The Melford Four

Bard's Lost Lore

The halfling’s caravan struck a flaw in the muddy road causing it to lurch to one side and giving rise to chaos within the convoy. It was as if a cyclone had punctured its way through the interior causing glass vials to fly from their shelves spraying shards in all directions, steel weaponry clattered from their holdings to the wooden floor and four unlikely companions struggled to keep their feet. As the four steadied themselves; the largest of them roaring a torrent of curses, the caravan seemed to reduce its pace and the young mage gambled a glance out of the small oval window. Gone were the imposing curtains of deep green that had framed the busy highway. Now in their place stood slight thatched cottages and small wooden houses dispersed in random patterns, a complete contrast to the generously proportioned buildings of the city they had only recently fled from. It would seem that the party had finally made their acquaintances with the small backward village of Melford.

Horses whinnied and the caravan slid to a halt immediately outside The King’s Arm Inn. This ale house was rumoured to be the most popular in the village coincidently it also happened to be the only ale house in the village. The dark skies continued to weep as the travellers each entered the establishment seeking the warmth of a roaring fire and plentiful food to load their starved bellies, a rare and indeed incomprehensible sight to behold for any village citizen. And so patrons whirled round in their seats to witness a man half the size of a common human dressed in a deep purple suit enter the inn, most unusual but all the more amusing as flanking him stomped an olive-skinned giant of a man, a deadly looking axe at his side. If that wasn’t baffling enough, in strode a noticeably built human male, clad in gleaming chainmail and carrying a shield of Blackwall, causing some observers to swiftly avert their gaze hoping to avoid the attention of a soldier of Blackwall. After him followed a man in his early twenties, noticeably fine but unadorned robes clung to his figure and in his right hand he grasped an equally uninspiring oaken staff. A vagrant off the streets most speculated, only a few recognising his true vocation. The next, a true man of God, or of the Gods, stepped through the wooden door. There had always been whispers of men and women granted with divine powers, few however had ever come across anything of the like and so many refused to believe the stories, but there was something about this man, an aura of divinity. However there was certainly nothing remotely divine about the final companion. A woman of exquisite beauty and of shapely breasts held in place by a leather jerkin which further accentuating her modest figure. Once the onlookers finally managed to withdraw their lust filled eyes from the girl’s cleavage they quickly noticed a set of blades at her side and more than that a look of unpleasantness in her raven black eyes.

These were the first recorded sightings of the party that would eventually become to be known as the Melford Four.

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Negotiations with Giants

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The Construction of WhiteWall

It is whispered that on this day the very roots of the mountains themselves began to awaken from a deep slumber and fight their way to the surface of the world. The hillsides shuck wildly erupting in cascades of rock and earth which with glorious liberation sped rebelliously down the slopes. Great tree trunks were unceremoniously plucked from their beds as though barely grown saplings and catapulted down the mountain stripped of bark and needle. Birds desperately took flight like tiny black arrows they shot into the skies, whilst creatures not possessing of wings tried with all their luck to maintain their footing long enough to locate shelter from the devastation.

High atop the stone spiked peaks of Gax, the wizard Drenches Tint fought with all his will to maintain his meditative concentration. A single phrase uttered incorrectly or out of sequence could render this powerful incantation void, a gift he had attained not without peril. Sweat collected heavily on his brow and his body quivered with the strain of channelling this much energy. The palm of his right hand lay pressed against the bare rock in front of him. The exposed flesh cold against the stones surface prickled as though tiny needles were being forced into its surface but the mage barely cared to notice. With a cry to the skies the white wizard began to raise his palm from the ground, it trembled as though under immense pressure and as the two surfaces separated an incredulous transformation began to occur. Along numerous transecting lines, scribed into the earth with multihued chalks, great blocks of hewn rock began to rise up towards the skies. At first the formation ascended steadily, forcing its way through the body of the mountains, but as the structure gained momentum it began to reach high into the peak’s cloudline. Stepping back Drenches now began to intricately weave his hands in and out of one another. The stone edges began to emanate an immense heat transforming their natural grey pallor to a fiery crimson colour and then to a pure white light. As if emulating the movements of the wizard, the molten rock began to thrust out tendrils of white heat which delicately weaved themselves between one another creating a diaphanous, radiant lattice of stone. Swiftly the now conjoined walls, arches, pillars, parapets and doorways began to cool and in so reverting back to their natural solidity and hue.

