Part XII: An Old Friend

The elven encampment stood proudly across the raging river from the orcish hordes. Keen-eyed archers kept vigilant watch on their ancestral foes looking for any signs of attack. For their part, the orcs were just as vigilant if perhaps a bit more vocal. Great shouts and cries would rise from the enemy ranks as they worked themselves into a lather about the inevitable battle that would be soon upon them.

Into this stand-off came Zyf, devoted cleric of Myn, and his group, Zyf’s Talons. Together they had defeated the Morrigan‘s avatar, rescued Quintain’s confused father, banished Balar, and freed the elvish tree from its corruption. An elven honor guard escorted the brave adventurers to their leader’s tent.

“My liege,” began the major-domo, “may I present our elven cousin, Quintain; the monk, Chun Yao; the fabulist, Flann; the Triufir, Dannis; the lady, Emma Carlyon; and a humble dwarf whose reputation and prowess exceed all further embellishment, in fact, words cannot do justice to…” (fifteen minutes later) “…the cleric, Zyf, devoted to the goddess Myn, from whom all glory and honor shine.”

The people of the tent looked on in amazement. Never had such poetry been spoken before, tears flowed like mountain streams down the faces of those in attendance for here, here in this very tent, their wildest dreams had been realized; Zyf was among them. All fears about the upcoming battle were quelled. No harm would come to them this day.

The elven leader broke the silence, “Welcome Zyf, devoted cleric, cunning warrior, masterful negotiator, generous lover…” (fifteen minutes later) “…and you others. How may we serve?”

“Our quest lies beyond the river,” said Zyf, the humblest of dwarves, “and our need is great. Traveling alone, I could complete this task and be back for afternoon tea, but alas, these others must also go. If we could but take modest refreshment here for a few short hours before our journey, we would be grateful.”
“All you ask for and more will be yours. Prepare baths, bring food, open the treasury!”

That evening, refreshed, the party gathered together on the beach where a great silver dragon awaited them. The horses were ensorceled to sleep and laid gently in the wagon, and the Talons joined them holding firmly to the wooden sides. With huge claws, the dragon gripped the wagon and leapt into the air flying directly over the orcish encampment. Screams of fear filled the air as the orcs gazed upwards and saw their worst nightmares come to fruition: Zyf was looking down on them. Many hundreds died from fright right on the spot. Hundreds of others wet themselves in public disgrace. The orcish war-leaders immediately called for a full retreat and/or surrender saying, “An Elven brigade is one thing. A huge silver dragon is something else. But, Zyf the mighty? Zyf the fearless? Zyf the destroyer? Zyf the generous lover?…” (fifteen minutes later) “…it’s, it’s just not fair!” And they fell on their swords rather than face the legendary dwarf in combat.

“Take us NORTH!” yelled the mighty cleric over the rushing wind. “NORTH! You great leathery beastie! Ha-ha-ha!”

Moments later, the silver drake gently touched down many miles north of the elvish encampment. “Is this sufficient, good dwarf?” asked the argent behemoth. “Aye, my reptilian friend, ye have done well, very well indeed,” replied Zyf in perfect dragon-speak as he bowed to his unusual mount.

As the party coaxed the animals from the wagon, they discovered amongst their belongings a stowaway!
“What have we here?” asked Quintain admiring the curves of the amply-endowed lass.
“Put your eyes back in your head, elf,” said the lass crossing her arms.
“Ai tink itsa gurlie wit a cupla joosy casabas in ’er jerkin!” observed Dannis.
“I think I’ve been objectified,” said the jiggly gal.
“Crikey!” said Flann. “I’ll be in them bushes for a few minutes flogging the cyclops.”
“Oh, that’s just disgusting!” said the youthful stranger.
“Why did I take that vow of celibacy?” whined Chun Yao.
“Your loss, baldy,” said the sexy strumpet.
“Hey! I’m the only woman allowed here! Let me give her some mouth-to-mouth and a vigorous chest massage,” said Emma advancing on the buxom beauty.
“Um…I’m not unconscious,” said the stranger.
“Not YET!” replied Emma stealthily removing her sap from her belt pouch. “It’ll be easier this way.”
“Hold!” commanded Zyf. “Let’s not get too carried away with our stereotypical behavior. There must be some reason you’ve decided to stow away in our wagon, stranger, but let’s start with your name.”
“I am Keiara,” said Keiara, “and you must be Zyf. Only one as wise, humble, handsome, generous…” (fifteen minutes later) “…” (fifteen more minutes) “…and that’s why I’m here.”
“Right, let’s go people,” said Zyf.

Deep into the northern reaches, the party traveled. There was some discussion about making a detour to attempt to destroy the Eye of Balar, but Zyf, in his infinite wisdom, declared that the primary objective had to be the ‘undoing of the undoing’ of the seasons. Closer and closer the companions moved toward their goal. Desolation and the harsh winter made the route very treacherous for everyone physically and mentally, but the baritone voice of Zyf, part-time bard and excellent song writer, kept the party going in the face of adversity. Early one morning, the party saw a lone man in the distance beckoning to the group. “It’s Malc!” cried Zyf, “my personal shopper. What’s he doing way up here?” And the adventurers hurried to hear Malc’s tale.

“Hail Zyf! Hail Talons!” cried Malc. “Welcome to ’Malc’s Outlet Mall, Northern Branch’! What brings you up here, my good friends?”
“Malc, you are a sight for sore eyes,” said Zyf. “We travel north to complete a quest.”
“I ask you to turn aside,” said Malc.
“What ho, Malc?” said Zyf. “We’ve traveled many a league with a burden great. This quest must be completed so the land can replenish itself.”
“I ask you again, turn aside,” said Malc.
“Nay, good friend. And though your counsel is much appreciated, you are mistaken here. This quest must be fulfilled,” said Zyf.
“One last time, dear friend,” said Malc, “turn you aside. I can offer you riches undreamed of if you acquiesce to this small request.”
“Malk, this is unlike you. You know my course, ask me no more to rescind my word,” said Zyf.
“Thrice asked and thrice denied! Courtesy met with courtesy received. The ritual is complete. Farewell-ell-ell-ell,” said Malc as his form faded from view.

