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Jericho Awakes [a roleplaying playthrough]

GileadGilead Member Posts: 15
edited November 2017 in Challenges and Playthroughs


I awake to boredom and light. Security and happiness washes through Candlekeep, and restlessness plays at the edges of my thoughts. I do not know it yet, but my soul has long been deadening to the beat of the monotony and security of the keep. My inner mind skips with shadows as the outer smiles, studies and sleeps. I have felt like this for years. Only today brings savage resolution.

A summoning. Gathering of bags and belongings. Gorion hurrying me. Gorion dead. I awake to tears, the scorch of my father's death, and discovery by the girl Imoen. Trees have replaced towers, monks with gibberlings, matresses with gnarled roots, and scholars' prophesying chants with wanderers' jabberings of iron and bandits. Fear floods boredom, and aimless fantasies break away to the vivid goal of survival.

The goal seems possible when we stumble upon two fellow travellers. A human mage and a halfing warrior; they want us to accompany them to the mining town of Nashkel. They are far from Gorion's sort, but they are power and protection.











We make the day's journey to the Friendly Arm Inn and are greeted with the friendly death wishes of an assassin. I am obliged to lend respect and gratitude to Imoen. She, alone amongst our little Candlekeep family, seems to have been prepared for our monstrous transformation. Her trembling hand directs a wand, no doubt pilfered from the Keep's stores, straight at my would-be assassin, and slays him in an instant.

As the man's body slumps to the cold steps of the Inn, my eyes brush Imoen's. Her spirited veneer is absent. We feel the darkness of the hand that life has given us. We feel the frustrated darkness that drove our child-hearts to shadows and theft within our benevolent home. We feel how that has saved us tonight. We smell the burning wound of the corpse, and stand; killers in the company of rogues. Our new friend Xzar is undisturbed. He looks at me curiously, eyes glinting, as he rifles through the dead man's robes. He reads a note. Hands it to me.

In the Inn, we meet the foster-parents Gorion apparently intended for me. They are half-elves like me, a man and a woman. For a moment I believe they are my true parents; they are welcoming me home. The fantasy lives only a heartbeat. They speak casually, their eyes are mourning Gorion's passing, processing his death as I can see they have processed countless before him; they are sizing up the weight of the burden now delivered by their promise to him.







The note reveals to me for sure that I am the cause of my father's death, that there was more to his adopting me than everyday pity, that my birth is the secret to the 200 gold instantly payable to anyone with the spirit to slay me. Slither paws at my hair, and my mind descends into the night.

Post edited by Gilead on
AerakarStupid_PunslolienZaghoulBelgarathMTHBlackraven

Comments

  • TressetTresset Member, Moderator Posts: 7,585
    @Gilead Your posts were recently caught up in the forum's spam filter. I have just made it so that this should not happen again. Good luck on your run.

    lolienGilead
  • GileadGilead Member Posts: 15
    edited November 2017
    [Thanks @Tresset. On with the story...]

    The Nashkel Mines

    Through rain we travelled and down the forced mouth of Nashkel’s troubled mine. Within its choked black-fumed lungs, the human denizens groaned and muttered fatalistically of demons and dogmen. We pursued these clues and the beasts they led to – mere kobolds it transpired – down into the lower levels of the mine and down further still into tunnels where all hint of a world of civilisation and nature was blotted out, where molten rock flowed under the kobolds’ traps, heating their enchanted arrows and joining their endless screeching and yipping. My magic proved an able defence against their savagery and eventually we arrived at an underground lake, a half-orc Cyric worshipper, and the answer to the Nashkel mystery. Spreading out from this base, the kobolds had been slowly poisoning the mines, weakening its ore and occasionally succumbing to the irresistible temptation of murdering a few miners. Beyond this, I learnt nothing but that a wider group demanded the plot, and a certain Tranzig awaited news of the conspiracy at Feldeposte’s, the very inn where we sojourned in our violent night at Beregost.

    The demi-orc proved strong, and his magics were too much for Khalid and Jaheira. Theirs were among the heap of bodies left at the end of the spellstorm he unleashed, and which we eventually overcame. With the help of a despair-drenched elf named Xan, whom we found pathetically tethered to Mulahey’s rocks, we survivors hauled the dead pair up through Mulahey’s bolthole to the surface and made the journey back to Nashkel.



