You met in the army. By chance. There was no rhyme or reason why your drill sergeant decided to put the four of you together. Not at first anyway. But even as completely new recruits, it was clear you worked exceptionally well together.
Patrolling the countryside south of Esterving, you honed your skills fighting small mercenary bands, packs of wolves and even downed a wayward mountain troll. The last very much to your superiors amazement. When the goblins started raiding the small villages close to the mountains, you were there. Fighting them back every step of the way. Always first to the fight, and the last to rest. No one got past the four of you. Every farmer, every merchant, every child in the countryside spoke of you, not like individuals, but of a fighting entity so in sync, your moves and dodges between each other became a blur. You were no mere soldiers in these parts. You were heroes.
Why you were never promoted was a constant topic your sergeant debated with his superiors. As an elf, he rarely lost his tempers. But more than once, you heard him scream and yell, even flip furniture in anger. You were his star pupils. The best he had ever seen. Yet command wouldn't let you rise in rank. Why! It made no sense to him. You could do so much more with commands of your own.
When the war started you were placed front line as always. Cannon fodder, your sergeant mumbled as he said his farewells to you. “If you make it back, I have something for you.” Those were his parting words.
It was raining, with just a hint of ice. The ground was shaking, as the enemy army marched ever closer. Men, elves, dwarves. Just like you. But these came to conquer. To kill. Their banners and crests were foreign. Their colour choices strange and unusual. And something about the way they walked were off, just a little. But their swords and bows were just as deadly as yours. Their mages just as skilled. Their war machines ready to destroy your beloved Esterving.
As you readied your weapons, breathing deep, loosening your shoulders, a bowman behind you suddenly shouted, pointing to the sky. The most unusual crow flew above you, all white with red gleaming eyes. As it circled around you, a single feather dropped from its left wing. Slowly zig zagging to the ground. One of you bent down to pick it up...
Chapter 1 - Waky Waky
You wake sometime in the night in an abandoned (and around 300 years old, according to Brans stone knowledge) house. Fully clothed, but covered in dust, all gear in dire need of some TLC. Rummaging around a bit, you find your weapons (some of them with new, strange runes on them), smash a mirror to pieces, turn furniture into flammable objects and find a 'Definitely Not Horse' bone outside, at the big dead tree. Also, Tegno realises some kind of magic aura surrounding you all, but it is fading fast. Wee Bob joins the party as you descend down the plateau the house was standing on, overlooking a small village far below. Skinny but otherwise in good health. It is dawning as you near the village and hear the scream of someone in tremendous pain. Tanath charges in, followed by the rest of you (Tegno riding Wee Bob), to discover a young boy, strapped down to a bed, apparently possessed by a demon. One which is obviously confused by your presence there. Something about you guys not supposed to be there...yet? Chopping off the kids arm with the strange runes on it (courtesy to Tanath) only seems to release the demon, for a short spell into Tegno, then off it goes to posses the local priest Ejnar, who then promptly starts stabbing a fellow villager in the stomach. Bran chases down the priest and knock him unconscious. Priest now has strange runes on his arm. Tanath heals Thorbjørn (the dying dude), just a bit, while still carrying the kids arm. Priest is dragged to the church, tied to the altar, holy symbol strapped to his forehead, making everything smell of bacon. Bob communes with the surrounding nature, realising there's the fiend on the altar and elemental(s?) in the woods. Bran takes a look at the church stonework, and realises it is not as old as the house on the hill. Maybe 100-150 years.(edited)
Then off to find the local witch/healer/midwife/hermit Nadja. She's of little use, though remarkably non-afraid of you all. She does sell you her 'family book of recipes', since she can't read it anyway. Among its many useless recipes for love potions and Naan Bread, there's also a very specific and highly advanced (compared to the rest) instruction on how to exorcize a demon. Nadja is sent to the village to help heal people. Tegno does a quick search of her hut to see if there's anything inherently evil. There is not. Bob has a short conversation with a crow, who informs them that finding the yellow (poisonous) berries should be no problem at all, and that tehre's nothing scary on the woods. Its around 10 in the morning. And all is well...
Chapter 02 - Hello old new friend
On the hunt for the berries, a pack of wolves started looking at you like tasty little snacks. Bobs efforts to try and talk them out of it wasn't really working, so in the end you set the alpha and 2 of the smaller ones on fire (after hitting them with axes, morning stars and arrows). Cut out the hearts and bones of the lesser ones and proceeded to take a short nap near the wolves puppy cave. Whatever happened to the last two you do not know. You do know that the wolves were very hungry and scared of something dark though. And that they were unusually close to any kind of human settlement, given so much forest to roam in.
