Shades of Shadora

An Ill Wind

The diseased horde has been destroyed and the night has passed. The sun rises on the bloody battlefield that the temple environs have become. You finish off the wounded kur and varl as Jarvus tends to your fallen.

An anguished cry goes up as Windtorn falls to his knees beside Fate. Jarvus shakes his head and Windtorn wails again. Suddenly he rises and calls for Sedrick.

“Sedrick! we must get him to the Xarandar temple. Kyle the Bonesetter will be able to call back his ghost if we make haste. Come help be make a litter to carry him.”

Jarvus rises from the body and places a hand on Windtorn’s arm, “Master Windtorn, Kyle is away tending to the Yatahay. By the time he returns, Fate’s body will be unable to hold his spirit. I’m so sorry.”

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Black Shadows in the Night

Night falls on the temple and you are as prepared as possible. The barricades are in place, the bonfires are ready to light and the plant spy has been set up at the bridge.

You visit your temples to attempt to regain your diving magic by spendign a few hours in prayer. y.

A second Pillar has been transformed and Master Rayne calls Simon and Lasheur over to lay hands upon it once again. You now stand before a stunning image of Vorthod, god of Storms and Thunder in all this glory. As you touch the statue, you hear Vorthod’s thunderous voice laughing in your head, “Go with my grace men of valor!” You gain 1 use of the Berserk Spell!

Chance takes to the skies as the night falls to try and keep watch on the bridge. Lasheur and Grey Arrow take up refuge on the roof of the farmhouse as the rest of the party mans the barricades.

The dusk passes into night and the waiting continues for the next few hours. You take turns catching a bit of rest. Time passes slowly until the hour of the Fox (11pm) when Lashuer senses something is passing by the plants by the bridge…

Chance circles the bridge area and scans for enemies. He spots a dozen large shapes moving rapidly across the bridge heading for the temple. He swoops down for a closer look. Giant Spiders! They are moving very fast but they don’t seem to have noticed Chance as he shadows them for a few minutes. Chance decides to fly ahead and warn Lasheur and the Temple. He arrives at the farmhouse and circles overhead.

“Sqraawk! Lasheur – we have a dozen giant spiders bearing down on the temple fast. You better start moving now or you will be hard pressed to keep up. I’m off to warn the others. Good luck!”

Leaving Lasheur and Grey Arrow on the farmhouse roof to decide their next move, Chance wings his way towards the temple. He arrives at the barricade outside the temple and sees its defenders alert but resting.

“Sqrawk! Make ready! Light the bonfires! We have a dozen giant spiders moving fast across the countryside headed our way! We have less than 5 minutes.”

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Leaving Liberty

There is a great celebration for the graduates. But you notice that only 30 or so former students sit at the feasting tables. So few. You are wearing your new robes and are quite proud of the white stripe sewn into your hem and cuff signifying the rank of apprentice. Your familiar is resting nearby in the case of Prospero, or resting comfortably in the fire ruby Yarela had placed in Arghmon’s staff. Your master’s are seated across from you and the evening passes with a variety of entertainers and speeches from notable wizards in residence at the university. As the evening is winding down, your master’s produce a bundle wrapped with silver ribbon and slide it across the table. You unwrap the bundle to find a new spell book. Abu-Balardus leans forward and speaks in a hushed whisper.

“Normally, the new apprentice would spend the next few weeks copying their spells into their spell books, but in your case, you need to return to the Thicket immediately. Yarela and I have copied the spells for you. You book now contains all the spells of your University. We also have these for you.” Your masters hand each of you a ring. Prospero’s made of stone and Arghmon’s of obsidian. “These contain a few useful spells that you may need.”

“When Yarela and I were checking your references we became quite interested in the goings on you two have been involved with in the Thicket. Our research shows that others have also seen goblins, kur, and other strange horrors crossing the river to enter the Thicket. We believe that the Lazuri are marshalling forces, though to what end we do not yet know. We want you to return to the thicket immediately. We believe that your friends are in great danger. We will address the council here and try to garner some aid in the defense of Summerford. We will be but a few ten-day behind you. Enjoy the rest of your evening, tomorrow you will take the Arch back to Thenga Velu and from there make your way to Summerford with great haste.