    The rain and wind were cold and indifferent to our victory. The wilderness wailed and sang out its neutrality with regard to our survival and to our mission. Birds, trees and wolves cared nothing for the concerns of the Harpers, the Greycloak Clan, and whatever shadowy network sent a half-insane necromancer and halfling assassin to satiate its curiosity. It had been only a few days, but Gorion and Candlekeep felt a lifetime behind me. And yet, it was the elf Xan who despaired and mourned, not me. The flow of a hundred kobolds’ blood swept through my being. The scream of Mulahey cut short as I sliced my blade through his begging throat echoed in my soul. Somehow, this bloodshed and conquest in the depths of the earth lifted me, brought me up on a tide that spoke near-audibly of my destiny. It was I who had led the group in our slaughter. I who discerned the traps the kobolds had lain for us. I who chose not to spare Mulahey’s life. I was not weak, not dependent, but leading. In those caverns I felt a new power within me. I could drain a little life from my victims with mere thought and add it to my own. It was something like a particular spell of Xzar’s, and yet I had never learnt it – never once read his scrolls. How did I know to perform this feat? It was something that came from within, from my dreams, from memories I had not yet experienced, but which now lapped at the shores of my consciousness. The stealing of life was part of my nature. Something had changed in me, something sinister but welcomed. I had shared my dreams with Imoen, but I chose not to share these new perceptions.



    In his half-Machiavellian half-random way, Xzar attempted to convince me that the Khalid and Jaheira had somehow betrayed me by dying and that their bodies were not worth seeking resurrection in the Nashkel temple. It was obvious that by keeping their deaths permanent, he hoped to gain control of the group. Perhaps his network of power and knowledge was something I might desire, but I would not betray Gorion by abandoning his two friends while there was still hope of their restoration into life.
    Xan, Mulahey’s elf prisoner, merely followed us silently from a distance, his mind locked in inscrutable reflections.

    Post edited by Gilead on
    ZaghoulBlackraven
  • GileadGilead Member Posts: 15
    edited November 2017
    Nimbul, Tranzig and the Parting

    We arrived in Nashkel to more slaughter. Nimbul, a mage-assassin, waited nonchalantly for us. Buoyed by our victories beneath the earth, we were at first little concerned. What was one magician to the slayer of a whole tribe of kobolds? What mischief could be achieved in a town overloaded with Amnian military? But Nimbul’s magic made my own look like cantrips. His skin turned to stone, his being duplicated, sleep and terror fell upon us. The Amnian soldiers were simply ignored – their blades no more than insect bites to assassin. A beggar-monk attempted to aid us, but he may as well have been ghost. We were scattered and fled from building to building. Xan was slain. Montaran and Xzar simply disappeared into the shadows, consumed by cowardice, magical terror or natural terror, or all three. In the end we existing his spells through fear and continual rejuvenation from healing potions, and yet still I could not hurt him. Finally, another blow from Imoen’s stolen wand ended him at last.






    We were left with three bodies, and a reward from Nashkel’s mayor which was not quite enough to cover the cost of the temple sacrifices that could restore their lives. The solution lay in the estate of Nashkel’s lord. After the briefest struggles with her conscience, Imoen joined me in secret raid on the manor, and we took what we need to bring our friends their lives.



    From there, restored, we travelled to Beregost, rushing to reach Tranzig before news of Nashkel’s relief did. The beggar-monk who aided us, a traveller named Rasaad, volunteered to join us, and we accepted his addition, though I expected little from him having seen his ineffectiveness against Nimbul. We did not attempt to relocate Montaran and his minder – their limited powers did not outweigh their lightness of character. We succeeded, and with the aid of a potion of invisibility, slew the miserable wizard before he had a chance to put up a fight.



    From there, I informed Khalid and Jaheira that Imoen and I would take no further part in unravelling the mystery of the iron shortage. Nimbul’s belongings revealed that he had been sent by the bandits’ who raided caravans and who Tranzig, and therefore Mulahey, were working for. Nimbul was not of the assassins who simply wanted my life. I already had one growing bounty on my head, why add another which attracted even mightier assassins. Another attack by a Nimbul and we would all be dead. I did not fame or a place amongst the Harpers or some other faction. I wanted to live. They were displeased, taken aback, but they understood.

    Xan, intent on following his assigned mission of investigating the iron shortage, also left, albeit reluctantly. I was sad to see it; I felt a connection to the melancholy elf. He cleaved to principles and order, while I felt no principles upon me, but I sense a twinship in our hearts, an understanding that the world was a chaos which pitilessly consumed. I watched the elves, half-elves, leave together, walking two adjacent paths to the North.

