Monday, April 29, 2013

Session Nine: The Gods have made the same mistake twice

Spoiler alert.  If you plan on playing Shadows over Ekul, do not read this.

We pick up our story months after our groups of “heroes” have left Kyros and the rebellion against the mad Autarch Ganymedes behind them.  Their wandering has now led them to Ekul’s coastal city of Shan’Ammar and the Repentant Blacksmith Tavern.  While Hawk, Sylph, Katrina, Sul’khaz and Jura are enjoying a meal, Shangor has found another way to spend the time.

A group of Lhoban sailors are also enjoying all that the Repentant Blacksmith Tavern has to offer. One of them, the largest of their group who goes by the name of The Dragon challenges Shangor to an arm wrestling match.  Shangor readily agrees.

Sylph and Sul’khaz attempt to rally the crowd to their cheer for Shangor and many bets are made.  The purse exceeds two hundred moons.  Using her stunning beauty, Sylph easily sways to crowd to favor Shangor. 

The contest begins as the crowd of commoners and sailors cheer on their chosen champions.  Despite the great strength of the Dragon, Shangor quickly defeats the Dragon.  Shangor grabs the purse in triumph but one of the mariners shouts:  “You cheated!  I saw it” At that point, all hell breaks loose

The Brawl begins

Shangor, Sul’khaz and Katrina find themselves caught in the middle of the fight, brawling with both mariners and locals.  The truth be told, no one really distinguished themselves in this fight.  Shangor and the Dragon exchanged a few blows and some of the locals got cold cocked by the some of the sailors but that was about it.  Hawk, Sylph and Jura avoided the fight all together.  Both Hawk and Sylph pointed at Shangor as he was exchanging blows with the sailors and told Jura that under no circumstances would he behave in such a manner when he grew up to be a man.  Early on a group of commoners threatened them but they were inspired by Sylph’s beauty to turn around and attack the sailors instead.  While Shangor, Sul’khaz and Katrina brawled, Sylph, Hawk and Jura began to make their way towards the door.

In a stroke that no one would call brilliant, Shangor realizes that he as a ready weapon in hand....The purse!  He swings and strikes the Dragon on the head and coins go everywhere.  Several people that were fighting dive on the floor grapping for coins.

The Brawl Ends

Before Hawk, Sylph and Jura can make their escape from the Tavern; a group of warriors enters, led by what Hawk quickly recognizes as a fellow Amazon.  As it turns out, all of the warriors that have arrived to break up the fight are amazons.  The fight ends almost immediately and, to the character’s surprise, they are arrested, but not before Shangor and the Dragon shake hands in a display of good sportsmanship.  Once again to the group of heroes’ surprise, they are brought to the Palace of the Shah instead of the city jail.  Everyone quickly realizes that there is something more going on that a a simple arrest for a drunken brawl.

The Amazon leader takes our not so noble band deep into the Shah’s palace, eventually ushering them into an opulent office where a short, plumb man dressed like a bureaucrat and a man whose features are hidden by the shadows awaits them.  The Amazon leader dismisses her soldiers and remains with the group.

 “The reports were correct, my Lord,” the plump man says in an amazed tone.  “It is incredible, Marduk. If I did not see it with my own eyes, I would not believe it.” The man in shade says, sounding equally amazed.  “The Amazon Commander bows deeply, and says “My lord, these are the people you were looking for.” Thank you, Cassandra. We can always rely on you,” the short man replies.  Then, with a deep frown, he addresses the group: “Strangers, the guards here say you destroyed a tavern at the docks, wounded several people, and in general caused much trouble. Here in Shan’Ammar we make sure the laws are respected, so many months of hard labor await you.  But his Lordship,” and he points at the man in the shadows, “Ulesir Shah, Lord of Shan’Ammar, is a forgiving person, and he will pardon you if you accept a task he has for you.”  “Your task is simple,” Ulesir says. “You must be me,” he stands up and points his finger at Shangor.  It is amazing.  Shangor and Ulesir, the Shah of Shan’Ammar are identical!

