Tales of the Righteous Vanguard

Part Seven: Vale of the Mage - Chapter 5

It was about noon on Moonday, the 24th day of Planting, in the Common Year of 580, when the Righteous Vanguard fought off a group of yuan-ti that had ambushed them. When the battle was over, Gildor was left in the form of a snake. Worse than that however was the fact that much of the forest around them was on fire and quickly getting out of control. Realizing that they did not have the means to fight this fire, which threatened to engulf them, they chose instead to turn and flee from it. Before doing so however, Nicholas picked up Gildor in his snake-form intending to place him in his backpack, while others gathered up Gildor’s possessions. Nero wanted to try and return Gildor to his original form however, and attempted to dispel the magic that had transformed him into a snake. Unfortunately, the attempt was unsuccessful.

But just as the group was about to run, another unusual looking creature suddenly appeared in the air before them and caught their attention. It was a green and purple serpent about 12 feet long with feathered wings that spanned about 15 feet. The creature, known as a couatl, spoke to them telepathically and in the common tongue. It was clearly upset about the raging forest fire and strongly urged the group to aid it in anyway they could in its efforts to put out the fire. The creature then summoned about a dozen water elementals and instructed them to dowse the fire, while at the same time directing the members of the Righteous Vanguard to use what ever weapons they had to create fire breaks. It took some time, but eventually the fire was contained and prevented from spreading much further, leaving behind a blackened and smoldering patch of burned forest more than a hundred feet in diameter.

When the fire was finally put out, the couatl, addressed the group again, introducing itself as a servant of Ehlona named Tualoc. It was obvious that the creature was still upset about the fire, although it seemed apparent that not only could it sense the moral and ethical viewpoints of those around it, it could also read their thoughts and knew that the band was only defending themselves from the yaun-ti. Perhaps the couatl was also bothered by the fact that Nero and other members of the band, appeared to show very little remorse about having placed the creatures of the forest in danger, despite the fact that Nero felt badly about having damaged or destroyed some of his companions possessions. Tualoc chastised Nero for being reckless and self-centered, giving him a stern warning about relying so heavily on fire-based spells, and then flew away. But it remained to be seen whether or not the creature’s words had any effect upon the young sorcerer.

Once the couatl was gone, Nero tried again to transform Gildor back into his original form, and this time he was successful.

At this point, the group was able to take the time to look over the possessions of the fallen yaun-ti and gather up any items of value, including several that were magical. They also had to spend some time giving the elf Fleetfoot a proper burial. This took the remainder of the day. That evening they divided up the items taken from the bodies of the yaun-ti.

Later that night, while Aejiri was on guard duty, a huge tiger snuck up to the campsite. It took Aejiri by surprise and pounced on him, rending him with its savage claws and nearly killing him. The other members of the band and their guide Cutter came to Aejiri’s aid however, and managed to kill the enormous feline while Gildor tended to Aejiri’s wounds and kept him from dying. Afterwards, once Gildor had finished healing Aejiri, the rest of the night was uneventful.

The following day, Godsday, the 25th day of Planting, the group resumed their travels. But around midday they came across several of the tree people who had apparently been attacked. Many of them were burned or beaten or both and there was a patch of foliage that looked as it had been struck by a fireball. The group tried to speak to them, but they were obviously reluctant to talk until Cutter addressed them. Even then they were difficult to understand with their broken form of common. Eventually though, they were able to learn that the necromancers had been this way very recently, and that two of them, the female Tracy and the staff-wielder Red, had ambushed the tree people who were trying to follow them.

When it became clear that the necromancers were only a few hours ahead of them, the band decided to do whatever they could to increase their rate of travel and try to catch up with them. This meant creating phantom steeds for Kieranen and Nero and leaving Cutter behind for whom they had no means to increase his speed. However, as soon as they headed out, they lost the tracks of the necromancers who apparently used some form of magic to jump further ahead. Nevertheless, the band decided to continue on as fast as they could hoping they might still catch up to the necromancers or perhaps even beat them to the citadel. Their increased rate of travel may have even allowed them to avoid any encounters for the rest of that day. They traveled well into the night, and by the time they made camp, had managed to travel twice as far as they might have otherwise.

With the aid of further magic, the band was able to cut their rest time down considerably as well without feeling the effects of fatigue. So the early the next morning they proceeded at the same rate as the previous day by utilizing the same methods they had before. This time however, in their haste, they stumbled upon a group of giant boars. Nicholas tried to calm the angry animals but was unsuccessful. So the group was forced to fight them. As soon as they had killed the beasts though, the band set out once again, and by mid-afternoon, they reached their destination.

It was late in the day, on Waterday the 26th, when the Righteous Vanguard arrived at the citadel. They cautiously approached the enormous building of stone, seeing that it had no apparent windows with the exception of the upper most floor, which might have been three or four stories up. There was a long covered porch on the front side of the building, and the band knocked on a set of double doors there. After getting no answer however, Aejiri took a closer look at the doors and when he touched one of them, he was suddenly drained of a considerable amount of life force. Immediately following this, the band was attacked by three gargoyle-like creatures, except that these appeared to be actually made of stone and had been perched near the top of the building.

The group was able to destroy these creatures, one of which spilled out a few small gems as it died. After these gems were gathered, Aejiri tried again to check for traps. But again he was drained of life force. Gildor healed him up. Then the group decided to look around the building to see if their were any other entrances. They found two more sets of doors, one which they detected magic from, the other they did not.

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Czarn

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