Zardi's Angels

Troublesome Night
The Word of Nicodemus

Until this night, I didn’t realize how much my past continues to haunt me. My companions and I were still exploring the Graveyard of Col Fen when we heard the screams of a woman. Naturally, we all rushed in the tomb from which the sounds came. We saw a woman held hostage by creatures of unholy spirit. Those, neither dead nor alive, that only serve evil. I couldn’t bare the thought of the woman and her child meeting such a fate. My friends and I began cleansing them immediately. Many of us were shaken by the sight of these rotting bags of evil. It was difficult to keep sharp. All I remember from this first battle was that our team showed great skill at strategy and close combat. The clerics skill at terrifying the undead with his holy powers proved keen. Even at moments when I thought he had missed, the undead were thrust back and obviously frightened by him. I could have used him during the war. Dara’s arrows scattered skeletons to every corner of the room. Mika’s missiles and magic chants seemed to strike all of the undead at once. Feydreth…well…he tried. At one moment he attempted to take tactical advantage over the undead, which I admire, however when he jumped to the top of the sarcophagus, it cracked and he slipped off with quite an embarrassed look on his face. It might have proven a serious mistake had he been fighting more than a weakened undead at the time. My focus was on the ghostly reaver that lay before me. All I could think of was to protect the woman and my friends from his wrath. I called to him and challenged him to come to me and meet his end. He was strong and dealt mighty blows to me. Thanks to the help of my friends and the holy light within me, we were able to destroy him and I quickly helped the woman and her child out of the pit in which she was being held.

She knew nothing of her situation, and only talked of her father and husband. They were also taken by the undead. An overwhelming anger began to rise in me. The undead cause only pain and suffering and I knew what end most meet at their hands. Mika provided security for the woman to leave this unholy place and returned to help us search the remaining tombs. When we entered the second tomb, we felt a cold chill coming from the back. We all noticed two bodies in the tomb. They were freshly dead and rage filled my heart. The undead have no place here! They’ve taken these innocent lives and I longed to purify this ground. Alain, the cleric, blessed their bodies. I am immensely grateful for his holy protection on their souls. I too prayed for them and for the husband we hadn’t yet found. None of us had to say much. We knew where to go next. Down the stairs leading to another chamber. We heard murmuring and Mika lit the room with her magic. We then saw what appeared to be a wizard of some kind, but he was barely visible from some portal of sorts in the back of the room. Two ghouls were chanting over the husband, who was still alive! But, he was bound and wounded, lying on a table. It looked like some sort of sacrificial ritual. We all saw a bowl of blood and a magical skull lying at his head. There was no time to waste.

I will admit, the battle that raged was not my best. I was overcome with anger and rage. It affected me and I found myself swinging my weapon violently, but without contact. I am grateful my friends were with me and their level heads prevailed. Feydreth and I dispatched two zombies in the doorway. They were already half rotten and proved of no danger. Dara was amazing and I had to take cover several times as to avoid being hit in the face by exploding skeletons. The ghouls attacked us, but were soon ordered back by the wizard to complete the ritual. At this point, Feydreth and I looked at each other and I could tell we were thinking the same thing. He rushed to the back of the room and knocked over the skull and blood to prevent the ceremony from continuing. The skull shattered when it hit the floor. I know this upset many on our team, especially Mika who could have grabbed the skull with her magic reach, but I would have done the same. In fact, I encouraged him to do this and yelled to him to push it off. Anything to prevent them from taking another innocent life into their sickness and vial existence. As the skull shattered on the floor the wizard vanished from site. The ghouls were none to happy with Feydreth, of course. All of us spent a great deal of time dealing with their wrath. I was stunned by one of them and he nearly bit me, the beast. We were finally able to send them back the depths of hell from which they were reborn. We freed the man and he knew nothing of why he was being sacrificed in such a manner. Mika and the others again showed disappointment in Feydreth’s actions. She held in her hands the 20 fragments of the skull and she hopes to study it further. I will say this…I believe Feydreth’s actions saved an innocent life and protected all of us from the power of the unholy scourge. I would have done the same if I had been close enough. His priority was protecting the innocent and for that, he has earned my trust and respect tonight.

