The First Frontier

Pre teen woes

The Journey Home?

Face sighed, feeling what seemed like every last bit of energy drain from him.

Beatrice, Luke’s daughter, was quite unlike her father. Or perhaps her mother’s sudden, and vicious, death in front of her had changed her into a non-stop talking machine. Either way their trek across the desert sands hand been a brutal one. The glaring daylight and miserable heat were trifles in comparison with answering all of her questions.

Deep down Smasha wondered if Luke might be better off without family. Face himself had never had any qualms about choosing the strong from his children and leaving the rest to the wolves. He’d even put little Ear Puller to the axe himself when he couldn’t live up to even his own weak name. I mean really, if you can’t even pull someone’s ear off what kind of an Orc are you.

Still, the trackers had been blissful relief, keeping her distracted whenever he was ready for a little retroactive family planning. That, and the last passing blink dog had brought some exotic silks that entertained Beatrice for almost an hour. Face wasn’t sure if Luke would appreciate them being taken from the supplies en route, but he felt more prepared to face certain death by the firey psychic powers of his master than another minute of endless questions about boys, whether she looked good in this or that silk shear and what kind of makeup to wear. And she seemed completely unreceptive to learning how to properly mud paint for battle. Silly children he thought as his eyes fluttered shut.

Beside him Beatrice snuck into his tent and curled up to sleep. Frightened by the baying of desert Coyotes she looked quite odd, Smasha’s bicep and her neck were of almost equal proportion, but she cared not as she drifted off to sleep, comforted by the deep snoring of the massive Orc.

A day in the life

Luke was preoccupied with what to do about his daughter. Sybaris kept motioning up ahead, but as usual the meaning of his gesturing was lost on him. That’s when the arrows started landing all around him. Sybaris let loose with a might arrow, Luke was almost certain he saw small contrails of moisture, despite the dry desert heat. The arrow streaked through the air and struck home. Luke still couldn’t see anything, but he definately heard the squeels of a dying animal, quite large by the tenor of it. As Sybaris notched another arrow he could hear Asher’s voice echoing in his head. There’s another one coming up the right side.

Luke’s daughter was on the right side of the caravan. Squinting into the darkness he grabbed a hold of Face and Michael saying “Cut them off before the…” a pop and a rush of nausea came over him as light and sound distorted, stretched, and then snapped back to normal. But Luke never got to finish his sentence as a giant half Coyote, half Wolf, all killer, riding beast almost barreled into them. Michael worked this one over as he and Face snapped through another tunnel of light to the next one. Another arrow screamed by hitting the riding beast. Luke could swear the beast actually exploded after being hit. The arrow was in fragments, bits of the beasts innards scattered all over. They quickly worked to dispatch the last of the Kobolds.

In the distance a horrible rending could be heard. After a moment of quiet there was the sound of steady tearing and chomping. Luke counted his blessings he could not see what had transpired on the left flank with the Troll, and with a little luck wouldn’t have to explain to Beatrice the subtleties of Kobold diplomacy.

Draconic, for the win.


I have safely caught up with Omar’s companions. They have accepted me, thanks to your letter. Face Smasha also rejoined the group, having been sent off on an errand by Luke. We resumed traveling, following an old river bed. We had a series of encounters with desert kobolds. I got to see how this band fights. They are very effective!

Sybaris has the ability to determine what the landmarks around us are. He was able to find a statue out in the wilderness. We investigated it, only to find that it was some sort of construct. A badly broke construct. Which is fortunate, because fighting this construct when it was whole would have been daunting. Needless to say, when turned this status into gravel.

Our next encounter was with a lair of baby dragons. Apparently they were left in this small cave by their parents while the parents hunted. And they are deformed (according to the others, as I have never seen a dragon before). We captured one and eliminated the other two. But now we are concerned about the parents.

I will fight as hard as I can to make sure we survive any further draconic battles.


The rider.

As everyone gathers around the fire for evening meal, a large shape appears out of the night. The shape resolves itself into a mounted humanoid, mounted on a camel. Two other camels walk in a line behind the first.

