Mordallend Story Hour

Galfridus

First Post
Episode 17: "Let's Split Up!"

Carinth, February 27, LE 654

Two days out of Leston, the party reaches Carinth, a small trading village on the main road between Leston and northern Wassan. Thorald and Jonetello were last here six months ago, when they arrived shortly after the village was attacked by Seriya, a perky and attractive half-demoness who killed several dozen villagers and kidnapped a party member (Coral) before vanishing. The village is not fortified, but as the party approaches they see a new cottage beside the road. Light from a lantern hung by the door spills onto the road. The porter doesn't ask for names, but he seems a bit suspicious to see so many people arriving at dusk.

There's only one inn in the village. The party goes through an elaborate routine of splitting into several groups: Jonetello as "Timone" the wandering minstrel; Magnimiliar as a dangerous man of mystery; Thorald and Tiesa as a newly married couple, with Ravenfield and Elbryn their bodyguards. They arrive at the inn separately, using fake names, but soon find out that Rose left that same morning after spending a day or so speaking to local merchants and making appointments for several days hence.

Despite Rose's absence, the party decides that given the number of enemies they have gained, excess caution is no sin. They stagger their departures the following morning, arranging to meet a half-hour or so north of the village.

Jonetello and Thorald/Tiesa's party reach the rendezvous point without incident, but then discover a priest of Ehlonna is following them. Jonetello and Thorald recall seeing him in the inn speaking to several locals - but after the past few days they cannot help but be suspicious. After some cautious negotiations, the priest (named Alamar Sunin) admits that he is seeking the party; in particular, Thorald and Jonetello. It seems that his temple was destroyed several weeks ago by the half-demon Seriya, and he is seeking revenge. From what has been able to discover, Jonetello and Thorald are among the few who have spoken to Seriya and survived.

The conversation broadens to include the party's current mission (finding Rose and getting some answers), but eventually boils down to the simple fact that no one likes being without a cleric. Alamar seems happy to help the party out. Once Magnimiliar catches up and is filled in, the party continues along the road toward Flanesville, Rose's next destination.

Flanesville, March 1, LE 654

Flanesville is a larger settlement along the Wassan Way, the east-west road leading out of Rellenor and through miles of wilderness to the dwarven kingdom of Madrazzar. It (Flanesville, that is) boasts an earthern wall that runs in a half-circle out from the northern bank of the Wassanthid, surrounding the town. Once again the party splits into groups (the previous three, plus Alamar) and attempts to quietly enter town. There are only a few inns, and it doesn't take long to find Rose (at the White Oak) and his bodyguards (at the Clearwater Tavern). Alamar takes a room at the White Oak, while most everyone else ends up at the Wonderful Dwarf, a less expensive establishment on the other side of town.

That afternoon, everyone gathers to discuss strategy. The basic idea is to put Rose in a position where they can get some answers. Ambushing when he leaves town seems like the best plan, but they don't know how long he'll be in town. Rather than wait indefinitely and risk being discovered, they decide to strike at him in his room that evening.

It is at this point that Ravenfield announces his departure from the group. He has found a job as an armorer, he says, and has decided that a life of wandering is not for him. The group wishes him the best of luck.

An hour or so after dusk, the party (except for Alamar, who is waiting in his room) establishes a rally point two blocks east of the White Oak. From there, Magnimiliar and Thorald turn Invisible and sneak into the inn. Sneaking through the common room (where Rose sits with three bodyguards and a merchant) undetected, they proceed up the stairs to Alamar's room. The priest casts Silence, allowing them to pick the lock on Rose's door and slip inside the empty room without making a sound. Tiesa waits on the street outside, also invisible. They have an hour before their spells wear off: with luck, Rose will return within that time. Thorald readies Mind Blast; Magnimiliar readies his Bag of Holding. The two sit and wait...
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Galfridus

First Post
Episode 18: "Every Rose Has Its Thorn"

Flanesville, March 1, LE 654

After twenty or so minutes, a key turns in the lock, and Rose enters the room. He crosses to the desk, sits, and begins writing in a small book. Thorald, hidden under the bed, sees little; Magnimiliar, in the corner, can see what looks like a journal entry but cannot make out the words. Time passes, and Rose continues to write. The Invisibility spells have almost worn out when Magnimiliar decides to act.

Incanting as quietly as possible, he casts Charm Person, becoming visible - and wincing as he senses Rose resisting the spell. Rose stands, drawing a long sword almost casually. Thorald hears this, but his poor vantage point delays his response. "What are you casting on me?" he asks politely but with coldness in his tone. Magnimiliar's only reply is another casting of the spell; but Rose resists once more. Finally, however, Thorald lets loose a Mind Blast which leaves Rose stunned and reeling. Magnimiliar holds him still while Thorald ties and gags him. Then, Thorald manifests Control Body so Magnimiliar can check and tighten the knots. They drop him in the Bag of Holding and exit via the window, running across to Alamar's shutter. Magnimiliar grabs the book and a couple of scrolls which Rose had placed on the desk.

