The Ashbury Times

January / February / March 612

“All The News That Fits, We Print”

 

Prince of the Gorge Defeated;

Baron Harrison Permanently Dies Fighting

 

When the adventurers of Fairdale defeated the Kings of Halloween several years ago, they had no idea of the terror they had unleashed in their place. In a dark, dusty crypt they watched as the dragon mage known as “The Prince” used his immense strength to punch his way out the heavy stone sarcophagus and laughed in their faces and he and his minions set out wreak havoc on our plane. Since his release the thinning of the veil has lasted longer and longer each year -- causing more death and destruction to the populace.

This past All Hallows (or as The Prince and his courtesans refer to it, “Nox Terrorem”), the adventurers of Fairdale braved the dangers of the gorge itself to attempt to put the Prince to rest for good.

The Prince had been sealed away once before, through the valiant efforts of the elves of Imladar and the Keilani of Honua. Since the defeat of the kings, the elders of Honua had aided the adventurers as best they could, and when one of their ancient prophesies seemed to be coming true, Makani of the Keilani returned to Fairdale to ask for assistance. The prophecy stated that when the largest volcano on their island erupted, it would produce a number of stones that would allow the opportunity for the prince and his ilk to be destroyed. But that eruption was massive, the cloud of ash and smoke spreading for miles, and those stones could be anywhere.

Among the adventuring populace was a lone Keilani by the name of Nuheran. He alone was able to wield the spear that was linked to his people, and that spear became a divining rod of sorts, bringing him and other groups of people to where these stones (called “tears”) had landed. Over the course of months, several of these were acquired. These, along with a ritual, allowed the Keilani to open a portal directly into the Gorge -- the only place where these denizens of the dark could be permanently destroyed.

A few moons prior to Nox Terrorem, such a portal was opened, thanks to the sacrifice of a young Vansir named Caohimbe. Amani Rangers Drak Darktalon and Scarn Whiteleaf as well as Drenten were among the elite team that joined Nuheran on the trip into the Gorge. The team attempted to defeat Aelin Mor, but after a long and nearly deadly battle were forced to leave but not before they had planted the seeds.

On All Hallow’s those seeds bloomed, lessening the Abysmal Court’s grip on our plane and shortening the duration of the thinning of the veil back to its normal state.

When the moment of truth arrived, the adventurers were faced with a choice -- they could sever the Prince’s connection to our plane, which would have meant he could never travel here again (though he would still be free on his own plane) or they could go back into the Gorge and attempt to permanently destroy him, which of course they were warned would be far more difficult.

The debate circled on worries that destroying the Prince would unleash yet a worse horror, but having sworn to destroy what was released, the adventurers ultimately decided to head into the Gorge and attempt to defeat him. The only problem was, in all of their previous encounters, even the most powerful among them had been unable to affect him with weapons or spells of any kind.

It was later discovered that there was a ritual that could be done that would give six people the ability to fight The Prince -- similar to a Ritual of WOE it would grant them certain abilities and immunities. In order to defeat the dark, the ritual had to begin before sundown.

As usual, the assembled adventurers and nobles took forever figuring out who the Champions would be. Makani anxiously paced the tavern, waiting for them to decide, watching the sun sink lower and lower in the sky.

Finally the Champions were decided -- Lord Findr’th, Gabriel Bruce, Sparticous, Eldarion, Baron Harrison Ryatt, Sir Ulthoc, and Nuheran. Thankfully, they were able to begin just before the last bits of light were gone from the sky, and the ritual succeeded. Some had argued against Baron Harrison’s participation, knowing that his Regeneration ritual was nearly depleted, but he would hear none of it.

At midnight, the adventurers entered the Gorge, intent on destruction. While most of the gathered was busy dealing with hordes of undead, the Champions focused on their target and began their assault.

