Wardens Fourth Edition
Demonhound in the Park - Stories
A look at what happened during and/or after Session 38.
Story - Marsa's Story
Game Date: 1/24/2007
The day dawned clear and bright, then as the heat of summer started to build it all changed...
The sky suddenly darkened and the heavens fell. Then the sky split in two and fire appeared high and wide over the forests. The split in the sky grew larger and the entire northern sky was covered with fire. The sky fire shrank to a sphere, which struck the ground with a mighty thunderclap, and the earth trembled...
When the riders from Vanavara arrived in the area, they found that the forest no more, it laid flat like sticks strewn by the wind, the center of the wood held a huge hole. In the hole was a sphere of rock that emanated a cold dark heat; the men approached the crater with trepidation and fear...
They were never seen again... it was the beginning of the dark times... years passed and the darkness grew...
The small village of Tuskov was on the Black Sea. It was a quiet fishing village that saw little excitement.
In this village, the family of Stilhanov was simple fishermen. The family was small, just a husband, Lev, and wife, Marunia, and their son, Luka, and daughter, Marsa.
Luka was twenty-five and would soon be taking over the duties of running the family's fishing boat from his ailing father. He had yet to take a wife and many of the village's unmarried maidens were trying to land the hard working young fisherman.
Marsa had just turned twenty. She, like her mother, mended the nets used on the family's boat. She was looking forward to wedding her fiancée, Oleksander, a young man who worked on her family's boat. Their wedding was to happen in spring when the flowers were in bloom.
Tales came of a dark lord in the east... it was rumored he fell from the sky on the dark day of summer... his march westward was measured by the increasing number of towns and villages that no longer sent trade missions and from which visitors never returned...
Tales of fell creatures, demons and monsters prowling the night were no longer stories told to scare children... only the very brave or foolish dared travel the night... and the darkness grew...
When tales of the Dark One came to the area, it worried the villagers. The dark menace was far to the east and the families of Tuskov hoped and prayed that their little village would be spared...
Then one night the moon rose scarlet, the color of fresh blood. The village soothsayer said it was an ill omen. None in the village slept well that night, the tension was palpable.
The raiders came swiftly, their movement without sound; the village was overrun in a matter of minutes. Each house was searched, the people caged and then the homes burned.
Marsa was shook from her fitful slumber by Luka. It was still dark out and she felt him pushing her into the crawl space of their house, the cold night air turned to steam as her breathing quickened. She watched in horror as her father and mother were summarily beheaded without hesitation, both of them too old and feeble to resist. Luka tried to fight back but found his struggle rewarded with a bolt of dark energy to the chest. He slumped to the ground and was quickly deposited in a cage with the other men.
Marsa held her breath as the hulking form of a man walked the room. He looked like the living embodiment of death, black armor from head to toe and eyes that glowed red. She watched as he extended his hand and black fire flew out igniting her home and everything else it touched with its cold dark embrace. Marsa crawled further under her home and found shelter in the root cellar.
Marsa hid in the dark cellar, her hands and feet going numb from the cold. As she contemplated her death, she was grateful that it would be painless one. She closed her eyes as the cold began to overtake her surrendering to what she believed would be her final sleep.
The dark fires raged until dawn broke...
The trading posts, fishing villages and border keeps fell before him... his horde rode on and the darkness grew...
The brightness of the light hurt her eyes, but it was not the flicker of Lamia's torch. When her eyes adjusted to the brightness, she looked about and recognized the room from her childhood; she was at her Aunt Malanka's house. Her aunt lived far to the north, near the Prince's capital in Vilnias. It was a place that Marsa had not visited in more than five years.
She got out of bed and walked into the kitchen, her Aunt Malanka was busy at the hearth cooking something that filled the room with a flavorful aroma.
Her aunt smiled and exclaimed, "I am so glad you are awake, we thought that you were on the journey to Dausos."
Aunt Malanka bade her to sit as placed a bowl of stew before Marsa.
Her stomach rumbled with hunger and as she ate, her aunt told Marsa the story of her rescue. When the reports of the Dark One's attacks in the south made their way to the northern reaches of the principality, her aunt decided it was time to bring her family out of harm's way. She and her groundskeeper had journeyed to Tuskov but had arrived too late and found the village as well as her family's house in ruins. Her aunt and her groundskeepers searched burned out ruins for survivors. It was her aunt's groundskeeper who had found and rescued Marsa from the ruins of the cellar. Finding no other survivors and fearful of being caught by the Dark One's minions, they returned to the north with Marsa.
Marsa spent the next few weeks dealing with the loss of her parents. Her aunt gave her a list of chores to be done in order to occupy her mind, as grief was her constant companion now.
After a few days, Marsa recounted the events to Aunt Malanka and the groundskeeper, who was called Albinas. When she finished the story, Albinas appeared more concerned than her aunt did.
One day while cleaning the house, Marsa noticed a door that she had never noticed before. She went into the room and found some kind of laboratory with bottles, urns, books, drawings on the wall and all of kind of things she had never seen. She began reading one of the wall drawings and all of the sudden a bolt of energy leapt from her fingers. After a moment of shock, she looked around believing she had imagined it all. A voice from behind her shook her from the moment; it belonged to Albinas.
"I guess there is some explaining to do but first would you please tell me why you are in my lab?"
