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 Chapter Zero: The Devils of Tides

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The House of Ainsley
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: The Devils of Tides   Sun Aug 09, 2009 8:11 pm

Though the guards seemed concerned--perhaps even moved--with Corwin's airs of misery and misfortune, the stranger only lowered his gaze, passively stroking his bristled chin in thought, rising to stand and turning for the door as he took up his broad-brimmed hat with his sinister hand.

"Mayhaps O'Craddock will find interest in the dark witch of Ainsley Wood all the same. Be seeing ya."

The dirty cloak swayed behind the decrepit stranger as his tall, lean frame wove through the barroom towards the door. Norbitt shook his head disparagingly. "Bloody old creepy bumpkin sort. Well, Corwin, 'tis a shame to hear of your mother casting wicked spells for coin, but truly we're but town guards. As much as we would care to help, your mother has done nothing 'gainst the town of Boughbog."

"...and we pray that she never does," added Gaston curtly. "Please keep us abreast if our town ever does anything to draw her jaundiced eyes against us, aye?"

The hot bowl of turnip soup slid across the table to Corwin, guided by Jera's lithe touch. Her coy smile bid Corwin to enjoy as she sauntered lightly to the next table.


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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: The Devils of Tides   Sun Aug 09, 2009 8:12 pm

"I will..." Corwin said.

after taking a bite of turnip stew, he turned to Norbitt.
"Speaking of town guards... I don't suppose you would have any openings." he ventured slowly. "With the way mothers health has been since the accident, I was thinking of finding a way to pick up some extra coin and learn a trade, after all she won't be around forever, and I need to learn how to do something besides be an errand boy.
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: The Devils of Tides   Sun Aug 09, 2009 9:36 pm

"Haw!" snorted the guard Handkel, slamming his mug down across the table from where Gaston sat. "You can have my job, lad! Boughbog hasn't any future and I've no plan of stayin' here. As soon as my horse is done birthin' her colt, I'll be showin' the mayor my backside and leavin' for Nellowswann. Windwater has riverboats that move supplies to and from the ships in the harbor, and those boats need roustabouts, and roustabouts earn good coin in Nellowswann...better than a guard in Boughbog earns, anyway. I'll ne'er again have to fear wakin' up in the dead of night and findin' a vampire at the door wantin' to get in, neither."

Sternly glaring at Handkel's outburst, Gaston shook his head dismissively. "Handkel, you've been voicing this plan of yours for six months and I tire of hearing it. I find myself wishing for your horse to just birth one already."

"Aye, imagine how I feel, friend. The blasted horse seems fit to bear a dragon from the duration of things. So come that, a roustabout's life it shall be for me. Pelor's nose, if I hadn't a wife and a son, I'd not hesistate to do better for myself and sign a paper for one of the merchant princes. Their sailors and deckhands get unseemly good pay, e'en better than what the roustabouts get. Mayhaps they'll take Corwin on as their cabin boy. Heh...and he might still get better coin than I get now, there's the devil of it...."

Tactfully changing the subject, Gaston turned in his seat and addressed Corwin again. "I should be going home to my wife soon. There's a bad moon in the sky and I shouldn't leave her alone on a night like this. I can fetch that spare trident for you, if you still want it. You might even find there another something worth keeping."


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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: The Devils of Tides   Mon Aug 10, 2009 3:02 am

I'd apprecaite it Gaston.. I'm almost done here, and honestly turnip soup isn't exactly my favorite. Let's go take a look at that stuff."
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: The Devils of Tides   Tue Aug 25, 2009 10:16 pm

"Very good, Corwin, very good. This way, then. And I'll see you gents in the morning."

Gaston left his coins on the table for Jera to pocket, trading words and gestures of farewell to his comrades as he turned for the door with Corwin two steps behind.

• • •


"Ah, here we are. Take a look at this rubbish and see if anything takes your fancy."

Gaston's keyring was locked back onto a dutiful stud on the sinister half of his belt as he lifted the lid on the rather large oakwood chest in the guard shack. Expectantly, Corwin glanced over the orphaned offerings. The mentioned trident and a cast-off boat oar--both too long a fit for the chest--stood in the corner behind it, and a meager offering of lost goods lay in the chest's maw: a tie-bundled dwarven bagpipes, its pipes of pressed brass tarnished in ill-green specks and its painted horsehide patterns worn with age...unsightly, yet possibly functional. A spare cart wheel jammed into the chest's interior at a tight angle, its design solid and its birchwood two-foot diameter virgin and unmarred. A woman's hairpin, crafted from tin, its design flat and unremarkable. A lone bronze spur, its boot mount's finish well-scratched from use and its mate missing.

"Well, that's all we have for now," Gaston shrugged, almost apologetically. "Do you see what you might like, then? We'll be pitching the lot into the woods come next weekend, so they may not be here later."


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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: The Devils of Tides   Wed Aug 26, 2009 9:28 pm

Why don't I just take the lot off your hands then and save you a trip?" Corwin offered. "I can dump them in the woods just as easily as you and I'm already going to be headed in that direction."
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: The Devils of Tides   Sun Aug 30, 2009 7:36 am

"Very good, then!" affirmed Gaston, tossing the dwarven bagpipes into Corwin's waiting arms. "And particularly take that infernal thing away from here! Iona fancies herself a minstrel and dabbles at playing it everytime she's on watch here, but she never succeeds at creating more than an ear-biting cacophony. My mind cannot stomach another day of it, by Ehlonna's teeth...."

(Corwin gets the trident, the oar and the common dwarven bagpipes from his character creation, as well as a cart wheel, a tin hairpin and a bronze spur. The cart wheel will be problematic to carry on his person and for now must be carried by hand.)


"But I'll speak with Captain Moroverton tomorrow morning when I come on my watch. You may have come across him once or twice before; he oversees the city watch of Boughbog, Bereghel's Green and two other towns I can't recall. If you're earnest about your intentions of joining the town guard, you may speak with him then. Surely a good-hearted soul like you should be most welcome in our ranks, eh?"

The hour was late, and Gaston was clearly eager to get home. Already the forests were clad in a dusk brought sooner by rain-laden skies and resonant with the howling of wolves, and Corwin faced the choice of either going home to face his ill-mannered mother and finish her errand, or paying for a room at the inn of his choice and waiting for the light of dawn.


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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: The Devils of Tides   Sun Aug 30, 2009 9:01 am

Corwin will be heading home, once outside of town he'll cast detect magic and check out the lewt
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: The Devils of Tides   Wed Sep 09, 2009 8:01 am

(Corwin casts Detect Magic but detects no dweomers.)


Finishing his invocation and looking over his findings, Corwin's covetous gaze fell to disappointment. No auras were perceived; his new belongings were not anything besides ordinary. Resigned, he tucked his unholy symbol back under his tunic and began his walk home through the rain, rolling and kicking the cart wheel ahead of him.

Leaving the wheel outside at the stoop, no sooner had Corwin opened the front door than he caught another verbal blast from his mother. "So...you had a merry day of shopping and carousing about, did you? You took your precious time in getting home. I'm beginning to think that you don't love me."

Corwin looked up from wiping his boots at the threshold and saw that his mother was not alone. She continued in a tone which was only slightly gentler.

"But you're good for sending customers to your mother, if nothing else. This is Bran O'Craddock, Corwin. I believe you had told one of his farm hands how Farmer Loraton paid me to destroy his crops, and now Farmer O'Craddock has come to exact his revenge against Farmer Loraton...with my help, of course."

The old man's wiry musculature belied his great age as he rose from his stool to speak. "Years upon years, I been meanin' to pay Wender back in kind for razin' my crops and ruinin' me. I and my sons had to go beggin' for food that winter, an' my pride never recovered from the blow. So Wender wants to ruin me with witchcraft, huh? Let's see how he fares when I turn the Witch of Ainsley Wood against him. Let's see if he feels the same way I felt seein' that awful cloud descend on my fields all those years ago."

Gwenlyn nodded sagely. "Only you did not wish to pay for the cloud of poison, correct?"

"Not at all. I figure it was his livestock what caused our feud in the first place. So let his livestock be the end of it. What can you do for me, witch?"

Gwenlyn returned to her great cauldron, pulling sprigs of bloodwort and foxbane down from the wall behind her. "A potion of madness, I believe, should work very well. Simply pour the potion into the watering hole between your land and his. But ensure that none of your animals and none of your family drink of that water on that day, for any creatures that do so will be stricken dangerously mad and leap into a destructive rampage! Watch from beyond the safety of your own fence as Wender Loraton's pigs and cattle kill each other and strike havok to his barn and his home, then watch further as the chaos subsides and the animals, pushed beyond their limits by their derangement, collapse and perish from exhaustion! Farmer Loraton's herds will be no more, and revenge will be yours at last."

"...and his cattle're far more costly than barley seed, ayuh. Very well, witch. This potion of madness'll do nicely. How much do I pay?"

