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Author Topic: The Tale of the Fifth Overseer: Teasers  (Read 562 times)

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Offline damilano

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The Tale of the Fifth Overseer: Teasers
« on: October 07, 2014, 02:57:03 PM »
In the spirit of the ICE campaign and adventure modules, the GM will occasionally post a teaser.  This is not the game itself, nor any narrative within it; those are found in the Game thread along with actual play.  Please read and enjoy.

Chapter One Teaser:

Funkmaggot crept stealthily through the chilly forest, his drawn and loaded short bow at the ready.  Behind him, he knew, the rest of the party was moving as quietly as they could.  But the constant swish of underbrush and the snapping of twigs were beginning to annoy the Halfling.  Damned fools!  Were they trying to get themselves killed?  But there was no help for it.  From what he had heard of the Rangers of the North, it seemed unlikely in any case that the party would be able to find the camp undetected.  Funkmaggot moved forward, skirting the edge of small clearing, under the shadow of the great oaks and elms upon its verge, and wondering vainly why he had ever taken up with a group of such oafish blunderers in the first place.  Then he remembered the rather hefty debt he owed to The Hand, and the implied consequences of non-payment.  Grimacing, he tightened his grip on his bow and stalked on.

Funkmaggot didn’t see the two men, but he knew they were there, right behind him.  He froze, slackening the bowstring and waiting for the inevitable sting of an arrow in his own back.

“That’s a good fellow,” said a voice.  “Now drop it, nice and slow.  Hands up, and don’t turn.”  Funkmaggot obliged as quickly as he dared.

“The rest of them will be here in a few minutes,” said a second voice to the first.  “Three men and a woman.  Also a dwarf, and an elf.”

“The dwarf is a clumsy one,” said the first voice.  "And he breathes so loudly, I could shoot him in the dark!"

“Two of the men are stumblers,” added the second.  “No idea what they’re doing.  The big one is pretty good, though.”

“For a fellow of his size,” replied the first.

One by one, the party appeared in the clearing, only to receive similar instructions from the voices.  First the scholar, struggling under his pack, then the dwarf with his heavy boots, the fop, the Hillman witch,  the elf-woman, and last the big man.  There was a tense moment when Funkmaggot heard Jorg growling under his breath, and the hobbit breathed a sigh of relief when he heard the unmistakable sound of the Beorning plomping down upon his huge haunches in the brush.  Funkmaggot could tell by the low growl that Jorg wasn’t happy.

Two more men appeared out of the woods in front of Funkmaggot.  Dunedain, armed to the teeth.   The seven stars on their surcoats and their blue mesh armor identified them as Tarma’s men – Rangers of the North.  They didn’t look happy either. 

"Where the hell did they come from?" thought Funkmaggot uncomfortably.  Then the inevitable corollary thought came, more uncomfortable still:  how many more are there?"

One of the Dunedain stepped forward.  With his peripheral vision, the Halfling saw the scholar moving carefully up beside him, his arms raised high.  Funkmaggot cringed when he anticipated what embarrassing gaffe would escape the naïve scholar’s lips.

“Hail and well met, Knight of the House of Tarma!” said the scholar, bending slightly from side to side at the waist as he came, in a laughable parody of submission.  “ Isengrim of Fornost am I, subject of the King and erstwhile student at the Royal College!  May I have your permission to bow?”

The grim-faced Ranger nearest Funkmaggot did not answer, but turned to Isengrim and regarded him for a long, pregnant moment.  At last the Ranger spoke.

“I heard him sing of soldiering, of loneliness, of wandering
Into far countries traveling, into the wilderness darkening.”

Was it a password?  A test?  A challenge?  And more importantly, would the disgraced scholar know the correct reply?  If not, it was death for them all; of that, Funkmaggot felt certain.  These Rangers had a reputation for dealing swiftly with unwanted guests, and being Tarma’s men, they were above the reach of the law.  He watched the scholar out of the corner of his eye as a bead of sweat dripped down his bulbous nose.

“Ah, yes,” replied Isengrim, furrowing his brow.  “Now let me see… I know this one… I just need a moment… yes… soldiering, loneliness, wandering… yes, I’m sure I know it… it’s on the tip of my tongue…  I’ll have it in a minute…”

Behind him, Funkmaggot heard Throk shifting uneasily and Jorg rising slowly.  “Oh, Funk!'” whispered Funkmaggot, shutting his eyes tightly.
« Last Edit: October 21, 2014, 02:20:15 PM by damilano »
No, the RED is tens.