    Rasaad stayed with us, though this gave me little enthusiasm. His talk was all of his noble goddess – humourless radiance and relentless virtue thrown dumbly and heavily onto the world to block out the pain and destruction. Imoen was my constant consolation. We looked at the Beregost roads.

    ZaghoulBelgarathMTH
  • GileadGilead Member Posts: 15
    edited November 2017
    New companions

    As if our answering our calls, we almost fell about a talent half-elf mage Neera. After accidentally finding ourselves defending her from murderous Red Wizards of Thay, we adopted her into a reduced band.



    We stayed a few days in Beregost, and I was eager to leave to evade the next assassin’s attack. We signed up to mercenary expedition led by a dwarf warrior named Kagain – bizarrely followed by a gnomish Cyric cultist named Tiax, who balanced extreme delusions of grandeur with a half-sane need for protection and money. Our mission was to identify the fate of the mercenary-protected caravan which Kagain had sent north from Berefost, with the precious cargo of a Baldur’s Gate lord’s son. It was not long before we found the young man’s dead body amongst the loot of a bandit gang which we vanquished. Kagain panicked at first, believing the boy’s father – the lord Entar Silvershield – would destroy him, but was persuaded to venture to Baldur’s Gate to deliver the dreadful news. We journeyed there, but found the crisis had barred its gates to all armed travellers without essential goods.





    The excursion to the north had been pointless. Kagain returned to his shop, fretting about consequences but hopeful that the crisis would at least keep Silvershield from him. Tiax took his payment and return to his madness. In-between his remonstrances and crazed declarations, we understood he wished to join us, for he had nowhere else to go, but we rebuffed him. He had powers, but not enough for us to stop our ears to his ravings, and a side-effect of the excursion had rendered his priestly magic expendable. On the road to Baldur’s Gate we had been surprised by the pleas and screams of dark elf. She was hunted by a Flaming Fist paladin, intent on delivering the sentence of death he claimed murders made her deserving of. In an instant we had to choose a side – blazing order and anointed justice or the fugitive and darkness it single-mindedly stalked. What role truth played in the theatre we could not know – she may have been a murderess, she may have been the victim of prejudice. We chose shadow, and murdered justice.



    Looking at her, I know her salvation was a door. Another elf, and heart that leapt into mine. Understanding, connection. Yet her’s was a new heart, to me, not a twinned heart. I didn’t know where it would lead. I only felt that inklings of it all in a moment. In our conscious communications, she merely thanked us, and offered her services, for she knew know other protection. We had saved Nashkel, but our unsought violence in Beregost meant we were known only as hired thugs with the ruthlessness necessary to clear the mines. Our companionship with a drow would only secure the reputation, but we accepted it.

    The choices, the energies, conflicted with those of Rasaad. I could feel he would leave. We travelled to Nashkel, on the half-plotted plan to return with him to Amn and lose ourselves in the vastness of the empire. Once in Nashkel however, another night of pilfering from the rich by myself and Imoen failed to evade his senses. He informed us, in rigid, faultlessly compassionate tones, that his path took him elsewhere. I saw

    Imoen, myself, Neera, Viconia. The group felt strong; the right spirits, the Neera’s heart curved dangerously to a nobility that might not always swim with Viconia’s. I only longed for Xan. I felt a kinship with these elves, full and half-blooded alike. I knew it was half-imagined idealising, and laughed at my petty reflections as to whether Imoen now felt herself the outsidership that a half-elf is born to.

    Zaghoul
  • GileadGilead Member Posts: 15
    Wanderers

    We took the risk of acquainting ourselves with more Nashkel denizens. A bordertown, it was a natural transitory home for adventurers, bounty hunters and outlaws. The talk of the day was of a certain Dynaheir, a “witch” apparently captured by gnolls and now sought by both her deranged barbarian servant and Red Wizard would-be witch-slayer. It seemed a fair quest to remove us from Nashkel and the eyes of my next assassin. In the end both parties were desperate enough to have aid that they joined forces in the quest, despite their mutually incompatible hopes for its conclusion.

