Introducing Lt. Vokul Korshim

As 1st Lieutenant in the King’s Dragoons, Vokul Korshim was widely accepted as a great and honorable fighter. This could be attributed to his Brass ancestry as a Dragonborn, as well as being a soldier since the age of 8. Because of this, combat has shaped him into the six foot tall 285 pound fighter that he is today. His fellow Dragonborn have followed him into battle countless times and he has always emerged victorious. This made Vokul think that he could not be bested in combat, which turned out to be a fatal mistake for him and his soldiers.

A simple mission is always a great thing isn’t it?  That’s what Vokul thought when they were sent to destroy a bandit camp that had been raiding the town of Mirilav. These bandits had been reported to have been raiding the town week after week, but never taking anything.  “Interesting,” Vokul thought, “usually these bandits would take anything that isn’t nailed down. No matter.  My Dragoons and I will bring them to justice, whether it be in shackles or by the edge of a sword.”

Once he arrived at Mirilav with the rest of the Dragoons, Vokul had sent some troops to scout the surrounding area while he spoke to the Mayor. The Mayor was in shock as was the rest of the town, why hadn’t these bandits taken anything? The bandits would burst in the town, with mysterious black robed figures behind them.  These figures had no other features other than a red circle on their back, with a line drawn down the middle. They would order the bandits to grab the townspeople, and would examine them almost as if they were looking for someone. “I have no idea what language they spoke but,” said the Mayor as he was interrupted by one of Vokul’s soldiers bursting through the door to the Mayors room. “They have captured most of our forces Vokul!” the Dragonborn said, while clutching his side, which was devoid of scales. “What happened to you? Why are you clutching your side?” Vokul asked. Before the soldier could answer, he was engulfed in a bright flash of red and fell to the ground, but as a human. Standing behind him were the robed men, one of them holding an orb that had sucked the draconic essence out of the Dragonborn soldier.  Angered, Vokul charged forth, hacked the figure in two, and proceeded to slaughter the remaining enemies.  One of the bandits sneaked behind him however, and drove a poisoned dagger into his side. Vokul began to stagger, and then fell, unconscious.

* * *

Vokul awoke in a forest glade, naked, bleeding and feeling terrible.  Struggling, he tried to remember what had happened.  The details were slow to come back, and to his horror, he did not remember much more than scattered imagery of an orb, a flash of red light, his friend falling before him, blood, anger, and then, pain.

After heading East for several slow and painful hours, by his reckoning, Vokul came upon a village.  Laughing at his nakedness, the layabouts looked on as a kindly old woman brought him a pair of trousers to put on.  She then led him back to her humble, thatch-roofed cottage, where she inquired as to what had troubled him such that he came here in this manner.   He explained as best he could, but he just could not remember anything.  As he rambled on, the old woman puttered about the kitchen, boiling water on the pot-bellied stove, adding a variety of herbs and spices to make a tea.  With a fancy flourish, she laid a cup and saucer before him and said, “Drink up dear.  Here, let me take a look at that wound…  It looks like you’ve seen the sharp end of a sword a lot, some sort of fighter are ye?”  Puttering around again, she assembled something in a bowl that smelled horrible.  Vokul hoped he wouldn’t have to eat it.  “Here dear, let me put this poultice on your wound, it will help to draw out the poisons and rot that are in there.  As she applied the foul mixture to his wound, she said kindly, “There’s a cot in the back for ye to rest upon.  Take a nap to let this medicine work its magic.  I’ll be back shortly.”  Then she picked up a basket and went out the front door.

Vokul stood up, and immediately regretted it.  His head was swimming and his side was hurting.  He tottered on wobbly legs into the back room and just about fell into the cot.  Within moments, he was sound asleep.

* * *

Vokul dreamed.  Of meadows and sunrise, of maidens and kisses.  Then a giant figure in black robes, a red circle for a face, smashed his dreams to smithereens.  It conjured an orb into its hands that seemed to be sucking the whole universe into endless darkness.  Red flashes of lightning pierced the darkness.  The sky turned blood red and poured into the orb.  Then he started falling, and falling, and falling…

With a start, he awoke to the old woman’s touch.  “Ah, the great beast awakes,” she smiled.  “You had me worried there for a few days, but you took the gruel well enough, even though you would not rouse.” “A few days?  How long have I been asleep?”