"Three-hundred gilders, and this: bring to me both eyes of the next beast you slay, be it swine, wolf or any other. Do we have a deal, Bran O'Craddock?"

The farmer wadded the belly of his tunic, pondering a moment before his answer came. "Aye, we do. That coin'll be most of my lifetime's earning, but it'll be worth the cost to see Wender subsistin' on dust and dung. I'll return with the coin tomorrow mornin'."

"And I shall have the potion for you by the time you arrive. Until then, be well."

The farmer returned his broad black hat to his head, tipping it politely to Gwenlyn then to Corwin as he left.

"Usually, Corwin, you would be punished for mentioning my affairs in public," his mother admonished. "But you've done well this time. Loraton will not suffer O'Craddock's revenge gladly, and he will come back to me to take further vengeance against O'Craddock. And so it will continue, with each one giving me his money to eradicate the other's holdings, until those two fools inevitably bring about each other's deaths. We stand to profit very well from their shared hatred, do we not?"

She dipped her gnarled black staff into the cauldron's seething contents and began to stir. "Put the bay leaves and the blue onion skin on the table, then go outside and entertain yourself until dinnertime. And whatever you do, you are not to go near this cauldron tonight. We stand to earn three-hundred gilders from this potion, and I'll not have you spoiling it. Be off with you now."

(Corwin no longer has the bay leaves and the blue onion skin. The change from the 30 Copper is Corwin's to keep...a pittance of an allowance.)


• • •



Sleep did not come easily for Corwin.

The damp, odorous straw offered dismal comfort, but such was commonplace. The true restlessness played out across the dreamscape in Corwin's mind. Breathing. Chaotic. Intangible. Burdening.

"Prey and predators," the giant shark leered from somewhere below. "All the world is prey and predators, Corwin. And I hunger. Will you be my prey?"

The shark rolled in the bloody water, which became bloodstained earth beneath it. And from the white shark's belly grew four legs, and fur from its prickly scales, and glowing yellow irises from pits of opal blackness. The shark became a great white wolf, which circled Corwin as a dark forest grew around them.

"Oh, but you hunger as well, do you not? Hunger for escape from your misery. Hunger for power. Hunger for revenge."

The wolf faded from sight. The forest circled around Corwin, bringing the cold, demeaning eyes of his mother before him. The wretched hovel--his home and hers--sprung from the earth behind her as she bared her wicked teeth and spoke.

"So why should you not be a predator as well? Inexperience? Fear? The comforts of the familiar? These are reasons for the weak, Corwin. Cast aside your weakness, your comfort, your fear. Destroy me and be made whole!"

The trees of the forest moved, sliding and drifting towards Corwin, and past him, wood and bark molding into the shapes of threatening pirates and ruffians milling about him. Mother warped and amassed into the imposing stature of a rogue sea captain, and the earth beneath Corwin's boots was swept away by a mighty, sudden wind to reveal the water-steeped planks of a foredeck beneath, the foredeck of a black ship bobbing and waggling through a dark, restless, storm-forged sea.

"Lead us, Corwin," the captain snarled as thunder rolled through the heavy skies and an army of sharks leaped snapping from the bleak ebon waters. "Come to Windwater! Join hands with our prey and lead us to more!"

Frightfully Corwin drew back as absolute darkness fell and the pirates swarmed about him in a tempest of flesh and bone, their eyes sinking and their faces rotting and falling from their skulls. Not long did Corwin endure the skeletal hands pulling him under the throng before the shock of the nightmare drove him back to the waking world.


• • •



The cold perspiration trickled from his skin's every inch as his writhing form straightened with a sudden alertness. Staring at the stark rafters of the ceiling as he recovered his breath, Corwin heard his mother's shallow snoring from the house above, that and the crackling of a fire burning low. All else was quiet and still; even the crickets in the forest kept silence, as if in fear of a colossal enemy wandering near them.


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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: The Devils of Tides   Wed Sep 09, 2009 7:42 pm

"Turnip stew... may I go raving if I ever have to eat that swill again. Meats what I need..." Corwins thoughts shifted back to the dream. Predator and Prey. For today at least a predator would be the prey.

(spells for today will be lv 1 Command, cure light wounds, lvl 0 purify food and drink, detect magic, create water, guidance, domain spell inflict light wounds

corwin is taking guidance from his dream, and is going to go looking for a wolf.
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: The Devils of Tides   Thu Sep 17, 2009 7:49 am

Taking up his trident, Corwin silently prodded open the cellar door and slipped outside into the night.

Corwin and his mother had known the local canine populations for quite some time, and the relations were often antagonistic. So Corwin had a fair idea of where the local hunting grounds for the wolves lay.





He was not long in searching. A stray roan-haired mare had wandered off the road to Boughbog earlier in the day, and the wolves had found her and brought her down. Two wolves remained at the horse's side, tearing strips of flesh from the cooling equine body and eating their fill.


(Corwin - Untrained Move Silently check (DC 15): Failure (14))
(Corwin loses the element of surprise.)



A loud "pop" struck the grove as Corwin approached. Looking down to his heel he saw that his steps had crushed the skull of a raccoon, one of the wolves' previous meals in the past winter. The two wolves looked up from their feast of horse flesh and laid eyes on the human approaching them, and for a moment the air was wracked with tension.

The wolves sniffed and snapped their jaws, then took their eyes from Corwin and returned to their meal. And the air fell back to a more easy state as Corwin deliberated on what to do.





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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: The Devils of Tides   Thu Sep 17, 2009 6:47 pm

Corwin will move over to the stump/tree next to him, pick up a rock (i'm assuming that there is one around) and chuck it at the wolves, then prepare for their arrival (readying trident)
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: The Devils of Tides   Tue Oct 06, 2009 7:39 am

(Sure there are rocks. That's the nice thing about using rocks as throwing weapons: as long as you're outdoors, your ammo is virtually unlimited. It almost makes up for the sucky damage. Wink )


Kneeling at the base of the tree to his side, Corwin pulled a fist-sized cobble out from under one of the roots and stood again. For several long seconds he gauged the weight of the rock, rolling it in his hand, tossing it up and catching it again. When he was satisfied that he could hurl it with some accuracy, he settled his weight onto his rearmost leg and whipped his arm at the nearest wolf, hurling the rock with bone-jarring force.


(Attack check waived. Wolf 2 takes 4 Damage from the rock.)



A distinct "Whump!" resounded as the cobble punched solidly into the ribs behind the wolf's shoulder. For a fleeting moment, the injured beast stared at nothing and bared its teeth quietly, stunned, unable to fully comprehend the sudden pain or the reason behind it. Corwin waited for the moment to pass, and he did not wait long; the wolf promptly opened its mouth to bite and leaped a half-circle, then raced at Corwin with a growing snarl and a fire in its eyes.





Corwin (Init 8 ) > Setting his trident against Wolf 2's charge
Wolf 2 (Init 7) > Charge attack on Corwin
Wolf 1 > Taking one last bite of horse....
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: The Devils of Tides   Tue Oct 06, 2009 8:39 pm

corwin will set to recieve charge
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: The Devils of Tides   Sun Oct 11, 2009 4:54 am

(Good one. And that was a quick reply...at least on the old CoHGuru forums, eh? Smile )


(Corwin - Setting his trident against the charging wolf (AC 14): Hit (20))
(Wolf 2 takes 20 Damage. Wolf 2 dies.)



The sight of the charging wolf was intimidating, but Corwin was well-prepared in mind and in armament. With fury the beast leaped, but no sooner had the wolf's paws left the earth than Corwin, acting without warning, weighed his heel into the earth and slammed the butt of his trident against it, swinging the barbed prongs into the predator's trajectory. A wet tearing noise, rivulets of blood splattering across Corwin's breast, and the weight of the twitching impaled beast bore down on the trident, bending the resolute wood of the shaft into a graceful arc.

The terrified yelping subsided as the other wolf sucked down a reaved strip of muscle. Its sense of caution primed by the disquieting death of its companion, the second beast circled around slowly, looking for its chance to leap in and tear down the slayer of its mate.





Wolf 1 (Init 13) > Moving in and biting Corwin
Corwin (Init 9) > Charging the wolf
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: The Devils of Tides   Tue Oct 13, 2009 1:29 am

corwin is charging the second wolf
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: The Devils of Tides   Wed Oct 21, 2009 7:24 am

(Unfortunately, the wolf goes first and moves into Corwin, denying him the minimum 10' expanse needed for a charge. Corwin's attack will convert to a standard attack instead.)


(Wolf 1 - Bite on Corwin (AC 9): Hit (15))
(Corwin takes 3 Damage)
(Having bitten Corwin, Wolf 1 makes a Trip attack as a free action...)
(Wolf's Strength check (DC 17): Failure (10). The wolf fails to trip Corwin.)
(Corwin's Strength check (DC 15): Failure (11). Corwin fails to counter-trip the wolf.)


