What Comes Around Goes Around

What Goes Around Comes Around - Ascension
Part 2 of 3

The Age of Evil has come to Icosahedra.

Some call it the age of oppression.

When freedom is nothing but a dream. its time to make a stand.

Lead a rebellion. To be a hero.

Welcome to the land of the downtrodden. where those dare to standout are punished

And those that dear to hope find nothing to hope for.

True rebels fight against all odds

True rebels never give up

Yet they can not triumph alone

The uprising has begun

But who will lead the revolution…….

Welcome to What Goes Around Comes Around – Ascension

As an incentive to write a post each week i will be using the following.

You will get pick a card at the start of the night and you can use the bonus that night to a max of 4 cards
You can only pick a card if you write a post for the previous weeks gaming session not a rap up of many weeks. and possibly a GM card given out at end of the night.

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God searches for his/her followers
WTF where are they?

Watching the fight take place i was sad to see the last two world dragons fight. Knowing what it would bring about but i have been in that situation before a long time ago.
Now maybe it will fall to another to do what i had to do a age ago.

My Little group of adventures have disappeared even beyond might sight or though i do have a good idea where they have gone.

All i can do now is wait and hopefully they all turn up in time where they are most needed.

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Time...is a harsh mistress

Excerpt from “My Adventures – The Life of Theros Vitalstatistix, vol.3”

The battle against the evil dragon was drawing closer. So far, no time or place had been set, but Theros and his band had been charged with bringing any allies they could find with them to the battle, calling in any and all favours owed, perhaps even owing a favour in return.

Nugg and Barney went one way. They never really did say what happened, but they did return with an army of automations, blindly following their leader, Barney. Theros nearly screamed in frustration. Exactly what he said would happen, did. All that he could hope for now was that the army would be used for good…

…but this is getting ahead of the story (or is it dear reader? You will see, if you have the patience of a saint, to bear with me till the very end) and Arlen took his new found gnome friend to go shopping for magical bits and bobs. One hopes that the poor creature will survive the battle.

While Arlen was occupied, and Nugg and Barney were off in a different part of the world, Ashe lead his favoured disciple, Theros near and far.

First to the lake of the Nyiads to call due the favour owed when Theros’ group freed them from the terry of the depths that held them captive for so very many years.

Second, a visit to Hexagon was in order, and John Rust was able to drum up the required support from the city. John had another role to play in the next visit as well, as Theros dragged him over to Square to be the voice of honesty and reason, proving that Hexagon were, indeed, mobilising to fight a large evil dragon in a bid to save the very world itself. This gesture earnt an additional small army as Square pledge half their standing army to the cause, not willing to completely empty their city of armed forces (which was a far better result than expected).

Fourth, the gnomes of the fabled, and now very stationary, Gnomeroplex. While they were not able to offer much as their city was under constant attack, they did provide valuable flying troops.

Fifth, and last for Ashe and Theros, was the trip to the Caves of Doom and the Grudgebearers. A promise from Theros to the leader that the caves would be theirs, rather than them acting as caretakers earnt them the Grudgebearer forces.

A veritable host arrived in time for the battle. The planning was laid out by the Queen and it fell to the King to keep Porthos in the air and away from the ground armies, hoping that Theros and his band could win the battle on the ground. The plan from there was simple. Keep the ground forces away from the Queen so she could cast a spell to stop the evil dragon. Everything else was to protect her.

The battle was long, dangerous and very difficult. At one point, Theros could swear that he saw himself and the others of his now powerful little group fighting in the same battle, off in the distance, and it came back to him that they had, in fact, fought in a battle while traveling through time. This could, conceivably have been that battle!

At another intersection in time, Ziggy Beckett arrive and assisted the Queen by giving over a portion of his power, speeding up her spell, but his aid was cut short as he was attacked and disappeared into the time stream.

Further into the battle, the King himself fell to the ground, beaten and bloody, barely clinging to life.

Spells were cast, mighty blows shattered enemies, arrows flew, creatures were summoned, gods invoked…all to ensure the Queen could finish her spell. And finish it she did!

A blast so bright that Theros could see it through his very eyelids seared the sky, slamming into the evil dragon, bringing him down. His massive body slammed to the earth, as he breathed heavily, his life ebbing away.

Porthos laughed evilly, bloody spurting from his wounds.

“You fools! I planned this all along. My death causes what I always wanted! My life ends this world.”

Ziggy arrived again, in the midst of the Queen realising, too late, that he was in fact a World Dragon, and with his death, the world was doomed. Ziggy looked frantic, and then calmed as he arrived at something of a solution, but not before finding time to berate the party, even as the world around him started to fall to pieces.

“I only ever tried to help you! And what did I get for it? You were rude to me, mean to me, tried to hurt me. And even so, I will still try and help you, even now. Can one of you turn into a dragon?”

Nugg had been going through a number of changes over the last several months, and he slowly raised his hand.

“I think I can help with that.”

Ziggy explained that he would help Nugg fully transform into a dragon, and then, he would send him far back in time, thus ensuring that when this current time period will have its World Dragon.

