The Realm of Eärwa

The Gloaming and the Matutinus
Three days of mourning, and 4 days of rebirth

The holiday of gloaming is a time of mourning and preparation, the people remember the loss of their divine connections to their beloved deities. The first day is spent in preparation, planning as if a darkness were coming and what would a community do in such an instance. Menus are prepared, Guilds take inventories, artisans & crafts people prep what they can give, entertainers plan their performances. The second day is spent in arduous creation of magnificent transformation, making the city ready for the rebirth of the Matutinus. Walk ways are added on the rooftops of buildings and bonfires are prepared in the larger streets, tents are erected, goods are baked, wares are prepared, spells are memorized, animals are groomed, fighters clean their gear. The third day is spent in rest and contemplation of what was lost, and what has been gained since the gloaming.

The Matutinus begins with an opening ceremony where the 13 makes an announcement to the city and welcomes the travelers from the surrounding bandit tribes and communities. Then four days of festivals, shows, eating, drinking, debauchery to celebrate the rebirth of the deities and what they mean to the world.

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The festival, and some notes
from Emrich's personal journal

The festival’s opening lived up to its billing, especially the fireworks – I think I could almost see the cavern roof a mile over us when the magic was fired off. The speakers from the ruling council were stuffy, as one would expect from such people at such an occasion, and I still have a hard time accepting that a thieves’ guild is accepted as a part of the mainstream of the city. Nothing I can do about that but live through it while here.

I was glad to run into and spend time with those who pass for my friends in town, and we had some excitement when a pick-pocket tried to rob us. Evon and I blocked the escape of his friend while Tainan handled the actual thief – a halfling playing at being a child – off to a guard.

The experience in the tent, however, was not to my liking, although so far as such experiences go perhaps there is a meaning to it. I’d not thought of that moment in years, and I think I was 4 or 5 when it happened. I still can’t be sure if it was my mother or my aunt, but in the memory it was mother. Very strange and very troubling. And the fact that two others experienced bizarre, disturbing memories makes me think that either something went very wrong with the illusion and the magic jarred our brains so as to evoke those memories – but were they all real? Or even possible? No one’s seen an elf in centuries…no human – that’s certain. I’ll have to think on this.

On a more pleasant note, it was also very nice to see Ezri, and her invite was a surprise – I’ll have to be on my best behavior and remind myself to observe, listen, and remember tonight. Actually, I ought to ask her about what I saw in the tent – she’s smart, and whether it was my mother or hers might be something she remembers.

Need to close for now – have to pick up borrowed nice clothes for our high society affair.

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What does the future hold?
Explosions, a thief, flashbacks and a dinner

The scene opens in the darkened cavernous city near the main thoroughfare, the Street of the Gods, outside of the Dark City Theater. Crowds are forming, some food vendors are beginning to offer their wares, as four young adventurers recognize each other waiting in line to buy food.
Emrich, the younger farmer and recent transplant to the Dark City who is plying his skills for the Merchant Vice von Trapp.
Evon OakPaw, the Hermit Druid who, after tiring of spending years in the wilds, returned to Dark City, and who having done previous work helping out in the cavern field for the Merchant von Trapp met Emrich.
Tainan Thron, the local Cleric of the Light, son to Risia Thron, and recent acquaintance to Ingvar by way of the Great Library, known to Evon and Emrich via work done to heal the wounds and see to the pains of the farmers at the fields.
Ingvar, the Sage with a endless thirst for knowledge, knowledge once unavailable to him under the controlling hand of the Living Realm of Providence.

Greetings and small talk filled the moments before the view of the crowd parting and the striking images of the 13 were seen to be making their way to the front of the Dark City Theater. As they filed up on the dais, Axium Cloudroar raised his staff to quiet the crowd and cleared his throat. “Many many years ago, the Gloaming was upon us, certainly before my time, but our ancestors record that the darkening came upon the land and the world was a different place in the blink of an eye…” The area around seems to darken a little as Axium draws out the last word. “After many many years, the dawn broke, and our world began the process of returning to normal. Or, a new normal, for we had a lot to look back on. I realize you all, as much as we” he looks to left and right at the other Guild Leaders “are excited to get on with the festivities, so let the dawn BREAK!” he raps his staff and an explosion erupts from the end of his staff, as a ball of light rockets up to the roof the cavern then explodes in a rainbow shower of light and begins the slow descent to the surface before burning out. This is followed shortly by and eruption of orbs of light throughout the street as other casters at designated points like the way of the street, much brighter than normal.

Tainan looks to the three with him and asks “I am not sure if you three had a planned itinerary, but my Father has an excellent booth he has put quite a bit of work into. A flying Griffon experience, or so he says. It is just over yonder on Silver Street in front of the Wizard’s Guild.” Looking around, everyone seems to be in agreement. “Perfect! We’re off then.” Moving up the street, and taking the catwalk boards up to the roof and back over to the Wizard’s Guild.

Risia Thron, smile from ear to ear, greeted Tainan as he approached. “Well hello Son, and who are your friends here?” As Tainan looks around and offers up names, and explains that they are interested in testing out his new booth. After a discounted exchange of funds, the four enter into the booth and sit down on the bench.