Drenches Tint relinquished his grasp of the magical energies buzzing about him and fell to one knee before the ambitious construction before him. It took him several moments before he eventually caught his breath and with the aid of his staff wrestled himself back to his feet. The spectacle before him was truly astonishing but also incredibly humbling. The magic that he had grown up with and that had been responsible for so much pain and fear in his life had given rise to something magnificent and exquisitely beautiful. Tears fell from his cheeks as he placed his trembling hands upon the structure before him, his legacy and his sanctuary. Looking up he inspected the intricately carved depictions of various creatures and woodlands, he admired the scrolling stonework that adorned the many arches and ledges, and forcing his sight further he noted the glistening spires and parapets that pierced the skies above. But as he let his eyes fall he realised his work was not fully completed.

Reaching into a pocket within the folds of his robes he removed an impossibly large brown sack and let it fall to the floor. Untying the draw strings of the bags he plunged his hands within and drew forth its contents. Grains of coloured sand slipped between his fingers to be swept away in the breeze. The remaining sand he launched into the air. Enveloping himself in his magical mantle once again he manipulated the cloud of sand, heating it until the individual grains began to merge together to become a dense liquefied rainbow. Whilst the molten sand hung suspended in the air, the wizard spoke a word of magic and blew forth a gust of cool air, immediately condensing the swirling mass of colour into a large circular pane of glass. This he manoeuvred into position within a large rounded arch of melded stone in the heart of the tower’s southern face.

With the majority of his magical energy diminished he replaced the sack into the folds of his robes and took his first historical steps towards the structure that would be so named The Eye of Gax by the mountain folk, Vigilantir by Elvenkind and White-Wall by the East-folk.

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A New Age Dawns

Once in an age a man gets to prove himself. To stand upon the precipice of all that he was and look forward unto a bright new Dawn. In doing so he sheds his past life, washes away all his mistakes and is reborn into something greater, someone with a purpose.
This the tale of how I came to be something more than a mere man;
I am the purging flame,
The Inquisitor of Pelor,
Mynas Straggle.

Far below the surface of Seining Point, a lone man, stood huddled behind an abandoned building. A building that once housed a family: full of life and full of Joy, now filled with the stench of death. Over by the ruined temple a crowd gathered, all waiting to be loaded onto a solitary boat, their anguished moans broken only by the stern commands of a solitary figure; a thin gangly creature of the lower plains. The man sighed and pulled his tattered grey cloak around himself so that he might not be seen whilst he prepared. This town, its people, were all lost. He unfurled a dusty scroll and whispered a short prayer of protection, bringing two fingers to his lips then touching them to a gold medallion around his neck. He looked through his bag and pulled out a small vial, one that had been sitting there since brighter days, and drank the contents. Feeling the effects taking hold, he knew there would be more than a couple of extra wrinkles after this. Still, it would all help in the battle to come.
With stern resolve, the cleric whisked his cloak around himself and stepped out into the open courtyard with uncanny speed. The time had come. He surveyed the scene before him and a pang of regret tugged at his heart as he pieced together the truth of what transpired here. The crowd was not moaning in pain. Those were the sounds of lifeless bodies forced into servitude. Those were the sounds of undeath, and the fate of the citizens of Seining point.
‘This will continue no longer!’ he proclaimed, his voice echoing around the cavern.
The hoard turned at once to look at him as he threw his cloak to the ground, revealing a shining suit of armour adorned with golden symbols of the sun. He was Mynas Straggle, Inquisitor of Pelor and he would not permit the dead to walk this land. Fire burned in his eyes as he ripped the holy symbol from round his neck and held it proudly for all to see.
‘Begone from this world vile creatures of darkness!’
A flash of searing white light erupted from his symbol, burning putrid flesh and scorching fanged teeth as it swept through hoards of zombies, ghouls and even vampires. His minions turned to ash, all that remained was the cowering fiend.
‘Yoooou have strength cleric, but the master will enjoy sucking the marrow from your very bones as you beg him for mercyyyyy. Cypher has risen, and….’
The Quasit’s head burst open under a stout blow from Mynas’ hammer. Even amidst such horror he still cherished his old friend’s advice. He could almost see Drenches chuckling as he swore about blasted monologues under his breath.