At this point, Hawk demands that the guard or guards that have made the accusation make themselves known so she may challenge them.  She also says that if they wanted them to perform a task they should have just asked them instead of lying about their deeds and attacking her honorable reputation.  Hawk harmed no one in the brawl and her honor has been insulted.  Marduk, the short plump man, chooses to ignore her for now.

“Lord Ulesir came to power six months ago, and has many enemies,” Marduk says. “The most dangerous one is his stepbrother, Korras, a bloodthirsty madman who rejected Ulesir’s authority. He now leads the savage Mountaineers of the Iron Mountains, who are ravaging the country. Korras once swore he would personally kill the Shah, and in the last few ten months many of his men have tried, so his Lordship cannot leave the protection of this palace. On the other hand, he lacks the manpower to effectively fight Korras’s pillagers. The situation can be resolved: Ulesir’s father arranged for him to marry Karmella, the daughter of Tokarim, Lord of the city of Teluk’Ammar, a week’s journey from here. Tokarim has a good army, mostly Valk cavalrymen, (Everyone groaned that the mention of the Valk, although given their last adventure, who could blame them?) and he is ready to send his troops to fight for Ulesir. But Tokarim is also a very proud and stubborn man: he wants Ulesir to travel to Teluk’Ammar and marry his daughter as tradition dictates. The wedding has been delayed but Tokarim is growing very impatient, so it is time to act. You must travel to Teluk’Ammar disguised as the Shah, marry Karmella, and bring back brideand soldiers as soon as possible. Naturally Tokarim must know nothing of this trick,otherwise he will be mortally offended, and his rage can be terrible!”  Ulesier offers the party 1000 moons each to sweeten the deal.  The group agrees to it.

Everyone is quickly assigned royal roles.  Hawk will be the body guard, Sul’khaz will be the royal taste tester, and Slyph was be the etiquette master, a role she was born to play given her noble background.  The other roles will be determined later.  Marduk and Slyph begin their task of making Shangor act like a prince.  May the Gods help them.  They will need it.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Crypts and Things Session One, chapter 1: Nyogtha returns to Zarth

I actually started this campaign with a different technique that I have never tried before. Although all three players had created characters for the game, I gave everyone a 2ndlevel fighter and told them that they were part of a bandit group led by a warrior named Ragnor. What had just happened to them was that Ragnor’s lieutenant Darius Khas had betrayed them to the forces of the city of Belthaar by leading them into an ambush. The three characters and Ragnor himself were the only survivors of the ambush and that they were desperately trying to get away from the city’s soldiers that were in hot pursuit of them. We never gave them names but I will give them names for the sake of the narrative: Orsic, Rand, and Harmel.

Ragnor told the characters that their only chance of survival was that they make it to the ruins of an abandoned temple deep in the mountains. Ragnor believed that the pursuing troops would not dare enter the place. Orsic commented that seeking out the old abandoned temple couldn’t be any worse than ending up with a rope around their necks.  With almost certain death behind them, the three characters all agreed to follow Ragnor deeper into the mountains in search of the ruins. With the moon to giving them light, they soon spotted an ancient ziggurat at the bottom of a nearby valley. With the sound of the horses of the city guard growing closer, Ragnor and his last remaining warriors descended into the valley.

There was an obvious opening at the base of the structure. Cautiously, the desperate group approaches. From out of the shadows, a robed figure appears. With a voice that sounds like it had choked on the dust of an ancient grave, the figure in the robe speaks. “Fear not Ragnor. You have nothing to fear from me or my brothers. You will be safe her. Come, follow me.” The robed figure turns and passes through the portal. “Be ready men. Keep our blades bright and our intentions clear” says Ragnor as he draws his sword and steps into the darkness. Fearing treachery but having no other options, Ragnor’s men follow him into the darkness with steel bared. The robed figure has a torch waiting for them although it is all too apparent that the robe figure does not require it to see in the darkness.

The strange, cloaked figure leads the four desperate men deep into the temple, eventually opening into a large room with a round platform suspended over a dark pit.  A small green light can be seen shining from an object on what can only be an altar.   Ragnor and Orsic enter the room.  Harmel and Rand hesitate.  “What are you?  Cowards?” barks Ragnor.  More afraid of Ragnor than they are of what lies in the darkness of the temple, Rand and Harmel enter the room.

