Touch of Fey

Trouble at Oleg’s
Game 001 (1/2/12)

Spring of 25 Divine Era
Scion 12 – Arrive at Oleg’s Trading Post. Learn of Bandits.
Scion 13-14 – Set up ambush and await Bandits.
Scion 15 – A half-dozen bandits arrive at Oleg’s Trading in the afternoon. Though the trap is sprung prematurely, the party is successful in defeating them and killing their leader, a man called Happs. Bronin hands out frontier justice and executes the remaining bandits that refused to surrender, leaving only one left who gives them basic information on the bandits and the location of their camp to the west. The party departs Oleg’s Trading post that afternoon and rides along a northern path they learned of from an old crippled hunter named Vekkel Bensen. On route, the party discovers and marks a dangerous bear trap left in a glade northwest of Oleg’s Trading Post.
Scion 16 – Although they approach the camp from an alternate route, the party fails to get the drop on the bandits and are forced to charge into the camp and battle them without the advantage of surprise. A few of them are injured, but they manage to defeat the bandits (capturing 4) and kill the leader of the camp, a mannish woman named Kressle.

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Of Mites and Men
Game 002 (1/14/12)

Scion 16 – Kressle’s Bandits are interrogated. The party learns that some of their treasure was stolen by mites to the north. As the party departs the camp, they encounter local trapper Breeg, who claims to have followed to them to learn the outcome of their battle with the bandits. Gaining Bronin’s trust, Breeg leads the group around a dangerous spider lair as they travel back towards Oleg’s Trading Post.
Scion 18 – Near Oleg’s Trading Post a light is seen moving in the distance. Breeg warns the group to stay away from it – they follow his advice.
Scion 19 – Bronin meets Simon’s companion, another cleric of Heironous named Jhod Kavken, and asks him to be a judge for his lands. Bronin also commissions a temporary jail and hires guards to man it.
Scion 20 – The area immediately surrounding Oleg’s Trading Post is explored.
Scion 21 – The lands north of the Trading post are explored. During the night another light is seen in the distance, this time accompanied by cries for help. The party investigates and Myhm is badly hurt after being lured up a cliff and subsequently falling from it. For a moment a glowing skull is seen in the air over Myhm, but Bronin blasts it with magical fire and it flies off.
Scion 22 – The group visits Crazy Old Bokken, a local hermit and potion brewer. He asks them to bring him rare potion components called Fangberries. Departing Bokken’s Hut and heading west, Bronin’s horse is injured by another trap left in the same glade they used to travel to the Bandit camp.
Scion 23 – While breaking camp Gregory spots tracks near their site belonging to a large bear. Choosing to avoid the creature, the group heads northwest. Late in the day the party comes across a grotto where the gnome Bixen Lebixyten hangs from a tree, surrounded by drunken kobolds taking turns hitting him with a stick. The party defeats the Kobolds and befriends the gnome.
Scion 24-25 – The lands around Bixen’s Grotto are explored.
Scion 26 – Bixen leads the group to the mite lair under the Old Sycamore northwest from his grotto. The party defeats the mites, rescues a kobold prisoner, and learns that a tribe of kobolds lives somewhere to the north. The party returns to Bixen’s Grotto to make camp.

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A Glimpse of the Feralwood
Game 003 (1/30/12)