Still wanting to find whatever that 'elemental' thing was, you proceeded to search. Nothing struck you as odd or out of place, until Bob suddenly claimed a tree had winked at him, and started talking with said tree. A big oak named Old Bruno. Apparently he was the elemental, a seemingly very tired one. But happy to 'help', by dropping 3 magical acorns into Bobs hands, giving you the name of said demon; Mar'Ech. Tanath remembers through his religious training that the name means The First Coming. Then Old Bruno promptly went back to sleep.
Trotting back towards the village, creating this nasty mixture of bones and heart and berries in the healers hut. And back up the village road for the priest. Most of the villagers are apparently not doing as they were told (to stay away from the church), but huddled together in a group some 15-20 meters from it. Nadja the Witch has been gutted and is hanging in her own entrails from the old dead tree in front of the church.
The priest is standing in the doorway, laughing. Taller than before, his legs and feet oddly twisted. And what looks like tiny horns growing through his skin, making blood trickle down his head. He snarls at Tanath, as Tanath lets loose his morning star and races towards the priest/demon thing: “Your god is dead. Or will be soon. By you. Again”
One good whack by the morning star and an axe through the neck by our raging and frenzying dwarf, lets loose the horned head, rolling down the street, grinning at the villagers. That translucent smoke, you've seen before, now entering a woman.
She's tiny, so even though Bob seems to be a bit clumsy as he grapples her, she's quickly pinned to the ground, and Tegno makes her inhale the mixture. The effect is almost instantaneous as the demon rips his way through her body, fully formed with a friggin big glaive in his hand.
At this point you all seem eager to whack the demon some more, so Bran starts chopping at him with his axe, not quite doing as much damage as expected. But in his complete frenzy, attacking twice, it is still some fairly successful hits. Tanath channels Lughs holy power into his morning star, which clearly seems to hurt the demon a lot.
Bob is doing his best to shoot some arrows into the fiend, but either he's quite careful trying to not harm the barbarian or the paladin, or maybe it's cause Wee Bob is hiding behind his legs, distracting him. Cause his arrows never really seem to hit their mark. And much to Tegnos dismay, the gnome realises that fire doesn't do much against the angry fiend, so he starts throwing frost bolts at him instead. At some point, Mar'Ech sets fire to Bran, but our dwarf doesn't really seem to care, and in his frenzy keeps chopping away at the big guy. The fight is very suddenly over, as Tanaths morning star comes crashing through the demons head, spraying the dwarf and paladin in blood and brainmatter.
In the aftermath Tanath proceeds to appoint a rather young, but eager male as the new priest. Instructing him in the ways of Lugh. He seems very willing to learn. How much he actually grasps is another matter.
Bran did some friendly interrogation about the house you woke up in (not telling the villagers that detail though). The villagers seem to believe it's either haunted or cursed, and no one would ever venture up there.
It's 7 in the evening. Bran is eating and drinking. The sun is slowly doing it's setting thing. The villagers are all grateful yet immensely scared of you all. Some are sobbing a bit. And all is well...
Key highlights of the night: Someone was stroking his badger, and Bran came up with Old Bruno the Aftershave. I think we know what kind of shop he will set up now, when he retires from his 'soldier life'. Also Bruno dropped his balls into Bobs hands, who then promptly gave him the old reach around. As you should.
Chapter 03 - Baby Demon
The villagers of Sinmoore are of little help to you all. They only know little of their surroundings and have knowledge about places or people you mention to them. They are more than happy to pack you all a big lunch as you travel southward towards Withergate. Grateful for your help, including sating and burying the dead, in the name of Lugh.
On the road there, Bob clearly senses packs of wolves following you, never coming close enough for you all to actually see.
You arrive at Withergate very late in the evening, and a young, scared peasant show you the way to the mayors house. It's difficult to say if the mayor lets you into his house cause he's scared of you or if he's genuinely happy to entertain such 'prominent and well geared' folks. He is very talkative, but doesn't really have anything to say that you can use. He does speak of some unusual wolf attacks happening lately, but other than that, nothing of the ordinary. Much to his own surprise he hands you one of his most prized possesions...a map of Wildegarde.
Bob senses a fiend nearby, but can't pinpoint where. So around midnight you all walk up to the church, clearly lit from the inside. You notice a big, dead tree in front of the church, much like the tree outside Sinmoores somewhat smaller religious building.
