alone with Michael. "Oh, my apologies, good sir," he "That is a fell weapon you carry," replied. "You were on the field. I Michael said pleasantly. "I've never dids't take thee for a scion of the seen one that sharp." Middle Kingdom. I am Lord Michael Stonehold of the Eastern Kingdom. I smiled. "Yes, it is my personal You have the advantage of me, sir." favorite. You appreciate fine wea- pons, then?" "Gallenod Varynesti," I replied, "of Kelfour's Landing." I didn't mention Michael sighed. "Yes, but I cannot my own title, as I had no idea of afford such. And all we may use here the local politics. "I am newly come are those that will not injure. Real to these parts, and I seek informa- blades are not allowed." tion." That was true, at least. More... -22- "You have no real weapons available, some experience with duels." With then?" I asked. that, Michael handed me a practice sword and I turned to my opponent. "Only a few," he replied. These people were truly defenseless. Aside Lord Roland turned out to be reason- from a few crudely crafted staves ably competent, but he had a habit and swords, they had nothing to of pulling his blows. As though he'd fight with. Probably to prevent never fought with real weapons. I actual bloodshed between the two remained on the defensive, content rival kingdoms at this tournament. to evaluate his style. After a few The crafty gnome had picked his time exchanges, our eyes met. and place well. "You toy with me, sir," he panted. The Baron arrived shortly. He was a "It does you no honor. Attack and powerfully built man wearing spec- have done with it." tacles of a type I'd never seen before. His chain mail was of good I nodded. It seemed I had insulted quality. I bowed. him in some way. "As you wish, Lord Roland. I simply wished to take the The Baron regarded me carefully, full measure of your skill." Hoping taking in my armor and the weapons that would mollify him somewhat, I protruding from my knapsack. Espe- moved in. cially my shield. "So," he began, "you've just wandered in to see our He defended gamely, but I drove him little war, goodman? Have you much slowly back. Forcing him almost to experience with these combats?" the edge of the clearing, I struck with a quick combination: driving I smiled. "I have some small experi- his shield down with mine, I landed ence with combat, milord Baron." a solid blow where his shoulder joined his neck. "Woulds't thou care to demonstrate your prowess, sir?" the baron asked. "Hold!" yelled the Baron. Roland "Against Lord Roland, perhaps?" bowed to me, which I returned. The Baron hurried over, adjusting his "If thou woulds't explain the rules spectacles as he walked. of engagement to me, milord," I replied, copying his manner of "An amazing display of swordsman- speech, "I'd be honored to cross ship, sir!" the Baron beamed. "A swords with Lord Roland." clean kill with one blow! Roland, there is no dishonor in losing to The baron nodded and motioned Lord this man." Michael to my side. "Lord Michael shall second thee, and explain what "Aye, milord Baron," said Roland. thou shoulds't know." "He could beat Prince Alexander himself, I'll wager." Michael took me aside and explained the rules, which seemed safe, if a The name rang a bell. "That wouldn't bit restrictive. He also had a warn- be Prince Alexander Blalock?" ing for me. "Gallenod," he whis- pered, "Lord Roland is one of the "Indeed," replied the Baron. "Dos't best fighters in the Barony. thou know him? He carries a shield Be careful." very similar to yours." This would prove interesting, then, "I regret we've never met," I as I could measure the skill of one replied. "But I have a feeling we of their better fighters while, I will meet very soon." hoped, establishing my own reputa- tion. I winked at Michael. "Not to The Baron chuckled. "Well, welcome worry," I whispered back. "I have to the Pensic War, Gallenod of -23- More... Kelfour's Landing." ing knife, a marvel of forging. And one or two other things, like the Pensic War? The Baron may have silver bird in the sky and the drink spoken truer than he knew. they called "Coke." I had a feeling I wasn't on Kulthea any more. Baron Geoffry offered me the hospi- tality of his camp for the duration I decided to try an experiment. I of my stay. The food was excellent, cast Hues on myself. Yes, the magic though some of the beverages were still worked. But several minutes new to me. There were several fizzy later, the power had not returned. drinks described as various types of There was no essence in this place. soda. I'd never heard the names None. I had a small reserv e of before, though. magic, as long as my personal power held out, but apparently no more. There was something wrong here. Somehow, these people didn't seem No essence! Which meant no healers, quite right for this setting. And mages or clerics. No wonder I'd seen then there was the large bird I'd no magic being performed. Even minor seen earlier. It flew at great magics were impossible here. I height but in a straight line. And sighed. It seemed I would never get never flapped its wings. My compan- home now. ions seemed unimpressed by this, though, so I took no alarm. The day of the tournament dawned bright and cheery. Michael helped me I spent part of my time searching with the entrance requirements, and for some sign of the astrologer's I settled down to the business of minions, but found nothing. If they combat. As the day progressed, so were here, they were well hidden. did I. Only two others seemed to have skill beyond common in the Baron Geoffry asked if I might be group. interested in competing in the single combat tournament to be held One was Prince Alexander. He fought the next day. in a style similar to Lord Maruko's, using a katana - like sword. He was "Will Prince Alexander be there?" never seriously challenged. His shield looked much like mine, though "Most assuredly," replied the Baron. the eagle was less - detailed and a "He has won the event the last three slightly different shade of brown. years. I wish you God speed and Perhaps mine was an embellishment of swift arm if you meet him." The the original design. Baron smiled as though he suspected why I sought to meet the Prince. The other was a tall knight dressed entirely in black, bearing a two- However, no petty vengeance or de- handed sword and wearing a visored sire for fame lay in my heart. I helm. He was named only "The Black simply wished to meet a man who Knight" in the lists. After watching might become a legend. And whose his first fight, I knew I had found life was at risk. one of the gnome's minions: a black stalker. The fighting style was As I lay in my bedroll that night, I unmistakable. noticed a light in the woods. Quietly I investigated. It was a man "Water, Sir Knight?" A young woman carrying a metal tube with a light in a dark blue gown offered a jug. shining from the end. He reached his camp and the light went out with a "Please, milady." faint "click." As I drank, I looked at my server. A A mechanical device that produced short lass, with dark brown hair and light? I remembered Michael's hunt- eyes. Not the prettiest girl I'd -24- More... seen here, but she had some quality As we circled each other, I resolved that attracted me