Ragnor and his men enter the lost temple of Nyogtha

“That object on the altar is your only hope of salvation Ragnor.  Take it.  It is yours” rasps the robed figure.  As if in a trace, Ragnor walks out to the altar and reaches out for the glowing object.

When Ragnor grasps the object, a massive humanoid being appears before Ragnor.  Ragnor screams in terror.  Massive tentacles shoot out from the pit. Orsic cries “Treachery!” and strikes the robed figure with his sword.  The robed figure cries out in pain as his far too black blood spills on the warrior.  Through the cut in the robe, Orsic can see that whatever is under the robe is not entirely human.  Much of the skin is green and molted.   Rand and Harmel stand trembling in terror, unable to move.

Ragnor has summoned a nightmare from beyond space and time
One of the tentacles strikes out at Rand.  There is a sickening thud as the blow crushes him.  The tentacle begins to convulse as Rand is swallowed whole.  His boot is only seen for a moment before it too disappears into the tentacle’s mouth like orifice to the sound of crushing bones and squishing organs.  Now driven by terror, Harmel strikes out with his sword ineffectively.  The robed figure slashes Orsic with a dagger.  Orsic attempts to remove the robed being’s head from its shoulder but misses with his sword.

Rand is about to be devoured
Ragnor disappears into the dark tendrils from the massive figure before him. The figure quickly compacts and shrinks.  It appears as the humanoid figure has been absorbed by Ragnor’s muscular frame.

Two tentacles strike Harmel, one grabs his head, the other his feet.  They raise his body high in the air and rip him in twain, his blood and internal organs spilling on the ground.

Ragnor turns around to face Orsic.  A wide smile is on his face and his eyes are glowing with a bright and sickly green.  Orsic screams in terror.  With what was left of his sanity has been driven from him, Orsic jumps into pit, hoping to bury his sword deep into one of the massive tentacles and ride his blade down the side of the tentacle.  However, his sword fails to cut the tough, leathery skin of the tentacle and he crashes into a pile of bones and filth at the bottom of the pit.  The debris seems to be alive as now hundreds of tentacles pile upon him.  The horror is too much for his shattered mind to handle and he slips into blissful unconsciousness…

Orsic stands alone against the nightmare from beyond
Orsic awakens to find himself tied to the altar deep in the forgotten temple.  Ragnor, or whatever has taken his place, gazes upon him, his eyes aglow with inhuman green light.  “You will be the first of many” he says as his hand rips through Orsic’s breastbone and pulls out Orsic’s still beating heart.  He consumes the heart in single gulp as Orsic passes into oblivion….

Days later, the city of Belthaar celebrates the death of the bandit lord Ragnor.  His treacherous second in command Darius Khas celebrates the fall of Ragnor with his blood money as he buys everyone a round of drinks in the Inn of the Midnight Rose, unaware that his new found wealth has drawn the attention of someone very dangerous.…..

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Beasts and Barbarians Session 8: The Final Showdown and Kiran’s Last Stand

The whole time that Drunn the Gorgon and Kiran are monologuing, Katrina, still hiding in a tower takes careful aim with her bow and shoots Drunn, shaking him. Kiran is in a rage over the death of last loyal subject and friend Kodor.  He grasps Kodor’s short sword and orders the Ka Ram war birds to attack.  The Valk that did not shoot down Kodor unleash a volley of arrows upon the heroes.  Although she can barely walk, Hawk calls out Drunn for a coward and moves forward to cut her way to him.  Sul’khaz summons his wolves and Shangor charges the Valk with his axe and the boy Jura hides in the ruins as he was commanded to by Sylph.  The final battle of the Citadel of the Winged Gods has begun. 

A wall of Valk

The party prepares for battle

Kiran and his birds take a toll on the Valk but the king has been wounded and one of his birds has been dispatched.  Katrina continues to fire away with Kumal the Smiling and some of Valk returning fire at her.  Sylph casts an armor spell and moves in to position herself where her distraction abilities can be most affective but she is struck down.   Hawk is cutting her way to the Gorgon.  She is making much better headway than Shangor.  Sul’khaz wades into the battle with both swords.