The rider dismounts, and approaches with open arms. There is a moment of worry, as the figure remains dark, even as he approaches the light. As the man steps into the firelight, the fact that his skin is dark brings relief to all.

“I am Michael”, he says. “May I join your fire?”
As introductions are made, he smiles. He reaches into his robe and removes a sealed letter, which he hands out to the nearest member of the party.

The letter reads:

Dear Luke Liondel, Asher Turindyl, Sybaris, Pip the Ranger, and Jin Catpuncher.

I wish to let you know that Omar’s remains, and his possessions have arrived safely. I wish to thank you for sending him home. It gives me much reassurance.

The purpose of this letter is two-fold. The bearer of this letter, Michael, is Omar and my cousin. He has felt that it is his duty to pick up where Omar stopped in his quest. I would like to introduce you to him and assure you that he will be as diligent in his efforts to support your group in their quest. The freeing of the magic from the grips of these unholy creatures can only be a good and holy quest.

I have given him Omar’s sword, and some of his other equipment, to aid him in his adventure.

Sincerely Adella.

I Findius Fireward do witness that the bearer of this letter, and my mark, is Michael, cousin of Adella. <arcane>

As the end of the letter is read, Michael exposes his arm. He touches a tattoo on his arm, and it skitters up his arm, revealing Findius Fireward’s Arcane Mark on his arm.

He waits for the group to decide if he is acceptable or not.

The Masking Rite
A eulogy for Omar Smartsword, fey edition

The men gathered around the ashes of their twice-fallen comrade. There were those who knowingly approached the body, ready to pull aside another fallen soul to rest. One of the figures stood silent, staring down at a mask, its features deforming. As Sybaris’ gaze fell upon the body of Omar once again, dried lips began to fray. The figure stirred from afar.


Many looked up, eyes responding to an unfamiliar rasp. The shadow in the corner of the room looked up at the others in the room, purple eyes glowing from beneath the familiar matte hood. Sybaris held a white mask in hand, approaching the others.

“Let me give some rites first. It is inappropriate to give no closure to a disaster like this.”

A voice, even-toned, emerged from the rasp of the assumed ghastly form. Sybaris pulled the hood away as matte robes melted into cloth-adorned armor, holding a hand newly gloved by blue silk and steel. As facial features shaped themselves into form, she stepped into the light, a set of green eyes looking about comrades.

“We are here to formally recognize the fall of a companion,” Sybaris said, holding the now featureless mask in both hands.

“We are actors gathered here in a grand narrative, weaved by our grace, our fortunes, our wills. Blessed we are, for victories follow adventurers amongst foreign lands and great discoveries lay in wait along alien paths. To this tale we trek.

“Today, we witnessed an unforseen chapter, crafted not by verse or action but by the forces of fate. A violation, by any account, but we recognize our shortcomings. For this, I offer these amends:

“This mask is hereby offered up to imprint, a reminder to us all of a fallen actor. We retain his duties, the role he was forced to abandon.”

She lay the mask upon the ashes. A swift flick of the wrist and an utterance later, she picked up the raw mask, its inside engraved with the lines and contours of a familiar face.

“Omar Smartsword, a Flying Swordsman of great talent,” she remarked, holding the mask up for all to see. "I affix this oath: I, Sybaris of Shifting Tides, will lay to rest this body and hold the role he played as my own until a proper heir receives his part. As a fey, I am officially beholden to oath and will not defy it as do those under the Court of Summer, for no fey strays from a woven tale and no spirit breaks from the truth.

“Now rest properly, Omar Smartsword, for your chapter has come to a close.”

Fate is a Bitch


Today I’ve found the East to be a cruel world. It seems that narratives, no matter how rich, meet their end in violent, unfinished manners. Today we fought more formatives, constructs for the adventuring tale we spin, but fate knows no bounds. Despite amazing efforts made by my compatriots Luke and Asher, there was nothing we could do but watch Omar be utterly destroyed by the denizens of the underworld. Pip and I could only gaze in horror.

