The Armor of Despair

The Story of the Once and Reborn King

Book One: From Ashes of Empire

Part II: The Seawolf

Adventure One: Journies Afar

Act I: The Armor of Despair

Chapter One: The Cursed Village

September 18-25
The party continues its travels towards the ancestral home of Tristin's family. Elricson convinces Tristin and Ander to accompany him to the Blood Wood to look for his armor. Ander agrees on general principle, while Tristin agrees out of fear of seeing his father, after he disobeyed him by traveling into Valon and not to Caldor as he was supposed to. On the night of the 23rd, the party approaches a village but finds the road barricaded. They are challenged by the villagers manning the barricade to step into the light and show their heads and bare-chests. The party complies and are let into the village. They find out that strange things have started coming into the village along the north road. Another traveler is in the village, a wood-elf named Turin. This is actually the adventurer Jayne of Thay who uses a male wood-elf disguise when she is traveling to avoid problems. The party is told of shambling vegatable men and beasts that have assaulted the barricades. Another village lies along that road, and it is that road that Turin travels, as well as the party unless they want a substantial detour. They decide to push on the next day, though the villagers swear they will not be allowed back if they head up the north road. During the evening they hear the tale of Chantrel's Horror.

September 26
A ruined and over-grown farmhouse stands to the right of the trail. A panting and heaving dog lies in the road ahead of the party. Approachihng cautiously, the party sees it is covered with sickly looking thorny vines. The dog seems to be maddened from its pain. It snaps at the approaching characters, and they put it down.

Continueing along the road takes them past more overgrown farmhouses. The woods and fields are choked with a wild tangle of thorny briars and twisted vines, all bloated and sickly looking. The plant life around them seems oddly colored, with an alomost animal hue of blood. The party approaches the main village trepiditiously.

A few people sit on their porches: silent, staring, and covered in shaggy moss. Ahead the party sees the village well and town center. The large mass of vines and roots in the area seem to emanate from this spot. The party forges ahead, intent on freeing the village from whatever Horror has it in its grip. As they pass, the villagers, thier pets, and their children begin to stand and shuffle along behind them as one.

The party arrives at the village center and decides to get a fire going. The villagers attack. Suddenly, a figure shows himself in the distance and begins signaling the party to clear out of town.

A mist begins to roll in. A strange and fae fog of unnatural denseness and opacity. All sense of direction is lost. Lady Jayne uses her uncanny sense of direction and leads the party from the swirling mists towards the signaling figure, as the sound of thunderous hoofbeats draws near. In the distance, shining figures can be seen streaking ever closer to the village. The figure that was signaling them earlier materializes out of the mists ahead of them and begins dragging them frantically towards the woods north of the village fields. He pleads with them not to look back for their very lives. Tristin glances back. One of the glows resolves itself into the shining figure of a man on horseback. Both he and his mount shine with an inner light so blinding that Tristin is knocked senseless for the next day. The rest of the party and the strange figure make it to the woods as a pure note from some strange horn pierces the chaos. A flood of shining light and a slight pop, and all is dark.

September 27
The party awakens, Tristin still senseless. It is the morning of the next day. The village stands to their south, the unnatural overgrowth gone. There are no signs of movement. When the party investigates they find the village empty, seemingly abandoned for years. The party turns on the strange figure for explanations and are shocked to find that he is a Blood-elf. Painful looking red thorns protrude from his skin, tearing his flesh. After their initial shock, the party asks the stranger to escort them to the Blood Wood to speak with his Queen, both about Elricson's armor and the strange events of yesterday.

Chapter Two: The Blood Wood

September 27-29
The party travel to the Blood Wood under the guidance of the Blood-elf Warder with them. After some prying they discover that a corrupted wood elemental was responsible for the village's problems. The shining figures were "problem-solvers" is about all they can get from the tight-lipped elf. The party arrives in the wood the 29th.

The party is shocked and disturbed by the strange and unnatural forest. Strange veins and blood-red leaves adorn the vegetation. Very little animal life is to be seen. The party is met by more Warders, and given leave to travel to the royal court under escort. Elricson seems to be not unknown to these elves.

September 30
The party arrives at court in the evening. It is the night of the fullmoon and a celebration seems to be in progress. Balls of light and small brightly-lit faeries swoop and whirl over the assembly. The party sees many different races and creatures as they mingle. At the height of the celebration, Elricson receives an audience with Queen Alachia.

She asks after the health of his mind and soul. He asks after his armor, lost after Mithrode broke the world a thousand years ago. The armor was forged from the scales of a dragon slain by Elricson and Alec in the days of yore. The Queen recognizes the quest Elricson is on and tells him that his armor was retreived from the spot where he had dropped his equipment and fled in madness after the battle. However, the armor is no longer here.