Sylph is down!

Finally, Hawk has her wish as she finally gets to fight Drunn.  In her weakened state, she is no match for the cunning Gorgon and he strikes a mighty blow against her head, sending her to the ground and ruining her left eye.  Seeing this, Katrina shoots Drunn again, this time wounding him.  Shangor finally moves in and drops Kumal the Smiling.  He then picks up Kumal’s iron battle axe and engages Drunn.

Hawk is stuck down by The Gorgon

Shangor strikes down Kumal the Smiling
The Gorgon Falls
Somehow, some way, Hawk manages to regain consciousness and swings wildly, striking the Gorgon in the leg.  He howls in rage and strikes her again but she manages to shake off the damage this time.  At this point, Shangor splits Drunn’s head in two as he buries his new iron axe down to the Valk’s breastbone.  Just so Hawk won’t feel too bad, he makes sure that Drunn’s body ends up impaled on Hawk’s long sword.  With the death of their leader, the rest of the Valk flee into the ruins.  Katrina, blood thirsty as ever, sends a few arrows after them.  Seeing that Kumal is still breathing, Shangor beheads him.

As Shangor and Sul’khaz see to Hawk and Sylph, who is still alive, The King of Haak stands amid the bodies. He drops his bloody short sword and kneels by his fallen general Kodor.  He closes his eyes and strokes the wings of his old friend and faithful servant. “I have found the last of my kin only to see him killed. I am now alone, my very existence is meaningless. Most of you were true friends to me, and I shall leave the entire city to you. Do what you will with it.” Then, pointing his finger upward, he says: “Can you see the birds?” A few Ka Nam are flying in circle, as if waiting for something.“They are the spirits of my wife, my brothers, and my friends. They have been waiting for me for too long. I shall join them now. May the winds carry you far.”

Kiran prepares to leave this world

Then, stretching out his arms as if they were the wings he lost centuries ago, he jumps into the chasm. For a single moment Kiran seems to be flying again, but then he plummets downward without a sound. This is the end of Kiran, last king of Haak.  Now, the Haakora are no more and a once proud people have passed from this world.

Although most of the groups seems either ambivalent at best over the passing of Kiran, (I am looking at you Sul’khaz [Chris] and Katrina [Brandi], although I will admit that you guys are correct that your characters did not get filthy rich like Kiran promised.) Hawk sheds a tear at his passing. 

With the remaining time they party has, they loot what they can from the city and make their way across the cloud bridge.  Shangor claimed Kumal’s iron battle axe and Hawk claimed Drunn the Gorgon’s very deadly and ancient bronze longsword.  While searching the city they also manage to find some items of worth, including some rune arrows, a winged helm for Hawk and a Royal Ka Nam Egg. 

Leaving the city of the Haakora behind them, the band of adventurers return to the land of mortals to seek further adventurers…..

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Sword and Wizardry Appreciation Day and my first ever Crypts and Things game

As you might have guessed, today is Sword and Wizardry Application Day.  This also happens to coincide with the preparation of my first ever Crypts and Things game that is scheduled to go down this Saturday.  These two things actually tie in rather well together since Crypts and Things is a Sword and Wizardry Variant. 

Swords and Wizardry is a retroclone of the original White Box Dungeons and Dragons game that came out back in the 70’s.  I had run across in on the web years ago and downloaded a free copy of the pdf.  Later, I purchased a softback copy of the rule set from the folks as Frog God Games ( and I was a backer of Frog God Games Sword and Wizardry campaign on Kickstarter as well.  An 18 strength only gives you a +1 to hit and to damage.  There is only one saving throw number. There are no skills and there are no feats, and the game works very well without them.  This is old school bare bones role playing and if get tired of the more complex gaming systems, I would highly recommend that you give Swords and Wizardry a try.  Also, without Sword and Wizardry, we wouldn’t have Crypts and Things.

Crypts and Things aims at capturing the spirit of Sword and Sorcery tales by likes of Robert E. Howard, Fritz Leiber, Michael Moorcock and Karl Edward Wagner with a healthy dose of the weirdness of Clark Ashton Smith and the cosmic terror of H.P. Lovecraft.  It does an excellent job of capturing this kind of fantasy literature. 

