From the Journals of Krenn Elias, Court Anthropologist
Left my family's lands today. After the events in the Eastern Forests of the Shimmering Lands, I decided that a few of the family retainers would come in handy, as well as an assistant (my third cousin, the only tolerable one on my Aunt Illa's side).
The matriarch also gifted me with a magical ring. It holds a number of useful spells that will aid and protect me on my journey. When I complete my travels and give my account to the queen, the matriarch will gain much honor. Perhaps then my cousins will stop reminding me of that unfortunate incident with the dark hunter's falcon. I mean, it wasn't like the feathers didn't grow back, and it was 65 years ago.
Of the five elementals indigenous to this realm, the storm rider is the only one the queen has ever seen. According to historical documents, the storm rider Alazu was summoned by the queen to help settle a land dispute between the Eloyan family and a tribe of storm giants. They say she flew into court in the midst of a tremendous thunderstorm, the lightning flashing and splitting the sky. Her pale gray skin had just a tint of purple around the edges, and her midnight blue eyes spit electricity at any who dared to address her.
Those with whom she was forced to interact described her as reserved, fair, and intelligent, with a cold stare that quickly ended unnecessary conversation. She remained in court only a few days and refused to answer any of the court historian's questions about energy elementals. Since that time, no other storm rider has been seen in the Seelie Court.
We are off to the Pinnacle Peaks, which split the Southern Reaches from the barren plains beyond. Rising up thousands of feet, the peaks attract fierce storms that make climbing them dangerous and almost impossible, so I have acquired the use of a giant eagle for this phase of my travels. Several of the peaks are known to host storm riders. I hope to fly up undetected and watch one in its natural habitat.
Practiced riding the eagle today. I discovered something new: I am apparently not comfortable riding flying creatures. Luckily, it is a short trip, only up the mountain . . . and down. Maybe I can take something for it. Like a swift blow to the head. I have practiced using an invisibility spell to cloak myself. I would prefer not to be a target on my way up. So little is known of their actually abilities, I have no idea if the elementals can detect the spell.
We have been camping at the base of the mountains for two days now, waiting for the storms to die down. Riding a bird is harrowing enough without having to worry about getting hit by lightning.
The storms have continued for weeks, but tonight I saw something that made the wait worthwhile. This afternoon, the clouds were an angry purple, with the threat of rain making most of my companions seek shelter in a nearby cave. I climbed up a small cliff to look for wildlife; then the winds started to pick up. As I watched the storm clouds roll closer, I saw a humanoid form break through them. He was graceful, his white skin standing in stark relief against the black clouds, his blue hair whipping behind him. Not wanting to startle him, I turned myself invisible as he flew closer. He must have ridden the air currents for hours, darting around bolts of lightning, seemingly impervious to the rain and cold. By the time he flew away, I was so stiff that I could barely move, but I am so excited that I have at last seen a storm rider.
I write from the highest mountain of the Pinnacle Peaks today. At last the storms calmed, and I was able to ascend. The eagle has returned down the mountain to its trainer. She will send it back up in two weeks.
I have made camp under a little outcropping of rocks. While flying up here, I saw what looked like a small tower not half a mile away. I plan to set out tomorrow to see if it is inhabited.
The tower exhibits signs of life: vegetation that has obviously been planted and tended to, light shining from a window, recent footprints in the area. But so far I have not seen a storm rider.
I caught a glimpse of a storm rider today. She appears to be a young female, with dark gray skin and silvery hair. She wears a simple tunic made from leather, and has a knife hanging from a belt around her waist. She ate dinner on her front step, watching the sun sink below the horizon. She looks friendly enough, but I still think it best to stay out of sight.
I have seen the storm rider several more times. Each day she flies off to soar among the clouds, but she also takes care of more menial chores. Today a small mountain goat tried to make a meal of the garden, but before it could take more than two bites, she came running out the door and let loose a bolt of lightning. It landed right beside the goat, making both of us jump. I must have made some noise, because after the goat took off she started towards my hiding place. After staring in my direction for a while, she shrugged and walked back inside.
(In Sylvan)Storm riders are highly intelligent, deadly fey. They enjoy looking down on the world from atop mountain peaks. They love the solitude of nature and the excitement of racing lightning through the skies. They care nothing for the petty squabbles of other fey. Storm riders are dangerous when annoyed.
