Zardi's Angels

Undead and Politics
The Word of Nicodemus

What an interesting time we’ve had of late. After our last folly filled battles with the undead and disappearing wizards (whom no one seems to know or care anything about), we were treated to luxury by the villagers. They were very thankful that we had saved some of their own from the undead and their hospitality was legendary. We decided to accept the invitation to rest there for the evening. That night, Mika had a strange dream. Somehow she was able to piece the skull, broken by Feydreth, back together in her mind and the next morning, was certain we could do it in reality. We all agreed, as we’ve begun to trust her knowledge of these things. In fact it was rather simple an endeavor and before long the skulls last piece fell into place. Immediately the power seemed to leave the skull and the crypt, which we had to return to for this process, slammed shut with us inside. I tried to open the door, but was unable to force it. Feydreth noticed a mechanism controlling the door and opened it rather quickly.

Once the door swung open we saw a panel that had opened in the wall. It wasn’t there when we arrived, but was now open and emptied. Dara quickly noticed a zombie running away from us with something in its arms. Knowing nothing good comes of a zombie on the move, we gave chase. Dara’s arrows flew by my head and pierced the zombie, nearly destroying it with one strike. As the blow knocked it back, the zombie seemed to drop the jar it was carrying, but I heard nothing break. It simply vanished. At that moment we were surrounded by 8 more zombies and the first turned to fight. I was eager to purify them quickly. They were no match for us and after dispatching of several of them, we heard…well, we felt…there was something inside our minds. Laughter. I shook it off at first, but it returned. A wicked laughter in my head. I could tell the others were hearing it as well. In the distance we saw something appear. It was the jar the zombie had been carrying. It held a brain and floated in mid-air. The laughter continued, but Feydreth seemed in pain. I could tell something wasn’t right. When the pain left his face, he looked at me with a blank stare. He wasn’t himself. An evil power had overcome him. I rushed to his side and used whatever power I could to bring him to his senses. My prayers worked and he regained his own thoughts. I quickly began healing him, as best I could. He was still bewildered a bit, but I knew he had returned to himself when he began insulting me for touching him. Perhaps I should have reconsidered my choice. Really, I don’t think any one could have faulted me for killing him if I had left him bewitched. “I had to. He was bewitched.” I’d say.

But alas, I almost got another chance. No sooner had he finished insulting me for saving his ungrateful hide, he looked upon me again and his eyes were like glass. He swung his sword at me and though surprised, I was able to avoid the attack. We all knew that this brain must be destroyed ere we be forced to kill one of our own under its spell. Yet, every time we got close to it, it would disappear. It was able reanimate several more undead soldiers. Evil magic was everywhere, but no match for Mika, thankfully. She proved herself of great worth in this battle. The only one to be able to sense the brains presence, she let forth several bursts of fire in its direction. It continued attacking and I too felt its psychic pain in my mind. Unable to find or hit it, I felt powerless. Alain, though powerful against those foes he could see, decided the brain wasn’t worth the effort and rather than be a part of the battle decided to have a “one cleric picnic” in the middle of the battle. Sitting down, he simply drank himself nearly to sleep while the rest of us battled. Feydreth finally seemed to be fighting through the control of the brain and I challenged the brain to try his power on me, if he dared. Thankfully, it didn’t have the chance. No sooner had I yelled, then Mika let forth a flame that burst the jar and destroyed it’s contents. The brain fell powerless to the ground.

Feydreth was released from its power (pity) and we were safe. After this, we went to inform our employer of this battle. When entering the tavern, Argos was found drinking heavily and very upset over recent Kobald attacks in which he lost a valuable item. Feydreth was incensed at this injustice, as am I. I told Argos that we will take the fight to the Kobalds in due time and he will have his justice. Unfortunately, we had first to attend to business with the Baron. We informed him of our dealings and the Baron felt it very necessary to deliver all we know to Lord Marklhey in the city. We did so and hoped to learn more of our situation. Unfortunately, the only thing we learned was that politics is alive an well in their city. Lord Marklhey knew little and only concerned himself with Kobalds. The undead, he knew nothing of. The orcs, he let roam his own castle!! Feydreth learned of a possible conspiracy to over throw Lord Marklhey, but the guards seemed unconcerned. I’m sure we’ll hear more of this, but for now, we are on our own.