Getting ready for the game this Saturday

Crypts and Things differs from Swords and Wizardry in several ways.  There is only one race available for player characters:  Human.  Elves, dwarves, Halflings and orcs are nowhere to be found.  There are only four classes:  Fighter, Barbarian, Thief and Magician.  The rules for ability scores are different in Crypts and Things as well, bring the bonuses and minuses for scores more in line with what you find in Castles and Crusades.  For example, a fighter with 18 strength would have a + 3 bonus to hit and to damage.  The Thief class in Crypts and Things is more martial in nature when compared with the Thief class in Swords and Wizardry.  While Sword and Wizardry follows the Law vs. Chaos alignment system, there is no alignment in Crypts and Things.  For player characters in Crypts and Things, hit points represent more exhaustion than real damage and you can recover hit points fairly quickly through rest and/or strong drink.  That comes in handy in a game system without clerics.  When you run out of hit points, you start to take constitution damage.  Once you run out of constitution, you are dead.  Cure spells actually restore constitution points, not hit points.  Oh, everyone in Crypts and Things has the back-stab ability!

The biggest difference is in the magic system.  In Crypts and Things, there are three types of magic:  White, Grey and Black.  White magic, in general, is healing and protection magic.  A magician can cast any white magic spell without fear of losing sanity.  Grey magic, which involves alteration and illusion, costs the magician hit points to cast.  Black magic, the cool, destructive stuff, requires that the magician conduct human sacrifice or risk losing Sanity points when casting their spells.  If you can freely cast Black magic spells, you have been doing some terrible things.

Sanity score is another aspect of Crypts and Things.  Your character’s sanity score is based upon the character’s wisdom score.  When a character encounters some horror from beyond, they need to make a saving throw.  If they fail, they lose sanity.  Fortunately, most of the time, sanity can be recovered through rest but using Black magic can and will lead to permanent sanity loss.  A character that hits zero Sanity score is completely insane and will then fall under control of the game master. 

The front of my custom made Crypts and Things GM screen

The back of my custom made Crypts and Things GM screen
I was a supporter of the Crypts and Things indiegogo campaign and I have wanted to run it ever since I got my hands on the pdf.  By chance, the stars aligned and I will finally be able to run it for at least an adventure or two, starting this Saturday.  When my Castles and Crusades group wrapped up our last adventure, the players graciously allowed me the opportunity to give Crypts and Things a whirl.  I have taken Mongoose Publishing’s Legend of the Spider God’s Bride ( and converted some of the adventures to Crypts and Things and this Saturday, the game beings in the city of small city of Belthaar where a new religious cult headed by a onetime bandit now claiming to be a god threatens to throw the city in chaos….

If you want to learn more about Crypts and Things, then check this out.

One more thing:  Today only you can buy products from Frog God Games, including S&W Complete and resources for it, at 25% off. Use the code SWApprDay for the discount. You can also buy S&W PDFs from the d20pfSRD Store at 25% off using code SWAD252013.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Session 7: The Valley of Silence, the Cloud Bridge and the City in the Sky.

We begin play as two swarms of Ka Nam, predatory birds once trained by the Haakora, descend upon the band of adventurers as that try to make their way along a narrow mountain path.  The narrow path makes this a very dangerous fight as it would not take much for someone to get knocked off the side of the trail and down the side of the cliff.  Fortunately, the heroes make short work of the swarms with their strength of arms and the magic of Kiran. 

Heading through the mountains.

Bird attack!  You can't see them but they are there.

After the battle, Kiran checks the bodies of the fallen birds. "These are wild specimens, not trained ones.” He says. “In my time, these beasts were very rare and precious.”Then he sighs. “If my people let the Ka Nam go wild, it means they are in deep trouble.”  Sul’khaz makes another cynical (but realistic) assessment of the current state of Kiran’s people.  Kiran overhears and glares at him but the group continues onward. 
The temperature continues to drop as the journey continues and as night falls, the group is forced to take shelter in a narrow ditch where they all must spend the night together.  It is far from comfortable but it will have to do.  In the morning, everyone packs up and heads out.  “Today, if the gods favor us, we’ll reach Haak.” Kiran says.  This leads to yet another comment from Sul’khaz. 

