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Hârn Campaign (2005 - 2006)

Pepper and Spice – Part 3: Far From Home, Session 4

Note: Hârn specific terms are underlined. Place your cursor over the word and the definition of the word will appear.

Scenario Author: Allan Goodall
Write-up Author: Allan Goodall
Run Date: February 19, 2006
Game System: HârnMaster III
Game Master: Allan Goodall
Characters: Kieran of Boru, a Fyvrian Shek-Pvar Satia-Mavari (Jason Gallagher); Merrick of Larani, an ex-gladiator and mercenary (Jimmy Pope); S'arnat of Pherisa, an artist/cartographer (Alana Goodall)

13th of Nuzyael, 720 TR, 2nd Watch

Trobridge Inn

S'arnat slipped down the street toward the farm near the Trobridge tower. Her footfalls were nearly silent. Thankfully, so were the footfalls of the three mercenaries accompanying her. If they were heard as they approached the farm house, there was no evidence of it. There was a light inside the farm house, but she saw no one at the window.

Two soldiers pressed themselves up against the wall to the right of the door. S'arnat and the other mercenary stood against the wall on the window side of the door. S'arnat motioned with her hands for the soldiers to be ready. They quietly drew their weapons and nodded.

S'arnat called out, "Help! Thief! Help me!"

Someone went to the window. She couldn't see who it was, as she was pressed to the wall. The person ducked back into the house. Terlin's soldiers tensed.

The farm house door was pulled open. A man in armour and carrying a spear — one of Kurson's thugs — stepped out. "What's going on?" he cried.

The soldier beside S'arnat grabbed the man's arm and yanked him out of the doorway. The man fell, his spear skittering from his grasp. The soldier jumped on the thug and began pounding him with the pummel of his sword.

The other two soldiers rushed into the farm house.

S'arnat grabbed a stout stick lying on the ground underneath a large tree. The thug had managed to grasp the soldier's armoured vest and roll on top of him. S'arnat swung the stick up over her head and then down onto the top of the thug's skull. Wood and bone collided with a sickening crunch. The man sat still for a moment, then fell off the soldier, unconscious.

Shouting and yelling emanated from the farm house. "Tie him up!" she growled to the soldier as she ran into the farm house.

Terlin's mercenaries were locked in combat with another of Kurson's thugs. The first mercenary swung at the thug, but the thug backed away at the last moment, leaving the soldier off balance and open. The thug drove his sword into the soldier's abdomen. The second mercenary swiped at the thug, gouging the flesh on the thug's sword arm. The thug cried out in pain, but did not lose his grip on his sword.

S'arnat swung her stick at the thug. She missed. Reacting to the new threat, the thug thrust his sword at her. She jumped out of the way. The remaining mercenary swung at the thug, but missed. The thug thrust at S'arnat again. He missed. She swung at his head and she missed. The mercenary soldier did not miss. He jabbed the thug in the leg. The thug let out another cry of pain, but remained standing.

The thug swung at S'arnat again. She ducked out of his way. The soldier sliced the thug's arm. The thug screamed, dropped his sword, and fell to his knees. S'arnat scooped up the sword.

The mercenary who finally took down the thug said, "Good work, girl!" and clapped S'arnat on the shoulder. S'arnat glanced around the room as she helped tie the thug with a length of rope. The soldier that had been stabbed in the stomach was writhing on the floor in pain. In the corner sat a man, a woman, and three children, all of them staring at the soldiers wide-eyed. These were likely the tenants of the farm. S'arnat rose and went to console them.

* * *

Back at the tower, Merrick stood before the Holotian warriors as they prepared for combat. "Hear me, foreign brothers," began Merrick. "This is not your war, but know that it is just. We are here to defend the people from the corruption of the 'lord' who claims these lands. He is no lord but bandit, I say!" Merrick counted off on his fingers. "Charging unfair tax. Subjugating his people. And grinding them to the stones!"