(Corwin - Trident attack on Wolf 1 (AC 14): Hit (21))
(Wolf 1 takes 6 Damage)



Corwin readied his trident overhead in preparation before charging the wolf. Haplessly, the wolf was swifter, and Corwin yelped sharply as the beast darted in low and clamped its teeth around Corwin's calf. The searing pain intensified as the wolf reared on its hindquarters and strained to pull the man's leg out from under him, but the struggle was interrupted when Corwin's free leg swung into the beast's forelegs and rocked its footing in turn. The bite on Corwin's leg was eased, and he expressed his relief by plunging the prongs of his trident deeply into the small of the wolf's back.


Corwin (Init 4) > Domain power: Smite attack on Wolf 1
Wolf 1 (Init 2) > Biting Corwin again
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: The Devils of Tides   Wed Oct 21, 2009 9:19 pm

for simplicities sake in translating these my Corwin post content will be in "lime"

In addition so prevent page breaking and possible bandwith hogging i have/will spoiler all pictures.


corwin will use his smite for the day on the wolf and attack


(Corwin - Smite attack with his trident on Wolf 1 (AC 14): Hit (16))
(Wolf 1 takes 9 Damage. The wolf is now dying.)



At that moment, the guttural snarl which pealed from Corwin's throat sounded almost inhuman as the trident's barbed points descended. With brutal power the weapon staked the beast to the earth by its neck, and a choked, plaintive howl struck loudly enough to shake the leaves overhead. Corwin yanked his blood-slicked trident free from the wolf's flesh and surveyed his work with a degree of exhiliration...and satisfaction.


(Corwin has defeated both wolves. 600 Experience is awarded.)



And when the heavy breathing of a great, monstrous beast rose behind him, Corwin knew that he was not as alone as he had thought. With trident ready to lunge, he twisted at the waist to face the beast: a great white worg, looking past Corwin and surveying both of the kills with a firm degree of scrutiny.

And satisfaction.

"The killer has begun his awakening, I see," the white worg appraised, "but is he a predator yet? He strains at the leash which his mother holds, just as the townsfolk strain at the leash of their comforts. They know what powers the mother possesses yet will not cut the killer from his leash, for the mother threatens them not. You chose a rather direct way of calling to your benefactor, didn't you?"
"My lord reminded me that I have been remiss in performing my duties, and the wolves needed to remember that all is prey at one time or another." Corwin gestured breifly towards the bodies. "Now I don't know about you, but I'm hungry, would you care to join me for an early breakfast?"

"Regretably, I cannot tarry," answered the great worg as it circled closer to Corwin, "though the agreeable thing about lesser lords is that they keep closer eyes on each of their vassals. Even tin and lead would be prized were they rarer than gold. So attend my words with care."
Drawing near, the white beast's snout lapped at Corwin's wound as it passed. To the lad's unexpecting delight, he witnessed the wounds closing beneath the torn rents in his leggings, leaving only small scars to remind him of the encounter in later days. That tongue lashed through its maw and across the beast's lips, as if savoring what human blood it had tasted.

(Corwin has been healed of 3 Damage and returned to full Hit Points.)


The beast resumed its speech. "Very soon, craven Damaran may be roused to intervene and preserve a band of his devoted rogues and goblins from extinction at the hands of paladins. Soonafter, Ralishaz will personally take from his most devout priest a hand, a small price to pay for the fatal misfortune of a mighty rival. And later still, Doresain himself will guide his serpents into the nest where Wee Jas hatches her young followers, and he will hatch more serpents among them. Would the Devourer not take a spare moment to nudge a new owl from the nest and see if it spreads its wings?"
The white worg passed by the fallen wolves again as its path spiraled away. "Your mother concocts a bitter brew; she should guard it well, lest the fruit of her womb be more venomous than the potion she boils. Will the people of Boughbog continue to avoid the serpent in the woods, or will they finally heed their friend and come for her once they taste of her poison? Looking back, one might even conclude that the wayward broodling harnessed a feud and orchestrated the entire snake hunt to secure his own ends...a more sophisticated destroyer, yes?"

"The time approaches. Your mother's own hidden ambitions are at long last drawing near. If you do not leap forth and spread your wings, you will be trapped in the nest forever. Farewell, young one."


With that, the white worg abruptly turned from Corwin and raced away into the darkness, leaving Corwin alone once more. The remains of the wolves and the horse were stripped away as the great beast passed, leaving only bones which curiously held the marks of being vigorously chewed by the phantom teeth of a carnivore beyond space and time. And not a fleck of blood or a strip of gristle remained.


Well.. Corwin thought looking forlornly at the stripped carcasses I did offer him breakfast

Corwin will take from one of the bodies a leg bone
at any rate, corwin will return home, it wil only be a matter of time before mother wakes up, and I have a suprise for her


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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: The Devils of Tides   Wed Oct 21, 2009 9:32 pm

(The time is currently around a half-hour after midnight.)



The wolf's femur still felt warm as Corwin took it up in his hand and tucked it under his belt. Returning home, thoughts without number raced madly through his mind, plotting and anticipating.

Standing outside the front door of the dismal hovel, Corwin could still hear Mother's soft snores murmuring through glass, timber and stone. A light plume of gray smoke continued to rise slowly from the flue of the crude, blackened chimney. And the crickets remained silent.

(Though the front door has mounts for a bar, Mother always leaves the door unbarred. There is usually a fire in the hearth boiling some brew or another, and she leaves the door open so she can escape should the fire ever leave the hearth and spread to the rest of the house. The cellar door can be barred from the inside or the outside, though that door is never barred either...unless Corwin wishes otherwise.)



The dipper and the staff still remained near the fireplace in the center of the room, and the cauldron still whispered with the frothing, seething pink liquid. Several flat-bottomed flasks and vials stood on the table near the firepit, their corkwood stoppers resting beside them in expectation of the glasses being filled with various potions.

Beyond the wooden partition, down mumbled and straw crunched as Mother turned in her sleep. Leaves, roots and strips of dried flesh dangling from the low rafters trembled softly as the door opened, and the great earthen symbol of the Devourer over the pantry seemed to leer with glinting teeth as Corwin crept inside.

Corwin will scoop up a dipperfull of the "potion of madness" and decides he'd better check to make sure it's done...


the mothers of the villagers always said of their cooking that the had to taste it to tell if it was done... since mothers asleep, it would be a shame to wake her before she trys her brew...

he'll pour the dipperfull down her snoring, bitchy, demanding mouth, and cover it with a firm hand, it'd be a shame if she spit it out...


The potion held a peculiar scent not unlike split melons as Corwin ladled it from the cauldron and brought it to Mother's bed. The aroma met her nose as well, and she seemed to smile pleasantly as she turned again in her sleep. For half a minute Corwin feared that she might wake, but she relaxed and took to snoring again.

That was when he lunged and tipped the dipper, splashing the hot contents into her mouth and holding her lips closed. But then she stirred violently and pushed him away with a violent hand.

"Whhfff...Corwin! You! You..." Mother accused in a loud, waking tone, lunging at him and tumbling from her bed as the concentrated potion took hold. She began rolling about on the floor, tearing at her sheets and her bedclothes as she compulsively cackled like a madwoman. A cold sweat fell from her skin and her eyes flared, searing the ceiling with her sudden spell of lunacy.


well, since she said the watered down version of the potion would make the cattle run mad til they died of exaustion, i figure i have some time before it wears off. he'll grapple her (he's planning on locking her in the basement)


However potent her potion, Gwenlyn's sorcerous power and force of will were very strong, and she might have soon thrown off the potion's effects. Corwin knew this and acted quickly, falling on his mother with vehemence.




(Corwin and Gwenlyn automatically grapple with each other.)
(Corwin - Opposed grapple check: 20)
(Gwenlyn - Opposed grapple check: 22)



"...rrrrRRRRRBASTARD!" Gwenlyn screamed as she hoisted her son from the floor and hurled him against the edge of the partition, splintering the wood as he fell past. Corwin slumped to the floor but returned to his feet as his mother came at him again. Though the poison wore at her mind and her sanity, it would seem that in her madness she did not know her own strength.


(Corwin takes 3 Subdual Damage. He won't endure much more before he falls....)
(The potion's effects include a -5 penalty to Wisdom, a +2 bonus to Strength and a +2 bonus to Constitution, as Corwin has more or less figured out...that and the raging insanity, of course.)



"Bastard! Ungrateful...poppy seed eyes! Spit out our cloven hoof tongues! My life, defiled by his lecherous seed! By a grateless bastard! YeaarrrRRRRGH!!!"

Gwenlyn leaped at Corwin with hatred beyond reason burning in her eyes.


Spoiler:
 

Corwin (Init 13) > Hitting Gwenlyn with the dipper
Gwenlyn (Init 12) > Grab grab grab....