A few score years ago, a human warrior had come to her court seeking aid magical aid for a great quest he was on. After putting him through some tests she had given him the armor to aid his quest. She tells Elricson that this warrior was a knight of Furyundy, and from the city of Furyundy, ruled now by Duke Albreicht. She invites him and his companions to a respite from their travels. They agree

Chapter Three: Furyundy

October 1-9
The party awakens on the edge of the Blood Wood, the last few days a blur. Many of them feel weeks have pased, others only hours. Elricson is the only not so affected and has a clear memory of the last few days.

The party realizes they are on the far side of the Blood Wood and near the road leading to Furyundy. They set out.

October 10-12
The part travels the road arriving in the city on the 12th. They attempt to get an audience with the Duke and one is granted on the morrow.

October 13
The party meets with the Duke. He is a scholar of ancient history. He knows of the incident the party needs information about and agrees to share it. He tells the party that the warrior that went to the Blood Wood and retrieved the armor, found it to be cursed. Everything he did, every heroic deed he attempted, somehow soured. He was finally driven to attempt a solo attack on the Great Dragon Icewing. The duke assumes he reached the dragon's lair, but failed since he has not been heard from since.

The location of Icewing's lair is not a big secret, as the dragon has lived in this region since before the breaking. Elricson is determined to "beard the lion in his den" and insists on leaving immediately. The rest of the party is hesitant, but agrees. Provisions and supplies for the journey are laid in.

October 14
The party has traveled all day and have stopped at a small inn. There they meet a patrol of guards that tell the party of some bandit activity in the area. The guards say to watch themselves on the road.

October 15
The party has begun its travels when they are accosted on the road by the bandits. The slaughter is complete. The party gathers prisoners and the heads of the fallen bandits and goes looking for the patrol to collect a reward.

Later that day, towards evening, the party finds itself shy of the next town due to the days activities and sets up camp. A traveler shows up at their fire and asks to share their fire for the night. It is a woman, a bard or wandering minstrel it would seem. She plays for the party and they feed her. They remember the tale of Chantrel, and choose not to ask her name nor give her theirs.

October 16-19
The party heads into the foothills of Icewing's lair. The lair is atop the last and highest peak of a spur jutting out from the Barrier Peaks to the east which divides Kanday from Furyundy and the north. The party arrives at a small and isolated village on the last day.

Chapter Four: Icewing Dale

October 20
This is the poorest village anyone has ever seen. There is a run-down place, called by the vile man that runs it, an inn, but the party is almost tempted to camp outdoors. Asking around the party is told that Icewing's lair is atop the peak at the end of a valley above the village. The villagers are unhappy that the party are planning an assault, as every time some party of adventures heads up there, Icewing gets pissy for years. After a few run-ins with the villagers, and the inn-keepers wife, the party finds out that there is a easier path then a direct assault up the front face of the mountain. A less steep face lies on the eastern side of the mountain, and a narrow trail runs right into the lair.

October 21
The party starts up into the valley. By midday they can see the lair. It is a sharply pointed peak from which a line of snow blows over the western part of the valley they are in. A fresh snow impedes their progress, but is a beautiful sight on the crisp green pines and shimmering slopes around them.

Sir Celenod arrives in the village. No longer a Knight of the Realm, he has fallen into disgrace caused by the machinations of his supieror. He is here following the direction of a Seer, who told him to come here to return from disgrace. He learns of the party's arrival and heads into the valley.

October 22
The party arrives at the base of the mountain. A massive storm has obscured the peak. A heavy snow begins to fall.

October 23
Morning shows the party several feet of fallen snow. The party leaves Turin to watch the horses and begins the trek up to the back face of the mountain.

Celenod slogs through the deep snow on his horse and arrives at the base camp. Turin tells him of the party's route and he heads out after them, also on foot.

The party finds the backslope to be clear of fresh snow and makes it to the tree-line around noon. Elricson feels a growing sense of anticipation and excitment at nearing his goal. The party hears someone approaching and split-up to investigate and/or ambush the intruder(s).

It is just Celenod. In the confusion, Elricson is seperated from the main party and stumbles on a rocky pool fed by a small run-off from the mountain. At the back of the pool, behind a trickling waterfall, he sees a damp cave. A damp cave that emenates fear and despair. He feels the cold of the cave cut to the very core of his being. He knows his armor awaits him within its deep recesses. He ventures within.

Ahead in the gloomy and mossy cavern, Elricson spies a broken skeleton, wedged into the back of the cave. Near the skeleton he finds his dragon forged armor, tossed in a careless pile. As he takes the armor, he sees that the man had a severely broken leg. He also finds the rusted remains of a sword, and the tattered remains of some equipment. It is here he discovers a waterstained, but still readable journal.

