Wood (by Brannon
As told by Cestus
Morningside, Gondsman of Ironhearth
unknowns of the Outlands, berk? Suren I've seen 'em...
Been all through 'em, with the scars ta match!" The
golden-red bearded dwarf chuckles to himself, fingering a
large scar on his thick forearm. "Suren, I tell ye of
one, fer a drink, that is. No, no, none of that swill...
Give me some REAL drink lad! How's about some Ysgardian
Honeyroot? Now that's a drink fer ya!
dwarf takes a long pull and finishes with a great
smacking of his bearded lips. "Now, where was I? Oh,
suren, the tale to tell... Well, ya see, me an Jo'tasz
Ringweaver, an old friend o' mine, a spell-slinger by
trade, were heading back to our kip in the Outlands, a
place by the name o' Ironhearth. We had some mighty
high-up chant fer Kalinor - that's Ironhearth's founder -
that we had picked up in Tradegate. It was top-notch that
we make it back a'fore nightfall, 'cause ya know how the
Outlands can get at night, and, like I said, this was
as I am sittin' a'fore ya, the darkness came on quicker
than I had ever seen it, and we soon found ourselves
wanderin' through th' inky night. We ran amongst a copse
o' trees that we had never seen the like o' before, their
forms outlined by a flashin', silent lightening that had
blown up suddenly with a pack o' storm clouds. The trees
were squat an' stumpy, with their branches all a-hangin'
down to the ground and thick knots on the bottoms of 'em.
The air around us took on a heavy feel to it, and it
began harder and harder to keep our feet from stumblin'.
We were considerin' headin' back when we heard the
like a barrel o' banshees, it did, and I tell ya, berk,
that my whiskers stood out on end. We followed the sounds
o' moanin', and they led us to an sparse opening in the
trees. My friend, there we saw somethin' that could scare
the beak right off'n a vrock. All about the lightly
wooded clearin' there were dozens of armoured sods, lying
on the ground moanin' low-like. Most of 'em were nearly
skeletons, with their skin stretched tightly over their
gaunt faces. Other's limbs had withered away, although
the shrunken stumps still flopped feebly. Not many of 'em
were dead, but a-many of 'em were ringing the bell at
Hades' Gate, suren. We could see tiny two-legged critters
that looked like a twisted cross between a crane and a
bad dream stalkin' around th' bodies, peckin' lazily.
They must'a caught wind of us, or heard us, mayhaps,
'cause they flitted off into the trees as quickly as
some cutters might not think that this was all that
scary, but you had to see it. The strange thing was that
none of the bashers were bound and none appeared badly
wounded It's just like they were a-lyin' there, waitin'
ta die, just witherin' and wastin' away. They seemed to
have all of their equipment, weapons, even full 'skins!
Jo'tasz and I entered th' clearin', and the air seemed
even heavier inside the clearin' than it did in the wood.
It was like havin' an ogre's foot in yer back.
here we go, a stumblin' over the massive, gnarled, knobby
roots and through th' heavy air and all, tryin' to help
these poor sods. It's only then that we begin to learn
the dark of things. We find that we can't get 'em up
off'a the ground a-cause of their armour! The parts that
weren't covered in metal could move, but if ye had so
much as a steel ring on yer belt, or a helm on yer head,
then that part was stuck to the ground like ugly to a
with me bein' a priest of Gond and all, and with Jo'tasz
bein' a spell-slinger, we were not drug down like the
others. My tools, ye say? Humph! Well, I hadn't really
thought about 'till now, but I guess them bein' blessed
by Gond helped a bit... You're quite the smart cutter,
aye? Another clue to th' puzzle, if'n ya ask
Jo'tasz an' me start pullin' the sods out, one at a time,
strippin' 'em out'f their armour. We pull out the more
healthy lookin' bashers out first, thinkin' that if any
trouble arises, mayhaps they could help us better'n th'
others. Good decision. Gond's skilful hand was in that
one, suren, 'cause just as soon as we pull out the sixth
cutter, the ground begins ta shake...