He raised his voice. "Raise your swords in their defence! And we will die with honour and serve with glory!"

The Holotians cheered, as did Terlin's three mercenaries. Sir Friedlam nodded as he looked over the men. Kurson was in for a surprise.

Merrick scanned the ground around the tower. The sky was lightening. In the diminishing gloom he saw the outlines of five men near a stand of woods east of the tower. Looking out another window he saw movement in some bushes behind them. Kurson's men were in a rough semi-circle, waiting to pounce on anyone who tried to escape the tower. It was unlikely that Kurson expected any of the tower's occupants, except perhaps Sir Friedlam — even Kurson was not stupid enough to kill a Kaldoran knight in cold blood — to escape with their lives. He probably had bowmen hidden in the trees or the bushes.

The ex-gladiator turned to their bowmen: a Holotian and one of Terlin's mercenaries. "Set the bushes on fire!" The Holotian looked to his captain and the mercenary looked to Sir Friedlam for guidance. Both the captain and the knight nodded. For now, they were willing to let the veteran command the troops. The bowmen soaked rags in lamp oil, wrapped a rag around a bow shaft, and tied it tightly to the shaft.

Someone outside the tower barked out an order and torches blazed in the gloom. Kurson was preparing to burn them out of the tower. Kieran had been looking out the window with Merrick. He turned around and pointed to the Holotians without armour. "You men will be the fire brigade! Put out any fires that ignite in the tower!"

"How?" asked one of the men.

"Soak some blankets in water!"

The Holotians nodded. Those who came through the godstone with their gear had bedrolls with them. The unarmoured Holotians gathered up bed rolls and began soaking them.

"Light the bushes!" ordered Merrick. One at a time the archers knocked their prepared arrow, dipped it in the fireplace to ignite, and quickly fired it at the bushes. The mercenary's arrow missed the bush, but the Holotian's hit dead centre. In spite of the dampness of the ground, the bush ignited. A man with a bow stood behind the flames. He backed away in surprise as the fire spread from bush to bush.

Merrick spotted torches in the distance, in the direction of the inn. Terlin's men were approaching. He turned to Sir Friedlam and suggested that they attack right away. Kieran shook his head. He thought they should wait for Terlin's men to get into position, so that they could attack Kurson simultaneously, and said so. Merrick disagreed. He feared that if Kurson saw Terlin's men approach he would retreat out of the trap. Merrick wanted the issue with Kurson decided that day.

Merrick dropped to one knee and bowed his head. "Larani," he whispered, "please guide my hand and the hands of my fellows in this just battle against Kurson's tyranny." He stood. "Who is with me?" he yelled. The Holotians and Terlin's mercenaries cheered. "To me!" he yelled.

The ex-gladiator trudged down the stairs. Sir Friedlam followed close behind, as did Terlin's men. The Holotian captain, and those armoured Holotians who had climbed to the second floor took up the rear. The remaining Holotians in armour, ten of them, remained on the first floor. Merrick motioned one of the unarmoured Holotians to the door. The Holotian grabbed the door handle and then looked back at Merrick. This was Merrick's show, now. The ex-gladiator-turned-soldier-of-fortune drew his sword. He bent forward. The other soldiers did the same. "Now!" he yelled. The Holotian pulled the door open.

As soon as Merrick yelled, the two bowmen in the upper floor started firing their arrows in earnest. The arrows zipped into the tree line. Someone in the trees yelled in shock and pain. A couple of arrows were fired in response, but they smashed harmlessly against the brick of the tower.

The door opened toward the east, toward Kurson's battle line. The sky was the color of dull steel. The ground was soggy from melted frost and sleet that had fallen intermittently that night, and which continued to fall. A wet chill filled the air.