“Nigh on a 10-day, I should think,” she replied.  “I found you some clothes, some armor and a sword while you slept.  I think they’ll more-or-less fit ya. Ye bein’ a large fellow an all.  I imagine you’ll be wantin’ those before you leave.”

For some reason, Vokul found himself dressing, suiting up, and strapping on the sword belt; then sitting in the old woman’s kitchen and eating a feast fit for a king, thanking the old woman then departing toward the west, hoping to find out who and what he was and what had happened to him.  After a few days journey, he came upon the town of Greenest, where he took a room at the Inn on the Green.

Watch the Sky…

A dark wave of demonic force slides across the landscape, leaving death and destruction in its wake.  All creatures great and small, humans, humanoids and all living beings were no match for its awesome destructive power.  Shelters held no relief from the greater demon’s insidious power.

Preceding the wave is a fear so great that many are driven mad.  In the wave’s wake are left the dead, the dying, and the undead, the mad, the shaken and the still-living.  The shadow of the wave has touched them all, but to some, its passing is more noticeable than to others.

Bladder Ball

The afternoon sun was purpling the bellies of the clouds.  Dusk beetles, flies and myriad other creatures emerged as the heat of the day waned in the dying light.  The grassy field rustled in the gentle breeze and the babbling brook meandered its way southeast.

“OOOF!!!” grunted Gorsbak, slamming into the soft earth, dropping both the bladderball and his club.  With a howl of frustration, he scrambled back to his feet, club in hand, and gave chase to the orc that flattened him.  Catching the big lug as he rumbled down the field, Gorsbak jumped up and whacked him in the head with his club.  The bigger orc stopped running and turned, anger on his face.

“‘oo ‘it Lunk,” he bellowed.  “Lunk’ll smash you,” he raged, swinging a massive fist at Gorsbak’s head.

Ducking, Gorsbak yelled, “Stoopit Lunk!” as Moftoof crouched behind Lunk’s knees and Roksmash charged in.  Gorsbak dropped to his knee and arched his back.  Roksmash jumped onto Gorsbak and leapt into the big orc, smashing into his face and chest, knocking him back a step, causing Lunk to trip over Moftoof.  As he started to fall, Gorsbak snatched the bladderball back and sprinted off down the field.

The Singers: A Wagon Approaches

The northern most scouts chirped like the Caroji beetle, sending the simple message to ready for battle.  Throughout the wood, 45 archers re-nocked 45 arrows and waited.  The wagon was coming from the North, this would be a shipment of payment from Daggerburg.

Omni, a warrior, prepared himself for the attack.  Around the corner to the north he saw two dire wolf steeds with goblin riders.  His bitterness and anger flamed as more goblins, on foot, came into view.  By his count, nearly 80 goblins had rounded the corner before the wagons started to come into view.  As the lead goblins passed his position, roughly midway down the line of Singers flanking the road, he glanced back to see the last wagon, followed by yet more goblins, 8 wagons in all, most, heavily laden, each being pulled by a pair of large sized Spitting Drakes.  Goblin herders wrangled the drakes and kept the train moving forward.  Following the wagons, another 30 or so goblins came into sight.

Omni did the math, this would likely be a bloody fight and several of the Singers might die today.  With that, he focused his bow on a particularly ugly goblin approx. 100′ away, and glanced to the right to check the position of the lead wagon.  As it approached the stone that marked First Shot, he drew back his bow.

As soon as the first wagon’s wheel passed the stone, 45 arrows flew into the unsuspecting goblins, pin-cushioning the Hobgoblin Commander, the dire wolves and their riders and dropping some 25 Goblin Cutters.  Even as they were falling and the goblins started to scramble about like ants after their nest is kicked, a second volley was loosed, felling another 20 Goblin Cutters and wounding most of the Goblin Warriors ahead of the wagons.