As darkness descends up them, the sound of wind whipping around them and one could almost sense a Viking.jpgdrop in temperature. A view begins to come into focus of snow flurries whipping around, and a snow bank appears before them. The image seems to move forward as if tromping through snow and ahead a wooden palisade appears before them, and up on the walls heavily bearded humans bedecked in furs, carrying round shields and axe, they appear to give a salute with their axes as the gates begin to open. The street that opens before them, frozen and filling with snow, seems to have been shoveled recently. The view of wooden buildings skirt the street, and looking up you can almost see the shutter of one or two cracked as someone appears to peak out. Scanning between the buildings, frozen streams break up the streets. Crossing a great bridge, a magnificent long hall is ahead with two more guards. Much more arrayed than the previous, these two have heavy plates of gold woven into their beards, their chests appear protected by a studded leather and chain armor, a heavy fur cloak from either a bear or a huge feline of some sort. Their arms are wrapped with arm rings, swirling tattoos, and on their feet appear to be heavy fur-lined boots with spikes on the bottom. Breaking the portal of the hall, there is a series of benches, various tables, and braziers of fire arrayed at different points. At the end of a hall, seated on a throne is a heavily muscled man with long white hair. As he stands up, he seems to raise his hand in a warrior type greeting, and as his features become clearer, he is also wearing armbands, but his are much thicker and actually appear to be a serpentine golden dragon encircling his right bicep, while his left is almost a bracelet but up on his bicep. At this point the scene turns dark, and the Evon turns to his three friends to ask “what happened to the Griffon?” but is perplexed at the expressions on their faces as they are looking out of sorts. “I got ripped off!” Evon exclaims “I wanted a Griffon ride.”

As the four make their way out, they begin explaining that there was something afterward. “What did you think?” Risia asks as he seems them emerging. “Not quite a Griffon ride, we saw a snow covered land and what looked to be the palisade of Inglewolf Mammoth.” During the retelling a bump alerts Tainan to something grabbing his pouch, and he turns to grab what looks to be a young boy. “Let me go! Let me go!” the humanoid exclaims, and it quickly becomes clear this Halfling was attempting to lighten Tainan’s pouch of coin. With a quick look Emrich notices a figure up on the catwalk make quick eye contact, and turn to move hastily away. Emrich, seeing that Ingvar is noticing his pouch was pilfered as well and is in earnest to help with the would-be-thief, turns to Evon “Evon, want to take a stroll” as he motions to the catwalk and they pursue the individual. “Hey, aren’t you going to wait for your friend?” Emrich calls out. A well placed dweomer is called out by Evon, introducing Bromm as a new found friend.

Recap – Festival opening
• Risia Thron’s booth, supposed to be a Griffon ride but was something far different.
o Emrich had a vision of oppressor back in Loy “This is what we do, THIS IS WHO WE ARE!”
o Tainan had a vision of working on what appeared to be a wounded soldier who lost his lower leg, as he looks up Tainan sees he is in a tent and as he walks out he sees a row of chain-ganged Elves being led into a cave.
o Ingvarr had a vision of mid shield charge, and he slows for a moment as he looks to his left and a commander screams at him to pick up the pace. He looks forward to see the enemy, Elves.
• Tainan has his pouch attempted to be pilfered by a cutpurse, but he catches him. Emrich notices a watcher (Bromm) who he and Evon pursues while Tainan and Ingvarr stay to deal with cutpurse having him arrested by Tong (1/2 Orc Guard SB).
• Emrich and Evon catch the watcher, Evon Charms him and they learn of the chain of command for the Thieves Guild and that it centers around the Rat’s Nest. Bromm reports to → Dag who reports to → Squares Dawn, a low-level leader of the Thieves Guild. Tainan knows Squares from seeing him around the Chateau.
• Coming up the street is Emrich’s cousin, Ezri, who has the kids and are going up to slide the frozen stream. She invites them to a Dinner at Merchant Vice von Trapp’s house. Pick up the invitation about 3PM.
• Tainan leaves the party at his house while he goes for an “interlude” at the Chateau where he happens upon Squares working over the Halfling cutpurse who was caught in attempted pilfer of Tainan’s pouch.

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Out go the lights!
It's all Squares

Early Afternoon, the four would-be adventurers find themselves in the House of Thron. In appearance it is well appointed, with the light Light just above dimly lit. The torches, candles and other light sources are not putting off any smoke and have a slight sound like running or bubbling water. The rooms have a lived in look (by two Bachelors no less) with books spread about not slovenly but mid research. The picture have scenes that move, or may be interactive which might be disturbing to some. Overall, there is a smell of arcane that permeates much like incense.

Tainin allows Emrich to dress, while Ingvarr and Evon are relaxing enjoy their surroundings, he makes a polite excuse. “I have a quick errand to run. It shouldn’t take me too awfully long. You are welcome to wait here, if you like. Or, I can meet you somewhere out in the festival, if you wanted to stroll the sights a bit longer. Either way, make yourself at home. I’ll return in about an hour.” “Let’s meet at dinner – I’d like to take a walk before sitting and gorging myself,” Emrich says with a smile, heading out the door after his host. Tainin then nods, turns and exits.

Due to the fact that Tainan is a regular customer, he typically comes in the back way which butts up against the Rat’s Nest. As he rounds the corner, the scene unfolds of a low life he has seen many times around these streets. Squares Dawn is working over some poor individual, as two of his cronies hold him up. Due to Tainan’s keen perception, he recognizes the cutpurse he had turned into Tong earlier that day. “Had to pull some strings I did” fist smacking meat “I got your sorry, hairy footed ass out” fist smacking jaw “and what do you have for me?” fist smacks meat “you are empty handed.” Just then, one of the thugs notices Tainan and nods over toward him and Squares turns around to look at him with his yellowing, jaundiced eyes. “What’s this then? Are you looking for trouble?” The wheezing Halfling is bleeding profusely, his breaths come in agonizing wheezes and he mutters something but ends up coughing and sputtering before spitting out some blood and spittle which looks like it might contain teeth. He hisses out with great effort “It was him boss, he got me” stops to take a wheezing breath “arrested.” Squares turns on Tainan.

