Truth Within Nightmares
The torments of the Underworld are visited upon those who dwell there, which is why so many of its inhabitants are insane. After months in this dark land, Tarnum and his men began to succumb to the ghosts of their past, but none worse than the Immortal Hero.
Tarnum must kill Sandro to get the key to the next level. All Heroes are limited to level 18, but Tarnum and two of his best Captains will transfer over to the next scenario. The Sword of Judgement will also carry over to the next scenario. Tarnum, of course, must not die.
|Day 1 - Day 1|
|Now, I must face Sandro, the Necromancer, who holds the key to the next level of the Underworld. He's not likely to give it up freely. Sandro dwells in a deepest, most vile parts of these caverns. However, I hear rumors of two lesser Demon barons who also protect this plane.|
One good piece of news though - the Angels and Archangels have decided to join the fight.
|(8, 62, 0) Necropolis: Day 1 - resources (every day)|
|(8, 62, 0) Necropolis: Day 3 - gold (every 7 days)|
|Day 4 - Day 4|
|My dreams have turned to those days when I was rebuilding the glory of my people back before I became the Immortal Hero. There is nothing like the open road ahead of you and an army rumbling at your back. Even the smell of hundreds of men, Orcs, Goblins, Wolf Raiders, and Ogres was a comfort compared to the rotten egg stench of these caverns.|
I belonged to something greater than myself then. I was doing what was right by unifying my people under one banner so we could win our freedom back from our oppressors. I miss those days.
|Day 6 - Day 6|
|Queen Allison has now moved into the Castle. We discussed her participation in the exploration of this level, but I told her I needed someone I could trust to watch the Castle. I think that convinced her.|
Surprisingly, she carries herself boldly and proudly even though we're surrounded by the never-fading reek of death. Most Erathian women would've fainted away. Even more impressive, the men don't seem to resent her presence. In fact, I think they've developed a newfound respect for their Queen. Good.
|Day 9 - Day 9|
|In my dreams I think I can still hear the clash of arms as the Wizard-Kings of Bracaduun sent their dogs to quell my rebellion. It was the first time I faced my oppressors in battle, and my army triumphed when all others thought we would fail. I can still see the look of fear on the faces of the cowardly Wizards as we rose up and took back what was ours.|
My men were a little afraid as well. They had never known a life without servitude. But their courage hadn't been bred out of them yet. They rallied around me. It was a glorious moment in Barbarian history, one I shall always remember.
|Day 11 - Day 11|
|I already have the Helm of Heavenly Enlightenment. Reports have confirmed that the Sword of Judgement is somewhere on this plane of the Underworld. It is a powerful weapon for the forces of good and we must find it. The Clerics tell me that combining several other items with the Necklace, the Helm and the Sword will create the Angelic Alliance - a formidable weapon with the power to not only increase the abilities of its wearer, but also casts Prayer on any troops that follow him.|
|Day 14 - Day 14|
|Tonight's dream turned to the day I first fought beside Hardac. He was older than me, even had combat experience as a lowly footsoldier in the armies of the Wizard-Kings. He would soon become a good friend and my most trusted captain.|
We were fighting against Bracaduun's Wizards, and the tide of battle had turned against us. My horse had been cut from underneath me and I was fighting hand-to-hand with Golems, Gargoyles and Wizards. I saw a pack of Gremlins swarm Hardac, yet he stood his ground even with a wound in the side. He knew he was dead, but refused to retreat.
So, I hacked my way through to save his life. I carried Hardac back to our healers and returned to the fighting. Somehow, we pulled off a victory that day, but at a great loss. Later, Hardac sought me out and stayed by my side to the end.
Only, it wasn't the end either of us expected.
|Day 18 - Day 18|
|These dreams were more like memories, only this time I felt like an observer. My friendship with Hardac wasn't born on the battlefield. It was born during a strategy session that came later. My bold attacks had won us many victories so far, so as we faced a sizeable combined force of Nagas and Mages, I decided to use the same plan that had worked before. But Hardac was the only one courageous enough to tell me I was wrong.|
"Attack this enemy like that," he said, "and we'll leave most of our army dead on the battlefield - that is, if we win. Lure the Nagas out, draw them away from the Mages, and then attack."