Elricson emerges from the cave and rejoins his friends. The party is excited at his discovery. Some ague to continue and meet Icewing, others urge retreat now that the object of their quest is found. Continuing on wins out.

Reading the journal of the domed warrior reveals a little of what happened to him. He was driven mad by the curse of the armor he wore. In the end he decided to remove the curse by facing and dying at the claws and teeth of Icewing. But even this was not to be. While climbing the mountain, he slipped and broke his leg badly. He crawled into the cave and died there, cheated even of his glorious death.

October 24
Elricson spent last night cleaning and repairing the armor as best he could. Now, in the dawn light he dons it. Old memories flood back into him. His spirit heals some of the damage done him, but now he knows what else is missing from him: his elven heartbow. He remembers its destruction during the final battle, but he cannot remember its name. It is the name he must find so that he can re-consecrate his bow and discover another part of himself.

The party reaches the back of the peak and finds the trail leading into the lair. The party had suspected that Icewing was not in its lair, as the villagers had told them that its comings and goings were always shrouded in storm. The night before last's storm had lead them to believe the dragon was gone. Now another localised storm blows in and swirls around them. They are forced to bed down in the blizzard least they fall off the mountain in the blinding snow.

Elricson dreams during his meditations. He dreams of once again riding to glory facing foes and monsters in his dragon-scale armor. He sees himself like out of a story-book, slaying all who oppose him and being the central hero, not just a part of an adventuring group, nor just as the champion of a king, but as a king himself! He realizes that these are not dreams but sendings from a presense ensconced in his armor itself!

Elricson attempts to defeat the horrid creature possessing his armor in a contest of wills, but he finds himself unable to win. He finds himself justifying the continued wearing of the armor, even with its maelevolent hitchhiker. The Horror named Despayre offers him power and glory if just he will accept the offered help. Elricson swears he will not take the proffered aid, and the Horror seems suitable chastised at Elricson's rebuffing.

Now that they are pretty sure Icewing is back in its lair, the party decides to turn around and head on out of here, despite the protestations of Celenod and Despayre.

October 25-26
The party retraces its steps down the mountain, recover their horses and supplies and set out for home.

October 27
The party reaches the mouth of the valley in the late morning, the village below them. They decide they can do with out another visit to that stinking hole and decide to bypass it. As they are skirting the village, however, the smell of smoke reaches their nostrils. Below them some of the village is burning and men on horseback can be seen laying about with swords and firebrands. Bandits!

The party rides to the rescue. Turin stays back with bow and picks off a few of the reavers. Ander wades into the fray, Darkslayer cutting a swath of destruction and death around him. Tristin and Gurney stay close and try to rescue a few of the villagers. Elricson feels himself seized with a flood of emotion. He draws his scimatars and leaps into battle. He fights like a man possessed, which is not far from the truth.

Still refusing the aid of the Horror, Elricson fights on, determined that only his own abilities will carry him through. Then he sees a small child about to be ridden down by a bandit. He is too far to reach her without a heroic burst of speed. He allows the Horror to feed him the energy he needs for just this one feat of goodness. The Horror's energies fill Elricson's body. Adrenaline surges through him and he snatches the girl from the street and kills the bandit handily.

Now the flood-gates are open. Elricson decides if he is in for an inch, he may as well be in for a mile. Drawing freely on the Horror's offered power, Elricson becomes a machine of death. The other party members stand back in awe of the incredible prowess Elricson displays. In a final battle against the bandit leader and his cohorts, Elricson single-handedly slays the leader and his men with style, panache, and alclarity. This is what it is like to be a hero, he thinks. This is what it is all about.

The battle over, the rest of the party watches as the innkeepers wife rushes up behind Elricson, arms flug wide to embrace the savior of the village. She is screaming with delight and cooing in anticipation of offering Elricson anything, anything, he desires. Still buzzing from the hyped up energies within him, or perhaps distracted by the Horror's congratulations, Elricson doesn't hear the footfalls behind him until the last second. Suddenly, he realizes someone is coming at him from behind. With whip like speed he spins and attacks, loping the head from the suprised woman.

The body teeters for a moment and finally collapses, the head landing with its accusing eyes staring at Elricson. The rest of the party stands slack-jawed, aghast at what has happened. The innkeeper rushes forward to his wife's corpse and begins hurling abuse on Elricson in his grief. For a moment it looks as though Elricson will strike the man down, but instead he turns and mounts the bandit leader's horse and rides away.

Ander insists on following him, and catches him. Ander asks him what is going on and Elricson tells him that he must go his own way and fight the Armor of Despair alone.

October 28-November 5
A somber party heads for the Dutchy of Laaw

On to Act II - Echoes of the Past

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