D&D: Following a Dark Orb

As a disclaimer, I do not own some of these characters.
Mazidur (c) Naraxes, Atris (c) Aric, Inwé (c) Meghan

These posts follow the Dungeons and Dragons game that I’m running; the one that Naraxes talked about on his page. This game has been running for a year and a half now and the characters have traveled far. I’m proud to say that we’ve worked the characters all the way up from first level to level twenty-four (at the present time). I’ll try to provide a little context where it’s needed… but here’s the story that should be told.

The energy from the portal sucked them through and spat them into a pile of rubble, laden with books, glass, and soggy wood. Atris stood and dusted off his robe, frowning and peering down his spectacles at the ruins. Mazidur recovered with a tumble and stood, kicking at some of the stone and curiously eying Atris. Finally, Inwé and the Alexis that clutched her piled at the edge of the ruin, both standing with a huff.  A rope fence contained the wide area of rubble, a small painted sign posted warning. 

“Ruins…?”

 “Well,” Atris began, lifting a soggy book and frowning at the bleeding ink. “The place closest to the City of the Moon that I would have a link with? Welcome to the remnants of my… tower. Gah, these books were irreplaceable.”

That’s a shame-” Alexis said, nudging some rubble with her foot. “But shouldn’t we get moving? Not to be insensitive or anything.”

I concur.” Mazidur nodded, peering off into the wood beyond. “There’s no reason to stay here for now.”

“Alright-” He tossed a damp book back on the pile, dragging his heels. “I guess so.”

 Even from here, the white marble crest of the city could be seen. With all in agreement, they took the short peaceful walk to the city gate. Somehow the twenty minutes of walking set them on edge, always keeping a hand on staff, sword, or dagger. After three months under the constant threat of attack they’d reached an area where there was no worry. The memory of the Ushitar’s fortress still seemed too close. They walked without another word, reaching the high marble walls of the City of the Moon. Mazidur glanced upward at the wall and smiled.

“Hello there, sir!” He extended his arm and waved at the curious guard atop the wall.

“Hallo, there. Having some troubles? You seem to be coming from that tower ruin- folk aren’t supposed to be around that area. Dangerous things in that rubble.”

“You’re telling me…” Atris grumbled. “Yes, that was my tower. We’re on our way into the city.”

The guard paused and raised a brow. “I could throw down a ladder if you’d like.”

Atris shared a look with Mazidur and grinned, “Oh, that won’t be necessary.” Grabbing Alexis in a wedding carry, Mazidur ascended, the wind picking up his cloak and carrying him upward. Atris held out his hand to Inwé , but she shook her head and scowled.

I’ll walk.” He shrugged.

“Your decision.”  Atris ascended as the rogue walked to the front gate, joining his companions on the top of the wall. The guard- amazed- set down the rope ladder at his feet.

“That’s a neat trick you got there-” Pausing and about to say something about being present in the city, the guard noticed the royal crests clasping their cloaks together. “Well, have a nice stay. I suppose you wont need a lift down.”  They nodded to him and leaped off the wall, drifting into an alleyway below.

  It had been a while since the group had been to the City of the Moon; the last time they had been here it was to escort a group of Dragonborn refugees across the desert and into the continent of Baladon. They had nearly finished the job when they had been sucked through time by the gaping maw of Ogrémoch- Elemental Prince of Chaos -arriving in their location three months later. Needless to say, their caravan had left. 

The city itself was as beautiful as ever, glimmering white marble structures and the trimmed trees and vines that grew across them. The massive structure at its center representing the crescent moon and the ancient tree growing up below it were marvels to behold. This was truly a city ruled by elves. The streets, sparsely populated as they were, had artisans in their midst. A bard in a central point, painters capturing every curve of a branch, sculptors and tradesman alike selling their wares. The point of their visit had been research, not art, however. The group of world-traveled adventurers passed through these crowds silently, concentrated on each step and breath. When they reached the library they sought, they hardly stopped to view its massive facade and beautiful water structures. Opening the heavy marble doors, they stole away within.