Standing confidently, Tainan responds “You know I am a well-known priest and son of Risai. You don’t have a move here that wouldn’t end in your operation being shut down and you likely being executed, Squares.” With that, Tainin allows his light cantrip to charge slowly, throwing off brilliant white sparks and rays of light as it travels down his arm toward his hand, stopping at the head of his mace as he draws it nonchalantly. “I will, however, insist that you cease harming anyone in my presence.” Squares, smiling like a snake and very intimdatingly says “So, you are one of the fallen house of Thron, and look to be just as weak as your father. You be in the wrong den, and not thinking clearly. It just makes it easier that you presented yourself to me, now, lay down the weapon.” Realizing the depth of the situation, but not feeling the exhiliration driving him on, Tainan overcomes Squares’ intimidations and says “Squares, somehow I do not think you heard me, but I insist that you cease harming anyone in my presence.” Squares laughs dryly “Bad move priest!” as he launches around behind him unleashing a quick slash across his left shoulder and blood begins to soak Tainan’s clothing. Following, Bob and Kessel drop the Halfling mercilessly to the ground and draw to form a triangular flank on Tainan. Divine power imbues the Cleric’s words as he turns on Squares and Commands in a booming voice “LEAVE!”, to which Squares runs up to the door of the Rat’s Nest behind him. While Bob and Kessel look at each other determining their next move, Tainan shoots a flare in front of Bob before Kessel thumps him across the head knocking him into unconsciousness.

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A missing priest, some riddles, and fog

Meeting up at Merchant von Trapp’s house, Evon, Ingvarr, and Emrich were confused as to why Tainan had been gone longer than expected. He mentioned several hours earlier that he would be going to run a quick errand, and would be back within an hour. Not knowing him too well yet, the trio made their way to the Great Library to wile away some time before the von Trapp affair and give Tainan time to re-join. Working together, Content Not Found: invarr-battleborn and Emrich hypothesized that the ancient tome’s maps were drawn from the perspective of the world’s other hemisphere, and thus things are angled differently. There is overlap, around the north pole, and that’s where the maps from that book and those from books we know come together – that’s what we think, at least. If we’re right, it’d mean that we have a book with maps from the unknown other side of the world.

Making their way a little early, invitations in hand, they stand in front of the von Trapp manor watching the passers by and trying to look like they belong. Risia and a dwarf come up and ask where Tainan is after introducing Content Not Found: drokki-lighting-eye-thunderbeard. Ingvarr and Emrich decide it may be best to check out the Chateau to see what may have become of the fair priest, but looking over at Evon he seems to have struck up a lively conversation with Drokki they leave to pursue.

Following Risai’s directions, they are able to locate the Chateau easily enough. The scene unfolds with a very large building, with many ladies not associated with the Chateau offering their wares outside the building and several of the Mountain Bandits are in mid-transaction. The smell of smoke (fire, opium, tobacco, and unknown cooked meat) fill the air leading into the Bazaar, as they pass the doorway to the Chateau and take in the ornate doorway inlaid with many different “positions” displayed to imply what is within. Moving through the Bazaar, they come through to the alley street that separates the Rat’s Nest from the Bazaar and Chateau. Trash, filth, sweat, and rotting fish assail them as they make their way through the street where some “homeless” have taken refuge in the crates. They come upon a puddle of blood in the streets, and hear the faint moans of a Halfling. Upon inspection, they realize the blood in the street is separate from the beat up cutpurse, and while the scene looks evident, they think it best to exhaust the Chateau before pursuing the blood.

Entering the Chateau they quickly discern Madame Alandra, who cuts a figure of beauty and leadership. After some verbal sparring, she informs them that Tainan has not in fact been at the Chateau today.

Back in the alley street, they follow the trail of blood to a sturdy locked door of the Rat’s Nest, and listening carefully it sounds as though some guards are gambling on the other side. Emrich deftly opens a window on the first floor, and the two stealthily enter the building. Making their way around the corner, they quickly put down the four gambling guards at the door and up the stairs knocking out two more. The blood trail leads to the end of the hall where they burst through the door to find Squares pacing, wondering what he is going to do with the bound and gagged Tainan. With surprising speed, the two drop Squares and run to the next room relieving his thugs. Cashing out, they walk away with 83 Gold and 94 Silver pieces.

After getting cleaned up, healed up, and powered up ;-) the trio make their way to the von Trapp extravaganza. Only an hour and half late, they present their invitations they make their way in getting late plates and sitting down to converse with Risia and Lightning Eye. Ingvarr sits next to Drokki giving him a greeting “Arcanus Magem”, and Drokki smilles responding "Magem Arcanus. Drokki seems to be fidgeting and muttering something to himself while Risai asks his son what happened. Given a brief recount of the events, Risai appears to lose his temper but recovers and provides a cryptic warning to Tainan that his son seems to understand and his face flushes as the gravity sinks in. Ingvarr and Tainan pick up on what Drokki is muttering “If I have it, I don’t share it. If I share it, I don’t have it. What is it?” Ingvarr says “A Secret.”, and Drokki smiles going further “What was one, is now two, but the two are still one.” while Tainan and Ingvarr puzzle over what he has said Emrich loses interest in the riddles Drokki is offering up, and makes his way around to impressing the ladies. Drokki, realizing they are stumped continues “Power has strengthened by one, but is actually more than one. The Dark City Council grows darker with the power that has strengthened the one. The power did not come from within DC.” Together, Ingvarr and Tainan come up with:

  • The Thieves Guild and the House of Pain were once one, but are now two, however, their power is still one.
  • Something about a Changeling being involved, but not that the Guild Leaders are one in the same, this fact was not fully explored before being interrupted.

