Banestorm - Through the Fire

The rebirth of Abdul Malik, ditch digger.

This small mirror I purchased in the market is occupying an inordinate amount of my time. The master will be displeased if my enchanting quotas are not met.

As an ur-baron in Megalos, I only saw my reflection during official banquets or important meetings with the city officials. The upkeep of my appearance was delegated solely to my valet, who fawned over every hair on my mustache as if I was a painting to be gifted to an archbishop of the Curia. I suspect my Megalan enemies have thrown the poor boy into one of the very dungeons of that well fed and bejeweled cabal. My grandfather’s expression “blood from a turnip,” comes to mind when I think of my poor valet’s fate.

My daydreams are now supplanted by the fascination I have with the black hair on my arms and the darkness of my skin. Sadly, the rumors about an arab cock seem not to be true in the case of my new body.

The events that led up to my transformation seemed, if I was not skeptical, purely driven by providence. The powerful magics of the mages guild seem more likely. Philosophical discussions of the origins of those powers are a waste of precious time. More specifically I can point to the work of Castini, Tredroy’s master of mind control and my own master as the hands who saved me from oblivion.

I say oblivion because I was not spared death, nor the pain that came with it. Oblivion nor proof of my atheistic beliefs did not wait for me on the other side of Charon’s river. I, Kuranes, and I continue to remind myself I am Kuranes. I am now an eighteen year old arab ditch digger named Abdul Malik who barely escaped a madness brought on by the magical process of rebirth. Within a slight sliver of the finite divide which lays between human consciousnesses, the Master became the undead monster the Abrahamic religions have used to scare their children. My weapons to fight these priests of ignorant fear were only my experience and reason. As my being became accustomed to its new raven haired home, I smote these ignorant fears conjured by the foolish nannies of my childhood.

Foolish, of course, might be one way to describe my hubris in feeling safe from the dogs of the fiendish imperial court. Stupid is how I describe my failure to learn a counter to any scrying magics. Lessons are learned I suppose.

I would rather have seen Argon Nimblefingers or the Emperor’s whore the day I decided to officially become a citizen of Tredroy. Instead, Jordan Seigebreaker reared his ugly Christian head. In the ensuing diplomatic mess, I volunteered my former life to spare the city and the mage’s guild from war with the Emperor’s legions.

And now I have brown skin, eyes and hair as black as the souls of necromancers who haunt the dreams and dark nights of the Abrahamic fools.

The Trial of the Applicants

I wake to a splitting headache and the bizarre man or woman, I’m not sure, whom I foolishly checked for magic retains his motionless stature. For a moment, I am laying on the tatami mat, back in Sahud. Only now the faces of two children, a dark man in a turban, and a lizard man eating live vermin from a bag float above me like perplexed clouds of dizzying colors.

Sanjay, the Arab, helps me up and the flower named girl wipes the blood away from my nose. I must leave this place or I will surely go mad.

I don’t know how long I’ve been here, since I left my room at the Valley Inn this morning. I met a water mage named Andy who helped me get to the Mage’s Guild. Walking through the exotic Al-Wazifi section of Tredroy, he points out various landmarks including the dreaded Imperial Embassy of Megalos. I imagine Jordan Seigebreaker inside, planning my murder in the service of the demon Emperor.

I dust myself off and head out the doorway, which instantly changes into the busy reception hall, populated with robed students with varying stripes of different colors circled along their arms. Mages of all colleges hawk various magical wares to customers who seem to come from around the world.

“Congratulations apprentice,” a long bearded Arab approaches me, his hand extended, “I am El-Adeen, Arch Magus of Weather.”

“Weather?” I ask myself, half believing he can read my mind.

Tredroy, the City of Three Laws

Tredroy, I choose, Tredroy, the City of Three Laws. The captain of our fine vessel gave me one of the few choices I’ve had in the past four years and the most cosmopolitan city in all of known Yrth is where I go.

The city has changed hands many times throughout its history and now is sliced between three nations; Cardiel, Al-Wazif, and Al-Haz. I’m looking forward to putting my Arabic to good use.

As we come into port, I can see strange temples with spires topped with golden onions. Strange prayers waft across the concave shores of these two vast rivers which split this city like a pie for a hungry triumvirate. The salty smell in my nose is replaced with rich incense and unknown spices.

I spend the bulk of my time scribing the air spells which were taught to me. Another mage replaces me and kindly uncovers what I later discover is magus imposter trying to swindle me of either my money or my knowledge.