nonetheless. to be careful. There were wrappings around the stalker's sword, but I "My thanks, milady," I said as I was sure it was real underneath. And handed the jug back. "I'm Gallenod, I did not wish to kill this crea- formerly of Kelfour's Landing. You ture, though I had no idea how to have the advantage of me, milady." get it to show me the way back. Even if I captured it, I would learn She blushed. It was a lovely sight. nothing from it. "Lady Stephanie Thorncroft, at your service. What an unusual name you The stalker seemed puzzled by me. have. Where do you come from?" Its whirling attacks, which had con- fused the other fighters, never came Not knowing where I was, I impro- close to me. It was getting frus- vised. "From the North, milady." I trated. Then I struck it a blow on hoped that would satisfy her. the leg. The marshal yelled "Hold!" "Scandinavian?" she asked. I nodded, I did. The stalker didn't. Whatever without any idea what she was talk- fragile control the astrologer had ing about. It seemed to satisfy her. imposed finally snapped, and the "You're in the final four," she said stalker backhanded the marshal with with a smile. "You must be very good its sword. Fortunately for the mar- at this." shal, that was still wrapped. It just knocked him ten feet into a I nodded again, not immediately pile of armor. realizing that she was referring to the tournament. It must have been I discarded my practice sword and those brown eyes. drew my rapier. The stalker ripped the padding from its sword and the "I face the Black Knight in the next helm from its head. Its inhuman fea- round." I looked forward to that. tures contorted in the bright sun as The stalker was in for a surprise. it gave out an unearthly wail. She shuddered. "Something about that A horn answered. Someone screamed. knight worries me. He never speaks. I heard weapons clashing. Real weap- Just swings that huge sword like the ons. The attack began in earnest. Grim Reaper. He's knocked two men Some Pensics with real weapons drew out cold today. Be careful." them and rushed to defend. Others fled as orcs moved into the camps. Yes, I'd noticed that the stalker was very restrained. The astrologer I needed to deal with the stalker. I must have laid a heavy geas upon it. cast some defensive magic; its eyes I stood as my name was announced and narrowed, then it rushed me. In ten smiled to Lady Stephanie. seconds, it was dead. "Not to worry, milady. I shall be The orcs met more resistance than careful." Then an impulse struck me. they'd expected. As orcs fell, other "Would milady allow me to carry her Pensics picked up their weapons and favor into the lists? I would con- joined the fray. Prince Alexander sider it a signal honor." led the defense. He was quite good. He might have actually beaten the She smiled, and blushed again. "Oh, stalker on his own in a fair fight. but it would not be right. We've just met." However, she took a Then I heard a scream to my right. scarf from her dress which I tied to Three orcs advanced on a group of my sword arm. I hoped the events to women. One was Lady Stephanie. I ran come would not bring harm to this towards the group, knowing I'd be lady. I bowed and went to meet the too late to save them. Black Knight. (To be concluded) -25- _________ My First Death / \ _____ \ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ \@| ~|_|~ | by Shiloh Strong | | | | _| |~| | /@| _|~|_ | doubt if any remember a scream, she smoked for a bit, and \_/ ~~~~~ / the mage that went by then lay silent. ~~~~~~~~ the name of Gandalf, or perhaps Finrod? I suppose you could Finrod and Gandalf shook hands and say they were my mentors. I traveled slapped each other on the back as I with them constantly and they taught searched the burnt remains of the me the way of life in Kulthea. Nymph. Suddenly, another Sea Nymph came charging into view and attacked One day, many months ago, I was out Finrod. He parried and then counter- traveling with them towards Nymphs, attacked. While this was going on, I which, at the time was our favorite had found flowing robes, a dagger, place. We all pretty much kept to ten silvers and a Golden wand on the ourselves for most of the long trip, remains of the dead Nymph. as we had traveled this path many a time and could walk it blindfolded. I thought I had seen Gandalf use one We finally came to a road and headed of these wands before, it could not along its path. Before long we could be that hard. I glanced over at my see the ocean, it was a beautiful friends. The Nymph had succeed in sight, the waves crashing against hitting Gandalf, and he had a slight the cliffs below. Yet, there seemed cut on his left arm, but nothing to be no Nymphs in sight. serious. Finrod was still fighting the Nymph, and no one was able to "NYMPHS!" Finrod yelled at the top gain the upper hand. I quickly made of his lungs. my decision and put my Drake in my backpack, snatching up the wand, and We often called out challenges to waving it at the Sea Nymph. our enemies, it was one of our more favorite pastimes that dated back to Right away I knew that something was when we had hunted rats. wrong, the Nymph did not explode or freeze or anything, yet the wand had We marched back and forth along the vibrated slightly. Gandalf started trail waiting for a Nymph to climb screaming something at me, but I was up from the waters below. not able to hear him, all my focus was directed on the wand. Suddenly I "This is boring." I complained with felt excruciating pain run up and my newbie wine. The others ignored down my arm. I saw the wand flare up me and continued our search. and fire slowly consumed my hand. I screamed and tried to drop the wand, Suddenly, a Sea Nymph of striking but the fire continued up my arm. I beauty made her way out of a crevice fell to the ground and rolled as the right below my feet. Gandalf began flames consumed my arm. Finally I gesturing into the air and mumbling was able to put out the flames, and some magical mumbo jumbo. Finrod tried to inspect my arm to see how attacked with his Falchion as did I. much damage had been done. My arm Finrod landed a crushing blow that was completely gone. I screamed and sent the Nymph reeling in pain and suddenly felt lightheaded, I could confusion. I quickly swung my Drake not move or talk. I just sat on the Falchion but missed. The Nymph was ground and screamed for someone to still trying to see straight, when help me. Gandalf let another searing ball of light fly from his fingertips. The Gandalf ran to assist me, but I knew blast struck the Nymph square in the it would be too late, if I could not chest knocking her back a couple of find a healer soon I would surely yards and landing on the ground with die. I felt an overwhelming peace -26 (Continued page 32) The Battle for Black Swan Castle _____________ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ / \ _________ \ by Mordstrom Parthus \@| ||=|=|=|| | | ~~ |_| ~~ | he last dregs of the of this quest and its tactical im- _| |_| | damp night air portance. /@| _|_|_ | gently fell from a \_/__________/ clear azure sky. A Swan Castle had once been the pride chill morning breeze quickly of all Kulthea. Gedralis' father had cleared the remaining wisps of fog given his life trying