As soon as Merrick stepped out the door a shaft of light appeared from the sky. It bathed the front of the tower in warm light. A wind whipped up from the west, blowing sleet in the faces of Kurson's men. Merrick, Sir Friedlam, the mercenaries, and the Holotians charged the woods. The Holotians let out an incomprehensible yell. Merrick screamed, "Larani!" as the light warmed him. The wind continued to cascade icy rain against Kurson's battle line. An unearthly cacophony rose up, amplifying the sound of the charging men. Instead of less than two dozen men charging from the tower, the noise was that of a thousand men running into battle.

Wind, rain and the amplified noise of battle crashed into Kurson's line long before Merrick or the Holotians reached combat range. A company of knights on chargers could not have done much more to the integrity of the line. Fully half of Kurson's mercenaries screamed, threw down their weapons, and ran for their lives.

Kieran observed this from the tower as he directed the archers. The unarmoured Holotians pressed past him to see what was happening. "Merrick has wrought a miracle!" cried Kieran. He turned to the other men in the tower. "Merrick! Merrick!" he began chanting, gesturing for the others to join him. They did.

* * *

Terlin's men had topped a rise overlooking the tower and the river in time to see the charge. They, too, were struck by the rain, but not as much as Kurson's men. The unearthly battle sounds washed over them full force, though. They stopped marching, dumb founded, as Merrick — at the apex of a V-shaped wedge formation — led the charging warriors into the woods.

S'arnat had left the farm house, leaving Terlin's mercenaries to look after their wounded comrade and the two thugs. She, too, witnessed the eerie charge of Merrick and the Holotians. "Oh! Merrick!" she cried.

* * *

Merrick's path took them directly into the centre of the battle line, which was coincidentally occupied by Kurson and his bodyguard. The three guards cried out as Merrick and the Holotians approached. They set their shields in front of them, but they did not run.

Several steps before reaching the line Merrick stumbled in the boggy ground. Three Holotians over ran him and slammed full force into Kurson's guard, knocking them away. The result of coincidence or the hand of Larani, Merrick recovered his footing and saw before him Kurson without his bodyguard.

Merrick swung at Kurson's head as his momentum took him past the self-styled "lord of Trobridge". Kurson pulled his shield up to protect him, but he didn't move fast enough. Kurson was without his helmet; perhaps the ferocity of the charge had caught him unawares. Merrick's razor-sharp Teremerian sword sliced toward his opponent's head. Kurson howled as much in shock as pain as his left ear flew through the air and landed on the boggy soil.

Kurson screamed as he swung his own sword. It hit Merrick in the upper left arm. The sword blow gouged the ceramic armour, but the armour did not break and Merrick was untouched. The Laranian quickly counter-attacked. He caught Kurson off guard and sliced into the thug's left forearm. Only the strap of the shield saved Kurson from near amputation.

Merrick swung again. Kurson pulled up the shield, instinctively protecting his wounded appendage. The Teremerian sword struck the shield's metal rim, bouncing off. Kurson thrust at Merrick, but the ex-gladiator twisted out of the way and brought his own sword down on Kurson's right bicep. The razor-sharp blade penetrated ring mail, cloth, and human flesh. Kurson cried out as his sword fell from his grasp.

"Yield!" yelled Merrick, as he lined up his sword for a killing blow.

Kurson dropped to his knees, blood sliding down his neck and arms. "I yield," he cried through clenched teeth.

"Call your men off!"

The "lord of Trobridge" called out, "Stop! Stop! I yield! My men yield!"

The clang of metal on metal slowly ceased as Kurson continued to yell out. His mercenaries backed away from their opponents and lowered their weapons. A thug threw his weapon to the ground, then so did another thug. Soon all of Kurson's men were unarmed. Their Holotian opponents kicked the weapons out of the way and had Kurson's mercenaries sit on the ground.

Merrick surveyed the field. Only twelve mercenaries had stood with Kurson. Of those seven, one man was dead and two were wounded, one seriously. Only one of Merrick's men, the young Holotian boy-soldier, was wounded and his injury was not grave. It was well for his men that Kurson yielded when he did.