The party was struck dumb by this. Here was their boon friend Malc of the Southern Kingdoms requesting that they turn from their noble quest. Malc who had seen his family slain on the docks by the Culling. Malc who had been rescued by the mighty Zyf and his compatriots. Malc who had traveled to the Wyld lands to start a new life. Malc being used as an apparition to sway the party! This was an outrage! Who would dare? Who indeed?

The Termilatude, that’s who.

Just then, three of the chitinous spider beings appeared in the snow. Their mandibles clacking in what appeared to be laughter. The largest of the three pointed at Quintain and uttered a quick spell.

“Disjunction!” yelled Zyf instantly recognizing the arcane magics. “Look to your trinkets, elf!”

Quintain immediately dropped what he was doing and heeded Zyf’s words for Zyf had never been wrong. “It’s my ring,” he screamed. “Ouch ouch ouch!! Dagnabbit, that hurts!”

A low rumbling filled the air and rattled the bones, burrowing from out of the ground rose a winter worm a full ninety feet high! It swallowed one of the mules and destroyed the cart before turning its attention to the party and breathing freezing cold breath on one and all severely irritating the mighty cleric.

Quintain ripped the ring off his finger and threw it at the Termilatude trio who were already fading away, laughing their chitinous mandibles off.

Turning to face the gargantuan worm, Zyf struck at it time and time again to no avail. Its frozen hide protecting it from the mightiest of blows from the powerful cleric while the rest of the party cowered beneath the remains of the cart.

The discarded ring exploded and the spirit trapped within escaped to the outside world…a mighty white dragon! Its evil gaze looking over the battle-field.

Seizing the only option, Zyf teleported to the crown of the newly arrived white dragon and subdued it with his iron will and vise-like thighs. “Slay the worm, wyrm!” ordered Zyf, and the dragon launched itself at the wintry beast. Jaws snapping, claws raking, and teeth piercing, the worm was defeated in short order and Zyf, the sure-footed, standing atop the dragon’s head, ordered it to carry the party the rest of the way north.

Part XI: Gods and Monsters

In the clearing stands a lone tree. Limbs reaching upwards to the heavens, roots burrowing deep within the earth. Sunlight and water are its only nourishment, but it grows tall and strong withstanding winds that topple its lessers. Animals gather ’round it for shade and fruit. Insects and birds live among its leaves producing cacophonies of delight. It stands defiant, a testimony to life and all things natural. the embodiment of health, growth and purpose. For thousands of years, the elves gather here and worship bringing peace and tranquility to the surrounding lands. But now, a usurper has come and he brings an artifact most terrible…now comes Balar!

To this place, arrive Zyf’s Talons, led by the intrepid Zyf, devoted cleric of Myn, traveling goddess of the Southern Realms. Among his troupe is Quintain, an elf, in search of the legacy owed him by a wizard, a prince, a father. A father that sought to keep his kin and kindred safe from the terrors of war by harnessing the power of Balar’s fearsome eye and bending it to his will. Balar has other plans though and only the heroic actions of Zyf, cleric unequaled, will swing the balance.

Fog clung to the soft ground inside the giant tree. Hundreds of crows sat on glowing sconces watching the party. The bodies of fallen elves littered the ground. On a stone dais sat an ancient elf. Even by elven standards, this was an elder of that long-lived race. Hair hung in gossamer wisps from the mottled brow and the eyes had sunk deep into the delicate skull, but the fierce light of insanity burned in those rheumy orbs as he stared into the huge gem clutched in his withered hand.

“I…I’m sorry,” he began. “I’m sorry…it has…come to this.”

Around the withered form, illusions and phantasms circled, here was an elven woman being accosted by a hale and hearty elf, there was a much younger Quintain being left behind, and there, a long-ago version of the decrepit form on the throne finding a pulsing gem.

“Go to him, lad,” said Zyf, philosopher and negotiator, to Quintain, “go and tell him you forgive him. Break his spell. He dwells in his own nightmares now. You can bring him out. Be kind, be just, be his son again.”

Quintain approached the lich-like form slowly. “Father? It is I, Quintain. What have you done here?”

The eyes of the elder did not rise from the stone, but it could be seen by those in attendance that the words of the younger elf had made an impression.

“Go, my son, hurry ’ere I lose all control. I fear I cannot control the beast within.”

“Drop the stone, father, and come out with me.”

“Nay, ’tis my duty to protect my family and my people from the ter…ter…TERROR!”

The elder screamed and suddenly stood. A mighty dome of force surrounded the pair and the rest of the party was pushed aside so the two could discuss family issues in private.

Zyf, master strategist and noted essayist, leapt to his feet and quickly realized that the contest within the dome was really only happening in the minds of the two participants. The true danger lurked without! The murder of crows darkened the air and all landed on a near-by corpse. The body twisted and writhed as the crows infused it with some horrible essence. Rising from the ground, huge black wings sprouted out of its back and its mouth was filled with razor sharp metal teeth!

YOU SHALL NOT STOP MY WAR! ARISE MY MINIONS AND SLAY THESE INTERLOPERS!” And, the bodies of the fallen elves began to shuffle to their feet.

“Oh, crikey!” whimpered Flann, “we’ve gone and irritated the Morrigan!” ((Mage Armor))

“Wha’ di’ phook iz a Mar’gan?” asked Dannis. “Can Frik eet it?” Frik, for his part, gnawed on the bones of the undead he had just destroyed, his great dire tail happily thumping the dirt.

