One Star, Two Princes, Three Dragons
Bulwark of the Dark Lord
Bulwark of the Dark Lord (item set):
2 pieces (Heroic): The first time each day that you gain a healing surge, you gain two healing surges.
5 pieces (Paragon): When an enemy within 5 squares spends an action point, an ally of your choice that can see you gains 1/2 level + [Cha] temporary hit points.
Helm of the Parasite (Mask of the Eye Leech)
This golden, scaled helmet covers the wearer’s head from the sun. Two golden horns protrude forward and then up from the forehead. When entering combat, the two sides surrounding the face close into a stern-faced mask. When activated, the mask scowls. The fearsome image flies into the mind of the target, and may be the last thing they see.
Power Daily (Standard Action)
Make an attack: close burst 1; one creature in burst; Intelligence + 2, Wisdom + 2, or Charisma + 2 vs. Will; the target is blinded until the end of your next turn. While the target is blinded, you do not suffer negative effects of blindness and you gain darkvision or low-light vision if the target has either.
Sustain Minor: Repeat the attack against the target to maintain the effects.
“Is that bulette hide you’ve got there?” the filthy Eladrin asked the heavily robed dwarf.
Borik guardedly turned his attention away from looking for a potion that would cure a warlock of madness. “Aye.”
“May I see? I’m a smith. You don’t get to work with material like that every day?”
At the word “smith” Borik’s hooded eyes lightened. “Absolutely. I’m no novice with a forge myself.” The Eladrin looked deeply into Borik’s bloodshot eyes.
“Well come in, come in lad. The name’s Jiardem Zolerii.” The old elf ushered the dwarf into an alleyway. As Borik stepped through the curtain into the smithy, the cloudy, gray day suddenly turned to warmth and light. Borik winced as the sunshine hit him.
“Hmm… Let’s take a look at that hide.” The dwarf pulled himself deeper into his robes and set the hide on the table. “Flexible. Tough.” The old man cackled, “I wish I had gloves made of this stuff when I was cutting the damn blackberries around my house.”
“This is a nice place,” Borik commented.
“I spent some time at the Tower of Mages. It taught me a trick or two.” The old man looked thoughtful. “This here is a rare find, lad. I’ll make you a deal. In exchange for giving me the opportunity to work with this, I’ll make you an item worthy of a dwarven king. Now what would you like?”
Before Borik was able to fully form a thought in response, the old man responded, “How about something which will help you control your illness?”
“Illness? What are you talking about, old man?”
Jiardem cackled. “You really don’t know, do you? Does the sun burn your skin? Light is hard on your eyes? Perhaps your feeding habits are… different?”
“What do you know, old man?” Borik asked angrily. The Eladrin raised an eyebrow and gestured for Borik to continue. Borik spoke carefully. “Vegetables are… edible but unsatisfying. Only raw meat really sates my appetite. I feel the need to… I don’t know, something terrible to my companions. I… take their strength. They seem to understand, more than I do. And the sun, by Gornak’s beard the sun!” He quickly stifled the uncharacteristically desperate tone. “Let me ask you again. What do you know?”
Jiardem seemed thoughtful as he spoke, and occasionally trailed off in thought for a moment. “You are sick, lad. A grave, magical sickness. But a sickness nonetheless. Have a seat. Let me tell you a story.” Borik didn’t move. “We Eladrin know magic… We Eladrin know magic… We know it is everywhere. There is earth magic in the stones, water magic in my cup here, stronger water magic in that bottle of wine on the wall, and life magic in our blood. Magic is just another word for power that is not immediately obvious. As always happens with power, people will try to take it, and use it.”
Jiardem gulped the last of his cup, and walked over to the wall. “That’s not a bad thing, mind you. Just the way of the world. But the process of gaining power naturally, of learning to control it, and grow as your power grows – that’s the true path.”
POP The Eladrin had opened the bottle of red wine. He poured it as he spoke. “Some, however… Some try to take shortcuts. They try to take power quickly, using other means to control their world. Far too often, the ‘other means’ end up controlling them.” He sipped his wine without offering any to Borik.
“The power of life is in your blood, dwarf. And in mine. And in every red-blooded creature that ever lived. As the power is in the blood, and the blood is yours, the power is yours.” The old Eladrin took a sip of wine. Something from a book he read stuck in Borik’s mind. What was it? He was distracted by the bead of scarlet liquid dripping down Jiardem’s chin. He quickly wiped it away.
“But that power takes great control, great discipline, and – most of all – time. Some try to take a shortcut. They take a magical disease, a parasite really, and they inject themselves with it. This disease absorbs the energy in the blood, and as a conduit for that energy, allows the host to better control the power. But the disease… the disease… is hungry. It quickly uses up the power in your blood faster than you can replenish it. And it needs more, you need more. So you take it.” The last sentence was spoken quietly. Borik sensed that it was directed at him. “The hunger is ever-present. Most eventually give in and become vicious, feral monsters.”
“Vampires.” Borik spoke quietly.
“Yes, lad. You’ve known it. And you know exactly where it came from, I don’t doubt. Though from the look on your face, I don’t think you asked for this burden.”
Borik looked stern, “So what do I do?”
“Unfortunately, I doubt all of the Church of the Silver Flame could wipe out such persistent a disease. Of course, they’d never do that. They’d just kill you first.” He laughed. “No, this is a beast you must hunt your self. This is a personal journey. Hunting is best where your prey feeds… feeds… or drinks. You can not stop your disease. There is no weapon that can destroy it. But you can starve it. Learn to control the power in your blood. Don’t let it feed off of you. And control the cravings. Don’t let it feed off of others. That disease will die – just as you or I would. The power is in your blood, lad. The power is in you.”
“Great! How do I do it?”
“I can not tell you. For I am not a vampire. You must walk that path alone. However, it might be helpful to have some tools… tools… With your skill, perhaps you could forge some. Let me show you a few things I learned at the Tower…”