Risai interrupts “Drokki, you are making our friends uncomfortable, maybe we should discuss something else?” Announced on the stage is a spoken word performance where the performer states that we should not forget history, for it tells us where we came from. Clearing his throat, he begins “From the center of the realm, the Majestic Living Realm of Providence has brought forth to the mountains, plains and forests the divine light of Helm, Tempus and Mask. Through this divinity, the Imperator has been empowered to illuminate the realm, bringing it to order, and protecting all of it’s subjects. As ambassadors of the Living Realm of Providence, we have become a class of being separate and distinct from all other beings in the realm. Not now as beings among beings, but as an enlightened citizen of another country among the ignorant creature of this dark world. An enlightened state. In turn, we give back an oath of life, body, soul to to further this endeavor. Failing that, my life is forfeit and my destruction is my own to claim.” But the four adventurers are not hearing the voice of the Bard, rather they seem to be sitting around a campfire with others and a military officer is reciting the LRoP oath. They do not recognize one another as they are not themselves, as they see three elves and a Gnome sitting around a campfire. Once the Officer is complete, he walks away and their consciousness comes back to the feast. Drokki looks at Ingvarr and mutters rebirth, before getting up to leave.

Upon exiting the street there seems to be an absence of sound (much like [[File:445227 | class=media-item-align-right | fog_street.jpg]]after a bomb blast without the ringing in the ears), even when attempting to speak to one another it sounds muffled or underwater. There is a crisp, cold smell to the air, and fog has filled the cavern. At this point there is a slight woosh of breeze, and then hearing is returned by the distant sound of screams and cries in the distance. It is evident the light has faded somehow, but it almost looks like fires have been lit somewhere out in the streets. There is a smell of death in the air, much like a tomb. Some of the sounds to be heard are a howl on the wind, ominous clacking of bones, high pitched cackling and low moans all in varying volumes.

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escho ’nabianen
...death walks among the living...

“Some ish went down, some people died… but we were cool!”

Once Evon and Emrich were safely moving along the rooftops, Tainan and Ingvarr made their way along the swiftest route to the councilman’s home. Their footsteps mingled into the noises within the fog and created a chaotic mixture. Walking quickly along walls and speedily crossing streets led the pair to cross in front of the clinic where Tainan worked. As they were passing the doors slammed open and two medics were thrown into the street where two skinny, but strong men opened their mouths in hunger.
Overly long tongues rasped out and claws tore into their victims. Tainan’s co-workers writhed in agony and pleaded for help. Priest and warrior drew weapons and closed the distance.
The cleric’s mace came down upon one beast’s head while the fighter sank his blades into the foul creature. The beasts howled in pain and prepared to respond to the new threat, but the weapons came in again too fast. Blades sank deeply into opposite sides of the neck of one severing its head, while holy light descended from above to end the other’s life…or unlife.
Upon entering the Hall of Physicians, the scene of gore was nauseating- guts, limbs, and blood. The blood ran down the walls and pooled on the floor…
That was when the crowd down the horseshoe-shaped hallway took notice and began moving toward the two. It was soon obvious they were not healthy patients, in fact they were beyond help.
The duo had the mob bottle-necked in a hallway taking down a few each until the damage began to take its toll. Tainan offered up a bold plan, so with few other choices Ingvarr stepped forward to draw their attention to himself. The priest called down divine power and unleashed a torrent of holy radiance that washed outward. The remaining few were easily dispatched.
Locating the apothecary’s cellar wasn’t difficult, it was the hole in the floor that didn’t make sense.
As they continue down the street, onto the Street of Gods, there are at least 50 people flocking to the DC Temple. The Priests are standing outside of them in a defensive circle, protecting them, but shouting to one another about what to do, where to go. Divided on what they will do, 5 are arguing they go to the Slayers’ Brotherhood for protection, while the other 5 are shouting “we need to defend the temple, our home, our deity’s home!” all the while casting divine magic on a host of 5 undead Dogs of War letting loose unearthly howls and growls, 5 Zombies moan and gnash their teeth, and a Spectral Warhorse with a Shadow astride it’s back whispering ghostly utterances in commanding words making clacking sounds, with hollow breathing and appears to be urging it’s host attacks. The 50 commoners are clustered, confused on what to do while 5 other zombies are occupied with eating the flesh of the torn remnants of some other commoners. Tainan unleashes a bolt of Divine fury on the shadow, and in response, it turns and bolts toward them knocking a dog on it’s side and crushing the skull of a zombie to make a pass at Tainan and Ingvarr. Successfully hitting Tainan, he feels strength ebbing from the wound. The rider turns and charges back before launching itself and landing in front of Tainan with the steed squaring off with Ingvarr. Trading blows, they are seem to be getting the best of the undead creatures when five zombies and two undead dogs begin making their way over to a new meal. Just as looks like things are about to go from bad to worse, they fell the shadow and it’s specrtal steed as it howls in rage and dissipates it’s black appearance into the fog as something clinks on the ground from it’s form. Ingvarr and Tainan felt their life dripping into the street as their wounds felt like they were going to over take them, the two dogs cross over and flank them as the five zombies engage. Desparately fighting, they are finally able to fell the dogs as the zombies encircle them going in for the kill when three clerics peel off and come over to give aid. Timely, they step up as Tainain and Ingvarr are victorious. The three clerics stare at them in admiration for what they had just done, as Tainan says “Go in the temple, bar the doors. Keep them safe!” The three Clerics look at one another and see the wisdom in his words, go to take in the wayward commoners. On the ground where the shadow fell, they find a metal necklace that feels warm to the touch as they pick it up. A quick corroboration of knowledges reveals they have heard of things like this before, a Relic of Magic.