Tanath, Bob and Bran heads inside. Bran realising that this building is probably the oldest of them all in this place. Somewhere around 200 years, give or take. The priest greets you calmly. Contrary to the villagers, he doesn't seem scared by your appearance. He speaks a little of The Lifebringer, and you learn that that is the only God they (are allowed to) worship. Although pressed earlier, the mayor did let slip that they often brought offerings to Old Bruno, wishing for a good harvest or healthy children.
While there's religious chat going on in the church, Tegno casts a detect magic ritual, realising the dead tree and the magic Acorn Old Bruno had given you, share the same magical properties. So he shoves the acorn down the tree, waking it up. Bob senses/hears the tree waking and tries to communicate, but it just keeps saying 'Blood Hungry Dead Angry', and after a little trouble uprooting itself, it starts walking/trotting down into the village proper.
Everybody follows except Tanath, who questions the priest a little longer. The tree stops outside a house, shivering with anger. As you knock on the door, a very frightened woman opens up, clearly believing you are there to rob her. And in her desperation she starts offering you all kind of things, she has nearby. Thus Tegno now owns a new pair of old shoes.
She claims her, her two boys, husband, maid and stable boy lives in the house. But when asked to get out of the house, apparently the stable boy and husband stays inside, cause you never see them. The maid however, is carrying an infant. And the minute Tanath gets close, from his run down from the church, another demon rips its way into this world through the baby child.
It seems eager to kill, so combat breaks loose immediately. While it does take a little while to take it down, it hardly does any damage. Concentrating mostly on the paladin, snarling something about the paladin has killed his own god.
By axe, morning star, a few arrows and finally Tegnos fire, the demon goes down. So does the house. Catching fire it burns to the ground, while the rest of the town desperately tries to save the surrounding buildings, dosing them in water.
It's in the middle of the night. You're definitely not cold, not even wounded much. And once again, you're surrounded by scared villagers and dead people. The night is lit by towering flames and all is well...mostly...
Key highlights this time: Bob has started growling at his badger as well as stroking it. If you can shove your acorn into a hole, you should.
Chapter 4 and 5 - Lazy DM
A quick conversation with the family outside the burning house reveals the baby isn't there's, but belongs to the maid's boyfriends family. Off to them, you find the residents murdered. The father of the family has apparently hanged himself, after ripping off skin of his arm, hanging loose, revealing more of the ruins. The maid from the burning house tells the 14 year old girl is missing.
You follow her tracks up north, into the woods, back the way you came. On your road there, you're attacked by a pack of wolves and find Old Bruno burned to the ground. (Which apparently caused the magic acorns to burn as well. They are now shrivelled, blackened nuts). You spend the night resting by the dying embers of what was previosly a talking tree. Bob dreaming Bruno telling him not to worry, he is only asleep.
The next morning takes you back to Sinmoore, by following the young girls footprints. Footprints that slowly morph, as if her legs are growing longer and her feet are turning around. She doesn't enter into the village itself, but passes by it, going up to the House on the Hill. However, you realise the village is too quiet for the time of day, and entering it, you find it completely deserted. Furniture has been knocked over, food has been left on the tables. As if the people have left in a hurry. There's footprints everywhere, leading in all directions, though fewer are going towards the river and the part of the woods where Old Bruno resided.
Going up to the house you awoke in, you clearly hear the young-girl-turning-demon trashing the place. Everything is thrown and smashed. In particular the mirror and it's frame on the second floor. The demon possessing the young girl, is bursting through her skin. Legs turned 180 degrees, horns growing out of her head, skin hanging loose, making way for a much bulkier creature, standing 2½ meters tall. It attacks the minute it gets it chance.
Whether this is just a more powerful demon, or they grow more powerful the longer they get to posses someone is unclear, but it's definitely more resistant to your efforts of taking it down. Although it clearly doesn't like fire. At some point it grabs Tanath around the neck, as the paladin tried to cut of it's escape (?) through the window. Pushing first the paladin and later itself out the window, the fight continues for a short while on the roof, before it takes a jump to the ground, dragging Tanath with him. Bran quickly follows, making a perfect super-hero landing, chopping away with his axe. In the end, it is Bob that takes down the fiend. With an arrow to the knee no less.
Thing to note: Both the tree outside Sinmoore church and the old tree outside the house on the hill has burned down.
Chapter 06 - As above so below
After making a nice bonfire out of the big bad demon and doing some touch up heals, you decide to spend the night in the house, all feeling a little spent. Bran barricades the door and Tegno makes a muscail trip wire trap, to alarm you, should anyone uninvited enter. It's a night of weird dreams, but otherwise quiet. That is, until Tegno wakes cause Tanath appears to be lifting up his shirt. Apparently Tanath is concerned there's something going on with all of you, in particular on your backs, showing strange runes in his holy book that shouldn't be there. Explaining that these runes are on his back as well (he snuck up the day before and used mirror scraps to check).