Scion 27 – With the gnome Druid Krolm as a guide the party departs Bixen’s Grotto bound for Oleg’s Trading Post.
Scion 29 – Arrive at Oleg’s Trading Post in the evening.
Scion 30 – Administration.
Farwander 1 – Depart Oleg’s Trading Post bound for area along the Old Trade Route threatened by a giant spider.
Farwander 2 – Arrive in spider’s area and spend the day exploring the land around it. As evening approaches the party uses a sheep as bait to lure out the spider from its hidden lair and kill it. They find a recently deceased corpse of a bandit in its lair and discover a map in his boot depicting a claw-like tree with an “X” marked at its roots. Krolm remembers a similar tree just west of Bixen’s Grotto. As they set up camp a series of suspiciously bad luck reveals the presence of a fey playing pranks on the party. Bronin offers a cup of Bixen’s Greenapple Feywine to appease the invisible prankster and briefly sees a faery dragon appear as it takes the cup.
Farwander 3 – Traveling northwest the party explores the land around the Thorne River Bandit Camp.
Farwander 5 – An attempt to explore to land west of Bixen’s Grotto and search the Clawed Tree on the bandit map is hindered by the presence of an owlbear found napping under the Clawed Tree.
Farwander 6 – The land northeast of the Clawed Tree is partially explored. Late that night an owlbear attacks the camp, attempting to kill and drag off Simon’s horse. After a pitched fight, the owlbear is defeated.
Farwander 7 – The party completes their exploration of the area and discovers an overgrown tree shaped in the likeness of the Shalm growing on an overhanging ridge, creating natural shelter where the forest meets the hills. A sense of peace and tranquility is felt in the area by those who venerate the Shalm. The party spends a day clearing the overgrowth and restoring the site. The weeds and brush cleared from the area prove very susceptible to fire.
Farwander 9 – Traveling back to the Clawed Tree the party unearths a hidden cache of treasure including a spellbook and magical wand.

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What can we say about Fireseeds and Buttercup?
Game 004 (2/25/12)

Farwander 9 – A couple men visit Bixen’s Grotto in the morning and buy some Feywine. Myhm, Jarg, and Tremal track them back to a larger group that heads west into the Feralwood. Bronin’s party arrives back at Bixen’s grotto in the evening. Talking to Bixen and Jubilost, they learn of the two suspicious men that bought Feywine and Myhm, Jarg, and Tremal’s intent to follow them. Unable to find their trail in the dark, they rest the night.
Farwander 10 – Bronin’s party track both Myhm and the other group to the east.
Farwander 12 – Bronin’s party is attacked in the night by a pack of wolves. They are defeated, but not before killing two horses, including Bronin’s beloved companion Fireseeds.
Farwander 11 – Bronin’s party finds tracks indicating that a small group of mounted men have come across Myhm’s party and started to follow them. Believing them to be close, Bronin’s party tracks them late into the night.
Farwander 13 – Bronin’s party catches up to Myhm, Jarg, and Tremal just in time to scare off a bandit ambush. Giving pursuit in the dark forests, Sir Gregory is the only rider fast and agile enough to catch the two riders, riding them down and defeating them singlehandedly. After resting, the combined party scouts the shore of a nearby lake and sees a fort a few miles away on the western shore. Confirming with one of their captives that it is the Fort of the Stag Lotd, they withdrawsm a half-days ride to the east and discusses their next course of action. The party decides to mount an attack against the Stag Lord’s Fort, and travels to the nearest river crossing, a bridge rumored to guarded by a dangerous undead creature.
Farwander 14 – Early in the morning the party is alerted to the presence of more wolves. Forming a defensive circle, the party presents a difficult target and the wolves are quickly driven off.
Farwander 15 – The party arrives at the haunted bridge called Nettle’s Crossing and find it mostly fallen to ruin, with only one strong thick rope spanning the river. Ringing a call bell on their side, the party summons an undead warrior that rises from the waters below. The creature challenges them to slay the Stag Lord and throw his body into the river before it submerges again. Deciding to leave part of the group on the east side to watch the horses and their two captives, Bronin leads a handful across the rope. Simon falls into the river, but by the grace of his god, and the strength swimming skill of the Ascari Jarg, he survives the experience. As Bronin’s party sets camp on the west side of the bridge they observe signs of an approaching storm that threatens to break in the next few days.