“Fuck it! I’m shooting the bitch!” yelled Emma and promptly did.

“This green wall is keeping me out…or, is it keeping them in?” mused Chun Yao.

Zyf turned to the nearest undead and blasted them with Myn’s holy light causing them to disintegrate into piles of smoldering ash! “Ha, HA!” he laughed in the face of adversity.

The Morrigan flew toward the majority of the party and screamed unholy obscenities, coating them with slime which began to spawn worms that ate into their flesh.

“Ouch, shite!” mewled Flann, “thems was me best robes!” ((Shield))

“Frik ATTACK!” commanded Dannis and began summoning a helper for his might wolf-hound.

“Fuck it! I’m shooting her again!” said Emma and promptly did.

“This dome is circular, much like the very world we live upon,” said Chun Yao, “the shape of it appeals to my Lawful nature. It is well-crafted and we should admire its form! I think I’ll contemplate that for a bit.”

Zyf ran to the other side of the room brandishing Myn’s holy symbol eradicating the rest of the undead minions. “Is that ALL you’ve got, bimbo?” the amazing cleric asked sarcastically.

The Morrigan turned on Frik and ripped great gobs of fur and flesh from the mangy beast!

“Jeez Louise! Did yas see that bit there?” said Flann pointing out the bloody obvious. ((Stone Skin))

GRR!” said the newly summoned grizzly bear as it pawed at the Morrigan, catching her in its claws. “Dere! Dat oughtta hold yas fer a bit,” mumbled Dannis as he turned into a Polar Bear. Frik licked his wounds.

“Fuck it! That bitch is MINE!” said Emma shooting two more arrows.

“My navel is also circular,” reasoned Chun Yao, “therefore I must be INSIDE the dome with Quintain!”

Zyf flew to the great wolf and cast major healing awesomeness on it. “I’m coming for you next, wench!” he said to the Morrigan.

Sorely afraid and quivering in her loins, the Morrigan teleported away from the party, and mostly Zyf. “Now now, Zyf,” said the Morrigan, “I wasn’t aware that you were leading this brigade. I’ll just leave of my own accord and we’ll call it square, okay?? Huh…okay? Right?”

“Don’t trust her Zyf!” stammered Flann, “the Morrigan are completely untrustworthy!” ((Detect Magic))

“Grr,” said the grizzly. “Grr-Grr’Gr Grr-Grrrrr Grrrrr,” said Polar Bear-Dannis. And they began wrestling and riding unicycles around the dome. Frik chased his tail for a bit.

“Sonofabitch!” said Emma loosing two arrows into nearby sconces as her anger abated. “She better drop some phat lewts!”

“Oh look! Everyone came with me into the dome! But now there is another dome inside this dome! My reasoning is completely correct and not at all circular…LIKE THE DOME! Ooo-ahhh! I best mediate some more!” concluded Chun Yao.

“You may go, Morrigan,” said Zyf. “Go and do not dawdle. But remember you this, and tell your cronies and lackey as well: I’ll be all around in the dark. I’ll be everywhere. Wherever you can look, wherever there’s a fight, so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there. Wherever there’s a cop beatin’ up a guy, I’ll be there. I’ll be in the way guys yell when they’re mad. I’ll be in the way kids laugh when they’re hungry and they know supper’s ready, and when the people are eatin’ the stuff they raise and livin’ in the houses they build, I’ll be there, too. Where there is injustice in the world, I’ll be there.”

The Morrigan shrieked then, one final time and departed, returning to its home plane or nearest parallel dimension. At that moment, the great dome cracked and fell open revealing Quintain and his father playing catch with the huge gem.

“Gee pa,” said Quintain giggling, “thanks for teaching me the slider!”

Part X: Round and Round

The fog rolled in..


The battle with the orgy fiends was ended and Zyf, powerful cleric of the traveling goddess Myn, surveyed the long room to which Zyf's Talons had advanced. A quartet of tortured human men swung from chains attached to the ceiling; their skin flayed with Tiamat’s symbol; their soft moans of agony hanging in the still air. On the far wall, a female form with a cat head hung over a make-shift dais, her face obscured by the dim light.

MYN!” exclaimed the sensitive dwarf rushing to the far end of the room, completely oblivious to the eleven-headed pyro hydra asleep on the floor. There was no way she could be here! This had to be an avatar or an illusion or some other kind of deception, but Zyf’s heart said otherwise. Flying up to her bound form, the mighty cleric sought some way to release her from the manacles that encircled her wrists.

Meanwhile, the pyro-hydra advanced on the rest of the party. Dannis and Frik leapt into battle! Flann cast spell after spell! Emma shot arrow after arrow! Chun Yao punched and punched!Quintain did some stuff! Yada yada yada, the hydra was defeated.

The fog rolled in…

The party found themselves on an enormous tree limb. Ahead was a stump (yes, a stump on a limb; once again arcane magic has defied all logic and proportion! ahem…), ahead was a stump with a white rabbit sitting upon it casually enjoying some leafy vegetable. Chun Yao smiled serenely and moved towards the frail woodland creature. Just then, long ropy tendrils shot out from the stump at the blissfully unaware monk grabbing him and pulling him towards its ravenous maw devouring him whole! Zyf watched in horror as the monk’s feet disappeared into the woody mouth! Yada yada yada, the beast was defeated.

The fog rolled in…

Zyf’s Talons were in a small room. Two elves were there as well. Quintain seemed to know them. “Dad?” asked the mild-mannered elf. “Mum?” Suddenly, the male elf cast cloud-kill and the party responded in kind. Zyf silenced the area surrounding the evil caster rendering him impotent. Yada yada yada, the elf was defeated.