For the next few hours, Albinas and Aunt Malanka explained that Albinas had been Master of Magecraft for the Prince but was discharged from his duties after a disagreement with the Prince about the threat posed by the Dark One. Albinas left Vilnias and moved in with her aunt who he had befriended when she first joined the Prince's household as a governess. He chose to lead a quiet life away from the Prince's court as he still had issues with the Prince and the new Master of Magecraft's policies. It was the safest way to stay out of the Prince's dungeon. Albinas went on to explain that Marsa has inadvertently cast a spell from his notes. Despite a few minor flaws in technique, she had almost recited the spell perfectly and seemed to have a natural affinity for magecraft. He offered to teach her and allow her to become his apprentice.
She trained, studied, read, practiced, and lived magecraft for the next five years.
The lands of the south were his... from the turbulent Great Eastern Sea to the calm Black... it was time to look northward and the darkness grew...
During a lesson in scrying, Marsa tried Spirit Walking for the first time with Albinas guiding her through her Zydras gem. A key element of the spell was the thoughts and desires of the casting mage. Her mind still somewhat undisciplined, the first desire Marsa had was to know what became of her brother.
The vision she saw was as horrific as it was foreboding.
The Dark One stood above a thing, for that is all she could call it, as it was not human but also was not a monster. The thing was misshapen, hairy and walked on two legs. When the thing turned its face towards her, she was aghast for on its cheek was a birthmark, unmistakably the same as the one her brother bore on the very same cheek.
This thing was now what remained of her brother.
The Dark One shifted and gestured towards a crude arch made of dark stones. His hand wove in strange patterns and as he chanted, a dark energy twisted about his body then with a wave of his hand the energy leapt out and struck the arch forming a swirling vortex. As the vortex calmed a vista became clear, Marsa could see a place with green fields and blue sky. The Dark One pointed to the gate and she saw her brother grin in anticipation. He walked swiftly through the portal and as quickly as it had opened the portal closed.
Marsa began reeling at the sight, her spirit eyes lost focus and she failed to see the Dark One turn towards her and glare, with a gesture of his finger a cold flash of dark light flew out, it passed thought the quickly erected ward that Albinas had thrown up and pain seared through Marsa's head.
The insolent fool... she would pay for her intrusion... he summoned his mount and the darkness grew...
When Marsa came to the room was spinning, Albinas handed her a cup of water.
"You need to be more careful on who you spy," said the old man. "You have some powerful enemies."
Marsa shook her head, as much to clear the haziness from her mind as to acknowledge the sage advice, she had been given.
"You recognized the thing in the Dark One's lab, who was it?" queried Albinas
"That thing was... no is, my brother," answered Marsa, before asking, "Where did he go?"
Albinas was not sure but had an idea based on the incantation the Dark One used it was a world gate.
"I am not sure but I believe if I can repeat the same incantation I might be able to tell you," replied Albinas.
"I must find him," stated Marsa. "I can save him, I know it."
The Dark One rode... the cloven hoofs of his mount bursting with dark flames each time they contacted the ground... the countryside flew by at an unnatural rate and the darkness grew...
Albinas prepared the lab for the spell at a feverish pace; he felt the approach of the Dark One and knew it may be their only hope for escape.
Marsa gathered her things and prepared a backpack with some essential gear for survival. By nightfall, she was ready having finished her packing and securing her Zydras gem with true silver into an amulet, which now hung from a true silver chain around her neck. The crystal glowed with a blue hue and she knew the Spirit Sight and Spirit Walk enchantments would aid in her quest for her brother.
Albinas began to recite the incantation from his memory of earlier that day. The crystal arch that normally opened onto the back wall of the laboratory began to glow and a nimbus of blue energy surrounded Albinas. With a gesture, the blue energy leapt towards the crystal arch and as the swirling vortex stilled, a land of green fields and blue skies opened before Marsa.
Marsa began to walk towards the portal.
The noise of the door shattering barely registered but the movement caught her eye and she turned to hear the empty scream of her Aunt Malanka.
Empty because her aunt's head was no longer attached to her body, behind her stood the ominous form of the Dark One, his sword dripping with her aunt's blood.
Albinas threw up a ward between the Dark One and Marsa.
He looked at her and spoke, his voice ringing in her mind.
"Remember your training and believe in yourself. May the spirits bless you with their gifts..."
Marsa watched in horror as the Dark One plunged his blade into Albinas' back then it reappeared from his chest.
The old mage extended a hand, the light from his Zydras gem atop his staff surged.
He shouted, "GO!" and with that he pushed her through the gate with an invisible force.
The old man fell to the ground... his life force gone...the Dark One felt his horde approaching... Vilnias would be the next to fall, the old mage had sealed its fate... it would bear the punishment for the old man's interference... the Dark One strode out into the night and called his mount...then off he rode and the darkness grew...
Marsa felt nauseous then the ground hit her hard; she swiveled to see where she was and just caught a last glimpse of the portal closing. She now knew where the portal led; it was a strange world and the call of the spirits was faint. As she rose to her feet, she saw that Albinas' staff lay nearby on the ground. She picked it up and then was overcome with grief; the Dark One had taken so much from her.
She then heard Albinas' last words to her again.
"Remember your training and believe in yourself. May the spirits bless you with their gifts..."
Marsa put her grief behind her and focused on what had brought her to this strange world. She needed to find her brother and either save him or stop him from doing to this world what happened to hers.
The Dark One stood in the streets of Vilnias as cold dark flames consumed the town around him, soon this world would his and he could turn to another. The girl had chosen which world would be his next conquest... he would have his dark sentinels find her... then upon his arrival he would slay her... the Dark One laughed... a dark and hollow sound that caused the dogs in the town to yelp in fear and the darkness grew...
Record Last Changed Date: 4/1/2010
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