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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: The Devils of Tides   Wed Oct 21, 2009 9:39 pm

3 subdual? corwin should have at least 8 points left of subdual, at lvl 1 he should have 11 hp total, and he's perfectly healthy before his mom jumps him

You've lost your edge, feasting on the leavings of those filthy sheep in town... he'll club her with the dipper. My lord is not pleased

(That was my fancy way of saying "Two more solid hits like that and Corwin's down for the count". And then I'd have to come up with a reason why Gwenlyn wouldn't drown Corwin in the cauldron or turn him into a newt or do anything else which would pretty much demolish the prologue. She's pretty ticked off right now, but I'm sure you've noticed. Shall I bake you some fudge in case things don't go as planned? Razz )

(Also, Gametable: Now with beds and straw piles! Very Happy )



(Corwin - Big ladle attack (*snicker*) on Gwenlyn (AC 11): Hit (15))
(Gwenlyn takes 4 Subdual Damage.)

(Corwin - Attack of Opportunity on Gwenlyn (AC 11): Hit (11))
(Gwenlyn takes 5 Subdual Damage. Gwenlyn's grapple fails.)



Corwin raised the brass dipper and rang it loudly off his mother's cranium, but her maniacal rush was not abated. Yet she lunged too soon; with half a step back, Corwin allowed Mother to stumble to one knee and furiously battered her head and shoulders with the big ladle as she recovered her footing. Stressed from the violence, the ladle's handle began to bend and twist.

"BLEEERRRRRAAAAHHHHH!!!" she screeched, taking another vicious lunge at her son.


Spoiler:
 


Gwenlyn (Init 12) > Trying to save the cauldron
Corwin (Init 6) > Taking the cauldron


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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: The Devils of Tides   Wed Oct 21, 2009 9:47 pm

Thinking quickly, Corwin stormed over to the cauldron and lifted it from the fire. Mother was immediately upon him, and soon mother and son were locked in a tug-of-war, each yanking and wrenching the cauldron by its handles. Pink gouts and droplets sloshed around the cauldron's belly and splashed to the floor, and a score of oaths and curses were exchanged between the two.


(Corwin - Opposed Strength check: 20)
(Gwenlyn - Opposed Strength check: 18)



"Nooooooo!" Gwenlyn screamed as she lost her footing and stumbled to the floor, still holding her handle of the cauldron. Dragging both cauldron and mother, fifteen feet seemed as a mile as Corwin scooted backwards and heaved all the way to the door, nudging it open with a spare heel. Sensing immediate escape, he planted his foot in Gwenlyn's face and pushed her from the cauldron, jerking his leg away as she bit deeply into his leathered ankle.

The door thundered closed and the cauldron was slammed against it. "Hateful bastarrrrrrd!" his mother wailed from the other side, hammering the door loudly with enraged and demented fists. Lifting the dipper from the lip of the seething cauldron, Corwin realized that he hadn't yet had the chance to procure his own sample of potion amid the struggle.

((((who needs a sample? i have a cauldron full... we have to have a well or bucket or something

Corwin will get something heavy to block the door shut, after all, wouldn't want mommy dearest to wander off into the woods and hurt herself.

once that's done it's time to take a trip to town.
Corwin thought for a few moments on where to get a container for the potion. The hovel had no well; all of the household's water was drawn from a creek with the pail which was inside. And there were no cups or scoops or bowls to be found accessible to Corwin without returning inside to brave his mother's fury....

"The chamber pot!"

Leaving the cauldron for the moment, Corwin galloped to his wretched room in the cellar and returned half a minute later with a crude clay chamber pot in his hand. Pushing from his mind how he had used the chamber pot for most of his lifetime, he plunged the empty clay pot into the piping hot cauldron and extracted over a gallon of the horrible pink mixture.

"RRRRRRGGGHHH!!!"

The lunatic rage inside the hovel reached a crescendo as the black staff from the fireplace began breaking out the front windows. Clapping the lid firmly over his chamber pot, Corwin slowly rolled a heavy log to the door and braced the door shut, then took the warm covered pot in one hand and his trident in the other as he bolted away into the woods. A tangled mess of magic webbing spiraled from the shattered windows and uselessly ensnared the trees shortly behind him, a none too gentle way of informing him that he escaped not a moment too soon.


• • •


(Corwin - Untrained Move Silently check (DC Cool: Success (16))


The traveller's bazaar offered the most clandestine way of eluding the guards and entering the town unnoticed. And so Corwin did. Slipping into Boughbog was indeed quite easy.

But exactly where to go and what to do with his prize inside the chamber pot...that was the tricky part.

Spoiler:
 


I was thinking the town well, since the river would wash it away, and the Well is right next to the templ e of Wee Jas

Corwin shrewdly decided that the town well would be an optimal place to dump the potion of madness. Slinking through the shadow-heavy streets and timing his movements to elude the town guards, he soon found himself at the well's side. He acted quickly, emptying the entire chamber pot into the depths of the well and hearing the satisfying splash of one liquid colliding with the other. A translucent steam rose from the well's throat and a wicked hiss followed for a long minute after as the mind poison dispersed into the town's water supply.

Corwin knew that he could not remain by the well if he hoped for his plan to succeed. But he could not return home, either...not just yet.

ok, time to sneak back out of town then, it'll be more convincing if he comes rushing in to the gate guard from outside of town

As furtively as he had come, Corwin slipped out of the town. Boughbog was quiet, save for the clacking of plates and mugs at the taverns or the metallic scraping of steel against steel as the guards made their nocturnal patrols. Taking refuge atop a crag jutting from the lowlands to the east, he sat and watched the drifting stars, resting from his struggle with Mother and his return to Boughbog, and reeling with his expectations of what was to come.


• • •



And what was to come did come.

Pandemonium raged through the crude morning streets of Boughbog! Flames lashed from open windows! Merchant wagons were overturned and smashed with the instruments of violence, puddles of blood slicked the pavestones, people and animals lay injured or dying on every walk and every avenue! A riot had erupted on Mill Lane, and there a thin wall of town guards retreated to the main street, thrusting spears at the advancing throng of commoners who had seemed to transform into madmen as the sun rose.

Corwin's ears beheld the chaos from a half-mile off as he ventured to the North Gate once more, intent on witnessing the harvest of lunacy he had sowed. The woodcarver from Posey Lane stood on the roof of the Lucky Hart tavern, kicking out the chimney bricks with his bloodied and broken feet before tearing the chimney away and violently hefting almost two-hundred pounds of mortar and baked clay over his head.

"AH HA! AH HA HA HA HA HA HA HA..." he guffawed without the least lucidity as his heart ruptured somewhere within his breast. Shingles were ripped away from their moorings and hurled asunder as both woodcarver and chimney tumbled from the roof and lay broken on the street below.

Everything had gone along ideally with Corwin's plan. Soon, revenge--and the freedom it provided--would be his.


(Corwin's Evil actions have upheld his Alignment. 100 Experience is awarded.)



Though Norbitt was nowhere to be seen, Gaston and the ruddy plainsman Kant manned the gate, warding visitors away until order in Boughbog could be restored. With all the surprise that he could feign, Corwin greeted Gaston as the guard ran to him.

"Corwin! Corwin, stop! Whatever you do, do not go into the town! The entire town of Boughbog has gone wrathfully mad, and we have no certain notion as to why it has! Why is this happening? Who could have..."

Gaston focused on Corwin's grim gaze. And Corwin silently stared back, confirming the guard's innermost suspicion.

"...oh, no. Am I only now suspecting what you already know?"


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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: The Devils of Tides   Wed Oct 21, 2009 10:04 pm

I had hoped that i had prevented what she was trying to do... i awoke to a crashing and thrashing sound upstairs. when I went up, she was screaming and cackling about "getting even with sheep" or something like that... when I tried to help her to sleep, she went berserk and attacked me! I grabbed the only thing heavy enough to block the door, her cauldron. she tried to get a grip on it, but ourr cotage doesn't lock from the outside, and then, and then some spilled, and she shrieked something about me being a b.b.b.b.bbastard and then i locked the door and ran for help. I was chased and attacked by wolves back in the woods, and then.. i guess, i sortof passed out.... when i came to, I came here as fast as I could... we have to stop her from doing more harm, but...


Taking Corwin's testamony in, Gaston's eyes narrowed grimly. "It may not be too late, Corwin. Come with me."

Gaston turned and led Corwin hastily through the streets, evading the rampaging lunatics and striking away the ones who would trouble them. With a firm hand, Gaston moved to push open the door to the Gilded Lyre Inn, but the door resisted.

Knowing the cause, Gaston huffed and bit his lip, collecting his patience. "It's me. Gaston the guard. Let me in."

The door--or, rather, the fearful old innkeeper behind it--complied and granted entry to the guard and the troubled lad immediately behind him. Gaston wordlessly stormed into the inn's quaintly furnished tavern, where an itinerant band of adventurer types reclined at rest, though not at ease, awakened as they had been by the cacophony outside. The stoic paladin leaning into the corner on his stool, oiling the blade of his rapier without pausing for sustenance as his silvered icon of Heironeous dangled from the coat hook at his side. The disciplined and topknot-sporting gray elf dressed in the simple garments of a monk, partaking in a simple meal of fresh carrots and rye bread as his exotic ironwood nunchaku lay on the table near at hand. The red-bearded magician, perusing the contents of his leatherbound grimoire and sipping occasionally from his tin tankard of ale. The muscular wildwoman with white primal patterns fingerpainted across her face and along her bare arms, trying to keep the many beads and tassels of her mystic fetishes away from the boar stew before her. As one, the foursome greeted the guardsman with expectant gazes.