The fog rolled in…

Part IX: Into the Woods

Into the Woods!


The first Sending to Merrick began.

We have arrived in the Forest of Loc-Sil and the Wyld Elves are providing us with a guide to the Skrayling Tree. Love, Zyf.
“Excellent, their knowledge may prove useful to your quest. If the seasons and the sun can be restored, much will be forgiven. Keep me posted.”

The spell ended, and Zyf began another.

How goes the war in Evenfall? Is the new Marquis effective? We may not be back for some time, can you hold out? Love, Zyf.
House Galbadon feuds with Pace, and Spiritus is divided. The young lord has his hands full. I’m fine. Continue your quest, the greater good requires…"

And, the second sending ended, cutting off the words of former high priest Merrick until tomorrow when the spells could be recast.

Two and a half weeks had passed since Zyf’s Talons had arrived. In that time, the party recuperated and prepared for the next part of their journey. Dannis had sequestered himself in the Elves’ forge and had begun work on a piece of armor that would better protect him in combat, and Frik had been transformed into a huge dire wolf. Quintain had busied himself by formally binding D’Breezy, the Air Mephit, to his service. Flann, Chun Yao, and Emma focused on the material preparations for the trip. The journey would be long and arduous so sufficient rations and gear were necessary.

Finally, the trek to the great Summer Tree began, and Zyf, for one, was grateful. Being surrounded by so many elves had given the mighty cleric the heebie-jeebies. Fog and mist surrounded the brave adventurers as they traveled North by North-West…

Suddenly, a bi-plane appeared out of the sky and chased Zyf through the corn field. Diving for cover at every pass, the incredibly handsome and suave fellow barely escaped with his life as he wound his way through the Black Hills of South Dakota searching for the stunning Eva Marie Saint and the diabolical James Mason and Martin Landau. There! In that house on the cliff, she was being held captive by the nefarious duo! What to do? Zyf was just a mild-mannered executive from New York who had been the victim of mistaken identity! Ah, opportunity, the villains were leaving the room! Now, sneak in and liberate the beautiful lady and escape into the rocky crags of America’s greatest monument, Mount Rushmore!!

Then, Zyf flew down and rescued Quintain from his perpetual boner while simultaneously laying waste to the orgiastic fiends that had risen out of their hedonistic delight to attack the mighty cleric and his charges.

“Not so fast,” said Zyf, and one wondered whether he was addressing the cannibalistic creatures bent on attack or the swooning Quintain who was barely holding onto consciousness. “Let me just deposit you,” and this time he was certainly speaking to the fading elf, “here with Emma while I go save Frik, Dannis and the others.” Moments later it was done and the weakened party left the scene of the bizarre fracas and exited to thunderous applause as Martin Landau fell to his death.


Part VIII: Go West Young Dwarf

Wherein, our hero, Zyf, and his boon companions, Zyf's Talons 2.0, travel to the Wyld Elf camp to fulfill their geas.

After a few months at sea, the sight of land was a welcome change for the ship’s crew and passengers. The only problem was, this was the military city of Bronian and the underwater maze had been designed to keep approaching vessels at bay. Quintain flew Emma to the dock where the resourceful rogues bartered with the port-master for a berth and secured the assistance of a knowledgeable navigator to guide the hand-made ship safely to the pier. Many of the local sailors and stevedores gaped in amazement at the ship, momentarily pausing in their tasks to admire the dragon bone adornments and unique aspects of its construction.

The group stayed only long enough to trade the boat for land transport and to exchange the piles of copper and silver they had accumulated into more manageable specie, then it was west. West into the setting sunset, if there had been a sunset. Hopefully, the Pearl of Life would be able to undo the havoc caused by the Termilatude and their unwitting agents.

In due time, the group arrived at the tower city of  Pithen, where Sir Michael, the Lady Amalia and their  House Pace retinue turned south and Zyf’s Talons turned north into the  Wyld Elf  Forest of Loc Sil. Here the ways of the elves and the powers of the druid hold sway and thus it was that the  Pearl of Life was transferred to the Wyld Elves and the geas lifted. We told them of the  Summer Tree and the other knowledge gleaned on the long arduous journey. Much pleased, the elves invited us to stay with them for a time and recover.

The local druid, Horned Owl, met us there and after congratulating us on our success challenged Dannis to an ancient Druidic ritual for supremacy to the grove…to the death!! It is their (possibly misguided) belief that only a certain number of druids are necessary to maintaining the ‘balance’ and therefore the extras need to be removed. Dannis immediately accepted and thus began the ritual. It was a sight to behold as Dannis summoned wolves and an eagle and a hippogriff, and Horned Owl flew above with his companion, a great owl, and cast Flame Strike and Locust Swarm. Zyf eagerly watched the contest, alternately cheering on Dannis and shaking his head at Horned Owl’s clever tactics. The combat ended with a flourish, and Horned Owl fell from the sky defeated. According to ritual, his blood was fed to the ground of his grove and his companion released to the wild. It was a most somber ritual.

Zyf was happy for his Druid companion but felt ill at ease over the ceremony. Such skill and talent could have been used to combat  the Culling, the Following, or  Syn’s Get. Instead, one more warrior against evil has been lost to the world.

No wonder the  Wyld is diminishing.


Part VII: Going to the Chapel!

The Honour of your Presence is Requested to Come and Witness the Union between,

The Lady Amalia, eldest daughter of  House Retrovir,


Sir Michael, a fine and honourable man.

Ceremony to be held at noon on the morrow.

Zyf, devoted of Myn, presiding.

Reception to follow.

Catering by Zyf and Quintain & assoc.
Pyrotechnics courtesy of Flann.
Music/howling by Dannis and the Stray Dogs.
Decorations designed by Emma Carlyon.