"Did you get him?" Tiesa's voice whispers from empty air nearby. They nod, then knock at Alamar's shutter while Tiesa goes to inform Jonetello and Elbryn. Everyone departs to rendezvous back at the other inn - except for Thorald, who has an idea. Sneaking back into Rose's room, he writes a message in large letters on the wall:

"DO NOT DEFY MALEFICE."

"If only I had some blood to write with," he mutters, then sneaks out. Meanwhile, Magnimiliar feels the bag begin to stir; Rose must be awake. He looks up and sees a guard, not thirty feet distant, staring at the jostling sack. "It's a pig?" suggests Magnimiliar.

"Pretty quiet for a pig," replies the guard, and starts walking closer. Magnimiliar squeals in fear and bolts for a nearby alley. The guard is no match for Magnimiliar's sneakiness, and less than minute later Magnimiliar is back on his way.

Back at their room at the other inn, the party opens the bag briefly to give Rose some air and make sure he is still tied up (he is). They split into three groups, in case Rose's bodyguards come looking for them later. Each group leaves town by a different gate, then heads for last night's campsite on the eastern road. From there, Jonetello leads them into the woods, toward a small remote hollow he knows from his childhood. As they walk, Magnimiliar opens the bag again to let some air in - Rose's hand reaches out, clutching at his wrist. Shrieking in surprise, he slips free and closes the bag, tying it shut this time.

Once at the hollow, the party prepares to release Rose. They stand in a circle around the bag, ready for anything. Jonetello unties the knots and steps back. Before anyone can react, Rose climbs out of the bag and draws a sword. Jonetello sends the sword flying to the ground with a flick of his rapier, then trips Rose as he tries to retrieve it. Magnimiliar, Thorald, and Alamar try various spells, but Rose resists them all. He reaches into a pouch and produces what looks like a small black pearl. Turning to Thorald, he draws his arm back to throw; but Jonetello is too quick. He impales the small black bead with his rapier.

The Bead of Force shatters in Rose's hand, battering both Rose and Jonetello with a rapidly expanding wave of magical power which threatens to engulf them both.

To be continued...
 

Galfridus

First Post
Jonetello leaps nimbly out of the way of the Bead of Force. Rose doesn't move a muscle; in fact, he seems pleased to be surrounded by an impenetrable magical wall. As the party watches, he drinks a potion, readies a second, then stands and waits, a slight smirk on his face. Thirteen tension-filled minutes follow.

Without warning, the force bubble vanishes. Before anyone can react, Rose gulps down his second potion and vanishes. Thorald spots a set of footprints appearing in the fresh snow, moving quickly away from the campsite. "He's running!" he yells, pointing.

Unfortunately for Rose, Alamar is one step ahead, mentally. He runs after the invisible merchant and casts Invisibility Purge. The rest of the party runs up and surrounds him. Rose shakes off a Charm Person and a Mind Blast, but his sword hand is not so quick, and Jonetello easily disarms him. He reaches for his sword, taking a shoulder wound from Jonetello, then looks around at the group. "Very well...I surrender," he declares, dropping the sword to the snow once again. He casually reaches up to a charm hung around his neck, speaks a strange word, then begins concentrating. Jonetello immediately strikes him again, but Rose continues to concentrate a moment longer before his eyes refocus. "I am done now," he says, and does not resist as the group ties him securely. They remove his leather armor, charm, sword, and pouch (containing a thousand gold pieces) and place them all in the bag of holding - just in case.

The party prepares for a round of questioning. Alamar casts Zone of Truth, and senses that Rose has succumbed to the spell. They have only a few minutes to ask questions.

"What are you doing here?" is the first question, which Rose declines to answer. Magnimiliar attempts to intimidate him into answering, but Rose seems completely unfazed by any threats. He denies sending the invisible stalkers, but falls silent when asked if he knows who did. He admits that he intends harm for the party, but will not give any specifics. He flatly refuses to answer any questions regarding the Order of Ardinor. He states that he is not a spellcaster and does not have the power to summon an invisible stalker. "You have no idea of the juggernaut that is approaching," he says with a grim smile. "Your actions are really quite irrelevant." When asked what he was doing, he says that he was merely traveling about Wassan making trade agreements; in a week's time, he was to send work to Nip in Leston, who would begin readying a caravan to head south. The party threatens Rose with death, or with turning him over to the authorities, but he is not concerned. "Kill me if you must," he taunts. "Or perhaps the elves would give you justice, as you seem to have killed Mystarion," suggests Jonetello. At this, Rose sneers. "The elves? The humans here would do a better job of dealing out justice, I think." About this time, the spell expires, and the party gags Rose while they discuss his fate.

There is some talk of killing him, but no one seems willing to do the deed. In the end, the party decides once again that traveling to the elvish kingdom of Thelden is the best option: there, Mystarion's family can probably help interrogate Rose. They set a watch and retire for the night.