to defend it, as the clinking of metal echoed and its loss had been one of the between the wooden palisades of the darkest days in the history of the town and the forest rearing up at lands. Renamed Black Swan Castle, the foot of the valley. Horses it now stood as a monument to the stamped and pawed the ground with power of the evil forces that be- indignation at having been awakened seiged them all. It was a monument so early, making their masters mis- that could no longer stand unchal- erable as they tried to run off to lenged. If the enemies of Kulthea play in the dew-soaked grass. would keep Black Swan, they would be made to pay dearly for the privi- A small force of men and women lege. But at what cost? grimly went about the business of preparing for battle -- checking Shaking himself from his reverie, armor and weapons, stowing healing Gedralis waved to a silver-clad herbs, and tying bedrolls. Several knight who was being blessed by an men surrounded an open wagon, elegant woman in flowing white grunting and straining to get the robes. A soft blue glow tinged the ropes tight around a load of tents knight's armor, making him look like and gear. Their soft mutterings a piece of overly-tempered steel. punctuated the hush of the morning, Lintaqu waved back, trying delicate- fuelling the growing tension that ly to avoid the robed woman's cast- coursed through each person. ing, a sombre expression fouling his normally cheerful face. Gedralis Watching this scene from the saddle smiled for the first time in days, of his horse was a tall man with for he alone knew how much his short-cropped silver and black hair friend disliked such ministrations. framing a handsome, rugged face. A Lintaqu could simply wave her off, winged helm was levered tightly but would rather suffer indignity under one arm, its polished black in silence than risk offending her. surface glistening in the soft rays of the morning sun; a laen shield He placed his helm on the pommel of decorated with a black swan hung his saddle and picked up his shield. from the saddle. Lord Gedralis was Urging his horse up the bank a ways an imposing figure, even to those he turned to face the people gather- who knew him well. But beneath that ed below. One by one they sensed his intimidating exterior, he seethed gaze upon them and stopped what they with doubt and uncertainty. were doing, turning to look in his direction. Gedralis absently toyed with his scabbard and wondered how many of "We are going to do something I both these men and women would still be desire with all my heart and fear alive at journey's end. It grieved with all my good sense," he announ- him to think that they would likely ced. "Few, if any of us, will return die trying to restore honor to his alive." He paused, breathing deeply. family. And it worried him that "Again, I ask each of you: Do you there were some here who actually wish to stay behind in Kelfour...?" thought there was a chance of success. He wrestled with his Lintaqu spoke up. "We are all sworn emotions, torn between the morality to the quest, my Lord and will not -27- More... turn away from it now." Several nod- thought the mist the work of magic; ded in silent agreement; none made others that the trees were enchant- any move to leave. It was decided. ed. All agreed it was a bad omen. "Very well then," Gedralis remarked. A rattled and worried party quickly "We will be leaving in a short time. broke camp and took to their horses, Make your final preparations. May pursued by a sudden sense of ur- Eissa bless this quest and those of gency. No attempt was made to move us foolish -- or brave enough -- to quietly or carefully. Speed was all pursue it." that mattered. We flee from super- stition, thought Gedralis, and rush The journey from Kelfour's to Swan headlong to our deaths. Castle was uneventful, save for one strange sight near the end of the Toward midday, they passed a first day. Some two leagues from waterfall that fell into what was the edge of the Dragonsfang stood a once a landscaped pond but was now a single lonely cottonwood tree, tend- gaping hole in the ground. Beyond ed by an old man who moved with the the sinkhole lay the crumbling ruins infinite slowness of someone follow- of once-thriving towns. Rusted ing a calendar instead of a clock. arrows, spears and shattered swords littered the area like a great He answered no query and responded dumping ground, mute testimony to to no greeting, seeming content to the battle that had been fought climb about the young tree in there. Mass graves flanked the road, silence, removing dead branches and and Gedralis rode past them with his destroying parasites with slow, me- head erect, stiffly facing front. thodical movements. The party soon gave up any attempt at communica- Past the ruins, Black Swan Castle tion, continuing along its way with suddenly reared its blackened walls many a backward glance. Once, just before them, like a huge cliff before they lost sight of him around blasted by fire and lightning. Fear a bend, Gedralis thought he heard seemed to emanate from the very the man singing and old, familiar stones. The horses, normally high lullaby. strung, were now near panic, and staying in the saddle became a Emerging from the trees of the upper necessary but unwelcome distraction. Kaldsfang as night drew near, the The sun disappeared behind clouds as party stopped in a clearing and made dark and foreboding as the castle camp, preparing for the final push walls; the wind seemed to scythe out in the morning. The night was black of the castle gates, slicing right and cold; a mist rolled in through through the thin layers of cloth the trees, giving the landscape a underneath chilled armor. A feeling strange unearthly appearance. The of hopelessness swept through the night guards took what comfort they party, threatening to overwhelm could in their damp blankets and them. The son of Baron Gedralis was kept fearful eyes trained on the finally come home. black spaces between the trees, fighting fears that saw movement in Gedralis shook his head to clear the every shadow. despair and wrenched his horse away from the castle gates. "Back to the In the morning, the camp was roused woods!" he shouted but the words from slumber by shouts from the were whipped away in the wind, lost watch. All of them had fallen as soon as he uttered them. The asleep on guard and awakened in a group understood his intent even if panic, certain they were about to be they didn't hear his command and over-run. Gedralis ordered an imme- followed after him into the tree diate head count and inventory. line surrounding the castle. Nothing was reported missing and everyone was accounted for. Some "We will dismount here and leave the -28- More... animals. They'll be of no use to us Lintaqu motioned to a mage and to- in the castle." gether they rolled empty barrels to the arch and stood on them to get at The party dismounted with a sigh and the gibbet. The mage gestured at tethered their mounts. Swords were the rusted lock and it snapped open drawn and checked, shields adjusted with a loud clink. They gently and battle gear examined for signs removed the skeleton from the cage, of damage that could lead to a laying it with care on a blanket