The Champions dispatched the minions by the Prince’s side and continued their onslaught. Surprised by their ability to actually harm him, the Prince pulled out his most powerful weapon and began hurling dragon magic. In a last act of heroism, Baron Harrison Ryatt was struck with an Obliterate, and expired on the field. Spurred on by his sacrifice, the remaining Champions redoubled their efforts, and it was not long before The Prince was no more. The thrill of victory however was dampened as the champions lifted the Baron’s body to carry him home.


 

Individuals Tournament Complicated by High Orc Customs

As has become traditional for the annual Ducal Tournament during odd numbered years, the Tournament of 611 was an individual affair, rather than a team affair, not run directly by the ducal court. Once again mixing diplomacy with spectacle, the tournament was run by the Garath high orc clan in the town of Hagarath. While this gesture of good will may have helped relations between the Duke and the denizens of the town, it created a somewhat hectic tournament atmosphere.

The tournament started well enough with a traditional high orc ceremonial drum circle, but it quickly moved towards the unusual. The usual combat event was replaced with duels that required the presence of the Score Master Gahvah, in order to assure that betting took place for each duel. Other traditional events were also altered or replaced completely, usually adding violence in some way.

During the course of the weekend, participants engaged in a grand melee of unfettered violence, constant dueling, puzzles so hard that not a single one was solved, a dagger throwing competition with very human targets, a race that involved weapons and monsters, a scavenger hunt for body parts, and a surprisingly normal entertainment competition. The unusual events and the increased violence of the events made participation relatively low, except in the dueling which the majority of adventurers either participated in or bet on.

While Gahvah did his best to run the tournament efficiently, between family politics and his stilted gait, very little ran without a hitch. In fact, it is a fair statement that it was one of the least successful tournaments in years.

When Seneschal Trevor Donovan was asked his opinion on this tournament he said the following: “Individual tournaments are always more difficult to run than team tournaments. Many of the traditional events simply don’t work. This particular tournament was notably lacking. Due to this, his Grace has decided to move this year’s team tournament to the spring. It will be a more traditional affair that will include lessons learned from previous tournaments. Any changes to the traditional ways will be discussed and announced well in advance.”


 

Local Disappearances Linked to Emergence of New Parasite

 

In the wake of the disappearances of several adventurers from Ashbury and the surrounding areas, sources for the Ashbury Times have uncovered the ministrations of the stone elf Je-Tsun Doje and partner Eftlavc’or, of the previously unknown Bazteri monster race. In a plot to attain living hosts for the latter’s parasitic spawn, Doje and Eftlavc’or appear to have perpetrated a large-scale kidnapping operation.

Local adventurers claim to have been rifted into the Plains of Rage, wherein they were held in what they describe as “gladiator pens” to await battles against their fellows. Several Ashbury adventurers, however, managed to escape the pens with the aid of a young mystic wood elf named Lysander. Upon their escape, they report joining a small but active resistance movement against their captors, where they faced an onslaught of Bazteri spawn and mercenaries hired by Doje and Eftlavc’or.

Several adventurers recount abduction and torture by Eftlavc’or himself, who they depict as obsessed with his quest for knowledge. The experiments performed on those captured involved both psychological and physical torment, with some even including conscious vivisection of the victims.

The adventurers then detail their efforts and eventual success in winning the allegiance of mercenary leader Karsten Eraagar, who aided them in their battle against the legions of youthful Bazteri and their hosts as the adventurers sought a method to remove the parasites from those they had infected. Although they describe having to permanently kill several of the hosts in battle, the adventurers soon discovered a cavern in which rock formations emitted a strange gas which could be preserved in gas globes and used to destroy the young Bazteri parasites.

Gathering a small strike force including Kantil, Johann, Noot, and the alchemist Reginald, the adventurers assaulted the lair of Doje and Eftlavc’or directly, using the gas globes created to bring down Eftlavc’or in a decisive stealth assault. The repercussions were soon felt as Doje and several Bazteri spawn arrived on the battlefield. Doje, upon devouring Eftlavc’or’s heart, transformed into an enormous beast which could only be felled by the combined efforts of all adventurers present. Upon her death, the adventurers heard the great crashing of the magical barrier which, until this point, had kept them trapped within an expanse of a few miles. The fate of those Bazteri spawn which survived the conflict, if there are indeed any to speak of, is as of yet unknown.