Offline damilano

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Re: The Tale of the Fifth Overseer: Teasers
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2015, 09:58:20 PM »
Chapter One:  Second Teaser:

Weiric pulled the borrowed linen wrap about him and shivered as he stood outside the great oak doors of the Last Inn.  Cold, bitter cold!  Worse than the day before yesterday, when they had assaulted the band of ruffians along the river-road in the freezing marsh.  Once again, the handsome bard's narrative mind turned to his hasty escape from Fornost Erain, and all that he had lost on that fateful day, not least of which was his warm ermine cloak and hood.  Now there was a story! 

"But a tale better heard," the impoverished musician added in an aside to himself, "than remembered!"

But a treasure than cannot be cast aside at need is a burden, as his mother had often told him.  Now there was a remarkable woman -- fluent in dozens of languages, as brilliant as the dawn, and the equal of any male ruler or envoy with whom she had ever exchanged messages -- or debate!  But she was far away now, perhaps back in Rhun, and even Weiric's warm memories of her could not take away the bite of the freezing wind in the north. 

Cold, bitter cold!  He slapped himself and wished in vain for a plain woolen cloak.

Weiric squinted into the sunrise.  Say what they would about these wild and untamed lands, there was nothing like a Rhudaur sunrise.  A thousand shades and tints of red, orange, and yellow, throwing a bloody rainbow over the cloudy rim of the world.  A golden aureole rising above the swamps and marshes, accompanied by the plaintive songs of wading birds and the music of the frogs and insects; a remembrance of the morning of the world when the sun and moon were new, and the wind was clean, unbefouled by the carrion of war and the smoke of the forge!   In his heart, Weiric vowed never to miss a single sunrise over this strange and naked land.  Already a song leapt up in his heart, fashioning itself into a curvy melody over a sweetly flowing chord progression:

Rising sun, I see you today
Where were you yesterday?
Rising sun, rising sun.

Seems so cold
So cloudy and cold
The twilight life, my life
Rising sun

Rising sun, you obscure the clouds today
Treetops silver, rivers glittering
Far and away

Rising sun, the air does hum with life today
The road is long, but with you along
I know I'll find my way.

Weiric's fingers danced against his shoulders under his wrap as he unthinkingly fingered the passages as they would be played on his lute, using the altered, Dorwinrim tuning:  Bb minor 9, walk down to F major, transition to five-seven of five, and we're in C minor; Picardy third; that'll move them!  Now an easy, fast cadenza in 6/8; dance everyone!  And turn, and change...

Suddenly Weiric's reverie was rudely interrupted by a harsh, croaky sound.  His fingers froze, his invisible eyelids opened and his hands and moved instinctively to his bow and quiver, as the all-but useless wrap fell to the ground.

"Hey, you!" the voice was saying.  "Yes you, there.  Hey you!  Whoa!  Whoa!  Take it easy, there, hero!  It's a sales pitch, not a war! "

It was an ugly voice, with an accent that Weiric could not place despite his wide travels, a jaded, nasal accent with a tinge of cynicism, commercialism, and a strange, unmusical lilt.  As the world around Weiric came back into resolution he noted a pair of bright eyes peering at him from under the cover of a merchant's wagon that had not been there night before.  The eyes were blue, and accompanied by a sunrise-lit pair of palms at shoulder-level, raised in token of peace.  A short, squat dark haired man jumped out of the wagon, grinning broadly.  No sooner had he found his feet than another pair of bright blue eyes appeared in the space in the wagon he had occupied a moment ago.

"Oy, Gevalt!"  said the first man.  "So ready with the bow?  Is that how they say hello in Rhun?  With an arrow to the chest?"

"Saul, Saul!" came a voice from within the gloom of the covered wagon.  "Give the kid a break!  He can't help it that he's from Rhun!  Besides, the poor thing looks like he's freezing!  And ot-nay oo-tay ight-bray, if you oh-nay what I ean-may!  So go easy!  We don't want to scare him off!"

"Scare him off?" said the first man, advancing slowly with his hands still raised.  "What's he got to be afraid of, I'm asking you?  Eh?  A couple of broken-down  old merchants?  Maury,  Maury, Maury,  Don't you see we're in the presence of a gentleman?"

Now the second man swung himself out of the wagon and came forward confidently, arms extended as if he would embrace Weiric.  Weiric relaxed, and quickly made a mental note of the chord progression he had just been composing in his mind.

"See it?" continued Maury.  "It's jumping out at me!  The noble bearing, the artistic face, those beautiful hands!  Oy, Gevalt!  What, and I don't know an educated man when I see one?

"Educated," agreed Saul.  "No, not just educated!  Refined!"

"Refined!"  sighed Maury with an air of satisfaction and approval.