Mynas felt a deathly chill brace his spine. He turned to look at the old Dwarven Temple, once a glorious tribute to the All-father, now seething with the evil Mynas sensed within. Mynas strode forward, knowing his whole life had been preparation for these next few moments, the temple doors bursting open as he laid his solid boot upon them. His senses hightened by the potion of speed, Mynas took in the scene in the space of a heartbeat. There in the centre of the room was the cause of all of this.

Cypher lich

Cypher. A chosen of Nerull brought back from the Thaumatauge Dominion, caught somewhere between life and undeath, and standing 8 feet tall and wreathed in necromantic energies more powerful than Mynas could ever have imagined. But that was not all.
Behind the creature, shackled to the unholy altar; he spotted an old Dwarf dressed in the trappings of a Priest, his body rapidly decaying only to be reborn again in a vile necromantic cycle. This was the first priority. Using his heightened speed, Mynas launched himself to the other side of the room, pulling out a potion that he barely remembered when he acquired, and poured it down the old Dwarf’s throat. This time, as the dwarf was reborn, his body simply dissolved into gas, rising far above the altar and safe from the necromantic energies. Mynas heard an enraged roar from behind him. Well at least he had pissed him off a bit. Now to deal with Cypher.
‘Foolish cleric, you believe that will stop me? I was merely toying with the foolish Dwarf! I am Cypher, the chosen of Nerull and…’
Mynas leapt over and brought his hammer crashing into the holy symbol around Cypher’s neck. Again with the monologues. They never learn. Twice his hammer smashed into his foe, his quickened body reacting before the half-lich could even begin to retaliate. The necromancer merely laughed and pointed straight at Mynas’ heart. The inquisitor felt a slight tug inside of his chest, but steeled his will against the foul magic. Reaching for a scroll of his own, the cleric called into being a swirling barrier of blades, right beneath the disciple of Nerull, only to have the creature jump to safety.

The two escalated into a battle of wills, pitching foul necromancy against Mynas’ own Holy powers, but neither could break through the other’s defenses. Mynas’ magical abilities were spent, he had but one spell left. The one he uttered before the hoard that prevented this undead creature from physically touching him. And Mynas still had his hammer. The battle raged on, and still Mynas remained, shrugging off the onslaught of spells, pushing on against looming insanity, slowly beating this abomination into submission.
Just as the lich seemed to be weakening, it strode over to the alter and grabbed someone. Mynas had not seen the other Dwarf amidst the chaos! Cypher slammed the poor priest onto the table and plunged a black dagger into his heart as he shouted praises to the god of the dead. The priests blood burst from his body, and formed a swirling barrier against the living around the chosen of Nerull.

‘So, we are at an impasse Cleric. I cannot harm you, yet you cannot harm me. You have proven yourself a strong one indeed. Even my most powerful spells could not break your will. Perhaps it would intrigue you to know that your own God once catered for the Dead? Oh yes, the cycle of life and death falls and rises with the sun does it not? Ahhhh, I see it in your eyes that you begin to doubt your faith. I could offer you much, whilst you still served your god of the sun.’