"Thank you for remaining here," Gaston addressed them, nudging Corwin forward with the heel of his hand. "Have any other guards reported back here yet?"

"None at all," the paladin replied as he leaned forward, bringing his stool back to rest on the floor with a resounding clunk.

"Then wait no longer. We now know the cause of this infestation of madness. Corwin?"

I think.. that this madness is my mothers fault... remember yesterday Gaston, when I was telling you and norbitt about that farmers fields and what she did to them? well, the farmer came to her last night and asked for something so he could get even, and she said somethign about making a potion of madness or something and putting it in the water and that anyone or anything that drank it would run amuck, I don't know if it was accidental or on purpose, but I think she was affected by the potion too, last night i woke up to hear crashing and thrashing


(corwin will relate the tale that he told Gaston)

I know that we should do something to make it so she can't hurt anyone anymore.. but she may be horrible, but she's still my mother.... I don't know what to do...


"Leave that to us," the wizard nodded. "She need not perish to face retribution for her crimes. It is fortunate that we had chosen to remain here for a spell, for now it seems we are most needed."

"Yes, though it is regretful that we of the town guard of Boughbog did not take action sooner and prevent this crisis," Gaston scowled. "Young Corwin here had given us warnings, but we took no action as we saw no threat. And now I see that we were fools. But I'll see if any other guards will join us, and perhaps our aid will atone for such horrible sloth."

"Do not bother," the paladin refused Gaston's offer as he rose from his seat. "The town guard will be too busy quelling the chaos in Boughbog, but our present party will surely rise to the task. You and Corwin may lead us to the Dark Witch of Ainsley Wood when you are ready."

color=lime]If I could have a moment to catch my breath, I ran most of the way here from home...

I'm afraid in my rush to get to town i didn't grab my pouch... could I trouble you for a drink?[/color]

(joining an adventuing party in a tavern.... how cliche'

(Well, where do you expect adventurers to relax between adventures? The graveyard? :p )



"Certainly," the paladin obliged. "Barkeep, I wish to buy this young man the best lager you have."

"Spare your coin," the bartender blurted as he drained a keg of lager behind him into a spare clay mug. "Just stop the madness before it spreads and ruins my tavern, 'tis all I ask."

Corwin gladly took the mug and began to gulp loudly. But the wildwoman, no longer content with silence, came to his side as he drank. "Your mother wields dark magic and cannot be trusted. Tell us, what powers does she have? What sorceries will we face when we go to drag her from her refuge?"

from what little i've seen, well.. mostly she would do potions and the like, with curses and the like thrown in as well.

I think the thing that set this off was i ha told norbert about a spell she had cast on o'craddocks fields, that made a cloud that killed plants and animals... I think she has some sort of dark communion with the wolves around here.. i think she said something about figureing out spells of the fifth circle of wizardry, and there's a strange symbol inside the house I was told to keep away from that i think she prayed to.

dipping a finger into the ale, Corwin will draw the devourer's symbol on the table.

does this mean anything to you?


"Well, Pasha? Esrazel?" the paladin inquired of the wildwoman first, then the wizard. "What of this symbol, then?"


(Pasha - Religion Knowledge check (DC 10): Success (16))



"I am no expert on the religions of civilization," Pasha explained, "but both my native hill-walker tribe and my druidic circle knew of the Devourer, a god of predators, of hunger, of famine. The Devourer is wicked and dangerous and is to be feared, as are his followers. And Corwin has drawn his sigil."

"...a blasphemous deity," the paladin glowered, woefully displeased with the revelation. "And we waste time here? While she summons her beasts and weaves spells of poison and madness? No more! Corwin! Finish your lager. You must lead us to your mother at once!"

Of course sir!

this way please!! (turning to the inkeeper,) tell gaston where we went, he knows the way I think

Corwin will quickly lead them near mothers.


Bringing three other guards with him despite Nigel the paladin's wishes, Gaston quickly rejoined the party not long after Corwin led them out of Boughbog. The clamor of the town being ravaged by maddened, destructive hands soon fell away behind them. Corwin led his new cohorts swiftly through the woodlands beyond the road, though Pasha--gifted with a seemingly preternatural feel for the lay of the land--seemed to almost know the way better than he did.

Before long, the trees parted to reveal the familiar hovel of timbers and stone. Inside, Mother's wails persisted in lower intensity. The potion's effects were surely diminishing.


[Corwin has two options here:]

• Let the guards and the adventurers handle everything (the speedy way).
or
• Join them and participate in the raid (the "roleplayey" Experience-friendly way).


wow, i'd a thunk she'd have passed out by now.. she really is a tough old bitch

on the one hand, i'd like to help them take her down, but on the other hand... to cast both 5th lvl wizard AND 5th lvl cleric spells.... she would need to be at least a lvl 9 wizard AND lvl 9 cleric


wow, she must have pissed the devourer off seriously for him to take the side of a lvl 1 cleric opposed to a lvl 9


corwin will wave them to stay back

corwin will sneak up to the window and peek in.


(Actually, I had her jotted down as a Level 9 Wizard/Level 5 Cleric; Animate Dead is a 5th Level spell for wizards but is only a 3rd Level spell for clerics. Apologies for any previous misinformation. She still casts a mean Cloudkill, though. And some of her spells can be chalked up to her magic items, too. But seeing as it was allegations of dark witchcraft which got her kicked out of the Ainsley Manor household in the first place--followed with her reasoning that "If they're going to treat me like a monster, I may as well act like one"--the Wizard class is where she got her start. The Cleric class came later (and a white worg may or may not have had something to do with that). Hey, she had to provide for her illegitimate brat somehow.... Wink )

(And it so happens that the Devourer takes no greater delight than seeing a mother creature devoured by her own brood; Mother Nature's little betrayals are so delicious. It could also be that Corwin apparently has more promise as a cleric of the Devourer than Gwenlyn ever did, and the Devourer is simply enforcing Darwinian law. :p )



Lifting himself to the windowsill, Corwin peered inside and took a grim satisfaction. Mother's bed lay tipped on its side, its bedsheets ripped, dragged from the mattress and hurled across the floor. The floor of the hovel was also clad in a layer of broken glass and shattered pottery, and Mother's skin bled from several places as she rolled wildly around in the flesh-tearing shards, wailing and screaming at the ceiling. Her energy spent, she simply could not find the strength to rise from the floor even during brief moments where she recognized her own injuries and pain.

Vomit streaked the front of her simple gown and collected in small puddles here and there throughout the house. The cauldron and the log still braced the front door closed, though the pink potion of madness had since gone cold.

just to save time.... i'll go back to the NPC's and fill them in on her condition, then... being a first lvl cleric of a god that they don't like, i'll keep an eye through the windown while they take care of business


take it away NPC's


(No braining Mom with something heavy while the good guys have her occupied, then? Smile )

well... now that you mention it... while she's busy taking care of them....

BONK!!!!
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: The Devils of Tides   Wed Oct 21, 2009 10:34 pm

Sir Nigel and Ki-Kiro quickly heaved the timber and the cauldron aside to access the front door to the hovel. The grass seemed to curl and blacken where the potion splashed from the tumbling cauldron as the raiding party barged in. As soon as she was clear of the doorway, Pasha's body towered and broadened, warping its features and sprouting black fur until Pasha'a metamorphosis into a black bear was complete. In her addle-minded state, Gwenlyn was little match for the intruders. But she resisted with every ounce of vigor and every craven tactic she could muster.

The bear was hurled against the far wall with a blinding flash and an unseen force. Sir Nigel's mace was denied its strike as the dark witch lunged screaming under his weapon and seized him at the jaw, but worse was promptly realized; Gwenlyn's vampiric touch leeched deeply into the paladin's body, bringing him to his knees. Ki-Kiro tumbled into a leaping crescent kick which lifted their foe from her feet and struck her away, but the monk too fell prey to the vampiric drain as he returned to earth at Gwenlyn's grasp.

"...friends..." the monk gasped, "...please help...."

[SIZE="5"]THWOCK![/SIZE] The loud report of oakwood impacting solidly against bone split the air. The Dark Witch of the Ainsley Woods released her prey as she tumbled into stupor and flopped limply across the floor. Behind where she had stood a moment past, Corwin set the wooden stool back on the floor with a content grin spreading across his face.

After so many years of living wretchedly, sleeping poorly and toiling beneath Mother's roof, Corwin's freedom was close at hand.


(Corwin has succeeded in turning against his mother, and his machinations have earned his freedom. 500 Experience is awarded.)


