After a disturbing vision sent to Sister Sorcha, the adventurers of Newcroft were called by the Council of Seven Churches of Newcroft to investigate an abandoned temple on the ancient wall left by the Axirians. Rumoured to be where a venerable saint of Kharach trapped the Great White Liche for a number of centuries, it was hoped that some information might have been left behind to help with the current fight against the abomination.
The adventurers that answered the call were:
- Woodsman Jonathon and Tracker Haydanus of the Scouts;
- Sister Madeline Blanchfleur of the Order of Crowan Roses;
- Junior Forester Rowan Tait of Amblevale;
- Forgemaster ‘M’ of the Guild of Blacksmiths;
- High Father Cornway of Tralda; Father Lucius Aquarius Rhade of Vleybor; Father Enacus and Sister Sorcha Gravesong of Kharach;
Guided by a scout of Berwickshire, Rowan filled in her scouts as to the dangers of the Acenwode lest they stray into that place unwittingly. After an uneventful journey, the party came to an old watch tower, crumbling and abandoned, where a number of locals seemed to be in the act of robbing stone from the building. Whilst not a crime, they bolted when approached and Rowan chased after them, ordering her scouts round the other side. Catching one she confiscated the sword jammed in her belt after the woman tried to imply that she had a weapons permit in her farm house. However, after questioning, it became clear that she was lying and Rowan cast the sword far out of reach. The others appeared to be unarmed, though one of the lads explained they’d been using the sword to pry the stones from the building. Leaving Master M to help with proper tools, Rowan went back on watch and listened to the discussions between a couple of locals and the rest of the party. It seemed that there were a number of tunnels nearby, which fit with the information gathered by Rowan, Madeline and others prior to the mission, supposedly containing statues and other horrible creatures. One man had gone in several days ago, with another having entered mere hours before. Listening to the warnings, tales and rumours the villagers had to give, Rowan called up her scouts and led the way down to the tunnels. She found tracks confirming the recent passage of a man into the tunnels and called a halt when they came to the steps, at the bottom there appeared to be a cracked mosaic of non-axirian origin.
Careful not to stand on it, Rowan created some space for the other adventurers to investigate whilst she, the pair of scouts and Father Enacus examined a nearby statue. It seemed to be made of stone and did nothing as Rowan carefully passed in front of it. More lined the tunnel – the first making an ominous clicking sound and the second swiftly disarmed as it shuddered to life. Determining careful going rendered the statues harmless, Rowan called the rest of the party through and they gathered on the far side of the stone lined tunnel to emerge into a larger passage. It seemed that the mosaic was some form of seal and was Kharachian in intent. But it was broken and perhaps had been the seal that had broken when the Liche had broken free from whatever bonds placed upon it. Warned, the party progressed through the tunnels slowly, with the scouts investigating each statue carefully before waving the party on. But there was a statue that looked to be horrified, cringing back from something – something that someone muttered could be a medusa.
They came to an opening where a man knelt, reaching for a box, with another statue cowering terrified from something. As the party investigated the man and an open box flanked by glowing orbs, a creature sprang up hissing from the rubble and attacked the party. People tried to hold it back or to fight it, their weapons apparently useless and Rowan, blocking its hand and venomed blade with her axe, closed with it to try and beat it into submission. But she got too close and it pounced, tearing a bite from her neck and paralysing her where she stood. The party eventually managed to bring it down with several enchanted blades, though the blood of the thing ate away the metal and damaged some beyond quick repair. And the party began to pick up those who had fallen. Several needing purging of poison and the party discovered that they had very few purges amongst them but had just enough to do the job. But once the bandages had been tied and the unconscious roused, Sister Madeline realised that Rowan still wasn’t moving.
Now, she had been touched by the creature and been paralysed, shaking free after a while as the paralysis wore off. But Rowan had been touched early on in the battle and was standing, still as stone, hatchet raised as if to block something. Several members of the party began to try to understand what had happened, noticing the barely bleeding bite mark on her neck and the almost dead pulse in her veins. Father Lucius proposed purging her and advised one of the scouts to catch her should she fall backwards as she would be unconscious from her wound. Luckily they could force the potion down her throat and she crumpled, blood gushing from her neck before Lucius managed to get a bandage around it. She woke quickly and the party filled her in, neglecting to tell her that they’d used two of her purges until she discovered the empty bottles. It seemed the man had suffered a similar fate as he had reached for the little box (that had been removed from his reach) and Father Lucius set to rousing him from his stony fate. The others gathered around the small open box and shining orbs as Sister Sorcha began to read the inscription – which dictated that if an item was given to the Fane of Earth, the value would be held in favour and a suitable reward granted. Rowan, although a Herald, had never heard of a Fane and the party decided it was best to not touch until they knew more about it as the shrine seemed to have been ‘consecrated’ to Paluen. After a heated discussion which Rowan quelled sharply as to the nature of this being – some say he’s a god, some say he’s a fae, Rowan’s research indicates he was a fae avatar of the old form of Longstor and therefore isn’t a deity – the party roused the man, listened to his warning of the place and continued on. Father Lucius also announced that the stone statutes were still alive and possessing a soul and that he was furious that someone had broken one, thereby killing it.