Sir Friedlam walked up to Merrick and clapped him on the back. "Well, done! Well done! I've never seen anything like that in my life!"

Sir Rayneld rode up on his horse. Behind him marched Terlin's men along with a small squad of Kurson's archers that they had rounded up. Apparently the fire arrows from the tower and Merrick's charge had spooked the archers into fleeing toward Terlin's mercenaries.

The senior knight hopped off his horse and strode up to Merrick. "Excellent!" he said. He grasped Merrick's hand, shook it, and then dropped to one knee, bowing. Sir Friedlam did the same. The knights prayed quietly for a few moments, then stood.

"Never have I seen the power of Larani manifest itself in such a fashion! You, sir, must lead a pious life for Larani to favor you in such a striking manner."

"Umm... uh... thank you..." replied Merrick.

Just outside the tower's entrance, Kieran was met by S'arnat. The two walked to the wood line where the knights were talking to Merrick. The sunlight was disappearing as the sky grew overcast and the temperature dropped.

As Kieran and S'arnat approached Merrick, they heard Sir Rayneld ask Merrick, "What rank are you?"

Merrick shrugged. "We don't have a formal rank. I am one of Terlin's senior guards." He thought for a moment. "In my last posting I commanded a manus."

Sir Rayneld shook his head. "No more! Down on your knees." Merrick did as he was ordered. The knight took out his sword and placed the flat of the blade on Merrick's head. "As you so ably displayed today, you should be commanding a full company of soldiers. I now promote you, Merrick of Larani, to the rank of Molarin!"

Merrick rose. The knight shook his hand. "You will now be paid at a rate appropriate to your rank. I will pay you out of my own pocket, if need be. I am indebted to you."

Kieran nodded, then moved to heal the wounded Holotian. The boy's wound was not serious, and a quick casting of Balm of Griesan aided him immensely. S'arnat told Kieran about the wounded man in the farm house. She and Kieran walked to the house.

As they were leaving, Sir Rayneld noticed Kurson kneeling on the ground, bleeding. "Well, brigand," said the knight. "Larani has made her decision in this matter. You have lost in honourable combat. Larani favoured Merrick."

"My Lord," interrupted Kurson. "Kaldor holds no juris–"

"Silence, cur!" The knight stroked his chin. "I have reached a decision." He pointed to Kurson and then swept his arm toward the rest of the mercenaries. "Take Kurson and these men back to the inn."

"What about the others?" asked Sir Friedlam.

"Some of them will come crawling back, but I think we've sen the last of most of them."

Terlin's men bound the thugs and began marching them back to Trobridge Inn. Under Sir Rayneld's direction, a mercenary wrapped Kurson's wounds. He sneered and stared daggers at Merrick the whole time. Merrick ignored him. He assembled the Holotian captain and the Holotian soldiers, and led them to the inn.

On the way to the inn, the captain said, "That was an impressive feat! I've never seen the like. The Lord of All certainly favoured you today!"

Merrick wasn't sure what to make of "the Lord of All", so he simply said, "Thank you."

The captain held out his hand. "I don't think we were properly introduced. I am Captain Vollstrum, of the 3rd Grongberg Legion."

Merrick took his hand. "Merrick of Larani. Thank you for helping us. I don't think we could have been successful without you."

Captain Vollstrum smiled. "You did not need my help this day."

* * *

Kieran and S'arnat arrived at the farm house. The two thugs were still there, bound and guarded by Terlin's soldiers. The wounded soldier was not in as bad a shape as S'arnat had feared. Kieran successfully cast Balm of Griesan after the third attempt. The spell closed the wound.

"Can you walk?" asked Kieran.

The soldier nodded. "I think so! As a result of yer magic, I can, Sir Mage!" Kieran helped the man up.

