Tale One

"And that is how Percy became prime porker of the village" The grey haired farmer called Rupert said as he finished the story of how his pig had won much acclaim from the nearby farmers.

"What about you, youngster?" He motioned towards the newcomer that joined them at the table "Do you have a tale worth telling?"

Aran pulled up a chair and grinned. "Well I do have a tale as fresh as the melted snow which I would be more then happy to tell you about." He took a long swig from his flagon and looked at the locals that had gathered around.

"A tale of kidnapping, ghosts and dark magic, fearsome unliving foes that defy nature by their very existence." His grin widened as the listeners leaned forward, their interest peaked.

"I was in Fallcrest with my friend Cass, strong lass she is, used to work in a bar there until we got asked to come explore Winterhaven. Well, we went to get supplies and found there were a bunch of other folks that were heading this way so given that the lands can get dangerous that it would be best if we teamed up for the trip so to speak."

He took another sip and smiled confidently.

"Now a warrior of the wilderness such as myself would have no problem travelling around but as I mentioned I had Cass with me and she doesn't have the knack of not being noticed like I do."

"Might have something to do with you being able to hide behind bushes when others need trees" joked a heavyset dwarf who looked like he worked at a forge.

"Very true" Aran replied grinning "but a young lass might get the wrong attention so we teamed up with these five others, a right strange bunch if you ask me but they seemed on the level and having two paladins watching your back has to be a good thing."

The crowd muttered agreement and the smith laughed and finished his drink "No doubt having a few clankers helps your sneaking as well." He said

"Yep that as well, but if you're heading to the bar I seem to be running low and talking does seem to dry the throat," Aran stated as he drained the last of his ale and after getting a nod of confirmation continued his tale.

"Well the trip seemed to be going fine until we reached the village of Linden Field. There is a silver smith there called Quinn Stasi was going frantic as his two boys had disappeared, well we had a look around and this one bloke Thom said he had seen them being led off by three figures.

Now Thom was drunk and rumoured to be a bit of a liar but that was all we had to go on, we asked around and found that the only building in that direction was a old mausoleum that held the remains of a knightly order that reigned here a while back."

Aran paused as he accepted and sampled a flagon of ale and gave a contented sigh.

"That's good, now where was I… oh yes the mausoleum. We arrived and looked around, there was just one way in and tracks heading up the stairs but not down, so I crept into a shadowy alcove and edged my way up to the doorway and risked a peak but the place seemed deserted."

"I called up the others and we headed in, there was an obelisk in the middle and six coffins against the walls and little alcoves with busts of Pelor and Bahamut in them."

"But we couldn't see a way down, one of the others decided to see if the coffins had a stairwell down but the just contained old bones, it was then that we spotted scratch marks near the base of the obelisk but as I looked I couldn't see any way in."

"Then!" Aran paused dramatically as he had another drink "This black cloud drifts out of the stone and flies just over my head and forms into a ghostly cloaked figure!"

The crowd looked on with disbelief.

"Its true, just ask any of my companions, anyway as I was wondering what in Avandra's name was happening it started to speak but in the form of a riddle, something about a sinister entry and the son following the sire which didn't make much sense to me. Then Cass mentions that sinister might mean from the left, which got me to thinking about the alcoves and the busts. Well Pelor is the god of the sun so I moved the busts around until they were alternate and when I put the last one in the obelisk moved to reveal a stairway down."

Aran coughed and looked at his near empty flagon then grinned, Rupert motioned for the bar maid to bring a refill.

"I headed down with Rangrim the dwarf next to me and entered an occupied room, there were bones scattered around the floor and the way on was blocked by coffins with a lit lantern on top. I then heard a voice from further away telling someone to delay us from disrupting him, then I saw the figures lurking behind the coffins, big brutish hobgoblins with bows and swords. I moved forward but a bone moved underfoot giving away my position so before they could act I launched two arrows at ugly foe. The problem with rapid fire is that it isn't as effective as a will timed shot and the hobgoblin was able to shrug off the hits, it lifted up the coffin and threw it at me, they had filled it with fish oil which poured over the floor surrounding me and then WHOOSH!! It went up in flame as the lantern hit it, luckily for me I have the blessing of my lucky fish!"