I swallowed my pride and took Hardac's advice, and it's a good thing because the very next day we were ambushed and we only survived because we didn't take many losses against the Nagas. That's when I knew to always keep Hardac close.
|Day 22 - Day 22|
|Some nights my dreams are wild and unpredictable. I see bits and pieces of past battles. I hear the screams of the dying echoing in my ears. Then I sit bolt upright in my bed, drenched in a clammy sweat. Chills run over my skin as the horrifying faces still loom over me. Sometimes I can make the hideous faces disappear by shaking my head, but each time I close my eyes they return.|
I don't get much sleep anymore.
|Day 27 - Day 27|
|At first, the dream seemed like one of those distant memories of when I was the Barbarian King, but something was wrong.|
The bards were vital to the Barbarian people. We had been the slaves of the Wizard-Kings for so long, we forgot who we were. They were our history. So, when the bards were captured I knew it was over if they were killed.
Yes, I raised a force and broke the wall of Kurl's Tower. We dominated his army - the courtyard was red with the blood of the Mages. I reached Kurl's private chambers only to find him cowering there, begging for his life. And here's where the dream veered from the memory. Instead of letting him go, I showed him no mercy. I slaughtered him on the spot because hanging from the trees in Kurl's private garden were four figures swaying in the wind. The bards - dead.
Our history was lost - forever changed. And I was to blame. I woke up weeping and confused. It was only a dream, wasn't it? I remember saving three of the bards. Our history was still safe.
|Day 31 - Day 31|
|Queen Allison, thankfully, has been staying out of the battlefield as I requested. She's been a grateful distraction from my disturbing dreams, and she's been managing the more mundane tasks of a leader such as income and resources.|
I can't shake the feeling that I've met her before. I noticed it the first time we met, something about her mannerisms, or maybe the way she talks? Or could it be her fiery red hair? Sure, it's a popular color among Barbarians, but there's no way we could've met - I died before she was born.
|Day 35 - Day 35|
|As I polished my armor this morning, I caught a glimpse of myself in my chestplate. There are dark rings around my eyes, and I've lost some weight. No surprise, really, since I've been getting such little sleep lately. I've been going without, staying up late into the night in order to avoid those haunting dreams.|
When I sleep, I see memories mixed and distorted with nightmarish possibilities - lies. Why have I never been plagued by such dreams before? Is it this place? And why do they seem more real with each passing day?
It's hard sometimes to determine the difference between the waking world and this horrid Underworld. Today, I fell asleep in the saddle and pictured myself in the Mudlands conquering those people to make them part of my armies. The stinging, painful insects, the sticky air, and the stinking vegetation - I was there for as long as my eyes were closed.
|Day 39 - Day 39|
|Again, I dream I am in the swamps, trying to get the natives to join me through the only method they understand - force.|
I am covered in mud and blood as I walk through the open gates of a Fortress and stand before the throne of the Mudlands King, a Lizardman so gaunt and pale gray that he could only be dead. Yet, the Lizardman stands and gestures for me to sit.
"It's yours now, Tarnum," the dead reptile says, "yours to destroy - the throne and my people! You have won the right."
But I shake my head. I no longer want to sit in it. And then I open my eyes. A dream, but I can still smell the rotting vegetation. I press my fists hard into my temples and begin crying. Dreams aren't supposed to be like this.
|Day 43 - Day 43|
|I hurt a man last night, quite by accident. I was dreaming again, of a battle. Apparently I had been screaming so loud I woke half the camp. When a young soldier entered my tent to wake me, I drew my sword and slashed at him. Luckily, the man stepped away - I only gave him a gash on the side and a broken rib.|
A Cleric asked me about my dreams, mentioning that I appeared to be getting little sleep.
"Sir Tarnum, you are not the only one who has been having trouble at night, although your nightmares seem to be worse than the others," said the Cleric.
"Perhaps I have more to dream about," I mumbled.
"I can give you a medicine to help you sleep. It won't help with the dreams, of course, but at least you'll get some rest. An exhausted leader is a poor one."