I am paid, quite handsomely, for my two years of service on the sea. I find an inn with the finest bed I’ve laid in in four long years.

June 6th, 1943

Awareness of the calendar has come back to me, thanks to the captain of this ship!

I find myself in a prison of a different sort. My days are spent on a merchant vessel, filling sails with a magical wind. When the winds give me a reprieve I learn the art of sea-fairing from the crew and the captain.

Shamus, my vassal and knight, enjoys his time on this ship. It was only through the crew calling his name that I remembered his awkward moniker. He finds solace and rehabilitation in his daily tasks here, cleaning the deck, hoisting the sails, and carousing with the crew. I’m beginning to see him come back into focus, the haze of our imprisonment fading like the morning fog cleared by the afternoon sun. He will be released from my service. I would very much like to put everything behind me.

My time not working is spent learning the strange language of the crew and alternatively pitting my quarterstaff against the small compliment of armed mercenaries the captain employs for the occasional pirate attack. I am now able to parry most of their attacks. Of course, they aren’t the wretched Knights Templar who forced us to flee into the fringes of oblivion.

Winter, 1942

It is now a year and a day since Stampford and Nimblefingers’ souls were imprisoned and their bodies sucked dry of life and left as walking corpses. I know this because the cold has returned and so has Wen-Jien promising my release.

A year and a day since I was invited to be a “guest” of the Heaven King. A year and a day of meditation, folding paper into tiny beasts and painting black symbols on yellowed parchment. A year and a day of learning to navigate the rocky shores they call a culture.

I cannot say this feels real to me, as nothing that has happened to me in the past two years seems real to me. It is just as it is. I suppose I can point to the meditation for this distinctly alien outlook.

Out of the mist of these last days in Sahud, comes a hazy vision of a lizard pulling pieces of Nimblefingers from my memory. I can only assume its going to pilfer the vile ankle-biter’s fortunes. So be it. May that line end and forever be as used and barren as an aged whore.

Spells to navigate and aid a sea fairing ship are taught to me, and I teach spells in return. For two years I am to be a sailor and use my magic to blow a ship around the vast sea. To keep me from jumping ship, I will not be paid my salary until the end of the voyage. The captain is not a fool, which is reassuring.

With great gladness I look forward to leaving behind my circus of paper animals and my inked black characters. While my meditations have kept me quite sane, I am not the same person who ran from Quartadec with that band of idiots. How different, I cannot quite say.

My vassal is here at the port with me and yet he served me for several years, his name has been removed from my head like the fading memory of far off lullaby. He is off and there is something missing from his look. I suspect the same is true for me. Something missing yet I don’t know or don’t remember what it was.

We board our new home and I remember that feeling joy is like a swim on a sweltering summer’s day. I will find these winter months on the sea infinitely more enjoyable than a year and a day of Sahud.

Spring, I assume 1942

A still water stretches out, eternally from my consciousness. Wen-Jien brought me this gift of meditation, perhaps sensing the struggle within me. Instead of a burning hatred, I simply dislike this place, this prison where I shall be kept for a year and a day. Simple, manageable, dislike. Sahud has become nothing more to me than a buzzing fly which, for now, I choose not to crush.

Wen-Jien, is an adequate teacher. H does remind me of the vapid despicable Nimblefingers. A fitting end he and Stampford received; souls ripped into jars to suffer eternal boredom. Their transformations will be a day of celebration when I liberate this world from the injustices of feudalism.

I return to still water and the soothing memories of Pachelbel and the Quartadec Philharmonic.

November? Perhaps December, 1941

Every single note. I hear every single precious note of the Bach Goldberg variation numbered seven. Every note builds a refuge where I am in Quartadec, listening to her piano instead of the shrieking music of this repulsive foreign land. One minor hair out of place could earn me the highest dishonor in the black eyes of the Heaven King.

I spend my days as a some sort of child-prisoner, dismally folding paper after wretched paper into all manner of animals. A twisted parade of miniature cranes, elephants, and butterflies coat the straw floor of my prison. I ache to crush them all and burn the room, the house, the town, this nation to the ground.

I want to skin their children as they watch and turn their flesh into paper cranes which I shall feed to Megalan hounds.

Never in my life have I had more hatred and disgust for a people and their ways. This cannot subsume my eternal work of undead liberation. I must find some driftwood that I may cling to in this tortuous river of banality.

The incomplete record of the long dead past

Chapter One
The Party Meets

…wherein they hear the falling of the wall, the death of the Royals and have a less than enjoyable day in a ghetto…


The Breach Horn is sounded, and is heard by one and all indicating that the Northerners have breached The Emperor’s Wall and the North of Megalos is now indefensible, Kuranes Lovecraft in charge of magical defenses.