Feydreth's Memoirs

What is left to an Eladrin who has been exiled from the Feyworld? One hopes to find honor and glory in the land of the mortals. But what when that fails?

Our party searched some crypts for missing villagers tonight. We freed a woman and her baby from the clutches of some undead beings. We were finally beginning to bond, using strengths and weaknesses to our best advantage in combat. But then it happened…once cursed, always cursed.

In the second crypt, we found one of the villagers dead. We were too late to save him. The paladin was so overcome by the travesty of it, that his righteous fury could be seen. His presence was ominous. Both of the holy men blessed the fallen and sent the spirits of the fallen to rest. The icy chill of an unholy wind was blowing from doors at the far end of the crypt.

We descended these stairs. Mika shouted some words that filled the room with light. At the same time, the cleric threw a sunrod against the far wall. What met our eyes was appalling! Several undead were preparing to sacrifice one of the poor villagers. He was tied to the top of the altar. A bowl of blood and an onyx skull (probably the one we were after) were resting near his head.

The battle was heated, but had drawn the evil ones away from the villager. Upon a command from some spectral wizard, the ghouls turned back to finish the ritual. And that is when it happened. I knew that our powerful wizard had the ability to remove the skull from its place. She was running towards the sarcophagus on the far side of the room. I panicked, thinking that she would not get there in time. The lead ghoul was already at the victim’s throat. Anger and my protective nature overcame my clear-thinking, and I swiped the bowl and the skull off of the table, shattering the skull to pieces.

What honor, what glory can I gain from this?! Baron Zardi paid me and trusted me to assist him. And I have failed! The scoffs of the large, oafish one are now well-earned. (I am sure he and his sword will have a long, whispered, conversation about their inept rogue tonight!) Mika, I believe, was especially disappointed. All I could think of was that poor man becoming like the other undead. Injustice shall not abide in my presence! Yet, I have failed…

Perhaps this is punishment for stealing that magical crossbow from the sandy cave. Curses are never really lifted.

What Zardi's Angels Would Say...
If they wrote a journal

All three of us, the cleric, the mage, and the ranger, cannot get over what a muscular specimen that paladin is! The girls must swoon when he walks into a room.

And that rogue; he’s so stealhty and more than just mildly intelligent! If girls knew he was in the room, they would probably swoon as well. We are so fortunate that these two are among our party. We are blessed by the gods…

(What they are really thinking)

Let those two idiots with extra time on their hands do the journaling, we are busy!

Paladin Humor
The Word of Nicodemus

I recently heard a joke that gave me greater laughter than I’ve felt in many a year. I thought I must write it down.

A wizard, a paladin, and a rogue walk into a bar…the rogue dies!! (hearty laughter)


I think I may share this joke with my rogue friend this evening. Though, he may take me seriously, though I mean no harm. He’s actually growing on me with his tricks and mischief. Even so, I think I WILL tell him this evening…while I sharpen Valor next to him. (hearty laughter)

The Nervous Paladin
Feydreth's Memoirs

I have found that when I have written down past exploits and conquests while other members of Zardi’s mercenary force have been around, that they grow quite nervous; especially the paladin. He casts side-long glances in my direction, and sometimes even comes behind me as if to look over my shoulder. Being a master of stealth and surveillance, that technique is well-known to me. Usually I scrawl his name “Nicodemus” in large letters, and then write the rest of the sentence in the language of the thieves. His normal reaction to this is to turn away patting his sword or speaking to it: “His blood may be yours one day, Valor. His blood may be yours.” I must admit he frightens me. If he were not a paladin, I am sure he would try to snuff out my life.

I have found that I can make Nicodemus even more suspicious by looking his way and chuckling every once in a while. Perhaps the gods have put me in his presence to be a temptation to him. I can’t disappoint the gods, you know.