The reception area, though small, gave a wide open view of the library’s four floors and the spiral stairs connecting them. To their left the small desk with the elf behind it was hardly noticeable. 

This place is amazing!” Alexis whispered, nudging Mazidur.  The auburn haired elf did not look amused.

This will… take a while, wont it.” Atris grinned and shrugged.

“You’re not kidding; most of the stuff we’re looking for is probably restricted or hidden well. I’ve tried so hard to get into the damn restricted sect-” The receptionist looked over her spectacles at the group and cleared her throat. Atris paused, fingers tightening around his staff.

Sorry. We’re looking for some books-“

Well, you’re certainly in the right place.” Her tone was mild and scolding, but she peered over her spectacles at the group nevertheless. ” According to your brooches, you’re allowed access to the restricted sections. Fourth floor-“

And all the way in the back! This is going to be awesome…” There was a shimmer in the wizard’s blue eyes that the party had rarely seen before, and he hurried off to the stairs. Alexis paused for a moment to check behind them, looking for their rouge, but she was nowhere in sight.

They passed corridor upon corridor of book, all a manner of fiction and non-fiction. Like a maze, they rounded corner after corner until they reached an end. Two men flanked a large wooden door, garbed in chain and looking rather bored, straightening and peering at the group.

“State your busi- Oh, Atris. ‘s been a while.”

“Oh, Bob, you’re still working here?” Atris chuckled, looking the slightest bit pale.

“I’ve actually got permission to go in this time.”

“That’s… new. Well, let’s have the new security system check you out.”  The guard beat his fist on the door and moments later a massive eye spit from between the wooden planks. The eye moved quickly from one person to the next before a mouth split from the planks.

Valid identities and passes detected. Please enjoy your stay.

The massive eye shut and with it the door swung open, leaving the group to pass through. Bob and the guard beside him shuddered.

The new system sets me on edge, but it’s bloody effective. No-one gets through anymore.”

I’d imagine so…well, have fun out here.”

And you in there…”

Without another word the group filed in. Atris passed his hand over every book, taking a seat at the large wooden table at the room’s center. Alexis and Mazidur took up their own, leaning on it and arching brows.

So… what exactly are we looking for, Atris?” Alexis flicked a bit of scrap paper onto the floor and stared off into the distance.

Anything relating to the Arcane Theory of World Creation. That should be a good basis for the larger scale project we have in store.” Alexis and Maz stared back, their eyes glazed over.

… I’ll check the history books. That’s something more interesting. Maz- you look up whatever you want to look up. Fictions or whatever.” Mazidur nodded and swept up from his chair, cloak billowing all the way, fingering over spines and titles. Atris and Alexis soon joined him. Hours flew by as they poured through books to no avail, finding no mention of the necessary ingredients to build a world. Just as they thought all was lost, Atris jumped up from his chair holding a book open.

I’ve got it. Here in this passage-” He pressed his finger excitedly against the page. “Needed to aid the process of creation are an Orb of Dark Power, the powers of a god, and a component from each of the planes. The location of these objects is-“

Unknown- yeah, we guessed. It’s never laid out in these things.” Mazidur rolled his eyes and leafed idly through his text. Alexis’ color faded.

An orb of dark power. I don’t need to read a history book to tell you about that. The area where my village used to be located had legends of an orb of dark power. We used to span the whole valley before someone unlocked its power and sent the whole place into a permanent winter. My people are the only ones- well other than scholars- that remember the old legends.” Mazidur and Atris exchanged a look.

 “Looks like we get to meet your parents, eh?” Mazidur in particular grinned, squeezing her hand. Once again she became pale.

Oh… yeah.” She muttered, almost under her breath.

What, afraid they’ll be disapproving of Maz here?”  Atris smiled, nudging her shoulder.

No,” She shook her head, almost smiling. “Not quite. Anyways, back to reading. There’s still more we need to know.” There was a pause as Atris raised a finger, looking over his glasses at the book below.