Mynas’ thoughts turned inwards. No, he had trained for such trickery, with the title of inquisitor comes the light to pierce through such lies.
‘I will not permit these falsities any longer. Your words drip with the filth of the damned. I may not have served Pelor long, but know that there is none more loyal to him than me. My lord guided the spirits of the dead through to the next cycle, before Nerull disrupted the natural order and claimed the dead as his own. I will end you, even if my life must be forfeit to do so.’
Mynas already knew that he could end this. If he forced the two protection spells into contact the positive and negative energies would violently cancel each other out. But as to what would happen to himself and Cypher, Mynas could only guess. He knew there was a chance he may perish in the resulting maelstrom of energies, but his sacrifice would be rewarded in the afterlife. With a final prayer to Pelor, Mynas flung himself against the swirling mass of blood surrounding Cypher.
As the two barriers collided, a burst of uncontrolled magical energy erupted, flinging the two in opposite directions at breakneck speed. Mynas hit the wall hard, but he was alive. He knew it had to be ended now. Still under the effects of the potion, Mynas darted back across the room in an instant, pinning Cypher to the floor.
‘You stand Judged before Pelor, for your crimes in Seining point and throughout all time. You will answer for them!’ Mynas bellowed to the heavens as he wrapped his Holy symbol around his fist and smashed it into Cypher’s skeletal face. Mynas landed blow after blow, his symbol glowing white hot as it branded deep into the necromancers taught skin, all the while skeletal fingers trying to rake through his steadfast armour. With a final blow, Mynas’ fist crashed through Cyphers skull. Ancient bone splintered and black blood boiled as his holy symbol burned away at the very fabric of Cyphers being.

All was still.
Mynas rolled over and collapsed, exhausted, but alive, whilst the remains of the once powerful Necromancer lord smouldered beside him. Mynas brought himself up, and said a final prayer, a prayer to sanctify the area so that no dead would ever rise again here. The battle was won, but the war was far from over. Seven chosen disciples of Nerull once existed, and at least one more of them remained at large in the world. The cult of Dragolin.

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A Wizards Ramblings

The Birth of Tempus Carm-Spark

The vortex shimmered bright purple and rippled as if it were water. Abruptly the surface of the great gate was broken as a figure stepped out through the purple mists. His white robes billowed up around him as if dancing and his neatly contained ashen hair struggled to escape its bonds. His eyes betrayed him, a strong determination with but a glint of fearful anticipation. He placed his left foot forward to join his right and the portal behind him began to shift, imploding in on itself. Within seconds it was gone. He tightened his grip on the fabled staff of light as he surveyed the scenes laid out before him, what he saw was far worse than anything he could have prepared himself for.
Houses stood ablaze, whilst others lay in blackened piles of ash. Looking down at his feet he gazed at rivulets of blood trickling down through the gaps of the cobbled streets. This place was familiar to him, or once was, now a scene of horror and destruction. Armed men with insignia unknown to him struggled to protect their homes from the invading forces; scores of hill giants smashed houses as if they were young saplings and crushed soldiers and villagers underfoot as though entirely irrelevant. With the words of magic on his lips Drenches rushed forward into battle, however as he took his first few steps a white horse appeared to his right, it stopped abruptly ahead of the wizard and its rider deftly dismounted, landing with a thud of metal against stone.
“My dear friend you arrive at our final hour, we held them back as long as we could but I fear there are just too many of them to fight. The battle for Melford has been lost, but there is still yet hope whilst we draw breath, perhaps the world shall not slip into darkness after all.” The golden plate freshly stained with blood and the familiar friendly but commanding voice was unmistakable, this was indeed the end of days, a magical glimpse into the fall of Melford and of its king Lord Earl Dahl.
“Who or what leads this army and why Melford? What has happened here?”
“There is no time Drenches, the power of the Dragon Orbs was too great and now we are the ones that must pay the price.”
As if the Gods themselves agreed with the Kings judgement the cobbled pavement beneath them began to violently shudder, the air grew icy as if tiny needles pricked the skin and the sky itself began to darken. The great King and heir of Lord Dahl began to turn away from Drenches as his hand instinctively felt for the hilt of his dancing sword. But even he knew his strength was no match for what was to come. A demonic Prince of Ice, spawned in the frozen planes of hell come to claim his long awaited prize.