When the paladin reaches out to touch Bob's back, cause the ranger happily volunteered to be touched up, he has a vision of his hand going all black and withered. Tegno's suddenly all keen to show off his back, keeping his robe over his head, as the rest of you examine it. No runes, not through the mirror shard either.
A few things are tried by the tiny gnome. Burning down his quarterstaff with the runes, only seems to provide a brief moment of nice bonfire and getting the runes transferred to his spellbook cover instead. Secondly, after ritualising the detect magic spell, the lil gnome touches Bobs back, and is instantly hurled back to to other end of the room, crashing into a little pile of robe and whimpers. It hurt. Not to mention the 'Big Boomin Voice' in his head going “NO!”.
Deciding there's nothing more you guys can do here, you happily trot on to Honeybury under the autumn sun. A nice cozy walk talking all day. The peasants fear you as much as the inhabitants of Sinmoore. Probably because of the way you look. You are after all geared for war. Priest and mayor-wannabe greets you, taking you to the church at your request. They claim nothing special has happened, and upon inspecting all the villagers, you find no one with runes on your arms.
While inspecting the villagers, Bran decides to start digging in the ground. And around the same time as he hits stone, the priest suddenly reach out around Tanaths neck and go 'Now you die'. The robe folding back reveals the same runes as you have seen on other demon possessed people. It's a swift and easy fight. In fact it goes so fast that while scared, none of the peasants run away. Just standing there staring and shock and horror.
A quick consecration of the grounds to Lugh, salting and burning the priests body by Tanath and Tegno while Bran and Bob returns to the digging, revealing a rooftop. (Tanath noting that maybe the first person you run into, is the one (demon) send after you). It quickly becomes apparent to the stone-wise dwarf, that the building he's uncovering must be at least a 1000 years old. Smashing through the roof, you all lower down to inspect what appears to be a small peasant house. Everything is old and crumbling to dust. Everything is also so very familiar.
It's quite late in the night. The village goes silent as you all sleep in some poor family's home.
Chapter 07 - Four rusted horses
Leaving Honeybury going to Eastbury, and apart from the feeling that you're stalked or watched going through the hills, nothing really happens. Eastbury is the first real decent town you encounter, estimated to be around 300 years by your very own stonemason. It's having both inns, magic shops (well, maybe not so much) and a well equipped city guard. People might seem a little curious about you, but no one seems really frightened. And though everyone is human here, no one seems to react to the fact that your party has a dwarf and a gnome.
You stay the night at Mikkellers, a reputable inn where all but Bran bathes. Tegno even gets his robe cleaned.
Early next morning Tegno and Bran heads to Kromholts Curious Emporium (sorry, I couldn't remember what I called it, so that is now it's name). By all accounts a magic shop. Though apart from a pair of gloves and a jug, everything else is really just old and mouldy items. The jug is apparently cursed, according to Kromholt. He seems almost embarrased taking money from it. The gloves he doesn't believe to be much magical, but he does agree they match Tegnos robe just fine. You have yet to discover the magic properties of the gloves, but you have clearly acquired a magical Jug of Endless Mayonnaise...or so it seems.
Using Brans very persuasive character, Kromholt reluctantly admits that he knows nothing about the runes on Tegnos spellsbook (though for just a second his eyes glazes over, going milky white as he looks at them), but that a friend of his has exiled himself to Kor'Ech's End. The dead woods far to the east. Apparently any kind of interest in history or archaeology could get you into trouble with the church, and you'd risk being sent away for 're-education-'
While the wee people shop, Bob and Tanath walks the street, going towards the main church in the center of town. As they walk, Tanath's steed Failinis, a huge dapple grey, suddenly appears trotting happily towards you. He's skinny but otherwise unharmed. In his saddlebags you find a human sized femur. As you meet up with the gnome and dwarf, Tegno remembers having a horse too.
The church is busy, several priests scurrying about, talking to the common people, seemingly even using magic to heal a minor injury. The priest you talk with is very polite, curious as to who you are and where you come from, and does not seem swayed by the fact that Tanath believes in someone else. You are offered food and drinks, but take none. And as you leave the church, looking back over your shoulders (sorry, I can't remember who it was...Bran maybe?) for a split second the priest standing in the doorway looking at you go, turns into a full grown demon. But as you blink, the vision is gone, and the young priest is all there is.