Alain, on the other hand, is usually too absorbed in his drink to be concerned with my writings. He is either drinking or “keeping watch” over the pub area. I could swear that sometimes I see him winking at Mika, or staring at our mage when she is not looking. I have already told of Mika’s feats of turning my lodging space quite cold at night. I make sure to write nothing derogatory about her. One day she will be great among the wizards, I can tell.

Nicodemus has already noted Dara’s habits. Many times we hear her repeating things to herself over and over again; especially directions to get places. Perhaps all of her training in the woods has scattered her wits a bit. (Oh great, Nicodemus is coming over here again…)

NICODEMUS δηαειφλδφκ αειφανλει φπςόιθυ.

I better cease now; the large one is stationed behind me!

Journaling is For The Strong
The Word of Nicodemus

I’ve noticed a strange occurrence. Many of my comrades do not seem to care much about keeping a proper log of our journey. They obviously have had no experience with the kinds of beasts and evil magic we may come across from time to time. The kind that blanks the memory as if time itself had worn away the experiences they’ve had. Of all of them, I should think the wizard would be scholarly and keep such logs. Though, I think she’s had her hands full with Alain. In regards to him, at this point I wouldn’t expect much from our cleric, other than a note of which ale he prefers, but at least THAT! I think he once started to write, but then was distracted by the clang of beer mugs at the bar and vanished for a while only to come back and pass out head first on his parchment. The slobber of a wayward cleric was the only note he left that night. Dara seems to like studying up on the battles we fight, the beasts we meet and the tactics we use, but hasn’t written any of it down for future reference or posterity. She may soon find her studying for not, if her mind is melted by the undead demons. She will then wonder aimlessly through the land repeating things to herself, talking to an imaginary monkey and being referred to as Dara the Explorer. Feydreth has been diligent in writing, but I’m not sure what, exactly. He just sits in a corner, scribbling notes and giggling to himself. I think he finds himself rather funny. It is a little disturbing that much of his giggling comes after looking my way and jotting down notes. I fear for his stability. I must go for now. It appears Alain has fallen, ale in hand, over some of Dara’s books and caused Mika to misfire a spell she was practicing. The only good part…the fire has caught Feydreth’s next journal entry a blaze. For now…back to studying Valor.

Of Spiders and Swords
Feydreth's Memoirs

As our mercenary force returned to the Dragon’s Breath Inn, we met, or rather, heard our employer. He gave us his thanks and promised to resupply us. The holy man, Alain, made his rounds through the pub, drinking and carousing. I am still not sure about this one.

Baron Zardi sent us out again to the location marked on the map. I was hoping that this would turn up enough treasure to help me out of my uncomfortable circumstances. We were in pursuit of treasure from a sea hag, a counterfeiter, a missionary paladin, or a kidnapper – no one knew the truth. Our travels to the seaside cave were uneventful; the cave itself was another matter.

We found the skeletal remains of one who we believe was Ganilar, Surean’s uncle. Alain took a holy symbol from the dead man’s grip, while Nicodemus quickly snatched up a sword. I thought we rogues were bad about looting bodies! These two were like vultures! I’m sure that if Ganilar’s eyes were still there, these two would have grabbed one each and started prancing around the cave waving them above their heads.

It would have been a quick dance, though. Ganilar’s banes came from the cave’s roof. Spiders! Our team made quick work of them, but not before one poisoned Nicodemus and Alain. Alain’s bite was not too bad, Nicodemus was a little flush. (Especially when the spider attempted to bite his hind parts!) Dara splattered one of the spiders with a well aimed arrow. Having dispatched the spiders, we searched some old chests that were against the cave’s wall.

The lock on one was too encrusted by rust and salt to pick. Mika stepped up and froze the thing right off. Her abilities grow with each passing day. While Nicodemus had distracted folks by talking about his new toy – “Oh, look at my new sword. We were destined to be together, this sword and I! Mika, Dara, don’t I look dashing holding this sword aloft? It’s okay for you to swoon.” – I found one of the books to contain some old, ragged books which I must admit I damaged when I found another item of great value. I kept that one for myself. The team won’t miss it. We also found a chest of coins. Half of them seem to be fakes. This was not enough treasure to change our situations. I would still have to hire myself out as a mercenary.