The next morning, Magnimiliar decides to try Charm Person one last time. To his surprise, the spell succeeds. Rose looks at him with a new sense of "friendship."

"Tell me what's going on," urges Magnimiliar.

Rose looks up at him. "Leave the elf and the wizard," he says, glancing at Thorald. "Get as far away from them as you can. That is the only way you might survive what is to come."

"What is coming? What do you mean?" demands Magnimiliar.

"I am going to do you a favor," replies Rose. He speaks two mystic words, and then begins to choke. His eyes roll back in his head, and as Magnimiliar watches in amazement, he dies.

As one, the rest of the party looks at Rose's corpse, then at Magnimiliar. "I didn't do it!" he insists.

To be continued...
 

Galfridus

First Post
Thorald and Alamar cast Detect Magic over the corpse, and immediately notice that the necromantic aura that had surrounded Rose is fading, as if the spell it was holding had been discharged. "A suicide spell?" wonders Thorald. They also discover that of Rose's possessions, his sword, leather armor, and charm radiate magic.

Magnimiliar takes a little time to read through Rose's papers. He finds several contracts with local merchants for goods to be delivered in the following weeks, as well as an accounting of all the goods Rose seemed to be organizing for his caravan. Journal entries indicate that he was making a final trip through Wassan to make a few final deals and to ensure his goods would be delivered on time. In a week or so, he was planning to send word to Nip in Leston, who would take care of preparing the caravan, hiring guards, etc. Rose planned on a mid-March departure (weather permitting), heading south across Sygwerdan's lands into the gnomish kingdoms. There seem to be no references to his destination within the gnome realms, or to any contacts in that part of the world. Magnimiliar also notices that Rose's system for tracking expenditures seems different from the standard method - a little more complicated, but very organized and easy to track. One other missing item is funds: based on what's in the book, Rose had upcoming debts far in excess of the cash he was carrying. "He must have more hidden in his room," surmises Magnimiliar.

The next day, Magnimiliar and Alamar travel separately into town. Alamar returns to his room at the White Oak; Magnimiliar, under the assumed name Mystarion, hands the innkeeper a platinum piece and receives the nicest room in the house. (Unfortunately, it's at the opposite end of the building from Alamar and Rose's old room, but Magnimiliar feels the bearskin rug and hot bath are worth it.) The innkeeper also seems a bit nervous about something, but Magnimiliar does not press him.

After a couple hours, a bath, and an extravagant meal, Magnimiliar decides it's time to investigate Rose's room. He sneaks down the hallway until he reaches the stairs. Rose's room is down the hall, but crossing in front of the stairs might result in his being spotted by someone in the common room below. Magnimiliar asks his raven familiar, Malagen, to peek around the corner and let him know when the coast is clear. He then tiptoes to Rose's door and begins picking the lock.

Before he can finish, Malagen warns him of someone coming up the stairs. "Fly down at them and distract them," orders Magnimiliar. As he turns back to the door, he hears squawking and wings flapping, followed by a terrified scream from the innkeeper.

"Run! It's Malefice!!!"

There is a sudden commotion downstairs; in seconds, the common room is empty. Alamar, hearing the disturbance, descends the stairs himself. Magnimiliar comes down afterward. A small crowd of patrons and staff cluster across the street.

"What is going on?" demands Magnimiliar.

"I should have told you, sir!" grovels the innkeeper. "Malefice is here!"

Magnimiliar does his best to hide a grin. "The necromancer?"

"Oh, yes, sir! He kidnapped a merchant from my inn just last night! They didn't find a body, just a warning. Now there's a raven inside threatening people." He looks up the street, where a group of soldiers can be seen rapidly approaching. "First the Knight Commander and now this! This is terrible!"

Magnimiliar holds up a hand. "I must apologize - I think you have mistaken my bird for...something else."

"Your bird?" asks one of the soldiers. "What's going on here?"

After a brief explanation, Magnimiliar and the soldiers enter the inn. The soldiers peek in cautiously, then rush inside, crossbows and swords ready. Magnimiliar raises an arm, and Malagen swoops down. "Just my bird," Magnimiliar says. "Sorry!"

The soldiers insist on searching the common room, then depart. The rest of the inn's patrons file in slowly, some casting suspicious looks at the raven. "I'm very sorry about the confusion, sir," says the innkeeper. "With what happened last night I'm afraid something worse is yet to come." He realizes what is he saying and rushes on. "But don't you worry - there's a squad of men coming this evening to stand guard, to make sure all of my guests are safe. I'll post two outside your door!"

"Wonderful," replies Magnimiliar. He thanks the innkeeper and returns to his room briefly before sneaking down the hall once more. This time, he is able to pick the lock before anyone comes up the stairs. He slips inside and begins searching.

Several hours later, he has discovered only two items: a sack of gold (five hundred pieces in all) and a small hiding place between the desk and the wall, empty. Five hundred is still not enough to cover what Rose would be paying; but wherever his stash might be, it's not in this room. Magnimiliar exits, relocks the door, and collects his belongings before heading downstairs.