As the farm family looked on, S'arnat and Kieran ushered the men out of the farm and led the way back to the inn. Kieran helped the wounded soldier when he stumbled occasionally. The two remaining soldiers prodded the thugs along at spear point.

Kieran and S'arnat arrived at the inn to find the Holotians and some of Terlin's men in friendly revelry in the common room. Kurson and his men were nowhere to be seen. Kieran asked Terlin for a room for the wounded man. Terlin obliged and saw them to a recently vacated room on the second floor.

S'arnat stayed in the room while Kieran helped the soldier take off his armour. The man settled back on the bed. His wound had stopped bleeding on its own, except for some seepage. Kieran knew that this could be deceiving, that the man could be bleeding inside. The mage rested for a few moments. Once he felt rested enough, he stood over the soldier and began casting the spell Nurture of Isla.

Kieran shaped the Form of the spell in mid air. Just as the Principle flowed into the Form, he realized the Form was hideously flawed. Lightning crackled in the room, sparks jumped from his fingertips, and there was a terrible crash. Kieran was knocked into a chair. The smoke cleared, and in front of him was an earth elemental.

"Not again!" cried Kieran.

The creature was roughly man-shaped, but half again the height of Kieran and about twice as broad. It was made up entirely of rock and earth. Beneath it's stony brow were piercing red eyes. It frowned at Kieran. "What do you want?" said the creature in a booming voice.

"Nothing! You can go." He pointed to the window. "There's the window! Go to the ground!"

The creature looked around. "Where is this place?" He turned his gaze back to Kieran. "Why did you summon me?"

Kieran suddenly had an idea. "I have a task for you," replied Kieran, ignoring the fact that the creature's appearance was entirely accidental. "If you choose to accept it."

"What is your task?"

Kieran cleared his throat. "To seal a cavern!"

"What's in it for me?" grumbled the elemental.

"Whatever you find in the cavern."

The elemental was suspicious, but agreed to Kieran's terms with a curt, "Alright."

Kieran walked over to the window. "Jump through the window." It was the quickest and easiest exit for the elemental. He saw the last elemental he had accidentally conjured up do it...

"Jump out the window? I don't think so!" the elemental rumbled.

Kieran and S'arnat looked down at the creature's feet. The wooden floorboards were flexing under the creature's weight, but it didn't look like this one was in danger of crashing through them. "It's the fastest way to the outside," said Kieran. "Or do you prefer to go down the stairs?"

"I think I will walk down the stairs, thank you very much!"

"Okay... follow me, then!" Kieran walked out the door, the wounded soldier momentarily forgotten. The elemental followed him, with S'arnat following the elemental. The boards of the stairs creaked under the strain of the elemental's weight. The creature swung an elbow a little bit wide and cracked two wooden wall panels.

When Kieran got to the bottom of the stairs, everyone in the common room was staring at him. Then their stares shifted to the creature that descended right after him. Jaws fell open, and a couple of soldiers jumped to their feet and drew their swords.

"Do not be alarmed," called Kieran. "We are just passing through."

The creature sidled through the door, being careful not to break the frame. Three of Terlin's guards stood on a parapet with bows. They noticed the elemental, and levelled their weapons at it.

Kieran lifted his staff. "Hold your fire!" The arrows would do little to the elemental, but he did not need panic to set in. "Now... to the godstone!" He waved his staff in the general direction of the tower, and took a step out the door. By this time S'arnat had descended the stairs. She made to follow the Shek-Pvar.

"Wait," yelled Merrick. He strode up to Kieran. He whispered, "Where are you going...?"

"I have an earth elemental and I want him to seal the tunnel."

Merrick pointed a thumb back over his shoulder. "We have to get these men back through."

"Right," said Kieran. "So, hurry them."

Merrick stood on a bench. "Those who wish to get back home... follow me!"

The Holotians just stared at him for a few seconds. Some were in the middle of eating breakfast. Others were enjoying tankards of ale. They had just witnessed an earth elemental creak down the stairs in the company of a wizard. "What, now?" asked the nearest Holotian.

