Pelenhar the Damned

Chapter 5: A cold morning's light

Zhenais started to stir as the cold light of dawn crept over the horizon, its sickly yellow light revealed yet another slate grey day. Her night in the long sea grass and chill had left her joints screaming their displeasure. What little sleep she had got could hardly be called restful as it was haunted by dreams that were filled with disturbing images that are even now were slipping into the back of her mind like a harbinger of things to come. Even so, a night without night sweats where she woke chocking back a scream of being impaled upon a tree was a vast improvement.

As she wrapped her cloak around her she noticed that her nails were a blue grey like the cold ocean as it jealously clawed at the shore. Shaking her head she looked to her companions.

Lakota stood a little ways apart, keeping watch. The deep shadows under her eyes were a testament to the toll that this adventure was taking upon her. She knew that the archer was haunted by the whispered shudders and convulsive movements that haunted what naps she could get. Mako was sleeping relatively comfortably a ways away. Perhaps that was just his being Silvarrin or perhaps his capacity and (almost compulsive) tendency to set things aflame brought him comfort. Wylie was laying stiff as a corpse, tightly grasping his spell book to his chest. A cold sweat was clearly visible across his brow and his eyes twitched back and forth beneath his lids.

Finally her eyes settled upon Cyric Varn. Like everyone else he is gaunt and thin, showing the signs of starvation and malnutrition. His hair seems thinner and in the half light it seems to be showing touches of grey. His breathing was labored with a rattle that seemed to shake his frame with each gasp. How long had he been here she wondered. What had he been through? What had he seen?

Taking a minute she scanned the bleak, lifeless landscape they occupied. To the east lay the ridge where the remains of the deserted fishing village. Half of it had been consumed in flames leaving only charred and blackened fingers to point accusingly at the dismal sky above. To the south she could make out the where tumorous growth at the end of the ridge where the barrow lay. As terrifying as the wandering skeletons had been, the guardians of that ancient tomb were far worse.

Shaking off the chill that ran down her spine, she rose to her feet and looked to the west at the bone dry forest that stood like a wall trapping them along the coast. Somewhere amongst the brambles and the broken boughs were the Syrzach and Dyrg, no doubt licking their wounds and plotting revenge.

It was only by force will that Zhenais kept her eyes from seeking out the tree.

Her tree.

Her grave.

Her corpse.

Were the aches in her hands and feet echoes of spikes that had held her while the elements had stripped her flesh from the bone? Was the ache in her chest a memory of the broken ribs? The image of the skull transforming into a beak that so resembled her own flash behind her eyes and she had to look away.

To the north she could see a circle of standing stones and the hills that stood as a barrier between them and the view of the Grey Sea from which they had been cast out. None of it was encouraging. She had come to Pelenhar seeking new colors and instead had found herself trapped in a grey world with accents of crimson.

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Chapter 4: Into the Dark

With the acrid stench of burning vines stinging your nostrils you carefully tread your way across what you now recognize as a dead river bed. The smooth stones slick with the grit of salt and sand slowing your passage as you follow the half concealed tracks of your quarry. Rising out from the ancient bank is a stone edged passage, beckoning you into the pit of stygian darkness beyond.

The memories of your recent, too close brush with death echo in the back of your mind as you contemplate the entrance before you, waiting quite as the grave. The hairs on the back of your neck rise as you realize that to pursue your foes, you must follow them into the darkness.

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Chapter 3: The Bones Dance beneath a Scarlet Moon
Fighting in the feilds of the Dead

Still shaken by the events of the past day, the addled words of Cyric Varn echo in the back of your mind, ghostlike in their caressing the dread feeling that things have happened to you that you’d rather not know.

As you slipped out of the bone dry forest with it’s cloying branches that seemed to snatch at your cloak, you emerge into the narrow valley of long bladed sea grass that whips back and forth in the night. The dark grey sky above is haunted by the slight illumination provided by the hidden moons and the dying glow of the burning village that sits upon the ridge beyond. The smell of smoke and salt gently burn your nostrils and sting your eyes.

You scan about, seeking the restless dead you saw earlier only to realize to your dismay that they are no longer are in view. You look, desperately hoping not to see them and when this wish is granted, you slowly loose the breath that you had been holding in dread anticipation.

With slightly more confidence you make your way towards the mound that rises above the ridge and hope that you are correct that it is indeed the barrow you are seeking. As the clouds part to rain down the reddish glow of Elin’dyth as she flees Hullin beneath Anyarri’s eboned cloak, to your left one of your companions steps on a piece of drift wood with a crack that shatters the silence of the night.

You turn to caution him just in time to catch the sickly green glow in the darkened eye sockets of a rising skeleton as it emerges out of the long sea grass and lunges at at you with it’s claw like fingers.