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Emerging from the Conundrum

Emerging from the Conundrum

As you cross the threshold into the final room of the conundrum, room you feel a surge of power flow into you from the walls of the cavern itself. You touch your staff to your familiar and utter the words that fill your mind in the tongue on the Journeymen.

“I now make this oath, on both my honor and my blood, that I will be faithful to you, without deceit and will never cause harm upon you, and that you shall forever be familiar to me. If you harm another, I shall answer for you, and any who harm you shall answer to me. So I swear until permanent death shall take me, or I release you, or the world shall end.”

You are drained by the Familiar Bonding ritual but at the same time energized. An opening appears in the stone wall revealing a long tunnel with sunlight at its end. You step into the tunnel and it seems the walls rush past you and an inhuman rate. It appears you have traveled many marks within an instant. You see your master waiting for you and he beckons you forth from the cave.

As you exit the cave, you see a weatherworn, mossy statue of Eman Zelen. He stands with his ruby staff raised before him, Bara, his hawk familiar at his shoulder, and his right hand held aloft in a clenched fist. Around this wrist is the shackle of a slave bracelet with a shattered chain. The inscription on the statue reads, “Go forth new learner and bend the elements to your will!”

You reach your master and you kneel before him, head bowed, raising your staff in your outstretched hands. As he grasps the staff between your hands you feel a surge of power and alien words once again fill your head. Your words ring out in the same strange tongue as you recite the passage that fills your mind:

“By all that is Truth and Honor I swear by the power in my soul, by the mind within my body, by the Sun over my head, by the Earth under my feet, and by the staff in my hands that I will give faith, and aid, and fealty to you my master, until I am honorably released from this service, or permanent death take me, or the world shall end. “

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To Walk the Conundrum
Arghmon and Prospero Arrive at the University

When a sorcery student matures and they have spent at least at year abroad, they may be approached by a master of their college to serve them with the rank of apprentice. They will only be approached if their skill is great in their college of focus, if their exploits are notable, if they have not brought shame on their element, and if a master is willing to take them on.If they are approached by a master, they will be summoned to the great city of Eman on the isle of Emancia to take the challenge of the Journeyman Conundrum. The Journeymen left a number of these magical labyrinths in Shadora and one sits below the city of Eman near the Vaults of Knowledge…

Arghmon and Prospero step from the arch and find yourself in the receiving hall on the University grounds. You look out the window and see the vast cluster of buildings where you know the world’s greatest minds are at work. Your masters step forward to greet you.

Yarela Flamedreamer, the tall, wiry, bald wizard of fire that has agreed to train Arghmon steps forward and greet you with a firm handshake. You notice that his long black beard and mustache have been singed and burnt in few new spots since he appeared to you in the adventurer’s guild. His piercing brown eyes and dark smooth skin remain unblemished and he still carries his black obsidian staff that bears a large glowing fire ruby on its top.

“Come Arghmon, we have much to prepare and precious little time. Good day master Balardus.”

“Good day Master Yarela. And good day to you Prospero! It is such a pleasure to meet you in the flesh.”

Master Abu-Balardus wraps you in a great bear hug and you notice that he smells of fresh dirt. He is short and strong of build with short, straight blond hair, light brown skin, and sharp green eyes. His throat bears the scar of what appears to have been a terrible animal bite. His warm smile is missing a few teeth and when he raised his left hand you noticed that he is missing 3 fingers. In his right hand he still bears a gnarled wooden staff with the likeness of a hummingbird carved on the top that bears emeralds for eyes. The large black raven, Olohad, is perched on his shoulder.

“Come we must make ready for your test! This way.”