We destroyed the creatures, but his tale could not rest. Omar rose again to rejoin us as we fought past a plant mass of draconic origins, but even his part of the tale was denied as we fought a dragon, unleashed by the fall of some priests much like the ones we encountered before. Asher was instrumental in our survival as he wrote in the existence of many great winged beast-warriors.

We survived, but I fear that the East has been long plagued by this oppressive hand. A sadness lingers amongst us. I will perform some rites in rememberance of his deeds, as befitting any who would fall in our lands to causes inappropriate.

Do not worry, Martine is here to watch over me. She is performing a rite of shaping so that we may not be overwhelmed by the horrors of the East. I have sacrificed one of my masks for the ritual.

I’ve had to speak. It has become constant, the state of being unmute. It seems I will no longer be much like my father, one of the voiceless Hunt who speak in the language of terror. Please keep it from him – I will find a way to follow in his way regardless.

Thanks dear sister,


Enter the replacement.

Michael walked his horse into town. The storm that was brewing out of the desert blew sand everywhere, stinging eyes and making breathing a chore. A the pack animals in a caravan also coming into town gave Michael a realization. Horses did not do well in the desert. But camels did. So he would need a camel to continue his journey.

Getting a camel proved to be harder that he thought. The camel herder declined his effort to trade his horse for the camel. Michael ended up running between several caravans and the herder, setting up a complex set of trades that ended up with him giving up his horse and getting the camel. Rashi, the camel herder, wanted gold and spices for the camel. Cara, the spice trader with the caravan that came in the same time as Michael, wanted several fine leather pouches that Darrien, a leather worker in another caravan, had on display. Jarh of Ead was a caravan guard in Darrien’s caravan who was interested in Michael’s horse, but did not have the coin to pay for it. Darrien did owe Jarh some money due to gambling debts, so Michael was able to talk Jarh into accepting the fine leather pouches as payment of Darrien’s gambling debts.
Michael accepted the pouches as part of his payment from Jarh for his horse. Cara welcomed the pouches for the spices that Rashi required. After an evening of buying drinks for the two caravans, helping the setting up of caravan camps, stopping three fights, and wooing several bar maids, Micheal fell exhausted into his bed roll.

As the sun was rising the following morning, Micheal picked up Galavrata and began his morning rituals to familiarize himself with the weapon. He was amazed at the change he found. The greatsword felt lighter and hit harder. He sparred with several of the caravan guards, finding that his ability to drive the larger men back greatly enhanced.
Michael had read all of Omar’s letters and notes. He realized that he was becoming attuned to Galavrata, in the same way Omar had, near the end of his life.

Michael conteplated this truth as he rode into the desert on his new camel. And with the camel’s aid, it was not long before he located his cousin’s group of adventurers.

He approached as the sun was setting, eager to take his cousin’s place in their ranks.

Between a roc and morningstar

The last bits of smoke from the pyre curled up into the sky as the fiery curves of the sun descended below the horizon.

“I’m not waking him up” proclaimed Bob, the tracker who’d been keeping watch over Smasha during his beauty rest. He figured the smelly Orc needed several months more, of uninterrupted, rest to ensure that his own face didn’t get smashed in to look like the Orcs.

“I’m not standing around with all this silly stuff waiting for him” replied Jenny, another tracker, who’d been sent into town to procure an unusual list of goods.

Rising behind them Face stood, a rare smile allowing his crooked, rotted teath to show. As the last vestiges of sunlight slipped from the sky a power seemed to wash over him, and he flexed his muscles, eager for the challenge ahead of him. “Did you bring what I asked for?”

Shaking in fear (Face Smasha, was not a morning person) they dropped fruit and assorted clothing at his feet. Neither of them thought this a good idea, but they weren’t inclined to say anything.

“Who goes there” shouted down the guard standing at the palisade wall.

“We’ve got a new girl for the King” called up Bob

“Unless he’s got enough already” added in Jenny with a tone laced with enough sarcasm so as to earn a jab from Bob.

