Corruo Syzygia

Session 02/20/2011
Enter the Drakes

Short summary recap:
Two encounters in one day, so the adventurers have reached a milestone. Most of the adventurers have dropped one daily during the two encounters, but doing so helped keep the group on their feet. Most of the adventurers are relatively healthy, with only a couple of healing surges spent. The group forgot to search the bodies again.

Lengthier recap:
Hurling down the dirt road in a wagon speeding along at preternatural, the adventurers quickly took stock of their situation. They had just narrowly escaped with enough energy to climb aboard the gypsy wagon. But, they weren’t out of harms way. The wagon had turned north, not away from the city. Gwyrd, from his vantage point at the front of the wagon shouted back to the others that there was a massive group of hollowed fighting some Brelandish soldiers in the intersection ahead. The driver of the caravan, whom the adventurers later learned was head of the circus caravan and goes by Lockhart (possibly the long lost brother of the brawling Tifa), told them all to hold on. He was going to try to take this turn, cutting the corner, and avoiding the fight. Androk, sprang to the roof, adrenaline still coursing through his veins from the phenomenal results of the last arrow he loosed. He notched another arrow and aimed at the closest hollowed. Edwulf and Deena shifted to the side that would pass closest to the hollowed, hoping to be at the frontline of battle if anything should go wrong.

As the wagon approached, the line of soldiers separating the hollowed from the wagon turned. Unsure of the wagon’s alignment, they felt that they could no longer risk being in such a compromised and flanked position. They teleported away. The hollowed were left striking out at air. Confused for a moment, they then saw the wagon and moved to block it from entering the intersection.

Androk fired his shot. The arrow sailed through the air and hit the hollowed square in the chest. It let out a scream as it crumpled to the ground. The other hollowed hesitated.

The largest of the hollowed had not yet noticed the wagon and did not give out orders to attack. Lockhart took the opening and turned the wagon past the intersection. Despite the weight distribution on the wagon, all four wheels managed to stay on the ground, with enough traction to get the group of adventurers safely onto the eastbound road. As they left the intersection, they noticed that the remaining Brelandish soldiers had also decided to retreat on horseback. Once mounted, they quickly overtook the wagon and headed eastward in front of the wagon.

Lockhart took the adventurers to the first town outside of Valkenswaard. There, the gypsy wagon was reunited with the rest of its caravan. Lockhart went off to meet with his crew and decide what to do next. Thinking that the adventurers were mercenaries, he left the rear wagon in their capable hands.

Our adventurers, taking their mercenary duties seriously, wandered off. They explored the general store in the town and hoped that they could trade in some unused items for more useful things. Deena placed a suit of mithral chainmail on the counter (if it had been any other chainmail, it would have slammed down on the counter) and asked if the shop owner was interested in buying it. Maedik’s eyes grew wide, “That’s mithral.” He noted. “Don’t sell that here, I could use that. We can work out a trade later when we’ve set up camp for the night.”

The caravan soon moved out of the town, and caught up to the soldiers on horseback. There was still some light out, so the group asked Lockhart to continue on the road a little ways before setting up camp. When the caravan stopped, the adventurers set up their camp and established their watch. Lockhart approached them at their campfire and noted the magical fire that was invisible beyond ten feet. The adventurers shared their fire with the caravan. Lockhart looked upon them somewhat impressed. He mostly spoke to Kir hoping to verify that the entire group of adventurers were Drakes. He had noticed the emblem on Kir’s lapel. Kir played along, with Orsik and Deena’s assistance. Lockhart indicated that the caravan was traveling to Gorinchem and that they should have no problem getting the “Drakes” into the city.

The next morning, the “Drakes” broke their camp and packed up their gear. They were in the rear caravan and decided to take the main road to Gorinchem. As they passed through one of the towns, it was eeriely quiet. They didn’t see any of the townspeople and the streets were deserted. One main street led down to a temple to Pelor. Lockhart kept the wagon moving, and reached the eastern edge of the town before stopping the wagon. He instructed the caravan to keep going, and the Drakes got out and headed back into the town. As they reached the main road that led to the temple, the group of soldiers from the previous day were making their way eastward. They introduced themselves and offered to join a quick scouting mission into the center of town.

When the Drakes reached the temple, they could sense that there were people around, but they were holed up behind shuttered windows and locked doors. The group made their way into the temple, which oddly looked like a Catholic church. They were exploring the altar of the church when they heard a lot of noise from outside. The soldiers took up their swords and turned towards two of the doors at the rear of the temple. Suddenly, hollowed burst through all entrances to the temple, including from the stairways within the temple. Gwyrd, always alert, rushed to the front door and attacked several of the intruders. Deena followed this up by rushing up next to Gwyrd and, with all enemies out of reach, she conjured forth her Onyx Dog, whom the Drakes have named Docile Panda. The rest of the Drakes charged forward towards the swarm of hollowed that were trying to push in through the front door. Working in concert, the group cut and burned through the crowd of hollowed and were quickly beyond the temple’s walls and spilling out into the street. Lockhart summoned an arcane wall separating the front and rear halves of the temple. The wall prevented more hollowed from attacking the groups’ rear.

Outside, the Drakes did a quick survey of the area. Gwyrd summoned his familiar to fly over the road in front of them. The wagon was still safely parked at the eastern edge of the town, but a group of hollowed were approach from the western edge of town. At the rate that they were moving, the Drakes wouldn’t be able to get back to the wagon without a fight.

When they came to the intersection, the soldiers served as a rear guard, fighting off the hollowed that had followed them out to this part of the town. The Drakes took the lead in fighting the monstrous commander and his assistant priest. The Drakes used a series of burst zones, slide and prone effects, to frustrate the leader and quickly drain his strength. Once he got his bearings and determined that Orsik, as a leader, was his biggest threat, he decided to run around two of the Drakes to try to take out Orsik. The Drakes saw what was going on and struck out at the passing creature. Both Androk and Deena found a soft spot in the creatures defenses, making him stagger before reaching Orsik.

He lashed out at all three of these Drakes in defiance. These blows hit the three adventurers very hard, dropping all three from being relatively healthy to bloodied or unconscious. Gwyrd pushed the creature back into the stinking cloud and Deena struck at it, and as the blow landed, Androk, who was unconscious regained his strength. Soon after that, the monstrous creature finally fell and the Drakes continued to their wagon.