I’ve got that covered, actually. Here it references to a machine that… well, to be honest, no one knows what it does. I think it might put the stuff together and help us create my universe.”

Let me guess. No-one knows where it is, either?” Alexis yawned, a hand to her cheek.

You’ve got it…” He paused and closed the book. “Well, since we know where the orb is, I think that should be our first stop.”

What about ‘A God’s Power’ and ‘A bit of each Plane’? Have we got any clue where to go for those?” Mazidur piped up.

“A bit of each plane… I think we should check on that.” Atris stroked the books spine before putting it away on shelf behind him.

Ahead of you, already. This passage references to a set of four diamonds that the kings of this realm had… great Aeo, I don’t want to run around from city to city.”  Mazidur blinked, slowly reaching for the astral diamond in his pocket.

I think that we already have them. Remember the gems that Kenrich gave us? Told us not to ‘use them as currency and find their true use’?” They placed their gems on the table and Atris leaned forward, staring deep into the center of each one. To him, the once dormant magic coursed from within them, pulsing a different color- and image. The screaming maw of a demon, a sea of stars and angels, and pure elemental energy.

The Nine Hells, Astral Sea, and Elemental planes. They’re all here and make… quite a bit of sense, actually. Astral to you, Alexis.” He pushed the diamond across to her as she grinned. “and Nine Hells for you, Maz. Big surprise there.” Mazidur too grinned, pressing the diamond back into his pocket.

Well, that’s one ingredient out of the way. I guess we should get going now. Off to your village, Alexis. Oh, but wait-” Atris paused, holding a book at his side. “I need to check something first. Give me a bit.” The others nodded and rose from their seats, taking a walk around the forbidden knowledge. Half an hour passed as the wizard poured through his book, the sound of flipping pages like leaves falling on a fall day. Alexis and Mazidur had taken to arm wrestling and other time-wasting activities before Atris proclaimed his search to be over.

“I’ve got it! This should help with the time constraint. I’ve found an artifact that should- when properly exerted- allow a small temporal warp around us, effectively slowing time! It’s beyond the God’s Breath, but… I think we could do it. Also, there’s the tiny fact that its guardians think it’ll cause the next apocalypse, but that’s not a big deal, really.He took a quick breath and nodded from over the book, a few strands of grey hair out of place. Alexis gave him a puzzled look, but Mazidur could only smile. What he sought, after all, was beyond the God’s Breath as well…

Excellent! Lets get moving; we’ve not got time to waste.”

Off we go, then!”

…Oh, yay. Just get your mounts ready, the ride is going to be a long one.”

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Suddenly…

It’s pouring now. Those big crocodile sized drops that weigh down your coat and umbrella, playing a low beat that soft jazz would likely complement. As you saunter down the muddy road, searching across the browns and greys of terrain, something comes to your attention: a small iron bucket, rusted in a spot and with a small wooden handle. Your brow may rise, a small smile may form. You approach it, extending a booted foot and nudging it slight, a noise comes from within. 

“Whine…”

What could that be…? You lean forward, shielding the small bucket from the rain with your umbrella and peer down. Within… is a small amber mass of fur, shivering from the waist down in the same crocodile rain, brown orbs of eyes peering up in question. Is it wild…? Why is it in this bucket? I didn’t think foxes were native to this area…

“Thank you for protecting me from the rain.”

Did it just speak? I must be going mad. Foxes don’t speak.

“Shall we go on adventures together?”

You may pause, pondering the small fox in the bucket, pondering its method of speech. But… another part of you could give less of a care. Go on an adventure… with a fox? You find yourself more instinctively going for the handle than anything else, wrapping your fingers around the well-worn handle and lifting. The water drains from a small spot of crumbed rust and the fox shudders, shaking the water from its fur. You untwirl the scarf from your neck and rest it over the critter, only brown orbs blinking back at you.

“Off we go, then.”