Porthos laughed as Nugg transformed from the human he once was, into a dragon…a silver dragon.

“I look so young.”

Porthos coughed as he spoke, and then he shimmered, and changed form. He looked just like Nugg, but older.

Theros finally caught on!

“Nugg! You’re Porthos! Oh gods no!!”

The world trembled violently and flashed white as Theros reached out to grab his friend. When he could see again, Theros found himself in some for of prison. A woman looked at the young bard in surprise.

“My name is Desna. Who are you?”

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For some reason, the dead don't want to stay dead

Excerpt from “My Adventures – The Life of Theros Vitalstatistix, vol.3”
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Something disgusting dropped on Barney from above. The top of the stairs were just in sight when a large black mass descended and proceeded to cover the erstwhile barbarian in ooze, while it burnt…cut…something the ex-drunk.
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The top of the stairs revealed little better for Theros and his party. Two horrific humanoid figures, masses of bones and skulls tied together with slick ropes of sinew greeted everybody. These massive behemoths stood guard over the stair entrance, and their forms shrouded a human sized figure, cloaked and hooded near the back of the tower room.

There are no sure things in this life, and Theros was not overly keen to make a large assumption simply because the shape was humanoid and wearing robes of some kind, but the instant he saw it casting spells, he sent him mind into overdrive, furiously trying to work out what this creature might be, but alas, nothing sprung to mind immediately.
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Theros concentrated on moving around he edge of the tower, avoiding both of the bone golems and ooze thingy that was currently trying to dissolve Barney. His first thoughts would normally have been attack, but this situation was looking bad, and he instead turned his thoughts towards ensuring his party would survive the first few seconds of combat, and hopefully be able to turn everything around.

His voice rang out, loud, clear and inspiring. He inched further round the wall of the tower, shrinking himself into his now favoured form of a kobold, trying to seem as little threat as possible. Thankfully, his mirror images were still up if he drew attention to himself.

He had picked up a statue of a griffin from the Time Lords not long ago, but had not found a moment to use it. This seemed like the best time, so he threw the statue across the room and spoke the command word and watched in satisfaction when it changed shape. He bid it charge the humanoid behind the golems, reasoning that this might be the only enemy in the room with actual intelligence, and stopping that might aid in stopping the others if they were reliant on its commands.

The griffin charged…and made no impact. The creature was clearly powerfully protected. Hopefully the griffin would serve as a distraction instead then.

Theros cast the haste spell, allowing the party to move and fight faster, but the creature at the back, possibly recognising the threat posed by opposition spell casters, lowered a cloudkill on the party. Theros coughed, but moved out of the affected area as fast as his new speed would allow him.

Nugg seemed to find special reserves and flung summoned creature after summoned creature at everything evil in the room, while Ashe seemed to glow…with a slightly pink light?…and spoke with Desna’s voice. The Avatar was back again!

Theros had told Arlen that his magics were unlikely to harm the bone golems, so the mage wisely left them to Barney, who had violently dealt with the ooze trying to digest him (the man can get digested, even outside a stomach! It’s a phenomenal ability) and was in the process of doing the same to one of the golems, and Gene, Nugg’s large wolf, who was keeping the other golem at bay.

Arlen focused his magics on the robed creature at the back, but was having very little luck.

Theros tried to keep an eye on his party members, but when Barney tore through his latest opponent and charged directly at the cloaked figure, the young bard sacrificed his tentative combat plans and dived towards the berserker and frantically channeled Desna to ensure the man didn’t fall prey to the casters evil touch.

How the tower still stood following that epic combat, Theros never worked out. Huge beasts sprung from Nuggs essence, griffons tore around, a large wolf stomped around, two huge golems tried to destroy all around them and spells were flying everywhere.

The piles of bones, ooze and cloaked man were all that was left when the dust settled, and Theros genuinely struggled to recall the last moments of the battle, it was that hectic.

“Thank Desna we’re all alright!”

There was more at play here, so Theros pulled the hood back on the robed figure and studied it carefully, recalling any lore he might have heard. One thing kept coming back to him. Phylactery. This must be a lich!

“We have to find this things phylactery! It will keep coming back unless we destroy that as well.”

The small matter of not knowing what this would be made the task harder, but they looked through the tower, top to bottom, even going as far as having Ashe try to locate the unfamiliar object from dragon back, all to no avail.

Theros led the group back to Line. It seemed the only option as they still needed to work out if there was more to do. No rest for the weary.

The arrival at Line was met with silence. Nobody was around. The doors and windows were all shut. The wind whistled through with nothing to impede it.

Except one man. Nugg had mentioned a druid he talked with last time he was in Line. This was the same man, but now horribly disfigured, parts of his body putrescent and rotting, his moans echoing through the lonely air.

He was able to talk and he described his battle to save Line. He lost a battle against what turned out to be the same caster Theros and his band defeated, and came away looking like he was half dead, and felt incredibly awful. And for some reason, he felt a strange pull leading him towards the tower.