"He summoned forth an earth elemental to seal the cavern," explained Merrick.

"Does this have to be done right now?" asked Captain Vollstrum.

Merrick pointed to Kieran. "He said so."

The elemental had been listening to the conversation. He stuck his head back into the inn. "I can wait." The creature dropped to the ground with a thud right outside the inn.

Merrick walked over to the door. "You're a big fella," he said. "Do you have a name?"

"Myvek," replied the elemental.

"I'm Merrick. Pleased to meet you." Merrick held out his hand.

The elemental took Merrick's hand in his with surprising grace. He shook Merrick's hand gently. "The pleasure is all yours!"

"Yes. Yes it is," answered Merrick, taking back his hand.

Merrick went back to his table as the elemental disappeared back outside. Sir Rayneld stood up and said, "Well, this has been a singular day."

Sir Rayneld began by thanking Merrick, Kieran and S'arnat. He drank a toast to them. He then toasted the strangers from beyond the godstone. After the toasts, he described the political situation at Trobridge. It was his opinion that Trobridge was too strategic a location for it not to be formally part of Kaldor. The godstone's discovery confirmed what he was already suspecting. The traditional boundary between Kaldor and Tharda at the Farin River would become the legal boundary.

"The first Lord of Trobridge will be Sir Friedlam Dramel. This position will be temporary and report directly to me until such time as the lordship is formally granted by His Majesty King Miginath."

Sir Friedlam stood and bowed. "I graciously accept." Terlin's men gave Sir Friedlam a cheer. They knew nothing of him as a ruler, but he earned their respect as a warrior for his bravery that day. Sir Friedlam killed one of Kurson's men single-handedly.

Sir Rayneld spoke of Kurson. "He will be tried for his crimes against the people of Trobridge. I will gather statements and then I will personally escort Kurson to court in Olokand. He is subject to Kaldoran law, now."

"What about his men?" asked Sir Friedlam.

"I talked to Terlin," replied the senior knight. "He has a place in the inn where he can guard Kurson and the worst of his henchmen for now. The rest will turn over their weapons and will be paroled. Without employment they will scatter, perhaps to Tharda. The Chelni moot will be on us within the tenday. I dare say that would be their safest opportunity to leave Trobridge." He considered that possibility for a moment. "Even armed, they wouldn't last long against the local barbarians. Unarmed, they would be best to leave as soon as possible."

Sir Friedlam smiled. "I will inform that Halean witch that she and her entourage are no longer required. I will be gracious and give her until tomorrow evening to run back across the Farin."

"Very good," said Sir Rayneld. "That leaves us with the problem of the Ilviran priest."

"If there is no tower," said Merrick, "there is no priest."

"Don't forget that the priest sent vlasta to attack the people," added Kieran.

"He should be punished!" yelled on of Terlin's mercenaries. Others joined in.

Merrick stood. The mercenaries stopped talking, and all eyes were on him. Merrick suggested that they give the Ilvirans what they want, that they round up the Ilvirans and escort them to the tower. Further, they should escort them to the godstone beneath the tower. They could throw the Ilvirans into the godstone, sending them to the town that the Holotians had set on fire the day before.

After a short discussion, Sir Rayneld agreed to Merrick's plan. They would implement it later that day.

The rest of the morning was spent relaxing, feasting, and drinking. Kieran went back upstairs and healed the injured mercenary. He then cast healing spells on the rest of the wounded. The Holotian wounded were now better thanks to Kieran. Going through the godstone had been a good idea, indeed.

The whole time, Myvek the earth elemental sat patiently outside the inn.

13th of Nuzyael, 720 TR, 4th Watch

Trobridge Inn

Sir Rayneld, Sir Friedlam, Merrick, and a band of Terlin's men, marched to the clearing where the Ilvirans were camped. The Ilvirans stood as the soldiers neared. A couple prepared to rush into the woods, but Sir Friedlam stopped them by calling out, "We come under a flag of truce!"