    The new group was strong, almost too strong. The attack on the gnoll stronghold, by way of of a xvart village, was simply a slaughter. Arrows, swords and magic rained down murderously on this Dynaheir’s captors. Dynaheir herself turned out to be arrogant witch-elite of Rashomen, and the Red Wizards accusations no more than a cover for same power-hunger that plagued Neera. The impromptu court that appeared on her rescue was brief, and it was Edwin, the Red Wizard, who was found guilty and sentenced to exile from the group.

    The rest of us turned to wandering in the wilderness. Dynaheir’s barbarian, Minsc, though a half-mad simpleton, was our tutor in living off the land, and this proved of little difficulty. Neera provided us with a purpose – she wished to visit a sage of wild magic in the East, to better control her own powers. The journey took us on its own adventures, through fierce and down into the ruins of Firewine Bridge, where a small kobold and undead army had been plaguing the halfing settlement of Gullykin. The spirit of theft claimed a little more of me at Gullykin, as I chose to claim one or two small halfling artefacts I found their as my own, though I could not claim the owners were wealthy or secure enough to be indifferent to the loss.

    The sage, Adoy, was in in some severe difficulties when we arrived, which we undid with our swords, only to find ourselves ambushed by the same Red Wizard leader who had originally harassed Neera. We survived this attack, just, and having little else to do, returned to our wandering and other encounters and adventures which left us ever richer and strong.

    The aimless ended with the encounter of talking chicken, a polymorphed wizard’s apprentice who wanted to be returned to his master, Thalantyr of High Hedge. We obliged the chicken, and in doing so stumbled into an elven wander, one Kivan, in the woods near High Hedge. The elf was consumed in a quest of vengeance for his lost love, who died at the hands of “Tazok” – the name we recognised as the unmet master of the Nashkel Mines sabotage. He had been tracking the bandit attacks for many weeks, and was now certain of the current whereabouts of the core band. Through the shadows and regret that cloaked him, he was eager for friends to join him in his death-task. I had not wished to reinvolve myself with this iron conspiracy and enormous network behind it, but something in Kivan’s fire, purity of intent, and the darkness which lay behind him, was beautiful, and moved me to join him. The others were less enthusiastic, seeing a suicidal foolhardyness throwing itself into the heart of a network that had been controlling the whole region, all for a single elf who clearly no longer cared for his own life. We agreed to split. Imoen took some persuading. She did not wish to pursue Tazok, but neither did she want to part, but I did not want her death on my hands. I convinced her that Neera and Viconia, lost souls, needed one of us to remain with them. I asked her to change her appearance, and lie low within The Friendly Arm, to avoid the attentions of our pursuers.

    AerakarZaghoul
  • GileadGilead Member Posts: 15
    The bandit camp

    I did not wish to take on Tazok with just KIvan. I needed to find Khalid, Jaheira and Xan again. They were committed to continuing to investigate the iron crisis, and I knew they would join us. I knew now that there was a strong chance their efforts had slain them. At the Friendly Arm Inn, I learnt their their questing had taken them to the North, but that they had talked of returning to the Inn, which they had been using as a clear base of operations, despite the risk of more assassins. I waited for them. All three returned, with a new companion, a human paladin named Ajantis, who had all the bravado and righteous zeal associated with that class, and who seemed to have rather dominated the group, even Jaheira, through co-opting the cause of the iron shortage into the drama of his righteous fury. My half-deserved reputation as a thief, brawler and companion of Drow seemed to have preceded me, and he wish reluctant to let such a sinner join “his” party, but he accepted it as a necessary evil, and we prepared for what lay ahead.

    The battle at the camp was terrible and epic. Only bottled magic saw us survive it. Alas, Tazok was absent, and Kivan’s mission was unfulfilled. We only learnt that Tazok lay in the Cloakwood, and that the network behind all the intrigues had a name: the Iron Throne, at least according to the untrustworthy tongue of a captured thief we found in the camp. This led to dilemma. Kivan of course wished to pursue Tazok in Cloakwood, while the other wished to investigate the Iron Throne in Baldur’s Gate, using Ajantis’ contact to gain entrance to the city. Again, we would split, and I knew already that my destiny lay with this Kivan, and his heart of purest vengeance.

    We returned the Inn and bid our farewells once again. I felt full gladness to be reunited with Imoen, and privately felt I would never make that division again, no matter the danger – better to die together. Alas, Dynaheir had left on some wind of intent relating to the Rashomen task she would not speak of her. Minsc had loyally followed her, and Viconia, who respected Dynaheir, had chosen likewise. Only Imoen and Neera waited for me, so it was with them that we left for the Cloakwood.