It too several days, but the group managed to finally work out that the druid was the phylatery! Theros had never heard of such a thing, but thankfully, through a wide combination of magics and patience, the man was freed from the foul effects.

That done, it was time to continue the fight against Porthos!

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The view from the top

Excerpt from “My Adventures – The Life of Theros Vitalstatistix, vol.3”

Barney didn’t wait. Again. (gentle readers will note that Barney had developed a strong desire to charge into every single combat, immediately, and throw himself down the gullet of the first thing he came into contact with. You will have to wait and see if he learned prudence)
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A huge six legged reptile, surrounded in swirling silver dust was the target of the moment. In mere moments, Barney was wrapped up on claws and being stuffed into the creatures massive maw. It was only divine intervention from Ashe that stopped the creature actually being able to do so.
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From either side of the silver dusty reptile came two women. One was floating gently, a foot off the floor, surrounded by a highly localised snow storm and the other, covered in violent green flames, walked casually towards the party.
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The fight became substantially chaotic at this point. Silver dust flying all over the place, snow storm and an eerie green fire all battled for attention as magic, arrows, multiple summoned creatures, divine intervention and massive hammers all combined to end the immediate threats.

Barney looked like a walking wounded, and even Ashe appeared to have taken some significant wounds. Ashe healed Barney using his ever ready wand, but obviously decided that he was not hurt badly enough to warrant using any charges on himself…

…which proved to be a mistake…

…as he walked into a fight upstairs with the largest bakery disaster the world had ever seen!
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Two things immediately caught the attention of Theros’ highly trained senses. First, a massive blackened creature oozed its way towards the party, stories of old ringing in his ears, telling him this was likely a black pudding, and that adventurers had fallen foul of them when using edged weapons.
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Second, there was a gorgeous woman behind the pudding, screaming in terror for all she was worth. Except, to Theros, stage trained his entire life, the screaming was a mere act, and not even a particularly good one. It was a trap!

Alerting the rest of the party that the woman was not actually in danger, Theros focused on moving around the room, avoiding the gigantic oozing black mass and shot at the woman, arrows hitting true, time and again.

By the time somebody got close to her, they could see her glistening fangs and the party deduced that she was, in fact, a vampire. Empathy, not that there had been much previously, went out the small arrow slits that called themselves windows at that point.

Nugg summoned more creatures. They seemed to be at his call all the time now, his powers and control over the forces of nature continuously growing (much like the wings on his back and the horns on his head and the occasionally cleft feet and clawed hands. Yes dear reader, our Nugg was becoming something of a conundrum at this time), seemingly by the day. Between these and the mighty club that Barney swung vigorously, the pudding was well and truly occupied and defeated.

Theros, Ashe and Arlen concentrated on the woman, and while she tried some of her feminine wiles on the men of the group, Desna, or simply the knowledge that a certain elf back in Hexagon, strengthened their wills and the vampiric woman perished, arrow directly through the heart.

A brief breather found Ashe clutching his sides in pain, muttering to himself about forgetting to look after himself before venturing further. A few flicks of a wand later however, and the avatar of Desna was fully functioning.

While the fights so far in the tower had been constant, they hadn’t really been overly dangerous, unless one considers that Barney risked being eaten yet again. Since the rest of the party didn’t consider that to be a detriment to his ability to contribute to the combats, the readers shouldn’t be fooled into believing there was any real danger to him as he’d been recovered from further inside beasts bellies than a few moments ago.

Confidence in their strides and knowledge that they were performing a vital, yet also good deed by ridding this tower of the evil that so obviously infested it, the party strode up the stairs, sure of their task.

Straight into an ambush.

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Betrayal never gets old apparently

Excerpt from “My Adventures – The Life of Theros Vitalstatistix, vol.3”

The trip back to the cave, while long, was not particularly arduous. The routes had been cleared by Theros and his party previously, and travel had improved as a result.

Theros stopped at the edge of the clearing leading to the cave in the mountain, remembering, very clearly, both the sight and smell of charred gnome flesh as Fizzle McWatson was instantly incinerated when approaching the cave last time.

The dragon was not in sight, but that didn’t stop the cautious approach. It was decided that Ashe would teleport as many of the party as possible into the cave, while Nugg and Arlen would transform into earth elementals and burrow their way there. This would leave Nugg’s wolf, finally named Gene (something about an unnaturally long tongue apparently!), back in the forest to care for itself for the few hours that the party was in the cave.

Needless to say, there was joy, expectation and questions raised while in the cave, but nothing showed anything amiss, so the party placed the gems into each of the pillars and watched as the elf, Porthos finally broke free of his shackles.

Porthos grabbed two of the gems and walked over to the mirror quickly and tapped it hard. As it began to crack, he repeated his promise to pay the group in the form of a powerful magical item. As each person began to recite what they felt was appropriate, Porthos kept looking at the mirror, professing that it seemed to be taking a long time to free the gnome.

Just as the mirror was about to break, Porthos transformed…into a mighty dragon! Theros could not control the fear that went coursing through his body and fled towards the far end of the cave, away from the now dragon. Only Ashe was able to hold the fear at bay and stand firm.