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Session 2/5/2011
A Hint of Butterscotch

Gwyrd gave Orsik and Deena precise instructions as he finished up the last batch of potion of mimicry. The three of them had measured, boiled, cautiously stirred, vigorously shook, distilled, and accidentally added a hint of butterscotch to produce a table full of alchemical items. Outside of the shop, screams rang out. Androk swiftly leapt up the stairs and climbed onto the roof. With his newly enchanted belt of scrying, he was able to see that the western half of the city was embroiled in fighting. He could tell that there were civilians mounting a defensive barricade, but the area was surrounded by hundreds of hollowed.

Gwyrd, expecting the worst, and not wanting to let his days and a half’s worth of work go to waste, quickly shuffled the new potions into his bag of holding (made of “leather”). The group decided it was time to get out of the shop. They busted through the back door and went down the alleyway to turn onto the main street. When they got there, they saw a handful of hollowed assaulting unarmed civilians who were trying to run away.

Catching these hollowed somewhat off guard, the group quickly broke through their ranks. The group had a brief discussion of which way to go, Deena, being the only one who wanted to turn west to help the armed defenses didn’t have time to think it through as she fled with the group.

Gwyrd cast an illusion in the middle of the street, an enticing display of the most attractive civilians for the hollowed to seek out. Hollowed funneled towards it, standing still as they gazed upon the most desirable civilians they’d ever seen (this illusion likely took the form of civilians who were on the brink of death and perfectly primed for more hollowed to be transferred from distant planes into this world). The group quickly shuffled through this crowd of docile hollowed. Edwulf gave one or two a good thump across the head as he ran past.

As the group headed east, towards the outskirts of the town, a second handful of hollowed poured out of an alleyway. Gwyrd called forth a blast of color aimed higher than usual and obliterated many of the hollowed. A shade form lingered in the alley way, and not wanting to expose their flanks, Deena, Kir and Edwulf quickly dispatched it. Then a gnome and a tall humanoid (he was moving too quickly for the group to notice anything about him other than his bowler hat) ran out and the gnome shouted to them, “What are you doing? Run!” as he followed his companion down the main street. The group followed these two a little ways before the two NPCs veered into an alley shouting, “Come on, this way!” Orsik followed without hesitation. The group followed their veteran leader, knowing how unwise it would be to part ways with his healing powers.

As they caught up with the pair, they were jumping onto a moving wagon, and waved to the group, encouraging them to jump on. The group jumped. Kir, sensing that this feat might be more difficult for some, readied her rope and lassoed Edwulf onto the wagon. Everyone made it safely.

The humanoid with the bowler cap sat in the driver’s seat, edging the horses to pull forward as quickly as possible. The wagon started to move down narrow streets at a rapid pace, but Bowler Cap made the rapid turns seem easy. As the wagon made its way through the last few blocks of the warehouse district, four adventurous hollowed jumped from rooftops and onto the top of the wagon. A quick bullrush, push, and a few slashes took care of this third encounter.

The wagon burst out from the buildings and the sunlight seemed to wash away the noxious smell of blood and hollowed sweat that had slowly permeated the air in Valkenswaard. The sunlight brought hope, they were out of the city, they were safe.

Then they saw the fight that blocked the road ahead. A caravan of wagons had made it beyond the next intersection, but the fight had spilled into the intersection and our adventurers could not plow through. The driver quickly swerved to the left. This time, a wagon wheel hit the gutter and jostled the wagon onto its side. The adventurers jumped off the collapsing wagon and landed in the middle of a fight. In one corner, the Brelandish Banner, in the other corner, a massive hollowed who seemed unphased at being surrounded by hostile soldiers.

The adventurers took turns cutting open a path for the next to move through and with clockwork precision, the adventurers seemed ready to win the fight. Then a priest-like figure arrived and quickly turned the tide. Creatures who had seemed all but ready to surrender were suddenly given a second wind and the steady line of defense that the adventurers put up was thwarted by the priest’s ability to strike at long range and draw the adventurers closer. When standing next to the priest, Orsik felt an overwhelming depression that enfeebled his actions. Fortunately, his Dwarven constitution saved him from the ill effects and he quickly moved away and back towards the wagon.

Seeing more hollowed approaching from the southern road, the group carefully laid out a path towards the wagon. The travellers righted the wagon as the adventurers kept the remaining hollowed at bay. Gwyrd lifted the battle standard, tossed an alchemical frost at the priest and teleported onto the wagon. From his seat on the wagon, he saw the bottle strike the priest at his feet, freezing him in place. The group turned and ran to the wagon, with Androk standing as the rear guard. Orsik’s spirit bear charged forward to make one final swipe at the enemy before it disappeared, called back by Orsik. Androk jumped onto the wagon.

The priest, frustrated that he couldn’t move quickly, raised his arms and gave the wagon a hard stare as he began chanting. The wagon seemed to spin its wheels as if the priest were pulling the whole thing to him. Androk, notched an arrow and loosed it. Androk aimed for the priest’s face, hoping to break his concentration and release the wagon from his icy grip. The arrow flew through the air and pierced deep into the priest’s left shoulder. He staggered but maintained his gaze. Suddenly, the wagon lurched free as Gwyrd sensed a tremendous arcane energy from the front of the wagon, perhaps from Bowler Cap.

As the two remaining elite hollowed growled at the group, Deena and Kir taunted in their general direction (to little effect).

The wagon, unable to resume its eastward route, is traveling northward, heading back towards another major intersection on the edge of Valkenswaard. The travelers don’t know how they are going to meet up with the rest of the caravan. The adventurers don’t know where the travelers are going. But what they do know is that the next intersection will likely lead to another battle. Take this time to rest and get your encounter powers back and distribute some alchemical items.

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Session 1/16/11
Introducing Deena

A warm return:

The party returned to Mbrëmja e Vërenjtur and was greeted by Zjarr. He welcomed them back and ordered the acolytes to prepare a hot meal.

“You’ve already started rebuilding,” Orsik noted.

“Yes. Unfortunately, these two acolytes, well, they aren’t the brightest pair of students. They believe that if they serve their time here, they will be on a path to immortality. They simply don’t understand the fundamental role that death plays in worshipping the Raven Queen.” Zjarr looked over the otherwise empty monastery. “I suppose progress is progress.” He continued to stare blankly around at the monastery, envisioning what it must have been like before the group had arrived and what he hoped it would become. There is a tremendous amount of work to do, he thought. His eyes slowly turned towards the group of weary adventurers. “I just remembered, a traveler arrived the other day and asked for you.”

“Asked for us?” Kir said.