    I was still plagued with dreams. Something wanted fealty from me. Something thought it had created me, that growing power and glory was shaped by its almighty hand. That or my sleeping mind had been invaded by a madness. Either way, I could not ignore it, and it manifested itself in real powers.

    Zaghoul
  • GileadGilead Member Posts: 15
    Cloakwood

    The four of us – Kivan, Neera, Imoen, myself – entered the Cloakwood. It was infested with huge spiders, which we barely escaped before coming across a shadow druid grove. They talked of mine beneath the wood which they hated as a blight on the forest, lending one of their number, a human woman named Faldorn, to assist us in erasing it. Through many bloody battles, the worst of which were all the involved mages and their confusions, we came to the heart of the operation – thousands of slaves labouring in a stolen dwarvish city and a plot to monopolise iron across the whole region. With the help of the dwarves’ last survivor, a warrior priest named Yeslick, we freed the slaves and flooded the mine. To Kivan’s frustration, there was no sign of Tazok.

    We returned Faldorn to the druid cult and left to recuperate and plan at the Friendly Arm. We were thrilled with our victory and the merriment of triumph, but I saw a darkness clouded over Neera. She had been increasingly and uncharacteristically uncommunicative. She looked at me with a sting of hopelessness, reproach and longing. I glimpsed for a moment what story had entered her head when she stared with despair at Imoen, but it was too late, and she announced she was leaving. She had grown confident in her power, and no longer needed us for survival. Her heart pains were now greater than the body pain she had endured, and nothing I said would slow her departure.

    We left for Baldur’s Gate with a new heaviness. We were not long there before being able to rejoin Khalid, Jaheira, Ajantis and Xan, and provide them with news of our victory and the extent of the plot, which was no worse than they had feared. They rejoiced, and Ajantis spoke at length about Helm’s righteous fury against the Iron Throne. I was assured of his victory, and again that his band was not for me. I would leave the remainder of the unravelling of the mercantile plot to his capable hands. Alas, this time, Kivan was of the same mind as Ajantis. Yeslick also. I rode out from Baldur’s Gate only with Imoen, who was reluctant to leave the others, but did not wish another separation.

    Zaghoul
  • GileadGilead Member Posts: 15
    Thieves and Drow

    Our first thoughts were of Dynaheir’s party, but the only hint of their whereabouts was a sighting of a wandering drow in Larswood with an embittered air. Could it be Viconia? We managed to track down the drow, but found it to be a male sorcerer named Baeloth, full of demented glee and overflowing pride in some past life of power and sadistic cruelties. It was not Viconia, but his power was unarguably immense, and we accepted his offer to ally with him. He had been defeated by some failed escapade, and lost his previous self-enclosed near-invulnerability. He seemed immediately fascinated and pleased with me. Did he somehow know of the being within me, of which I had spoken to no-one of frankly? The being which I am sure is the root of the attacks on me. I almost felt he did, that his sorcerous essence felt a kindred spirit, that he knew that he could ignite the flames of malice and blood-glory which I felt galloping within, in something of the way they beat in me.

    Another false rumour of Dynaheir and her party saw us stumble across the half-Siren pirate Safana. She led us to slaying of several of her Siren kin on the Sword coast, in search of treasure, and then disappeared as quickly as she had appeared. We returned to Beregost for respite. We inspired a silent fear and un-welcoming respect there, amplified by our new drowish companion. There also we encountered the bard Garrick. He was in the thrall of a pitiless actress-mage, who we killed after she attempted to dupe us into carrying out her own savage dirty work. Seemingly in need of new direction, he became our own bard, much to Imoen’s delight. Another bounty hunter attack on my life seemed almost incidental, and we spent several nights making merry in Beregost, ignoring the reproach of the townsfolk as best we could. Imoen seized upon Garrick’s haphazard approach to spellcraft to accelerate her own learning. Garrick regaled us with many songs, but we saw that he became increasingly preoccupied with tales relating to Durlag’s Tower, and of a great beauty trapped within. We agreed to set out to investigate.

    Just before we set out for Durlag’s Tower, we were seized upon by a wild-eyed elf named Coran, full of careless energy and witty humour which softened glints of something ruthless and self-seeking beneath. He had overheard Garrick’s tales, and talked his way into joining us. The five of us – myself and Imoen, Garrick, Coran and Baeloth – journeyed to the wastes surrounding the tower.

    ZaghoulBlackravenlolien
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