Ice demon

The white wizard of Melford charged with protecting the realms of men took up his staff, tightened his resolve and stepped past Earl into the courtyard. Underfoot the blood cracked and splintered, now frozen by the frost demons very presence.
“This is a battle I must fight alone my old and dear friend. It has long been my fate and I am ready to finally settle my debts for the Four, for Melford and for the world.”
The frost demon clapped his claws together and suddenly he grasped a great spear of ice, his laughter boomed piercing the battle cries and screams of terror surrounding them, as the lone wizard strode slowly forward across the courtyard.
“It has been a while mageling, I would like to thank you from the bottom of my frozen heart for finally meeting me here and for striking the pact in the first place. A thieving harlot’s soul is worth nothing compared to one swathed in magical energies. I truly am going to enjoy tearing your weak human flesh to shreds, feasting on your still beating blood soaked heart and dragging your soul down through the planes of the underworld, imprisoned for eternity!”
Drenches Tint was suddenly taken aback as unknown and powerful words of magic began to flow through his head and then out of his mouth. As the final words of arcane power were spoken the wizard opened his eyes. It was as if time had stopped. Drenches knew then the power that he had invoked for few wizards in the entire world had access to this kind of magic. If it was indeed the invocation he suspected, then he had only minutes until the magical effects were undone. Words of magic were once again upon his lips. Firstly an invisible barrier of force blinked into existence around the wizard, a magical suit of armour of sorts. The next incantation caused five identical images to spring into being around him, each more lifelike than the last. A final dweomer spoken and Drenches Tint began to undergo a startling transformation. His lean and meagre arms began to grow and develop quickly forming bulging biceps, his shoulders and upper torso too began to expand. The transformation was miraculous. Reaching for his lion capped staff of striking the now polymorphed wizard charged forward towards the demon just as the grains of time began to free themselves of the wizard’s magical grasp.
The flow of time was resumed and the demon was unable to comprehend the series of events that had just taken place. The wizard took up his staff and in an almighty blow smashed the shaft against the demons gnashing mandibles. The impact of the strike caused a spray of black liquid, presumably blood to spew forth from the creature’s mouth and onto the frosted ground. The enraged demon struck back with his spear of ice straight into the heart of the young wizard. The demons thunderous laughter of triumph was however quickly cut short as the illusion blinked out of existence, now it was Drenches’ turn to laugh. Blow after blow rebounded off the creature’s carapace and off the arcane shield, unused to physical combat he felt himself quickly overcome with fatigue, he needed to end this swiftly. Reminding himself of a manoeuvre used many a time by his trusted companion, he raised his staff one final time. Sweeping his weapon into the side of the creature caused the demon to double over in pain, and then with his last remaining strength he brought the staff up under the neck of his foe. Its armoured neck cracked and split open as the demon let out a mangled roar of defiance. The spear fell from its grasp, splintering into thousands of shards as it impacted with the stone cobbles. It was over.
“You may have defeated me little one, but even you are no match for my new master…” His sentence was abruptly cut short as the demon prince clasped his hands to his head and crumbled to the floor before the wizard. Drenches Tint dispelled his protective magic and stood triumphant over his fallen enemy. He calmly placed the tips of his thumbs together with his hands splayed out before him and uttered one final phrase of magic. Ruby flames burst forth from his fingertips enveloping the creature before him, the demon gave one last scream of agony as its skin peeled and cracked, and its dark blue flesh began to smoulder, char and eventually turned to ash.