At last, they are on the street leading to the House of Thron, moving through the fog they hear the sound of scraping steps on the stone up ahead. Tainan and Ingvarr share a look of pure dread, realizing that this could be their last battle and turn to run down the street past the Spectral Centurion marching its way down the street. After a futile slash at Ingvarr, it attempts to give chase but seems slowed by it’s armor and they are able to lose them as they run up the stairs, unlock the door, slam it, lock it, and bar it. Breathing heavily, they look into the sitting room to see Evon with his feet up on the table drinking something that looks like wine, and Emrich cleaning his gear as the Druid and the Monk look up and say “Took you long enough!” Ingvarr grunts and says “Looks like you two fared better than we did.” Tainan picks up a stone on the bureau and listens to a message left for him on a sending stone from Risia, he and Drokki have gone out to do what they can. Tainan harumphs and says “What will an illusionist be able to do? Must be back up for Uncle Drokki!” They take a moment to gather their things and swig some cool refreshment as banging proceeds on the front door. Evon asks “Did you bring a friend?” as Tainan turns and says “Must be the armored skeleton we ran past in the street. We thought we had lost it.” Emrich offers “Maybe we can circle out a back door and come up from behind?” All in agreement, they come around behind it, but are unable to surprise the spectral Centurion. What began with trepidation, turns to encouragement as the four are able to overwhelm and fell the Centurion as it’s bones and armor clatter to the ground and it’s spirit returns to the afterlife.

Not sure where to go, they seem to agree to go back up the street toward the temple as they hear the light sobbing of a little girl. As they get closer they can make out what appears to be the form of a little girl crying in the middle of the street. As they get close enough, they see the form with the dim light behind it, and can now tell it is not in fact a little girl but a woman as she screams and lunges at Ingvarr. With surprising speed, the four fan out, and flank the lady. Through might, skill, divine and natural magic they fell the River Hag.

Recap

• Tainan, Emrich, Ingvarr, and Evon exit the von Trapp affair into a street filled with fog, screams and sounds of chaos in the distance. They decide they need to make their way to Tainan’s house to gather their things, as Evon and Emrich break to walk the catwalks while Tainan and Ingvarr take the streets to their destination.
• Ingvarr and Tainan snake their way through the streets, as a squad of SB Guards are leading a group of commoners to the SB Stronghold on the hill.
• Ingvarr and Tainain come upon the Fellowship of Physicians the door bursts open and physicians burst through the double doors followed by two pale skinned creatures wearing old and tattered clothing.
• Entering the Hall of Physicians, they find what is left of two attendants, the Herbalist, the attending Physician, and 11 patitents. They are assailed by 20 zombies and the horseshoed hallway of the building is filled with different states of gore buffet, 2 attendants (Brother Donal and Lanna) still alive as well as 1 patient.
• Searching the Apothecary in the cellar uncovers some “grave” findings.
• DC Temple, 50 commoners are huddled on the street in a mob while 10 acolytes, are defending them from Zombies, undead dogs of war while a Shadow astride a spectral warhorse looks on encouraging and several zombies are in mid meal feasting on dead folks in the street.
• Finally, walking down the street toward the Thron house, the two run into a Spectral Centurion. They make a break for it and run past it to the house, barring the door and cleaning up while catching up with Evon and Emrich.
• Coming out the back door, they attempt to surprise the Spectral Centurion, Ingvarr & Tainan fight the Centurion.
• Further back down the street, they come upon what appears to be a little girl crying in the street.

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Infiltrators and a missing cousin
a short journal entry

On reflection, I wished I’d demonstrated more self-control in my search for Ezri. My intentions were right, but I know that my emotions got the best of me in those first few hours. Upon reflection – something we’d been taught to do on reflex at the Camp, but I was unable to do in the opening moments of the attack – I realized that we’d stumbled onto information that was vital for the leaders of the city – scum they might be – should know. Simply put, they’d been infiltrated, and it was at least likely that part of the immediate response to the attack was being actively stymied by the attackers. Beyond that idea, a few facts were clear:

  1. The Empire was in collusion with undead forces – that’s a new, horrible turn for them, but true in our case
  2. At least two Centurions had been in the city, along with at least 20 troops, since before the attack – how they’d hidden, or how they’d blended in, I don’t know
  3. The fog was still beyond us – where did it come from? Who controlled it?
  4. The Von Trapp children, and surely Ezri if alive, were somewhere in this underground complex
  5. While it seems certain that the half-orcs we finished off had something to do with the attackers, the connection is unclear

At this point I was torn between two courses of action: proceed deeper into the underground corridors, or go back to the street and try to find someone responsible for civil defense and give them the information we had, and what help we could offer after that. Our rest gave me time to think.