The men were shoulder to shoulder now, a few paces away.  But to judge by their generous paunches and lack of conspicuous weaponry, they were nothing more than what they seemed to be -- fat merchants looking for an early mark.  Weiric couldn't help but smile at the irony of it.  A well-dressed man, yes, but with only a single gold coin in his possession, with nary a partner to clink against in his purse!  He would see, he mused, how complimentary these gentleman were when they found out their mark was flat broke.

"What can I do for you on this fine morning?" asked Weiric, knowing full well he could do nothing for them.

"You hear that, Saul!  He IS a gentleman!"

"And I didn't know?  Don't be such a momzer!"

"Ach, schlemeil!"

"And your own brother!  Someone got up on the wrong side of the wagon!"

Both men laughed heartily.

"But forgive us, good sir!"  put in Maury.  "Brothers' quarrels, and so early!  But do for us?  You're asking what you can do for us?  No, no, no, a thousand times no!  It's what we can do for you!"

"For you, " repeated Saul.  "Yes, for you, noble sir!"

"It's a fact," punctuated Maury emphatically.  "Not to mention that my brother and I, we are something of aficionados in the realm of men's attire, or rather, haberdashery, good sir,  and we couldn't help but notice how beautifully and tastefully..."

"Aficionados?"  scolded Saul.  "Professionals!"

"Professionals?  Experts!"  corrected Maury further.  "No point in denying it!  And  oy!  The boots you have, and so nice!  But something's missing."

"Missing, yes... the gloves!  You've got to have the gloves," put in Saul, in and undertone that conveyed the distastefully obvious.

"Look!" said Maury, producing a pair of fine gloves from a bulging pocket and holding them close to Weiric's eyes.   "Like this, you can't get any more.  They don't make them like this nowadays, with the fur, and the leather, and the stitching!"

"A work of art!" offered Saul.

"And with the boots and the gloves, you've got to have the cape."

"And the belt!

"Matches so nice!  With this, you'll look like a real adventurer!"

"No, not an adventurer... a warrior!"

"The boots and the gloves and the cape and the belt!  Feel that material!"  Maury proferred a long, dark-brown cape that almost seemed to materialize in his hands like a conjurer's trick.  "Like this, can you get?

"No you can't get!" answered Saul without waiting for Weiric's reply.  "You can't get!"

"But still... I'm not seeing it.  Saul, are you seeing it?"

"See it?  It's jumping out at me!"

"The hood!" cried Maury as if struck  by a sudden and life-changing revelation.

"Oy!  The hood, the hood!"  answered Saul with an air of long-anticipated gratificaton.  And a beautiful black, fur-lined hood was suddenly in his hands.  He held it out for Weiric's inspection.  "And such a hood!  Lightly used, well cared for! "  Saul's nimble fingers rubbed the material lovingly.  "And such a match for the cape and the gloves and the boots and the belt!"

"Like they were made for each other!"

"Made for each other!" agreed Saul, nodding in satisfaction.

"With the hood and the gloves and the cape and the belt, you'll look like a true warrior!"

"May God seal my lips forever if I lie."

"Like a true warrior!  Powerful!  Stylish!"

"No, not a warrior!  A hero!"

"Not a hero... A SUPER hero!"

"So true!  A SUPER hero, you'll look like."

"But the cloak..."

"Oy!  The cloak!"

Weiric looked down at the thin borrowed wrap now lying on the ground with a pang of regret.  He began wondering how much money he might be able to borrow from his companions...
« Last Edit: January 28, 2015, 06:08:41 PM by damilano »
No, the RED is tens.

Offline damilano

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Re: The Tale of the Fifth Overseer: Teasers
« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2015, 03:51:57 PM »
Chapter One:  Third Teaser

Clotilde studied the message carefully.  Written on thick parchment in Gorghirric’s familiar hand, there was no doubt of its authorship.   But it had been written in haste and its tone was both dire and urgent.

Her eye went to the second paragraph of the note: 

Lately, the sins of my younger years have finally caught up with me.  For by ill-chosen associations in my youth, and many poor choices since, I have caught the eye of the terrible power that now threatens the whole of the North Kingdom.

Clotilde thought of the Wegec-Tich, and of her vision of her father being taken away by the black rider.  The ancestors had spoken of a debt that must be paid, and that Gorghirric could not pay it.  And she also thought of the words of the rider, in his clipped Adunaic:

“Service is for life,” the rider had said, “and there is no freedom.  This was your choice, old man, wrought in the deeps of your hunger and greed.  Payment is due!”

What could it mean?  What crime could be so terrible as to condemn a good and kindly man to servitude to the powers of darkness?  And what did the black man and the Ancestors mean by payment?

But at least one mystery was solved.  Now Clotilde knew where her father was, and the knowledge was not comforting at all.  She glanced down at the message again, to the paragraph below the one she had just read.