Aran reached into his backpack and then pulled out a large salted herring, which he showed to the listeners.

"I could have been a toasted Aran but I managed to avoid the worst of the explosion and as soon as I could I jumped clear of the inferno and headed towards the hobgob that had set off the trap. Cass wasn't about to see her favourite halfling become flame roasted and she rushed through the flames to get to him, Elwanen smashed through another coffin to get to the other archer but set off the flames and got fried. Theron cast some magic and a cloud of daggers appeared around a third hobgob that had been taking pot shots at us. I ran around the ugly hobgob that had set off the trap and sliced him good with my sword, he swung at Cass but she stayed standing and Des cast a spell and her burns didn't seem as bad anymore."

"Elwanen was not doing to well what with being burnt and smacked a few times he fell to the ground badly wounded, I stabbed ugly again this time through the heart then rushed to help my companion. Rangrim also ran to help and Cass charged the third one and managed to get to him without setting off the trap, with a few powerful blows from her axe and the magic daggers it didn't stand a chance. With my trusty Fang I surprised the last hobgob and finished him and got Elwanen back onto his feet."

"The ghost from upstairs reappeared, he didn't scare us this time as it seems it was trying to help us, it wailed for us to ‘respect the dead' I didn't see why we should do anything for the hobgobs but my companions realised it was referring to the old bones. We put them into the coffins lining the walls and the shade showed us to a secret panel, which we found had a potion of healing in it."

"We pressed on and came to a large empty chamber with two other exits, one of which was blocked by a demonic looking door with green eyes for windows, looking through the window we could see a room with lots of statues and the two boys in the middle stuck in a magic circle. The other passage led to a raised platform on which a dark figure was reading a book."

"Des tried to move forward but was spotted, the figure taunted us then slammed down his staff; we heard a grinding sound from the room with the boys in. Cass smashed down the door and I fired two arrows at the evil figure, the magic circle deflected one but the other flew in to hit. The grinding sound from the other room was from two of the statues, they slowly moved forward to attack Cass and Rangrim."

"The boys screamed out that their circle was trapped and the couldn't leave, Cass was knocked over by the statue but managed to roll clear as it stamped its huge stone feet attempting to squash her head like a melon."

"At the same time some of the bones rose up and a horde of skeletons pressed forward blocking the passage between the mage and us."

Several of the locals made a motion to ward off evil spirits at the mention of the undead and one slid another flagon Aran's way "How did you manage to defeat such a foe?" he asked.

"Well" replied Aran "The mage pulled back his hood revealing that he was an elf, now most elves I know like hunting in the woods and not sacrificing children so I think it is safe to say he was a bad sort. But there was no way I could slide past the skeletons do get to him but luckily I know about the Eladrin and the feywild, I fired two more arrows to keep him occupied and then Elwanen stepped into the feywild and appeared on the platform behind the elf and engaged him in melee. Now I wasn't about to leave my friend Cass in trouble and the statue looked tough so I shouldered my bow and drew Talon and Fang and headed over to distract the lumbering thing. I darted in and around its legs chipping at the stone and deflecting its huge fists. This allowed Cass the time to get up and with a smashing blow stuck her axe deep into its chest, now any normal creature would be dead from such a blow but it kept moving and again smacked its fist into her. Enough is enough I thought and I drove Fang deep into its back and used it to lever me up and swung Talon into its head shattering it, then the cracks grew until it crumbled into a pile of rubble."

"All this time Rangrim had been trading blows with the other statue, trust a dwarf to know how to smash stone." He grinned over to the dwarven smith as he said it.

