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Monsters

Legends of the adventures

Monsters: In Search Of Monsters (Alasre Mountains)

<t has been several days since you have set out on your journey. You were the only one who would dare to go, for there has been nothing but storms for weeks now. Traveling through the Silva forest and up the mountains in this weather has been no easy task, but you had a very good reason for this trip.
     
      A large village in the remote regions of the mountains has sought help. The villagers claimed that gargantuan monsters have been raiding their lands, and several people have gone missing. The accounts of the monsters have been vague at best, and no one knows what they are, not even the magi. Most of the magi who have heard the tale believe it to be nothing more than trickery. Perhaps someone had reason for making the missing people disappear, and the tales of the monsters were created to ward off suspicion. Either way, the task falls to the magi to find the missing person and aid the village.
     
      None dared attempt the trek; there has been no proof of any unknown creatures existing in the mountains, and the weather at this time of the year is horrendous. But you met with one of the villagers, who dared to undergo this journey, and you feel you must help. The villager had no where else to turn to, and his desperation was all too obvious. The man was at his wit's end, and ranted on about giant creatures with altogether too many limbs. His tale has made you curious enough to go and see what aid you can offer. Of course, such a trip is dangerous.
     
      A chill wind blows from the north, and the sun has all but set. A certain smell in the air, the formation of the clouds... yes, a storm is coming, and the village is still hours away. You are not quite lost, but do not know of any nearby clearing in which to spend the night. Wolves and other creatures could easily beset you while you slumber, so you press on in hopes of finding shelter. As luck would have it, the trees in front of you are beginning to thin, and you are just able to make out the shape of a mountain. As you stride forward quickly, you see not only the beginning of the Alasre Mountains, but a dark shape that may be a cave. You are thankful to have found a safe enough area to spend the night. As you approach the mountain, a dark shape becomes clearer, and it appears to be a rather large cavern. Carved deep into the rocks are runes, glowing brightly. Lighting the air around you with a muttered spell, you step forward, examining the runes. It's written in a language used a few centuries ago, mostly by dark magi. You remember learning a little of it, and believe you can decipher it, given time. It takes you several minutes, but you eventually translate it, and are dismayed at what you find written.
     
      You cannot pass beyond this point until you have proven yourself worthy. Unfortunately, you are required to give the mysterious maker of these runes three eggs: one from a manticore, one chubacabra egg, and the egg of an albino nandi bear. What the person behind all this wants with such powerful creatures, you do not know, but are very curious to find out.
You cannot continue on until you have brought the required creatures before these runes. You need to have the eggs of a manticore, a chupacabra and an albino nandi bear to gain entry into the cave.
Opening your bag, you gently lift out the eggs. You bring the three needed eggs forward before the glowing runes, placing them in a line. Not knowing what else to do, you step forward and touch one of the runes hesitantly. There is a single bright flash of light, and when your vision clears, both the runes and the eggs are gone. Who put this barrier in place? What would they want with the companions?
     
      You duck inside the cave just as the first cracking sound of thunder splits the air, happy enough to have found a safe enough place to pass the night. Pondering what became of your companions, you direct your attention to your own needs, and eat a quick meal before starting a fire. Kneeling, you produce a vial from deep inside one of your pockets. Once you have poured the mixture on the ground, a merrily burning fire is made. Now that you have enough heat to manage till morning, you place your bags on the ground and rise to explore. The cave is ordinary enough, with rough gray walls. There are only a few gems in the wall, which is well enough. Many of the caves in the Alasre Mountains are completely covered in jewels, making it almost impossible to see. You are lucky you did not wander into one.
     
      Continuing on, you realize the cavern is much larger than you originally assumed. The entrance is growing farther and farther away, but your light is still burning bright. Peering into the gloom, you see a sort of corridor that the rock has formed, split into three passages. Should you press your luck and continue your exploration, or head back to the warmth of your fire? You may well be able to spend the night here safely, and continue on in the morning. Still, a bit of doubt troubles you – what if you are not alone in this cave? Best to explore fully and sleep easy than be awoken unexpectedly.
     
      Do you dare to continue on? The paths may lead into nothingness, ending far beneath a mountain. There is no guarantee that there are no dangerous creatures in here, or that the paths lead anywhere. If the ways were formed naturally, that is probably the case. And if they were formed by humans, to what end were they created? And by whom?