After about three hours or so of traveling, the party finds a bad surprise: the path is blocked by rocks. Kiran curses and mutters in his language.  The boulders are far too large to move and the terrain is far too dangerous to climb.  “There is another way to Haak.” Kiran says, grimacing. “But it is very dangerous, and I hoped to avoid it. Well, it is now clear that we can’t.” The King of Haak leads the party back along the trail for a couple of hours and then takes them along a secondary path, a narrow passage between rock walls. The fissure gradually becomes wider and it soon turns into a rocky valley. “We call it the Valley of Silence” Kiran whispers. “Because being quiet is an absolute necessity here. Do you see those rocks?” He points at some large boulders high on the edge of the valley, which surround it like a crown. “They are very unstable and the mere sound of a human voice is enough to cause a landslide. So, we must keep quiet. Very quiet.”
With Hawk in the lead, the party begins to make their way through the Valley of Silence.  Everyone does so with the grace of cat….except for Shangor.  Shangor moves with the grace of drunken sailor.  A deep, hollow sound rips the silence. Everyone is rooted on the spot for a moment, and then the sound of the first pebble hits as rocks start falling all around! “Run!” Kiran shouts. “Run!”  The party is bombarded by pebbles, rocks and flat-out boulders.   Nearly every ends up battered and bruised and, in few cases, wounded, but eventually the band of adventures makes through to the other side. 

With the group finally safe, Kiran says: “I would recognize that sound anywhere. It’s the Guarding Trumpets of Haak, sounded to trigger this deadly trap to deal with approaching enemies.  Someone in the city must have noticed us, and they aren’t happy we’re coming. We must proceed with caution.” After the terrible experience in the Valley of Silence, everyone marches on, wondering what other dangers might lie ahead. 
After marching for another two hours, the heroes finally see it: a fantastic city made of polished stone perched on a peak! “Haak… I am home.” Kiran sighs, his voice full of emotion and reverence. But the city is on a nearby mountain and apparently there is no way to reach it. 

“Fear not.” Kiran assures everyone with a smile. “We are a flying race and we built our city so that no walking enemy could access it. But we have ways to let visitors in.” Kiran walks to the end of the path, just in front of the city gates. There are two hundred yards of open air between our heroes and the city gates. Then the King of Haak turns to the group as if in doubt. “I know how to access the city on foot, but it will drain most of my energy. I need your help.” Kiran says.

Everybody join hands!

Join Love Train!

Kiran has everyone to join together in a circle with everyone hold hands.  The King of Haak’s voice begins an incantation in his native language.  A few members of the group feel their spirits aiding Kiran’s casting.  Then, the wind starts blowing, shifting the clouds around the city, but not in a casual way. Their gossamer threads look like they are being woven by a skilled weaver. In front of the astonished eyes of the party, a bridge made of clouds appears between them and the city gates. Kiran smiles and says: “Fear not. You can walk on it safely. It will last till dusk.

Katrina’s fear of magic kicks in and she refuses to walk across the bridge.  Shangor grabs her and swings her over his shoulder.  As she continues to struggle, Kiran leans over and asks her is she wants to be shown up by Sylph (the whore)?  With that, Katrina marches, on her own, at a furious pace.   
Halfway across, everyone hears strange shrieks, similar to the Ka Nam’s, coming from the city. “The Aviary.” Kiran says. “These calls come from the Aviary, where my people breed Ka Nam and Ka Ram. So someone is still alive in the city.” (Sul’khaz still isn’t convinced of that.)  Everyone agrees that if there is someone in the city, their intentions are not necessarily friendly so everyone enters the city with weapons drawn and ready.   