The templars are approach Kuranes Lovecraft to assist with the societal defense of the city against minority witchcraft. During that time demon clouds came and Giants invaded the city. He assisted in gathering the magical community.

Shamus, already in the service of ur-Baron Kuranes Lovecraft both head to the Jewish Ghetto to arrest a Jew and kill any accomplices (Writs of Executions were provided and Writ of Seizure for the property were provided) suspected of treason on behalf of a member of this Inquisition.

Scarlett Burgandy, believing she may be suffering from a womanly affliction heads towards the home of the midwife,Eleanoor

Argon Nimblefingers V and his manservant having recently escaped from North, above The Emperor’s Wall, confer at the famous Nimblefingers Barrow and then decide to head to the Jewish Ghetto in Quartedec to retrieve some of his lost monies…

Stampford heads towards the city of Quartedec, where he’s been hired to protect the rich socialite halfling, Argon Nimblefingers V.

They meets at the mid-wife’s house when a sound not heard for hundred of years is heard

The group is locked in the Jewish Ghetto, as attacks are audible from the Northern village of Baran, as any undesirables are detained in a period of National Emergency.

A release of the ghetto seems to be almost allowed, but a closer attack results in the ghetto being locked down once more.

Noise is heard outside the House of Eleanoor and there is a knock at the door.

The doors are bashed in and chaos erupts.

Chapter Two
The Players Run

…wherein they exit said ghetto and sail across a lake with Dwarven enemies only meet nefarious fiends…

the guards burst down the doors

getting out of the ghetto

Shamus weird attack stuck in the alley

beat feet to the docks

Stampford’s weird dwarf – had sex with the girlfriend of one of the dwaves.

Got out to the island – no name boat handler

Stampford got wound frozen in time for a geas

Kuranes Lovecraft requests an audience – dwarf requests to be saved by Kuranes Lovecraft

Still on the island

Chapter Three
The Players run to Sahud

‘If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have
done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will
be on their own heads.’ (Leviticus 20:13)

Each one of the party, aside from Shamus, must make a deal with the emissary to the Necromancer’s aisle. Once all the deals have been made, we’re free to go. Stampford realizes his debt to the dwarves has been paid with a spike to the brain of said dwarves. Lucky for him, but still unlucky since he leaves with only his zombie disease frozen, not cured.

When our adventurers return to Quartadec, they find Scarlett Burgandy is being held by the Templars. Shamus, in a seething blood rage, wants to attack the Templars alone. Kuranes Lovecraft convinces Shamus this would be utter suicide and cooler heads prevail. Kuranes Lovecraft is beginning to believe that Shamus has some sort of brain disease which makes him irrational. Further study will be required.

Meanwhile, Scarlett Burgandy uses magic of her own to escape to the grand hall, but is easily discovered when she comically wears a Templar suit of chain over her petite frame.

Kuranes Lovecraft believes the Templars are influenced by a demon and wants Scarlett Burgandy and her unborn child killed. The ur-baron, now wearing his Ministry of Serendipity ring and robes, uses some secret leverage on Jordan Siegebreaker, the Templar leader, and secures the release of Scarlett Burgandy and her unborn child. Seigebreaker vows to hunt down this unkown Minister of Serendipity and calmly memorizes his face. This causes Kuranes Lovecraft to believe the only place safe for the Princess is going to be Sahud where Templar power is greatly diminished.

Another Minister of Serendipity teleports the party to the other side of the Baran River and the Barbarian hordes, to a town where Stampford is able to secure the services of an Araterre sailing vessel. He also gets his zombie disease cured by this fellow. That’s all we’ll say about that.

The rest of the voyage is on the boat where Kuranes Lovecraft learns Ogre, Stampford is the admiral, and Shamus continues to show signs of some brain disease. Scarlett Burgandy rests and recuperates with the help of Kuranes Lovecraft’s magic and her Jewish mid-wife, Eleanoor spends most of the ride in some sort of trance.

Argon Nimblefingers V is a self-centered ass who is nowhere to be found.

Chapter Four
The Players Land on the Shores of the Northern Wastes

June, 1941, The High Seas Off the Coast of the Nomad Lands

The Adventurers spend a month at sea. Kuranes Lovecraft, Eleanoor, and Scarlett Burgandy spend most of the time nursing their sea sickness. Shamus spends time on deck practicing his sword play with the sailors. Due to the cold sea air,Kuranes Lovecraft’s knees ache andEleanoor kindly works the pain out with her naturopathic skills.

