Session 12 (September 5, 2020)
The group discusses what to do. Runor suggests that they could go scouting in the Shadowlands. Mreep agrees, as does Ulgorio.
They plan on bringing food and water.
They go to the officer of the watch for the Tower to tell him that they plan on scouting in Shadow.
“Really? Let me speak to a member of the Circle. There may be things that would be particularly helpful.”
After a few minutes, he comes back with a figure in crystal armor, who he addresses as “my lord.”
“If you are going in, there are certain things that we would like you to find. The Council of the Hastur has a reason to believe that one of the great dhoyles has spawned within a few days of the Shadowline. Their spawn are more mobile and less detectable until they cross the Shadowline. If you fought a dhoyle, you would be dust within seconds. It sheds an aura of chaos and destruction—you do not want to enter that aura.”
“Take this crystal. You can communicate to the Circle with it up to three times. After that, you will not be able to recharge it without a psion. You must bring clean water, and we suggest concentrated rations instead of foodstuffs. If you’re careful with water, and the mission is no more than 3 days in and three days out, 4 gallons should be sufficient.”
They travel directly to the Shadowline, cross through the tunnel that hasn’t been collapsed yet, and they travel a distance within the Shadow. It’s not truly dark, but it’s gloomy. Everything is a dull gray. The dust on the ground, the air above, everything is a shade of gray. They can’t see any clouds above, because they cannot see that high.
The group has a standard marching order:
They travel directly east. Off ahead of them and to the right, they see what looks like a small fire. As they travel, Merreep spots a group of humanoid figures—only 4 or 5—approaching from the direction of the fire. They continue on, as if they belong there.
These are orange eums—they look like yellow eums, but a little larger, and they look at the group, at the quasit, at the skeletal horses, and they ignore them.
They travel on another hour or so, and then a figure settles down from out of the sky. He appears to be a very gaunt human as he resolves. His eyes travel across all of them.
“Trueborn scum—should I not call upon you for tribute?”
“What tribe are you, that you would not speak to one of the Spawn?”
Bartix replies, “We are not of a tribe. We’re demon hunters.”
“Demon hunters? Here?”
“Demon worshippers! Demon worshippers!” says the quasit. “See! We have a frog demon with us.”
“Ah, so you are renegades, thrown out of your tribe for some offense. Perhaps I should eat one of you as a vampire Spawn in service of Cartaluma, the Weaver in Darkness.”
“Are you Nightwalker?”
“No, I am not. Is he the one you worship?”
“Of course! He gathers such as you together as he prepares for his push. It will be glorious. His encampment is two days farther on, while he waits for his dhoyle to finish bringing forth its spawn. If you wish to join him, press on.” The vampire ascends into the sky.
They travel until it feels like night—there is no night and no day, so it’s hard to be sure. They stop and make an encampment.
Most of the night passes fine. Then, in the third watch, most of the way through the night, a tall scaled humanoid figure strides into their camp, arrogantly. “Hail!”
“I have heard a rumor, that your group goes to offer your services to the hoard being gathered by the Nightwalker. Is that true?”
“I, a servant of Gnnnst, now ask you: what reason do you have to unite with the Nightwalker and not one of the other great lords? Can we entice you away? He will only waste your lives against the Shadowwall. It will be a great loss to Shadow after we have lost half of Caldefor. I will not stop you, but I urge you to reconsider.”
“What other lord would you propose we serve?” replies Bartix.
“Gnnnst would be my ideal choice, but you could also serve Carthaluma the Weaver in Darkness or the Lord of Disease and Decay.”
“Perhaps we should serve Gnnnst and then struggle against the Nightwalker.”
He is pleased, and gives them a single scale, that he says can be presented to any dragonborn encampment to get food and to hear the priest speak.
Bartix proposes actually throwing in with Gnnnst’s forces—he says that becoming part of the demon army could be good.
Runor opposes this as not what Glordiadel would want. Aleep expresses that he does not want to be in with the demon armies, because they spend lots of time killing and eating each other and he doesn’t want to get eaten.
The group splits up. Ulgorio and Bartix head off to try to find a dragonborn camp, while the rest of the group continues on towards Nightwalker’s camp.
Ulgorio and Bartix head off, carrying the scale, into the wastes away from the camp. They travel for most of the day, and then they realize that they are being slowly encircled at a distance by rather squat humanoid figures. Abruptly, 11 figures close in from all directions, out of the dust. They are paunchy, with distended bellies, large heads for the size of their bellies, armed with spears and primitive swords, and one in the back has fetishes that he rattles at them.
“Who approaches our tribe, and why should we not eat you?”