"Well we quickly surrounded it and quickly if was demolished as well, in the other cavern Elwanen took down the elf while Des and Theron blasted the skeletons to little pieces. Next we had to free the boys without causing the cavern to collapse so I carefully disrupted the magic circle and it soon faded into nothing. The ghost then reappeared and started to change, becoming less sinister and regaining a human appearance, his face had the same lines as the pictures we had seen on the coffins upstairs but as we looked I noticed something else, the boys also had similar features so might in fact be of the same bloodline."

"The spirit expressed its thanks for us freeing it from the elf and seemed surprised when I mentioned that they might be of the ancient bloodline and said there was a way to test it, it faded through the wall and we followed through the passage into the room where the elf had been, the spirit asked the boys to touch the platform and as they did it descended into the floor revealing a glowing hammer. The boys didn't want it and offered for us to use it until they came of age; Rangrim took it and promised to put it to good use."

"So we headed back to Linden Field and reunited a happy Quinn with his children, then after a nights rest it was time to continue our journey."

Another round of drinks arrived and Eilian the Old asked questioningly from the corner where he had been lurking to listen in "But I though you mentioned creatures attacking the caravan as well?"

Aran nodded and moistened his mouth with another ale. "Kobolds! Little shifty things the same size as me… but a lot uglier." He grinned, "They look draconic but in a much smaller scale then the dragonborn are. Anyway we were travelling along about twenty miles away from here when they sprung their ambush. I was in the lead ahead of the rest when these kobolds swarmed out from the trees and lunched attacks on us."

"One leapt from behind a tree and swung a lethal blow that would have taken my head off… if I had been as tall as a human. As it was it missed but as I was dodging another attack a third kobold darted in and attacked me from behind, now I wasn't having that so I spun around and took him down with a swipe of Talon and stepped back so I wasn't in view for all of them. More joined in the fight, tougher ones with dragon shields."

At this moment Aran paused again and then pulled out a shield from under the table, it was blue in colour and was made from the scale of a big reptile; he passed it around as he continued the tale.

"Two of these shielded kobolds burst through the trees a few paces from me so me so I dived forward and unleashed a rain of blows on the nearest only to find that it was skilled in fighting as it parried all my attacks, but I had fazed it as instead of fighting me to ran away to find a softer target."

"Now while I was fighting an annoying kobold had been pestering my friends by throwing things at them, exploding pots, glue and I dread to think what else. But as I closed in on it and hit it with Fang it decided that legging it would be the best option so with no regard for its dying companions it ran full speed towards the distant woods."

"Surely you didn't let it escape" asked a merchant and with a grin Aran nodded towards his flagon and with a resigned sigh the merchant called over to Salvana the innkeeper for another drink.

"Of course not, I wasn't going to let their leader escape and reform another raiding party but he was fast and darted from side to side in case I tried to shoot it, but I can move very quick when I want to and I charged after him and tackled him before he could reach cover. Realising that fleeing was not an option he snarled at me and pulled out a nasty looking knife."

There was a dramatic pause as Aran checked that all were fully engaged in the story and took a long swig to last him through the final chapter.

"My companions were out of sight fighting the remains of the raiding party as the kobold chief and I duelled for our lives, both of us were wounded and determined not to be defeated. Then I saw its eyes widen as it was distracted for a moment, back down on the road Sabbat Fau had advanced to see what was happening and saw us fighting, he reached up as if seeking wisdom from the stars and then pointed at the kobold. ‘YOU WILL DIE!!!!!!!!' the warlock called out and the chief paled as if it knew its death was upon it…. It was right, I swung Talon and knocked its knife aside and lunged forward driving Fang deep into its heart. It gasped in disbelief before collapsing to the ground, never to trouble this land again."

Lifting his ale Aran finished the last of his drink and turned to his onlookers

"And that's it for the moment, we arrived here with the caravan without any more trouble, now I thank you for the drink and the company but it time for me to rest.

He grinned "Cant have my friends heading off and having fun without me, they would end up in no end of trouble it I wasn't there."

Tale One

4th Ed D&D In London Tallarn