You all decide to leave immediately. It is at this point the rest of your warhorses arrive I believe. So Tegnos red Sparky, Brans jet black Walky (spelled correctly?) and Bobs bay Shergar. They are all very very big, all somewhat skinny, but exactly as you remember them. Except...you don't really. You have no recollection of the horses. You never rode into battle, back in Esterving. Yet you know these creatures. What they like and dislike. Their favourite treats. And you all clearly know how to ride, as you hurriedly leave town, going towards Kor'Ech's End.
Chapter 08 - Helge is not home
Mounted up, away you go. Heading west first, to throw off any potential followers, then directly north to Honeybury. On your way, Tegno discovers, quite appropriately that not only can his jug produce some kind of basic poison, it's also a mighty container for honey. So much honey. People in Honeybury host you for the night, having no news from anywhere really.
Working your way through the dead woods, led on by a small blackbird Bob convinced to act as guide, you're attacked by some oddly looking, pale humanoids. But they're not really a match to any of you, and the fight is over the minute Tegno drops a Fireball. There's more hiding in the trees, but for now they leave you alone.
You reach the house of Kromholts friend. An old dude inviting you in. He's clearly not 'all there'. Having issues remembering. Answering questions in weird ways. Often claiming he knows nothing about something he just mumbled details about. He does seem to acknowledge Bran and Tegno as the dwarf and gnome they are.
Tegno excuses himself with an upset tummy, and goes outside, using his arcane powers to detect magic. Realising there's something in the study, he not-so-sneakily- opens the window. Bran, thinking really quick, drops his axe in the kitchen/living room to cover the noise from the creaking in the other room. A scroll is looted from the chest.
Back into the house (through the front door), Tegno is getting more and more convinced that Helge is reading their minds. After a little shuffling around, where he slammed the front door at Helges back, leaving the old man outside and the rest of you inside, the rest of the group is beginning to think that maybe it's Tegno that's not all there. It all ends with Helge, Tanath and Bob being in the study, trying to find something...anything...on the runes, while Bran and Tegno sneak down into the basement. Immediately discovering the real Helge lying dead and decomposing on the floor, clearly having been snacked upon, the two tiny folk races up the stairs, into the study and yells at not-Helge. He's not impressed. He's not even scared. He does seem like he wants to fight you.
It's rather late in the evening, and everything is fine...except from Tegno really having a little upset tummy from all that honey. Oh, and the doppelganger wanting to eat you all.
Chapter 09 - Pile of dead bodies
Straight into combat with the doppelganger, who seems more eager to escape than fight you all. Out the window he goes, running as fast as he can through the dead trees. Not haphazardly though. Clearly going straight for something or someone. Bran dashes after as fast as he can, hitting the 'old guy' in the back, Tegno casts all things fiery at him, Bob shows just how good he really is with a bow (and that is very good indeed) and Tanath mounts his horse, trying to hit the guy in the back. Not as easy as one would think. In the end, Bran manages to cleave the creature from head to toe, just as he enters into a clearing, guarded by a very big and very hungry looking spider. Tanath gallops by Bran, picking him up and hurries back towards the others. Bob tries to communicate with the eight legged monstrosity, but really doesn't get much back other than the sense of great hunger as she starts to wrap up the doppelganger pieces.
As you've been pursuing the guy, the pale, long limbed creatures had been running in between the trees, towards you all. But as you down him, they seem to give up pursuit and scatters again. Though they're not going far.
Back in the house, you find the real Helge's journal on his somewhat liquefied remains, as well as a letter of acceptance into some kind of archaeological society. You spend a quiet night there, then set the house on fire as you leave the very next morning. Though not before Tanath grabs the vase with the piece of parchment stuck inside, that Helge mentions in his journal.
You also take a look at the dig sites, where Bran finds a nice little chest filled with gold coins. Coins you recognize, being all nice and round like proper coins should be. Not these square things used in this odd kingdom. Oh, and there's the fact that they carry the elven tree on one side, as the coins your elven sergeant used to use.
Going back towards Eastbury you stop by Honeybury. Bob is the first to notice the sweet and sickly stench of rotting flesh, and the abnormal amount of insects in the air. Entering town you find what looks like all the residents of the small village piled up, decaying and rotting.
It's just about that moment that Bob looks over at the church.
It's late afternoon, everything is nice and quiet. Birds are singing. Insects are buzzing. And there's blood oozing out from under the church door.