“Well, not by name, but by description. The acolytes brought her in and had her settle her things. She’s traveling alone and she seems harmless enough. But, one can never quite tell what will spark an ardent’s anger. Anyway, why don’t you meet her and we’ll discuss what you found in the caverns over dinner. I believe she is in the library.”

“Descriptions of us, huh?” Gwyrd said suspiciously.

“Yes. I believe she described you as a shorter than average gnome with stronger than average arcana.”

Edwulf laughed, “Gwyrd is short.”

“You, my friend, were described as an aimless boulder crashing wrecklessly down a mountain destroying everything.”

Gwyrd chuckled, “Whoever she is, she’s definitely heard of your charges into my stinking clouds.”

Edwulf simply crossed his arms, “We survived didn’t we?”

“Let’s go, you two,” Kir said as she started toward the library.

  • * *
    Deena’s story:

“Back in Stonerapids, something happened to me. It’s not like I haven’t seen destruction before, but for some reason, the suffering in Stonerapids seemed magnified. Perhaps Pelor decided that it was time for me to confront atrocities in the world. Anyway, I worked with Griswold Oreshaper and his militia. We fended off remnants of the group of demons that you encountered when you were in Stonerapids.

“One day, a trader came through Stonerapids. He brought household supplies that helped the town feel normal. It’s strange how much difference a pinch of salt on a meal can make to a person’s morale. I convinced him to present fair prices despite the desperate situation in Stonerapids, and in exchange, I offered to travel with him and protect his wares as he traveled south to Qeynos. Along the way, we encountered several groups of bandits, but none of the demons. The trader was a good man, he was the one who gave me my ritual book and started my training.

“When we reached Qeynos, we heard rumors of demons—listen to me, I’ve been traveling this whole time thinking that these are demons—the Hollowed, as you call them, were attacking local villages. There a call to arms and the town hall was littered with posters for enlistment in the militia. They were planning to find the source of some of the demons and strike back. The trader, relinquished me of my duties and we bid farewell. I hope he is still safe during these times.

“The Qeynos militia was not well trained, nor was it well led. My experiences in Stonerapids quickly set me apart from the average militia member. I was selected to be second in command of the assault on the crypt where the Hollowed were coming from. There was a sorcerer, not a Hollowed, but an elf. It is still unclear whether he was possessed or whether he was simply deranged and was summoning Hollowed into the crypt. I’m still not sure how these Hollowed are formed, so perhaps you might be able to provide me with some explanations of what this sorcerer was doing.

“Regardless, we assaulted the crypt. It was much larger than any of the Qeynos militia had thought. We became separated and other groups lost several men. Eventually, we stopped the sorcerer. There won’t be any more Hollowed from that crypt.

“The Mayor of Qeynos presented each of us with a Lion’s Breath Medal. She also presented me with this armor for my role in the battle. She said that the armor had once protected her, and wished it to continue to be useful for those placing themselves in harms way for others. She then told me of rumors that she had heard from traveler’s from Breland. So it was that I learned that the Hollowed are present in Breland. Unfortunately, these rumors also meant that few ships wished to sail to Breland.

“I finally found a group of smugglers who were willing to take me aboard in return for favorable winds that would get them to a lucrative delivery on time. On the boat, when I summoned winds to speed our travels, there were sighs of relief. Someone whispered something about a mindflayer’s orders.

“Arriving in Oscailt, I felt uncomfortable. Everyone, including the half-elves seemed to regard me with disdain. So, I quickly left the port without any information or direction, so I stuck to the roads hoping that travelers would be more amenable. I met an odd man who spoke much about honey and pantaloons. He directed me to Brafferton, where I met Cormac who seemed content to drown his tales of dragons in seemingly endless tankards of ale.

“So, that’s how I had your descriptions and knew the general location of this monastery. It’s not too surprising that you all turn out to be the group of adventurers that Griswold spoke so highly of. So, long story short, I’m here to help you. I hope my story is a sufficient resume to gain acceptance into the group.”

Several of the group nodded, but they are more lost in their own memories than responding to Deena’s story. They had come so far since Stonerapids and her story was bringing them back to each town and city, as well as to each battlefield. Yet they were still far from finding one of the shield fragments that might turn the tide against the Hollowed.

“Look guys, I have no family, no job; so, the world will be my family, protecting it will be my job.”

Kir extended an arm. “Deena, if Griswold trusted you, then you’re welcome to fight next to me,” she said. Deena took her arm in a warm welcome.

  • * *
    The next day:

When Androk returned back to Mbrëmja e Vërenjtur the following day, Zjarr summoned everyone to meet him at the top of the monastery’s tower. The view from the tower was spectacular, the monastery was set into the side of the mountain and the tower looked out into the valley. The forest grew think in the valley, and the snow from the mountain tops fed small streams of clean, crisp water through the forest. The water would eventually make its way into the Semilli Sea.

“I’ve been tinkering,” Zjarr said as he held out four stones. One was larger than the others. “These three,” he said as he pointed to the smaller stones, “will allow you to communicate with the holders of the other stones. I have not tested the maximum distance, but I am sure that they will be effective for at least five miles. They will also be able to communicate through walls, earth, even mountains. However, their effectiveness may be diminished if used to communicate through such obstacles. I have been trying to create communication stones that can link the Raven Queen Monasteries, but these are clearly insufficient for those purposes. This fourth stone is a much more effective teleportation stone. However, it is connected to a sister stone that will be kept here in the monastery. If ever, you need to return, you may use this stone to create a portal. However, if the holder of the stone steps through the portal, then there is no way to teleport back to where you were. Use it sparingly.”

As the group asked for demonstrations and discussed who should carry these wondrous items, a string of torch lights wound their way through the forests in the valley. They steadily approached the monastery walls. When the group finally noticed the lights, the monastery was completely surrounded. Straining to see past the tree line, the group discovered that the intruders were orcs. Hundreds of orcs.

An envoy broke the tree line and approached the clearing in front of the monastery’s gates. A loud guttural voice shouted, “We are here to claim this monastery as our new home! Surrender and we may spare your lives.”

The orcs in the envoy were dressed for war, but something looked different about these orcs. These orcs seemed lost or passionless. Despite the content of their speech, they didn’t seem as aggressive as orcs typically are. They seemed to prefer for the group to surrender. Then the group saw it—these orcs were famished. They had no supplies beyond what they carried. Their sudden appearance at the gates of the monastery was a desperate bid to pillage the cellars of the monastery. They had no idea that the monastery itself had been recently devastated and was near empty. Even if they had known, it would not have mattered, nothing would turn these orcs away from their objective.