• • •



"Remember," Esrazel advised, "Corwin asked that we not kill her."

"But Boughbog merely has stocks and a pillory, no prison," Gaston frowned. "We have no place to keep this cruel witch imprisoned, unless we drag her all the way to Bereghel's Green. And they will refuse to imprison her unless she is first subjected to a trial before one of their magistrates. And if I know those magistrates by reputation, they will release her if they themselves have heard nothing of her reputation...slothful fools of judges...."

"The cellar."

All eyes in the room--save for those of Sir Nigel, too busy shuffling through Gwenlyn's belongings for any sign of infernal taint--turned to Corwin, attracted by his words. "Could you repeat that, Corwin?" Gaston asked.

"The cellar beneath the house. Mother used to lock me down there whenever I misbehaved...for hours, for days, however long she saw fit. And no matter how I tried in all those years, I could never force my way out once Mother barred and locked the door from the outside."

Silence prevailed for a moment after. Even world-weary Pasha was given pause for thought. "My word, how cruel. Were it not for your wishes, young Corwin, I would have a mind to tear her head from her shoulders."

"...and I would not allow it," Sir Nigel shot back, dragging Gwenlyn's redwood trunk into the center of the room. Leaving the trunk where it sat, the paladin cupped Esrazel's hand and dropped something small into it.

"Tell us what this is, wizard."

Esrazel peered heavily at the silver-capped ring in his hand. "Why, it is a signet ring...one belonging to Bardosylvania's noble family, House Ainsley. So the witch has stolen from nobility along with however many other crimes."

"And what if the ring were not stolen at all?" Sir Nigel inquired as he paced quickly behind the stout wooden partition, returning seconds later with a large, black-swaddled frame in his arms. "The House of Ainsley has more than their share of black sheep, bastard offspring and skeletons in their closets. She could be one such lost soul who parted ways with the Ainsley residence for any reason. As Corwin testified, the witch Gwenlyn has lived in these woodlands for twenty years or more, and she had stowed a great number of gathered belongings in that time. And I found this family portrait among them, beneath her bed."

The black cloth was then drawn slowly from the finely detailed sepia-toned artwork, punctuating Sir Nigel's point most clearly.


Spoiler:
 


"Corwin," old Gaston began to ask ere the failure of his tongue, "you are...your mother...you?"

Even had the guard composed his question, Corwin would have had no answer in those unsettled moments. 'How many other secrets had Mother kept from me over so many years?' Corwin gravely pondered in his heart of hearts.

"Even were it not for Corwin's heartfelt request," the paladin continued as all other tongues with him were struck dumb with revelation, "I'll wager that we would all hang by our necks if we murdered one of noble blood...yes, even if she is responsible for so much death and ruin in Boughbog. The privileges of the ruling class endure even in these harsh times."

"...at least among those who honor such privilege," the barbarian druid snorted.

"But who would know?" posed Esrazel. "We stand here in the dark heart of the Ainsley Wood! As brutal as Lord Borogon is, he could never punish his sister's killers if the crime never reached...his ears...."

The wizard timidly fell silent under Sir Nigel's disapproving stare. "You speak of perpetrating a wicked task, Esrazel. Pray speak of it no more."

Gaston and Corwin exchanged thoughtful eyes before the old guard spoke on Corwin's behalf. "The town guard...we would be honored to attend to Lady Gwenlyn's needs during her imprisonment here, once I arrange this matter with our captain. For the safety of our people, she shall not be released, nor shall she perish before her time. But what length of imprisonment would befit her crimes?"

"Nothing less than captivity and isolation for the rest of her days," pronounced the paladin. "Let her take so much time to atone with the gods and beseech their forgiveness. We shall prepare the cellar at once."

Teetering on the verge of consciousness, Gwenlyn's eyes had drifted open during Sir Nigel's speech. [SIZE="1"]"...Corwin,"[/SIZE] she weakly begged of her son, [SIZE="1"]"why is my picture here? Hide it. You must not see it. No one must...."[/SIZE]

Gwenlyn slipped into her mental elysium again as Sir Nigel and the guards ventured outside and went below into the cellar. Corwin suddenly felt something cool and smooth with a rough countenance slip into his hand...his mother's signet ring, placed furtively in his hand as the wizard drifted past him.

"By birthright, the ring is yours. I shall lay claim to all of your mother's arcane trappings, by your leave. Perhaps I and the Radiant Conclave of Stellos can put them to uses far more lawful or benevolent than any intentions your mother ever bore."

Esrazel leaned the family portrait against the partition and pored over its every detail as Ki-Kiro examined Pasha's wounds. For the moment, even among others, Corwin was alone.


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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: The Devils of Tides   Wed Oct 21, 2009 10:46 pm

mother was a noble?!?!? corwin thought. She was a noble and lived in this shithole of a town, acting the part of a common hedgewizard..

for a moment, corwin thought that slitting her throat right then and there might be worth the paladin's disapproval and being brought before the magistrate


well, at least i know one thing they don't... where mother hid the cash box


"All other of Gwenlyn's possessions should be Corwin's inheritance," Pasha declared, a thin layer of coarse body hair still blanketing her skin even though she had reverted to her native half-elf form. "It might be some reward for having suffered under her hand for so many years."

The wizard concurred, turning to leave as he closed Gwenlyn's book of spells and returned it to its satchel. "It is well. I have claimed her arcane trappings, and may they be put to no further malevolence. As soon as you and Ki-Kiro are ready, we shall bring the witch down to the cellar."

Corwin retreated behind the partition as the adventurers conferred with each other. Pulling up a particular loose floor plank beneath Mother's bed, Corwin grasped the hidden strongbox by a handle and pulled it up from its hole. Mother kept the key to her sturdy tin strongbox on a hook behind her bed, Corwin knew, and the moisture-tarnished box bared its contents to him moments later.


(...and that's pretty much how Corwin got most of his fat cash bonus during character creation. Also in the box is an arcane scroll of Eyebite, and curled around the scroll is a parchment on which Gwenlyn scribbled her notes during her attempts to decipher and comprehend the scroll's contents. She apparently was attempting to incorporate the Eyebite spell into her spellbook but--though she made a modicum of progress--wasn't ever successful in doing so (OOC, because Eyebite's a 6th Level spell, and she couldn't figure out 6th Level spells just yet). The scroll still has value for anyone who can cast arcane spells directly from scrolls, of course. Even if Esrazel is taking Gwenlyn's spellbook and components, he hasn't yet learned of the scroll's existence...and there's really no need to tell him, is there?)

(A silvered masterwork dagger, a simple gnarled ashwood wand (labeled "Expended Autumn 1306", probably meaning that whatever magic the wand once possessed has since been wholly depleted) and two potions lie atop the coins in the strongbox, and Gwenlyn was thoughtful enough to label the bottles for her own convenience: a Potion of Spider Climbing and a Potion of Cure Moderate Wounds. The Spider Climb potion is stoppered in a simple green glass bottle, but the Cure potion's bottle is crafted from ground crystal etched with arcane symbols, with the creator's wax seal stamped on the cork stopper; such features would surely give the bottle itself more value as a treasure as long as the bottle isn't cracked or shattered. Sadly, Corwin lacks the Appraise skill needed to recognize the seal and determine whom the brewer and crystalworker may have been. Additionally, Corwin also finds buried in the bottom of the treasure box two silver rings sized for a woman smaller or younger than Gwenlyn presently is--one of them set with an octagonal black onyx, the other plain--and a small tiara of high-quality copper studded with three garnets, with an etched floral pattern inlaid with silver running the length of the tiara's band; the inside of the copper band is simply engraved "Gwenlyn, 10th Birthday. A joyful life to you always. --Mother".)

(Corwin can lay claim to any of these items, including the strongbox and the family portrait. Unfortunately, Corwin cannot claim any of Gwenlyn's other potions or chemicals--including her vials of antitoxin--as these were all destroyed during her berserk rampage. And Gwenlyn's silver unholy symbol of the Devourer is presently on her belt in plain view of the adventurers; simply walking up and taking it could lead to all sorts of uncomfortable questions.)


(So Corwin gets a Scroll of Eyebite, Gwenlyn's notes on the Eyebite scroll, a silvered masterwork dagger, a burnt-out ashwood wand, a Potion of Spider Climb, a Potion of Cure Moderate Wounds in a crystal bottle with the creator's seal, a silver ring set with an octagonal black onyx, a plain silver ring and an engraved copper tiara studded with three garnets, as well as the family portrait and the strongbox. Will that be all? Very Happy )



With care, Pasha unbuckled Gwenlyn's belt and took the silver Devourer symbol. "Nigel will surely judge it to be a profane thing," the druid grimaced, "and it shall be destroyed. Perhaps the metal can be reworked into something of redeeming value."

"Perhaps," Esrazel offered as he took Gwenlyn by the ankles. "Let us bear her to the cellar, then, when both of you are ready."