Meta
Emrich keeps a journal, so this reflects what he’d write in it at some later point. Go ahead and comment on it to represent conversation with Emrich and the group while resting in the half-orcs’ room, since these things would be on his mind during that time – he would’t share the initial personal reflection, though – just the bullet points about their situation.

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A Bloody Sky and Some Bloody Goblins
Straight outta Walden

The little village of Walden clung to the edges of the Forest, the two dwelling side by side, but staying to their own boundaries. The people of Walden had long ago learned to leave the Forest alone, and the Forest had likewise stayed to its own, ancient mysterious self. Nothing went in, and nothing came out… at least until recently.

Quinn studied the tracks leading through the orchard. This had been the most recent of several raids that had occurred, and the tracks led to the same place that the others had. Straight into the Forest, the forest referred to as the Deadwood. The attacks had yet to take a life, but had still left the villagers cowering in fear at the thought of an unseen foe in the pitch black. The morning after each of the raids, inventory and citizen checks had shown no deaths but large stockpiles of animals and other goods toted off in the night by humanoid creatures. This morning, however, the sun had come up red as blood, and the night raid had been the biggest one yet. “Quick” Quinn, the highwayman turned ranger and blade-for-hire, stood from his close scrutiny to return to the Town Hall and report his findings. 286745709_fe21025eb0_o_d_1_.jpg

“Based on this historical account of the ancient elves, this Blood Sun most likely has something to do with them, and therefore a venture must be made into the Forest, to follow these raiders and see how they connect to this” E’mryk finished as he closed his ancient tome. The gnome was the local sorcerer and had the widest collection of books and the largest store of knowledge anyone around here had ever seen.
“Well then, we should send a small party of men” to which the halfling Zahara actually snorted at “into the Forest immediately!” Jed, the Mayor of Walden proposed. “I unfortunately will not be able to go, I have rather pertinent duties to attend to and can’t be gone that long” he concluded. At this the entire assembly snorted with derision, the man was notoriously cowardly.
“I’ll go” the Ranger spoke up “I’ve seen a bit of danger in my life and i daresay that’s more than anyone else here can claim.”
The audience nodded in general assent; very few of them had been in more danger than a rather nasty bar fight.
“I wanna go too!” the halfling Zahara, commonly known as Zay, interjected.
“I don’t know about that…” the Ranger began but quickly cutting off his comment when he saw the murderous look the halfling gave him. “okay, you’re in”
“I’m going as well, in the interest of my studies” the gnomish sorcerer stated. “I also know some spells that you may find handy in a fight”
Quinn nodded his assent. He had seen the difference a magic user could make in a fight.
“Are there any more people feeling adventurous?’ the mayor asked the audience. After noting the general looks of terror reciprocating around the room he concluded “well, it looks like it will just be you three. Good luck, and try to come back intact!”

A few hours later, the three adventurers made their way into the Forest. It looked as though they would be traversing land no outsider had dared pass in hundreds, if not thousands of years. The Ranger kept his eyes on the tracks as they moved deeper and deeper. So focused was he that it took one of his companions pointing it out for him to notice something rather peculiar. The entire Forest was a colorless, grayscale mess of oddly distorted sounds and unnaturally large trees. After the initial shock the travelers moved on, marveling at the oddity of the situation.

“I think we’re lost” the gnome said in his typical, squeaky, obnoxious tone.
“Be quiet!” the human interjected. Something was wrong. He’d lost the trail somehow and they were in a strange outcropping of branches. He couldn’t find any sign of the party they were hunting and that made him very nervous. He slowly drew his twin rapiers as he examined his location. At that instant a group of black goblins dropped form the above branches, surrounding his party. He shouted out a warning as his fighting instincts kicked in. He rammed his blades into two of the nearest goblins and took measure of the situation. The gnome and halfling had reacted almost as quickly to the nine pitch black goblins dropping into their midst and were engaging their nearest foe men. As he watched, one of the goblins slapped the ground and then used magically elongated arms to flail at he and his companions.
The skirmish continued on until all but one was dead, that one being immersed in a magic induced sleep and tied up tighter than the Mayor’s purse strings. The injuries among the three companions were minor, a few cuts and bruises, and one rather painful patch of necromancy blasted skin. The three then proceeded to not so gently wake the prisoner via the basket hilt on one of the rangers rapiers. They questioned the Goblin in an attempt to gain some knowledge, but soon ended up just pushing his pierced, burned corpse over the edge of the balcony of branches on which they were standing. His body joined those of his eight fellows at the bottom of a very, very long fall.

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Deeper into the Forest and Deeper into the Crap
Into the Gnarlroot Caves to meet Grimak Nailbiter