The head priest, Leritek the Blind, crawled out of his tent and walked up to the soldiers. "Have you decided to see reason? Have you decided to appease the great Ilvir?"

Sir Friedlam said, "You have convinced us, priest. We are giving you the tower. But," he held out a finger and pointed it at the priest, "you must promise us that your god will not send another plague of vlasta against us."

"Yes, yes, you have my word," said Leritek in a voice akin to creaking wood. "I knew you would make the right decision!"

They escorted the Ilvirans to the tower. The Ilvirans were still wary, especially as they walked through town, but Merrick assured them that the guard was for their protection. Merrick noticed that Leritek, in spite of having no eyes, was able to walk without hesitation along roads that were foreign to him. This sent a shiver up his spine.

Merrick felt a little better as they marched past Trobridge Inn and he caught a glimpse of Kieran and S'arnat preparing to leave. They were to bring the Holotians, and Myvek, to the tower after Merrick had safely escorted the Ilvirans there. They didn't want to unduly worry the Ilvirans until there was no chance of them escaping.

The Ilvirans began to chatter excitedly to one another as they reached the tower. Several of the acolytes dropped to the ground in front of the tower and prayed to their god. Leritek walked up to the tower and ran his hand over the stonework. "Now that you have given us the tower, you may leave us!" he ordered.

Merrick smiled. "Oh, no. We wish to show you all the tower's secrets."

"No, we just need to be alone now!"

Without another word, Merrick grabbed Leritek, shoved him into the tower, and threw him through the open trap door. Terlin's men grabbed the Ilvirans, most of whom were still on the ground, and shoved them into the tower.

Merrick descended the ladder and dragged Leritek to his feet. He shoved the bruised and limping priest into the large chamber beyond the entrance ladder. One at a time, and amidst protests and threats, an Ilviran was thrown into the tunnels, and then one of Terlin's armed guards descended by way of the ladder. In a few moments all the Ilvirans had been thrown into the caverns. They were surrounded by Terlin's mercenaries, several of whom had lit torches for light.

By the time the Holotians arrived, the Ilvirans were huddled in a tight group. The Holotians descended the ladder, followed by S'arnat. Once she was out of the way, Kieran directed Myvek to jump into the hole. The elemental did not hesitate. He squeezed through the hole and landed with a massive thump. Kieran was thankful that this elemental was somewhat smaller than the last. The Shek-Pvar climbed down the ladder.

The Holotians took up positions to guard the Ilvirans, leaving the mercenaries free to return to the inn. The mercenaries thanked the Holotians, handed over their torches, and bid them farewell.

Merrick led the way, dragging a protesting Leritek behind him. The Holotians, pushed and shoved and dragged the other acolytes along with them. Merrick was the first to descend the rock pile to the tunnel leading directly to the godstone. Leritek was forced down at sword point. They were quickly joined by the Ilvirans and the Holotians.

They walked through the tunnel that led to the partially excavated Earthmaster structure. Merrick walked around to the entrance to the godstone's chamber and stopped. He pulled Leritek to the entrance.

"What is this?" yelled Leritek in a loud yet creaky voice. "What are you doing?"

"This is a godstone," answered Merrick.

"And...?"

"We are giving you what you want," replied the ex-gladiator.

"Just leave us!" cried the blind priest.

"We will leave you," smirked Kieran.

Kieran walked forward, extended his arms, and closed his eyes. Using his magical powers, he sensed the godstone's setting. An image of a burnt out city with smoldering fires washed over him. He opened his eyes and nodded.

Merrick grabbed Leritek and shoved him into the godstone. "You will pay...!" shouted Leritek as he skittered down a corridor longer than the internal dimensions of the godstone. One at a time, the other Ilvirans were shoved through the opening.