catastrophe in the heat of battle. pulled from a bedroll. They wrapped Their expressions were as bleak as it so that it was completely cover- the slate grey skies above. Sensing ed, and the clerics uttered prayers the need for comfort, Lintaqu slowly for the safety of his departed soul. raised his head, and began to sing Lord Gedralis watched in silence, in a strong, clear voice.... his face a dark mask of fury. |\ Lintaqu approached and laid a hand There is a home _|\| on his shoulder. That I know well, (_) | There is a place _| "Save it for what lies ahead, old Where I will come... (_) friend." He nodded toward the far My home will wait, side of the courtyard. "Your father Time will tell. shall be avenged." There will be a peace When day is done... Gedralis nodded to his friend, spun on his heel and prepared to give the As the strains of the ancient lul- order to advance. Without warning, laby faded into the wind, for a a bolt of fire exploded from a brief moment the warmth of hearth darkened doorway, striking him fires and the embrace of loved ones squarely in the shield arm. The filled their souls. It strengthened force of bolt picked him up and their purpose and hardened their threw him like a child's toy. He wills, and they moved swiftly to struck the ground with a whoosh of take up the shields and weapons of breath as several bolts of lightning their trade. Mages busied them- flew from the extended fingers of selves with casting spells of pro- the party's mages, blasting the tection and warding as clerics made doorway into motes of dust and final pleas to their deities. A shards of flying stone. small guard was posted, and minutes later they were back on the path to A quiet moan escaped his lips as the castle, with Lord Gedralis in Gedralis slowly picked himself up. the lead. He had been heavily protected by the mages before they left the woods, The gate to the castle stood open, but still sustained minor injuries shattered and broken. Not much and shock. A second bolt of fire of it remained other than the shards seared into the ground near him. holding the twisted iron of the Another barely missed incinerating hinges. Outside the gate along the Lintaqu. Within seconds they were widowmakers tunnel, a hint of child- raining down on the party from three like skeletons peeked from the ac- sides. The mages returned fire, cumulated humus, causing several of their lightning bolts streaking into the party to choke and swear to windows and doorways. The roar of Eissa. Inside hung the skeleton of explosions echoed through the court- Baron Gedralis, suspended in a gib- yard and the electrically-charged bet spiked to a stone arch above the air made their hair stand on end. courtyard. His skeletal fists still clenched the bars, his empty skull Gedralis had just started to lead thrown back in a silent scream. the advance when a blast of wind from the shadows in the northern Gedralis blanched. "Get him out of corner of the courtyard whipped him that thing," he choked. "Now...!" and a battle-scarred ranger off -29- More... their feet. Together, they rolled backhanded swing, while a young across the ground and slammed into fighter at his side dodged a blow the outside wall. from another, slipping his longsword under its guard and wounding it. A "Lintaqu!" Gedralis shouted, as a young woman with a flaming falchion cloud of fire settled on him. and battle-scarred shield stepped in and finished it with a blow to the Lintaqu snatched a silver wand from head and Lintaqu barely blocked a his belt and waved it in their thrust aimed at her back. She spun direction. The fire cloud was dis- and nearly cut the guardian in half persed by a blast of cold air. with a vicious swing. Smiling, she Gedralis quickly regained his feet, raised her sword in a salute and his entire frame crackling with turned back to the fight. energy. He cast bolt after bolt of lightning into the corner until the Once again, victory seemed near at wind stopped. hand. And once again, the tide turned against them. Unseen by Gedralis, a single guard- ian appeared on top of the parapet. More guardians appeared on the The ranger leapt to his feet just as parapets above; explosions and fire it cast, knocking Gedralis to one rained down on them. The young side. The bolt hit him instead, fighter was vaporized by a single taking his head off at the should- bolt. The girl with the flaming fal- ers. Gedralis rolled and came to his chion went down, stunned. A novice feet, a single bolt from his fingers mage threw himself across her body picking the thing off of the tower as firebolts converged on her from and dropping it 35 feet to the paved two sides, then started dragging her surface of the courtyard. His next across the courtyard out of danger. bolt scorched through a window just A guardian took him from behind and below the parapet, frying another cut him down, but before it could guardian before it could attack. kill the girl another mage blasted it into bloody shrapnel. Lintaqu For a moment it seemed victory was fought his way to her side and at hand. The party slowly advanced, helped her up. She shook off the healers attending to the wounded, effects of the stun and with a grim mages recharging. Gedralis looked smile turned and calmly decapitated to Lintaqu and shook his fist in a an onrushing guardian. victory salute; Lintaqu returned the gesture with a grin. They drew Lintaqu glanced about as he fought. their swords and moved deeper into One by one, they were being picked the courtyard. off, dying by fire and sword. For every guardian they slew, two In a heartbeat, the scene changed. stepped forward in its place. The Bolts of fire arched out of the situation was hopeless; the battle windows and converged on Gedralis lost. from every direction. In spite of the magical defense he'd been given, With a sigh, he ordered an immediate he was blasted off his feet again retreat to a safer position at the and smashed to the ground, there to gate. As the survivors fell back, lay unconscious and bleeding. he looked around for Gedralis and found him, on the other side of the Emboldened by success, guardians courtyard. A red-robed healer was began pouring from doorways into the tending him, while another fighter courtyard, engaging Lintaqu and the stood shaky guard, a bloody spiked others in close combat. In seconds mace in his trembling hands. the battle collapsed into the chaos Lintaqu immediately rushed to their of hand-to-hand fighting. Lintaqu aid, intending to guard their re- managed to hew off the head of treat to the gatehouse. But just as charging guardian with a tremendous he reached them, another wave of -30- More... guardians hit and they were cut off. The blasts of fire bolts and the ring of swords could be heard for a The rest of the party had reached time outside the castle, then all the relative safety of the gate and fell silent. The survivors gathered were holding their position without the wounded and slowly made their difficulty; but the four trapped in way into the forest, back to their the middle of the courtyard were horses. Those who had remained exposed and in grave danger. Guard- behind to guard the camp rushed out ians converged on them from all to meet them, helping carry the sides. Spotting