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Into the Stag Lord's Lair
Game 005 (3/4/12)

Farwander 16 – In the early hours of the morning some members of the party camped on the west bank of the river experience a nightmarish dream of the bridgeman’s death at the hands of the Stag Lord and his men. The dream leaves them tired, but they press on north through the day, coming upon the Stag Lord’s Fort atop a small hill next to a lake. Withdrawing a mile from the site the party finds a cave near the lake to rest the night.
Farwander 17 – The party splits – Gregory and the Professor forage for food to bolster nearly exhausted supplies while Bronin, Simon, and Tremal scout the area surrounding the Fort. Bronin’s group observes a less guarded avenue of approach and leads the party up the hill under the cover of night and stormy weather. However, their approach is thwarted by undead zombies and skeletons that suddenly rise from the blighted earth of the hillside and drive them back into the trees. Party morale suffers from the unexpected attack, compounded by the already daunting challenge of the Fort, and the group withdraws again into the forest to seek shelter, but loses their way in the growing storm. With courage born from overconfidence, and a good bit of desperation, the party returns to the Fort in a gambit to bluff their way inside using a pass phrase learned from the captured bandit Tory. Displaying excellent skill, Tremal creates makeshift bandit disguises for the Reclaimers and convinces the Fort’s guards to let them in and give them shelter. Inside the palasade walls, they discover much of the Fort fallen to ruin and guarded by only a handful of bandits. Flanking the entrance to the interior structure are the hanging bodies of two bandits recognized as prisoners rescued from Oleg’s Trading Post. The rest of the bandits either stand watch at one of three towers or spend their time in a main hall that functions as common area, kitchen, and barracks. In the hall they meet Dovan, the Stag Lord’s third in command, and the man who led the bandits that freed Kressle’s men from Oleg’s Trading Post. Doven eyes the group suspiciously, and summons Akiros, the Stag Lord’s second in command (and rumored paladin of Heironious), who questions the party and collects tribute from them before officially granting permission to settle in with the other bandits of the Fort. The Professor examines a gated section of the Fort and learns the bandits have captured and contained an owlbear on the whim of the Stag Lord. Tremal approaches a pair of bandits the group recognize as the other two recently escaped from Oleg’s. Called Ichabod and Ruck, Tremal quickly gains their trust and gathers information about the Stag Lord’s brutal rule of fear and intimidation – one example being the dead bandits hanging in the courtyard, who were suspected of giving information to the “New Lord”. When the Stag Lord heard Dovan’s suspicions, he promptly had them executed as a warning to others who fail to remain loyal. Later in the evening, one of the Fort bandits named Jex approaches and tries to overcharge Simon and Tremal for liquor, and discovers Tremal has held back a small fortune in coins. On the advice of Ichabod, Tremal takes it to Dovan and turns it over before Jex can create trouble. Throughout the evening maniacal laughter echoes from the exposed second floor of the Fort whenever lightning and thunder strikes close by. Near midnight a large bald man, soaked head to foot, bounds down into the hall, snatches a whole chicken, babbles and giggles incoherently at Dovan and rushes back up top.
Farwander 18 – Shortly after midnight the Reclaimers come to the decision to ambush the bandits of the Fort. Tactics are discussed and Tremal secures Ichabod’s help with a charm spell.

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The Fall of Lords
Game 006 (3/17/12)

Farwander 17 – Myhm receives a vision of the Bridgeman Davick’s demise. When he wakes, he leaves camp without informing his companions, crosses the river, and makes his way to the Fort of the Stag.
Farwander 18 – Shortly after midnight the group springs their assault against the Stag Lord and his bandits during a building storm. Myhm arrives at the Fort and scales the hill, avoiding zombies and climbing the palisade walls. After a pitched battle the group prevails against the Stag Lord. Now threatened by the storm, the strongest members descend through a secret passage to caves beneath the fort and encounter a witch, nearly losing Lord Bronin in the fight. Bringing survivors, captives, and supplies below, the group takes shelter in the caves to wait out the storm.

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Old Gods
Game 007 (4/14/12)

Farwander 18-20 – The Powerful storm rages. Those in the Stag Lord’s keep weather it out in the caves beneath, heal, and take inventory. Those in the wilds hunker down and rough it with the help of good survival skills by Krolm and Jarg. With Simon’s healing, Akiros recovers, though he lost an eye to the Stag Lord’s sword.