But Zjarr held a similar resolve. “You will never enter this temple of the Raven Queen!” he shouted to the chieftain.

The chieftain laughed, “We number in the hundreds, you seem to be a mere handful. We were prepared to fight a full monastery. You stand no chance. Surrender now and we will not kill you, you will be our slaves.”

“Perhaps you didn’t understand,” Zjarr shouted back. “You will never enter.” Zjarr then turned away from the envoy and instructed the group. “Get down to the front gate. When I give the signal, charge out and kill any survivors.”

“Shall I put an arcane lock on the gate?” Deena asked.

“No, I will take care of it. But, thank you,” Zjarr said.

“Signal?” Gwyrd asked.

“You will know it when it happens,” Zjarr replied.

  • * *
    Explosions in the sky:

The group gathered at the front gate. Beyond the walls, hundreds of heavily armed and hungry orcs stepped forward out of the forest and formed ranks. They marched towards the walls in synchronized steps. The clanking of metal and the pounding of the ground grew faster and faster until there was no longer a distinguishable beat. Orcish shouts filled the air. The roar seemed like it was just outside the gate. The sound was so loud.

Then silence.

For a brief moment, all of the shouts were muted by a bright light.

As suddenly as the shouts were silenced, screams were heard.

Screams of pain.

The group looked at each other and put their hands on their weapons. They pushed the gate open and saw dead orc warriors scattered across the field before the monastery.

“Zjarr out-did himself this time,” Gwyrd whispered.

“Let’s go,” said Androk.

“Yeah. I didn’t get to hurt anyone yet,” Edwulf said as he rushed towards the trees.

  • * *
    A travelers’ feast:

Orsik led the group through the rolling hills. He breathed the fresh air, relieved to have a reprieve from the dank smell of the caverns and the oddly metallic smell of the battlefield. It had been a while since Orsik had the chance to stretch his legs through fields of wild grass on an extended journey.

“I’ve traveled a bit, but never before have I traveled on foot with a dwarf. Dwarven endurance isn’t exaggerated,” Deena said as she met Orsik’s stride.

“That’s right,” Orsik boasted as he continued marching forward.

“I suppose tales of dwarven perception might be accurate as well,” she sighed.

“What did you say?” Orsik stopped and glared at Deena. She glared back, unashamed of her statement. In the brief silence, Orsik heard heavy breathing catching up to them. He turned to face the direction from which they’d come and saw that the group had already used the brief stop as an opportunity to drop their gear and drink water. Orsik huffed, “Well, I suppose we could rest here a bit.”

Deena’s expression softened instantly. “Excellent,” she said. “Let’s stop long enough to have a hot meal.”

Edwulf, the rear guard in their formation, approached Orsik. “Why are we stopped?” he asked.

“The young half-elf means to cook something hot to eat,” Orsik replied.

Edwulf threw his body to the ground with a thud. “Sounds delicious,” he said happily.

  • * *
    Once a campfire was going, everyone pointed their weary feet toward the flames. It had been a day and a half since the battle with the orcs, and they had been on the move the whole time, only stopping to sleep. They were all eager to get some definitive answers about the shield fragment, so they were traveling to Valkenswaard.

As Deena set about summoning a hot meal, Edwulf took out his axe and realized that he hadn’t fully cleaned it yet. Some of the orc chieftain’s blood stained the sharp edge. As he cleaned the edge, he noticed a slight dent in the otherwise smooth blade. Concerned, he took a closer look at the dent. Realizing that the weapon was still as durable as ever, he chuckled. The axe had left more than a dent on his enemies. “That was a good battle,” he said.

“It sure was,” Gwyrd agreed. “Androk, you’ve got some new tricks. You moved and struck so quickly that the enemies couldn’t even bring a shield up to block, much less take a swing at you. You took down several of those orcs and you were dazed at the time too, weren’t you?”

“Yes,” Androk said.

“You’ll have to show me how to did that,” Kir said.

“It can only be achieved by being in tune with oneself,” Androk said. “It is not something that I can show you how to do. The power comes from within and requires the proper balance of focus and strength.”

Kir shrugged, “Then I’ll just stick with my Mordenkrad.”

“Which was quite effective against your marks,” Orsik noted.

“Only because you helped me stay on my feet with your healing,” Kir replied with a grateful nod.

“It was nothing. Besides, I had some help,” Orsik gestured towards Deena.

“Not much,” Deena said as she continued focusing on her summoning.

“Not much? I felt a surge of energy fill me when you took that hit,” Androk said. “That burst of strength kept me alive. Not to mention the healing that you gave when my legs felt like they were going to buckle.”

“Gwyrd looked funny standing on the stump of the tree,” Edwulf grinned. “Even on one of those, he was not as tall as me.”

“Yes, well, because of you, I’ve stopped using powers that could have lasting effects on our enemies, so I’ll take any advantage I can get. Including standing on a stump,” Gwyrd answered.

“That’s true, you used a new colorful power, it struck down many of our enemies. Very effective,” Edwulf said approvingly.

“And you, my friend, remained incredibly focused on the chieftain. I take back what I said about your wrecklessness,” Gwyrd said.

“Don’t take it back just yet,” Edwulf said as Deena handed him a plate full of food. “There will be more battles.” Edwulf started to eat. The rest of the group did the same and the conversation grew quiet as they savored the meal.

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Season 2 Premier: Spiders are weak

Zjarr stood just inside the stone entrance, silhouetted against the heavily falling snow outside, calming explaining his inexplicable appearance while absent mindedly wiping his sword clean of blood. At his feet the Brelandish wizard lay crumpled face down, a growing dark red stain on his back marking the exit wound from the swift attack from the shadows. “So you see,” the tiefling concluded, “the Raven Queen clearly meant for me to seek you out, and both her and I would appreciate your help eradicating this…gathering in the caverns below the monastery.”

Gwyrd, only half listening as he carefully pried another dragon eye charge from a pillar, smirked. “She did, did she?”

Somewhere on the ground near the entrance, Orsik groaned. Androk patted him heartily on the back. “Hey, you’re awake! You did great, let me tell you. You really know how to throw your weight around when duty calls, I’m impressed.” The dwarf was just conscious enough to glare with what he hoped was menace at the big half orc. Androk, grinning from ear to ear, seemed oblivious.