At this point, I would try anything.
|Day 47 - Day 47|
|I know it's a dream the moment I realize I'm at the front of my Horde, a Barbarian army unlike any other. I look to my left, surveying the columns of Orcs, Ogres, Goblins, and Behemoths. And above, the brilliant Thunderbirds soar proudly. Then I glance to my right and my blood turns to ice.|
Gnolls, Lizardmen, and the other creatures of the Mudlands, all chained together, slaves. In order to free ourselves I enslaved another innocent people. Worse yet, they too had suffered greatly at the hands of the Wizards and I had simply taken the place of their oppressors.
I lower my head, closing my eyes - and then I wake.
|Day 51 - Day 51|
We punched through the Wallpeaks deep into Bracaduun territory. I thought my victory was a certainty. In my arrogance, I believed I had broken the backs of the Wizards.
Not so. The spellcasters brought an avalanche down on the troops I left in the Wallpeaks, then fortified my only route home. We were trapped! Our only escape was to the north through a pass into lands where I thought I might gain allies.
I had to move quickly, which meant I had to leave many behind, sacrifices to the Wizards. So, I left behind those I had conquered, those I had enslaved. The people of the Mudlands. Even when I wake, I feel their cold tongues flickering over the back of my neck.
|Day 55 - Day 55|
|I dream again.|
After all I had fought for, after all I had lost, the one time I ask for help I am betrayed. They were Barbarians, just like me, but when I asked them to join my army and fight against their oppressors they refused. They even joined the enemy! I felt the rage hot beneath my skin like a fire that couldn't be put out no matter how much blood I spilled, no matter how many villages I razed.
Then I'm standing alone, here in the Underworld amid a field of bones, and I can hear the silent screams of every skull. Screams for help. Screams of the innocent I killed.
I clap my hands over my ears and shout, "I was wrong! I was wrong! I'm a killer!"
The sound disappears instantly, and sensing that something is wrong, I open my eyes only to stare at the confused and frightened faces of my soldiers. Oh, great! Now, I'm sleepwalking too.
|Day 60 - Day 60|
|How can this be? I don't recall going to sleep, yet I sense I am dreaming again.|
I ride to the top of a hill to watch my men kill the innocent.
Out of all the mayhem, I focus on a single woman with fiery red hair exit a hut as she flees a pair of Ogres. She runs, screams. I can't see her face, and I know deep in my heart I don't want to see it.
Then she falls, turns to face her pursuers. My sister! Even though I've never met her, she looks so much like my mother that is must be her. I raise my hand, open my mouth to shout to the Ogres, but it is too late to stop them.
And for once I thankfully wake before I witness the murder of my own blood, killed upon my command.
I scream, lash out at my tent. I can't stand these dreams and what they're doing to me. I don't want to remember the things that I have done! Before I realize it, I've torn my tent to pieces. I lash out at any who come near me.
"Alone!" I shout. "Leave me alone!"
I'm not sure if I'm talking to my men, or to my dreams.
|Day 62 - Day 62|
|I knew something was wrong when Queen Allison joined us on the trail, followed immediately by her single frightened escort. She stared at me from crown to toe and frowned.|
"I demand to see you privately."
I nodded, barely able to stay in my saddle. I had not slept in two days and had very little rest for weeks before that. So, we walk out of earshot of my men and my blurred vision clears long enough for me to see that she's angry.
"I received word that you have gone mad," she said. "I didn't believe it, but now that I see you...I am taking over your command."
Drunk with exhaustion, I forgot my manners and laughed in her face.
"It takes more than courage to lead men in to battle, and, woman, you don't know the first thing about fighting. I'm not about to let all these men die so some royal brat can exercise her dreams of grandeur! Go stitch a tapestry or something. Let a real murderer take care of the battles. It's what I'm good at."
I turned my back on her.
"How dare you! This is MY army! You will do what I say!"
Allison struck me in the back of the head. It didn't hurt, of course, but it startled me. Who did she think she was? Her hand flashed toward my face now, but I caught it, gripped it a little too hard. I snatched up her free arm as well and shook her. She needed to learn how utterly weak she was, so I lifted her off her feet with ease.
Then she kicked me in the groin. That ended the struggle.