Once the last of the Ilvirans was in the godstone, Kieran closed his eyes and concentrated on the earth master artifact. At first he had trouble tuning it. It felt as though he was trying to swat a fly with a long pole. Then, without warning, the setting snapped into place. He had successfully tuned the godstone to a busy city built on a mountain. Somehow he knew it was in the same land as the previous setting. From the description the Holotians gave him, it appeared to be the city of Grongberg.

The Holotian captain yelled, "I need a volunteer!"

The young boy-soldier stepped up and stood at attention. "Sir!"

Kieran looked at the boy and then said, "Follow me." They walked through the godstone.

The mage and the boy-soldier walked down a long, dark corridor. They stepped into the light at the other end. They had exited another godstone. The boy stepped forward and opened the door of the building housing the godstone. Street noise echoed through the room. Kieran looked out.

The city was busy, and huge! It dwarfed the cities of Hârn, and gave the great cities of Lythia a reason to be envious. People in strange clothing, carts drawn by odd-coloured oxen, and soldiers in ceramic armour walked about the place. In the distance Kieran saw four layers of walled defences running around the side of a black, flat-topped mountain, each defensive layer at a higher elevation than the last. Warm sunlight bathed the mage. In the air, along with the odours of a large city, was the smell of the sea.

"This is Grongberg!" cried the soldier.

Kieran and the soldier returned through the godstone. "It's Grongberg!" yelled the soldier. The Holotians cheered and hugged each other.

The captain walked up to Kieran and shook his hand. "Thank you! Thank you all! I am glad we could have been of assistance in a just cause. Yet that doesn't seem like enough of a reward for getting us home safely. We could never all have made it through the enemy's lines."

One at a time, the soldiers shook hands with Kieran, Merrick and S'arnat, and walked into the godstone. The last to step through was Captain Vollstrum, who hugged each one of them in a tight bear hug before he disappeared back to his world.

"By, now! Y'all come back, ya here?" called S'arnat. Then she added, "Thank you for the gift of sammich!"

Once all the soldiers were safely through, Kieran retuned the godstone. The same "pole swatting a fly" feeling came over him as he tried to point the godstone to some place on Kethira. Suddenly it snapped to a wind and snow-swept mountain. Kieran had no idea where it was.

"I have set the godstone to a location on our own world. Did you want to go through and see what is on the other side? Or do we seal it up?"

"I think we should seal it up," said Merrick. S'arnat nodded.

"Then we shall never know." Kieran turned to Myvek. "Master Myvek, the cavern is yours!"

The elemental stared at him for several heartbeats, "I don't want a cavern."

Kieran sighed. "Anything you find here is yours," he said, making a long sweeping gesture.

"Fine," answered Myvek. "What do you want me to do? Seal up this room? I can't break a godstone."

"No need," said Kieran. "Just seal up this passageway so others can't get to the godstone."

"That I can do."

"After we leave!" added Kieran.

Myvek shook his head. "Stipulations. Stipulations."

"Take anything you wish," clarified Kieran. "Leave here and go anywhere you wish, after you have closed the passage."

"Fine," answered Myvek.

The adventurers hurried down the passageway to the rope. They could hear Myvek moving around in the other chamber. A sudden grumble of cascading rocks was followed by a shower of dust. The elemental was doing some excavating of his own, it appeared. The adventurers did not stay to find out what was happening. Instead, they climbed the rope and splashed through the cavern complex as quickly as they could. One at a time they climbed up the ladder out of the cave. Once in the tower, they shut the trap door to the caverns. They walked out of the tower into a cold Hârnic wind.

 

So ends the adventures of Merrick, Kieran and S'arnat on the island of Hârn... for now. The campaign is on indefinite hiatus. If we start it up again, there will be significant changes, including an increase in the universe's overall magic level and a change of game systems (likely contenders are RuneQuest III, Reign and Savage Worlds).