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Trilogy of Terror, continued

The Trap Finders continued their assault on the Citadel’s tower, silently taking out several guards before breaching the topmost floor and facing the commanders. The vicious vampiress, her wraiths, and her spawn caused the party a tremendous amount of trouble, even dominating Bodin long enough for him to strike and bloody Lyr.

Loyalties shifted wildly when a Herald of Hadar appeared, disrupting the fight and apparently seeking the mysterious item Lyr now carries in her bag of holding. Gunder’s suspicions about Lyr’s moral compass were only heightened when, instead of attacking the herald, she tried to reason and negotiate with it— even as it was lashing out at both her and her companions.

Towards the end of the fight, Paithan finally rescued a non-combatant maid who attempted to kiss him in her zealous thanks. But when her kiss of domination didn’t land, she fled for the window, making a cryptic remark to Lyr seconds before she flew out the window.

Bodin finally lost all his marbles, joining Lyr in the “we’re driving each other crazy” train.

The adventure was played on Sunday, March 27th. Paithan, Gunder, Bodin, Lyr, and Elisanada participated. Party rewards included 1600 XP, 900 gp, and magical treasure items to be disclosed as soon as you create wishlists for your characters!

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Night Practice

It was a cool night, early Spring. Bodin awoke to the sensation of cool air on his face. Instantly awake, he reached for the throwing axe he kept beside the bed while his eyes darted around the room. Empty.

Which only made him tighten his grip on the axe. Where the hell was she?

A gentle breeze brushed his face again, and he looked towards the window. It was cracked open a bit, and he got out of bed, moving swiftly to close it. When he reached it, though, he stopped, staring out into the night.

In the courtyard below, bathed in silvery moonlight, Lyr danced around a wooden practice dummy. Unarmored, she wore a simple white gown that fluttered in the light, and Bodin could see the glint of silver light on the chain around her waist. She moved with practiced steps and he realized she was fighting, not dancing.

He grinned and reached for his weapons. Night practice had always been a favorite of his.
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Her hands were slick with sweat, but Lyr pressed on. One, two, strike_. One-two-_strike. The mace in her hands slid uncomfortably when she struck with it, and she paused a moment to pull a wide strip of leather from her bag and wrap it around the handle. Perhaps the third piece formed a better gripping point? Though the weapon was balanced well enough, she could feel that it lacked one piece to make it whole.

I’ve always connected best with Moradin’s creation spirit, she thought, tightening the leather against the handle. Her head was down, concentrating on what she was doing, but even so she saw a shadow cast from something behind her move, stealthily as if trying to catch her unaware. Instinctively, she spun and lashed out with a kick, bringing the mace up to defend herself.

The shadow grabbed her foot mid-kick and pulled, knocking her off both of her feet. She rolled, bringing her knees up and standing instantly into a defensive pose. Then she grinned at her dwarf, but did not drop the stance.

“Miss me?”

He chuckled. “Thought you could use a moving partner. You’re beyond practice dummies.”

He was bare-chested and holding a warhammer loose in his grip. Her gaze seemed to drink him in, and for a moment she hesitated, her eyes lingering on the criss-cross of scars across his broad chest. Finally, she nodded, smiling faintly. “Very well,” she said. “I’ll try to go easy on you.”

He was still chuckling when she charged him. He thought she was going to try to shove him back, but instead she used his own shoulder to roll herself up and over, landing on her feet behind him.

“Nice trick,” he muttered, bringing his warhammer up. He’d chosen it because she’d said she wanted to learn how to use her own. “That the rod?” he asked, almost too casually. They shifted around each other, eyes locked.

“Yep.”

“And me crystal?”

She grinned, but didn’t answer. Instead, she brought the mace up, letting the light slide down it, flaring into his eyes. She was closer than he’d realized in the moonlight, and the head of the mace clocked him hard in the chin, rattling his teeth and jawbone. If she was that close, though, she’d made a mistake. Blindly but precisely, he swung the butt of the warhammer around, driving it into her ribcage and pushing her back.

“Oof!” she yelped, and he realized she wasn’t wearing even the padded armor normally used for practice. Neither was he, of course, but he was tough. He’d endured decades of practice blows harder than the one he’d just landed.

“Are ye all right, lass?” he asked, suddenly worried. Her left arm gripped her side, and she doubled over, gasping. He stepped forward, dropping his weapon to his side. “Let me look—”

Lightning fast, the mace swung low and struck him, hard, just above his knee. He went down, surprised, and she grinned at him mischievously. “I’m not made of glass, love,” she said. “Now get up and spar like you mean it.”