an overturned cart, wounded and dead into the camp where Lintaqu used the remaining charges they were given first-aid and herbs. in his wand to stun the nearest attackers and led his small group to But no herbs seemed to help the son it a loping run, where they huddled of Baron Gedralis. He languished in together as fire bolts chewed holes his bandages with a searing fever in the ground around them. that even the best healer could not bring down. They decided to return "We have only a few seconds," he to town to seek advanced help. rasped. "Wait for an opening and run for the gate." He saw reluctance in Throughout the day, they followed their bruised and bloodied faces. their trail back through the hills "You must get Lord Gedralis to safe- and cliffs to the lone cottonwood ty. If you stay here, we all die!" tree at the edge of the Dragonsfang, where they were overtaken by a Without waiting for a reply, he sudden, violent storm. The old man jumped up and launched his attack, was nowhere to be seen, but if catching the guardians off-balance anyone noticed, they kept it to and unprepared. He fought like a themselves. man possessed, the black blood of the guardians flying off his shining Taking shelter under the tree, they blade. The fury of his assault did their best to keep the cold rain caused them to stagger and fall from the shaking form of Gedralis, back, and for a brief moment a gap wrapping him in blankets and tending opened up between them and the gate. him with herbs. But after every- "Go!" he shouted, pushing them thing was done that could be done, forward. "To the gate!" The fighter they could only wait and watch. hesitated, then helped the cleric As the storm broke and night came grasp Gedralis' unconscious body and on, the Son of Baron Gedralis died. half-drag, half-carry him to safety. "It was as if he did not want to go Lintaqu was wounded again and again; on living after what had happened," his shield gave out against the someone muttered. Others nodded in pounding blows that hammered on him. silent agreement. But still he would not go down. He backed out slowly, covering the They wrapped his body in a cloak and desperate retreat of his comrades. placed his sword, shield and helm beside him. Guards were posted, and Several guardians emerged suddenly with nothing to use for firewood, from the shadows to his left and they made cold camp. It was a long, made for gate, threatening to cut restless night. them off. Lintaqu cried out in frustration and pain as he sprinted In the early morning light, they to the gate house. Once inside, he buried Gedralis there under the hacked at the cable holding the gate tree, placing a stone marker to com- aloft, and watched as it plummeted memorate the spot. Next to it, they down on top of the charging placed another marker for Lintaqu, guardians, thus sealing them -- and who had given his life at the himself -- inside, forever. gatehouse to save his friends. More... -31- So much needed to be said, but no My First Death one could find the words. Suddenly, ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ from behind them, a strong clear Cont'd from Page 26 voice began to sing. They turned in confusion, believing for a moment wash over me, and I realized that at that Lintaqu had somehow survived least I would die with my friends. and returned to cheer them. But it was the old man they had seen Gandalf picked me up off the ground tending the tree, his song the same and pulled me eastward. I realized lullaby Lintaqu had sung only a that we were running; I could see short time before. the cliffs and trees race past me as my companions tried to speed me back When the song ended, the old man to the Temple. surveyed the group, looking from face to face, his eyes penetrating The Temple...Of course. deep into each soul. And as his gaze fell upon each person, that I had just recently acquired a gold person felt the weight of remorse ring from a friend in town and nat- lifted and the warm embrace of peace urally figured it'd been set to the engulf them. Temple. I tried to remove the ring, but had no hand to take it off with. No words were spoken, yet somehow I felt the cold touch of death as I all knew in their hearts that their lifted my hand to my face. Taking quest had not failed. Black Swan the ring in my teeth, I pulled it Castle remained in the hands of the off and on... enemy, but that enemy had seen something that caused it to shrink My surroundings shifted and I found back in terror. It had come face to myself standing before the gates to face with courage the likes of which Kelfours Landing. I thought briefly, had never been seen before, courage in my delirium, that the Temple was so bright and sharp and terrible somehow different than I remembered, that nothing could stand in its way. then I felt death grab hold of me And it knew, even though one battle and pull me down deep into its cold had been won, the war to come was depths. already lost. After I had awakened and discovered With a smile, the old man vanished. that The Goddess had restored me to To this day, some say they can still life, I went back for my things, but hear him in the still of the night, found that my Drake Falchion and singing that ancient lullaby... ring had disappeared; everything else still remained. I gathered them My home will wait, up and headed back to the Temple. Time will tell. There will be a peace I decided that dying was truly not a When the day is done. rewarding experience. //| //| | | |\___|___/| |\___|___/| | | | | \ /__ ___ __\ / | | |___| |___| | | | | | | | | _____ | | | | ||||||| | | | | ||||||| | | _______________| |______|||||||______| |_______________ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~| |~~~~~/ \~~~~~| |~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ -32- ______________ Ram's Guide: Substitutions for GemStone III / \ ____ ____ \ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ \@| ~| | | |~ | by Ram Youngblood | |~|--|~| | _| |~|--|~| | ave you played way Time....if your bill has one too /@| _|~| |~|_ | over your month's many zeros...or if you're just a fan \_/ ~~~~ ~~~~ / limit...? Are you of fantasy roleplaying, this is just ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ bleeding profusely what the doctor ordered. in hillies? Are you dead and waiting for a cleric? If your answer was Black Dragon, by Bob Maples 'Yes' to any of these questions, I have a couple ideas for you while Black Dragon is somewhat like Gem- you're waiting.... Stone, but only somewhat. GemStone blows this game away, far away; but Joel Rosenberg its okay if you have some time to spare. You can find it online, in Ever heard of him? You should basic services: typing *Dragon will have. He's an author, and a great get you to the menu. one at that. He has many books on the market, but among the best are It's a single-player game played in the "Guardians of the Flame" series. a dungeon of sorts, with ten levels If you like dwarves, thieves, in all. At the bottom level lives fighters, sorcerers and clerics, Asmodeus, the arch - devil. If you just like those found in GemStone, defeat him, you win the game. But I stongly recommend it. before you get to him, there are kobs, trolls, evil mages, and even It