Twenty minutes later, Helena was knocking on the door of a small, upper story apartment located above a tavern in the Dockway district, along the shore of the Varisian Gulf. It was well past two in the morning, and the exhaustion of having been awake for over a day, combined with the activity of the last twenty-four hours, was starting to settle in. I blinked back fatigue, forcing myself to stay awake and alert; Gallahad’s guards were still looking for us, although it had been fairly easy to avoid them in the darkness. The Hellknights, on the other hand, once they got involved…
Helena rapped on the door again, and we heard shuffling on the other side. “This had better be good, Dris,” came an irritable, drowsy voice from within as we heard locks being unshuttered. “I told you, I’m not helping you clean up some gods-forsaken mess that they made downstairs–”
The door opened, and Zelia cut off abruptly as she and Helena stared at each other for a moment. “By the gods – Lena?” Zelia said, flinging the door open wide.
“Zellie!” Helena gasped, her face splitting into a smile for the first time since I’d seen her that night. I glanced down at the street as the two girls embraced, Zelia nearly knocking Helena over in the process.
“It’s really you!” the half-elf cried once they finally pulled apart. She was holding Helena by the shoulders, looking her up and down with a grin. “You put on some weight – it looks good on you!”
“I missed you, Zellie,” Helena said, smiling fondly at her friend. Continue reading
It was a dizzying sensation, if you weren’t used to it, although I was – Bill, Xander, even Osanna and Naru had used teleportation magic enough times in our travels together that the feeling was almost second nature to me now. But I remembered the first few times we had traveled like this, and how unpleasant the after effects were – like being seasick, hungover, and having the flu all at once. “Take a few deep breaths,” I said as Helena doubled over next to me in the alleyway, gagging. “The sensation will pass pretty quickly.”
“What – what was –” she gasped, reaching out with one arm to steady herself against a nearby building.
“Dimension Door,” I replied. “Short range teleportation. I’m sorry I didn’t give you more warning.”
I could see her shaking slightly, and reached out to place a hand gently on her shoulder, but she pulled away from me, avoiding my gaze. I stared at her for a moment, feeling a mixture of hurt and anger and sadness – at her and at myself – before turning away. Continue reading
The trip to Mordecai Gallahad’s estate – directions provided by Balthazar before I left his study some ten minutes ago – was brief. Being a member of the Council of Ushers like Balthazar made him one of Magnimar’s upperclass – as close to nobles as the city had – and thus he made his home in the upper district of Magnimar along with Balthazar.
Like the Balthazar estate, the Gallahad manor was a large, multi-storied building surrounded on all sides by a tall, brick wall. A single, wrought-iron gate, currently closed, sat facing the main street, a single sleepy-looking guard standing watch just inside the bars. It was late, but as I watched, invisible, from the top of the wall, I could still see some lights on from inside the manor itself. The grounds were quiet and devoid of activity, so after studying the layout of the estate for several minutes from my vantage point on top of the wall, I silently dropped down inside the grounds and made my way toward the building itself.
My heart thumped hard in my chest as I drew closer to the manor. Just like old times, right? Playing scout for the others? This should be easy compared to that, though – at least here there were no goblins or lamias or giants or Runelords trying to destroy us. One wrong move and I could have been beheaded or stepped on or disintegrated. That last one had happened, actually. Compared to all of that, having a couple of gate guards chase me through the city streets until I could find a place to hide seemed laughable. I would even gladly take a crossbow bolt to the shoulder over any number of horrors we had encountered over the last months. After all, something like that would be easy for Osanna to patch up.
I had certainly taken her for granted, hadn’t I. I had taken a lot of things for granted. Like the fact that Helena would just be waiting until I was done running around Varisia trying to stop a Runelord from coming back to power… Continue reading
Quick little note about this chapter: Technically, Glenn gets his ability to turn invisible via a ring of invisibility. But I thought it would be more interesting to say he gains that power from the Mark of Wrath, which I have tried to play and write as having certain unintentional consequences to its use. The only actual active ability the Mark granted him in the game was the ability to cast Fire Shield once per day, which he didn’t actually use all that much; utility spells like invisibility and dimension door are much more useful (and likely to be abused.)