A third volley landed, dropping the drake herders and several of the warriors.  As a fourth volley flew, the drakes were getting agitated, the Hobgoblins in the rear were rallying the goblins into ragged ranks and the goblins in front of the wagons began throwing javelins into the trees.  It was obvious they had no idea where the elves were though, as all the javelins flew too low to be of any danger.  A fifth volley sung through the air, finishing more of the Warriors and the last few Cutters.  Of the original 80 goblins in front of the wagons, less than 20 remained.  The bows and arrows of the elves were finely crafted weapons.  When combined with the accuracy that years of training gives, the Singers were extremely accurate shots.  The Warriors ran around and around on the road, this way and that way, in and out, making seemingly random throws into the trees.  Seemingly random, until three of the singers fell out of their tree tops, each with a javelin in their chest.  The remaining Goblin Warriors targeted the right height and the right trees with surprising accuracy.

As the sixth volley flew, two more singers were taken down.  But, it was too little too late:  the seventh volley killed the last of the goblins in front of the train.

The Hobgoblin Commanders in the rear had split up, each taking a group of 16 Warriors with them as they flanked the wagons, looking to the trees from behind small wooden shields.  As the eighth volley started to fall, the hobgoblins shouted a guttural command, and the goblins all raised their shields, blocking nearly a third of the archers’ shots.  The remainder were wounded, but shook it off, responding by throwing javelins back into the trees.  Only 1 singer was hit, but not knocked out of his tree.  Two of the singers who had been knocked out of their trees were getting back up and gathering their bows.

A ninth volley fell and once again the hobgoblins’ command had the goblins raising shields.  This time, less than half the arrows found their target, 2 of the goblins fell, but the rest advanced toward the trees at a run in a more-or-less straight line, the hobgoblins pressing from behind.  The archer’s launched their tenth volley into the advancing line of goblins.  Several more fell, but the line kept coming.  Omni and a few others aimed for the hobgoblins, several scoring hits, but this seemed to do little more than piss the Commanders off as they urged their charges to move faster toward the trees.  Moments later, the archers were nocking their eleventh arrows, but the goblins were now obscured by the same foliage that had kept the archers safe.

Omni spotted one below him, its shield raised above its head, making itself a very small target indeed.  The goblin started climbing Omni’s tree.  Returning the arrow to his quiver and shouldering the bow, Omni started down the tree to meet the goblin.  Drawing his sword he picked a likely place and drew his longsword.  As the goblin clambered up the last branch, it dropped the shield and poked at Omni with a short spear, it missed and the elf swung down, hacking toward the goblin with a vertical strike.  The goblin ducked back around the massive trunk of the old Oak.  On the other side of the tree, just above the elf’s position, a javelin was flying at Omni before he realized the goblin had moved.  At the last moment he twisted out of the way so the sharp tip glanced off his ribcage, cutting through his leather armor and leaving a stinging gash in his flesh.  He reacted with a powerful swing of his sword, scoring a glancing blow of his own that left a dent in the goblin’s rusted helm.  Another stab missed him as he parried its thrust.  Another stab, and another, and he found himself, to his surprise, staying on the defensive.

With a determined effort, Omni swung a feint as he Danced the Steel, delivering a slashing blow that took the goblin in the thigh.  For an instant, the goblin reacted to the cut in his leg instead of the elf in front of him.  It was his undoing.  Omni seized the moment and delivered a Brutal Strike to the goblin, driving the point of his blade through armor, flesh and bone.  The goblin fell, twisting through the air and bouncing off tree limbs, landing on the ground below with a sickening crunch.

Omni looked around to see goblin corpses at the bottom of several trees.  He looked down at the wagons, the drakes had not bolted, which surprised him until he realized they were chewing on their fallen handlers.  Back down the road, he saw one of the hobgoblins and two of his warriors, running back the way they had come as a rain of arrows fell toward them.  When it landed, the three creatures were each impaled by no less than eight arrows each.  In the forest, the elves were coming down out of their trees.  There were six dead and two badly wounded, Wolajun’s leg had been pierced by a goblin’s javelin and Nijana’s hand had been run through by a goblin’s spear.  Several of the druid’s charmed the drakes so they were docile and manageable.  The Elders inspected the wagons.  One was laden with barrels of disgusting slops, the goblin’s food supply.  Another contained crates of chickens, likely intended for the drakes.  The others were laden with gold, weapons and armor.  The dead and injured elves were loaded into the wagons, and the train began to move.  Within an hour, they turned off the main road and headed north east, back to the Songwood.