tells you the tale of a group of pesky hobbits to deal with; you friends who are thrown to the other can buy items from a trader, or side as the characters that each attack them with magic arrows to of them were role-playing: James see if they have a chest. When you Michael Finnegan becomes Ahira, a find a chest and can successfully dwarven fighter with a trusty disarm it, will it have enough gold battle axe; Karl Cullaine becomes for you to advance to the next Barak, a fighter who gains a sword level? Will it have the Sword of capable of projecting a natural Sharpness, the Mithril Helm, or the shield against magic, and so on. Ring of Protection you need? Play If it's in the game, it's in the the game and find out.... books. Kelfour Edition There are 7 books in the series, with more in the works. I read the Write for the Kelfour Edition. Do first two in a week's time, but that you have a few ideas you'd like to doesn't mean that they're children's share with your fellow adventurers? books or anything: each one runs Write 'em yup! I love reading infor- around 275 pages, but time passes mative articles, especially the how- very quickly when you read about -to's, and trust me, I'm not alone! their journey to the Gate Between But the best part's the reward.If KE Worlds and their daring raids on the likes your stories and you get 3 of slavers. It's an excellent series. them published, you get a free week- end in Kulthea! That means you can You'll be happy to know that he has can play for free from 6:00 pm on his own topic on GEnie at m8009;4. Friday to Monday at 8:00 am (exclud- He visits it regularly, so you can ing any surcharges). Imagine what talk to him personally. you could accomplish in 62 hours... It could be a dream come true! What can I say? I'm addicted to Joel Rosenberg just like I was when Yes, there are other things to do; I first played GemStone. If you and some are almost as much fun as need a substitute during Prime GemStone. So, until that next rez... -33- Undermining Kelfour's _____________ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ / \ _________ \ by Llorien Silvanestii \@| ||=|=|=|| | (Chapter 7) | ~~ |_| ~~ | _| |_| | he group gathered "Tellers?" piped up Llorien. "Who /@| _|_|_ | their belongings to- are these Tellers?" \_/__________/ gether, then looked expectantly at Joran, who turned and "The Tellers are those among us led the way down further into the chosen to keep the history of the darkened abyss. The hours passed people. Lacking the raw materials by uneventfully as they delved to make parchment and other writing deeper into the bowels of the materials, it was decided that earth. those who possessed a keen memory would keep track of the events that "Tell us more about your world, have passed before. So that none Joran," asked Penna. "I would know may forget what has happened, and of the people to whom I am now kin- end up repeating the mistakes of bound." the past." Joran looked quizzically at Llorien, who was nodding in "Where would you have me start?" earnest. "You seem to have taken asked Joran. "Our worlds are as an interest in the Tellers? May I different... well, as different as ask why?" night and day, if you'll pardon the pun." The drow's affable manner "It's just these Tellers of yours," soon had a calming effect on the said Llorien, "Sound like what we surface dwellers, their tensions call bards on the surface. Except draining away, to be replaced by a that we have books and scrolls that stilted sort of camaraderie. we can refer to, and research, the histories. Tell me, do the Tellers "Contrary to the beliefs of some, we ever sing the histories, or do they are not a warlike people," the drow just recant it?" went on. "We were persecuted for the color of our skin, and it was this "Sing?" asked Joran. "Nay, they do persecution that drove us to seek not sing. Unless you care to call another place to live. We dis- the monotone chant that they use covered that the underworld was, in the retelling, singing. What for the most part, unpopulated-- would be the purpose in singing the except for strange, and sometimes histories?" dangerous creatures. And we dis- covered the adamantine... a metal "Hmm..." Llorien rubbed his chin that surpassed even shaalk for its thoughtfully. "Well, the telling ability to be forged into weapons of a story will convey the facts, and armor, and its ability to hold but the music and the singing... an edge." well, they can convey the feelings and emotions of what had happened. "Thus we decided to make our lives And many times, the reasons behind here, never to see the sun again; what has gone before, and the or to feel the sweet caress of a actions of people, based on their a summer's breeze." A tear rolled emotional state at the time. Wars down Joran's cheek, as he thought are not started because of facts, of the few wonders he had seen in but because there existed hatred, the infrequent trips he had been or the need for revenge, or the allowed to make to the surface. greed of one wishing to possess "All this happened long ago, so what belonged to another. Do you see long ago that now we just have the what I mean?" stories and legends that are passed from generation to generation by "A very interesting idea," nodded the Tellers." Joran. "I think that the Tellers -34- More... will be interested in meeting with "What is it, Keron?" Joran asked you to discuss these notions." of the lead drow. "If the priests allow it, that is." "I am not sure. The sound and vib- added one of the heretofore silent ration are unlike any I have ever drow. Joran nodded to the speaker. heard." "Yes, that may be a problem," he "Let us approach with care then," agreed. said Joran. The group formed pro- tectively around Penna and Aegyptia, "Do these priests control everyone and stealthily made its way down and their actions?" asked Aegyptia, the corridor. Rounding the corner, who had been listening intently. the group stopped abruptly, mouths agape at the sight before them. "Well, they like to think so," stated Joran. "But the truth of the The entire tunnel was blocked off matter is there are some among us by an undulating mass of grey-green who do not believe that the surface flesh, which seemingly had come out dwellers are the monsters that the of one side of the tunnel through priests make them out to be. But solid rock, and was now burrowing we are few in number, and since not into the opposite face. many have ever been to the surface, much less had the opportunity to "It's the Great Wyrm!" exclaimed meet with the likes of you, those Joran. "Never in my life had I few of us who believe otherwise, are ever expected to lay eyes upon it!" scoffed at and ridiculed. Especially by the priests." The group stood unmoving, either in awe, or in fear of attracting this "Perhaps the events to come will behemoth's attention. Scant minutes change that," prophesied Aegyptia, later, the creature had disappeared smiling enigmatically. into the rock, leaving a fresh tun- nel behind it. No sooner had the words left her mouth, than the lead drow stopped "The Wyrm has never been sighted and uttered a short, sibilant hiss. this close to the city," observed "Something is up ahead," he whis- Joran. "Others have reported sight- pered. The