Monsters: The Right Path (Alasre Mountains)

Hesitatingly, you step toward the right path, and with a last glance at your now distant fire, continue. Feeling the walls with your fingertips to guide you along, you realize with dismay that the cave is becoming more and more encrusted with jewels. Your spelled light causes the whole path to glimmer and shine, until it is hurting your eyes. If you continue on much longer, you will be blinded unless you go on in darkness. That would leave you defenseless, though, and so it is that you turn back.

Monsters: The Middle Path (Alasre Mountains)

After much deliberation, you pick the middle path. You imagine you can hear a lapping sound that may be from an underground river. The way is easy enough, and as you continue the rock ceiling overhead widens and stretches away. You find yourself at the edge of a murky lake, but are unable to tell just how large the body of water is. This cavern is full of shadows your light cannot repel, and you can see no way to traverse around this lake. Sighing, you turn back, hoping one of the other paths ends with better results.

Monsters: The Left Path (Alasre Mountains)

From the left path comes a slight breeze, and so it is this path that you choose to follow. The air probably means that the path ends with an entrance to the outdoors. As you progress, you begin to see more and more bright gems embedded in the walls of the cave, and hope that not too many appear, lest you lose the ability to see. You stumble once or twice on the uneven floor, but it is an easy enough journey. As the breeze turns into more of a wind, you press on more hurriedly, sure that the path will end soon. And so it does, but not in the forest or mountains as you had suspected. The corridor gives way to an enormous cavern, one that stretches far above your head. Indeed, you cannot see the cavern's ceiling, as too many shadows mask it.
     
      In the center of the cavern lies a pool. It is dark and you cannot see its bottom. Stepping to its rocky shore, you bend down to investigate further. Only the reflection caused by the dark water saves you in time. You whirl around just quickly enough to land a stunning spell on your attacker. The creature cringes away from you in pain, and your stunned reaction gives the thing almost enough time to kill you. The thing recovers from the blow swiftly and springs at you again, sharp legs seeking flesh. Again you stun the thing, and hurriedly back away. The spider, for that is what it must be, cries out in a blood curdling scream, and you almost cover your ears. Preparing for another attack, you are startled when you catch another motion out of the corner of your eye. If it is another monster, you may well be doomed.
     
      "Watch out!" a man shouts, and you have time enough to retreat further before a large metal cage clangs to the ground. It must have been set somehow in the ceiling. The trap is cleverly placed, and the giant monster is well caught, to your relief. Still clutching your wand, you take a few deep, shaky breaths and turn to regard your savior. It is none other than the villager who came to The Keep seeking help! "What are you doing here?" the man yells, striding towards you. "I might ask you the same!" you reply heatedly. "I came to answer your call for help. A storm caught me and I found a cave in which to spend the night." Turning away from the man, you step towards the cage to examine the spider. It seems enraged, and eight frightening black limbs are attempting to tear apart the cage. It hisses in rage, frightening dark eyes glaring at you. "I thought no magi would come," the man replies. "They all turned me away. You said nothing to me -" "I only recently changed my mind," you say. "I regret not informing you sooner. The trip over the mountains would have been easier with a guide. Besides," you continue, gesturing at the cage, "it seems my help was not needed after all." The man, you remember his name to be Tarquin, grimaces. "It was not easy. These caves are infested with these monsters. I had to sneak in under the cover of day. They sleep then, in lower caverns." The two of you are silent for a moment, regarding the huge spider. "How long have these creatures been terrorizing your village?" you ask. "A fortnight," Tarquin replies. "I do not know where they came from. We have had no trouble before." Something about his words unsettle you. "New companions do not just appear. Someone either made these, or they come from a place we do not know of. Will you let me help you solve this mystery?" The villager nods. "Of course. I need all the aid I can get. The other men will not help me - do not even believe these things exist. One of them killed my brother. I witnessed it happening, and have taken it upon myself to rid the village of this infestation." You nod deeply. "I am sorry for your loss." Tarquin nods in response. "Shall we continue to your village, then?" you ask. The man shakes his head. "They will be of no help. If you like, we can spend the night at my lodge, then continue this in the morning?" You quickly agree, and the two of you set out for his home.
With the safety of daylight, you feel much better when entering the caves. Tarquin had several torches to offer you, but was pleased when you showed him an easy spell to conjure light. So it is that the two of you are entering these caverns again in search of the huge monsters. The spider that Tarquin trapped last night is still in its cage, sleeping now. Despite the man's wishes, you would not let him kill it until you studied the beast more. Passing by the trap, the two of you continue down, past the dark lake. "There are more of the things in here," Tarquin says, gesturing down a tunnel. "I would rather press on," you reply. "I want to get to the bottom of this. Is there a place where you have not yet gone?" the man nods and the two of you set out again.
     