  • * *

Two days and a heavy storm later, the party was hunkered down in some low scrubs and snow drifts looking at the mountain face. That morning they had left in their wake two large columns of smoke drifting into the frigid, bright mountain air, like two impossibly long scars against the constant white stillness up here. The fight the night before had been a rough one, set dramatically to the flickering of a campfire which cast long wavering shadows against the ravine’s snowy walls. The party had felled the priests of Orcus, though, and in doing so discovered what their grisly cargo was. The camp was as good a place as any to rest for the night and mend their wounds. Come morning, however, as the sun revealed the night’s battleground of trampled red snow, it had been agreed that fire was the best course of action.

Now, a day’s hike later, they again found themselves looking at a collection of rotting bodies, but these were walking and crawling near a yawning cave mouth. “That’s quite a crowd,” Gwyrd whispered, his breath leaving wisps of white in the brisk air. “I could clear out the weaker ones, but how many are still inside?” The party watched as another pulse ran through the mass of undead at the cave’s entrance, like a shiver rippling out from somewhere inside the caves. The entire mass lurched forward again, bringing more into view. It didn’t seem necessary to answer the gnome’s question. The group crouched away to start the slippery ascent toward the smaller cave opening, a thin trail of smoke weaving it’s way skyward from its opening.

  • * *

Edwulf grunted as he squeezed through the small, vine-infested shaft that had lead from the ceiling of the cave entrance. “I still say we should have kicked in the other door.”

“They clearly knew we were coming, though,” another voice said from behind him, muted by the damp, dark quarters.

“It wasn’t even that big of a door…” the goliath grumbled as he pushed on, his shoulders scraping against either side. Who crawls through little holes in ceilings, anyway? He bet this was the gnome’s idea. He fingered the grotesque pendant that hung from his neck and hoped the next battle would warrant another trophy.

  • * *

After an awkward discussion highlighting the group’s tenuous grasp on the darker theological studies, Zjarr shoved his blade through the cultist’s chest. Wouldn’t do to leave survivors, especially unhelpful ones such as this. All signs indicated combat on the other side of that door, and none of them knew what exactly it would entail. The party brushed the pale green dusting of spores that seemed to cover everything from themselves, checked their weapons, and prepared for the assault.

The next day the party members would remark that they heard those damned bells in their dreams that night, haunting them like ever-present but never visible gongs. They discussed how they managed to pull through, which spell turned the tide, and which thrust or parry felled the right lizardman at the right time. No one disagreed, however, that had Orsik not finally come-to and shaken off the last vestiges of his demonic possession, the party would have been dead several times over. Or perhaps enslaved, hearing those bells for the rest of their lives.

They sat in silence again for a while, remembering the nightmare-like moments of loss of control, when the bells, always ringing, compelled and dragged you forward like a marionette. The unspoken agreement was that they would all prefer never to experience that again.

  • * *

“Ah ha!” Kir yelled triumphantly, her hammer colliding heavily with the dog-sized spider, critically wounding it with a satisfying crunch. She immediately cried out in pain as the larger of the spiders, nearly the size of a horse-drawn cart, bit hard into her abdomen, fangs the length of short swords tearing through her.

Edwulf was already up and moving, powering around the thick mass of webs and throwing himself bodily into the fray. He let out a yell, really more of a howl, something primal and guttural. The massive spider was still bringing it’s two front legs up to fend off the new threat when the goliath struck, the enormous axe hewing through both front legs and into the mass of eyes in one fluid, gory movement. Before the large one’s body could even slump lifelessly to the floor, the axe was already up again, then back down and following through to one of the smaller spiders. It connected with less precision than it did force, sending several legs and a mess of innards spinning across small dark cave. Edwulf roared with delight, reveling in the carnage. He continued his swing through and brought the momentum around 180 degrees, allowing it to carry him two more quick strides to the third of the group. The axe traced an arc of thick, dark blood as it swept down, curved up and, with the last massive stride, swiftly down again directly through the spider’s body, carving it completely in half. A terrible fire had built up within the barbarian, something deep and ancient and furious. He was already leaping over the still falling corpses toward a final foe he had only half-noticed in the shadows, bringing his weapon around again as he closed the distance. It connected with a tremendously satisfying thickness, ripping through chitin and legs.

The rest of the party had hardly had time to react. In a few brief seconds the barbarian had erupted in a bloodbath of destruction and slaughter. They stood dumbfounded and more than a little awed. Somewhere in the aftermath’s silence, a severed leg dropped from the wall with a wet thud.

Edwulf stood panting and peering into the darkness, visibly upset that there were no more foes in sight.

  • * *

Finally the party stood above the wreckage of their final battle – and wreckage it was. Sensing that it was the final battle of this adventure, the party had unleashed a storm of damage. Corrosive, choking fumes had blanketed one half of the small island, an illusory fissure that dropped into apparent nothingness barely visible among them. Kir became a whirling torrent of destruction, raining a constant stream of blows on all those unlucky enough to be near her. Zjarr flitted around the battlefield, picking off those unfortunate enough to be in his path, and Orsik ensured the party stayed standing through the constant trading of blows. The dark creature of shadow and rotting body parts had briefly grasped Edwulf and held him in place. Although the barbarian only failed once to break free, the battle was nearly over when he did.

Gwyrd inspected the point where Zjarr had said a mindflayer had briefly stood conversing with the cultist wizard, looking for any residue of a genuine teleport. “What did you say the illithid said before vanishing?”

“That this was ‘all getting too close for comfort,’” Zjarr repeated, unsure why the gnome was so concerned with the mindflayer. It was gone, wasn’t it? “He also mentioned something about the ‘suppliers’ in the caves. Probably referring to the lizardmen, I would imagine. Whatever it was, it definitely sounded like our dead cultist here was being reprimanded and talked down to, not bartered with on even terms.”

“Yes, that tends to be how illithids work.” Gwyrd mumbled idly, kneeling down. It had definitely been a genuine teleport, thank Biscuits. But to where? Hopefully far enough that it didn’t care to come back for this party of nosy interlopers.

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Session 8: Funny Looking Cows

At some point near the end of the fight on the deck, the storm had become more controlled. Not calmer (if anything the rain battered them even harder), but the waves had stopped tossing the ship around quite so roughly. The wind had also shifted directions and stopped gusting, and was now clearly coming from behind the ship in a nonstop howl that made the single mast creak with strain. Even with the occasional flash of lightning, it was nearly impossible to tell their speed – but if the stretching sail and direction of the wind were any indication, they had to be moving at quite a good clip by now.

