Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Misfits Origins: Dai Shan - Fetchling Blade Bound Magus Part 3

Strange shadows were cast by the green alchemical fire between them. They danced on the stone overhang and back wall of their camp. The other three sides were open. No breeze blew through, the fire moved on its own.

O’dirick of The Grayed Reapers stood before the flames.

Dai Shan sat on a stone, his spellbook on his lap. Shaln leaned against Ehlkarn’s shoulder and Torric lounged with his hands behind his back. Hectayr was still as the night.

Tomorrow they would see battle with the Umbral Dragon. Kayanidrohl was young but he had been tormenting the scattered cities of the outlands and his infamy was growing. It was time to put the beast down.

Tonight O’dirick would cast her bones.

“Battle Lord, do you have any words before I begin?” asked the oracle.

He stood. “No, O’dirick. We are among the dead. Words only matter to the living.”

She flinched at the words. “Then let us see what the dead have to say.”

The Grayed Reapers leaned in, all attentive. O’dirick flung her cloak out of the way leaning her head back as she did it. Her eyes darted about and narrowed until a pale yellow light came forth.

There was a soft tinkling as her onyx charms dangling from the antlers spun and knocked against the tines. It was a song from another place. O’dirick started to sway and the song got louder and more erratic.

She swayed and moved and her head made the music dance. Everyone watched and couldn’t peel their eyes away.

Dai Shan knew she hated this. He could see it in her eyes. He didn’t know if the others knew but if they did no one said a word. They all relied on her too much. Her auguries had kept them alive this long.

Her hands weaved a story his eyes couldn’t follow and then a black cup was in her hands. She shook it in time to her swaying and he could hear the bones rattling inside.

He could feel it building. It came from all sides, the air, the earth, the places in between. He could feel it on his skin, tingling and standing his hair on end.

Dai Shan’s hand went to his scimitar and he added his own power to the dance as it went up and down the blade. His eyes darted about, looking for an enemy, any enemy.

O’dirick’s voice joined in. He couldn’t make out a word of it. She spoke and it went through his being.

Dai Shan looked around and his companions were fixed onto the oracle. Each leaned forward, waiting for it to happen, waiting and dreading what was to come.

O’dirick snapped forward her cry piercing his being and she threw the contents of the cup on the earth.

They bounced, clacked, and rolled to a stop.

The oracle fell to her knees.

He could see her eyes darting between the bones on the ground reading their story.

She looked up and met his eyes. Darkness no, he thought.

“He is waiting for us.”

Misfit Origins: Rogar Stonefist - Dwarven Monk

Written by Kevin Guthrie 

Rogar Stonefist worked with the rest of his clan as dwarves do. They tunneled and burrowed with the purpose of excavating wondrous caverns and great halls. Many others would mine the ore and work it with great precision. Rogar didn’t care much for this life. For that matter, most of the dwarves did not care much for Rogar. He was loud and obnoxious. Words poured forth from his mouth like water of a raging river. He’d say things with great booming intent where others might be more polite and discreet. He never meant any harm. In fact, he often said equally uncourteous remarks about himself. It was his nature.

He spent much of his free time in books and working his craft. He so enjoyed working stone in a way that a human would work clay. He developed a reputation for making stone ornaments for dwarven beards. He’d carve small figurines from stone as easily as someone might whittle a piece of wood. This brought great joy and satisfaction to Rogar. But his clan found it a frivolous pursuit; though they did like wearing his beads and baubles. The other dwarves also like the fact that it often kept Rogar from saying any little thing that popped into his head. Rogar was honest to a fault.

Life’s path changed when Rogar met another odd dwarf, Stoholt. He was a monk and quite disciplined. He showed Rogar another life; one Rogar had never considered. The graceful moves of Stoholt were entrancing. Rogar was eager to learn more. Stoholt took Rogar under his wing and the two of them went back to Shoholt’s monastery, which was Soaring Tower, the House of Forge and Fist.