"I've decided I'd be safer sleeping in the open tonight," he tells the innkeeper. The innkeeper nods glumly, then looks at his money pouch. "You may keep the money," Magnimiliar adds.

"Then good luck to you sir, and please come back in happier times!"

Magnimiliar departs, then sends Malagen to inform Alamar. The two meet up outside of town and return to camp. Alamar reports a rumor overheard from an inn patron: Rose's bodyguard set off at dawn, heading north from Flanesville in hopes of finding their employer.

The party decides to search Rose's belongings more extensively. Magnimiliar dons his Mask of Minute Seeing and carefully examines Rose's armor, sword, and charm for any sort of hidden compartment or other irregularity. He finds nothing. He also inspects the gold, but it seems to be normal Rellenor-minted coin. At a loss, they decide to cross the river and head south toward Leston. In order to avoid the Blaumere garrison at the ford, Alamar suggests using Water Walk. The party makes plans to depart the following morning, once Alamar has prepared the spell.
 

Galfridus

First Post
Episode 19: "'Of course you can sleep in our barn.'"

Several months back, the party spent a harrowing night encamped on a haunted hill. Many spirits appeared, but by far the most sinister was that of a short, stocky man dressed in black robes. His eyes glow a deep red, the same color as the ruby set into the silver scythe pendant hung around his neck. He said many things, but one passage caught the party's interest:

"Your land would have known peace, north and south, but for one of your own. Loxham, Blaumere, Darkridge alike, all betrayed. In victory you sow the seeds of a greater defeat. Your bright songs of triumph mean nothing when a larger evil lurks among you."

Flanesville, March 3, LE 654

With the help of a Wind Walk, the party crosses the river. Their horses are more than a little dubious about walking on top of moving liquid, but with some deft handling from Elbryn and Jonetello, they manage.

South of the river lies a rough, hilly section of Wassan, dotted with tiny villages and trails. Jonetello knows the area and cannot recall any paths nearby, so the party takes a southeasterly course, climbing a low hill and hoping to reach the Leston Road within a couple days. As they near the top of the hill, Magnimiliar notices a small hole carved into a nearby snowbank. "Somebody's watching us," he whispers to the party. Everyone readies their weapons.

Moments later, a dozen armed men burst into sight, rising out of the snow or from behind cleverly crafted blinds. "Freeze, Rebel!" commands one of them...but there's a smile on his face as he regards Jonetello. "Raph-ah, perhaps I didn't catch your name," he amends hastily.

Jonetello returns the grin. "It's Jonetello," he says, then turns to his comrades. "This is Kel Greenleaf," he says, then introduces Kel to the members of the party. Once that is done, he addresses Alamar. "You are the only one who doesn't know - my real name is Raphael Greweled, Defender of Loxham." (The Defenders were a small group devoted to the protection of the Loxham family; while officially disbanded, they form the core of the Rebellion against the Blaumeres.)

Kel addresses Jonetello. "If your friends are...of like mind, then you are welcome to come with me. If not, then I must suggest that you find a different route."

Jonetello laughs. "They are not all with us, but they are no friends of the Blaumeres."

"Fair enough," replies Kel. He leads the party over the hill and into a thick forest. Several hours later, they arrive at a main camp of the Rebellion. At least two hundred people dwell here, training and preparing for the next move against those who executed their lawful leader. "We haven't done much lately," comments Kel. "With Malefice acting up, everyone's worried that any move against the Blaumeres would just play into his hands. Not that I mind staying out of harm's way, but some of the brave lads are getting a bit impatient. But...first the Knight Commander, and then this fellow Rose. I don't know what he's up to-"

"...actually, we were responsible for Rose," interjects Jonetello. "He had nothing to do with Malefice - in fact, he seems to represent a new faction, one that is apparently planning something big."

"You wrote the note?" asks Kel. Jonetello nods. Kel chuckles. "Clever. Well - even if it's just the Knight Commander, nobody knows who is going to replace him. Some say the Count will name one of his kin to make sure the job's done right, some think he'll put in someone as useless and unrelated as possible, since he'll probably get his guts torn out as well. He'll have to name someone soon, so they have time to take stock of the situation before spring."

Magnimiliar chimes in. "Say, do you have a wizard here who could identify a couple items for us?"

"Sure thing," says Kel, "though you'll have to pay standard rates. Rebellions don't come cheap." Magnimiliar nods his agreement. Kel turns toward a largish tent. "Hey Frank! Come over here!" A tall man in dark blue robes strides from the tent and toward the party. "This is Frank the Diviner. Frank, these guys need some stuff identified...you know, magically." Kel wiggles his fingers dramatically.

Frank gives Kel a bored look. "It's Farankin," he says to the party in a tired voice. "How many items?"

"Three," says Magnimiliar. "A sword, a suit of leather armor, and a charm."

"That's one casting of the spell, a hundred and fifty gold. I'll start casting tomorrow, have the results mid-afternoon."