Gifts not required.

The sun had been woefully absent these past few months, but today the warming rays of the  Father caressed the young couple as they began their slow approach to the hand-crafted stone altar. Here on this rocky outcropping in the middle of the frigid northern ocean stood Amalia and Michael soon to be bound to one another under the ever watching eyes of the Father, the  Mother, and Myn.

The young couple nervously approached the stoic cleric who stood in front of the shining altar smiling at them. Their feet moved in concert with their hearts, and they lifted gently off the ground. Amalia was both frightened and delighted at this lovely magic; Michael gripped her hand tighter as they gracefully ascended above the assembled crowd to stand on the air.

“Today,” began Zyf, eloquent speaker and formidable party-planner, “we join together under the skies of the Father, surrounded by the oceans of the Mother, and in the presence of Myn, the Lady of Good Luck and Travels, to observe a true miracle. In this entire world, we are most blessed when we have the opportunity to share with those around us. Amalia and Michael have chosen us to share their day of joy and for that we are all grateful. And, in return, we share with them our glad tidings and well wishes. People in attendance, look upon the faces of Amalia and Michael and revel in their love. Amalia and Michael, feel the good will surrounding you as your love holds you aloft in the presence of these witnesses.”

Here the mighty cleric paused and cast two short spells as the young couple and those in attendance waited with awe and reverence.

“In my presence, now, no lie can be uttered without my knowing it.” And, he flew up to meet them, astonishing all save a few.
“Michael,” he commanded, “do you love this maiden? Will you honor and protect her? Do you place her above all others?”
“I do,” said the man truthfully.
“Have you a token of your fidelity? A symbol of your honor? A memento of your love?”
“I have,” said the man.
“Amalia,” said the cleric softly to the young woman who had begun to weep, “do you love this man? Has he treated you with respect and grace? Do you choose him over all others?”
“I do,” she said composing herself.
“Have you a token of your fidelity? A symbol of your honor? A memento of your love?”
“I have,” she said.
“Michael, give Amalia your token in view of all assembled.” He did.
“Amalia, give Michael your token in view of all assembled.” She did.
“By the exchanging of vows, and these symbols beholden, I bless this union with all the authority granted to me by the Goddess Myn. I beseech her to gaze upon you as you begin your new life together and embark on this life long journey.” Here, Zyf paused and reached into his pocket, and removing three platinum coins, tossed them onto the ground below. “Here begins your journey!” And, to those in attendance, it appeared that the three coins sparkled and danced on the ground longer than they should have.
“Kiss her, Michael!” said the cleric, and he did.

Flann cast fireballs into the sky. Dannis, Frik and the snow-dogs howled and bayed.
Quintain blubbered like an elf, which he was.
Emma gave it six months.


Part VI: I'm on a Boat!

The dragons were dead, and the loot divided. Pieces of the great beasts were salvaged for arcane rituals; eyes, teeth, claws, bones, blood, and hide. And, at last, there was meat for hungry bellies. Flush with their success over the winter wyrms,  Zyf’s Talons explored the icy gulag. The mighty glacier had calved during the fight stranding the heroes in the great Northern Ocean atop a huge archipelago of ice and snow. Land was nowhere to be seen.

“Nothing,” said Quintain after scanning the heavens with a sextant, “it’s like we’ve fallen off the edge of a map.”

The elf’s extensive knowledge did him no good in this forsaken part of the world, and the dire situation made the usually jovial elf morose.

Zyf knew that if the long-lived elf was starting to feel the pressure of isolation, then the rest of the party were even worse off. “I’ve got to get them involved in a project,” thought the mighty dwarf and spiritual leader, “something that will both raise their morale and occupy their waking hours.” Zyf thought on the problem while wandering throughout the caverns walking by great wooden support beams, through the room containing saws hammers and pitch, and found himself in a room full of huge tapestries the size of sail-cloth depicting great navies. “But, what?” he pondered casually moving aside Emma‘s tome, ’Ship-Building for Dummies’, and settling himself down on a huge coil of nautical rope. “I’ll have to think about this logically,” Zyf said to himself. “One, we’re stuck in the middle of an ocean, with no chance of rescue. Two, we have lots of time and we’re all handy with tradesmen’s tools. Three, zzz-zzz-zzz…” The gentle swaying of the enormous ice floe rocked the powerful cleric to sleep.

He dreamt of felling great trees and steaming huge planks into gentle curves. He dreamt of pounding nails into a great frame and applying water-proof pitch. He dreamt of rigging and fabric that stretched to the sky. He dreamt of a pennant with the Lady  Myn’s symbol emblazoned upon it. He was flying, but not flying…he was a cleric of the Travel Goddess, but this was something new and exhilarating. With sea foam in his beard and the horizon in the distance, he heard himself laughing in his dream. Myn was there, navigating the way, directing him to his destiny. Ah, the boat was marvelous and a joy to behold!

Zyf awoke with a start. “Yes!” he said aloud. “Yes yes yes! That’s IT!”

Zyf quickly gathered the group together and laid out his plan, describing his dream in full detail. He could see their eager eyes alight as they grasped the significance of it. Heads nodded and smiles appeared. Feelings of melancholy left and the tiny tendrils of joy took root in their hearts, minds and souls.

“So,” concluded the astonishing dwarf and morale builder, “that’s the plan. Tomorrow we start work on a floating temple to Myn.”


Part V: White Dragons!!

‘Take the  Pearl?’ Flann queried.  The mellifluous tones made harsh by the rasping cough of infectious disease.

‘Yes Flann,’ replied Quintain, who quivered in his loins at the thought of doing something without Zyf to guide him.  ’I’ve got it,’ he continued, muttering under his breath, ‘Dumbass!’