      "I have not been deeper than this," Tarquin says. "All the passages lead here. I did not dare go further without aid." You nod and step forward. The passageway leads to the largest cavern yet, seeming to stretch on for miles. You cannot even glimpse the ceiling above, although a few shimmers tell you there are gems there. Peering into the gloom ahead, you can almost make out something. There are no sleeping spiders here at all. But there is something... yes, out of the dark you can make out... a tower? Who would build such a thing here? A glance at Tarquin shows his confusion as well. "A dark magi?" he whispers. You shrug. There have not been any for many centuries. You would not know how to deal with one. The two of you continue on in silence. As you draw closer to the tower, you draw your wand. The stone building seems to rise out of the cavern floor as if it grew, and the rocky turret looks like a stalagtite. A light burns in a window though, and you feel the hair on the nape of your neck rise up as you realize someone is inside.
     
      Approaching the door, you slip inside silently, gesturing for Tarquin to stay behind. If a magic duel does occur, it is best he is away from it. Also, he is the only one you have to return to The Keep to tell of your fate and get more help. If he does not survive, hopefully your roc companion will not come looking for you, but return at once to The Keep to alert the magi that something is afoot.
     
      The tower has no door, and you quietly enter. It looks much like a magi's study, a large table in the center of the room holding manuscripts and scrolls. A small fire is burning, and you can see there is no one here. You move towards the stairs at the end of the room, breath catching in your throat. Your hand holding your wand is shaking slightly, but your steel your resolve and slowly, silently, climb the stairs.
     
      The first thing you see is a round thing sitting near the top of the stairs. It appears to be an egg. Crouching low, you continue and turn to face the room. Someone is sitting at a desk, facing away from you. Glad to have the advantage, you look about the room. A bed sits at one end, and only a small lamp casts light. The person at the desk is wearing a dark cloak with the hood pulled up, though it is not overly cold. "I thought one of you would come sooner or later," the person says, and you jump despite yourself. Without turning around, the person continues: "Normally I'd give you the option of leaving now and living, but I suppose you'd just run back to your Keep and return with others." The voice appears to be female, and your studies return to you with a flash: Namista. How could she still be living? The last encounter with her was more than a century ago. Though magi do tend to live longer than the average human, that span of time is unthinkable...
     
      Namista, the spider queen. Once she was the pride of The Keep, but she delved into dark magics, seeking to create new companions. It is natural for a magi to wish to do this – one must always seek new magic and become curious. New companions have never been sucessfully created, however; only nature can do that. Natural magic is too wild a thing to be controlled, and experiment often turn out... badly. As was the case of Namista's. She had great love for spiders, and was bitter that no spider companion existed. Why should her favorites be neglected? She tried for years to create magical spiders in secret, her frustration and ambition driving her mad. Until one day her experiment worked. The beast she created almost killed her and escaped, and it took ten magi to bring it down. Namista was expelled in disgrace. No one ever heard of her again.
     
      Until now. All of your studies assured you that this woman had died of old age. To be faced with such a powerful and ancient magi... you are afraid your chances of survival are slim. Hopefully Tarquin escapes to tell the tale.
     
      The figure in the chair rises slowly and turns. The hood covering her face slowly falls away. This woman looks no older than you, her face unlined by age. If not for what you knew, you would think her kind. Namista taps a thick black wand against her cheek. "What to do, what to do..." she smiles. It is a deadly smile with no warmth to it. You feel every inch of bravery drain away from you. Her thick black hair is strangely reminiscent of her pets, and her green eyes freeze you in place. Beautiful she may be, but cold, cold as the dead of winter. She realeases you from her gaze and bends to pick up a large egg. Before you can see what she has in mind, you turn and flee, almost tripping down the stairs in your hurry. You do not look back to see if she is following. As you whirl past Tarquin, you grab his arm, a rough plan formulating. The two of you spring for the passageway, and despite being breathless you are able to shout: "Where is your nearest trap?" Tarquin pauses in flight for a brief second. "I'm afraid it's near that lake!" Cursing, you continue your flight.
     