The party spend the next day and a half resting. Jonetello performs "Bloodmoor's Folly" and "Bloodmoor Besieged" - everyone in the camp save the sentries (hopefully) listens and cheers wildly as Count "Bloodmoor" gets what's coming to him.

Farankin identifies the items turned over by the group: a +1 Long sword, +2 Leather armor, and a rather complex charm. "It produces an effect similar to the divine Sending spell," explains Frank, "but the destination seems to be pre-determined, and I can't tell what the destination is. The spell does not feel like anything I've examined before; it's probably a personally-researched spell. The effect works once a day; just say the command word and think your message. No more than twenty five words. If it's like Sending, the recipient can respond."

The party confers about this item for a while: whether they should use it, destroy it, or just hold onto it. In the end, Thorald decides to give it a shot. He dons the charm, speaks the command word, and thinks:

"Rose is dead; we are coming for you next."

After a delay of several minutes, a reply echoes in Thorald's mind:

"Zis ket. Kath Sissex Da?"

The words and accent are strange to Thorald, so strange he is unable to repeat them accurately afterward.

During this down-time, Kel comes to the party with a problem. It concerns Lewis Longbons, a Defender who has spent the years since the Count's execution trying to discover the truth of what happened. "He came here last fall with a theory - and you know how he is about his ideas. The way he tells it, it wasn't the real Count that was executed, just an impostor!" Kel continues as Jonetello looks unconvinced. "Yeah, I know, but he was all sure of himself. As far as I could tell, the only real evidence he had is that when they put him on trial, they asked his name before casting the truth spells. Lewis said the adjudicators didn't ask some standard questions, stuff you always ask when magic is involved." Kel pauses for breath. "Anyway, to the real problem. After telling me all this, he says that he was looking into the people who were killed, the ones that the Count was supposed to have sacrificed. Some were prisoners in Leston Keep, and the others came from Leston Road, right? Well, seems one fellow, Jim Trellens, was actually on the Bog Road out of Leston, way the other side of town. Lewis started poking around, and found out the guy was looking for a farm owned by a couple named Lonnenham. Figures it's worth a look, so being Lewis, he does the legwork to find it. Turns out it's maybe a day's walk from Leston. Lewis takes off to go see the place and never comes back - and it's been months now. After a month or so, I send a couple of the boys down there to check it out...they don't come back neither! I can't waste any more guys. Do you think you could check it out?"

The party doesn't need long to decide. They want to head to Merelin by way of Sygwerdan's lands, and this isn't too far out of the way. "Sure, we'll take a look," says Jonetello. The next day, they depart the Rebellion camp and make for the Leston Road and the Lonnenham farm.
 

Galfridus

First Post
Lonnenham farm, March 7, LE 654

The Lonnenham farm is a couple hours off the main road to Leston, in an area of low hills and light forest. The path all buts fades into nothingness as the party follows it into a thick wood. The snow is light under the trees, and most of the ground is bare. After a time, the party can spot a clearing up ahead that looks to be the farm. Magnimiliar sends Malagen to fly over the farm.

At the same time, Alamar invokes his Figurine of Wondrous Power. The small tree spirit comes to life. "Ask, and the trees shall answer," it says in a tiny but deep voice.

"Has anything evil happened at this farm?" asks Alamar.

"There has been much evil here."

"Is there any evil there now?" he asks.

"The leaves sense no evil; only the roots."

Alamar thinks for a few seconds before asking his third question. "Is anyone dwelling there?"

"Humans live in the farm." As Alamar considers this answer, the tree-spirit stiffens and returns to figurine form. Alamar puts it away in his pouch and makes sure the others heard his questions and its answers.

From the air, Malagen spots three buildings: a long, low farmhouse with smoke rising from the primitive chimney, a second squarish building, and a circular stone tower which is in ruins. Other than some hens in the yard, he can see no sign of activity.

Magnimilar waits for Malagen to return, then casts Invisibility and moves ahead to scout himself. He leaves Malagen behind to communicate what he is finding to the others.

At first, he sees nothing beyond what Malagen described: three buildings, one with smoke rising. The stone tower appears to have one story left intact. The snow around the farm has been walked on and trampled, so Magnimiliar's footsteps will not be noticed as he sneaks around.

He starts with the main building. All of the windows are shuttered, and the door seems to be barred from the inside. Around back, he finds a second door, also barred. The second building looks to be stables. Between it and the tower is a small yard, where several chickens roam. He puts his ear to the door and can make out two voices: a man and a woman. Thorald (through Malagen) suggests trying to make out what they are saying, but Magnimiliar decides to investigate the tower first.

The large double door to the tower is unlocked. Magnimiliar opens it a crack and peeks in. The entire floor is one large room, with a wooden floor. Other than a few stacks of hay, the room is empty; but he cannot help but notice a strange spicy odor that he cannot place. He steps back and casts Detect Magic to make sure nothing is amiss, but gets no readings from any of the buildings. He opens the tower door a little wider, slips inside, and begins searching. As he moves toward the back wall, he hears a small "snick"; before he can react, the floor collapses!