Traveling the conundrum is an intricate walking ritual which casts both the Create Familiar and the Apprentice Bonding Spells. The Spells are cast once the student emerges safely from the dark maze. Within the maze the Apprentice Candidate will encounter their Familiar and must prove themselves worthy via a series of tests that the Conundrum chooses. The tests are unique for each student and are considered a deeply personal journey. The candidate may only take their staff and attuned magic into the maze. The challenges will test the candidate’s power, knowledge and skill within their element. Many take the test, most fail and some die. Those that survive sacrifice find themselves bound to both their Familiar and their new Master.

At the entrance of the Eman Conundrum stands a small statue of Eman Zelen, the First wizard after which all the Eman are named. The statue’s face appears to smirk at the viewer. The statues inscription is written in the Journeyman tongue as. “Behold! The perpetual learner approaches.” Most believe that this message is a subtle reminder of the sorcerer’s paradox of discipline and humility: The discipline to study constantly and continue learning, and the humility to realize that their learning will never be complete.

All these thoughts enter your head as you think back to your early day as a student under the local master Hemdon in your home city of Oldmere. You remember he used to say it was his greatest memory, the day he emerged from the Conundrum. Hemdon was the one that suggested a tour of duty as a battle caster in the army of Velu in their war against the accursed Lazuri.

Over 100 students line up outside the great cave mouth that is the start of the conundrum. Their expressions range from anxious to confident to terrified. You all enter the conundrum together and immediately find yourself in separate chambers. Your master is with you. “Conserve your power, you will need every last bit. If you fail and live, you may take the test again next year. If you pass, you will be a full apprentice. If you fail and die, you will not be resurrected.” You master casts a light spell on your staff, bids you farewell and disappears around a corner. You are left standing alone in the gloom far below the earth…

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Throwing Back the First Wave

Windtorn and Rayne cast Heal Wound spells on Lasheur, Simon and Chance. They then go off to pray for their spells back and ask you to take care of the survivors as you notice a few of the goblins are starting to stir.

You have no qualms about dispatching these creatures of chaos. Searching the bodies reveals 6 newly minted Gold Fangs distributed among the members of the horde. One has a strange dark sheen to it. The Invoker chuckles as you approach. With fresh blood showing at the corners of his mouth, he grins and croaks, “You are on a fools errand. My master will destroy you. His minions are terrible. You are doomed.” You dispatch him, but his words trouble you. This may be only the first wave tonight…

The rain storm continues, and the cook comes out to tell you that the roof is leaking through several new holes. Sedrik asks if you have any Repair skill. Either way, he and the Cook enter the barracks to move the Initiates into the drier rooms.

Galen continues chanting for the next hour when lightning arcs down out of the dark clods and strikes one of the columns. It changes from a stone column covered with runes into a statue in the likeness of Agustus, god of Elemental Air. The column takes on a purple sheen and Galen is bathed in it’s deep glowing light. He collapses onto a nearby stool and drinks deeply from a water pail nearby. You walk over to walk over to check on him and he tells you, “Touch the statue of Agustus, he has a gift for your valor.” You touch the status and immediately feel refreshed and filled with strength and purpose.

You huddle with the Yatahay and William to plan your next move as the sounds of hammering come from barracks roof…

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At the Temple of Air
Simon and Lasheur learn the state of the Air Temple defenses

You help Windtorn stumble to the Avenue of Temples.

“Please men take me not past the glory of the other elements. It is more than I can bear. Take me instead to the alleys where the blind beggars cry for scraps like dogs scratching at the back door. It is only in their company am I fit to pass.”

You approach the site of what looks like a rundown Inn or manor house. In what must have been a courtyard stands a crude open air altar. A short series of worn stone pillars encircle the worship area. “Behold the glorious Air temple of Summerford!”

A silver robed Initiate notices your approach and the burden you bear and rushes to help “Master Windtorn! Are you hurt? Do you need help?”

Windtorn jerks upright and yells, “Away with you laggard. I am no babe in need of coddling! Be gone!” And then just a suddenly, he collapses.