 


Plague Strikes Galanthia!

 

Word has reached the Times of strange goings-on in Galanthia. A number of Galanthian military outposts and cities seem to have been struck by a necromantic outbreak.

Details are still limited as to the nature and the cause of this plague. All that is known for sure from the limited number of refugees that have crossed the battle line to surrender to Icenian military forces is that the contagion is swift spreading, results in permanent death, then raises the victims as mindless killing machines which spread the plague further.

Aside from needing to quarantine refugees and watch for spontaneous undead attacks, word from the Icenian Army is that the Galanthian advance hasn’t stalled... but it has slowed. Galanthian forces seem to being rerouted to handle the internal threat before it causes further disruption to the war effort.


 

Disaster Reported from Sarr Kingdoms!

 

While news is hard to get accurately reported across the Bay, reports indicate that one of the Sarr Kingdoms, the western-most kingdom of Ukmutznif, has been overrun by what are being called “Shadowy Canine-like Creatures.” These creatures are apparently sentient, and overran most of the Znif Mountain Range within a fortnight. Their attacks were coordinated and calculated. Refugees of Ukmutznif seem to be arriving not only in the other Sarr Nations, but in every land along the Bay. King Bobtet the Thirteenth, and his wife Redtet are both reported to have been permanently slain.

Ukmutznif was part of the Three Kingdoms Alliance along with the kingdoms of Darklag and Junjeq. While the Three Kingdoms do have a “Peace Accord” with Icenia, there has never been a true alliance due to their allowance of the practices of necromancy and slavery.

 


 

A Memorial to His Excellency, Baron Harrison of Nordenn

 

To all my Friends and Allies,

Those who gathered in Fairdale before the winter set in accomplished great things. We competed with fairness and respect in the Annual Games hosted by the High Orcs of Clan Garath. We fought together with great bravery to stop the Blood Mages from unleashing destruction on our lands. Greatest of all, we saw to the final destruction of the Prince of the Abyssal Gorge -- a necromantic Dragon Mage of immense power who was preparing to unleash an even greater threat to our lands and peoples.

No great deed comes without sacrifice, and this was no exception. Although the loss of life was small compared to recent campaigns, we lost a Warrior to the Hero’s Graveyard. In the battle with the Abyssal Prince, His Excellency Baron Harrison Ryatt was obliterated and permanently slain.

I will hear no lament for his passing. His Excellency Baron Harrison lived every day of his life by the Code, and one tenet in particular: Thou shalt be everywhere and always the Champion of the Right and the Good against Injustice and Evil. These were not mere words to His Excellency. They were an Ethic, a devout calling from which he never strayed.

His detractors will tell you he was unyielding and unrelenting. They are not mistaken. They simply did not see the larger picture in this. His actions were never about himself or his own gains, they were for the good of the Barony, the Duchy, and the Kingdom that he loved with every breath.

He was unyielding and relentless. He held himself to a standard higher than he held anyone else. Wounded, injured, tortured by our enemies, he would take the field, apologizing only for the condition of his uniform. When I would speak to him privately about finding a wife to have a son to continue his family line that had served the kingdom for generations, he responded that he already had one great love in his life- he would never cheat on her, nor ask any woman to try to either equal that love or be second to it.

He held every post given him with unswerving loyalty: Man-at-arms, Lieutenant, Sheriff, Lord, Knight, Paladin, and Baron. He lived every day of his life for the betterment of others, and for the protection of the Kingdom. He was my Liege. He was my teacher. He was my friend.

The Graveyard of Heroes needed a Paladin. Hail the Glorious Dead!