Haak is a spiral-shaped city, built around the mountain peak, with the king’s palace at the very top. Its architecture is exquisite: the buildings are made of polished stone and look so light and slender that they look like they might soon fly away. But all around there is an atmosphere of desolation. The paving stones are cracked and weeds grow in their fissures, the doors and the windows of the houses are broken and, above all, there is no sign of life. Kiran seems lost and bewildered.  “Where are all my people? What happened here?” It is a good question. The streets and houses are all empty but there is no sign of violence. It is as if the whole population had simply vanished.  “We must go to the royal palace.” says the King of Haak. “If any member of my family still lives in the city, they will be there.”  As our group begins to make their way to the royal palace, there is the whistling sound of an arrow and thick “thud”.  Hawk stops suddenly as she stares down at the arrow that has pierced her breast.  She drops her sword, drops to her knees and the crashes face first into the pavement.   There is someone in the city and they have inflicted a likely mortal wound upon the Amazon. 

Amazon down!

With Hawk down, nearly everyone ducks for cover while Sul’khaz and Sylph drag Hawk’s body to a relatively safe place.  Katrina tries but fails to spot the sniper while Shangor starts calling the sniper a coward, daring him to attack him.  The sniper obliges Shangor and starts firing his arrows at him.  Although Shangor is hit a few times, he shakes it off and cries out “Is that the best you got?” 
Katrina goes for higher ground by heading the second story of a ruined tower. While Sul’khaz and Sylph tend to Hawk who is still alive.  After a few rounds of arrows and insults, Sylph manages to spot a winged human flying among the ruins.  She then runs to Kiran and tells him that the sniper is one of his people.  Kiran steps into the open, shouting in his native language. A winged man, armed with a bow descends.  Katrina fires her bow at the winged warrior but misses.  The winged warrior and Kiran obviously know each other and with tears in their eyes, they embrace.  Kiran introduces the warrior as Kodor, one of the king’s generals and oldest friends.  A barely conscious (and still seriously wounded) Hawk complements Kodor on his marksmanship. 

Kodor relates the fall of Haak to the king and the party.  “No sword or spear defeated us, majesty, but a pestilence.” The old soldier says. He looks up, showing the old scars on his face. “A few months after your capture, the people started falling ill. The cause, we discovered later, was a herd of infected goats, brought here as tribute by the jungle tribes. Men, women and children developed blisters all over their bodies and then simply died. Very few survived and – it grieves me to tell you – no member of the royal family made it. In the end I was alone, but I have kept watch, awaiting your return. And now you have come!” As the two Haakora are looking at each other in silence, their eyes filled with tears, a familiar and very unwelcome voice is heard.

“In the end, we meet again.” Everyone turns and sees Druun the Gorgon with Kumal and what is left of the Valk warriors. The Valk are wild-eyed, beaten and dirty, but their bows are ready to strike. They clearly have seen horrifying things in the jungle and mountains. Nonetheless, they are ready to kill and plunder as usual. “I have been chasing you throughout the jungle, avoiding quicksand, wild tribes, and many other dangers. But I am finally here! We have found a lost city!” Druun exclaims. Then, he turns to Kiran and threatens him: “Now, tattooed man, you’ll tell me where all the gold is hidden, or, for Kumra’s horseshoes, I’ll pull your entrails out of your belly!”

“Nobody speaks like that to the king!” Kodor shouts enraged, as he draws his sword. It is a very unwise move. Before the blade is fully out of its scabbard, three Valk arrows have pierced his chest. “Kodor!” Kiran cries out and runs to support him. “My friend, you cannot die! Not now!” But the old soldier dies right in the arms of his king.“So, you see I am not kidding!” Druun grins. “Stand up and take us to the treasure, or you and your friends will die just like him.”

“You demand treasure?” Kiran snarls. “You demand treasure in my city? YOU’LL HAVE ONLY DEATH!” Kiran’s face transfigures. The King of Haak lifts his head and lets out a terrible shriek, so strong and alien that it can’t possibly come from a human throat. Somewhere in the city, something answers his call. Everyone recognizes the sound – it is the same that was heard while you were crossing the cloud bridge. There is a flapping of wings and a shadow covers the sun for a moment. The heroes and the Valk look up and see the Ka Ram for the first time. They are mighty fighting birds, as big as horses and with razor-sharp talons and beaks. They swoop down on the Valk, who start screaming….

This is where we left off.  We play again to two weeks.