• • •



The adventurers and the guards, content to see their skirmish won and their deed accomplished, turned from the hovel and returned to Boughbog in search of further duty or adventure, wishing Corwin well as they departed.

The two heavy beams each lay fixed across the cellar door. In a brief errand had Gaston and Reed procured locks and woodworking tools from Boughbog, and four heavy brass locks secured the beams in place at either end. A crude slot just large enough for food and chamber pots had been hacked and shaved through the bottom of the door, Gwenlyn's only contact with the unwelcoming world outside. Scant hours into her imprisonment had already cast her into despair.

"Corwin," she croaked through the door, still shaking off the madness potion's grip on her mind, "why have you done this to me? Am I not your mother? Why did you do this, Corwin? Why?"

For the moment, Corwin was content to keep his silence, smiling in cruel contentment.

Fighting back the sobs of regret, Gwenlyn continued. "I know that relations between us have not always been good, and I am far from an ideal mother. Perhaps I always blamed you and your father for razing my days of comfort and majesty and driving me from my own home into this lowly way of life. But we can be a family, Corwin! Life between us will grow better!"

"You were nobility, Mother. At any time you could have released both of us from this despicable hovel and this disgusting forest...."

"No, Corwin," Mother protested, "I could not. It's...not that simple. I cannot go home again. But perhaps you can, Corwin. You must go. Go to Ainsley Manor! Inform Lord Borogon what has befallen me, and he will surely ride down here with a small army to liberate me and avenge his sister against these townsfolk! Boughbog will suffer greatly for this...inso...lence...no."

Guarding her own words, her voice took an unmistakably fearful tone. "No, do not do that. Borogon is a monster. I do not wish to face him again. Please, Corwin, release me! All will be as it was again...no, better than it was! That I can promise you. We will not need to live in this decrepit house anymore. We can accompish anything you desire, as mother and son! I only ask that you break the doors open and release me from this torment, I beseech you!"

"Now mommy dearest.. why would I do that? after I went to all the trouble to make sure that those heroes would leave you alive to contemplate your sins?" I find it highly appropriate that you'll spend the remainder of your days in the fate you set for me, powerless, locked in the filthy life you chose for me.

I for one look forward to seeing more of this world, Maybe I'll even stop by and see how my dear uncle Borogon is doing, just to let him know how his sister fares.

Now as for one last piece of information you've been holding out, since most of your lies are already undone, it shouldn't cost you too dearly to provide it. If you let me know who my father is, then I won't have to melt down this pretty tiara I've found for the copper to bribe it out of someone.


For one long moment, a heavy, forboding silence was Corwin's only answer. A silence which died with a refusal.

"No."

Corwin spun the tiara around his fingers wistfully. The voice beyond the door detailed the answer further.

"You could threaten to destroy everything I own...burn this home to the stonework...drag my broken body through from Ainsley Manor's courtyard to the streets of Dark Grove Hollow and you would still ask for too much. Knowledge can be dangerous, and your father's identity is one of the most dangerous insights I know. And I have known many insights."

The unsatisfied grimace which crossed Corwin's visage soured further.

"To this hour I am utterly convinced that you and your father are the reasons why I was banished from the court, and for a cause most justified. I left Ainsley Manor, sent into the wood at my father's demand...dark witchcraft was Father's reason, yes, but that was not the reason, for my dabblings in magery had been benign until that day. And so I left the family, and five months later you were born. Take from that what you will.

"It was in those five months that the Devourer came to me, if you ever wondered. The great wolf sensed my anger, my hunger for revenge against your father. He offered me the means to take back what was mine if I would only serve him. And as much as I still love your father for what he is to me, I cannot help but hate him for what he did, infecting me with his seed and manipulating Father into casting me down from our noble House. And so I accepted the Devourer's bargain. And when the time came for you to be born, I was to leave you in the forest for the great white wolf to devour, so that my pact with the Devourer would be complete.

"But I could not do it. I cared for you and reared you as well as I could. And the Devourer was displeased with me. But he was not wrathful. And I could sense that he bore no ill will for you--his prize denied--even as you came of age. I even sensed an air of dark hope or concern for you on those rare occasions when he answered my prayers."

A world-weary sign fell deeply from her lungs. "But from then onward, I was content to leave your father in the past, one bad memory among all the unpleasant memories of my upbringing. And I advise that you do not stir up any old ghosts as well. Were your father's identity to be known to any besides him and me, great turmoil would emerge. I would be finished. You would be finished. He would be ruined. And the House of Ainsley could well be torn in twain. If you are in any way wise, Corwin, then you will pursue your father's name no further than you have inquired here. And may the eternal darkness take us all ere your father's name should ever be known to you."

Well, don't sound so sad, you brought this upon yourself. I'm sure that after living down in that stinking cellar for a few years you'll realise that you should have obeyed my lord's demand.


As for me, I'm leaving. hopefully I'll never see you again, but If I'm in this neck of the woods again, I'll be sure to drop by, just to see how you're doing. Who knows, the sheep who will tend you may treat you better than you treated me.

corwin will leave to go pack for a journey... a journey to the ocean/sea whatever it's called. before he goes he'll do some purchasing in town to get some of his gear that he'll need (his armor and such)




Where does Corwin's path go from here? There are two major seaports in the region, each with its share of training and promises of adventure:

The Varstag Privateer Yards of Konegheim
These shipyards build and dock ships for the Empire, for private traders and for lawful privateers in service to either faction. Employment in the service of shipwrights is always available, and pirate hunters are always seeking crewmen to man their vessels. The mariner training offered through the Navy of Konegheim's fortification here is superb, but persistent rumblings complain that the profits for merchants and privateers working out of the Varstag Yards are heavily taxed by the Duchy of Konegheim and the pay which trickles down to the workers is hence more meager, even for the mariners who must routinely place themselves in mortal peril.

--or--

Windwater in Nellowswann
Seven merchant princes compete for the largest slice of Windwater's pie, and the sailors who work for these shipping companies can expect to be paid very handsomely. Mariners are always in demand to defend the merchant ships from pirates, and mariner training is offered as freely here as it is in the Varstag Yards, even in the absence of a military garrison. There is no end of work for deckhands and roustabouts, of course, and the captains galavant restlessly around the world in their endless pursuits of the next most lucrative commodity. But the lack of loyalty or reliability among such mercenary folk is the largest thorn in Windwater's rose.
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: The Devils of Tides   Thu Oct 22, 2009 12:44 am

Konegheim it is (for the time being, the training is better there, and what better way for the wolf in sheeps clothing to go than to learn what he can from the konegheims, and then after learning their tactics, go to Windwater and use it against them?)

(Only rolling five random encounter checks here: 55, 60, 67, 25, 76. No random encounters.)

(Corwin now has all of his beginning equipment except for the treasure map, as well as any extra items he has gathered from the prologue thus far.)



What strode out of the First Smithy of Boughbog that evening was little like the young man who had walked in that morning.

His new suit of half-plate weighed heavy on his shoulders yet bid him to stand taller and stronger than he ever had, so mighty was his newfound esteem. The shield he bore was taller than the gnomes who had expertly forged it. Confident that he was then suitably armed and armored for the road ahead, he bid his farewells to Gaston and the guardsmen of Boughbog, then turned north and set off to seek his way in the world and to earn his fortunes wherever they lay.

For five days Corwin traversed the land by foot or by hired coach, treating himself to whatever comforts took his fancy, a belated measure of compensation for the wretched years before. He was not by any means at peace with himself in his heart of hearts; there were too many old ghosts, too many lashes and rebukes. And the mystery of his father remained despite the most menacing demands and threats leveled at his mother's heart. That he was confirmed a blood relative of the reviled Lord Borogon of Bardosylvania was another matter to be grappled another time.

If nothing else, Corwin at long last had a surname, a piece of invaluable identity which had been denied him for so long.

The earth aside the road was draped with coarse sand and rankly odored old sea scum from the last autumn flood as he paid the coachman his silvers and stepped down from the humble carriage. The Varstag Privateer Yards were even busier than he had anticipated from hearsay alone. Hearty sailors and skirmish-scarred mariners milled from tavern to tavern, sharing boastful stories or launching into drunken confrontations. Strutting along streets and leaning from brothel windows, harlots posed and called for their attentions, going silent only at the approaches of the occasional pair of watchful guards. Gruff longshoremen moored ships with hooks and ropes as shipwrights crawled aboard, leading great lengths of lumber behind them. Not far from where he stood, the commoners' bazaar rang with chimes and thundered with hundreds of voices as fish cooks, ironsmiths and many other peddlers hawked their wares. In sharp contrast to the grunge and the din, three gaily garbed actors sauntered from the Black Bag Inn, downing bottles of good red wine as they exchanged insights over their roles in the town theater's coming play.

For all those people, Corwin could not feel more alone, and for the longest minute of his life he pondered where in the manic naval town he should next explore.


Spoiler:
 

well, the whole idea of this side trip is to basically learn lvl 1 fighter, and learn as much of the tactics and strategies of these people when fighting (to use it against them)

he'll head for the naval garrison to look for work.