don't get me wrong, cutter, I was mor'n happy to stand
right there and clash an' clatter, if need be, but
Jo'tasz reminded me of the sods we'd saved, as well as
our uncompleted mission to Ironhearth. He said there'd be
another day. We lit out like a pack o' halflin's to a
soup wagon, and ne're looked back.
took us twice th' time to make it back to Ironhearth, and
along the way, we lost two of the bloods. It was like
they just lost the will ta live, and dropped dead in
their tracks. The other's didn't say nuthin', just kept
ploddin' on, where e'er we steered 'em. The poor sods
ne'er recovered, if'n ya ask me.
they didn't talk much, and the one time that we mentioned
the whole affair to 'em, we almost lost 'em again. They
started a-twitchin' like a pinned-downed gnomes and
frothin' at th' mouth. After that, we let it
decided that some further investigation was needed, so me
and Jo' lead a small party of Ironhearth's Shield Wall
out. An' I tell, ya berk, them's some tough bashers,
suren... We searched fer weeks, but ne'er found any trace
o' that weird wood.
Oh, me scar, aye? Ah, ya want to know how that came
about, eh? Well, that's another story, blood, an' it'll
cost ye another drink!"
Icons (by Center of
As told by the
was wandering through the Outlands, a bit lost, I admit,
when I came upon some poor sod in a field. He was
bleeding from numerous wounds, and obviously dying. When
he saw me, he started babbling, begging me to take him
away before 'they' found him. I figured he was barmy, but
he'd caught my curiosity, so I asked him who 'they' were.
He glanced around, as if expecting one of 'them' to jump
out at him at any second, then whispered "The
decided, since it was getting late, to spend the night in
the field. In the morning, when I woke up, the sod was
gone, with a trail of blood leading off Spireward. It was
far too interesting a mystery for me not to
a while, I came to a huge clearing, filled with statues
that were so large that they seemed, from my view point,
to rise higher than anything in the Land but the Spire.
It was amazing that I hadn't seen them before. The trail
of blood led straight to the one nearest me. As I got
closer, I could make out runes at the base of the statue,
though they weren't in any language I recognised. As I
was examining it, I happened to glance up.
face of the statue was that of the poor sod I'd
to say, I made my exit as quickly as possible, before the
'icons' caught me too. Who knows what was going on there?
Another mystery of the planes that will remain
there, Blood. Think you know the dark of the Rilmani?
Well you don't know nothing, Berk! You needing a little
chant on the Rilmani? Maybe I'll let you a peek of my
diary for a little garnish...."
was taken a little trip through the Outlands, with my
"favourite" Modron companion, Post. We were walking
through a particularly hot and dry part of the Outlands.
We had departed Xaos weeks ago, and because of the heat,
tempers were rising...
you walk any faster, you Square? This heat's melting my
beard off, here!"
is illogical, Gnome:Flabio. The material that your
"beard" is composed of cannot be melted by this low
degree of temperature. You organic beings are so frail
and slow, compared to us Modrons. I am merely matching my
pace to yours, so you will not be left alone to fend off
the dangers of the Outlands. I was assigned to you, to
keep you out of trouble. And I am NOT a
was that, Square..."
am not a square. A square is a two dimensional object,
possessing only a length and a width. I am 3 dimensional,
for I possess a height in addition to the other two
dimensions. I am closer to what you would call a cube,
and I also possess a name, Modron:Post. I will not be
reminding you of this fact, again."
you going to do 'bout it, square?"
had had enough. A metallic appendage began to appear from
Post's usually square...errr....cubelike body. I
materialised my staff, and prepared to do combat. I held
my staff in front of me, and muttered some arcane words,
bracing for Post's wrath, but suddenly, Post's attention
was taken by something else. In the distance was a lone
figure, a Rilmani! An Argenach, to be exact. He
approached us, and took a glancing look at us. Seeing how
Post was Lawful-neutral, and I being chaotic good, he
decided we were not a threat. He looked us over again,
and turned around and walked away. A Rilmani, this is
what we had come here for. I wasn't about to let him walk
I called out.
Argenach turned around, to look at me. His skin gleamed
in the bright light of the Outlands (still can't get used
to not having a sun here).
is it that you desire, Gnome?" the Rilmani questioned.