The party quickly concluded that the only place such an attack could come from was the only place they had not been allowed during the trip so far: the lower deck. The crew quarters were a bloody mess, with the few sailors who had not come up top to deal with the weather ripped apart. Bunks were toppled, chairs were splintered, and almost every surface was splattered in blood. Someone, or something, had clearly taken a sick pleasure in catching these sailors unaware.

The party had a harder time deciding how to assault the larger cargo room which took up the entire fore of the lower level. There were clearly voices in the room, and some telltale shuffling of Hollowed, but overall relatively little activity could be heard through the doors. Gwyrd was eager to rush headlong into battle and set their foes ablaze. While the party largely agreed to this idea, they disagreed as to the best way to execute it. Eventually the battle was had, and although the party took the Hollowed by surprise, their enemies were quick enough on their feet to respond in kind. A priest in the room had been talking to a Hollowed, who was responding in a deep, terrible voice which was extremely unsettling for reasons the party found difficult to articulate. What little they caught of the conversation before battle began implied that the priest was stealing the ship with the use of a weather control ritual – another ship to add to “the fleet.” The speaking Hollowed dropped like a ragdoll when the party entered the room, clearly a puppet of some sort. The party fought hard, giving it everything they had on the assumption that this would be the last Hollowed they would see today. Sadly, they would not be quite that lucky.

When the priest died, the ritual at the end of the room flared brightly and the storm outside roared anew like an already angry beast suffering fresh wounds. As the last Hollowed crumbled from its wounds, the party heard cries for help drifting from the upper deck. There they found the captain, the sole survivor of his crew, in hysterics but coherent enough to tell the party that they were heading for the rocky east coast of Breland known colloquially as “the Jaws” – known for ripping apart ships even in good weather. It took some serious convincing over the roar of the storm (even appealing to his sense of, and faith in, higher powers), but the party was able to convince the captain to take the wheel, do his best to steer them to safety, and generally man the fuck up. The party then engaged in a totally awesome montage of trying to keep the ship together and trying to help the captain steer through the storm. It seemed to last hours, and the sun started to rise in the east, although the only hint of it was the blackness above becoming heavy, low gray clouds roiling above the the torrential downpour. At some point the party passed an island (little more than a mile-long sandbar) with at least thirty ships of varying size and type pulled up onto it. More ominous still, and barely visible between the flashes of lighting, was the massive crowd of Hollowed standing completely still, shoulder to shoulder, silently watching as the party’s ship passed the island. Worst of all, they were sure they saw one of the ships being pushed out to sea as the storm propelled their own ship forward into the crescendoing chaos of the storm.

- – -

Cormak was amazed that anyone was alive. When he heard the telltale crack, he came running to the cliff and saw (as he expected) a ship being ripped apart by the waves and rocks. But it wasn’t the wreck itself that he expected to have killed the passengers. Indeed, the boat was so expertly placed among the rocks that it could almost have said to be parked there – in fairer weather, the crew may have pulled off the unheard of and actually navigated the Jaws. No, it was the swarming mass of Hollowed blanketing the ship that caused him to be shocked that anything else still moved on the splintered hull. It looked as though another ship had been close behind the first and crashed into the other. One or the other must have been carrying a terrible cargo of Hollowed enough to assault a small city.

If he hadn’t been on a cliff over 100 feet above the surf, Cormak would have wasted no time putting as much distances as he could between himself and that scene. It was the stuff nightmares were made of. Given that a much smaller army of Hollowed had obliterated his entire village, it took serious willpower to stay. But he couldn’t leave those survivors, although damned if he was going to venture down the cliff to add his own blood to the rising tide. Instead, he hammered some pitons into the rocky ground and secured a rope ladder he had picked up yesterday (he had intended to use it to go down the cliff in case he needed to hide from something above) and called to the small group just as they were about to make their first jumps off the boat. One made the jump and deftly bounded across more rocks to reach the surf. Two others weren’t so lucky and ended up in the choppy seas, but managed to hold onto the rocks and pull themselves away from the mass of Hollowed. The last, a robed gnome (at least, it looked a little too sprightly for a child) stayed behind, backing himself onto the corner of a rock. The horde of Hollowed surged forward, packed so closely together that some fell overboard, and others literally crawled over those in front in an effort to get to the tasty morsel ahead of them. Just as the first arms reached for his short form, the gnome erupted in a torrent of flame, ripping apart dozens of the creatures and littering the waves below with charred bodies. It wasn’t enough, though, and the few that stayed standing (although burned down to the bone at points) pulled the gnome to the ground.

A solid hit allowed the wee man to break free, but Cormak could see that the lesson had been learned. The party made haste for his ladder. The gnome dove off the rock, only to stride just above the rolling waves and gingerly pick his way between whitecaps. Some tougher, faster Hollowed were making it out in front of the pack – washing up in the surf or crawling up the rocks. It was tense, and the group (clearly used to standing their ground and putting up a fight) was forced to make a fighting retreat, dodging among blows and stopping to cut down an enemy only when it stood in their way. The tiefling was the last to make it to the top, the Hollowed bunched on the ladder below him grabbing at his heels. The moment he grasped the top of the cliff, Cormak cut the rope of the ladder. The Hollowed on it hit the ground far below with a sickening crunch and disappeared into what was now a solid sea of Hollowed. They ineffectually pawed at the cliff face and let out occasional, unearthly howls.

Cormak collapsed backward. The storm was finally beginning to abate, and the tide would be in before noon. The waves would be thick with the bodies of drowned Hollowed, but Cormak intended to be far from here by that time.

Now who were these people, and what were they doing on a boat full of Hollowed?

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Session 7: Gelatinous Cubes Rule

The party was surprised to find a trap laid for them on their way out of the sewers (okay, your characters were surprised. Act surprised, dammit!). A junction they had traveled through on the way down had been blocked off, with all portcullises dropped and the wheels to raise them broken off and missing. In the corner was a burlap sack with a body in a black robe and several giant beetles already gnawing at its legs. After the battle, the party would discover that this was the body of the lone Drake they had managed to tackle outside the sewers and interrogate – his throat cleanly slit and his belt stripped of weapons in what was clearly a professional job.

The beetles were annoying little bastards, and made for a messy fight. Of the two varieties, both had lived so long in the sewers that they had absorbed and become one with the putrid muck that flowed and gathered in the labyrinthine tunnels beneath Qeynos. The smaller, weaker ones exuded a stench enough to make a half-orc retch, and the larger one actually launched foul balls of coagulated waste, blanketing areas of the battlefield in toxic fumes. To make matters worse, upon stepping into the room and disturbing the relatively still waters, a gelatinous cube congealed itself out of the opaque pool and mindlessly moved in to see if whatever was causing these ripples was delicious enough to warrant absorbing.