Akiros tells his story:
Akiros was born forty years ago. His father, Terros Ismort, was a noble of the Kor Empire, and a veteran of the Legion, who married the sister of Hagarth Argin, a Lord with a small keep at the edge of the Feralwood Forest. Akiros grew up with the training of his father and the religious teachings of his mother, a worshipper of the Old Gods, and dedicated himself to the honor and goodness of Heironeous from a young age. Lord Argin had no sons, and was indeed unable to produce any children at all. His wife, Lady Alissa Argin, tried all manner of spell and herb, but failed to conceive, and as the years passed grew mad with desperation. One day, Alissa came to Hagarth claiming to have found a ritual that would ensure their conception, and Hagarth immediately rode out to a Temple of the Old Gods to enact it. He never returned, but nine months later Lady Argin gave birth to a boy that she claimed was the Lord’s heir.
Overprotective of her son, Lady Alissa allowed few access to him with the exception of the Keep’s Forrester, a rough and mean-spirited man named Kobb. Untll her son came of age, Lady Alissa ran the keep, and though there were whispers of her madness growing and taken root with her son, the bannermen of Lord Hagarth Argin reaffirmed their oaths to his wife and son. Akiros grew up in the shadow of these events – young, courageous, but naive, he swore his oaths of unaware at the time of sinister stirrings in the House of Argin, and his vow, made under the name of his god, and unbreakable in both his and his father’s eyes, would eventually spell his fall from grace.
Years passed, and Lady Alissa’s son grew up strong, but vicious. With the withdrawal of the Empire, and the unnatural advance of the Feralwood, many of Lord Argin’s bannermen departed, succumbed to the new threats, or died of old age, their lands swallowed, and their children refusing to swear new oaths. There was a short period of bloody conflict, during which Alissa’s son took terrible wounds from a fire in his Keep. Caught between his oaths to Lord and God, Akiros fell from grace in defending his tyrannical Lord. It was during this period that many local commoners were squeezed for resources or pressed into service (Auchs is one example).
In the end Lady Alissa took her son and the remaining men still loyal to him, and moved from their damaged and overgrown keep to a new site next to Tuskwater Lake, where they built a fort over ancient ruins. There, Lady Alissa crowned her son with his antlered helm and established him as the Stag Lord.

Goody Niska
Another poor soul rescued from the Stag Lord is a woman named Goody Niska. She was kidnapped by the Stag Lord a few months ago and has been his unwilling concubine ever since. The experience has left her emotionally scarred, and she reacts violently towards any man that even so much as looks at her. Akiros says she was a midwife to the common folk near the borders of the Feralwood, many thought she possessed some magic to assist her in her trade; a few thought she was a witch. However, any powers she might have did not protect her from the Stag Lord. She was chained up in Akiros’ chambers to prevent the other bandits from molesting her, and because the Stag Lord didn’t trust her to behave when he was layed out in a drunken haze.

Farwander 21 – The Stag Lord’s body is brought to Nettle’s Crossing and presented to Davik, the undead Bridgeman. Davik takes the body under the waters, then returns to gift the group with a reward – a magical spear that can shift between a solid ice-like state, or a water-like liquid (Currently in the possession of Sir Gregory, stored in a large flask)
Farwander 22 – Shalm 5 – Travelling with Akiros and the (somewhat) reformed bandit Ichabod, Simon’s group explores the forest on route to the Hidden Temple of the Old Gods told of by Akiros.
Shalm 6 – The Hidden Temple of the Old Gods is found – it is a ruined structure built into the mountain at the top of a path starting from the site of the Shalm’s Tree, discovered and restored a few weeks earlier by Bronin. Approaching the entrance, Simon detects a magical aura coming from within a clump of bushes and vines near the entrance. Moving cautiously closer, the group fails to identify the vegetation as a Shalmbling Mound, which rises and immediately attacks. After a hard fight that leaves many in the group badly injured, the Shambler is defeated. Then, before their eyes, the monster wilts and crumbles, transforming into a body identified by Akiros as Lord Hagarth Agrin. Around his neck is found a magical amulet depicting the symbol of Heiroeous on one side and Kord on the other.
Shalm 7-8 – Exploration and Restoration of the Temple begins. The group also explores the surrounding land. On the last night, Ichabod discovers a secret chamber dedicated to Olidammara – inside he finds a locked chest. Without the skill to pick it open, he enlists the Professor, mistakenly thinking “the mage” might have a spell to crack it. Instead, the Professor gives him a lesson in opening such devices, though fails himself to disable the trap within. Shot with magically poisoned bolts, they both suffer the beginning of a transformation, though the Professor manages to counter it in himself with an antitoxin combined with his natural resistance to such substances. Ichabod, however, finds his skin turned grey-black and his hair bleach-white. Refusing to be defeated by the trap, the Professor opens the chest again, and is promptly shot again, but manages to withstand the magical poison again and recover a silver mirror from the chest, and a riddle written into the bottom – “Until your skill sustains, your reflection will remain”.