"Never touch me again!" She bolted away.
I waited there, doubled over, for the other Knights to collect me for my execution, but that moment never came.
|Day 66 - Day 66|
|Queen Allison stayed with my unit, to watch over me no doubt. She's ordered one of the Captains to teach her to use a sword, and she's not a bad student from what I've observed.|
I try to stay low these days. I give few orders because I don't want a conflict in the camp. From what I hear, half the men side with me, and the other half want me dead for touching their Queen. It's a touchy time. One wrong move and the men will be fighting each other and our quest here in the Underworld will be over.
I think Allison knows that too, which is why I still have my head. Perhaps there's more than meets the eye with this woman.
|Day 68 - Day 68|
|I'm sleeping again, and the nightmares have returned, of course. It's like some twisted maggot has crawled inside my memories and is torturing me with them.|
Torturing me, especially, with my sister's face. The bloodthirsty Ogres are almost upon her, and this time I know I am not going to wake up. Just as their clubs are about to smash her head to a pulp, a man on horseback comes out of nowhere. She's saved!
He slays one of the Ogres with his first swing, then turns his horse to dodge the attack of the other. He dispatches this enemy just as easily. My sister is dragged to her feet and helped onto the horse behind the armored hero. It's too late to save the rest of the village, so he flees.
I am being shown something else, something that can't be my memory or a nightmare, but I know in my bones that it is real. My sister and the man who rescued her sit beneath a tree together. This is much later, and my sister's belly is plump with child - his child. She's happy. Then the man finally turns in my direction and I can see his face.
It's Rion Gryphonheart!
|Day 71 - Day 71|
|There she is, Queen Allison, dressed in sturdy leathers as she trains. The red hair, the sharp eyes - they are the same as my mother's, and the same as my sister's. How could I have missed it?|
I've assumed some of the details, but a young Rion Gryphonheart must have saved my sister from my own bloodthirsty armies. Later, they fell in love and married, and by the time Gryphonheart formed the Kingdom of Erathia my sister was pregnant with their first child - my niece, Allison.
|Day 72 - Day 72|
|Today, when Queen Allison prepared for her sword exercises, I approached her and before everyone dropped to one knee. Bowing my head, I said, "My Queen, I beg your forgiveness. I have been a fool!"|
I never once raised my head, but kept my gaze firmly on the ground and tried not to shake noticeably. I have never bowed to anyone before.
"Of course, I forgive you, Sir Tarnum," she said. "I acted poorly as well."
"No, you were not at fault. My only excuse is I have not been well."
"You appear to be getting more rest. Good. This place has disturbed us all, but no one nearly as much as you. I wonder why?"
"Who knows?" I say. "Unlucky, I guess."
I had more crimes to dream about.
|Day 79 - Day 79|
|The nightmares still visit me at night, but when I wake I find it easier to forget. They're not showing me anything that I haven't already experienced. Although, I wonder about the dream that revealed the identity of Allison's mother - it hadn't seemed like the rest.|
But who cares? I have a family now! And we're growing close. I've even taken over as Allison's instructor. If she's going to learn to fight, I'm going to make sure this woman knows how to take care of herself.
|Day 85 - Day 85|
|I've decided not to tell Allison who I am.|
There would be too many questions about the past, and I'm afraid if she learns that I used to be the Barbarian King that she will no longer trust me. Right now, I need her trust if we're going to survive.
I would love to embrace her as my niece. I ache for it in fact, but that would be wrong, and selfish. So, I turn my thoughts toward saving her father's soul with a newfound determination. It's the least I can do. I owe Gryphonheart a debt for saving my sister's life.
|8, 46, 0||A blind woman blocks your path, and, strangely, she asks for you by name. When you approach, she speaks.|
"If you continue south you will find the path to the Necromancer known as Sandro, thus ending your quest. However, if you have not explored all the way to the east of here, you may find it most beneficial to do so. There is a Seer who seeks the Ambassador's Sash and will give you much experience for the item. Take the time to explore all areas thoroughly, as there are many hidden treasures here."