With the paladin oogling over his new found friend, we reminded him that a proper burial for his “brother” paladin might be in order. I suggested we just stick him in the sand, but others suggested an honorable burial. Baron Zardi seemed pleased with our finds, and saddened by the death of his old friend, Ganilar.

Though my new allies have their quirks, I believe that I can work with them. I should probably tell them about my new aquisition, before they notice and get upset. Of course, what do you expect from a rogue?!

Meeting My Destiny
The Word of Nicodemus

For so long I have wondered what Bahamut has planned for my future. My destiny has never been clear to me. I’ve sought clarity. I’ve prayed for guidance. I’ve led armies and fought wars in which many have died; all in hopes of finding my peace…and my place. Finally, on this day, I believe I’ve stumbled on a piece of my destiny…and it is glorious.

Today, my colleagues and I spoke directly with our employer. He still has yet to show himself to us in-person, but rather prefers to deliver his orders through a magic, blue orb. I’d prefer to do business face-to-face, the honorable way, but what choice do we have. After introducing himself, the Baron purchased the map from Surean and Elsus Bloodstone provided him with a safe place to stay until he could return to his home. He had no other insight into the map, other than to say that he believed the writing on the back was of significant importance and that he would have it analyzed. The map itself, he believed, may be at the root of many a rumor. I must say, I grew tired as he rattled off one bed time story after another. I see no use in such story telling and wished he would save it for the children.

From what I recall, there were four tales. A sea hag with a cursed treasure. Preposterous. A Paladin raising money for missions, only to disappear with the gold. Unlikely. A counterfeiter with a large, fake treasure. And finally, a kidnapped princess; whose ransom was paid by a king who made the gold with her face as its mark. All those involved disappeared. Many rumors have some truth, but these did seem rather ridiculous, at the time. I found the most interesting story, that of Ganilar, Surean’s uncle and the owner of the map. Barron Zardi called Ganilar a friend and spoke highly of his adventures. Ganilar was a great and famous Paladin warrior who sought increasingly dangerous adventures, each one more glorious than the next. He disappeared a year ago and was thought to be dead. Regardless, we decided to press on and find out exactly what lies in waiting on the end of this map. The Barron provided us with transport, once again, but this time it would be by water.

We headed down river, following the map to a secluded beach. There was a cave that was only revealed at low tide, and only for a brief time. We decided to investigate this cave, but with caution. Once inside, Mika provided enough light for us to explore. We noticed two chests in the back of the cave and a skeleton on the ground. Could this be Ganilar, the great Paladin we have been told of? It was clear this person had died in battle, as he lay in rusted armor and next to him was his sword and amulet. The sword…for a moment, I swear it called to me. In a whisper. I picked it up and must admit, I lost myself in it’s glare for a moment. I was then brought to my senses by Alain, who asked to hold the amulet. It was of his god, whom I have no tie, so I told him he was welcome to it and continued studying to sword.

Unfortunately, my study would have to wait. At that moment, we heard a strange noise from the top of the cavern. Spiders! I knew it almost immediately by the clicking and despicable noises they make when they’re hungry. We banded together and prepared for battle. We now knew what had killed the soldier lying in the sand next to us. No one should meet such a fate alone. These spiders would not succeed again. With new sword in hand, I felt stronger than ever. This battle would not end in their favor! It was a marvelous fight. I felt swifter with every attack, stronger with every blow to my enemy. I will say, however, that I was careless at times and without the help of the cleric Alain, I might have been lying next to my Paladin brother in the sand. But, there was no backing down. I would not leave! Thankfully, with the skill and bravery of my comrades and the added strength and power that the sword and amulet seemed to give Alain and I, we all prevailed. Mika’s brilliant use of magic. Dara’s accuracy. Feydreth’s stealth and strategy. All proved too much for these weaker foes. Glorious indeed.