The sailors show a bit of reverence for the Jewish Healer. Their protestant ways go unnoticed by Kuranes Lovecraft because he spends most of his days working the pain out of his knees and heeding the call of the Walrus over the side of the ship.

As we turn the coastline into the Fimbulsee , the crew needs to replenish supplies and anchors the ship at northern peninsula where massive floating ice mountains loom on the northern horizon.

Knowing how detestable the Northern barbarians are,Kuranes Lovecraft decides to stay on the ship despite longing for solid ground and a settled stomach. Unfortunately, Scarlett Burgandy’s curiosity gets the better of her and she disappears. The crew notices her ten hour absence and notifies Stampford who organizes a search party consisting of Kuranes Lovecraft, Shamus, and Eleanoor.

As they land ashore, they notice a unnatural swirling red clouds above a large plateau, where the large stones of a Druid shrine can be seen. Despite having no skill in climbing they decide to traverse the rocky path up. Kuranes Lovecraft ascends about twenty-five feet before he loses his footing and begins to fall. Shamus, protecting his lord, valiantly tries to grab him, succeeds, but is pulled off the cliff face with him. They plunge to the rocks below, but fortunately aren’t injured.

Eleanoor, filled with the bravery of her vengeful god, ascends to the top where she interrupts a powerful Druidic ritual. Attempting to subdue the druids, she inadvertently supplants the quarter century protection ritual with a sleep spell causing every living being in the Nomad Lands to fall into a deep magical slumber.

She wakes the Princess, Scarlett Burgandy who bumbled her way into the becoming the ritual sacrifice. They travel down the path and wake Kuranes Lovecraft and Shamus. The Princess is sure she has been raped by the heathens and demands they all be put to death. Kuranes Lovecraft sites Deuteronomy 13:13-16:

‘If you hear that in one of the towns, there are men who are telling people to go and worship other gods, it is your duty to look into the matter and examine it. If it is proved and confirmed, you must put the inhabitants of that town to the sword.’

The bible clearly states these heathens must be put to death, and Shamus goes to work. Because of the powerful effects of the twisted sleep spell, their deaths are not instantaneous. Kuranes Lovecraft realizes they can be drained of intelligence and has Shamus carry two heads with him. Kuranes Lovecraft, after performing his spells becomes more intelligent than he has ever dreamed. He can merely think of a spell and it come to pass, with no cost of mana to himself.

Meanwhile, Eleanoor wakes all the Lutheran sailors who spy Shamus doing the Lord’s work, are appalled, mutiny, and begin to pull anchor and leave the rest of the Princess’ party behind.

When Kuranes Lovecraft, Scarlett Burgandy, and the now blood soaked Shamus arrive at the ship, they are quickly arrested. Kuranes Lovecraft commands the new captain to jump off the ship into the icy water in protest of their mutiny. It appears as though Stampford has also mutinied and he too suddenly jumps in the icy water. Realizing the crew has now trained many crossbows on him, Kuranes Lovecraft accedes to the arrest and the only true Christians on the ship are shackled in the brig.

The Princess Scarlett Burgandy, Kuranes Lovecraft, and Shamus, now below, see oil being poured down into the brig. Stampford arrives and commands Kuranes Lovecraft to get back in his shackles. Kuranes Lovecraft commands Stampford to release their shackles and ready a raft and allow the captives to escape. He goes up and informs the crew of his decision to release the prisioners and they light the oil on fire. The Princess deftly uses her shape fire to force the fire back up to the deck and the sails light on fire.

Stampford declares “abandon ship” and the sailors leave the boat in the life boats. Kuranes Lovecraft commands ten sailors to return to the ship and take them to shore. Once ashore, he commands the heathen sailors to “go home” and they do, several of the mermen jump into the ocean and presumably swim back to their godless underwater kingdoms.

Stuck in the Nomad Lands, the Princess Scarlett Burgandy, Kuranes Lovecraft, and Shamus spend the night in a trapper’s hovel. They recover some magical cloaks of warmth from the Druids and begin a slow trek through the frozen wastes, arriving at several towns over the course of two weeks.

Meanwhile, Eleanoor is under the custody of Stampford and his heathen crew. They somehow make it to Sahud and Stampford’s weak will forces him to succumb to the tortures of the Sahudese and he gives up the supposed location of the rest of the party.

A Sahudese scrying ritual uncovers the location of the Princess’ party and a Wu-Jen opens a portal and invites them to Sahud.