Gazing down at the amply endowed woman the guards opened up the gate. It was dark, but they figured that his Majesty would have them crucified if they came between him and his earthly desires.

The crude wooden gate swung open and the two guards walked up to check out the woman who’d been brought in by the slavers.

Or, at least that’s what they thought was happening until the first one met a gauntleted back hand to the face. Startled, and overwhelmed by a horrible odor the second one started to back pedal, but not before the other hand glasped around his throat.

He clawed at the woman, trying to break free, trying to get air. A melon fell from her dress, and suddenly as the last gasps of air came to a stop he realized that this woman was… was… really ugly.

“There’s another fire, this one in the stables, your majesty”

“Very well, he wants to play dirty, bring the girl and her mother to me”

A pounding started at the doors of the great hall a few minutes later. His Grace chuckled, humored by the attempts to get through the 3" thick solid oak, copper braced doors. He wondered just how well the assailant would bloody himself trying to get through it.

It was at that exact moment that it shattered, splinters of every shape and size flying inward throughout the hall.

And there he stood, dominating the entrance at over 10’ tall. Waves of bulging muscles rippling down his arms. His Grace would have been in abject fear, but for the dress, and one smashed watermelon hanging loosely from his side.

NOW” his Grace commanded boldly. Arrows and spells flew from the guard at arm standing behind him. They struck home in the soft cotton dress and wool stockings and a smile crossed his Majesties lips.

Cursing in Orcish, Smasha struggled to move forward.

“Ahhh, that’s my good man Suvius. He’s awful fond of holding people in place. Though I must admit, you’re stronger than most. Generally they can’t even curse.” Genuinely pleased with himself a chuckle rolled from his throat, slowly turning into a bellow of laughter. He enjoyed himself for a moment, then opened his mouth to order Face Smasha’s end when he came to two realizations, one more distressing then the next.

First, Smasha was not held, well, not by any spell, rather one of the arrows had pinned his dress to the floor. This problem was quickly resolved as the dress tore from him as he bounded forward. As the dress fell to the floor his unscathed, armor plated second layer fully revealed itself.

Then the second realization struck him. Face was not cursing at him, rather anything spoken, yelled, whispered, or even chanted in Orcish sounded like cursing. It was this last one that held the worst potential, for his grace had assumed Smasha a brute of the direct kind, gifted with unusual stature by his very nature. Instead he came to realize the true nature of the beast as Smasha’s spell pulsed over his body, accelerating his movements, and turning him into an elegant killing machine.

As the fourth soldier flew through the air his Majesty grabbed Adeline, Luke’s wife, holding a blade to her throat. Struggling against him Adeline knew Luke must have sent Smasha as the only way to get around his own ensorcelement. She also knew that she would surely lose her second daughter if she did not act quickly.

“Leave and I will let you and the girl leave alive” as he talked, his slippery tongue buying him precious seconds, he motioned to an aid behind him who struggled, desparately trying to understand new incantations he had just learned this morning.

“Save my daughter!” Adeline yelled. At that moment Smasha fully realized the cold, unwavering cunning of this man. He’d had no intention of letting anyone live. As the dagger slid in slow motion across her throat a portal, swirling in unstable colors opened behind him. Not content to kill off just his wife and youngest daughter he grabbed the little girl.

As life slipped from Adeline’s eyes a shadow fell across his Grace. Smasha had never paused to negotiate. Luke had told him from the beginning to expect even a moments pause to cause lost lives, but while Smasha was prepared for the trickery played upon him, his grace had not expected the cold merciless soldier before him. Instantly ready to accept sacrifices in the pursuit of even a marginal victory.

Smasha was surrounded on all sides by men at arms, ignorning Adeline’s lifeless body he’d charged full speed right into the most dangerous place possible. As they struck him from behind, and the sides, cutting his body with their blades Face took one might swing with his gigantic, 6’ long morningstar. It smoothly contacted with his Grace’s face, sending him spiraling backwards into the caster beside him. He tripped in mid sentence, interrupting the delicate incantation as the two tumbled through the open portal, it’s energy pulsating uncontrollably.