His voice sounded of a gently moving river, but also of
the crashing waves of a waterfall.
come for an audience...with a Aurumach!" I spurted
Argenach laughed, with his silvery voice.
ha ha ha! Begone you fool, I would not know where an
Aurumach is, and even if I did, he would not desire an
audience with such lowly creatures as you.
that, he turned around, and continued to walk off into
the desert, until he disappeared. Now I, for one, wasn't
happy. Post however, had not said anything during the
Rilmani encounter. I began to grow worried about my
okay, Post old buddy? You aren't still mad at me about
that "square" incident, are you?"
course not, Gnome:Flabio! Now be quiet, I am picking up a
faint trace of the Argenach's magical energy."
as Sigil, there was a path right underneath our noses. I
was embarrassed not to have found it myself. I promised
myself, that from now on, I would listen more closely to
what Post was saying. We followed the path, until we saw
a town in the distance. The path veered off to the left,
but we decided to check out the town, instead.
town was pretty plain, and rather small, as towns went.
Everything seemed to be neutral here, every move that was
made by a villager, was counteracted by another villager.
The population of this village seemed all to be
nondescript humanoids. There were children playing in the
streets, and mothers and fathers, and even a few
merchants and artists. One such villager, a guide,
offered us his services (while another such guide ended
his contract with two travellers, a Slaad and a
we garnished him a bit (quite a bit) he showed us around
the town, which was pretty unremarkable, except for some
exciting spots, which were of course, counteracted, by
some of THE most ugly and boring buildings we had ever
seen. This town was called Concordia, the guide explained
see, this town is located near the centre of the
Outlands. As a consequence, everything here is neutral,
and is quite balanced."
questioned him about the Argenach we had seen earlier.
The guide laughed at me, with an unnervingly silver
ha ha ha. We are quite close to the Spire, which is only
a few rings from here, and Rilmani pass by quite
frequently, although they rarely actually visit
all this was quite logical, and convincing, too
convincing, one might say. Everything seemed so balanced
here, yet a gut feeling was telling me
had taken a good look around the town, and it was time to
leave. Before we left, I asked if the guide knew of any
Rilmani settlements around here.
ha ha ha." the guide gave me his silvery laugh again.
"There are no such things as "Rilmani settlements. Have
you ever heard of any berks travelling the Outlands, and
stumbling across a Rilmani town? No. The Rilmani are a
nomadic race, their only settlements, the black towers of
the Ferrumach. Now, if you'll be leaving, I have other
business to attend. Xaos is a few weeks walk from
guide pointed his finger roughly south-east, then
prepared to take on another job, this time for an aasimar
and a lower-tanari'i. I had seen stranger things.
Disappointed, that our mission was a failure, I slumped
my shoulders and prepared to endure the gruelling walk
back to Xaos, when suddenly...
Magic" Post whispered into my ear.
I wasn't about to question Post again, so I followed
through with the incantation, although I was a bit
confused as to why. However, as the last of my words
rolled off my tongue, something went horribly wrong.
Since we were so close to the centre, my Magik went awry,
and ended up casting detect magic, instead of
dispel. This, however, was exactly what Post had
intended me to cast.
seemed to go purple, then fade away. The town seemed
exactly the same as it was before, except, this time,
there were two black towers erected on both sides of the
town. That, and the fact that the entire town's
population was Rilmani! Our guide had been an Rilmani,
all along! The children and mothers on the street were
all Plumachs, even the aasimar and tanar'ri.
I stood there gaping, Post whispered to me
Cuprilachs had come out of the local bar, and were
heading this way, with several poisoned blades and arrows
poised at us. We could never hope to outrun them, nor
their weapons. We were doomed.
yelled one of the cuprilachs, and sent forth a storm of
didn't have enough time to react to even cast a simple
shielding spell, and I closed my eyes, in anguish. That
was when Post wrapped reality and logic around us, and we
found ourselves back in Sigil. I was dazed, and even Post
seemed a little paler than usual. Or maybe that was just
the because of all the fog and plumes that were
characteristic of Sigil. As we made our trek back to
headquarters, I couldn't help but wonder where the
Argenach had disappeared to. Maybe that legendary city
that is said to exist under the Spire, but then again, I
ain't no Mimir, Berk!