The good stuff is coming tomorrow, I promise.
Half an hour later, I was perched outside the window of Byron Balthazar’s study, peering in to the second story room of his mansion home in the Vista district of Magnimar. It had been easy to slip past his guards and over the brick wall that marked the perimeter of his manor grounds; I knew the premises well, having lived and worked there myself for years when I was younger, and my training in the Shadow Hand school of the Sublime Way was more than sufficient at allowing me to scale buildings and go unnoticed to the average gate guard. Having the ability to turn myself magically invisible at will, a boon granted to me by the Mark of Wrath emblazoned upon my forehead from Runeforge, made the task even easier.
Balthazar was inside his study again, the same place I had found him weeks ago when I had come to visit him before the others and I had left for our final journey to Xin’Shalast. This night, however, found him pacing agitatedly back and forth in front of a dying fire in the fireplace, an empty flagon of wine set upon his usually neat and tidy desk, which was instead covered haphazardly with papers and parchment.
I watched him for a moment before quietly unlocking the window – another simple task that took me only a moment – and pushing the pane inward, dropping silently inside to the floor below. Balthazar didn’t notice at first, but a gentle gust of wind fluttered in behind me and caused the already low-burning fire to flicker. The portly merchant paused before glancing up, catching sight of the open window and the curtain fluttering in the breeze before apparently noticing me standing beneath it, having let my magical invisibility drop when I entered the room. “Who’s there!?” Continue reading
The next day, slightly hung-over and more than slightly fatigued, I traveled to Sandpoint. Having traveled the road from Magnimar to the smaller fishing village a number of times before, and with summer fast approaching, the journey was easy and uneventful, despite my slightly incapacitated state, and I was able to reach Bill’s house before dusk.
Unfortunately, the wizard’s revelation about the creature that Osanna and I had fought the night before was far less easy to deal with. After describing the abomination to him, and how it acted and reacted to us, Bill confirmed what I had already feared – that the thing was a Daemon. Worse still, it was a Daemon that had somehow possessed or reincarnated inside my former body – that of the grippli that had been left behind in Abaddon after we had broken the curse.
“It called you ‘Father’?” Bill asked, after we had discussed the creature at length. We were sitting around a small, round table in the back of his father’s shop; I could hear Vorvashali Voon talking to a customer up front.
“Yeah. And Osanna ‘Mother,’” I replied.
“Creepy. If accurate, in a twisted sort of way,” Bill said with a frown. Continue reading
Our Rise of the Runelords game ended several weeks ago, but Glenn’s story is far from over. The following are the events that happen directly after he and the rest of the party return to Magnimar, but there is much more I have in mind for his after this, as well. Some of it I may roleplay with the others, if any of them are interested; some of it I might just write about on my own.
Looking back, Glenn has evolved into a much different character than I had imagined when I first made him. I think Tony said the same thing about Xander and I would be surprised if anyone in our group could say that their characters made it to the end of the campaign without some leaps, twists, and left turns that we weren’t expecting. I think that’s what’s part of what made this campaign so fantastic. I may do a whole separate post on Glenn’s character conception, what I had planned for him two years ago, and what I have planned for him now, and we’ll see how his story evolves in another two years.
Images flickered through my mind. A massive, red-skinned fiend with flame-smoldering wings loomed above a paralyzed Osanna, ready to rend her apart with a set of razor-like, ebony claws. Xander and Samael, previously engaged with a bronze-skinned storm giant, were suddenly engulfed by a sickening green cloud of mist, followed immediately by a sphere of prismatic colors that blocked all vision into the orb, as well as the screams that I knew were coming from within. A black-skinned giant with searing white runes etched into its muscles towered above me, an impossibly large sword raised, prepared to strike…
Karzoug flew among us, laughing, mocking us, before a soul-crushing howl filled the room, nearly sending me to my knees as I covered my ears in a vain attempt to block out the cacophony; my stomach turned painfully, and out of the corner of my eye I saw Naru collapse.
Father, why did you abandon me? Why did you leave me… Continue reading