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Crazy Brain
Mika's Musings

Many things happened since my last writing and of very different sorts. After we rescued the villagers of Nenlast, the people of the village made a feast for us and insisted that we stay. As I rested that night, I had a dream, seeming to be instructions on how to piece the onyx skull back together. In the morning I told my companions of it. I was a little wary of reconstructing an object that had been used for dark magic, but something seemed to be compelling me to do it, more than just my curiosity. As all of my companions raised no objections and seemed willing to help, we went back to the graveyard.

We were able to reconstruct it fairly easily. As the last pieces came together, a purple light flashed forth from the skull and the doors to the crypt we were in slammed shut. I was worried we may be locked inside, but unnecessarily so, Feydreth easily found and secret latch to let us out. As we exited, we saw several zombies coming at us and one who seemed to be running away carrying an object. Dara deftly shot the one with the object only to have him turn right back to face us and the object disappear. There were many zombies, but my companions and I have learned to deal with this kind now, they were no problem. However, there was strange magical power afoot. Suddenly we all heard cackling laughter in our minds and Feydreth howled in pain. Then suddenly the object that was being carried away reappeared – it was a brain in a jar.

I quickly determined that there was no longer any magical power issuing forth from the skull and it was all coming from this source, so I focused all my energy on eliminating it as my companions finished off the rest of the zombies. It seemed to be able to issue forth psychic attacks and was even able to take over Feydreth’s mind. Fortunately, though, he fought back against it and with Nicodemus’s help was able to overcome its powers. It was also able to disappear and only showed itself when it was issuing attacks against us, which made it difficult to overcome. I was able to use my magical skills to determine the general area in which it was while it was invisible, but this was only helpful if you were able to blast the whole area, which only I was able to do. Nicodemus tried to help, swinging at the empty space, but was unable to hit it. Dara seemed to be unable to decide where to shoot her arrows and the cleric simply sat down and started drinking. Finally I was able to destroy it.

I am unsure if anything truly useful came from this episode and if it was not simply dark power manipulating us to do its will in the piecing together of the skull. However, we took both it and the brain back to the Dragon’s Breath Inn to see if we could get any information about them from Baron Zardi. We will see what he can find out about them soon.

When we spoke to Baron Zardi, he was very concerned about the extent of evil activity in the area and insisted that we report to Lord Faren Markelhay. We did so and gained immediate audience with him, though his wife, Lady Allande, insisted that Feydreth stay outside. It was just as well, as there were two nobles engaged in suspicious-looking activity as we entered and he was able to spy on them. Nicodemus told Lord Markelhay of our experiences. He listened attentively, but did not really offer us any help or information that we didn’t already know. Lady Allande motioned Dara and I to the side and asked us to keep watch for any signs of plotting against her husband, which I said I would do. Overall, I was fairly disappointed with this encounter and if not for the fact that none of us could pick up anything unusual in their demeanors, I would think that the two of them were hiding things from us. But perhaps they just don’t know very much.

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Truth is Stranger Than Fiction
Feydreth's Memoirs

Many will think this title is a comparison of my tales with Nicodemus’ tales. Although that may apply, it is not that to which I refer. The dream I had of singing backpacks is nothing compared to what I experienced in battle.

After our party worked together to piece together the onyx skull, we left the crypt to see a zombie carrying something in its arms and running out of the door. Of course, we followed fast. A mighty shot from Dara bloodied the zombie. Others rose from the graves to fight for him. And then I heard it. In my head there was laughter. My first thought was that the cleric was so addled by his strong drink that even I was hearing voices.

But my mind could not get off of the laughter. A stabbing pain seared my brain. And then I blacked out. I saw Nicodemus standing next to me, shouting words of courage. There was clarity for a moment; then the laughter turned to a voice. “I am right in front of you,” it whispereed. And so I swung. So confusticated was I that I almost tripped! And then darkness again. When I came to the second time I began running around swinging at anything that might be the source of the laughter. And then there was a word of command and a bright blast of flame. In my head there was a shriek, and then silence. Whatever it was, Mika had killed it.