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"Festival of the Summer Solstice"
Game 8 (4/14/12)

Shalm 10 – Bronin reunites with Gregory, Clyburn, and Krolm at Bixen’s Grotto. Plans are made to finish exploring the lands around Oleg’s Trading Post.
Shalm 12-13 – The Trapped Glade is explored. Traps are left in place, but marked to warn others travelling in the area. On the second night a group of mites invade the group’s camp, but are easily driven off.
Shalm 14-16 – The land west of Oleg’s Tavern is explored. A heat wave begins in the region – temperatures rise to uncomfortable levels.
Shalm 17 – The group finally returns to Oleg’s Tavern. Calling together a gathering, Lord Bronin announces the defeat of the Stag Lord and the official beginning of his rule in the land.
Shalm 18-19 – The group spends some time tending to administrative duties and diplomatic meetings. Egarian rewards Bronin with gold for his initial efforts at curbing the bandit threat and promises further rewards for dealing with the Stag Lord once his reports to Kragis’Aer are received. Bronin’s appointed Justice, Jhod Kavken reports on the prison escape, his efforts to restore order, and his difficulties in meeting out justice without official laws. Gregory is met by his former companions in the Order of the Dragon led by Kesten Garess, and learns that their number has seen more attrition during their travels due to differing opinions and loss of morale. Kesten is introduced to Bronin, though no offer for fealty is made yet. Gregory meets with the Lumberman Corax, who has been living in Gregory’s cabin along with his workmen, discusses the further work needed to complete the structure – then politely tells him to find somewhere else to sleep for he and his men unless he’d like to pay rent. Krolm approaches the kobold Mikmek and attempts to understand and find common ground with the creature, but cannot gain enough of Mikmek’s trust to get many useful insights. Upon realizing that the Summer Solstice is upon them, Bronin approaches Oleg and offers to pay for a proper Festival in honor of the event. Clyburn takes some time to gather supplies, make connections among the merchants, brew his promised potions for Oleg, and experiments with some beer cocktails using Bixen’s Feywine as an enhancer.
Shalm 20 – The Festival for the The Summer Solstice is held at Oleg’s Trading Post and is a huge success. At dusk, just as the festival’s bon fire is being lit, an orange glow and towering plume of smoke indicate a massive forest fire in the northern Greenbelt. Krolm informs the group that it is not the first time such a fire has been seen in the Feralwood, though no one knows the cause of them. So far, most have been deep in the Feralwood, and none has come near the Trading Post or Bixen’s Hollow. Taking advantage of the odd coincidence, Lord Bronin raises another toast – and accidentally drinks one of Clyburn’s Fey Bombs.
Shalm 21 – Lord Bronin wakes up late in the day and learns that he spent the rest of the prior evening celebrating, sometimes inappropriately, with the barmaid Lily, and retired to his room with her. Lily was found by Svetlana in her and Oleg’s room, wearing little more than the helm of the Stag Lord.