 

In Valor and Honor,

First Knight, Sir Ulthoc Crownsmith of Ram Tribe

 


 

 

Healing on the Run: A Field Healer’s Guide (Part 1)

 

by Natalia Gallonovitch

Good morrow readers,

My name is Natalia Gallonovitch. For those of you who do not know, I have had friends among the adventurers and nobles of Icenia for over a decade (that’s over a span, for my elven friends). During that time, I have functioned primarily as a battlefield healer, or field medic. My life is currently taking me a different direction, but I see no reason not to share my knowledge of this very important job with those who will take up the mantel in my stead. And so, in this column, I’m going to begin with some things that one might want to think about before becoming a combat healer, and later I shall move on to some important tips and techniques to being a successful one. If you are contemplating going into this field of endeavor, it would behoove you to read on. And, even if you are not, you might still want to read on. You may learn something valuable, and gain a new appreciation for the people who do this very difficult job.

The Most Important Person on the Field

 

I have a friend who is a knight and a brilliant tactician. When training new combatants, he is fond of asking them this question:

“Who is the most important person on the field?”

Every once in a while, someone gets it right, but usually he has to point to a nearby healer and say, “That person right there. I know you think it’s the experienced fighter or the noble or even the battlefield commander, but it’s not. It’s your healer.” Because whatever else happens on the field of battle, if something happens to the healers, eventually, you will lose. Late in the battle, if the battlefield commander goes down, that’s rough, but there’s always a second in command, and, well, you’ve already been told what you are supposed to do for the battle (if the commander is any good). And even the biggest fighter goes down occasionally. There are other fighters, and they all know how to plug holes in a line. But the healer is irreplaceable. Certainly, fighters can (and should) carry some healing potions with them, but they are not the ones trained to keep everyone going.

I have fought enemies with strategically brilliant generals who have made a point of attacking healers on the field. Why? Because drop the healer, and you only have to deal with that fighter once. No matter how skilled a fighter is, he can be dropped once. If that fighter has a good healer, he can do four times as much damage to the enemy. Thus, the healer multiples the power of a fighter to a degree nothing else can. Behind every great warrior is a healer -- often, literally, right behind them. And, sometimes, when all else fails, only a healer can save the entire battle unit from certain demise.

So, as a field medic, the first and most important thing for you to know is this:

You are the most important person on the field.

Don’t forget it, and don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. I am discussing this first because it is the most important. This principle pervades and, when necessary, supersedes all others. You must always bear it in mind, throughout everything I tell you, and throughout every battle. Sometimes, as you will see later, a healer must be an almost cold, calculating mathematician. But a healer must also be selfish, even more so than they must be loving and nurturing.

Why? It comes down to this: your goal is to keep your target or targets alive. Keep them up if they’re up, get them up when they go down. How can you do that if you are bleeding to death on the ground, or otherwise incapacitated? Quite simply, you cannot. You cannot save someone else’s life once yours is forfeit. I don’t care how much you care about that person lying on the ground. Once you go down, you cannot help them. Once you are incapacitated, you have failed in your duties.

If you do fall, do not be discouraged. Everyone fails from time to time. But I can not emphasize enough that, as a healer, staying safe is part of your job. This is not a job for irrational heroics. Staying out of danger is not cowardice to the healer; nay, it is the healer’s greatest strategy. This is a calling for which careful (if often quick) calculation is a necessity. And at the heart of all calculations is the simple truth that an incapacitated healer can not call upon the Earth to do anything.

 


Healers’ Guild Report

 

It is that time of year when we all start to shake out our travel blankets, towels, soap, muscle rubs, and travel food.

For those who are able to do so please stop by and enjoy my annual Healer’s Guild party the first weekend of March. Dinner will be served between 6 and 7 pm. Wine, chocolate, and shrimp will be in abundance. I also have a lot of floor space upstairs and a whole basement for any one wishing to stay over. Hopefully, Guild members will be able to show up early. If you are a Guild member and cannot make the party at all please write me with your comments on how the Guild is run. All suggestions are welcome. If you need directions or more information, you know how to contact me.