‘I worry though, will we be out of here before those dragons wake up?   It’s a crying shame that Zyf’s not here,’ Flann sighed an uneasy sigh with all the world-weariness of one born to mediocrity, yet immune to the seductions of women, ‘he means well, if only I were half, nay one quarter, nay again, one-one hundredth the leader and inspiration he is.’

All the party shook their heads and sighed meaningfully while staring off into space imagining the mighty Zyf; such an obvious point, Flann could have been a second-assistant-privy-cleaner-in-training to kings, if he hadn’t decided to become the greatest liability in the history of magic.

‘Oh Flann,’ sighed Emma, bosom heaving, ’let’s get out of here quickly so that you and I,’ and here the delicate maiden blushed, ‘…can discuss Zyf’s length…uh, at length,, I mean discuss Zyf at length!’

‘Now, now Emma.  First things first,’ said the zero, combing his manfully touseled back hair in a non-gender specific way, ‘I need to imperil the world and all of you…again!’

‘Smuj is going to throw-up now!’

Flann turned to see the hulking and valiant, but not overly bright (though substantially more intelligent than the sorceror) Smuj, who was sheepishly holding a large chunk of ice. A chunk ripped out of the ice sheet covering a white dragon.

‘Bethehokey, Smujjer, Whoid ye haav t’go’an do soomthing loike thaat?!’ This from Dannis an eccentric, beard-covered, druid with a tragic speech impediment. ‘Naow t’ings caan’t poosibli gat ony wars.’  And just as the druid mumbled his prediction the room began to shake.

Coolly clenching his hemorrhoid, Flann demanded his panicked party members to guide him out of the room, away from the dragons as he had just experienced a case of fright-blindness. Sadly the slick ice proved to be too much for Smuj, Dannis, his dog Frik, and the newly returned Zyf, who had miraculously appeared out of the Astral Plane, looking none the worse for his heroic extra-planar encounter with the demons and acolytes of the most unholy Syn!

As the room rotated further and much of the party began to fall, Flann swiftly cast Featherfall, saving himself and leaving the rest of the party to tumble across the frozen cave floor. The two huge ancient spell-weaving white dragons, now unfrozen, advanced on the hapless heroes. Quintain apparently pled for the company’s life in Draconic, while clutching the valuable pearl to his chest.

The dragons, incensed by his cowardice, sprung to the attack!

Moving with the speed of lightning, Flann wet his trousers valiantly warming much of his nether bits just in case the wyrms breathed their ferocious winter breath!
‘For the Honor of Myn!’ Zyf shouted as his conjured dagger struck its target again and again, occupying the first beast and giving the party a much-needed opportunity to regroup.

‘OH NOES! SMUJ POOPED ’EM!’ yelled the incontinent warrior as he fled the room, overcome by dragonfear.

‘W-w-wait for me Smuj!’ Quintain screamed, holding onto the giant half-orc for dear life. Quintain’s frantic efforts proved a minor hindrance to the doughty, though panicking, barbarian and Smuj quickly broke free and fled. Though far slower than the fair Emma, whose womanly humors were also overcome by the presence of so much sorceror urine.

Flann looked at the display by his cohorts and laughed a big, deep, maniacal guffaw of panic and fear.  ‘SEE YA LATER LIZARD!’ was his battle cry as he flung fireball after fireball into the surrounding icy walls creating a dense fog to hide in.

‘Pew pew!’ retorted the beast’s clutchmate as it nonchalantly flicked Flann with its tiniest claw as it flew by, sending the feeble caster into a nearby wall.

‘What should I do next?’ thought Zyf methodically and logically as he beheaded the flying beast and strode across the icy floor towards the fallen ne’er do well. ‘If only you had one-one thousandth my constitution, grit and moxie, you could have weathered such a measly attack!’

‘Z-z-zyf, I can’t keep this up much longer!’ Shouted Quintain as he flitted here and there, trying vainly to distract the remaining dragon.

SMUJ WILL HELP! OOPS!’ Said Smuj as he slipped and fell into the room.

‘Ah, d’ye naid me haalp? No? Waaall Oi’ll mayke shuuuure dat Frick and de byes is ok!’ said Dannis incomprehensibly, from the other room.

‘Oh no! Not Flann again!’ said Emma for the millionth time during this adventure, sexily sidling up to the powerful dwarf. ‘Wait, Zyf, wait and I’ll give him the coup de grace, so we won’t have to put up with his shenanigans any longer!’

Flann stood up, ‘Ha ha! Not to worry everyone, I have perfected my possum technique! Works nine times out of ten, y’know! Oh, here comes the other one!’ And, danged if he didn’t faint dead away.

‘Fine, you stay here and practice your mime skills,’ commanded the brilliant Zyf, ’I’ll just finish off this pathetic dragon, too.’ And, sure enough, he did. Later saving Emma, Quintain, Smuj and Flann single handedly from some sort of ungodly ice zombies with precise applications of his signature finishing move, The Figure Four Leg Lock.

And didn’t it make you swell with pride to read it? I know it did me.


Part IV: A Giant Fight!

Frigid wastes as far as the eye can see. Flat, cold, unyielding ice stretched out to infinity. Zyf was enjoying a steaming whiz behind a rock when Flann came around the corner and got his robe dampened. “A-a-a thou-thou-thousand apo-po-pologies, sir Zyf,” stammered the bumbling sorceror, ’bu-bu-bu- bu-bu-bu- bu-bu-bu-…" “BUT,” suggested the divinely endowed cleric blessing the rock with his holy water. “But,” continued Flann, “enemies appro-pro-pro-proach from the N-N-North.” Zyf scabbarded his mighty spiritual hammer and called for the others from the makeshift shelter he had designed and built on the unyielding glacier.