Porthos turned to Ashe.

“Thank you for freeing me. Your rewards shall be your lives.”

With that, he turned and left the cave, stopping only very briefly to swat Ashe with his tail, slamming the cleric into the wall, hard.

The mirror broke and out stepped, not a gnome, but Queen Ayla Maxamus instead. The leader of the once fabled Green City of Wonder looked at Theros, instantly remembering the group and remarking that she had felt there was something odd about them when they were in her audience chamber all those years ago.

Porthos had tricked them all!

The situation was explained, badly, to her and she held her head in her hands momentarily as the knowledge that one of the two world dragons, the evil one at that, had been released.

It was also discovered that the large red dragon was actually her husband, the King, Remulas, gone mad over such a long time in dragon form and pining for his lost Queen.

Queen Ayla was able to calm the dragon and force him to return to a sense of normalcy, allowing him to transform back into a humanoid form.

A plan was hatched. Theros and his party would traverse the realms once again, searching for those they had helped, asking for aid in defeating the evil dragon. They had only a short amount of time as Queen Ayla would only be able to track Porthos for a short period.

To help with this, King Remulas provided each of the party with the mark of his own dragon flights, the two of red and bronze. Theros looked at his chest after the King had touched him, and the searing pain had left a brand on his skin. This brand would allow he to call on either a red or bronze dragon as required for transport and they would also help as they were able.

With travel requirements substantially eased, Theros led the group towards Line, knowing that they still needed to deal with the troubles that were affecting that township. Knowing the troubles were most likely coming from the tower they had cleared in a previous existence, they headed straight for the tower.

The tower looked bigger than it had last time Theros saw it. Clearly something had been happening in their time away.
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Guarding the entrance was two large spiders, easily bigger than a man, and a mounted skeleton was circling the building. Swooping down from the backs of the dragons, Theros and his party landed in front of the spiders. The familiar whoosh of air as Barney charged past into the nearest enemy prompted Theros to sing and cast his beneficial spells.
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The battle was fierce, but proving short lived until two flying undead with bows started pelting the party from above. This was Theros’ time to shine, and with the assistance of a protective spell from Arlen, he sot them with impunity, turning them into undead pin cushions, nullifying their aerial advantage.

The entrance cleared, Theros pointed at the door, almost certain that worse awaited them inside.

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Correcting the Bard
A drunks tale

So we have all the crystals. Picking up the last one in an ancient gnome city. Turns out that the gnomes back then created some things call clockworks to be their mechanised workforce. These clockworks developed into concious beings and rose up against their creators/masters. The gnomes sunk the city and abandoned it apart from one gnome who was left behind to make sure it was a success. On taking the last crystal I suddenly found myself with a choice. I could now command the clockworks. I could destroy the clockworks or I could leave them be. I chose to shut them down while we complete this quest. They are now sentient beings who simply rose up against their oppresors not hell bent on world domination like our bard seems to think. I will find a way to set them free and broker a peace treaty with them.bq). Barney Gumble

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Nothing but cogs in a machine

Excerpt from “My Adventures – The Life of Theros Vitalstatistix, vol.3”

The gnome could only look on in amazement as Theros turned to him.

“So, what next?”

Bart (newly re-introduced) the gnome pointed at the portal and indicated that was the groups direction.

“Just let me turn it on first.”

Theros looked at the short humanoid with some disbelief and a little annoyance.

“You were JUST telling us to flee those things by jumping down the hole because they couldn’t follow us. And NOW you tell us that it’s not even going? How is Desna’s name was that ever going to work then?”

A slightly apologetic shrug later, no more answers were forthcoming as Bart fiddled with the controls and got the portal working.

A sigh of frustration escaped from Theros, but he stepped on the portal, following immediately behind Arlen, only to find himself somewhere else.

A large circular area, with four compass point exits (N,S, E and W) and a large console near the middle greeted the young bard. Looking down, he was startled to find the floor was transparent, and he could see far below him, hundreds, thousands of the constructs, spread as far as the eye could see, all busily making more of themselves.

A glow caught his eye.

Floating, suspended somehow, was the very gem they were looking for. It was so close, Theros could almost touch it!

Bart the gnome pointed at it and indicated the console.

“I should be able to get that up here, but I’ll need to work on the console. I’ve not used this one, so it could be a bit hit and miss. You will have to guard the doors in case an alarm is set off and the clockwork are alerted to our presence.”

The group fell to impatient waiting. Some paced, some fidgeted, some did nothing. But all jumped in surprise when a loud blaring clarion call rung out form all around them. Bart looked a little defiant.

“I’ve never used this before. Gimme a break.”
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One of the doors slid open, revealing a large clockwork golem, the same as the one above. Theros reminded Arlen not to cast spells at it and then focused his attentions on inspiring his party through song and music.
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Behind the large golem were four more of the human sized clockworks. The large golem moved quickly out of the corridor and was met by an angry barbarian, only for Barney to be swept up into a pincer grip. Barney would not be lonely for long however, as Wolf snapped his sharp teeth at the golem, only to be grabbed as well.

