Week Three – Angels and Ogres

You throw up a web of rope above your heads using the rafters of the building behind and iron spikes into the towers and crenellations. It isn’t exactly sturdy, but its purpose is to frustrate any snaptails that try to snatch someone off the battlements.

Another wave of nukks and currs surmount the wall and are repulsed, but not without consequence. Seles’ healing is needed to set things right, but it is still before noon and Thane’s power will not last at this pace. A snaptail swoops in at the height of the fighting. Zef’s magic causes it to fall asleep and it crashes into the battlements, barely surviving the impact, and is quickly slaughtered. The ropes are repaired, but the corpse of the snaptail is warning enough for others to stay clear. Other areas of the wall are not so lucky, but the idea of the ropes spreads rapidly throughout keep. A number of snaptails are brought down when they cling to the ropes thinking they have a man and become entangled or are whipped into the walls.

Again the horde throws itself at the castle and is repulsed and again the toll in resources is high. Other parts of the wall see less combat because of their greater height, but they lack healers. One by one, their ranks are thinned. Unlike the previous days, the dead and dying are stacking up, and the defense becomes desperate. More

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A Boy in the Wood

The boy pulled the glove from his right hand clumsily. It wasn’t that he was ungraceful, but the cold seeped through his coat and his gloves and he could barely feel his hands. Being chilled to the bone wasn’t new. He suffered it nearly every day. But it didn’t get easier.

Sharp pain stabbed into his bare fingers. Carefully, he pulled an oiled string from his coat pocket and slid the loop over the end of the bow. This part was easy, but the other side would be hard. Using all of this strength and weight, pitiful as it was, he managed to bend the wood of the bow just enough for the string to reach. Twice, then three times he tried and failed to slip the loop over. Finally, it went. He quickly put the glove back on and jammed his hand under his armpit to warm.

The boy never complained. There wasn’t anyone around to complain to most of the time. Most of the others paired up for hunting, but they didn’t much like the boy and he was okay with that. He’d tried to fit in once and that didn’t work out. He’d come away with the kind of scars that don’t heal. More

Week Two – On the Walls of the Gatehouse

Twice more on the first day of the siege, the boys from Dunmar repel attempts by the nukks to gain the walls. Their marksmanship with the bolt guns is excellent, with the scrawny but dexterous Paladin of Narl, Beck, repeatedly sending nukks pitching backward onto their ladders as they came through the crenellations.

The most excellent event of the day occurs when Zeph causes no fewer than four nukks to sleep as they crest the wall. All four slump into unconsciousness and fall to their deaths, fifty feet below!

The French castle Avignon upon which the town of Galton Ferry is modeled.

Finally, the shadows grow long and the nukks begin to lose their enthusiasm. The first sure sign of their retreat is the sound of ladders dragging down the walls as they are pulled back to be used again later.

The defenders of Galton Ferry have inflicted terrible damage upon the attackers, only losing four dead and a score wounded. The bodies of nukks and currs litter the ground around the keep, sometimes two and three deep. Some were drug off, but not from any sense of camaraderie among the nukks you guess. A faint but nauseating smell of boiling meat wafts your way from the army. Their numbers seem undiminished. You see more than one townsman fingering his spare crystals with a worried look on his face.  More

Galamithra Moonshadow

“Bellsulion Taurvantian,” a vision of loveliness materialized before the elf, seemingly drawn forth from the ether into his vision, “it gladdens my heart to see that you’ve survived the attack unscathed.”

Mithra was, by far in Zeph’s opinion, the most beautiful elf and therefore creature to have ever graced Ember. To think of it, Zeph could not recall anyone in Dunmar who ever claimed differently.

“Ah, fair maiden Mithra, as ever you grace my sight as the sun graces a morning meadow,” the wizard bowed deeply like a courtier. He knew he played the fool, and looked it as well in his somewhat tattered cloak, stained with mud from the banks of the Ubathor and the recent battle. The nukks had drawn back after their assault, but it was clear they simply gathered their courage for another bloody attempt at the walls. The smell of burned meat was omnipresent. He did not care how he appeared.

“Only you, Zephyr, would think of courtesy in such dreadful times. Always you hold yourself just slightly above the mayhem.” The girl hurt to look at. Her skin so pale and flawless. Her form, lithe and inviting. Her face, combining mortal features in a way that would shame Ainna Herself. More

Week One – The Chase to Galton Ferry

The procession maintains good order and discipline still. You never did find your friends, but those around you seem like good people and you know some of them well enough and the others you’ve seen around Dunmar. The train seems to go on forever, and each night when you stop, you’re too tired to go looking for anyone. You know that once you get to Galton Ferry, the group will compress and your likelihood of locating anyone will go up dramatically.

It is late afternoon, and down here in the lowlands, the air feels a bit close and too warm for the season.  It has been a long journey, and you’ve yet to see man or domesticated beast along the road. Of course, tinkers and merchants are rare coming out to Dunmar, which is pretty much at the end of the world, so you wouldn’t expect to see anyone, come to think of it.

The absence of cows and goats doesn’t seem to have had any negative impact on houseflies or bottle flies or mosquitos, however. Few are immune to their pestering. But the smell of wildflowers and the rich blue of the sky down here make it hard to resent the endless swatting. Life is everywhere here.

In the distance, far to the rear, a horn sounds. It doesn’t sound like the horns of Dunmar which are higher in pitch. Then another sounds, a bit further north, likewise a deep and reverberating sound. Several more are heard to the south east and east. It is impossible to see the rear of the train clearly from here because of the thickness of the air, but you can see general shapes.  More

The World of Ember

Have you ever considered what it would be like to live in a world of magical energy that was so ubiquitous as to be an analogy to modern-day gasoline and electricity? A world where power is so abundant that it is free for the taking? A place that parallels a technological civilization in many ways, but a more primitive time in others?

Ember is such a world, blessed with the infinite power of the Luthien Stone. Long ago, the great crystal crashed into Ember with devastating results. Eventually, the planet’s atmosphere healed and the massive crater filled with rain water with only the solid core of the crystal protruding from the wind-swept surface.

The people of Ember were nearly lost in the cataclysm, but some survived the long night and emerged to create new settlements, to till the soil and repopulate the land. Eventually, an intrepid adventurer made the long journey across the crater lake to land up on the shores of the monstrous shard and uncovered its properties.

But man seldom uses great power wisely, and this was no exception. Amid an explosion of power-based growth and technology, the nations of men warred with each other until few lived that had not lost a loved one to it. Unable to live with the cost, the people rose up and threw down their warlords. In the land of Orandell, a federation of city-states arose and with it, the Council of Nine.

The Nine were always the wisest men or women of their cities and, with the power of the Luthien Stone, they kept peace and prosperity for their people for many centuries. Now, almost two thousand years since the founding of the Republic the nine great cities are marvels of beauty and technology, their streets and halls full of wonders.

But the golden age of Ember was not without cost. The people, enjoying the safety and wealth afforded them by the Stone and the many conveniences it afforded them, rejected their Gods as myths and foolish fantasies. The old magic of the land faded from use in the civilized world, the harsh discipline needed to master it no longer worth the effort, and then it was forgotten.

Yet high up in the mountains in the northeast of Orandell, a handful of folk clung stubbornly to the old mysteries. They shunned the easy life available in the cities and honored the old Gods, now long in slumber. Little do they know, their isolated settlement will soon become the focus of a miraculous event.

Come, journey into a world of high adventure, as a great shadow falls across the land and the deeds of brave men and women become the hope of a desperate people. This is Ember.

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