You should know that it is an eye that sees all, and an iron fist that crushes all that falls within its grasp.  I am now a prisoner of the Player in the dungeons of Herubar Gular, the old castle in the Darkling Wood that our people have feared to approach for many a long year.  And alas that the rumors are true, for the Player, whom I at first took to be a man of learning and accomplishment, is none other than the dread Fifth Overseer, the right hand and spy of the Witch-King of Angmar!

Herubar Gular.  The Dwelling of the Lord of High Sorcery.  The place where even the Rangers of the North dared not go.   And small wonder.  For the Witch-King of Angmar, that dread figure of terrifying tale and rumor, had risen again, it seemed, and his agent was her father's captor!

Clotilde stirred as a shadow fell across her shoulder.  She turned to see a tall, black-haired woman, armed and armored, at her side.  It was none other than the Queen of the Strawheads, the Lady Vulfredda!

“See them at their drills,” said Vulfredda, looking out over the parade ground.  Clotilde turned her gaze upward to see the phalanx of a hundred or more mailed soldiers with their bright spears and their shields, emblazoned with a white horse running on a green field.  A sergeant’s voice bellowed out some command in the strange, rolling language of the Vulseggi, and as a man, the soldiers turned.  The forward file knelt with a single movement, raising the shields to shoulders, and the rank behind stepped forward with spears leveled above them, as if guided by a single mind. 

“Are they not beautiful?” said Vulfredda.  “Valor and honor!  These men do not know fear!”

“But I thought the Vulseggi were riders,” said Clotilde timidly, cowed by the majestic presence of the raven-haired queen.

“And so we are,” replied Vulfredda, not taking her eyes from the parade ground.  “But the rider may be unhorsed.  And not all terrain is suited to battle from horseback.  Not always do our enemies meet us on the rolling plain!  Many times have the Vulseggi had to fight them in mire and marsh, or on hill or mountainside.  And then, let him beware!  For the spears of the riders are long and keen, and seldom do they miss their mark!”

“Valor and honor,” repeated Clotilde, moved by the stern voice and countenance of the beautiful Queen.  “They are good words.”

“To some they are only words,” replied Vulfredda, turning suddenly to Clotilde.  “There are some who deem it better to hide behind their stone walls and wait for death to come, looking up at the stars and dreaming of days of glory long gone.  They call themselves lords and claim the mastery of the lands, but ever the enemy closes in about them, and they do nothing, holding on to their brief spark of life, yielding much comfort but little reknown.  But there are some to whom ‘valor’ and ‘honor’ are more than words, but a way of life, and a means of survival!  Many are the fallen children of the Vulseggi who gave their lives to take this country and to defend it, and many more are the brave horsemen who yearn ever for the same valor and honor!  And now it seems that all shall have their chance, and it may be that erelong, no riders will live to grace these lands!  So be it!  Long live their deeds in legend and lay!”

And the queen raised up her high, clear voice in song, and her words echoed across the little town as the men on the parade ground stood silent, listening.

Where now are the horse and the rider? Where is the horn that was blowing?
Where is the helm and the hauberk, and the bright hair flowing?
Where is the harp on the harpstring, and the red fire glowing?
Where is the spring and the harvest and the tall corn growing?
They have passed like rain on the mountain, like a wind in the meadow;
The days have gone down in the West behind the hills into shadow.
Who shall gather the smoke of the deadwood burning,
Or behold the flowing years from the Sea returning?”

And as her final words echoed against the great earthen ramparts of Thuin Boid, the sergeant called out a single Westron word.

“Valor!” he cried.

And the response rang back from a hundred voices like a thunder on the mountains.  And the clash of spear on shield was like an avalanche, and the thumping of booted feet shook the ground.

“Honor!” they called with a single voice.

All was silent for a moment.  Then the sergeant bowed to his lady and turned, continuing the drills.

“I have been speaking with Lencassee,” said Vulfredda to Clotilde.  “He says that you are learned in the healing and herb lore of the Siol Nunaw.  Is that so?”

“Master Lencasee speaks truly, Lady,” replied Clotilde. “But my skill is less than some, for a lesser child of greater mothers am I, and I am young.”

“You are as fortune has sent you to us,” replied Vulfredda with a nod.  “As are we all.  Will you not ride with the host tomorrow then?  Will you not lend your knowledge and service to the Vulseggi for a time?”

“Ride, Lady?” asked Clotilde.   “Where do the Vulseggi ride tomorrow?”

“To the Tirthon,” answered Vulfredda.  “They ride to war.”
« Last Edit: March 26, 2015, 03:59:35 PM by damilano »
No, the RED is tens.