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Air Temple Conundrum

You step from the homing circle and find yourself in the teleportation chamber in the adventurer’s guild hall of Summerford. You enter into the common room and settle up your tab with the main desk. You also deposit your earnings for safekeeping and head upstairs to check on your rooms. You stow your gear, send runners with Haven’s messages to the guard captain, rest a bit, and then head downstairs to check on the work boards. You find Windtorn’s flier and head for Itcharat’s tavern down by the docks on the spun side of town.

You make your way to the edge of town and come across a large waddle and dab structure with a thatch roof. The door is covered with a simple leather hide and above it hangs a sign with picturing a large rat skewered on a pitch fork with the word Itcharat’s scrawled crudely below it. You pull back the curtain and enter into the smoky gloom.

Your senses are immediately assaulted as the light is too dim, the air too foul, and the floor too uneven. The place is larger inside than you thought and the air smells of cheap pipeweed, old sweat, and stale beer. The room is poorly lit by a few sputtering torches and a trio of overhead candle chandeliers. Across the room, tending the large bar, is the ugliest goblin you have ever seen.

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The Return to Summerford

“Why is it the wizards are always out goofing off while we stand guard?” asks Simon as he leans on a walking stick he found abandoned on the pier. “Ah, that is a question for the sages friend Simon, or at least those much wiser than you and I”, says Lasheur looking up from coaxing a new string to grow from his bow.

The first 3 days passed quickly as you helped the dock hands unload the cargo into the warehouses Haven had chosen for the goods. This day has found you mostly idle as you tend to your weapons and armor. The man Fundin and the elf Jarl’Ur take their leave, vowing to look you up if ever they return to the Thicket, and vanish into the throng of races filling Merchant Isle.

Haven returns a few hours later to find you lounging on the deck. He has a aged sorcerer in tow wearing the purple and gray cuffs and hem of a master of the Air college. “My friends, I am sorry to have kept you waiting for so long. Allow me to introduce Master Aramis of the college of Motion. He has graciously allowed me to hire his services for the purpose of getting you quickly back to the Thicket. Please master Aramis, go below and make ready while I help the lads gather their effects.”

The wizard nods to both of you and heads below decks a haven pulls you off to the side. “We have little time.” He hands you a scroll case and a satchel. “Take this letter of credit as your share of the loot and this satchel as the goods you asked me to acquire for you. The case also includes some dispatches for Robart, Captain of the Guard. Please deliver them to him with haste.”

“Now we must part company, but fear not, I will return to the Thicket with a company of strong men if the Kings are willing and generous. Pray that I find them in good spirits. I must ask you to return Garrath’s sword at this time, for I have secured passage for it on a ship bound for the homelands of the storm elves. It will do great things for the morale of a broken people.”

He leads you below decks and clasps hands with each of you. “Be well lads, the sorcerers should follow in a week or two. Seek out Windtorn and lend him your blade. Something odd is afoot in Summerford.”

You stand before Aramis and he chants and gestures for a few minutes and you suddenly feel all the air being forced from your lungs and your stomach drops to your feet.

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The City of Stone and Bone

“Stone and Bone?” asks Prospero.

Haven smiles a knowing smile. “It is named for the strange quality the Journeyman roads take on when they enter the city. The spunward road takes on a shimmering blue-white sheen and no dirt will stick to it. The rock itself is unknown and neither scholar nor dwarf has ever seen it’s equal. The spinward road takes on the visage of the spine bones of a huge creature with attached rib bones projecting fifty meters or more into the air like twisted, alien obelisks. The taxonomy of the creature has never been determined, but most think it some sort of dragon.”

“Many who have never been to the city think that stone and bone refer to the walls and the bones that lay outside them, but the name is far older than the walls. In fact, the walls are less than 250 years old, being raised fairly recently directly from the bedrock of the city by dwarven and human earth mages. Over 1000 apprentices lost their lives in the castings.”

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