As the wizard took in a deep breath of air and inspected his wounds, he sensed a greater presence before him and remembered the demons final words. Suddenly the sky was aflame as scores of red dragons burst forth from the sooty clouds, diving and swooping amongst one another, their maws breathing great gouts of fire upon the buildings and innocents below. Dragon fear seized the hearts of many causing mass panic, humans and giants alike fought to flee in all directions at once, whilst others hid, curled up in foetal positions under wagons or against collapsed building frames. Drenches fought to maintain his will but it was not the dragons that disturbed him the most, for at the far side of the courtyard a young girl screamed in anguish struggling to free herself from the grasp of a gigantic horned undoubtedly demonic beast. He could see veins of bright brimstone snaked their way around the creature’s leathery hide and down to its cloven hooves. Its eyes burned like magma as it reached its clawed hands down towards the head of the screaming girl. Before Drenches could even take a step forward, the demon had plunged its fist directly into her skull, bits of brain, flesh and blood burst from the tear in her head and she collapsed unmoving to the ground. The demon smiled a toothy grin, made a gesture with its hands and in the air before him materialized a dark crimson orb radiating a sickly magical light. His gaze fell upon the orb, then to the skies and then to stare directly into the eyes of the white wizard.
“You are too late mortal, you and your kind will forever be a weak species, one that will be ruled now by a new Lord” He once again placed his focus upon the orb, reaching out to grasp it in his blood soaked hand and as he did the skies suddenly quietened and stilled. Looking up, Drenches watched astounded as the red dragons suddenly stopped in their pursuits as if listening to some unknown voice. Suddenly Drenches understood the relevance and origins of the artefact before him, a legendary Orb of Dragon kind, said to allow the possessor the ability to control the minds and actions of dragons. Drenches stepped back a pace readying what remained of his magical arsenal, whatever good it would do him against a full score of red dragons. The creatures as if noticing his movements all turned to face him, teeth bared and began to rapidly descend upon his location. Drenches knew fear that he had never experienced throughout his entire adventuring career, his hands shook and sweat broke on his forehead. As he prepared for what he suspected would be his final casting in life, he found himself being shoved aside. An elderly figure, dressed in exactly the same garments as he and holding a stave engraved with countless arcane symbols stood looking back at him.
“Get back through the gate, I can only hold it open for a few moments, you have done all that you can. You have seen a rare glimpse into the fate of our world and it now falls on your shoulders to prevent this evil from coming to pass. Now Run!” The figure spoke ancient words of magic and suddenly a shimmering portal hummed into being. With an accepting nod Drenches clasped arms with himself before retreating desperately towards the magical gateway. As he took his first steps into the purple mists of time, he caught a glimpse of the elderly figure. Dragons swarmed around him as in one final act he raised his enchanted staff above his head and with an almighty crack split the shaft in two. A catastrophic explosion struck the courtyard, disintegrating all that stood in its way and launching Drenches through the portal, which immediately collapsed in upon itself. The young wizard emerged from the purple mists into the great hall of Annex. Exhaustion crashed against his body like waves, and he fell to the polished marble floor, his staff bounced harmlessly to one side as he fell deep into unconsciousness.

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The Bard's Tales

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Darkness and Light: Tales of the Heroes of Melford.

Chapter 1: In the Beginning.

- Meeting in the tavern -The musings of an ex-guardsman
- Alton and Orc -The diary of a hapless halfling
- Melford -The first seed planted
- Spider farm: shadow goblins, rescue daughter, (belt of veteran, book of apprentice, robes)
- Solve melford murder: gave alton the Inn, (Mip’s shield of light)
- Shrine of the Oracle
- Penagalan, found papers
- Gained a house
- Stop armies of goblins/orcs and the tribes
- Destroyed the orb, preventing Blacklutch from stealing Drenches’s body
- Killed Zenegral Bile and Rescued the Prince
- Saved Melford travel to Great Grizalin

Chapter 2: Proving Innocence.

- Arrival in Grizalin
- Banquet to celebrate
- Tiann Kidnapped
- Minas and Earl travel with the Court Wizard of Grizallin to the Shrine.
- Party accused of kidnapping/murder
- Forging of Artifact, kidnapping of Great Wizard
- Travel to Haver to find location of Tombs, convince them to fight, recover the lost Sun stones
- Enter the Tomb, defeat armies, delve deeper
- Meeting and death of Lord Dahl, recovery of his sword
- Earl heir of Dahl
- Saved haver forces from being killed and gained an army
- Located Blacklutch in a body of a Blackwall Guard
- Played a game of cards, managed to escape at a price. Gained a treasure map, Wizard saves
party by making a deal with the demon.
- Descent into the Underlands

Chapter 3: All goes Dark!

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