What was the eeriest part of my experience? It was probably when the paladin, who had encouraged me so, then…LAID HIS HANDS UPON ME! Maybe I reminded him of Valor at that moment, but it was uncanny I can tell you. His hands were warm and they glowed. I need a thorough scrubbing after this night!

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Strange Friends, Strange Dreams
Feydreth's Memoirs

As I stood and walked in the Feydreams that rejuvenate me, I had a strange vision. We were marching along in a wood. I had allowed the others to go in front of me on account of some noises I had heard at the back of the party. Dara was the last one to pass me. That’s when the vision turned eerie. It seemed that eyes were staying at me from her pack. They were as big as plates with black irises and pupils. Then I heard the noise again. It was a whisper. At first I thought maybe Nicodemus was communing with his sword again. But the sound came from Dara. The whispering was more like a hum. It must have been some strange dream, but it sounded as if Dara’s pack was humming a song to itself. I think I must be spending too much time in the company of that odd paladin. One day I shall ask if Dara has ever heard the noise. I awoke from my trance and went to inspect Dara’s possessions. Adding to my insanity, I saw that her backpack was a normal pack. No sounds…except the snoring of the ranger.

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A Mischievous Friend
The Word of Nicodemus

Recently, I’ve heard mumblings and half stories some of the others have spoken to one another and find them very interesting indeed. Apparently, I have not only fallen in love with an inanimate object, but also talk to it regularly, read out loud to it at night, snuggle with it, kiss it and even admire my own image in it from time to time. My bet is that Feydreth’s interesting humor is at work. In reality, the most humorous part of this is that the others seem to have taken it as fact. They are a gullible bunch. Personally, I happen to think his humor is almost as good as his acrobatic skill. The sword I use, called Valor is in fact enchanted and I hear whispers of it’s calling…but caressing it at night??!! (hearty laugh) Now that is something new. Oh, and I am apparently fairly narcissistic and believe any woman within view of me “swoons” at my presence. What an absurd notion. I’ll have to clear this up with my companions before he tells them that I want the cleric to perform a wedding ceremony under the stars, with the women as reluctant and jealous bridesmaids and that I now wish Valor to be referred to as Mrs. Nicodemus.

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The Dark Wizard
Mika's Musings

I have not written in some time because I have been quite busy looking up the history of the town of Col-Fen, the area where Baron Zardi’s sources told us that Denal’s grave would be found. A brief summary: When we returned to the Dragon’s Breath Inn a few days ago, we met with Baron Zardi via magic orb. We told him about the map and what I had translated. He thanked us and said he would have others investigate the matter further. In the mean time, we could go down the river to where he supposed the treasure would be. We made our journey, found the cavern with the treasure where we also found a deceased paladin and two nasty spiders. The paladin turned out to be Ganilar, our farmer’s uncle. He was carrying a sword and an amulet, which were of no interest to me, but Nicodemus quickly became enamored with the sword while Alain took the amulet. The spiders gave us a bit of trouble, but we were able to overcome them. Afterward, Feydreth said he had better check both of the chests in the cave for traps before we opened them. I also suspected that he wished to be the first to grab what he could out of them, but I consented along with the others. He opened the first quite easily and began to eagerly dig through, completely destroying the fragile old books that it contained. I must admit I was somewhat miffed at him for this. They may have been too old to have been handled with even the gentlest of care, so I may not have been able to make anything out of them anyway, but I would have liked to try. His rough handling didn’t give me any chance at all. The second chest had an old rusted lock, which none of our big, strong men could manage to break, so I froze it off. It contained a large amount of gold, although half of it turned out to be counterfeit.