drow cocked their heads, ings, those who had gone on expedit- listening for sounds, and Joran ions looking for new ore sources." laid his hand upon the wall of the tunnel. "Well, this explains the network of "Yes, something large," he informed tunnels we have seen," said Inyigo. the others. "If this is the same wyrm that has dug all these tunnels, then it is "If this is a trap," Pterelas an ancient creature indeed." said, the mistrust again evident in his face, "Then you will be the Joran nodded in agreement. "Legends first to die." He glared at Joran. have it that the Great Wyrm came to the surface one day and led our peo- "Don't be so obtuse, Pterelas," ple here, to our home. The priests admonished Penna. "Why would they proclaimed the Great Wyrm our savi- warn us if it was a trap?" our and built a religion around it." Pterelas, still wary, loosened his "Hmmph," said Llorien. "Seems like sword in its sheath. He glanced an overgrown slug to me." around, noticed there was no place to hide, and took a position with Penna frowned at the blasphemous his back to a section of tunnel wall bard. "Do not belittle anothers' determined not to be ambushed. beliefs, Llorien. As you should very -35- More... well know, most legends and myths different from themselves. Each have their basis in fact." had hopes and dreams; each felt pain and joy. Their lives may have "That is true," apologized Llorien. been different, but that was due to "Please forgive me, Joran." the environment they lived in. Joran chuckled at the contrite Rounding yet another bend in the bard. "As I said, it is what the twisting tunnel, the party stopped. priests would have us believe. Not One by one, all of the surface- all of us accept it, however." dwellers fell silent, the grandeur and beauty of what lay before them The blockage in the tunnel now striking harder than a golems stomp. removed, the party pressed onward. As they passed the new openings, They had emerged from the tunnel to one of the drow removed a small jar stand upon a ledge, which overlooked from his belt pouch, and smeared a a cavern, the size of which engulfed clear, but foul smelling unguent on the mind. A hundred Kelfours could the walls. have fit into the area they saw be- fore them. The walls of the cavern Inyigo raised his eyebrow in the were covered in a luminescent moss, drow's direction. The drow smiled casting a soft light throughout. and said by way of explanation: Looking down at the cavern floor, "This is how we mark a new tunnel. they could barely make out what ap- Maps are useless when new tunnels peared to be signs of agriculture. can be added at any time. By marking A pristine lake reflected back the these tunnels with various scents, glow of the moss, and in the mid- we construct a map that is carried dle of it all, was a jewel. through the air, so that we always can discern our location." Not a jewel in the sense of a precious stone. But a glittering "Makes sense," nodded Inyigo. "I collection of lights far in the wondered how you kept from getting distance -- a city of immense size. lost in this maze you call a home." "Welcome to Unterlund," smiled The young drow smiled, and soon he Joran, as he proceeded down the and Inyigo were involved in an steps that had been carved into the animated discussion about various face of the cliff. As the party mapping techniques and other sundry proceeded, Pterelas noticed two exploratory skills. guards stationed at the opening to the tunnel complex, their dark skin "I sure hope that poor guy doesn't and clothing blending in so well take too much of what Inyigo says, with the hue of the rock, that he seriously," jibed Pterelas. "Other- would never have noticed them, ex- wise we could be held responsible cept for their brilliant blue eyes. when he gets lost using the great "Welcome, indeed," Pterelas muttered ranger's techniques." Llorien chuck- under his breath. "I just hope it's led at the long-standing joke about not a welcome to our deaths." rangers and their ability to get (To Be Continued) lost, even in towns where they have lived most of their lives; although RODDERS privately he knew that Inyigo's ~~~~~~~ skills were among the best of his by Bugg Hornwort profession. It's quite easy to miss, The remainder of the day's journey don't you see; passed, the members of this strange And the bane of disarming rookies. group getting to know each other. Iliana found out, Much to their surprise, they found As have others no doubt, out that the other was not much That rod traps can fry your cookies. -36- ____________ The Wizard and the Wolverine / \ _________\ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ \@| ||=|=|=|| | by Natasha Cheridan | ~~ |_| ~~ | _| |_| | /@| _|_|_ |he wolverine! Run!" winning a bet on Firth's Wheel of \_/__________/ I heard my mother's Chance!" words echoing again in my mind as I quickly caught my breath. I had fled I realized I had spoken aloud. The the grassy flatland area where I was dusk and fear were getting to me. harvesting herbs the moment I had It was the only plan I had, though. seen the wolverine. To stay out here alone all night was to know Eissa's embrace by dawn I quickly calmed my nerves. I still by any number of means. I drew my held the fresh herbs in my hands. No cloak closer around me. I rested. longer panicked with the recurring I drank from the river and splashed nightmares of my childhood, I spoke the cold water on my face. There is the words which would preserve the always something invigorating with herbs and sealed them into a small the touch of this element of the pouch. Later, I would retrieve them earth. to make the healing balm I needed. Now, I must see to my defenses, the I felt a calmness come to me. The wolverine scouting the grasslands first stars were coming out, and the was now between me and safety. sun was almost completely below the horizon. It was time to go home. I The sun, a glowing red orb suspended glanced down the trail, it lay empty against the western horizon and the before me. I started forward along light was failing fast. I glanced up the worn trail that would take me and down the path, looking for help. through the grasslands and to the Not a single soul from the village guarded gates at Kelfour's, which I was within my view. I was here only call 'home' now that I have moved with Dusk as my companion. The birds away from my Father's house. Keeping were singing their last songs for a wary eye, I walked easily so as to the day, and the creatures who call conserve my strength. night their domain were rising-not nearly all of them as friendly as Suddenly, a drooling Torkaan lunged the cricket I could hear nearby. out from behind some high grasses and reeds, glaring at me, snorting I readied my sword and shield and a challenge that chilled my bone. walked the trail towards the river. The path was blocked! I could not get around the crazed creature. It "This is not a very wise predicament struck at me, as I raised my shield to get yourself into", I mumbled to to fend off its attack. myself. "No apprentice Healer should be here without many more than two I did not think there was anything classes in combat and self defense else I could do but put this poor skills." creature out of its fevered