After slaying the spiders (and making quite a mess in the cave), we decided it was time to investigate the chests further. Feydreth ensured the chests were not rigged with traps of any kind and opened them to check their contents. The first had only old books, ruined by time and salt air. The second was a little more difficult to open. I tried, but was too weak from battle to be of much help. I then had to rest, as I could barely stand. Feydreth couldn’t pick the lock due to corrosion. Finally, Mika was able to freeze the lock and remove it easily. We discovered 800 pieces of gold! Quite a sum. (Though we determined later that 400 of them are fake and the rest marked with the face of the kings daughter. They must be melted down before they are spent. Else, we might be thought the kidnappers.)

As the others investigated the chests, Feydreth noticed I was standing over the fallen Paladin. He offered to help me give this warrior a proper burial, which I greatly appreciated. We started to dig a grave, but then decided this wet cavern was no place for a great warrior to rest. After discussion, all of us agreed to bring his body back with us to the tavern and Surean. If this was, in fact, Surean’s uncle Ganilar he would want to hold a memorial of sorts, I’m sure.

We headed back up river to report our findings. The entire trip, I continued hearing strange whispers and couldn’t stop studying the sword. After the battle with the spiders I had seen names appear on it’s blade. Hundreds of names emblazoned on the sword. The last, was Ganilar. Are these all names of fallen warriors? My brethren? Somehow I felt connected with each of them. But, how? I was hoping the Barron or Surean could explain.

When we returned to the tavern, Elsus and Argos (the blacksmith) were eager to hear our story. Argos was particularly interested in the sword and kept staring at it…and me. I first wanted to speak with Surean and show him the body we discovered. He recognized the sword, amulet and armor as that belonging to his uncle, Ganilar. I felt it important to tell him that the sword I now held gained vengeance over his uncles killers in the cave. He thought it only fitting that it remain with me and the amulet with Alain. Again, the dwarf, Argos, stared intently at the sword and finally stepped forward and asked me for it. I started to give it to him, but hesitated. I don’t know why. He assured me he just wanted to examine it, so I finally let him. He said he recognized the sword and after leaving briefly, he returned to tell me startling news.

The sword is called Valor and gives its owner greater combats skills. This I already knew. However, it is also cursed. Cursed by its original owner who was over zealous in his desire for glory and died in battle in a failed attempt to protect his king. Because of his failure, the king was brutally slain and the sword bares the curse of his faults. Argos says this sword will drive me to achieve glory and justice, at all costs.

There is a way to remove the curse, he continued. And I realized, what he was telling me is what I’ve waited all these years to understand. I now know what my future holds. The swords curse can only be broken by achieving what it’s owner could not. A noble’s life must defended, and by it, victory, glory and valor restored to the sword. I, Nicodemus, will fight until the end of me, or achieve victory in the glorious battle that awaits. At last, I now know my destiny, my fate…and it is tied to Valor.

After hearing this, I’ve been lifted to a new excitement in my adventures. I was eager to continue our quests. The Barron informed us that his people had discovered the runes on the reverse side of the map read “Denal’s Grave Holds the Key,” which is what Mika had already determined. However, the word “key” could also be read “skull.” He determined that the graveyard in question may be located in Col Fen, an old name for a city destroyed in the last war. Our group decided to go to Col Fen and investigate the graveyard. Upon arriving, we noticed several tombs and I spotted an undead creature rising from the ground. I despise undead. They are un-holy creatures and I dispensed of this one rather quickly. We then heard a woman screaming and a baby crying. All of us rushed into the tomb where the noises came from only to find more, disgusting undead with the woman as a prisoner. We are poised to destroy them all and I am eager for yet another victory.

No Bridge Too Far
Feydreth's Memoirs

Baron Zardi needed my help. There were others hired too, but I doubted whether or not they would show. As I met with Surean in his home, I was not sure of his willingness to share the map. He displayed some hesitation, and just as I was about to relieve him of his burden, we heard wild cries from the front of his house. It was a goblin raid! I believe Surean may have wet his pants, but that proved good for him as his pants became fire retardant.