The Singers

Crouching on one of the thick upper limbs of the oak tree, she waited.  Patiently.  It took three days of exploring to find this particular trail.  But that’s why the elders sent her.  Olea was one of the tribe’s best hunters.
This trail was one of the main supply lines from the sea ports far to the south, most likely Areadne’s Cove (a favorite of smugglers, thieves and briggands) to Daggerburg.  As soon as they found it, Olea sent Naheala to gather the other Singers. Within hours they started to arrive; warriors, seekers, rangers and druids.   Now, Olea was surrounded by 45 of her brothers and sisters, all camoflaged and nearly invisible with arrows nocked and spells readied.  Now they waited for the caravan to Daggerburg.  Who could say when it would pass, but the singers were vastly outnumbered so they were forced to harry the supply lines and make the occasional sortie as they could not attack Daggerburg directly.

In the Great Woods

Deep in the Forest, at the Council of the 4 Winds, there is much debate.  Finally, after listening to all the arguments, Jolindarel, the Eldest, rises on withered limbs.  As he reaches his full height of 9’, the whispered shushes ripple down the length of the table rock.  Tattered burgundy leaves hang here and there in the branches that stem from his head and body.  In the winter of his life, his great girth showing his great age, the Eldest speaks in the old tongue, a sound not unlike the whispering winds rustling through the tree tops.  “My fellow councilors, we are faced with challenges throughout the Great Woods and we have much higher priorities than this rogue Wizard in our forest.  Even now we amass an army of tree folk to combat the Burners in the Eastern Wildwood.  To the South, the Leafless are ever expanding their cities and towns and bringing demons, death, and destruction with them.  There, many tree folk die to feed their need for wood and coke.  To the North, the ice demons are also expanding their range bringing winter too soon for the saplings to grow properly.  Much must be done.  Much will be done.  Though, to this matter of the Wizard, Lorameer has made a good argument.  The Wizard is a killer and is working dark magic in the forest, which must not be tolerated.  We cannot spare the strength to deal with him ourselves.  We shall send out some of the older saplings to recruit help from the Leafless.  We may hope that some of these will see the evil this Wizard represents and wish to destroy it.  We may hope.  Oleafshank, Mahindarel, send two of your saplings to the cities of the Leafless that lie to the north and to the west.  The Wizard must be dealt with before the moon turns, and, hopefully, before his dabblings in dark magic cause any further harm to the Forest.”

More Sand

Warning:  Explicit language.

“Master?  The Drow is here.  Shall I bring him in?”

The Master rose, his lavish silk robes spilling over his large frame.  A fearsome giant of a man, he threw the half finished goblet of spiced wine at the interruption.  “Damn him!  What in the nine hells does he want now,” he bellowed.  “Is it not enough that the bloody worthless stock he brought has cost me more than it’s bloody worth?”

A short and slender elf with skin the color of midnight and hair a greasy off-white sidled into the chamber.  He smiled obseqiously as he approached.

Hands on hips, face purpling, the Master was wroth.  “What kind of bloody fool do you take me for?  Two more of yours are bloody dead and a third is out of bloody action.  That’s the eighth this bloody month.  I told you to find me some bloody fighters, not some bloody straw men!”

“Master,” the Drow opined, “I am as disappointed as you at this setback.  I have agents placed throughout the Vale looking for better stock.  Alas,”

“Alas?  Don’t bloody give me your bloody alas!  Find me some bloody fighters!  The bloody whores on Oak Street can bloody fight better than these bloody waste-of-space bloody losers!”

“Yes Master”, the Drow sniveled, drawing away from the’s massive hands.  “I have some good news my Master.  My eyes and ears have reported seeing the Mul on the Forest Road, heading toward the Harkenvold.”

“About bloody time someone found that bloody little bugger.  I want him bloody dead, but not before he bloody knows that there is no bloody escape from my ludus.  None!  I will bloody well have him back and I will see him dead on the sands of the bloody arena.  When will he be here?”