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Chapter 2: Under an Ashen Sky

Under the Ashen Sky

The icy cold kiss of the endless sea wakes you as it the tide tugs you back towards its depths. Despite the chill that cuts through your body you still feel warmer than you did when the tower of ice crushed the Wave Dancer and hurled your battered body into the frozen water that was filling the hold of the ship.

An oppressive grey sky casts a sickly light upon your surroundings as you rise to your feet The hushed clawing of the tide as it tears at the shore the only sound you hear as you take in your surroundings. The beach is littered with the castaway remnants of a dozens of wrecks whose age is marked with rot and decay. You observe that the beach is devoid of any sign of human trespass as you realize that save for the bone dry grass that stands barrier between the sand and what appears to be a deserted fishing village at the crest of the hill, there is no other sign of life. No birds float through the windless sky, no crabs play at the waters edge, no crickets play their melodies out of sight.

Your belly twists and with an ache like a sword thrust as thirst and hunger fill your mouth with the acidic flavor of want. Turning towards the skeletal remains of the village you force your feet to move. Stumbling up the hill you’re your bare feet and legs are deadened to the pains of the cuts and stab they encounter amongst the cloying weeds. You pray that your impression of the village is wrong and that beyond the ruins at the crest of the hill you will find it occupied.

That you aren’t alone in this lifeless wasteland.

As you stumble to the crest of the hill your heart sinks. The village isn’t just deserted, it’s in ruins. The skeletal remains of the buildings offer little of hope of life or promise as you look around. Doors smash asunder, roofs collapsed, nets cut to pieces, and the sun bleached bones whisper a quiet testimony to the savage murder that took place here.

From over near the shattered corpse of what had once been a chapel you hear a noise. Where there is sound there must be life so in desperate hope you shuffle around the ruins, taking in the tell tale signs of the flames that had claimed this building. Beyond it you find the village graveyard, score of white markers reach like the dead to the sky. Nearby is a fresh mound of soil with the contagious grass beginning to sprout from it. A rotted shovel driven deep into it, standing silent sentinel.

Fear fills your belly as you willessly move to further investigate.

Next to the pile of soil and sand, a grave is dug. and with a growing sense of dread you look to see what is held within it’s beshadowed grasp. At first you see naught but as you peer more deeply into it’s eboned depths you spot the battered remains of the cover of a tome half buried in the earth that has collapsed back into the grave. As you focus, forms slowly take shape and you realize that the tome is held in death grasp of a bony arm that lays across it. Above it you can make out the lifeless eye sockets of the occupants skull staring back at you.

Your eyes drift down again to tome and you feel the stirrings of recognition. It’s worn and battered cover is strangely familiar. A gasp of horror escapes your parched and cracked lips as you realize that you have seen this book before.

Reaching out of its grave, the skeleton is cradling your spell book.
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Chapter 1: Sailing the Blackwinds

Rise of the Sword Masters
Chapter 1, Sailing the Blackwinds

There are few ways to reach Pelenhar and none of them safe. It is said that great mages can summons the spirits of the air if they would risk the ever watchful eyes of the Dragons of Kirin Dor. It is said that the Elves can risk the Starlight Paths if they dare to risk the wrath of Isindarian, Shadow Lord of the Ilinsidhe. The truly desperate can perhaps risk one of the ancient gate. For all the rest, the is no choice but to board one of the red sailed ships of the Jyrindarin and cross the Endless Sea.

In Port Raninkor you boarded the Wave Dancer, a ship destined for Port Bragdin. She will be the last ship willing to risk the crossing this year. Captain Gorigrn assured you that he had made this run many times and while he couldn’t guarantee that it would be easy, he promised that his ship would be in Port Bragdin before the winter winds will call up the Ice Demons of Dorinjar. Truth be told, it hadn’t mattered, your business in Port Raninkor was done and you needed to be reach Pelenhar as soon as possible.

You find yourself staying in a partitioned section of the hold with the other passengers, mostly simple immigrants like Sarbik Bin, a farmer and his family or Davin Rikers an indentured carpenter. Others like the Allarian Royal Courier Nendra Dayn or the Khazdain Master architect Orthin Dun Kryn are destine for the court of Baron Erthin of Port Bragdin. Other’s such as the priest of the Wanderer Brother Holgrim Mor have been less clear on the reason for his journey.

And of course there was Doctor Cyric Varn a physician for Grunhelm who is coming to Pelenhar in search of lost secrets of Vivomancy. His outgoing personality has made him one of the most popular individuals on the journey. The small library he brought with him has provided many hours of diversion for the more scholarly of you.

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