Ashe cried out to Desna and she answered, allowing the two grabbed by the large clockwork to move freely (although they still could not escape the machines grasp) and then he went on the offensive, moving into position to stab at the construct if the opportunity presented itself.

Arlen filled the corridor with magical power and the four remaining clockwork collapsed into heaps on the floor. Two more were very quickly making their way towards the commotion though, so Arlen fried them as well, with some well placed magical missiles bursting from his fingers.

Nugg kept up a steady stream of summoned creatures, and Theros looked sadly at his quiver, only seeing five of his precious adamantium arrows remaining. He would need to do better this time than he did upstairs. These arrows were too valuable to waste.

Taking a deep breath, he mocked to first of them and began rapidly firing the arrows at the large construct, several of them hitting square on! These arrows, combined with the focused attention of the rest of the party, brought the clockwork behemoth down quickly.

Bart was able to silence the clarion call, but looking down, Theros could see that all the constructs looking up at the party. It was eerily quiet.

“Oooookkkkaaayyyy. Let’s get that gem and get out of here eh?”

Bart worked feverishly, finally getting the gem to appear on the platform. Barney nabbed it immediately and stood in silence for a few moments.

“We’re good to go. Those clockwork won’t do anything now.”

With no real time to discuss what had just happened, the party could only flee the chamber, going back up to the chamber above. Bart primed the pyramid to sink back below the earth, and Theros led the group out, with moments to spare.

The group was greeted by a now, very familiar face. Ziggy Beckett was leaning on the pillar that summoned the pyramid, watching as it sunk beneath the ground once more. He looked excited, curious and then, all of a sudden, shocked.

Ziggy looked at his chest in disbelief before stumbling and falling to the ground, landing on his knees. Two arrows could be seen sprouting out of his back!

Looking up, Theros spotted the griffin that had followed them the days prior was flying around and several people were moving in to surround Ziggy from all angles.

Barney cried out in rage.

“Kill Ziggy!”

He charged, directly at the fallen time traveller. He raised his sword as though to strike the man down, but diverted his blow at the last to attack one of the Time Lords instead. The look of abject fear on Ziggy’s face shifted to confusion. The look changed again to something cunning as Barney reached into his backpack to give Ziggy a potion of healing. As soon as Barney was close enough, Ziggy grabbed Barney’s hand, touched his ring and promptly vanished from the time stream. Barney’s curse must have been heard in Hexagon.

As this was taking place, the Time Lords had made their attacks as well. A foul cloud appeared over those gathered closest to Ziggy, one of their own included, and all coughed and grasped at their chests, the gas obviously causing them great discomfort.

Ashe had risen over the battlefield, arms outstretched like a benevolent Angel. This made him a target for the griffin rider and she duly charged, her lance striking Desna’s avatar with sickening force. The young acolyte grimaced and slowly descended to the ground, bracing his spear in preparation for another charge.

Theros had been in this situation so many times before that his standard inspirational tactics had become second nature. A song, followed swiftly by hastening his comrades. This, coupled with the blessing of Desna, meant the party were full of Devine vigorous and ready to cast down these Time Lords.

As the griffin flew overhead, Theros loosed arrow after arrow, but the skilful rider twisted and turned, dodging all the shots, much to Theros’ chargrin.

Magic flared out and one of the Time Lords fell, fatally wounded. Another fell shortly afterwards as well, more magic ending his life. Arlen had arrived to the scene and the Time Lords were learning of his might.

Soon, there was only the griffin and its rider remaining. She decided that discretion was the better part of valor and retreated, but a curse that Ashe had called down upon the griffin was still acting, and the griffin fell from the sky, a few hundred yards from the battle site. Barney, Nugg and his Wolf all followed to ensure that she couldn’t get up again.

They found her dead, collapsed from the impact of the fall.

All through the fight, Theros could not help but think back on the way that Ziggy escaped. He had told them a few nights ago that he had no idea how he time travelled, but his actions when in danger belied this. There was more that he was not telling them. Again.

Regardless, there was still an issue to deal with. The pyramid and the clockwork inside. What should have been a simple matter, turned into a large philosophical debate. Theros wanted to destroy the pillar, trapping the clockwork inside, since he was not able to destroy the clockwork themselves. Both Arlen and Nugg agreed.

Barney argued vociferously against this idea, stating that they were a sentient race that deserved to live and should not be trapped, and regardless, they were safe underground, no threat to anybody. When pushed on this point, Barney simply said that this is what he commanded them to do…stay there and do nothing.

The other issue was that if the ring was what commanded them, what would happen if the ring ever fell into the wrong hands? Barney was adamant that this would never happen. Except he was ignoring the simply fact that these things had been waiting for well over two thousand years, and he, as a human, would live to about seventy, provided he didn’t die a violent death prior to that, as was much more likely given his current line of work.