You could not believe my shock when I heard the goblins scream a second time. It seems that Zardi’s other mercenaries arrived after all. It surprised me so much, as I kicked open the front door to create a diversion, it slammed closed, catching my crossbow in the door. That was a sprain upon my pride, I can tell you. Our reinforcements made short work of those out front. They were so deft at combat, that I believe I actually saw Alain, the holy man, mocking a goblin by dancing in front of him. The distance may have obscured the truth, as there were flames blocking my view.

As the house was set ablaze, Surean recovered his wits and prevented a sneak attack by a lone goblin. His instincts to protect his home saved the both of us from that fierce malcontent! His walls will never be the same after that baptism of goblin blood. Since Surean had all under control from within, I moved closer to the final fray out front. All attention was turned towards my new allies, which allowed me the distinct privelege of pilfering the Skullcrusher’s life from him. My trusty sword, “Severance,” lived up to its name. I released that tortured one’s soul from his mortal frame. May he burn in the Abyss!

(I can also add a skill to my arsenal: volunteer fireman! We had to quickly douse the flames burning the front of Surean’s house. It helps to have an arcane one with you, as Mika made short work of those flames.)

Though doubtful of them at first, Alain, Nicodemus, Dara, and Mika have earned my trust with their skill and bravery! Perhaps these companions will help deliver me from my past…

Mika's Musings

My companions and I have just returned to Dragon’s Breath Inn after completing our first task, which was to bring a farmer safely back here – something more difficult than it would appear to be at first. I have four companions, the first of whom was sent on ahead of the rest of us. We went out to meet with him, but first met with a group of goblins – 7 of them. They were coming down the road, oblivious to us. I was ready to dispense with them right away, filthy creatures, but Alain and Nicodemus insisted on observing them first. Of course, there was nothing really to observe except how terribly ugly they were, but I restrained myself until they gave me the go ahead. I then eradicated six of them at once with my scorching burst – a beautifully executed spell, if I do say so myself. The only on left was the leader of the pack, whom I could have taken out just as easily, but once again, I had to be patient as others in my party wished to question him. All that he knew was that they were going to a farm, nothing more. Alain then drew his sword and killed him, which offended Nicodemus. I can’t say I blame him, though. I do suppose that the thing was a neutralized prisoner, but really, what are you supposed to do with a stupid goblin that doesn’t know anything? Take him with you so that he can yell and alert his comrades as you approach? Let him go so that he can go desecrate the countryside? The only kind of good goblin is a dead goblin… In any case, in all the hubbub about that, no one even bothered to notice or thank me for my excellent spellworking.

We then made our way to the farm, which was under attack by another group of goblins. It was in this battle that I really got to size up my companions. Alainrushed into the battle, only to be unable to smite the tiniest of goblin foes. The two of them were back and forth for some time – it was quite amusing. Nicodemus was a strong and steady fighter, protecting the rest of us by making sure the goblins could only attack him. Dara and I hung back, as that is more fitting to our skill sets. She was quite a good shot with her bow. I did my part, of course, though I did run into some trouble with my spell casting during this battle. Perhaps the gods were displeased with me for my tacit approval of Alain’s earlier actions. It doesn’t really matter, though, we eventually defeated them anyway.

When it was over we met our fifth companion, Feydreth, who had been in the house, protecting the farmer during this time. The reason the goblins were after this farmer is because he had a treasure map, one given to him by a relative. He himself knew nothing about it, really, and all he wanted was to take it back to Elsus Bloodstone. The males in our party took to examining the map and upon discovering some ancient characters on the back, they tried to make out what they said, but none of them could. They were going to simply give up and not even ask me about it until I managed to get a word in to say perhaps I could take a look. That’s right, don’t bother to ask the learned wizard, she obviously wouldn’t know anything…I can see I’m going to be unappreciated in this group. Anyway, it said “Denal’s grave holds…” I couldn’t quite make out the last word, but it was something like “key”. Then they acted like it wasn’t even very helpful that I was able to decipher that much…whatever.

Then we came back to the inn. Oh yes, there was a third group of goblins who attacked us on the way back, but we were able to deal with them fairly easily.


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