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"The Trouble with Tartuk"
Game 9 (6/17/12)

Shalm 21 – (Heat Wave) Festival Hangover. Bronin awakes late in the day and learns of his late night activities with Lily. Tremal is recruited by Bronin to spin the situation in his favor. The Professor sequesters himself away in his laboratory to brew potions.
Shalm 22 – (Heat Wave) Simon, Ichabod, and Akiros arrive at Oleg’s Trading Post. Akiros presents himself to Bronin, surrenders his arms and armor, and requests to be tried and judged as one of the leaders of the Stag Lord’s Bandits. Before he is led away to the fort’s makeshift jail, he asks that his sword be wielded by Simon in the name of Heironeous. The Professor and Ichabod talk to a young pickpocket about organizing certain professions before the official laws of the land are established. Sir Gregory talks with Sir Kesten about Bronin and begins to establish a training ground for both cavaliers and local men interested in forming a militia.
Shalm 23 – (Rain) Bronin meets with Sir Kesten Garess of Order of the Dragon and talks about the other Chartered Lords he has met with before making his way to the Greenbelt. Sir Kesten seems greatly impressed with both Bronin’s progress and potential as a leader. Bronin also meets with Jhod Kavken, who requests again that a written set of laws be created. Simon suggests finding a scribe and bookmaker to craft an impressive book to contain the laws.
Shalm 24 – (Rain) Sir Kesten Garess, along with two other members of his Order, Sir Osten and Sir Amery, swear fealty to Lord Bronin and pay homage in the form of a suit of mithril chain passed down by the elves that founded the Order of the Dragon.
Shalm 25 – (Storm) Bringing the kobold Mikmek w ith them, the party sets out from Oleg’s Trading Post bound for the Sootscale Kobold lair. Travel slowed by weather.
Shalm 26 – (Storm) Travel slowed by weather.
Shalm 27 – (Storm) Travel slowed by weather.
Shalm 28 – (Storm) Travel slowed by weather.
Shalm 29 – (Rain) Travel slowed by weather.
Shalm 30 – (Rain) Travel slowed by weather.
Hunter 1 – (Rain) *First day of The Great Hunt. The party arrives at the Sootscale Kobold lair and send Mikmek ahead to bring word of their presence to his chief. After a brief confrontation, the party trades the Demon statue recovered from the mites for Svetlana’s wedding ring. Chief Sootscale then destroys the Demon Statue and calls for the death of the shaman Tartuk. Entering the kobold’s caves, the party assists the kobolds in defeating Tartuk and forge a loose alliance with them. In gratitude for their help, and likely because of a fear that it is all cursed, Chief Sootscale gives the party all of Tartuk’s treasure and possessions.

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Istariel's Instructions
A Background Story for Clyburn and Bronin

“What is the prime source of magic?” Istariel Kithraden asked the small group gathered in the laboratory near the Shrine of the East Wind. The elven Mistress of the Alchemical Arts was a bit of a mystery. While her pale hair was not unusual among the Air Lords of Kragis’Aer, the similarity ended there. Her eyes were a few shades darker, her build almost stocky, and she spoke the common tongue with a rough drawl. Rumors were that she was a planar traveler employed by Tal’teslos himself to teach the mystic science of Alchemy to those in Kragis’Aer with the potential to learn.

Clyburn knew the answer. Though he was the youngest of Istariel’s apprentices, he was also the most advanced. However, upon her request he remained silent so that new members of the class could offer their opinions.

“Magic flows from the astral plane, given form through our will.” Recited Sharant, an intelligent and accomplished wizard of the fifth circle.

“Are you on the Astral plane right now? Because I said the Prime source of magic.” Istariel quipped. “Casters,” the word sounding like CAH-sters in her exaggerated accent, “often ignore a vital step in the use of magic. Wizards particularly, since they rarely tap their own energies to power a spell. On the Prime plane of existence their source of magic is in those things that can channel or contain it after arrival from the Astral. They use components and ritual preparation of matrices to gather magic from the world around them to power their spells. Sorcerers use their spirit as conduits to the Astral plane. A cleric is given their power by gods, who in turn collect power from faithful souls, all of whom are spun from and tied to the Astral.”