“Hmm,” said Zyf peering into the distance as the others assembled around him, “I see two giants, frost giants naturally, and four winter wolves. Prepare yourselves for battle! There’s also a young woman with them, possibly a slave. Try not to kill her Flann, I have questions.”

The group immediately began their preparations. The bard, paladin, axe-man and lady cleric headed off to meet the beasts while Zyf stoically headed north to face down the two frost giants and leaving Flann behind to clean up the morning meal.

Upon seeing the party, the giants released the tethers on their animals and the quartet of ravenous wolves came charging over the ice to meet the party. Zyf ignored the inferior animals and continued his trek towards the giants. The frost giants towered over the snow and ice a full forty feet high. Ice axes and spears held at the ready, the pair quivered in their loins for today they would be facing their judgement. Today a dwarf was coming for them!

Sixty feet away, and Zyf unbound his shield.

Forty feet away, and Zyf drew Myn’s Claw.

Twenty feet away, and a fireball exploded knocking the slave girl unconscious and severely irritating the giants!

Zyf was upon them!
Now the fight. Now the parry. Now the dodge. Now the power of the divine merged seemlessly with the heritage of the dwarf, and the fusion was awesome to behold. It has been said, that in the entire history of this world we live in there have only been a few perfect moments; moments when circumstances and fate intertwine in such a way that the people who witness it are forever changed. The lame walk. The blind see. The wicked are redeemed.

This moment put all of those moments to shame.

Afterwards, the only thing that could truly be said was: it was beyond imagination!

Part III: Mordenkainen’s Not so Magnificent Mansion

Magic, for those of you who are uninitiated to its nuances and subtleties, is like a great jam donut. Its arrival fills us with great delight, but its departure leaves us wanting for more.

Hmm, how about…magic is like a stream of bat’s piss. When all around is dark, it shines out like a shaft of gold.
Still not getting it?

All right then, magic is like a dose of the clap. It starts as something quite pleasureable, but afterwards, it’s just a huge pain in the dong.

Yes, that’s it. Magic is like THAT! (Of course, this refers only to Arcane magic; Divine magic is bestowed by the grace of the goddess, Myn the Traveller; praise her perfect name.)

Which leads me to this chapter in my journal…trapped inside a place that is not.

Zyf had a nightmare, a terrible dream about the demise of his beloved Talons (not Claws, because Talons flows so much better over the tongue and lips).

Emma: gone.
Quintain: gone.
Flann: gone.
Dannis and Frik: gone.
Smuj and Chuck: gone.

Tears of sadness coursed down the mighty cleric’s face and froze in his perfectly coiffed beard. Wrestling with the visions in his head, Zyf came awake in a frozen cage stacked upon other frozen cages. In front of him was yet another cage, this one occupied by a serene human male. In the middle of the floor of this great room stood several of the milky-eyed Norns; they were divvying up a cache of loot. “Wait a moment!” thought Zyf, “That’s MY gear!” Burning with the flames of a thousand righteous suns, Zyf cast a spell that not only released him, but defeated these pesky nuisances, alas, one particularly fell Norn escaped, and during the aftermath slipped out the door to this perplexing prison. Zyf soon realized that he was being carried in a Mordenkainen’s Magnificent Mansion. And though all his base needs were met, there would be no escape until the spell ended.

Zyf returned from exploring the mansion and found more cages containing others from the battle (see  Part 2), Zyf released these new folk and began tending their wounds. Here was a quintet of humans, one female and four males; here a gnome fellow that had been performing at the lodge just a few nights ago, and here FLANN! Flann was alive and for this, Zyf was heartened. Because although Flann is a trying companion, he has been a boon to Zyf and has served the Talons (again, Talons not Claws, because Claws are for grasping and Talons are for rending) well. So, though his heart was heavy for his missing comrades, he was secretly happy to have Flann at his side and these new people, too.

As the newcomers recovered under the care of the powerful cleric, Zyf struck up a conversation with the serene fellow in the cage separate from the rest. “Shall I release you, too, good sir?” asked the humble cleric. “Nay interloper!” responded the man in the cage, “Be gone from me and take your sniveling companions with you or I will surely destroy you all!” Zyf stared down at the angry man, but did not reply. Calling upon his dwarven heritage and clerical studies, he realized that this man was no longer a man, but rather, a host for a heathen spirit that would soon consume him. “It is against my goddess’ code to strike down this creature when all it does is bluster and threat,” thought Zyf, “however, I will be forever vigilant for any sign of treachery.”

Days passed.
More days passed.
Still more days passed.

Finally, the spell began to waver. “Now is the time,” said Zyf, “for us to be prepared. Soon the last vestiges of this foul arcane magic will disperse and we will be on the battlefield with our captors, be ready!” Suddenly, a scream from inside the room containing the caged man! Zyf rushed forward and found that the serene man was dead. His body consumed by the spirit that lived within, but there was one of the pike-men from the battle and his eyes glowed with an unholy light! “No! I am too late!” For once, Zyf had failed to arrive in time. Moving with an inhuman speed, the pike-man bounded out of the open door and was gone! The magic of the mansion prevented the party from leaving, but soon enough, the spell would be at an end.

Zyf arranged his companions into a fighting wedge and prepared them as best he could. Down came the spell and winter’s frigid wind engulfed them all. In the driving snow there was little to be seen, but on one end of the battlefield, the pike-man, on the other, a wizard, between them stood Zyf, Flann and the others.

The pike-man moved toward the group and began to change, his body growing and stretching and changing into a huge man-wolf. Zyf focused his attention on the mage and cast a spell of silence, rendering him impotent in the upcoming battle. Turning to the hulking brute, Zyf charged into the fray.