Theros couldn’t get his head around the argument. If they were sentient, why should they be trapped at all? Barney was arguing for the same result as Theros, but just digging in the mud about destroying the access to them. There was clearly more at play here, Theros could see it written all over Barney’s face, but he could not understand what the answer was at this point.

It was probably only the intervention of a compromised idea from Ashe that stopped Theros from coming to blows with somebody who would have beaten him utterly senseless.

Ashe and Nugg combined to cover, protect and conceal the pillar with a number of magical and divine effects. With nothing else to do but wonder what Barney was hiding from him, Theros started the long trek back to the nearest city, knowing that they would have weeks before they could get back to the caves and rescue the gnome and elf lovers.

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Passing in the night

Excerpt from “My Adventures – The Life of Theros Vitalstatistix, vol.3”

A cheery campfire with people seemingly happy to chat was a welcome start to a long foot journey. so when the offer to join them was forthcoming, Theros practically leaped at the chance.

It didn’t take long to notice something amiss however. A symbol on their shoulders was fairly prominent, and they were obviously making no effort to conceal it. The symbol of the Time Lords!

Theros gulped back a wee shiver, wondering what could draw a group that had been chasing them on and off (while focusing on Ziggy Beckett primarily) into the very same area Theros’ group was exploring in, at the same time. Something was happening, but for the life of him, Theros couldn’t figure out what was going on.

What started as friendly chatter around a camp fire turned suspicious. Questions were being asked that had Theros feeling concerned that his group were going to get attacked in their sleep. To stave off the ill-will, Theros broke into a performance, and knowing what was at stage, he was very pleased with his performance.

It was agreed that there would be one person from each group on watch at each juncture. Theros tried a sneaky option. Knowing Nugg only had to sleep two hours each night, he cast a spell of messaging when he was pretending to break water, and asked Nugg to feign sleep when it wasn’t his shift so that he could keep an eye on everything going on.

This made Theros feel more comfortable, but after the nights rest, it was clear that attack wasn’t the first thought, getting more information was. Each party member was quizzed intensely about why they were there, and only Nugg (who simply changed into an animal to do his watch) and Theros, who turned the conversation around to where the group was getting their information from, seemed immune overall.

Theros did find out that the Time Lords were working off an ancient text, but they were unable to decipher or make out all of it. The title mentioned that it was written by somebody called “statistix” and they were sure that there was more to the name, so when Theros expressed interest in the book because his last name was Vitalstatistix, he feared he’d made a large error, without realising why.

It seemed that a copy of the books Theros would write, somehow ended up in the past, and was being used by the Time Lords to hunt down Ziggy Beckett. Some might take this as a sign that writing memoirs was not a good idea, but it was plain to Theros that he had ALREADY written them, so he might as well KEEP writing them. Time travel made the young bards head hurt.

The two groups made their separate ways from the camp, and Nugg led the group to where he thought the centre of the desert would have been. Along the way, a griffin was spotted, following the group. It was the same one the Time Lords used for one of their members mounts. Theros was being followed!

Which simply made him more determined to succeed. And Barney helped in his own, special way.

“Oi! You fullas following us! We gonna share camp again tonight?!”

And throughout the day, Barney would wave at the rider until seen and watch as the rider veered away.

Night fell and a quick camp was made. Ashe suggested that the party re-locate to throw the Time Lords off their trail somewhat. A plan was hatched involving fog, wind, rope tricks and the dead of the night. Suffice to say, more planning went into the event than the event really needed, and the Time Lords lost the trail.

“There’s Time Lords out there!”

Ziggy Beckett…somehow the errant time traveler and most obvious cause of all this turned up. Inside a spell. Theros sighed as he realised he had no cutlery near to hand to throw.

The night passed and Ziggy was filled in. He was horrified, but also started picking up on the groups overall lack of desire to have Ziggy around. It seemed that the group blamed Ziggy for their current predicament, feeling as though Ziggy had somehow been manipulating their lives at almost every turn.

Ziggy joined the group as they traveled deeper into the forest, Nugg certain of his bearings.

Theros struggled to find a way to like Ziggy and it was showing. His acerbic tongue more than once lashing the time traveling mage like a whip, until finally Ziggy could take it no more.

“Fine! Screw you! I’m out of here!”

Ziggy stormed off into the jungle, leaving the group to their own devices, but not before a voice cried out to his retreating back.

“You’ll be back. Again.”

Theros felt almost immediately calmer. It was highly likely that he was taking his frustrations out on the wrong person, but the way Ziggy cryptically doled out information while never really knowing what was going on incensed the bard. A story needed to be whole! Especially his own.

Nugg finally found the spot he was searching for, and some form of pillar was beckoning the party…Barney really…the ring more specifically…closer. Barney lifted his hand and slotted his ring into a groove on the pillar, apparently made specifically for it, and the group watched as a pyramid rose from the ground, a short distance from where they were standing.

Easy access was provided and Theros walked up to the pyramid and what passed for a door simply slid open as he approached, sliding shut again once everybody was inside.