For being a seaport, the streets of the Varstag Yards were unusually clean and well-kept. What else would one expect from a port which bore the presence and direct attentions of Konegheim's military?

Seeing a quartet of the duchy's sailors armed with brooms and long-handled brushes, Corwin approached to ask directions. The sailors were rather surly and curt of tongue; clearly they had been assigned their street-sweeping duties as a punitive action for some minor crimes committed among their duties. With a few terse insults and slights of character exchanged, Corwin abruptly parted ways with the sailors, who remained unaware that they had inadvertently given Corwin what information he had needed in the first place.

Across a small moat brimming with stagnant salt water stood the fort he sought, its great doors wide open, its archway sporting a granite bas relief of the Navy's seal. Even outside the fort, Corwin heard the outer walls sing with the clamor of mock battle. Mariner training was in session.

But such training was not free, as Corwin soon learned. A line of aspiring mariners formed from the desks where two dapper lieutenants sat with quills and coffers at hand, their blue waistcoats and gold-fibered epaulets lending them a remarkable air of authority in contrast to the milling lines of waiting riff-raff.

A broad wooden placard which stood beside the lieutenant to Corwin's left demanded, "Sailors and mariners needed. Enlist with the Navy of Konegheim here!"; beside the opposite lieutenant stood another placard which proclaimed, "Sign for citizen mariner training here! Two months of training: 50 Gilders."

That lieutenant patiently explained to the lanky, ponytailed man before the desk that 50 Gold would need to be paid before the Navy would agree to include him in their mariner training. Apparently the would-be mariner had never learned to read. At least Corwin's mother had given him that much.

"You, there!" a forceful voice boomed at Corwin's side. "You have the look of a stout-bodied and determined young man. What is your name?"

Corwin turned to face the tall gentleman addressing him, a man whose white and noble manner of dress--white tri-cornered hat, white waistcoat with blue trim, white leggings and cuffed black boots of meticulously shined ox leather--spoke volumes about his prosperity and prominence as a sea captain.

"My name?"

"Yes, yours...though I suppose introductions are in order. I am Captain Smythe Oswald Stillwell of the Saint Alarice, and though I was once an officer in Konegheim's proud Navy, I retired to become a privateer for the Empire. These fine officers have agreed to allow me to find shiphands here in light of my esteemed history of service. So...either you can pay the Navy your 50 coins to become a mariner here, or you can work aboard the Saint Alarice as we make our way around the continent, through the Lamian Strait and then to the port towns of Al Berik, Port Jahalio, Windwater, Meerheim and Visu Meris. We shall be at sea for a mite over six weeks, and I and my chief mariner shall personally train you and other newcomers in the martial trade of a mariner. You shall receive a bunk and food, and during your work aboard the Saint Alarice you will learn firsthand how to work and live aboard a sailing ship. Will you be joining my crew for six weeks, then?"

(Corwin's options here:)

• Enlist with the Navy as a mariner. Corwin will receive 50 Gold (to represent the money he saved by not paying gold for mariner training) and three blue-white-and-yellow Navy uniforms (equal to traveler's outfits) but will be bound by contract to remain a mariner with the Navy for no fewer than two years of service. He may continue his service to the Devourer on the sly (since, being a Lawful sort, he knows how to play by the Navy's rules and avoid scrutiny), and he will gain all of his Fighter and Cleric levels by the end of his service. It may not be the most desirable option for Corwin's tastes, but it's open.

• Pay for the Navy's mariner training. Corwin will train for about 20 hours a week for two months and will walk away with his level in the Fighter class.

• Join Captain Stillwell's crew. Corwin will gain 50 Gold (again, the "inheritance" money saved by not paying gold for mariner training), work continuously aboard the Saint Alarice for six weeks, may debark in Windwater if he wishes and will gain his level in the Fighter class. Any pirates or other seaborne enemies encountered by the Saint Alarice will provide opportunity for Experience gains as well.


I'll take door number three

"Then welcome aboard," smiled Captain Stillwell. "So what might your name be, then?"

"Corwin," the aspirant mariner offered. "Corwin Ainsley."

"Ah, a stately name if I ever heard one. Perhaps onboard the Saint Alarice you may prove your family proud. The Saint Alarice is anchored in the bay, but a dingy with my men is moored at Maple Dock. Be there within the hour and I shall meet you then."


• • •




(Corwin gains 50 Gold.)
(Corwin is now treated as a Level 1 Fighter / Level 1 Cleric with 20 Hit Points.)



"Do you truly intend to continue wearing that heavy armor asea, Corwin?"

The past four weeks had passed in grueling days and sleepless nights. Though Mariner Chief Logor was an unyielding and heavy-handed trainer, he was what his duties demanded. And he had made this reason clear to his charges, for were he not relentless in training his mariners, the merciless pirates who crossed blades with them would surely cut them down like stiff reeds before the gale.

And he did not favor Corwin's choice of protective wear.

Looking one way and the other to his fellow mariners, lads and lasses all clad in colorful cloths and tough leathers--as he had always done when confronted thus--Corwin shrugged halfheartedly in reply. "Yes. And no pirate's bolt or blade will ever take my life, I'll wager."

"Perhaps not," Logor snapped, "but the sea herself just may one day. Pray watch your step when crossing ships lest you sink to the ocean's heart and never come up for air."

Captain Stillwell stood on the aftdeck of the Saint Alarice, holding his broad hat level against the evening sea breeze. He always kept his hair cropped close to the scalp; himself a mariner in times past, he knew the value of keeping one's hair shortly shorn in a profession which frequently placed one at close quarters with mortal foes who were never too good for hair-pulling and other dirty tactics.

"Full sails," the captain suddenly ordered as he tasted the wind. "Foremast and rudder, bear ten degrees starboard."

"Bear ten degrees starboard!" bellowed First Mate Licanely as he gave the rudder wheel a narrow, steady turn. On the horizon to the north, Corwin could see the rosy sands of Lebeq against the red evening sky. Sparse clouds sat lazily in the sky, portents to fine weather come the next day.

But the serenity would not last forever.

From the crow's nest came a shrill whistle. Once certain that she had Captain Stillwell's attention, Sailor Jane Blithe called down to him. "Captain! Vessel sighted at half a mile, twenty degrees off the port bow!"

"And what, then? Pirates, merchants or elsewise?"

Sailor Blithe turned her eyes towards Lebeq's shores again before returning with an uncertainty. "I cannot tell. They sail no flags, Captain."

"Very well. Rudder and sails, change course ten degrees port. Steady as she goes."

"Bear ten degrees port and steady 'er good!" barked Licanely to the sailors manning the riggings. Sails and yardarms swung into place, and ropes were forcefully lashed to the gunwales. The nose of the Saint Alarice swung back to a near-perfect parallel with her current latitude, picking up speed as her sails fully bore the wind.

The dark sailing ship to the port bow drew nearer and nearer. Leaning on the port gunwales, Corwin and the rest of the mariners watched as the other ship's crew came to their vessel's starboard gunwales, silently facing them across the expanse. But that silence gave way to shaking fists, shouted taunts and howls of defiance as the black flag rose on the aftmast.

"Skull and crossbones!" yelled Blithe from above. "They be pirates, Captain!"

From the closing distance, the black letters of the name emblazoned over the stern quarters grew legible. The Devil's Hangman began to fold her sails, reducing her speed and allowing the Saint Alarice to close the gap betwixt the two sailing ships.

What was their game?

"Mariners! Ready crossbows!" Captain Stillwell commanded loudly from the aftdeck. "Ballista! Prepare mooring line and prepare to strike amidship!"

Mariner Oraci loaded the tethered harpoon onto the ballista before busying himself with the windlass. Mariner Tamera disappeared below deck; moments later she emerged halfway from the hatch with light crossbows and bands of bolts ladening her arms, bidding her fellow mariners to arm themselves. As other mariners darted past him, Corwin weighed his dependable trident in his hands, wondering if he should take up a crossbow as well.

"Now we may see how well you new mariners have taken to your training!" Logor shouted above the din as he took to the gunwales and nocked his crossbow. "And do try not to fall overboard, young Corwin."




The battle is joined!

The Saint Alarice versus the Devil's Hangman


Spoiler:
 
Wind: East-by-Southeast at 18 knots


Captain Smythe Stillwell
Mariner Chief Logor
Privateer Sailors
Privateer Mariners

Captain Hethakan Sharper
Pirates



Captain Smythe Stillwell (Init 20) > Ordering ship fifteen degrees port
Privateers (Init 17) > If not manning sails or rudder, attacking with crossbows or harpooning the Devil's Hangman with the ballista.
Corwin (Init 9) > Taking cover and waiting.
Captain Hethakan Sharper (Init Cool > Ordering ship thirty degrees starboard and reduce sails to 10 knots
Pirates (Init 6) > If not manning sails or rudder, readying light crossbows and shortbows and firing on targets of opportunity


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