      As you enter the large cavern with the murky lake, you bend over to pant. You hear Tarquin hiss in fear and look up to see Namista in front of you. Not a hair is out of place, and she looks perfectly calm. She is still holding the egg, and you can see it has begun to crack. Closing your eyes, you raise your wand and using every once of energy you have left, summon enough air to raise the cage behind the woman. The spider Tarquin trapped earlier instantly wakes from sleep and runs forward. With one final blast of magic, you surround Namista with a spell she would not expect, something so weak and fragile it is sure to surprise her. It only last a few seconds, but that is enough. Namista appears to be none other than you. The illusion lasts long enough for you and Tarquin to watch, horrified, as the woman and monster proceed to murder each other.
     
      With all of the energy and magic you have expended, you are drained. The world turns gray, then dark.
     
      When you awaken, the first thing you notice is how marvelously soft the bed is. You are cocooned in warmth, and it is with reluctance that you force your eyes open. An elderly lady is sitting in a chair next to you, and smiles when she sees you are awake. "Good morning," she says. Her weathered face is kind, and when she bends forward you can see she is offering you a mug. Taking it from her, you smile in thanks. "Where is Tarquin?" you ask. "Where am I?" The woman rises slowly, drawing her skirts around her. "Tarquin is fine. He is speaking to our town leader. Drink that, and I will go bring him to you." And with that, she departs. Content, you take a sip of your drink, pleased to find it is warm spiced cider. You lean back and wait for your friend to arrive, hoping he is well.
     
      When Tarquin does arrive, he is smiling. Sitting at the end of your bed, he says: "I owe you a great deal, friend. It pains me to tell you that this village is very poor." You shake your head hurriedly: "I require no payment. I could not sit idly by while the things attacked innocents." Tarquin nod and continues: "You'll be pleased to know that the woman is no longer among us. As soon as she died, her creatures... fled. Whole hordes of the beasts were seen fleeing. We do not know where they have gone, but as they left in the direction of inhospitable lands, we do not really care. The only problem is that they have left their young behind. All those eggs are still there, and we are afraid that they may hatch and attack us." Finishing your drink, you place it on the bedside table. "If they are eggs, then there is hope. I shall bring some magi here and we shall remove them. Perhaps these spiders, if raised differently, can become companions." Tarquin agrees with you, thanking you profusely. "My people owe a debt to you."
     
      Returning to the lowest of the caverns once more, you are still amazed by how large the place is. It rivals The Keep in size, and you wonder how Namista found it. Perhaps it was carved from magic? Maybe the volumes and manuscripts in the tower hold some information. You enter the dark building, pausing to light the one small lamp. It seems a cold and barren place to live, but somehow you don't suppose Namista minded. You gather the books and papers together, placing them in your side bag. You will read them at a later date, perhaps in daylight. Next to the desk you see an egg, and bend down to pick it up. This one will be yours, you think to yourself, placing it gently in your pack. If properly cared for, these creatures may be suitable companions. You cannot leave them to their own devices, lest they grow large and attack villages like their elders.
     
      With your bag full, you turn to leave, casting one more glance at the tower. You are glad to leave this place, and the sunlight feels warm against your face as you step out of the cavern. With your roc flying in lazy circles above you, you prepare yourself for the long trek back to The Keep.

Monsters: Get Another Spider Egg (Alasre Mountains)

You cannot pass beyond this point until you have proven yourself worthy. Unfortunately, you are required to give the mysterious maker of these runes three eggs: one from a manticore, one chubacabra egg, and the egg of an albino nandi bear.
You cannot continue on until you have brought the required creatures before these runes. You need to have the eggs of a manticore, a chupacabra and an albino nandi bear to gain entry into the cave.
Opening your bag, you gently lift out the eggs. You bring the three needed eggs forward before the glowing runes, placing them in a line. You step forward and touch one of the runes hesitantly. There is a single bright flash of light, and when your vision clears, both the runes and the eggs are gone.
     
      You see an egg, and bend down to pick it up. This one will be yours, you think to yourself, placing it gently in your pack. If properly cared for, these creatures may be suitable companions. You cannot leave them to their own devices, lest they grow large and attack villages like their elders.
     
      With your bag full, you turn to leave, casting one more glance at the tower. You are glad to leave this place, and the sunlight feels warm against your face as you step out of the cavern. With your roc flying in lazy circles above you, you prepare yourself for the long trek back to The Keep.