After slaughtering the black goblins, the companions decided to set up camp and rest for the night. The ranger took first watch and he sat near the edge of the encampment with an arrow to the string of his bow. He attentively kept his watch throughout the first few hours. Or so he thought…
Quinn awoke with a start when he felt his ribs cracking under his studded leather armor. He took in the pain all down his body about the same time he noticed the rather sizable constrictor about to swallow him whole. “Wake up! somebody!” He gasped as the snake continued to crush him. After several precious seconds of whispering, E’mryyk finally stirred, just in time to see the snake begin to swallow the ranger whole. Yelping and shaking Zay to wakefulness, the sorcerer reached over to the snake and shocked it, pausing its consumption of the ranger just long enough for the halfling to spring over to it and carve it open. They then pulled the nearly dead ranger out of the coils of pitch black servant. He sat up spluttering and coughing and then rolled over and groaned, “It’s your watch Zay. Something magic must have put me to sleep so be aware.” As he and the gnome fell asleep, Zay took up her post. After a time, she noticed glowing lights hovering in the blackness. Well that’s strange! she thought, no stars were visible through the dense foliage of the treetops. A little later, she detected a small buzzing noise. She looked around, nocking an arrow. A miniscule voice came out of nowhere. “no harm?” it said.
The halfling looked around and nearly fell off the tree when she saw the sprite standing almost directly next to her ear. After a little bit of conversing, he introduced himself as Gribulp and Zay woke her companions to meet her new friend…

The sprite, Gribulp, had witnessed the purging of the elves from the forest, and had dwelt alone in since then. He had watched as the goblins, trolls and cyclopes had slowly taken over, turning the lush green woods into a gray scale wasteland. He had seen his kind destroyed and driven out and everything he loved had been torn away from him, and he had persevered. Now, the three adventurers were giving him a chance to lash back at the defilers.

After some conversing, the companions convinced the Gribulp to lead them to the lair of one of the local bosses so as to cut off one of the heads of the snake. They took off the next day to an unknown destination with blades out and ready and blood on their minds. After some trudging along, they met their first patrol. The Gribulp disappeared rather quickly at the sight of goblins and the rest followed as they set an ambush. After the trap was sprung, a brief skirmish ensued, ending in a pile of dead goblins and only minor injuries on the side of the three…now four… companions. They moved on towards the final destination. They arrived at the entry to a cave in a matter of a few hours. The portal was surrounded by a fairly large number of guards, mostly intently focused on the fire keeping them warm. After a brief bit of deliberating, a plan was decided upon. The Gribulp disappeared…again… and the three others readied spells and blades, respectively. The ranger then charged at the cluster of goblins, screaming and vaulting over the fire to end his motion with blades rammed deep into two separate targets. the gnome then sent another group to sleep and the halfling ran in with shortsword and dagger flashing. Her blades flashed out and took her share of goblin lives. After the fight, the ranger raised an eyebrow as he noted the number of goblins with slit throats. one hell of an assassin we got growing here! he thought as they dumped the bodies off the branches. They moved into the area that the goblins had been guarded and were promptly assailed by giant purple plants. The gnome, drawing from a seemingly endless pool of knowledge, shouted to the others “it only has a ten foot reach! stay away from it!”
“Thanks!” grumbled the ranger, as he moved back nursing a brand new slash mark from a barbed branch. The companions stood back and shot the plants until they collapsed. They then took stock of where they were. It was a one-way corridor, with the entrance behind them and their target ahead. Also ahead was a very loud sound of running feet and grunting goblins. The three looked around at each other and immediately started to find hiding places. the halfling climbed a boulder, the gnome hid in a tall shadow and the ranger slipped into the intertwined branches that made up the walls of the cave. when the goblins rounded the corner, the ranger sprung out and braced himself behind outstretched blades. three of the stupid buggers impaled themselves on the swords before the rest came to a tumbling stop. The halfling jumped up grabbing a branch and vaulting over the horde. She turned to find herself face to face with three troll runts as the gnome cast a sleep spell into the midst of the goblins. Several of them fell but the rest rushed towards the ranger, pushing him back towards the far wall. Quinn pushed back, slashing and stabbing and the sorcerer threw fire bolts into the enemies at intervals. Neither of them noticed as the two troll runts in the back turned towards Zay and slowly began to back her away from everyone else. After a few minutes of fighting and one very impressive wave of fire, the enemies in front of the gnome and the human were nothing but burning husks, and the halfling was nowhere to be seen. The two sprinted up the corner just in time to see one of them drop with several shafts sticking out of its body in various places. They assailed the last remaining troll and it quickly went down under the combination of arrows, rapiers and withering flame. The companions took a few hours exploring the immediate vicinity before moving on. They discovered a weapon room and picked up a few new beauties, and replenished arrow stocks. Them, after a few hours of resting, they moved on.

Down the corridor, they found a room full of stagnant, green water. After a small time examining the water, they decided it would be prudent to leave it well alone. After walking a little ways more, they came upon a vast cavern with a waterfall of the same green water on one side of it. Wholly enraptured by the water, and not considering that something may be on the other side, the ranger strode up to it to take a look. So blatantly did he stride that the fifteen or so goblins, five troll runts and one massive goblinoid boss noticed him immediately and charged. The ranger was immediately surrounded by all of the trolls and beaten within an inch of his life. The halfling drew blades and began to slit the throats of any enemy foolish enough to come close and the gnome, seeing no other option, threw a wave of fire towards the five trolls. The ranger, caught in the midst of it, had no choice but to throw himself unceremoniously on the ground. Fortunately, the trolls were so intent on carving him like a ham that none of them noticed the flames and they were all roasted. The ranger stood back up and ran back to the gnome, drawing his bow and sending shafts flying towards the mass of goblins coming through the portal. the halfling began working her way towards the other two as they sent projectiles towards the enemy. The enemy, however stupid, were smart enough to send projectiles back, and the gnome found himself lying unconscious in a pool of his own blood. The halfling was severely injured and the ranger was close to death himself. Seeing no way to escape dragging the unconscious gnome with them, the two gritted their teeth and resigned themselves to going down with as many of the little black buggers as they could take with them. Nine against two odds seemed extremely long, however the goblins were having a lot of trouble figuring out which end of the arrows they were supposed to point at the companions. Shafts flew both directions in the dozens, however the two companions found themselves standing after the last of the goblins fell with a shaft between his eyes. The boss howled with fury and began sprinting towards the portal. The ranger, having none of that, sent an arrow whizzing towards his back. it struck and slowed the foe just long enough for the halfling to climb its back and slit its throat with dagger and shortsword. After insuring that all the enemy were dead, the ranger turned his attention to the gnome. He lay as if dead, and the rangers skills at herbs and medicines were not nearly sufficient to save him. In dejection, the ranger sat back, with no idea what to do and his friend bleeding on the ground. Then, as if his prayer to the gods had been heard, the Gribulp materialized over the gnome, and dripped something between his lips. E’mryyk sat up sputtering, “what did I miss?”
The ranger and halfling both grinned, knowing that they had come off very lucky… this time.