Between the beetles’ vomit-inducing fumes and the gelantinous cube’s acidic assaults, things were looking bad. It didn’t help that Zjarr had become engrossed in his own private war with a small beetle who was proving devilishly hard to hit. The tide turned, however, when Orsik hit the switch on the wall marked “Drain Release.” Everything in the water, beetle, cube and ally alike, were dragged toward a sudden vortex in the center of the room, damaging many foes and pulverizing several smaller beetles. Although there was a brief moment of surprise when the gelatinous cube divided into two equal halves, the party had the upper hand at that point and the threats were quickly put down.

- -

Back in the streets of Qeynos, the fresh air never tasted so good (even if our intrepid heroes still smelled like a team of walking outhouses). They finished up their business with Lennox, getting the name of the city in Odus which should contain a museum holding the continent’s Shield fragment (Kiuruvesi). They also got the name of a historian contact in Gorinchem (Breland’s capitol), although Lennox was only ever in sporadic contact with him on a professional level (Enderton).

After bribing a priest at the Temple of Light to enchant Zjarr’s holy symbol, the party went in search of a boat to take them to Breland. They found one leaving for Otley within the hour which, although it was carrying a load of cattle in the lower deck, the captain had made room for passengers in the upper cargo holds given the sudden influx of people wanting to get off Vaylus. There was talk of boats taking one-way trips to Breland, suggesting that some captains and crews were taking extended stays on another continent while the current troubles blew over. Sadly the party would soon discover the real reason many boats were taking one-way trips…

The weather had been perfect. Several days outside Otley, however, the party was woken to a raging storm rocking the entire boat. Above the howling wind they could hear the crew outside trying to keep the craft together. It wasn’t long, however, before the yells of labor became screams.

The deck was covered in Hollowed. As they stepped out, the party saw a previously-unknown “version” of Hollowed. A hulking monstrosity was bent over a fallen sailor. The massive thing (later dubbed “Leaking Vessels” for reasons soon seen) opened its mouth impossibly wide and literally disgorged what appeared to be the glowing essence of a demon, which quickly flowed into the sailor’s body. The sailor’s skin immediately took on a terrible gray pallor, and as he rose all the empty eyes of the Hollowed on deck swiveled silently to stare at a suddenly very vulnerable, first-out-the-door Zjarr.

The battle was incredibly rough. The seas rocked the boat violently, throwing combatants side to side (more than one Hollowed tasted saltwater). The rain whipped violently around them and made the already uneasy footing worse. The leaking vessels were terrors up close, unleashing a flurry of spectral arms which staggered even the heartiest of the party. Only Kir’s heavy scale scale armor could withstand the blows enough to allow Zjarr and Greenspan to move in and make the killing blows. Orsik tested the extent of his healing abilities, and even his bear learned to be cautious around the raging monstrosities. Eventually the party prevailed, but not before each of the leaking vessels ruptured, their skin splitting and the essence of demons pouring forth to find new host bodies. These freshly raised Hollowed were trifles compared to their previous carriers, though.

Wet, exhausted and bloody, the party finally struck down the last of them. They had survived and were victorious.

Why had the cows stopped mooing downstairs, though?

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Session 6: Gnomis Intimidation Fetishes

The group burst through the roaring waterfall into a dark, dank series of caves and a mass of shocked kobolds. One raised the alarm, and the shadows and passages behind them came alive with scurrying feet and the clank of hastily donned armor. The group had become efficient (at least as far as kobolds went) and carved through the first wave in a matter of seconds. Gwyrd seized the opportunity and close quarters to turn a large corner of the battlefield into a sheet of ice, with tendrils of frost crawling up and pulling down the weaker foes. The hulking goblin that emerged from the shadows, however, was a frightening addition – covered in scars and grinning with an unnerving look of bloodlust at the fray that he was wading into. The tide of battle swung between the two sides until, bruised and bloody, only the party and the goblin remained standing. It wasn’t long before the party carved him down, crumbling with an angry gurgle and encased in flames from Zjarr’s sword. Among the (surprisingly large) cache of treasures in the caves, the party found an advertisement hinting at slave trade on seedy south end of the Boreston docks. They tucked this away and headed back to the caravan, sore and ready for a good night’s sleep (Barrash’s insistence on putting in some more miles was greeted only with a weary nod).

The remaining days heading south to Qeynos were largely uneventful. Four days out the party passed a large group of paladins, fully clad in heavy plate armor polished to a high sheen. Each had the symbol of a god emblazoned on their chest piece, with Moradin, Pelor and Bahamut being equally represented. They were far from talkative, but they indicated that they had been sent by a coalition of their various churches to “clear the road” for refugees making their way to the Cathedral of Light, which was accepting refugees in Qeynos.

A couple days later, still two full days outside Qeynos, the party caught the glimpse of something shining through the trees a ways off the path. A quick check revealed the bloody remains of a combat, leaving a mess of dead guards (their uniforms suggesting the type normally patrolling the King’s Highway) felled by wounds similar to those of victims of the hollowed.

At long last, however, the party arrived in Qeynos. Barrash paid the party the other half of their earnings and encouraged them to keep the healing potions (“Always pay well for a job well done, mah Pappy always said.”). After some poking around in taverns and getting some scholarly folk from the University good and drunk, the party finally made their way to the home of the historian Allitan had told them about – Lennox. He was receptive when he found out that the group wasn’t emmessaries of a king, and even more receptive upon hearing Allitan’s name.

Lennox filled the party in on the history behind the First Hollowing, the Shield of Artabanus, and the current state of affairs. The gist of his tale was that the party needs to find the four pieces of the Shield, somehow reconstruct it, then find the “patient zero” demon and destroy him using the Shield. If the current Hollowing follows the theme of the previous one, that should prevent more Hollowed from being created. The last known locations were Vaylus in the underground markets of Boreston, Eradinn (specific location unknown, but most likely remembered by the Eradinn elders or leadership), Breland in a semi-abandoned fort called Keep Foulweather, and Odus (location to be determined upon survival in the sewers).

Before Lennox could finish telling the party where the shield fragment in Odus was, a black cloaked figure burst in and stole several books, including one Lennox was about to read. The party gave chase, picking out the thieves in the crowded market, sprinting down alleys and dodging crates and trash piles, until they finally managed to tackle a lagging thief just at the entrance to the sewers. A quick bit of intimidation (revealing a potential trick laid for them), and the party headed into the sewers. When they finally confronted their quarry, the group learned what it meant to face the Drakes head on. Arrows and poisoned darts peppered the battlefield and swords met flesh more than once. In the end the party was victorious, but not before taking a heavy toll on their resources. They recovered the book then interrogated (again through intimidation – fast becoming a theme) the lone survivor, although he refused to say much.