Stoholt introduced Rogar to the temple master Murgrim Ironside. He was old, wise, and quick. Rogar had never seen a dwarf move so fast. Stoholt led Rogar to the adept’s chambers where he was assigned and shared a room with another dwarf, Brannock Uhlgren. The two grew to be friends as they trained many years together. But it didn’t last. One day Brannock told Rogar he had applied to another monastery for more training. It didn’t break their bond, but it did sour the day a bit; which was quickly sweetened with great quantities of dwarven ale and stories from Brannock’s favorite book, a journal of Father Torl’s journeys. The two would talk at length of the world beyond the monastery.

Eventually the day came when Brannock had to leave. Another dwarf was coming to provide passage for him. Stoholt had made the arrangements. Rogar had spent a great deal of time on a parting gift for Brannock. It was a trio of perfect baubles for his friend’s beard. They were inscribed with favorite mantras they shared. Rogar rushed to meet Brannock before departure and present his gift. As he reached Brannock, a large sailing ship – airborne no less – rounded a nearby mountain peak. A very impressive sight. Brannock introduced Rogar to the ship’s captain, Barstool. The three exchanged pleasantries until Rogar unintentionally made an offensive remark about Barstool’s ship. Brannock gave Rogar the journal and a brewing kit so he could always be the one giving Rogar an ale.

The airship underscored the fact that Rogar was not well travelled like so many others. Brannock’s gift was a particularly poignant. The journal of travels by Father Toral Cabot was volume two in the series. Rogar told master Murgrim the book had enlightened his view of the world and that it was time he find his own perspective. “I wish to leave this for others so they may learn of the world and not be stupid monks. It is time I forge my own path”.

Toward the end of the journal, Father Torl mentioned that he would be heading to Taggoret. That is where Rogar would begin his worldly enlightenment.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Misfits Origins: Dai Shan - Fetchling Blade Bound Magus Part 2

The voids between strongholds were filled with undead. Thanks to O’dirick The Grayed Reapers remained hidden.

It had been two days since they left Shadow Absalom and so far their luck had held. No Kytons or Nightshades crossed their path. It seemed to Dai Shan that the Shadow Plane cleared their way.

It wasn’t a thought he liked.

There were many paths one could take in this realm and not all were the same distance. They took the quickest path but it should have been the one most fraught with danger. Intent was a powerful force here but it was also a powerful attractor.

“Come on, Ehlkarn, you know the rules. You can’t win and walk.” Dai Shan heard Torric say.

“No way Torric. We’re even now. I’m out.”

“Sit back down big guy. We are just getting started.” This from Shaln.

Dai Shan looked over and watched as Ehlkarn sat back down. Green flames rose between them, some concoction of the alchemists. Torric took their bets and rolled the bones.

“Bah, you are nothing but a cheat Torric,” said Ehlkarn with a hard edge to his voice.

“Easy, big guy. We are all friends here,” Shaln said while putting her hand on his leg.

Dai Shan shook his head. Shaln was always playing a game and it was never the same one the rest were playing.

It was what passed for night in the shadow realm and Dai Shan continued to make his rounds. Soon he would join them and study his spellbook but for now he needed to think on what O’dirick told him.

Change. It was a word that rarely brought good tidings. If only there were more of them left. But no, with the rising influence of the Onyx Alliance in the past two hundred years The Grayed Reapers numbers continued to shrink. Their people would rather become slaves, not only to the Umbral Dragons and Kytons, but to their own kind as well. And that was never their purpose, fighting their own.

But he would think on it. Hopefully, if they were successful, they would give their people hope and he and Torric could start recruiting again. Build up their numbers and counter the influence of the Onyx Alliance. He would have to talk with O’dirick about their numbe--


Dai Shan spun around, his scimitar in hand and lightning coursing up the length of his blade. He looked around and focused on a darker shadow away from camp.

A shape started to coalesce out of the shadow. Dai Shan silently moved to put himself between it and his soldiers.

“There is no need for your blade, Battle Lord,” said O’dirick behind him.

He jumped.