Now, as some may remember, towards the end of the last year I once again I badly injured myself. I am still messed up. I can no longer run out onto the field or hurry down stairs. I am so sorry, but people who need help or healing will have to be brought to me. The Guild will be finding a way to compensate for this inconvenience.

Since it worked out so well we will again have the lounge area outside of the Guild. In the ottoman, we will keep stocked cold liquids.

If there is anyone wishing to work with the Guild who is not an official Guild member please contact myself, Balls, Ezri, Rowan, or Lorien. We will be running a much tighter Guild in the future. I do all of the pre-interviews.

If you are wishing to just work with us but are not concerned with rising in the Guild’s hierarchy (being a healer is not necessary) please see Balls. He is in charge of organizing and compensation.

For this next year, the Guild will be requiring members to do Guild hours. Each person must sign in order to be given credit. Those who are the most reliable are put at the top for investiture. Invested people are expected to do at least one hour each day, and one hour each night. Those who are wishing to be invested must do one hour each day or night. All other members are required to do one hour per weekend.

You may also work in the tavern instead of helping behind the circle if approved beforehand. Serving drinks to our heroes is a worthy way to serve. Invested people are not given this exception; their responsibilities are too great.

For this next year, the Guild meeting will be at 9:30 Saturday morning. Yes, we will once again have imported coffee from the sarr lands and light breakfast foods. (Sir Daniel, Corwin, and those who always donate generously to the Guild are welcome too.) All are required to clean up after yourself afterwards.

Please everyone, keep in mind the Guild is not just a place for resurrections and parties. If at any time you have a cut, heat stroke, need a blanket or have a problem and to talk to some one, we will help. Our invested members are required to keep secrets to themselves and never violate a confidentiality, so long as you are not confessing to physical harm to another or the breaking of the Duke’s laws. We try to be neutral, but murder and slavery we can not tolerate.

Now for my constant request: Please we are in desperate need of Investment scrolls and their components. We are trying to be a good full service Guild to all of you. Also if you or any one you know is looking to sell healer useable scrolls or components, please see me.

To raise money for the Guild, we sell potions, alchemy, fudge, and wine. Cough drops and herbal teas are always in the Guild and free. If a group or a single adventurer wishes any of these items, our costs are minimal. For those who do not have the money, we will barter. We try to support life in all its natural aspects.

As a reminder, all trunks in the tavern are filled with blankets. Just remember to fold them back up neatly in putting them back when you are done with them. If perchance you get them dirty or smelly, give them to me at the end of a gathering so they can be cleaned for the next gathering.

Lastly, if you are new to town, or in any way not traveling with a group please, please see me. I take your care and survival personal as does my Guild.

Guildmistress Zatarina

 


A Request from the Editor

 

Good Gentlepeoples of Ashbury:

Over the last few years, my sources of news and information of and within the Adventuring Community has fallen sadly slight. To this end, I must use a sizeable portion of my personal holdings to attempt to get better news!

Running through all issues of 612, I will be accepting submissions en masse from the general populace. Each issue, the article judged as “best” by myself and my staff will win a prize of five gold coins. At the end of the year, the writer of the “best article” from the entire year will win a vial of the Warmth of Fortannis, the Catalyst for the Regeneration Ritual! So, if you and your friends are looking for one, here’s an easy way to get one! Or, if you’re not, they sell really well -- trust me, this thing’s expensive!

What makes an article “best,” you ask? Well, I’ll tell you! It has to be engaging, something people will want to read. It has to attempt to be unbiased in view, and it must be factual -- any articles later discovered during the year to be untrue will immediately be discounted from the final prize.

If you wish to have your article posted anonymously, then please inform me of this in the heading of your article, and I’ll see to it that it is done.

Good luck to you all, and happy writing!

Eric Wolcott, Editor in Chief