Recovering from their time in the frozen wastes, the Princess Scarlett Burgandy, Kuranes Lovecraft, and Shamus are greeted by Mitsume Ya who informs them they are to be held ransom in Sahud or be tortured for eighteen days. They chose the ransom.

Several days pass and Kuranes Lovecraft is teaching the Princess the basics of the Sahudese language. Suddenly, the door opens to their shoin-zukuri and in walks [[:akio,-eye-of-the-heavenhing | Akio, Eye of The HeavenKing]], Shadow Warrior with Argon Nimblefingers V. He is being charged with crimes against Sahud and brazenly asks for an audience with the Heavenking which is a grave insult. He is hauled off and tortured for a few days before he volunteers his seneschal as a replacement for his torture trial.

Akio also notices that Shamus is afflicted with some sort of sleep disease and is taken off to be quarantined.

The Princess’ party learns there is some sort of tournament to be held, of which they are to be combatants. They call this the tournament of Na which happens every sixty years.

Isumi Asamu, the lord of the town in which the party is staying comes and offers to sponsor them in the tournament. Argon Nimblefingers V insults the lord and he relinquishes his offer. The Princess, now two and a half months pregnant, begins to strangle the halfling, not really half heartedly.

Chapter Five
16th of August, 1941

The adventurers discover the name of the city they are in is called Ah, where the games are being held. The city is filled with great fan fair for the coming tourney.Argon Nimblefingers V stops one of the locals and mentions we’re participants in the tourney which elicits great excitement and an invitation to dinner. A crowd gathers and is quickly dispersed by a hail of arrows from the town guards.

We’re taken to the home of Hiritaki, who Argon Nimblefingers V determines is just as rich as he is. The princess introduces herself as royalty and I (Kuranes Lovecraft) don’t, which leads me to get several whippings to the chagrin of Shamus.

Jordan Seigebreaker shows up at Eleanoor place and is looking for me. Apparently the Orcs and Dwarves are invading Megalos through Zarak while Caithness is neutral in the war.

Eleanoor is summoned and the princess makes her essentially royalty in the Sahud eyes because she’s a court physician. The princess then identifies me as the ur-Baron and Hiritaki takes penance by cutting himself. Freak.

Jordan Seigebreaker joins us and states he’s here to kill the ur-Baron and to declare war on Sahud for the Emperor because they have ransomed the princess. Hiritaki forbids the ur-Baron’s execution until the morning.

We’re talking about the games and Shamus says “Are these knightly games?” in Anglish and the son of Hiritaki says, in Anglish, “Of course they’re knightly games.” This gives up the ruse and Hiritaki has to discipline his sone and excuses us all.

We’re politely man handled out the door and Shamus is given a writ to get some nifty saurai armor.

Seigebreaker takes the princess aside and Kuranes Lovecraft listens in on the conversation with his Keen Hearing spell. Seigebreaker claims the emperor isn’t a demon and Kuranes is a necromancer. Kuranes is amazed the princess buys this bullshit because Seigebreaker, according to the ministry of serendipity knows the emperor is a demon. And, the ministry made Kuranes swear fealty to the demon emperor in a bizarre ritual on the necomancer’s island. So, he’s a little confused as to what’s going on. He figures he should come clean with the princess and does. He thinks she should have the baby because we can then determine whether the emperor, or at least whoever raped her, is indeed a demon.

We head off to Little Megalos and everyone there loves Argon Nimblefingers V and some drunken asshat insults the princess. We’re rushed off into a large lodge with merchants, guards, mercenaries, etc. The princess commands Argon to find a way to get us out of Sahud and he disappears through some illusion, which makes the princess think he’s a traitor.

After a bunch of partying, Nimblefingers comes back and pukes all over the place. He’s completely incoherent so Kuranes heals him a bit. He wakes up saying we need to get out of town because of some disease. No one is listening to him and no one wants to go down to the docks. So we decide to go there alone looking for some guy that Nimblefingers knows. We get outside of Little Megalos and the crowd recognizes us and shuffles us off to some little in where other competitors are staying. We waste time there, no one wants to sneak down to the docks, so we go to sleep.

The next day we’re shuffled off to the coliseum. The games begin and Shamus and Kuranes are instantly eliminated. Nimblefingers gets out of the competition. Shamus is arrested because he’s carrying a katana of the enemy of the HeavenKing and Kuranes is in the shame prison. He thinks it beats being killed by Jordan Seigebreaker.

The princess is the only one who makes it through a few of the trials… we end there.


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