The walls were covered in murals, or painting of people. It showed a people moving through the ages, learning, progressing through history.
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At a juncture ahead, the room Theros stood in branched in two directions. Up and down. Down was caved in and up was clear, so that appeared to be the path. It was here that Theros met his first automation. A small spider like mechanical being called down the stairway, followed by several humanoid looking automations.
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Theros tried a number of languages, but the paintings seemed to suggest short stature people such as gnomes, so he tried greeting the automations in gnome. Lesson for the day? Don’t speak to automations in gnome tongue if they were created by gnomes and over threw them violently.

The automations attacked.

And died.

Initially they focused on the one that spoke what was obviously a hated language, but powerful magics from Arlen, coupled with mighty swings from Barney and support from the others saw the clockworks swiftly destroyed.

As up was their only option, up Theros led the group.

The group encountered a room with numerous automations resting against the walls in devices, while several others were working at something resembling a gnomish console in the corner. This could have been a dangerous situation, but Arlen again called on a powerful spell and a small pea of fire left his hands, via his magical rod, and exploded in the room, leaving only wreckage where working clockwork had been moments before.

The console had survived relatively unharmed, and Barney busied himself with destroying the still standing automations in case they should activated. He then approached and the console opened, revealing a gnome, looking harried and confused.

Introductions were made (and only in gnomish dear readers, and an ancient dialect at that, meaning that Theros was currently the only one who could hold a conversation, while Ashe, through use of a spell, could at least understand the gnome)and a potentially fake name given by the gnome, calling himself simply “Brian” led to the understanding that the clockwork creatures had indeed revolted and overthrew their gnomish masters, and now potentially after several thousand years, had made enough of themselves to take over the world. They needed to be stopped, and the only way was at the bottom of the pyramid apparently.

And the way down was through a chute at the apex. Past two guardians. Whom Brian said were not able to be defeated. And the only option was to run past them and leap into the chute, knowing that machinery could not follow.

This sounded like yet another thing Theros had been told he couldn’t do. He gritted his teeth. Not the best bard. Not the best story teller. Not the best archer. Not the best leader. Can’t kill this thing. Can’t defeat that thing. As Desna as his witness, these mechanical monstrosities were being destroyed!
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A large chamber showed two large automations. Both substantially bigger than Barney, the largest of the group. The gnome cried out in fear and yelled at the group to flee to the chute. With only Ashe and Theros able to understand him, the party all but ignored the diminutive addition.
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Arlen looked to Theros.

“What weakness do these things have?”

Never having heard or seen these before, Theros turned to Brian and the gnome explained that one was susceptible to electricity and the other should not be attacked by spells at all.

Barney charged one, and after a couple of massive blows, was promptly swallowed, (leading to the nickname “Barney the Gobstopper”) again. While the rest of the party were trading blows, Theros sang to inspire and cast the spell of Haste to aid them and then focused on shooting his expensive adamantium arrows at the clockwork that was immune to spells. He only had ten adamantium arrows total, so he had to make them count. He didn’t.

Luckily, Arlen blasted the other clockwork with several bolts of electrical power and fried it, Barney inside and all. He then promptly disappeared, invisible.

Between Ashes’ thrusts, Nuggs’ summoned minions and Theros’ pinpoint archery, the other golem fell. Ashe breathed a sigh of relief. His body looked a mess of cuts, bruises and sweat as he had borne the brunt of the attacks and Desna be praised, had just survived, healing himself just enough.

Brian the gnome looked on in utter amazement at the destruction. Barney grunted in disgust and wiped himself down as best he could while the others looked down the chute.

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Regurgitating the story

Excerpt from “My Adventures – The Life of Theros Vitalstatistix, vol.3”

It quickly became obvious that the surroundings were not a cave. The floor was slimy and soft, the sacs hanging held decayed bodies, the walls were solid, but squishy, and there were two exits from the area, both puckered and moving slightly.

An educated guess, and horrified one at that, was that they were inside somethings stomach!
Theros felt ill.

Ashe and Nugg went to check out one exit while others checked out the other. Barney simply reverted to type, having already cut his way out of one stomach in recent memory, started cleaving his way through the wall membrane.

Needless to say, the creature the party was trapped inside didn’t like unplanned surgery and the whole chamber shook violently, one can only assume, in pain.

Ashe and Nugg quickly found the soles of their boots being eaten away by what must be a stomach acid and quickly retreated back into the chamber to stay near the others. Not seeing another easy way out, the group watched as Barney hewed his way deeper into the muscle tissue.

The chamber shook violently again and Theros was one of the only people to keep his feet. Not that this mattered as the chamber forcibly expelled the whole group through what could only be described as a sphincter.

Jumbled together, weapons, armour, limbs and heads smacking together as the group was thrust through the tubes and ejected violently…and landed solidly on a hard surface, breathing real air!
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Only to look up and see a behemoth with a giant eye and massive tentacles erupting from the surface threatening the party (it was previously mentioned, dear reader, that our young hero had developed a severe distaste for tentacles earlier…this proved to be untrue…the current crop of large, slimy, threatening tentacles eclipsed all others and shook his fear to the foundation).

