Title: The Arcane Madman
Date: Early Vor, 1332 Avard
Synopsis: An ME team is sent to Gridolin to retrieve a madman of a mage.
Mid-morning of the 2nd of Vor, 1332 Avard.
The Lone Squire was a schooner that often made the ferry run between Teras, Firland, and Gridolin. The schooner pulled past the moored fleet of mothballed galleons, and tethered to the docks at Gridolin. The longships cast free as the gangplank dropped down from the Lone Squire, and an ME team set foot on Hallis Island for the first time.
The leader of the group was a dwarf named Adrik. He was medium of build and height for a dwarf, and wore fine mithral chainmail under leather travelling clothes. He had forsaken his clan affiliations to follow the Storm God, Brigain. Wherever a priest of Brigain traveled, priests of the other gods took note.
The next off the schooner was an elf named Cerval, wearing brightly-colored robes and carrying a staff that thumped onto the wood with every other step. Cerval was sylvan elf from Terace, the lost city of the elves after which Teras was named. The Duke of Teras was a distant cousin to Cerval, and his neck tattoo showed that relationship in hidden runes known only to the City of Terace.
Next down the gangplank was a bulwark of a man named Ivan. He had left his native Vridara to escape the pogroms of the Inquisition, believing in his heart that the time of the mages had returned. Ivan wore steel plate like it was leather, and carried a massive two-handed sword over his shoulder and a morning star at his hip. His red cloak barely billowed in the salty sea air, made of a heavy cloth that very nearly could deflect sword blows.
The last member of the team off the schooner was short, and wore a heavy cloak to protect her visage. Beneath the cloak and hood was a grippli – frog-like humanoids responsible for wiping out Terace and many of the elves that had lived there. The grippli, named Enna, had been cursed for her role in destroying the last elven city. Hanging at Enna's side was a falchion sized to a grippli; her curse was to be a living remnant of the heritage of arcane sword-fighting that had belonged to Terace.
The hastily-assembled team had been sent to Gridolin to retrieve three individuals: Guimond Huchon, Ashur al Mad'sa, and Viegar. They had also been instructed to write down every word Ashur al Mad'sa said, although why was left unsaid.
All three of the individuals were prisoners; Hallis Island, and its capital city of Gridolin, served as the penal colony of Rakore. Prisoners were sent to Gridolin, because escaping Gridolin meant an escape to nowhere. The island was patrolled by the Iron Bear, an enchanted galleon with ballistae that threw lightning, and the ability to hunt pirate vessels hidden in coves and over the curvature of the horizon.
The ME team's papers gave them authority to take Guimond, Ashur, and Viegar to Chasadan under the name of the Ducal Mage of the Janis Plains. Unfortunately, according to the Guard, Guimond Huchon was missing. He was a mage that had been held for murder, among many other crimes.
The Guard also remarked that they had trouble holding Viegar, a drow assassin, until he had met Ashur al Mad'sa. For whatever reason, Viegar had stayed beside the Al Fahiman man since then.
The ME team let the Guard keep Ashur and Viegar in Gridolin, while the team went south across the river to the prisons. The mage prison had very high earthern walls with many roving crossbowmen. In addition, crossbowmen kept their weapons trained on mages held inside a blast-proof bunker. The bunker itself was warded in each cell, to prevent the mages from using their powers against the crossbowmen – whose quarrels were empowered to pierce even the strongest of arcane wards.
The mage known as Guimond Huchon had somehow broken the wards, killed his crossbowman, and melted his way out of his cell before the other guards could respond. He then turned into a gaseous mist, and floated away, through the bunker, over the high walls, and into the forest beyond. The Guard had lost track of him somewhere deep in the forest.
The ME team, bringing with them two members of the Guard, returned to where the track had been lost. Arcane investigations revealed that Guimond had not gone far – nor was he alone. Guimond had altered and transformed a dozen men into terrible things with limbs too long and fingers like blades. Worse, Guimond was only a sorceror in blood; his true powers came from the gods. Guimond had a touch of the mage's abilities, and that had led the Guard to misclassify him as a mage. He was both, and had used prayers akin to the Mad God's language to escape – and to change the men sent to help him.
Guimond's men attacked the ME team and the Guard. Ivan's greatsword provided a formidable wall behind which Adrick's prayers and Cerval's spells could work. Enna shed her cloak to use her falchion, wielding it with arcane skills to deadly results. Enna duplicated herself, sending her duplicate in to subdue Guimond. The team knew that the Ducal Mage wanted the mad mage alive.
The mad mage cackled maniacally, dancing about nakedly in a patch of briars while his mutated men attacked. Once several of the men had been cut down, however, Guimond transformed them yet again, further elongating them, mutating them, changing them into giants.
Straw giants, for all that they were tall, the team cut the men down. Guimond very nearly escaped, but Enna bet the mad man that not even he could escape from her wineskin. The mad mage attacked the team with a bolt of wrath direct from the heavens, courtesy of his god. The bolt was terrifying in its power, and it was followed by another. And then, of a whim, the mad mage took up Enna's bet – and slipped into her wineskin.
The team could only sit back on their heels and rest for a moment, before returning to Gridolin to continue their mission.
Afternoon of the 2nd of Vor, 1332 Avard.
I forget what dinner was, as I think we moved that weekend – and I'm not sure I remember much at all other than, “Lift the heavy box. Set the heavy box down.” I do remember that Dave couldn't make it that evening, so I put together a hasty one-shot that seemed to play out well enough.
RPG System: Dungeons and Dragons, 4th Edition.
All characters were 12th level.