The following things annoy a storm rider: other creatures, being disturbed by other creatures, having to talk to other creatures, having to listen to other creatures, having to look at other creatures, being watched by other creatures, and being observed and written about like a caged animal.
It is safest to leave a storm rider alone.
I have such a headache, but at least I have stopped twitching. I was in my hiding spot yesterday, marking observations in my journal, when the storm rider flew off. I knew from experience that she would be gone for two or three hours, so I decided to take a closer look at her home. I had gotten close enough to peek in the windows when I felt a shadow pass over my back. Before I could turn around, my brain felt like it exploded and I lost all conscious thought.
When I woke up, I lay at the base of the mountains. My companions tended to my injuries. My assistant said that the storm rider flew by and dropped me at their feet, literally. From 30 feet up. Luckily, I was carrying my journal, since all of my other supplies are still atop the mountain.
When I opened my journal this morning to write my latest results, I discovered that She had added an entry. Imagine that -- an actual entry from an elemental. My journal will be famous.
Hit Dice: 8d6+16 (44 hp)
Speed: 30 ft. in full plate armor (6 squares); base speed 40 ft.; fly 30 ft. (perfect) in full plate armor; base fly speed 40 ft.
Armor Class: 20 (+1 Dex, +9 +1 full plate), touch 11, flat-footed 19
Base Attack/Grapple: +4/+6
Attack: +7 ranged (1d8+3 plus 1d6 electricity/x3, +1 shock composite longbow [+2 Str bonus]) or +7 melee (1d8+4/x3, +1 spear)
Full Attack: +7 ranged (1d8+3 plus 1d6 electricity/x3, +1 shock composite longbow [+2 Str bonus]) or +7 melee (1d8+4/x3, +1 spear)
Space/Reach: 5 ft./5 ft.
Special Attacks: Spell-like abilities
Special Qualities: Damage reduction 5/cold iron, low-light vision, wild empathy +8
Saves: Fort +4, Ref +10, Will +8
Abilities: Str 14, Dex 14, Con 15, Int 12, Wis 11, Cha 15
Skills: Balance +8, Concentration +13, Diplomacy +13, Intimidate +13, Knowledge (nature) +12, Listen +11, Spellcraft +12, Survival +0 (+2 in aboveground natural environments)
Feats: Improved Initiative, Iron Will, Lightning Reflexes
Environment: Temperate mountains
Challenge Rating: 8
Alignment: Usually neutral
Advancement: By character class
Level Adjustment: +3 (cohort)
The human-shaped creature wears full plate armor. Its skin is the color of rain clouds and its eyes spark with blue electricity. It holds a spear wreathed in crackling energy.
Storm riders are reclusive fey. Rare sightings usually occur in the midst of a vigorous storm.
These fey can inhabit any climate and terrain, but tend to live in remote areas, inaccessible to anyone who cannot fly. Although they do seem to like storm giants, they rarely socialize with other fey or nonfey. On occasion, a storm rider has served one or the other of the queens, but they rarely stay at court long.
About the size of an elf in weight and height, a storm rider's skin ranges from the pure white of fluffy clouds to the dark gray, almost black, of a lowering storm. Its eye color can be any shade of blue. When upset, a storm rider's eyes crackle with electricity.
Storm riders speak Common, Giant, and Sylvan.
Storm riders avoid initiating combat. If threatened or attacked, they use their spell-like abilities and longbows. They join in melee only as a last resort.
Spell-Like Abilities (Sp): At will -- gust of wind (DC 14), shocking grasp; 3/day -- call lightning (DC 15), lightning bolt (DC 15). Caster level 8th. 1/week -- control weather, hallucinatory terrain (DC 16). Caster level 13th.
Wild Empathy (Ex): This power works like the druid's wild empathy class feature, except that the storm rider has a +6 racial bonus on the check.
About the Authors
Gwendolyn F. M. Kestrel is a managing editor for Wizards of the Coast's Roleplaying Games R&D department. Recent work includes editing and additional development for the revised Dungeon Master's Guide and the Monster Manual. Editing credits include Fiend Folio, Faiths and Pantheons, Oriental Adventures, and Magic of Faerūn. Design credits include the Book of Challenges and Dragon Magazine articles. She's a frequent contributor to the Wizards of the Coast website. Also, check out the website she created for her husband, Andy Collins at www.andycollins.net.
Faith M. Price accidentally fell into the adventure game industry ten years ago. Since then she has worked for three game manufacturers and has written for numerous magazines. She currently lives in the Pacific Northwest.