Chapter 10 - Good old Kromholt
Barbecuing the inhabitants (forgot to write that in the last recap), then entering church. Friendly priest dude has blead all over the floor, writing demonic runes with his own blood around and on top of a mirror. Then hung himself and cut himself open, so he would bleed even more all over the mirror.
Tanath takes notes of the runes, then smashes the mirror. Tegno opens the chest in the back of the church, snatching a priest robe. Cutting down the priest (there's no runes on his arm), laying him on the altar, saying some words to Lugh, then burning down the church. DM assumes that fire will spread, so most of the town is burned down at some point.
Camping outside town, nothing really happens. Bob senses fiends, elementals and undead in the vicinity, none come close though. Tegno discovers his jug produces acid and salt water too.
Going to Eastbury, no one stops you entering town. Bob and Tegno goes to talk to Kromholt. He seems suspicious, but eventually breaks down and cries for the loss of his friend. You share a burial beer.
Tanath and Bran goes to the dock and procure space on board The Mermaids Tear. A huge merchant boat travelling down the coast towards Calneas. Since it won't leave in a few days, you camp outside town in Tegnos magical hut. Some of you dream. Nothing disturbs you.
Back in town on travel day, Tegno and Bob goes by Kromholt. His shop is closed for an undefinied period. The baker next door sells you some delicious sausage rolls and tells old Mr Kromholt has been selected for some re-education. You all go aboard The Mermaids Tear. Bob bribes a seagull with some bread to scout for Kromholt. He is apparently being transported south in a wagon with bars.
You sleep in small rooms, two by two. The small folk in one and the humans in another. Tanath spends a lot of time meditating/praying/communing with Lugh. He definitely feels his blessing. Bob could swear he hear Old Bruno wishing him safe and good travels.
All but Tanath join the other passangers (4 priests, two merchants) in the mess hall. The eldest of the priests ask a lot of questions where you're from. Bran (?) discover that the old man is somehow casting a spell, while talking. As if his words has dual meaning. It's a neat trick for sure. Bran immediately whip out an axe and try to hit the old mans hand. It misses and gets stuck in the table instead. In that exact moment the ship suddenly rocks hard to the left and Tanath runs to the tiny window to look outside. It was a nice sunny morning when you all got aboard, but it's suddenly very cold and misty.
It's a nice and pleasant autumn day, perfect for meeting new friends and trying a true seafood cuisine. But the bells ringing the attack alarm kinda ruins the atmosphere.
Chapter 11 - Going places
Running to the main deck, you're instantly in fight with what looks like bloated, decaying zombies. Sailors running around helplessly, old priest dude taking up center of the ship, starting to cast some kind of spell. Tegno reins in his eagerness and actually doesn't set the entire ship on fire (yet). He does counterspell old priest., the minute he gets the chance. Bob and Bran are firing and slashing. Tanath is channeling pure 'divine-ness' into his mace. You manage to get two of at least 10+ zombies down. You see a sailor suddenly drop dead, then start rising again. And apparently one of the zombies is something else entirely. For after staring intently at Tegno a few times, the gnome drops to the ground. The old priest, now having lost his 'big boomy spell' decides to heal Tegno instead. I believe it's Tanath that manages to get the final hit in on 'really weird, elongated zombie dude'. And the minute his head is smashed in, all zombies (apart from sailor dude) collapses and turns into puddles on the deck.
At this point the ship is a little bit on fire (they're all looking at you Tegno), but it's quickly put out. All sailors are being healed by Tanath, the remaining priests healing the rest of you as well they can. Bob is chewing on his berries. The dead sailor is given a proper Lugh consecration and then burried at sea.
Going downstairs to the mess hall, drinking ensues. Tegno sneaks off on a -definitely-not-thieving run. Finds a magic mirror of truth saying and a magical map in the captains office. A magical holy symbol of the Lifebringer in old priests quarter, before heading to the lowest deck. In the mean time, Tanath is given a small journal by the old priest in secret. A quick look in the book reveals an elegant handwriting in elvish.
As Tegno is rummaging around downstairs he hears something or someone scraping at the bottom of the ship. From the outside. Slightly panicking he calls you all down (including some drunk priests and a very drunk captain). While you are all discussing what to do, Tanath realises he hasn't seen the merchants since they came onboard. Kicking in their door he finds one merchant skinned. And rather liquified. He finds the Edgar Suit in a bathtub in the nearby bathing room. Searching through rooms he finds nothing, but reaching the main deck and looking up, he realises there's no one in the crows nest. And blood is dripping down from up there.