Then you open your eyes to find yourself in your saddle and the woman is gone. Was it all a dream? Only one way to find out.
|24, 3, 0||"Want a piece of advice good, sir?"|
The voice startles you and you almost draw your sword until you see the young, nicely dressed woman nearby. You nod your head, suspecting that she would probably give it to you anyway.
"Visit all of these Learning Stones. Each one can teach you something, but there are many of them around here. Every little bit will help you along the way."
You offer her some gold and she holds out her hand to accept it. As you approach, however, her features change to that of a Demon. You realize it's an ambush as the Demon's companions run out from behind some nearby rocks.
|31, 8, 0||"My information may be more common sense than secret, so I will not charge as much," says the crippled old Demon sitting on a stump. You're tempted to kill him in case he's a spy or something.|
"When you collect the artifacts to make the Angelic Alliance, you should keep them on your person. There are others here who are not very scrupulous and would steal it for themselves. I know. That used to be my job. If you keep each piece yourself, then you won't have problems assembling the Angelic Alliance later on."
You give the elderly Demon some Gold for his good advice.
|34, 2, 0||"Word has spread that you pay for information," says a ragged middle-aged woman collecting firewood.|
"Give me 200 Gold pieces and I will tell you how to get to a hidden, empty Castle."
The woman is probably as mad as anyone down here, but today you feel charitable and pay her.
She quickly hides the money in her dirty robes and says, "All you need to do is go further east and head through the One-way Monolith. Be fully armed though. Bone Dragons live near it and won't let anyone in or out.
Surprisingly, it was valuable information indeed.
|42, 51, 0||A ragged looking Griffin swoops down from the sky and faints dead away at your feet. Looks as if the poor creature had been forced to fight a hundred times. Wondering why he didn't just fly away, you find the Shackles of War firmly bound on his feet. You remove them, and order some men to give the proud creature a decent burial.|
|48, 23, 0||An escaped slave finds his way to your camp with some important information in exchange for your protection.|
"I was on a work detail in the area, and I happen to know that Manticores protect the Sword of Judgement. The Demons fear the Angelic Alliance, so they guard the Sword well in order to keep the Angelic Alliance form being assembled. You can find it to the north and then east of here, at the end of a small valley."
You give the man a small sum of Gold and send him to your Castle to be nursed back to health.
|53, 62, 0||The men are not pleased about walking over the bones of the dead, and you should have heeded some of the premonitions. The bones begin to move on their own, and suddenly you are attacked.|
|57, 34, 0||An old man stumbles out from the blackened forest and speaks to you, "If you follow the path north and then east you will find the Hourglass of the Evil Hour. There is a Seer who is willing to exchange much knowledge for that Hourglass. She is located to the West."|
After saying that he nods and holds out his hand. You give him a few coins and set him up with a good meal.
|59, 2, 0||This must be the Monolith the woman was talking about. Fortunately, you can return through this monolith if the forces on the other side are too powerful for you. However, be careful because enemy heroes can also come through at any time.|
|8, 62, 1||Necropolis|
|10, 51, 0||Necropolis|
|17, 12, 0||Necropolis|
|26, 19, 0||Castle|
|38, 42, 1||Necropolis|
|46, 53, 0||Castle|
|59, 22, 0||Necropolis|
|35, 17, 0||Evil Eye|
|10, 51, 0||Aislinn the Necromancer|
|10, 52, 0||Nagash the Necromancer|
|17, 13, 0||Isra the Death Knight|
|38, 43, 1||Septienna the Necromancer|
|39, 52, 0||Your most powerful hero from the The Boatman scenario.|
|46, 54, 0||Tarnum the Knight|
|51, 58, 0||Your most powerful hero from the The Boatman scenario.|
|59, 22, 0||Tamika the Death Knight|
|59, 23, 0||Isra the Moandor|
|65, 47, 1||Sandro the Necromancer|
|40, 28, 0||Pendant of Courage||You see the skeletal remains of some unfortunate soul hanging from a rotting tree. About the corpse's neck is the gleaming Pendant of Courage, but is this artifact worth fighting the Black Knights who guard it?|
|Seer's Hut (6, 15, 0)|
|Seer's Hut (21, 28, 0)|
|Seer's Hut (29, 58, 0)|
|Quest Guard (63, 36, 0)|