He pulled himself back up, but held a hand up. “Hold a moment,” he said. “If you’re looking for a real challenge—” He stepped back to the pile of weapons he’d brought down and selected a particularly wicked hammer with a hooked edge. He looked back at her, utterly bathed in silver light, her long, untidy braid falling down her back. Her skin glowed radiantly, though he knew it was nothing but the sweat of their exercise. In her hands….

In her hands, the mace seemed like a separate entity. out of place and mocking. For a stark moment, he remembered striking her in the tower, blood flying from her mouth and nose as she staggered from the blow. He knew he’d been holding his own axe in his hand at the time, but in his memory, it was that mace, twisting in his hands, that had struck against her solar plexus.

“Why not your morningstar? Or the hammer ye made?” They exchanged light blows, glancing off each others’ armor, not seriously trying to get in.

“This one’s unknown,” she said simply. “I need to identify its power.”

“Can’t you and Paithan—” he wiggled his fingers at her, suggesting some kind of magic, and she giggled.

“Oh, sure— we’ve learned some. But it’s tricky, and defies even Paithan. Elryndra—” Lyr paused a moment, dodging back from a more earnest strike he’d tried to land on her. “Elryndra’s notebooks suggest sparring as a method for identifying more powerful magical weapons.”

She spun, then attempted that shoulder-roll maneuver again, but he was watching for it this time. He caught her as she vaulted, wrapping one arm around her waist and grappling her against him. She writhed, trying to slip free, but he caught her right arm in his and plucked the mace from her hand. Then he let her go.

She stumbled a few steps, panting. Then she turned, the moonlight glinting off her eyes, now suddenly dark. “Bodin, don’t—”

He hefted the mace. It was light in his hand, and poorly balanced, and he grimaced. “It’s junk, Lyr,” he muttered. “Can you not feel it? Bad balance, too light—” he flipped it in the air, catching it quickly before she could reach for it. “A plank o’ wood’ll do ye better service.”

Lyr held her hand out for the mace, but Bodin kept his grip on it. “Aye— it’s hardly worth the effort of carrying it, ye see?”

“Bodin, please,” she said, and this time there was a note of desperation in her voice. “Don’t do this.”

“Why not?” he challenged. “The crystal’s mine—” but even as he said it, he knew it wasn’t true. Not anymore. He had never picked up a weapon that felt more alienated from him than this one, and yet… something still resonated in it, called to him. He felt tired, but it was a good kind of tired, the exhaustion of a long day of working, or a long night of loving.

She stepped closer to him, shivering slightly, and he realized once more how thin and delicate she could be, this elf of his. And yet, her reminded himself, not so delicate when she commanded the very forces of life and death to help or heal him.

His lip curled slightly, part sneer, part grin. “Ye’ll not trick me again, lass,” he growled. But she wasn’t tricking him, moving one step closer, then another. Her grey-blue eyes locked on his hazel ones. In the dim light, his eyes were dark, and she couldn’t see the ring of gold fire in them, his “laughing eyes” as she called them.

She brought her hand up. “It’s mine,” she said, and her voice was clear and sharp in the cold air. “I’m tougher than you think.” He felt cold all over, suddenly, and he wanted to stop her from saying the next words. “I can take the hit.”

He turned his head, his hand tightening suddenly on the mace. “Lyr. I never wanted to hurt you—” His voice was choked with the remembered pain of that moment in the tower.

“It’s all right,” she said softly. “I know that. Bodin, we live very dangerous lives. Do you really think I’m going to be mad about one accidental hit?” She shrugged and smiled at him. “You barely even bypassed my armor.”

“That’s not true, and ye know it. I nearly dropped ye.”

“But you didn’t— and you would’ve healed me if you had.”

“Aye. Even so— I’m mad about it, even if you aren’t.”

“Good.” He looked back at her. She was smiling. “I like that you’re mad when someone hurts me. It makes me feel loved.” She held her hand out again. “Now, give the mace back.” Again, there was that hard steel in her voice. “It’s mine,” she repeated, and again the words rang in his ears, a command.

Almost without meaning to, he found himself holding the mace out to her, to take from his grasp. She glanced down at it. As she wrapped her hand around it, she stepped in closer still and whispered softly, “And I’m yours.”

This close and with the sky starting to lighten for early dawn, he could see the unshed tears in her eyes. He grabbed her by the waist again, pulling her close. She didn’t weep, though he expected her to. She simply stood in his arms for a long, silent moment before stepping back, wiping her eyes, and efficiently stowing the mace in her bag of holding.

Trilogy of Terror, continued
mortaine

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