A dull explosion could be heard and a prismatic shower of lights erupted from the great hall. It could even be felt on the low bluff just outside the wall. Jenny dropped 5 copper shillings into Bob’s hand “I really thought he was going to make it”. Little bits of ember and dust settled down on them, and like two kids caught unprepared in a rain shower, they ran for cover, shielding their eyes from the ash with their hands.

The Fallen.

Adella stepped forward and turned to face the group of family and friends.
“My brother Omar has passed to the afterlife.”
Tears fell as she lifted the pile of paper in her hands.
“He wrote often, telling of his exploits. I would read his letters to our brothers and sisters, abandoned by our mother.
He was fighting to restore magic to our world. Magic that has been held captive by forces of undead for reasons we do not know. Those same powers of undeath took him from us! From the world.”
She drew Galavrata, her brother’s two handed sword, holding it above her head.
“This blade was his most prized possession. It will go to whomever will take up his quest!”
A young male, dark of skin and hair, walks to Adella’s side. He stares into her eyes.
“I will take up my cousin’s quest, and duty.”
“Thank you Michael.” Adella responded, handing Galavrata to Michael.

Where's the challenge? <roar> (21 May 2012)

Dear Adella,
I have some bad news. I don’t know how to say this, but I have died. Face Smasha was sent off by Luke. So when exploring the dragon’s lair, and we encountered several troll zombies, I engaged them with my usual zeal. Sadly without Face Smasha (the troll was on guard duty) the zombies concentrated on me. I can’t even say I felt the killing blow. It turns out that the troll zombies ripped me to shreds. Luke used his usual destructive energies and Asher summoned a number of dire wolves to destroy the zombies.

You may wonder how I can be writing to you. Sadly I was not resurrected. It seems that I am continuing on as an undead. Some part of me would not rest while my companions struggled in this dungeon.

Our next obstacle was a half dragon plant creature. Even as an undead, I shudder at the very thought of how that came to be. Once again Luke and Asher worked to overwhelm this threat with disposable minions, while Sybaris and Pip supported using their bows.

Luke then used his abilities to create a glass ladder for us to get past the pit the dragon plant was occupying.

We are about to assault the next undead priests that are limiting the magic in the world. I will write once that has completed.


PS: The undead priests were barely a battle. I approached them openly. As an undead, they did not feel threatened. I told them I was there to aid them. I brought in my “minions” to assist me. At which point Luke used one of his more potent powers. A ball of energy. The priests were destroyed without incident.

Sadly, what they were doing was binding a red dragon somehow. Which then materialized and attacked. It did not pay any attention to me. Asher once again summoned hordes of hipogriffs to battle this threat. With it totally surrounded I attacked as well.
Sadly, the beast had an area of affect fire burst. He burned the summoned creatures, Pip, and my self. I’m pretty sure that Luke was able to save Pip.
The essence of myself went into the sword. I felt my comrades destroy the dragon. My strength wanes.
I … can move … on.
I … love … you.
Pro … tect … yourself. And … our … kin.

Trolling the dunes.

Heatrash watched as Godspeaker finished his ritual to the cactus plant. The cactus ritual always brought tears to his eyes.

Movement beyond Godspeaker attracted Heatrash’s attention. Beings came this way! Several looked like they were part animal and part not quite troll.

“Godspeaker! Look! More participants for the Cactus Ritual!”

“Good eyes Heatrash. We must be careful though. Our large and beautiful bodies scares the smaller races. And they have not seen us yet, for they are not screaming and running away! We will welcome them to our lands with the traditional troll welcome. Even you, Caster of Magic Not of the Gods. Try to use a spell that is not hurtful to these little beings. They hurt themselves easily.”

“I will show them great feats of magic without damaging them, or great spiritual leader!” Caster of Magic Not of the Gods spoke. “Do you think they would like some tea as well? I may even have some skones back at the cave.”

The trolls prepared to greet the outlanders with great warmth.


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