“We want to serve Lord Gnnnst, and we’re journeying to find his followers.”
“We are not cultists of his. Why should we let you go?”
“Because I could destroy you in five seconds.”
The shaman looks him up and down. “I think not.” It is the first time he has spoken. “You are water fat and food fat. I don’t think you come from the Shadowlands.”
“We don’t come from the Shadowlands, but we want to be demons.”
“Also, we can communicate with people outside the Shadow, and become spies.”
“You offer yourselves to become spies on the Light?”
“We will not eat you now, but you will come to our camp and I will consult with our lord. We have use for traitors.”
They return to a large encampment, and the shaman brings them to a large tent.
“What do you bring me?” says the elaborate lord.
“Two who dwell in the light and offer themselves to become spies.”
“What payment do you seek?”
“No payment, but we want to join you and become demons.”
“You realize that we are not demons. We are goblyns. You can become a servant to a demonlord, but you will never become demons. You are mortal, and they hold their privileges close. But if you would spy—we can pay you, and offer you well. What information do you have as an earnest for your services?”
“There are scouts in the Shadowland. And the tunnel into the Light has been discovered and captured by the Light.”
“That is a good earnest. You came with others, no doubt.”
“Yes, but they did not want to serve. They scout. They scout Nightwalker.”
“Pfft. They do not scout us. You must learn to be clever as a serpent. We serve Carthaluna. Return to your companions. Tell them you have had a change of heart. Then join them, scout with them, and return to the Light. Once you are back on the other side of the Shadowline, you will be contacted. You will be very useful spies. We will escort you back to rejoin your companions, so nothing threatens you.”
The other group has an entire day’s travel without incident.
They make camp. In the first watch of the night, a group of humanoids covered in greenish fur come to the edge of the camp. Ashaltir and Merreep are on watch. They carry shields and spears, and several carry lashes. There are 9 of them total.
“Whose are you?”
“What are you doing here?”
“We are slow players.”
“Oh. How are you doing?”
“We are… well. How are you doing? Nice horses. Where are you going?”
“To the next camp.”
“Oh. The big one. Yes, yes, some of our brothers went.” He sighs.
“No, no, we are not stupid, we are not going. Yes, we know, he is new, he is powerful, the Nightwalker’s followers think he will be the one to breach the wall. But without something like when Caldefor fell, they will not succeed. I suppose we will not anger one such as Nightwalker by interfering with you. His camp is not far, another day and a little and you should reach his camp. You look like Trueborn—I did not know he was gathering Trueborn.”
In the morning, they decide to not continue on to the encampment. Instead, they send a message through the crystal reporting about the encampment; its location (3.5 days due east of the Shadowline); that it’s a very large encampment, gathered by the Nightwalker, because the Nightwalker is powerful and they believe that it will breach the Shadowline; that there is a great dhoyle and that the Nightwalker is waiting for it to spawn, which should happen soon; and that two of the people from the group left the group and sought to join the Shadow.
Ulgorio and Bartix get led back to near the main group. They cover themselves in dust and injure themselves lightly, planning on claiming that their offer was rejected and they were attacked.
They stagger out. Merreep shouts, “they’re alive.”
They tell their story, and that “you don’t want to know” about what they fought. Merreep and Aleep believe their story, but Runor is suspicious and watches them carefully.
They start heading back to the Shadowline. Midway through the day, they approach 4 tall, thin figures, thin but not emaciated, mounted on skeletal horses. They’re not pureblood humans, but they have some elven blood that Ashaltir can see. They are heavily armored, and have lances.
“Careful, cousins. There’s activity near the border. We have seen it. We return to the tribe because our champion foolishly crossed over days ago. He has not returned, so we return to our tribe to report him lost.”
The night passes without event.
They travel towards the Shadowline. They approach a small bunker from the rear. There are a half-dozen what appear to be humans, sheltering behind the bunker—it’s one sided and faces the Shadowline. It was not here before. It has a banner, with an ebon field and nothing but two red spots on it, that look kind of like eyes. They appear to be watching the Shadowline—they’re not paying much attention to movement in Shadow. They avoid the forward picket, and they go through the tunnel and come out on the other side.
They return and report again.
“We have spread word of what you have told us to the Keepers of the two neighboring Circles. We will gather energy while we wait for the attack. They will attack within two weeks, and they will have sufficient strength to break through the wall with the dhoyle spawn until it is slain. The lesser creatures will be dealt with by the military that we are bringing in now. We greatly appreciate your aid. We appreciate the risks you have taken. If you intend to continue serving in this area, we would be pleased to offer you quarters in the barracks here. We will ultimately triumph.”
They each get an additional 50 silver.
[End Session 12]