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Session 5: Long walks in the park

Triumphant return
Worn leather straps, bags cinched tight
Handshakes and gold coins
* * *
Sweat drips from sunned brows
Late spring days on empty roads
Winding ever south
* * *
Tired refugees
Campfires under vast black skies
Rumors of trouble
* * *
Civilization
Churches hunched by rain-soaked streets
The open road calls
* * *
Calloused feet march on
Distant mountains catch the sun
Still no guards in sight
* * *
Ambush from the weeds!
Arcane flashes and steel
Distant cries for help
* * *
A second skirmish
Blood-stained armor tells tale of
Hard-won victory
* * *
Rough bindings are cut
Up-turned cart’s wheel spins slowly
Birds fill the silence
* * *
Tracks in the damp grass
Duty says to see this through
But the road beckons
* * * * *

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Session 4: Jumpin' bottomless chasms like it ain't no thang

Elston woke out of a half-sleep haze to the distant sound of combat. He wasn’t sure if he was dreaming or dead, as last time he remembered being awake he assumed it would be his last. Nonetheless, he awoke to the same horrible, scratching thirst in the back of his throat and that gnawing hunger worse than he had ever known. It wasn’t until the small team of warriors burst into the room, cutting down his horrible captors that he found the strength to pull himself up. Was this the last fever dream of a dying man? He watched through a delirious haze as the last captor fell with a sickening gurgle – the same captors that had tortured them for the past week, until that grew boring and they decided to simply let the remaining survivors starve, gazing with perverse fascination as the life slipped out of one after another over the course of days. A month ago, Elston never would have guessed that he would have been chewing down dried hay or licking the last moisture from the bottom of the trough meant for livestock sacrifices to the Wise One of the Deep. Was the fact that one of these saviors was wearing one of their robes supposed to be allegorical or something? He was too exhausted to think that one through.

All pretenses of it being a dream fell away when the first mouthful of real water filled his throat. He never knew water could taste so good and nearly cried when he felt it fill his empty stomach. The small group questioned him briefly (they sure seemed to know little for people who had traveled so far out of their way to save this pathetic town) before wiping their blades down, patching a few wounds and marching on. After helping his fellow survivors to water and food (Ruar and Quaden must have died sometime during his previous black-out), he gave into curiosity and followed the group down the long winding hallway to the Temple. He arrived in time to see the dragonborn easily leaping the water, only to be felled by a heavy glob of ichor which caught him in the chest. The dwarf, and that bear that kept jumping around the room like a mirage, moved to his aid. After pulling himself up and rejoining the combat, the team moved through a confusing choreography of battle. In a matter of minutes it was over. The weary miner-turned-priest slunk away back to his friends at the cage. He didn’t care to see if or how the group got into the storage room – he had never cared for the material wealth their leader had insisted on collecting, anyway.

On their way out, the party’s tiefling hinted that they may have been sent by Stonerapids to look into cult activity. Elston found it deeply amusing that small-town superstition had saved his life and counted his blessings that this party had asked before cutting down the harmless cultists along with the…things. Gods, even in death their eyes seemed to be more than just empty! They were pits of something profoundly evil.

Hours later the halls were silent. Elston kicked the last foul thing’s broken body into the dark depths, which consumed it voraciously as it did every other sentient body that it had ever been fed. He looked into the waters and asked aloud, “what just happened? What does this mean?”

The waters answered with the same horrible voice inside his head as they always had, rattling his skull with words no human tongue had ever spoken: “I’ve watched primordials die and the power of gods wax and wane. Meaning is a fruitless search. Your pitiful town may have escaped by the skin of its teeth, but dark times are upon the rest of the world. I have seen what passes for thoughts in these foul things’ minds, and in them I have seen what is coming.”

“What should we do, Deep One?”

“Rebuild. And prepare for war.”

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Session 3: Robe theft and cliffhangers

Less than an hour outside of Stonerapids the party felt like they were in a different world. It wasn’t until they were hiking through the rolling foothills under the morning sun that they realized how oppressive the havoc and death and its smoldering aftermath had become. The first few miles out of town were a mixture of pastures, rows of crops, and light forest. Before them, the snow capped peaks of the Dragonspine Mountains rose sharply and loomed gradually closer. By midday civilization dropped into the background, the forests became denser, the birds became more active, and the sun dappled the deeply rutted dirt road before them. It was almost surreal.

It was early evening by the time they reached Kront. The mountains felt more like a cliff this close, stretching skyward and topped by incandescent snow tinted orange in the setting sun. The buildings cast long, deep shadows. The entire town was completely silent. A quick check of the buildings revealed sparse furnishings, some moldy food, and a fine layer of dust. The only evidence of something amiss were fading trails of blood, as though bodies had been dragged, pointing to the yawning darkness of the mine. A few deep purple, finely tailored robes were found in some houses, emblazoned with an emblem of a mountain with a circle or hole in the center. Zjarr, being a Hefner-like connoisseur of fine robes, donned one himself.

A quick skirmish involving zombies and a few now-familiar demon-zombie-things established that the denizens of the mines were not interested in conversation. From there on, the tunnels changed in character. They became smoother and well-worn. Their excavation was evidently far beyond the skills of a small mining town like Kront, and the walkways were worn so smooth with footsteps that they must have been walked for ages (but to where? Why weren’t the tunnels like this above?). The party continued on down the single shaft for the better part of an hour – always winding down, and never any branches or smaller passages as there had been near the mouth of the mine.

They heard the roaring of the stream before they saw it. The group attacked the situation with their usual vigor, attempting to handle the resilient Hollowed holding the one small bridge while foul ichor rained down on them from strange creatures on the far side of the stream. Just when the it seemed that the party had the situation under control, Gwyrd and Greenspan were ambushed by two Hollowed who had hid in the shadows behind a pillar, waiting for the heavy weapons to move away. Greenspan was quick on his feet, quickly hobbling one of his would-be assailants. He deftly vaulted over an attacker and retreated to safety. But will it be enough?!? Tune in next week, Monday, 4:30 pacific, 6:30 central.

(Also there were some starving dudes in a cage wearing robes like the ones Zjarr pilfered, but this shit was getting long already and I’m lazy.)

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