misery. Wherever its shepherd was, he was Taking time to rest at the bridge not here and I had no desire to fall and refresh myself with some crystal victim to this thing. I swung at it, clear water, I formulated a plan. If my sword glanced off its shoulder. I were not tired and did not panic, It attacked me again! As I stood my perhaps I could run quickly past the ground and calmly waited for it to grasslands where the wolverine was tire so that I could walk in for a hunting. Perhaps he's not hungry! quick stun and death blow, I kept my shield up and absorbed the blows. "Not hungry! Who am I fooling? The Finally, it weakened, and I saw my chance that a wolverine would not be chance. Giving out a great shout I hungry is about like the chance of collected everything that my Father, -66- Brothers and Swordmaster had taught voice commanding me from around the me and I lunged at the torkaan. A bend. quick blow to the head stunned it. Another stroke to the body cavity I turned the corner in the road, killed it. seeing that the wolverine was lying there, under a magical spell of I knew I would never get used to slumber so deep I could not believe this, though. Never. it. The Wizard told me it would not awaken again until it was in the Catching my breath again, I went presence of its Master. back to the path, to fly past where the wolverine had been and to make I heard my mother's words echoing my way back home. Suddenly, I heard in my mind, "The wolverine! Run!" something behind me. I did not know whether I should run or look - but My blood chilled, my arms trembled. curiosity got the best of me, and I I stared at the creature before me turned around. and felt the first grip of Fear. The Wizard touched my arm, suddenly I was looking into the clear green I was able to shake the fear away. eyes of a man wearing the robes of a wizard. "You can do it" he whispered gently. "Your swordsmanship and tactics made I believed the Wizard, and I struck quick work of that Torkaan, Young the wolverine. Within a few strokes Healer" he said quietly. "Where are the wolverine was dead, and I was you going now?" unharmed. I looked around to invite the Wizard home with me, but he was His green eyes pierced into me. I gone. There were no footprints in felt compelled to answer him, even the grass where we stood together. though I did not know this man. Only the corpse of the wolverine. "To my home at Kelfour's. I was Even Dusk was almost gone. I had to gathering herbs - then a wolverine get to the town gates soon, so I came to where I was and I fled. I am walked home. I have inquired with trying to run past it again so that everyone I have ever met about a I can get home", I answered, my Wizard of such talents, but all of heart beating fast. them shook their heads. "Natasha, my child... come and help Even now, I will never forget his me slay this wolverine, so that it green eyes, his flowing robes, the will never haunt your dreams or your voice of a Master Wizard. I do not fears again." He spoke very evenly, know how he took his name from my resolutely. I believed him. He had mind, or pulled mine out so that he called me by name, and I did not would know it. I do not know how he know how he knew it. He told me his filled me with confidence instead of name but I cannot remember it. It dread. seemed simple, and beautiful, but it was gone from me the moment he had I heard my mother's words echoing in uttered it. my mind, "The wolverine! Run!" He instructed me to wait while he I whispered under my breath before turned away, speaking arcane words of whatever great magic that he was I finally went to sleep, "Mother, calling down. I waited. He walked today I had met my nightmare - and away from me and along the path, yours. I will dream in peace this waiting with admonition for when he night." would call for me. This time, I did not dream of the "Natasha! Come now!" I heard his wolverine. -37- House Haunting _________ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ / \ _____ \ by Lloyd Llowd, PhD. \@| ~|_|~ | _| |~| | /@| _|~|_ | am quite disgusted with house he showed me. Surrounded by an \_/ ~~~~~ / the bureaucratic non- iron fence, the manor house looked ~~~~~~~~ sense involved with the perfect. Roomy, private, and it even simplest tasks in this wretched had a tower from which I could look little town. The town officials, down on the little people. and even the very deities above, conspire to keep everyone and every- He seemed to have a little trouble thing in a constant state of flux. with the lock on the gate, but I attributed this to the fact he was As you may recall, my home was using a key instead of a lockpick, destroyed by the twin terrors, Lords for a change. Eventually he gave up Odds and Dartaghan. Lord Odds then his futile attempt with the key and "graciously" installed me in a mud resorted to the pick. hut in Shantytown. It wasn't until we got inside that I Not satisfactory. I endeavored to got suspicious. There were blood- remedy my situation by presenting my stains on the floors, and the only case to the town officials. I way to get into the tower was to started with the constable and met climb it. After Artuero broke with little success. Actually, I numerous portions of his anatomy shouldn't have expected much from a falling into the courtyard, I man who waves cheerfully at invading declined to try it myself. Krals while arresting those de- fending the town for littering the However, despite the odd skull here streets with their bodies. and there, it was a dramatic im- provement over where I had been The mayor was no better. Finally living. Now to close the deal. admitting he could do nothing, he suggested I try a real estate agent. Let me offer you a bit of advice. There isn't a reputable agent within If you ever deal with a professional seven hundred leagues of this sorry thief who professes political aspir- place. I had almost given up hope, ations, count your fingers after when I was approached by a less than you've shaken hands. If you still reputable agent. have all your fingers, then count your relatives. (It goes without Lord Artuero. Apparently hearing of saying that you lock your money my plight, he figured there was safely away in the next province.) profit to be gained from it. (I won't insult your intelligence by Despite my caution, I felt we attributing his interest to altru- reached a fair price in the nego- ism.) He offered, for a suitable tiations. (Close proximity to House fee, to acquire lodgings for me. Arcane obviously made this house hard to sell.) Lord Odds even paid Of course I was suspicious. Lord the first month's rent, obviously Artuero is one of the Landing's most due to his embarrassment over his famous citizens, which is sufficient involvement in the earlier incident. cause for alarm in and of itself. However, his fame is exceeded by So I am settling in. Though I did both his infamy and his ego. Find me have a strange dream my first night. a house, indeed. It would probably Something about ghosts packing suit- be another hovel like that foisted cases and leaving Thingul Manor, upon me by the slum lord hobbit. complaining "there goes the neigh- borhood." Maybe hobbits moved in I was pleasantly surprised by the next door. -38- KEV3N12 [end]