All in all an exiting day at sea. Not this boring 'nothing to do for days' in open water. And there seem to be balance in the universe, as bad things appear below as above.
Chapter 12 - BOOM!
As most of you wait for whatever is coming through the ship's bottom hull, Tanath climbs the Crows Nest and dump down a sailor who's had his throat cut. Then he starts searching the ship for the last merchant, who seems to be just 'gone'. While this is happening, a huge undead tentacle thing finally pokes through the floor, and a fight begins. Bob gets a nice big hug from it, Bran chops away with his axe, Wee Bob nibbles a little and Tegno ends the fight casting fireball, just as Tanath hacks through the cargo door and sees a coffin. The fireball superheats the flour in the boxes and sacks, and the ship just explodes. Tentacle dies. Sailors and priests die. Everybody dies. Good times.
You all survive, some just barely, and oddly enough, your horses seems to have come through the fire completely unscathed. Tanaths horse even carries his morningstar in it's saddlebag. Bran (?) is slowly sinking unconsciously to the ocean floor, but Tegnos unseen servant lifts him up out of the water and onto his horse, and you all swim to the nearby coast, which conviently enough is the island holding Svostrup.
Sleeping on the beach, you head into town the very next morning. Guards come to ask you who you are, where you've come from, but just immediately does as Tanath commands, without even questioning it. A little strange maybe, but you all do look intimidating, and these guards are clearly not equipped for a fight against the likes of you. So they go off to search the beach for any survivors, and you head towards the church.
At this point Tanath realises the roads around the church bears some resemblance to the runes you've seen earlier. And thinking back, maybe there were some oddly shaped roads in some of the other villages you've been in. This one is much darker though, maybe cause it's been soaked in blood.
You're going to towards the blacksmith, going through the market. Which obviously distracts Tegno, who immediately goes on a shopping spree for magic items. The rest of you finds Kim the Blacksmith. Tanath sneakily shows him the clay seal that he was still carrying in a chain around his neck, and Kim hurridly invites you in 'for dinner'. Tegno arrives around this time as well.
Inside you realise that this big burly man is also very well read, or at least have quite the collection of books. Several with dwarven runes on them. He's sad hearing about Kromholt, but not surprised. He's clearly not a friend of the priesthood, not wanting to touch the book the old priest had handed to Tanath onboard Mermaids Tear. Bran suddenly realises where you guys must be, when he hears about some kind of black metal being mined here. The black metal of Morot is very well known amongst the dwarves, and if Brans guesses are correct, you are somewhere far east of Esterving.
Dinner is served. You still have questions for Kim and he seems to have more to say. But silence falls around the table as you all sit down to enjoy a healthy meal.
Chapter 13 - Big small people
Dinner at Kims's. Tegno adorns his new robe. You tell the blacksmith your story so far, with much eagerness. And happily returns the favor as best he can.
There's apparently something happening in the local mine, where the Svostrupians mine the black Metal. People disapearing or dying or maybe they just got sick, he wasn't too clear on that point.
There's apparently some sort of (dwarven) settlement on the opposite side of the mountain, known as Morot according to Bran. This would also be where Clan Strordin lived in your time, ruled by King Strordin the 2nd. This is where Kim the blacksmith found the dwarven ledgers he so proudly display on his bookshelf. From his talk, it must be burried below ground or something.
The Lifebringer religion is clearly 'off', though he can't really pinpoint on what exactly. They seem very keen on focusing on the here and now and the future. Health, children, good strong lives are apparently key. And they'll happily heal anyone in need. But delve too deep into history and they will ship you off to 're-schooling'. And (if) you come back, you come back changed.
Kim will arrange for a small shipping boat to take you to the shore early next morning. He also offers to shoe your horses using the black metal, as well as upgrading Brans main battleaxe.
It's becoming clear that he doesn't recognise Bran as a dwarf, very confused about your description of him as 'child-sized'
He'll be borrowing the 'elven diary' to transcribe as much as possible. He also suggest that if you seek more knowledge, his colleagues in Calneas are probably your best bet, since they are much more 'learned'.
You sneak off to the church in the middle of the night, expertly guided by Bob. Reaching the graveyard, Bran realises the ground is hollow and does what a Bran will always do in such a situation. He starts digging. Wee Bob is sent out on a mission to see how many people are there and comes back tapping his foot 5 times (turns out the badger isn't all that good at counting). Tegno uses Unseen Servant to swing open the church doors. A few moments later a young man peers out and discovers you. All but Bran (who's still happily digging away) enters, and starts asking questions. Particular as to why Mayor Kim Andersen (identified as he's wearing his office cloths) is here in the middle of the night. Apparently he had an upset tummy after a dinner party.