Damn her, he thought. She moved quieter than the spirits that haunted her.

Dai Shan grimaced at her and looked back out away from camp. Hectayr. Of course it was the light forsaken monk.

In moments the he was next to them. “So, are we alone out here, Hectayr?” snapped Dai Shan as he slammed his blade back into his scabbard.

“Forgive him, Hectayr,” O’dirick said while putting her hand on Dai Shan’s shoulder. “We are all on edge.”

The monk bowed to them both.

“Well?” Softer this time.

Hectayr nodded.

Damn. “Well done. Get some rest because tomorrow will see us to the lair.” Dai Shan watched as the monk went over and joined his companions, gold already flying to the pot.

They were quiet for a while, the weight of O’dirick’s hand still on his shoulder. “Am I misguided?” he asked as he looked over at her. “Am I aiming too high by going after Argrinyxia’s child?”

“We are The Grayed Reapers. I was unaware we could aim too high,” she said while squeezing his shoulder. “Besides, she is an Umbral Dragon, Battle Lord. She cares not for her offspring and he has been over reaching himself. If we don’t do this now she will do it herself.”

She was right he knew. That was why they picked him in the first place but with her words two nights past the Battle Lord had his doubts.

“It is too quiet out here,” he said.

“Not for me.” She removed her hand and shuddered. “Never for me.”

He didn’t want to imagine what the Oracle saw but he needed her sight if they were to have a chance of success. She said it, he had to wear the mantle.

“Will you cast the bones for us tonight?”

She stiffened. “If you wish.”

He hated doing this to her. “Then let us go.”

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Misfits Origins: Dai Shan - Fetchling Blade Bound Magus Part 1

The Grayed Reapers followed the trail through the trees. The path twisted and changed but it always ended up in the same place. Around them the trees began to sway and their empty branches clacked against each other.

But there was no wind, no breeze that blew by them.

Dai Shan turned around and watched the pale light come off Shadow Absalom behind them. They had taken a hidden path up the cliff face that O’dirick knew of from her time spent with the Onyx Alliance and the city spread out below them.

It seemed the trees were applauding as they passed underneath their branches. The storm on the Material plane must have been fierce.

Better to be applauded now, he thought since they would be met with only silence once they returned.

They were a myth, The Grayed Reapers, and once they left the city behind them they didn’t exist. For their whole existence that had been their way. They would live again once they returned to their lives.

Shaln led the way along the path, her lithe form silent and twin axes strapped across her back. The others followed. Torric had his alchemical bombs wrapped in cloth to silence their clacking and he looked eager. Thoughts of his creations always put a smile on his face and Dai Shan could hear him joking with Ehlkarn as they went, the big warrior laughing back.

Thank you Torric, he thought. The alchemist filled more roles than grenadier.

Hectayr was close behind them. The silent monk almost disappeared in the shadows but Dai Shan always knew he was near. He would never leave them to fight alone.

“Do you think she knows,” asked O’dirick as she came beside Dai Shan, her eyes on the city below, “that her child is about to die?”

Dai Shan turned away from the city to look at the Oracle. She stood tall with her cloak thrown back revealing her chain shirt and morning star that hung from her belt. Her shield was on her back. Black antlers flowed down and back from her headband, charms dangled from the tines, her long white hair halfway down her back. He met her haunted eyes and was reminded how eerily beautiful she was.  

“I hope not. If so, our people will know before we do. But what do your bones tell you?”

“That change is coming. For all of us.”

“Anything I can work with, O’dirick?” Dai Shan had come to rely on her more than the others but her cryptic answers frustrated him to no end.

Her eyes locked hard on his but her smile softened, “Only that the spirits are excited, old friend.” She looked over to the rest of The Grayed Reapers. “And be ready, Battle Lord. Wear your mantle, become it.”

Dai Shan watched her walk away, his hand resting on the hilt of his scimitar. Battle Lord. He supposed he was. Tonight, when they made camp, he would read his spellbook and prepare. The Grayed Reapers were counting on him.