Magnimiliar falls a good thirty feet onto a solid stone floor bristling with metal spikes. His tumbling reflexes take the worst out of the fall, but several spikes dig into him, and he feels a wave of nausea as something enters his blood. The smell of spice has given way to the reek of death...and he realizes he is not alone. Eight rotting figures lurch toward him, groaning with the pain of unlife. Though Magnimiliar is invisible, the blood he has spilled is not. He stands and quickly moves against a wall, but he brushes against two of the zombies, who turn to follow his retreat. In his mind, he can hear Malagen screaming at the others for help...but they are hundreds of yards away. He readies himself for death.

"Fall! Fall! Help! Come now!" screeches Malagen. The others need no other prompting; leaping onto horseback they begin galloping desperately toward the farm. Jonetello and Alamar take the lead, with Thorald and Tiesa some distance behind.

In the pit, Magnimiliar manages to cast Shield, granting him almost complete protection from the zombies. He is planning his next move when he spots a figure standing in the doorway, thirty feet overhead. The figure tosses a torch into the pit, then begins casting a spell. To his horror, Magnimiliar sees himself becoming visible! He spends a few desperate seconds fending off zombies before remembering: he has a scroll of Invisibility to Undead! He produces and reads it...but nothing happens. At that moment, the poison from the spikes catches up to him, and he sags to the ground. As he lapses into unconsciousness, he hears a low thundering sound: hoofbeats?

Malagen flies beside Jonetello, warning him of the man standing at the tower's entrance. Jonetello sees a man dressed in farmer's garb, and charges. The man winces as Jonetello's rapier pierces his side. Alamar dismounts and casts Hold Person; the man freezes in place. But before anyone can capitalize on this, the rustle of paper followed by strange chanting sounds from the trees, and the man moves again. He runs away, heedless of the parting blow Jonetello lands, then casts Invisibility. As he retreats, Magnimiliar vanishes from sight.

Alamar runs to the edge of the pit and summons forth the power of Ehlonna. In a twinkling, the zombies collapse, decaying rapidly into dust. Jonetello descends into pit to help Magnimiliar. He also spots several bodies, including one skeleton still wearing leather armor and buckler, and carrying a book and a blade. He draws the blade forth, and recognizes it as the Frost Blade, carried by Lewis Longbons. He lowers his head for a moment in silent memorial.

Alamar immobilizes the figure in the forest with an Entangle spell, but before a long a young woman dressed in peasant's attire thrusts her way free of the clutching branches. Thorald, just arriving on the scene, manifests Control Body, and holds her still long enough to tie and gag her. About then, Tiesa arrives, panting. "Did I miss it?" she gasps.

Jonetello goes to the back door of the farmhouse, and finds it open. He spends a few minutes searching and finds a trap door in the middle of one of the two rooms. He opens it briefly: a brick-walled passage leads down about twenty feet, a wooden ladder affixed to one wall. He closes the door and puts a heavy wooden table on top of it.

Alamar casts a Cure spell on Magnimiliar, but when he does not awaken, takes a closer look and recognizes the bluish tinge to his skin as a symptom of blue whinnis extract. After a few minutes, he concocts a brew that awakens the rogue. Magnimiliar screams in terror before realizing that he is now safe.

The group ungags the woman and demands some answers. She refuses to give her name, or that of her companion, but freely admits they are followers of Nerull. "The master of death will claim you all, in time," she says.

"Then you will not mind meeting him now," says Magnimiliar, raising his weapon. The woman flinches and looks desperately at the group.

"If you promise to free me, I have information for you," she pleads. "Sure, I promise," says Jonetello glibly, but it is good enough for their prisoner. "Malefice is not the only priest of power," she begins. "It was Kutumno, the master, who plotted the downfall of your Count. Had he not been betrayed, all would be at peace now. Malefice usurped his position. I follow Selve, apprentice to Kutumno, who will soon rise over Malefice and bring the gifts of Nerull to all your lands!"

"Sounds great," says Magnimiliar, "but not worth letting you go for." The party debates what to do, but in the end, no one feels the least bit sorry about killing an admitted worshipper of a death god. Alamar raises his crossbow to her temple and looses one fatal bolt.
 

Galfridus

First Post
Episode 20: "Don't Fear the Reaper"

The entire session (3 hours or so) was taken up with a 20+ round combat, so this story entry may be a little short. Apologies to the two or three people who seem to be reading this, and feel free to post comments if there's something you'd like to see changed, or if you have questions about the campaign.

Lonnenham farm, March 7, LE 654

As the woman's blood spills onto the ground, the party quickly prepares to enter the tunnel beneath the trap door. Tiesa, invisible, flits down the shaft and back up again. She reports a silent, brick-lined passage leading ten or so paces north to a sturdy wooden door.