“We have not captured him yet.  I was hoping the Circle could help us bring him in.”

Sand and Blood

Scrambling to his feet, his head reeling from the new dent in his helm, Goff turned to face the swordsman, expecting a follow up attack, but the swordsman was basking in the accolades of the blood thirsty crowd.  Goff launched forward, weapons thrusting out before him as the swordsman turned, battle ready, balanced on the balls of his feet, sword coming down to block.   Like a snake darting out, Goff’s net spun forward snagging the other’s sword hand.  Yanking it aside, Goff leaped, stabbing forward with his trident, aiming for the center of the swordsman’s chest.  With a sickening crunch and a spurt of hot, red blood, the swordsman’s chest was destroyed and he fell limp to the sand beneath their feet.  Goff yanked hard to pull the trident out, gore and all, then raised his arms in empty triumph as the crowd roared.


Back in his cell, Goff knew it was only a matter of time before the Master came to chastise him.  It was never enough to win, the Master always wanted something more:  more speed, more blood, more show, more suspense — always something more.  Later, caught dozing, Goff was on his knees before he became fully aware of what was happening, Clegain, the burly personal bodyguard of the Master was still holding his hair, pressing him forward and down so that he fell to his hands.  With Goff on all fours, the master spoke, “You should not have fallen so easily, you nearly cost me a lot of coin.  Next time, I want more speed.  Clegain, show him what happens when I am disappointed.  Then the beating started, sometimes, Clegain used a whip, but today he bore a cat-o-nine-tails.  Without mercy, the cat tore strips and chunks out of Goff’s bare back, eventually he screamed, but as the fog came over him and he fell to his belly in the dirt, the beating stopped.  His last thought before blacking out was a single word:  Revenge!

Brother Stormweaver Answers the Call

The fog roils behind him as he strides toward the churchyard.  Nearing the edge of the lawn, the smell of freshly turned earth, moist and dank, assaults him first.  A step later and it is followed by the dry, musty smell of old age and ancient things.  Another step and he pauses as the smell becomes the rot of the recently dead.  With practiced movement, he lifts the war hammer from its home on his waistband and raises his shield.  The fog blankets his world and his normally excellent vision is for naught, even his infrared vision is thwarted as the fog makes everything little more than blurred shapes in a shifting sea of white.

He freezes, straining to hear beyond the silence of the graves at his feet.  He waits for what seems a long while.  No sounds above his own shallow breathing are detected.  But the scent of death is unmistakable.  With a gesture of faith and devotion, he concentrates, searching for the feeling that will lead him toward the evil in this place.  There.  To his left. At the edge of his perception.  He pauses no longer, warily crossing the broken ground, watching for the evil thing in front of home, and carefully picking his way through the graves at his feet.  Several have been unearthed, leaving mounds of dirt for him to navigate.  From each comes the scent of death disturbed.  A palpable agony that reaches inside him and makes his soul ache.  The desecration of their slumber is enough, but that the dead have been raised, their mortal remains animated by some necromancer’s dark arts, it is unforgivable.  The punishment is written in the Great Book — the one responsible must be beheaded, drawn and quartered.  Each of the parts to be disposed of using the rituals of GihnShe, MangSto, and HorronJa.  For this purpose was he called.

The village elders sent word of their travails to the Abbey less than a week ago.  Thirteen children wen’t missing one day.  That night, as the searchers combed the forest and fields about town, a dense, white fog flowed forth from the church and its grounds.  Two nights later, zombies of long dead citizens walked the night.  The town’s curse worsened when the watch commander and three of his men were slain by a pack of the monsters.  The next night, those four good men joined the ranks of the undead and returned to slay their comrades.  Without a watch, the town was in a hopeless situation and so sent their missive.  Upon its receipt, the Brethren deliberated and prayed all day and through the night.  The next morning, Brother Stormweaver was summoned to the Hall of the Great Lord where he was blessed and anointed, armed and armored.  Horses were provided, massive white chargers.  His travel was with haste lest the Necromancer flee before the Great Lord’s Justice could be brought forth.