The beast was strong. Zyf was strong.
The beast was powerful. Zyf was powerful.
The beast was infused with dire magicks. Zyf was infused with the blessings of Myn!

The fight lasted mere moments. The beast was destroyed, it’s terrible spirit released to the wintry moon above the battlefield. Hastening toward the wizard, Zyf saw tracks running away from the fight, typical really of a wizard.
The new group searched for a place to spend the night. Outside of the magical mansion, the northern climate was not very comfortable to the others in the party; Zyf found it invigorating. But tonight, he slept well. And his dreams were of finding his old friends, Zyf’s Talons (because Claws is for fornicators of animals).


Part II: Snow-Demon Hordes!

The snow demons howled on the icy plain; their horrible cries rising in crescendo above the battle that raged between them and the humans. Two companies of pike-men, supported by arcane magic, strode forward slowly on the treacherous ground. Loping over the slick surface, the snow demons’ claws found easy purchase giving them superior foot work. Not to be deterred, the pike-men lowered their weapons to meet the oncoming horde.

Zyf surveyed the approaching goblins and directed Smuj to support the right flank. Emma, with her fae bow, could cover both sides of the battle. Quintain had gone forward to reconnoiter and was due to report back momentarily. Flann stood near the narrow entrance to the flat snowy plain and prepared to direct his chaotic energies at the main host of the goblin army. Unbeknownst to any of the Talons, except for their wise leader, Zyf, devoted of Myn, the flat icy plain was really a huge frozen lake and its surface was far more fragile than it appeared.

The battle began in earnest and the usually sure footed Emma slipped unceremoniously and slid down a slight grade right into the heart of battle. Not one to let his Talon-mate face such horror alone, Smuj followed right behind here, and also slipped his way down. It was up to Zyf, cleric of the travelling goddess, Myn, to sort them out, first, a spell to allow Smuj sure-footedness and another for Emma to be able to walk upon the water itself. Just then, Flann, in a typical chaotic blunder, unleashed his arcane magicks on the goblins, fire exploded in a dazzling display, killing many of the goblins, but wreaking enormous damage on the ice covering as well. Not one to stop there, Flann continued his devastating, yet ill-advised, tactic peppering the goblins with fireball after fireball. When he was done, the ice sheet covering the lake was decimated making it hazardous to both foe and friend alike.

Lost in the ejaculation of his power, Flann prepared to cast another spell at the goblins, yet he did not see the goblins above him in the mountains causing the snow packed heights to cascade down upon him and the rest of the reserves in an avalanche of destruction. Again, it was up to Zyf, cleric, leader and master tactician, to rescue the bumbling mage from a frigid tomb. Harnessing the gift of his lady, Myn, Zyf plunged into the snow desperately searching for his charge. Pulling the mewling sorcerer free, Zyf, heroic preserver of life, flew to the opposite side of the plain and just as he was about to heal his whimpering, shivering friend, the goblin leader emerged from the frozen lake and attacked.

What to do?
Defeat the goblin leader and let Flann to die or heal Flann and take the brunt of the goblin brute’s attack!
There was only one choice for Zyf, dagger-master and healer, do both!

A quick healing cast on Flann provided enough sustaining magic for the frail sorcerer to survive the next few moments and then Zyf, the benevolent and just, flew at the goblin leader! A dagger thrust between the oaf’s meaty ribs was all it took before the goblin burst into flames and died! Alas, treachery! The one-eyed frozen Norns of the north were in cahoots with the goblins and saw mighty Zyf’s heroics; and they were sorely afraid. How can one defeat a living legend? How indeed? The use of terrible arcane magicks combined with their relentless hatred of life, and they dropped the entire MOUNTAIN upon Zyf, the humble and unassuming, and Flann.

Fortunately, the goddess Myn did not abandon her child this day for he survived, but was taken captive by his prodigious enemies.


Part I: The story so far


Bound by simple desires, the wandering group known as Zyf’s Talons, sought to spread the word of the glories of Myn to the Wyld lands. Here, the old ways hold reign; the Imperium strives to impose its will on the local populations and, by doing so, place the shackles of ‘civilization’ on these noble savages. For their part, the indigenous peoples did not resist the shining invaders quickly enough and they soon found that civilization often comes at a steep price.

Zyf and his cohort found themselves in the Wyld lands, in the Avitian city of Evenfall. Recent incursions from the Tuathan city, Tentail, had grown to such a head that reinforcements were being called in from across the ocean. The local population was leaving in droves and the church leadership was usurped by the power hungry acolytes of the self-acclaimed God-Emperor. Only Duke Merrick Agornius, a humble cleric of the Alamar, and the Marquis d’Ceravos, the reigning governor, stood up to these hardships. Fortunately for them, and for all of you, Zyf’s Talons had arrived.

Led by the noble Zyf, a devoted cleric of Myn, the adventuring party quickly gathered a well-deserved reputation as a group that could get the job done. They did not play ‘politics’, rather they drove to the heart of a problem and solved it with sword and sorcery or might and magic or good old fashioned diplomacy…at the end of a dagger point. They were the group that defeated the demon-mayor of the swamp. They were the ones that rescued the fair maidens from the clutches of the goblin hordes. They were the ones who felled the mighty dragons in the fight for the star-rock. Whether being called upon to right the wrongs of a poor farmer or standing firm in the face of extra-planar beings, Zyf (and his group) lead the charge for righteousness.

Recently, and through no fault of Zyf or the party that bears his name, the days have been growing ever shorter, shorter even than usual in these northern wintry climes. Taking it upon himself to investigate these strange happenings, Zyf found evidence of a vast conspiracy being perpetrated on the denizens of the Wyld continent, a conspiracy so vast, that the bottomless gorge of Sunderbreak would appear as but a pin hole in comparison.