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A Beacon in the Night
a signal of hope, a sign of trouble

Once the fighting ended and E’mryk had thanked the sprite for his timely help, the three and a half companions began investigating the area beyond the green membranous wall over the portal. It parted with minimal resistance and allowed the heroes into the chamber beyond. What they discovered was unexpected.

Suspended from the high ceiling were fourteen chains. At the ends of each were gilded cages of intricate make. Within each were prisoners in varying states of decay, from skeletons to bloated and rotting corpses to some on the very end who moaned.

“That is quite interesting!” said the sorcerer moving toward the sounds.

“Now his curiosity will finish us off completely.” grumbled the ranger. “I just learned that hard lesson not a moment ago.”

Two cages began wobbling with movement as the gnome approached. One contained a battered and tired dwarf, his unkempt hair and beard gave him a rather wild look. The other held a human with a very swollen eye. It was apparent that the pair had been poked and prodded and generally mistreated by their dark goblin captors. 349753.2_1_.jpg

The gnome, deep in curiosity as to how they came to be there, began asking questions. Meanwhile, the halfling discovered a fancy, but grimy key on the belt of the Nailbiter. Climbing atop the shoulders of the tall ranger, she easily opened the two cage doors allowing both to stiffly slide free of their prisons.

Rummaging through the muck and dirty burlap bags the goblins used, they found the gear of the newly freed captives.

A conversation ensued in which much was discovered about each other and how each came to be there. In mid-conversation, Zay noticed that they no longer need light by which to see. An ambient glow had very slowly crept up on them. So gradual was this light that none had noticed until Zay had happened to look upward and observe the light emitting from the top of the tree tower like a beacon in the night. Gribulp, danced in agitation, caught between exhilaration and trepidation for what would then see that light and come looking.

The companions followed the halfling rogue to a cleverly disguised zip line hidden behind some of the tower’s permanent furniture. Down they went. Quinn scouted a fairly sheltered, small cove of trees in which they could rest.
Having similar reasons for being there and feeling somewhat refreshed, the five agreed to carry on together toward the west to attempt the liberation of another tower.

The gnome had the greatest difficulty navigating the ropes of the fallen platform lift which granted access to the fortified tree. Once upon the upper platform, the companions climbed the rope stairways leading to an administrative type room withing the center of the tree. A jumble of turned desks and railings showed the effects of a war. The elven voices, thought to be more of the residue of magics released in that war were dismissed as scenery until they manifested in the light of Frothbeard’s dwarven hammer. 8617445_1_.jpg

Taken by the beauty of the two spectral figures, the gnome strode forward to greet them. “Do not be alarmed. We are at your service to help in any way we can. Please do not be wroth, we are here to…” cut off in mid plea, the gnome backpedaled until he skidded to a stop behind his new friend, Enoch (and his armor). The female turned to face the diminutive figure and began to wail and scream about defiling her home. Her scream tore through the room with terrifying force challenging the willpower of all before her. Banshee.jpeg

And so the conflict began. Enoch was knocked off his feet by the scream, Quinn bounded into the room for a covered flanking position, Dane collapsed after being the recipient of a spectral blast and was dragged by Enoch to the door, Zay sprinted for the doorway and E’mryk dropped his crossbow and quiver and slid them out the doorway toward his friends.

Quinn came out from cover and slashed into the female apparition with his blades several times while she and her companion were focused on the group of suspected intruders. Banshgee2.jpgThe male reached out a dark spectral hand which settled in the flesh of the gnome causing his flesh to turn gray, wither and die in the shape of an elven hand. E’mryk squealed and fired a series of three swirling greenish missiles at the woman who then vanished between the damage of blade and blast. Enoch, too frightened to charge into battle grabbed the proffered crossbow and fired hitting the male with a bolt, while Zay took careful aim and sank an arrow into the chest of the remaining ghost. The feathers of her shaft passed through his spectral heart and skidded to a stop amid a pile of debris. Ghost-like tendrils drifted off the now blackened shaft of the rogue’s arrow.

Gribulp dripped honey into the mouth of the dwarf, reviving him in time to see the end of the melee. Eventually, all eyes turned to Enoch, who gazed at his reflection in the blade of his elven scimitar. Old_Enoch.jpgHe looked as though he had doubled in age. His gray beard and hair shown in sharp contrast to its prior dark color.

The dwarven priest gently laid his hand on his new friend’s arm in a comforting manner and said, “I believe my deity can help with your condition.”

The ranger secured a chamber in which to safely rest and the priest set about praying for such a spell.

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