The party climbs down the ladder: Jonetello, Magnimiliar, Alamar, Thorald, and lastly Tiesa (still invisible, drifting down the shaft). The rungs are well crafted, making nary a sound even as four people place their weight upon them. Jonetello's rapier casts a blue glow over the flagstones and brickwork of the low-ceilinged passageway. He approaches with caution and tries the door, which is locked. He and Magnimiliar listen, but can hear nothing from beyond the door. They pick the lock together, then slide a pair of narrow metal strips around the door, one to each side, to lift and disengage the bar holding the door closed. It clatters to the ground on the other side, drawing a few winces from those assembled in the hallway. Everyone readies themselves for battle; Jonetello gives a curt nod, then kicks the door open.

Beyond the doorway is a room, thirty feet by twenty, with a low brick ceiling that arches very slightly toward the center. Two other doors lead from the room: one on the west wall, barred from the inside; and a second on the north wall, unbarred. Jonetello observes this in passing, but his attention is drawn rather quickly to the five figures who are advancing on him. They appear humanoid, but their dark gray cloaks and shadowed hoods make further identification difficult. Pale hands, the only skin visible, clutch gnarled staves that they brandish as they rush to the attack. Jonetello has time to adopt a defensive stance, using his skill and expertise to fend them off from the doorway.

His choice of tactics is fortunate. As they close to combat range, the staves begin to writhe, dissolving into grey smoke that maintains a staff-like shape. At one end of each staff, a dull scythe-like blade forms, more solid than the rest of the staff, but still insubstantial. The creatures attack in tandem, two feinting so that the third, directly in front of Jonetello, can strike with more accuracy. Jonetello nearly loses his composure as the scythe sweeps right through his rapier - but his reflexes hold true, and he dodges away from the attack. He ripostes, and breathes a sigh of relief as his rapier seems to wound the creature.

From the back ranks, Alamar calls upon the power of Ehlonna. For a moment, the cold dank air of the room grows warm and fresh, as with the promise of the coming spring. Two of the reapers shudder and turn away, retreating to a corner of the room. Magnimiliar follows with a volley of Magic Missiles; the reaper attacking Jonetello hisses as the bolts strike it. Thorald strikes with Concussion, causing the creature to stagger back; but still it does not fall. Behind him, Tiesa waits, casting nervous glances upward.

Jonetello is kept busy fending off the spectral blades. "Some help would be nice!" he calls, as he manages a feeble thrust that the reaper, even in its weakened state, easily dodges. They attack in tandem again, and again his defense holds. Alamar channels more energy from Ehlonna, but this time it fails to pierce the sorceries that bind the creatures to this world. Magnimiliar and Thorald repeat their magical attacks, and are relieved when the already wounded creature collapses into a pile of smoking robes. The blade of its scythe melts away, leaving an old, gnarled stick that clatters to the ground.

Through the cold smoke and the whirl of blades, Jonetello sees the door opposite him open. The two reapers in the corner swiftly flee through the doorway; after they have gone, a human-looking figure pokes its head into the room, looks swiftly around, then ducks back. The two remaining reapers attack Jonetello, but again they cannot penetrate his agile defense. His strike misses as well. "Help, please!" he calls.

Suddenly, Magnimiliar slaps a hand against his forehead. "I have it!" Ignoring the curious glances from his comrades, he produces a scroll and reads it: but nothing seems to happen. "Invisibility to Undead," he proclaims, and tumbles forward into the room.

Unfortunately, this was Mags' first acquaintance with the spell. One of the reapers pierces the veil of the spell and swings at Magnimiliar. As the scythe passes through his chest, Magnimiliar feels a strange coldness tugging at his spirit; as if his soul was being severed from his body. He screams, but there is little he can do. The others press the attack, doing some damage to the remaining reapers; but seconds later, the two which Alamar had turned come rushing through the doorway. They attack Magnimiliar, and one blade strikes home. This time, the cut into his soul goes much deeper; Magnimiliar can feel the link to his spellcasting abilities being stripped away.

The rest of the party rushes into the room to help Magnimiliar. Jonetello lowers his defenses and lands several telling blows; however, the reaper blades strike him twice, and the same coldness slices at his soul. Jonetello's psionic abilities are unaffected, but for the first time in his life his natural confidence abandons him. He fights on, fearing that the next strike would sever his soul entirely. Fortunately, he does not have to find out: the reapers fall to the party's weapons moments later.

As the robes of the last reaper slide to the ground, Alamar hears faint chanting from the open door, down another narrow passage leading away from the room. A cloud of black, cloying gas fills the room. Though it vanishes in an instant, its foulness burns at the lungs and throat. Magnimiliar in particular is left with a lingering nausea. Alamar dashes to the doorway and sees a closed door at the other end, about twenty-five feet distant. Light shines through a small peephole in the center of the door. Alamar advances about ten feet down the hall and casts Silence, targeting a point about fifteen feet beyond the doorway. "Cast through that," he mutters in satisfaction, then turns around, ready to start healing the wounded.

Magnimiliar wants a go at the people behind that door. Able to cast only the simplest spells, he decides to advance down the passage. As he takes a step past Alamar, he hears a "click" - and the floor opens up beneath him. He nimbly backsteps just in time to avoid falling into a twenty-foot deep pit. "That was close!"