For all that it was terrifying at first sight, the group was able to retreat from the edge of the lake (Barney retreated the fastest Theros had ever seen!) and pelt the creature with arrows and spells, and while Ashe was injured a bit while retreating, the party finished the beast quickly as Theros shot arrow after arrow directly into its giant gaping eye.

Nugg caught his breath, and heard a familiar barking as his wolf bounded into sight, crashing into him with obvious glee, looking thin and worn, abut extremely happy to see his master again.

Once the beast died, a female head popped up out of the water a short time later, looking fearful and curious at the same time.

“You killed it? The beast that trapped our race here for eons is dead?”

While the woman, probably a naiad, was substantially less forthcoming than when the group supposedly met them before, she did get her elder, who passed on an ancient staff, glowing with a strange magic that neither Theros or Arlen could identify.

Holding the staff revealed a simple message. Be at the peak by sundown of the winter equinox. Which was in about three days!

With little else to do, the group made their way as fast as they could towards the distant peaks, rests and pushing themselves as required.
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Approaching the base of the mountain, a pair of creatures were running at them. Theros quickly identified them.

“Trolls! Fire. Acid. Just make sure you burn them otherwise they will regenerate!”

After all that the party had been through in the last year, two trolls, which would have once been a fearsome encounter, and likely fatal, proved to be of little challenge and they were cut down swiftly. Arlen then ensured they stayed down by char-broiling the bodies, eyes lighting up as only a pyromanics does.

Ashe called on divine assistance and along with Nuggs new wings (yes dear reader, our beloved Nugg was going through some serious transformational changes, more of which will be explained later) allowed the whole party to simply walk on air as though it was solid land, greatly speeding their way up the mountain.

There were a number of creatures flying around the peak of the mountain, but with time of the essence, Theros led the group a slightly long way around them and continued up the mountain to the top.
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Only to find another adversary waiting for them! A large humanoid, quickly identified as an ice giant, waited, preparing to throw boulders at the group.

“Arlen! This ice giant is susceptible to fire! Burn it!”

A mighty giant would trouble even a seasoned troop of adventurers, but a mage born to fire like a fish to water, targeting something that has a fear and hatred of fire due to its very nature, was no match for the arcane fires bursting forth from the hands of Arlen.

Barneys massive swing all but cleft it in twain as well. It was enough to almost…almost, but not quite, feel sorry for the giant.

The peak held one last surprise. An old man sat waiting patiently. Bearded, wizened, bent through age, but undeniably Ziggy Beckett. A few more cryptic comments followed (let this be a lesson dear reader, do NOT switch off when being given vital information, even when it seems unimportant) and Theros had all he could to not throw the nearest eating utensil at the man. Only to watch in some disbelief as Ziggy smiled and stepped off the cliff, to simply disappear.

Nugg inserted the staff into a purpose built hole in the peak and a glaze came over his eyes. Apparently the location of the crystal flashed before him and it was stored inside Digons very own light stone, right in front of their very eyes for centuries, had they but known!

The race for time less urgent, the group made their way home at less than breakneck speed, knowing that when they arrived, a difficult task fell upon them, to take something Digon held dear and leave them potentially nothing in return.

Theros had grown in stature, confidence and public speaking ability since the ill-fated trip to stop the brigands, what seemed like a lifetime ago. There are those who stood there, in the town square, under the light of the crystal, who recall, even now, the majesty of the young man in his prime, extolling all things vial and good and they could not help but be moved by his impassioned speech and gladly allowed the crystal to taken.

Desna helped ease their pain by replacing the crystals light with the light of a torch that would never go out, also placed inside the protective casing. All was right with Digon and Theros left happily, knowing his home had something they loved and he had the next part of his quest fulfilled.

It was then onto Hexagon to research the Desert of the Dead, with a quick stop along the way at the mines to check on Vigeo. His mine had prospered and even now, knowing that it was likely the remains of the Green City of Wonder, Theros smiled, nodded and left the man to his delving.

Arlen was able to find references to the the Desert of the Dead in the library, with his beautiful elven lady helping. Apparently it had turned into a forest in the ensuing years!

A direction and a description in tow, Theros led the small band to Circle, as this was on the way, and many of the group had gold burning holes in their pockets.

(There are stories of Theros the Bard, Theros the Arcane and Theros the Scholar, but it is here, this trip to Circle, that the origin of Theros the Archer began. His fable bow, unnamed at this point in his career, was enchanted with the power of seeking, ensuring that nobody could ever hide from his deadly arrows, allowing his to pick targets in the middle of the fog of war with ease. Remember this well dear reader! You are privy to an origin no others have been told.)

Barney had suffered quite badly in the gullet of the foul beast from the depths of the waters, and steadfastly refused to leave Circle until he had been cured of his maladies. Ashe’s sighs became things of legend over the course of the next three weeks as he explained to a man as stubborn as a dwarf arguing over gold or ale, that he could heal him while they traveled, but to no avail.

A long three weeks followed, but the party was as rested as they had ever been and continued in good spirits towards their new goal, stopping for the night after spying a camp fire…

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