Grabbing a pinch of glittering rock dust from a nearby bowl and a vial of clear liquid, Istariel held them up for display. “An alchemist does not limit themselves to one or two paths to power, because they know a source of power exists in all things. If one knows how, these can be combined to produce amazing effects.”

Dashing the dust into the vial with a precise flick of the wrist, she produced a stopper from a hidden pocket somewhere in her sleeve, swiftly inserted it, and methodically swirled the container.

“This is an extract of polymorphing. It channels power through a base element, stores it in a medium, and uses the spiritual energy of a living being as a catalyst to transmute. A novice in the science learns first how to use their own body as a catalyst, but advanced study enables the use of any creature.” As the components mixed, a blue light began to glow from within. Istariel turned, beckoning for her assistant, a skeletal-thin elf named Frinn. Stepping forward, he accepted the extract and gulped it down in one quick motion. He placed the empty vial on a stone work-table and stood calm and quiet with eyes downcast. Then his body jerked and he doubled over, a huge gasp of air bursting from his lungs. His body shook uncontrollably like a wet dog shedding water, and where the cascade passed over his body the skin and clothes seemed to twist apart and intertwine, then harden into segmented rock. When it was over a sturdy earth elemental loomed in the laboratory where the frail elf once stood.

“No incantations, no gestures.” Istariel circled the changed creature. “It would take a practitioner of the 13th or 14th circle to accomplish this with a spell, yet I have managed it with greater economy of magic.”

“I am unsure such a transformation would be to my benefit.” Remarked Kaevan, the only giant in the class. A master crafter, he was interested primarily in alchemy that might aid him in engineering projects.

Rhynis, a gnome clockwork crafter, giggled and poked his knee with her tiny finger. “Being as big as a house is not always an advantage.”

“You have a point.” He smiled at the small woman. “As well as a low ceiling in your apartments. I suppose this transmutation would make visiting less… claustrophobic.”

“Yes, I’m sure it’s great for tea parties, or spellbook society.” Smirked Senys, the young son of the North Wind. “And it’s a good thing that most of our enemies are frail old men willing to drink whatever we might give them. Otherwise alchemy would be almost useless.” Though a handsome sorcerer, Senys had poor academic skills, and worse manners. He was placed with Istariel after an excellent display of skill with potions – a reputation owed to Clyburn, who, for a price, had provided the young man with all the potions he had produced in the academy. In truth, Senys was a better at sleight of hand then magic.

“Frinn, soskennis thraf drurn Senys. Lashenti thras vishinn.” Istariel said in her strange elven dialect, pointing at the ceiling across the room. The elemental slid down into the stone floor. Senys’ smirk turned to a frown. Suddenly two rocky hands emerged from the floor beneath him and pulled him from his feet. His breath knocked from him, Senys could only wheeze pitifully as the hands dragged him across the floor and up the wall behind a tapestry. A moment later he emerged from the top and slid, dangling awkwardly across the ceiling high above, coming to a stop over a dark alcove containing an old suit of armor on a stand.

“The art of alchemy should focus on applications that enhance one’s self or one’s allies. Why would I give this power to an enemy?” Istariel asked the upside-down mage. “But since you brought it up, I will demonstrate how it can be also be weaponized.”

Withdrawing a small ceramic globe from a hardened leather belt pouch, she tossed it casually in the Sorcerer’s direction. The ball of flame that burst forth was not quite as large or impressive as a fireball spell, but it did not spread evenly like one either. Instead it focused most of its destruction in a jarring blast at the the site of impact, leaving the suit of armor in cracked pieces and Senys only slightly singed.

Another crash sounded from the other side of the room and Clyburn turned to find the worst student in the class sprawled on the floor next to the stool he’d aparently fallen asleep on. The young Ascari had been avoiding or sleeping his way through the last few months of classes at the Academy as part of an agreement with his people to educate the children of their leaders. He was a terrible student, but he was also one of the Clyburn’s few friends.

“Fall asleep in my class again,” Istariel called across the room, “and the next experiment will be fed to you, Bronin Dohari.”

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