As the words leave his lips, a crossbow looses from behind the peephole. A tiny bolt strikes Magnimiliar - who cannot dodge as the shaft strikes him in the gut. He struggles to stay on his feet, near death from the well-aimed strike. Alamar considers a moment, then begins Conjuring a celestial bear to assist. Magnimiliar retreats into the room, ducking away from the peephole. Jonetello steps into the corridor, preparing to advance on the doorway.

In a rainbow of light, Alamar's celestial bear appears at his side. Alamar speaks the final word of the spell, sending the creature a mental command to bash down the door and attack those who lie beyond. The bear crouches at the lip of the pit, easily leaps the five-foot gap - and promptly falls into a second pit, placed just beyond the first one. Alamar curses, then retreats into the room to heal the wounded. Moments later, the sticky strands of a Web appear in the corridor, trapping the bear and Jonetello. Thorald and Tiesa step forward and begin burning through the web to reach Jonetello. The bear has no trouble breaking free and climbing up pit to the doorway; but as it approaches, a voice from beyond the door speaks fell words of power, and a hand dripping with dark energy reaches through and touches the bear. With a roar of pain, it perishes, returning to the outer planes. Thorald decides to simply Dispel the web, freeing Jonetello.

Just as he does, the smell of death and decay wafts into the room, followed by a range of guttural snarls and howls. Before anyone can react, a horde of ghouls and ghasts rushes into the room, bursting through the one unopened door and the passage that the party had come from. Already wounded, the party is cast into another deadly fight. Tiesa and Thorald are swiftly paralyzed. Alamar calls on Ehlonna, turning several of the ghasts, but several remain. Then, a field of magical Silence covers the room. Alamar is unable to use his healing spells within the field, and he falls back to a narrow strip next to the pit where he can speak and cast spells. He debates leaping over the pit, but before he can decide, Magnimiliar rushes past him, seeking the safest place he can find: at the base of the door, out of sight of the peephole. There, he readies his Horn of Fog. With a quick movement, he places it against the peephole and blows, filling the room and a bit of the passageway with thick fog. Alamar makes the dangerous jump over to assist, but the job is done; the people beyond the door can no longer interfere with the combat.

With that done, Alamar turns most of the remaining ghouls, feeling drained as the last of Ehlonna's power issues forth from him. Jonetello finishes off one remaining ghast that had begun a feast of Thorald's living entrails. He tosses a tanglefoot bag to Magnimiliar, who hurls it through the fog against the peephole. "That should hold them," he mutters, as the trio gather up the rigid bodies of Thorald and Tiesa and make for the exit.

"Where do we stop?" gasps Alamar as they reach the top of the shaft.

"Miles away!" yells Jonetello, looking around for his horse.
 


Galfridus

First Post
Glad you liked what you read, Piratecat!

A non-lethal tournament is a great tool for encouraging strategy and teamwork; the players planned more for that episode than for any "real" fight they've had thus far! :)
 

Galfridus

First Post
Episode 21: "Dead Men Tell No…doh!"

Lonnenham farm, still March 7, LE 654...

Somehow, the momentum of the party falters as they sight the corpse of the cultist they recently slew. Instead of fleeing, they begin searching the house, barn, and tower for more clues.

Jonetello doesn't find anything new in the main house: to his expert eyes, the entire building was set up perfectly as a front, with no incriminating evidence (besides the trap door). He finds a supply of lantern oil and begins dousing the walls and roof.

Searching the tower, Magnimiliar and Alamar almost miss the edge of a secret door running about ten feet off the ground along the north wall. Rather than the top of an entrance, it's the bottom - the door opens ten feet off the ground, operating by a concealed latch to one side of the door. They fetch a ladder, climb up, and turn the latch. The stone door slides inward, and a puff of putrid, foul air blows out from a narrow stone passage. They shine a light inside and see a closed door about thirty feet in.

Jonetello walks outside and casually tosses a torch onto the farmhouse, which promptly goes up in flames. He strolls over to the barn and quickly finds a trap door in the corner by the door. With Tiesa's help, he piles bales of hay over the door, then sets them (and the barn) alight. To complete the job, they take logs and brush down to the trap door, stuff them inside, and light that as well. "That should get plenty of smoke down there," chortles Jonetello. Everyone moves back a ways from the conflagration and waits.

"Wait-I hear coughing," says Tiesa. "Over there!" She points beyond the burning barn, to a section of light woods nearby. Cautiously, the party approaches. They spot a few footprints in a patch of snow, and follow them back to a trap door, well concealed but for the wisps of smoke rising from its edges. Before they can open the door, however, a cloud of fetid gas appears around them, as a priest clad in dark plate mail emblazoned with the scythe and skill emblem of Nerull appears several dozen paces away. "The Master of Death claims you all!" he shouts, as the sickening cloud engulfs them…
 

Voidrunner's Codex

Remove ads

Top