Talking back and forth, the priests (3 rather young, one middle aged and one elderly) are confused why you seem to reject The Lifebringer as clearly you are wearing his symbols. Like...on the cloak. But they're not too fussed about it. You're free to call him what you like. All the while, the mayor and whoever the last civilian is are just sitting quietly on a bench following your discussion with interest.
The priests seems genuinely shocked to hear that the paths surrounding the church are thus coloured due to blood. And about this point, Bran has dug through the ground into what appears to be a tunnel, following it back to the church. There's much surprise as he suddenly barges through the door at the back behind the altar.
Chapter 14 - Sneaky Sneaky
Tanath has ended last session casting Zone of truth, so that's where we picked up. Apparently the priests knew nothing about the blood on the ground, but they did hand Tegno a Pamphlet of the Lifevringer and say it was common to add some of his 'known' symbols around churches and towns, to honor him. Tanat6hs Divine sense reveals that the middle aged priest is actually a vampire and fight breaks out. It comes to a rather quick end, as Bob puts an arrow through his neck.
The mayor has fainted, the other civilian is sent out to fetch the guards, the priests has no clue what to make of the pile of 'dust' that sits where the middle aged priest used to be.
You all take the corridor down below the church to the crypt, which is a lonely round room with 3 coffins. One is already open and empty. The other two reveals one empty and one with a dried out skeleton. After a little searching you find a secret door, leading to a long winding tunnel, taking you hours to traverse.
You end up in a anotehr circular room occupied by one empty coffin. It leads directly to a library/office room filled with books (Tegno hurridly grabs 3, where one looks to be a diary left on the desk), the very very dark and thick red ink and the quivers. Following the rooms that seem to go round in a circle, you end up facing what looks to be 20 emaciated humans, growling and calling out for their master. Half of them are facing you, the rest are facing the other entrance to the room, opposite you. A quick fireball from the gnome solves the situation.
At the opposing room are more miners behind a makeshift barricade. But these a coherent and clearly afraid of both you and the people your just burned to crisps. They have no clue what is going on. Only that more and more of them had been grabbed and dragged into these 'newly discovered' rooms, only to return as crazed, hungry people attacking anything and everyone.
They flee to the surface after Tegno gives them 5 gold in their local currency, and you all head into the 'mine proper'. Bran as appalled by the lack of proper mining. It's around this time that the wee folk realises something is crawling slowly towards you. Something in the ceiling.
Chapter 15 and 16 - Will you just stop biting that mans ear off!
Fighting two crawly crawly ceiling vampires (it's a whole new breed!) you decide to sleep in the 'main mining cave'. Before that, Tanath consecrates the bodies, by smashing in their heads. In turns out that at least one of the vampires seemingly has one of the runes etched into one of his vertebrae.
The miners seems to wanna talk to you about something, but you insist on getting your 8 hours of nap goodness first. When you wake, late afternoon, the miners lead you out of the mine. You do a quick search around their camp, including the foreman's house, but don't really find anything of interest. Back in town the blacksmith has copied as much as he could from your weapons and the journal. He's also upgraded Bran's weapon, as well as shooed your horses with black metal shoes. You suggest he comes with you, or at the very least, leave town. But apparently he doesn't feel like he's in that much danger, wanting to finish his work here. Another night in the blacksmiths house. Tanath spending much of it trying to decipher the runes, and having a rather weird dream. Very early morning you all get rowed across to the mainland, by your friendly neighbourhood fisherman. No surprise, your 4 horses are awaiting you on the beach near the tiny fishing village there. Bob sends forth a crow in a northern direction, wanting to see if you've missed the wagon with Kromholt, or if it's coming towards you.
Crow telegram tells you it's coming closer, so you set up an ambush. When the unsuspecting guards walks right into it, Bran unleashes his inner 'Drop-Bear' dreams, and immediately starts nibbling on the driver. Tegno uses his unseen servant to trap the guards completely (falling tree log will do the trick almost any day) and Bob does some nice shooting. It is Tanath that ends the fight before it kinda really has begun, by commanding everybody to stop. Or so he says, cause the rest of you only hears him whispering first, to low for you to hear, but then suddenly shouting out in a language and voice you haven't heard before. And the guards immediately stop what they're doing. So much so, in fact, that they seem to be frozen in time. Making the best of the situation, you quickly release the prisoners, including a very surprised but happy Kromholt, filling up the cage with the guards instead. Kromholt has one of the runes branded into his arm already.