Upon our return, Baron Zardi told us what his sources had found, mainly that the final word that I was unsure of on the back of the map was indeed “key” but could also mean “skull” and Denal’s grave would be found at theGraveyard of Col Fen, which was destroyed some time ago, but the new village of Nenlast had been built on top of it. At this point, our armorer, Argos Stoneheart , asked Nicodemus if he could look at his sword, he was reluctant, as he had already become quite attached to it, I had watched him as he had seemed to be talking and listening to it on our return journey, but he consented. Argos was then able to determine that the sword’s name is Valor, and it has a curse upon it. The only way to break it is to do with it what it’s original owner could not: defend a noble’s life. Of course Nicodemus is sure that this sword is tied to his destiny and he will be the one to break the curse. I would be more careful if I were him, though. I’m sure all of its previous owners thought the same thing…

That night we stayed at the inn and I must admit to playing a bit of a trick on Feydreth by turning his quarters cold. I was annoyed at him for tearing through those books. Alain was with me…he was a little bit drunk, which made my stealthy maneuver not so stealthy as he was laughing and stumbling down the hall. That one drinks a bit much for a cleric, but I find him fun to be around. He didn’t do so well during our first couple of battles, but he was humble and had a good sense of humor about it. Not at all like Mr. Holier-Than-Thou Paladin who keeps asking Dara and me, “Don’t I look hot with my new flaming sword?”

During the next few days I studied the history of Col-Fen while we traveled, finding that it used to be home to a temple in which many loathsome rituals were performed involving the undead. When it was destroyed, there were many magical seals placed in order to keep to keep those powers at rest. However, that was some time ago and I had a feeling new evil was afoot. I told my companions of these things. Alain and Dara spent much time preparing, as did I, but Nicodemus and Feydreth seemed too busy harassing each other to do so.

Upon arriving at Nenlast we found that, indeed, there had been undead activity, with some of villagers going missing. We followed the trail to the graveyard, where we first heard a woman scream from inside one of the crypts. Upon entering, we found found the woman and her baby, along with several undead beings. Alain and Dara showed their skill in this battle: he using his holy powers with great skill and she blasting a pale reaver to bits. All I really recall of the others in this battle was Feydreth trying to do an acrobatic leap onto a sarcophagus and slipping off. After we finished off the undead, we questioned the woman, who was too hysterical to tell us much. She just wanted to know where her husband and father were. As we had no idea at that point, I simply escorted her to safety. When I returned I found the others examining the sarcophagus. There was nothing particularly special about it, just some magical wards meant to keep the dead at rest.

We then went to examine the middle of the three crypts. As we entered we found two bodies, killed by the undead. Our party was overcome with grief at this. Alain said some words to ensure that these would stay at rest and not be turned the same as the hideous creatures that destroyed them, while Nicodemus swore vengeance for them. In the back, there was a cold wind coming from behind some doors-doors that were meant to stay closed. As we descended into the darkness behind these doors, I cast a lighting spell as Alain threw a suntorch into the back corner, revealing several undead, including two ghouls who were performing a ritual in the back on a still-alive man. There was an onyx skull emitting a purple glow and a bowl of blood at his head and the ghouls were chanting in a language none of us could understand. In the other corner was a dark wizard hovering over some kind of misty portal. There wasn’t much time to take everything in before he spoke in a strange language, ordering the undead to attack us, but I did notice that he was wearing some kind of triangular pendant.

In this battle, Dara and Alain once again showed their great skill, while Nicodemus and Feydreth, both seemed to be having trouble. They did destroy the two zombies in the front with ease, but those were so terribly rotted, it didn’t take much. I tried to move toward the back as quickly as possible while still helping my companions in order to get a better look at the dark wizard and to remove the ritual items. My plan was to use my mage hand to remove the skull and bring it to myself, thereby disrupting the ritual while retaining the skull to see if I could determine anything about it. But before I could, Feydreth rushed to the back and knocked it and the bowl of blood off the sarcophagus, shattering the skull. The dark wizard then disappeared along with the portal. I have to admit, I was quite frustrated with him for this and I let it show. I know that he was only trying to stop the ritual from proceeding in order to save the man, but I can’t help but feel that I would have stopped it while being able to determine more about the skull and the wizard.

In any case, we defeated the undead creatures and the man was saved, which is the most important thing. I shouldn’t have given Feydreth such a hard time about the skull. Both he and Nicodemus were more subdued after this battle. Perhaps they will spend less time badgering each other and more time focusing on the tasks at hand in the future. I gathered up the pieces of the skull and examined them afterwards, but could determine nothing about it. The image of the mysterious dark wizard haunts me. Who is he and what is he up to? Could this have something to do with the omen at my birth? Only time will tell.

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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.

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Shame
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.

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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!

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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)

(tear)

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)

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