On the bridge stood a shrouded shape that Rowan approached carefully, greeting it warily. It seemed to be a Dragonkin and seemed amiable enough until Father Lucius passed by when it attacked him. Rowan pulled it off the priest and was stuck across the body, falling to the ground with a tear through her armour. The party managed to get the dragonkin to back off and learnt that it had been the one sent to conduct the ritual to unbind the Liche from the Dragon Barwyck, a ritual that the Council of Swords voted to not happen. It had died, believing itself betrayed and had become a revenant by the dark powers still lingering here. It was seeking it’s vengeance on all those who had voted against its plan and would not leave until it was successful. Somehow the party managed to convince it to move on as Father Lucius was vital for their mission here as he was their only healer. Grudgingly it allowed the party to continue, warning them that it would come back and it would kill those on whom it sought revenge. Luckily for Father Lucius, High Father Cornway had managed to heal him without the creature knowing and Rowan roused him to the bad news.
Up ahead stood a figure in black, which Rowan guessed was the Saint. Allowing on the Kharachians to approach at first, as she thought they should show due reverence in the moment of meeting, she eventually allowed the others access and went to listen to what the Saint had to say. He seemed pleased to see them, telling them that the powers were out of balance, that Earth, Air and Fire were underpowered and that Water was too powerful. They could not pass to retrieve his body as it was the way of Water and they could not pass whilst the others were weakened. The only one he knew to rebalance was that of Earth where a gift was required. Air and Fire he knew something about but not enough to fix. As the party discussed what they could give, they were attacked by roaming undead and once they were dealt with, Rowan and Enacus went back to the Fane of Earth. Enacus tried giving it money, but the money just vanished as if it never was and soon he had nothing of value to give. Rowan, reluctantly, gave her grandfather’s brooch and they felt the ground beneath their feet shake as the statues came to life. Ignoring them as they were outnumbered, Rowan urged Enacus to run and they returned quickly to the party to report their success. They fought off the statues and undead that came their way and decided to rebalance the fane of air next as it was only magic rather than demons according to the Saint.
As they fought along the tunnel, something stalked them, picking off undead from the rear and a demon appeared in the middle of the group and screamed as it pointed at Enacus. But before it could do any damage, Rowan dropped it with several cuts of her blessed dagger. When they reached the Fane of Air, ghosts and wraiths told of what they had done, offering a form of guidance on the task to any who would listen. It seemed simple enough, step into a circle and ask a question – though High Father Cornway discovered what happened if you answered incorrectly as he was exploded backwards in a ball of fire, missing his right hand. Quickly the party beat out the flames and patched him up though there was nothing anyone could do for his hand. Father Enacus managed to complete the task and stepped out of the circle, wearing a silver crown that he said gave him a headache. As they made their way back to the Saint, a pair of dark elves appeared out of the bushes behind them, asking to speak with the human elf. They seemed to be looking for a contract of sorts, which Rowan and Haydanus knew nothing about, but High Father Cornway and Enacus went very quiet about. Unable to tell it what it wanted, the dark elf warned them that without its help the party would fail, but they had no choice and it went away.
A quick round of armour repair, more undead, and weapons re-blessed, the party set out with Rowan carrying a sneaking suspicion that Cornway or Enacus had the contract. On the path a demon popped into existence and Rowan recognised it from a description given to her by one of the Demonologists. She told the others to keep back and went to ask it what it was doing there, but the party – outraged at seeing her ‘dealing’ with a demon – surged forward. As she ordered them back three paces, the demon teleported them back ten, confirming her suspicions about the demon. Careful to not make any agreements with the demon, Rowan enquired as to what it wanted and it told her the way to rebalance the Fire Fane – by giving a demon trapped in the portal the contract so it could leave the portal and be dealt with. It was emphatic that they deal with the demon as it was no supposed to be in this plane and House Portalis were furious and would deal with it if the humans could get it out from its prison. And so the party moved on, though not before Father Enacus stopped to talk with the demon and Rowan almost knocked him out to drag him away but stayed her hand.
The demon in the portal greeted them warmly, its pet squeaking excitedly as the party came closer, and demanded to speak with the bearer of the contract, who could make it do whatever they wished. Enacus, after some quiet deliberation with his god, asked Rowan to accompany him and dropped the contract at the demon’s feet, saying he wanted nothing from it. Free, the demon stepped from the ring and Enacus and Rowan attacked. But as they did so, it vanished to reappear behind them where it wounded Master M. It cast fear on other members of the party, but Enacus called upon a gift he bore and Rowan called down Crowa’s favour granted to her at the Middval games and they would not be turned from their path. Angrily, the pair smote the demon and sent it on its way before patching up those who had been wounded and letting Father Lucius cleanse the area of the demon’s taint.
Back with the Saint, the diagram at his feet now glowed at three points and the barrier that had stopped their passage before lifted. He begged that they remove the spirit from his body so that he might be able to return to it, thereby releasing the power of the Fane of Water and returning the place to what it was. The party fought off undead on the way and quick armour repair was done before the final stretch where the party were attacked on two sides and Rowan made an agreement with herself to kill a wily Fayund that was causing them bother. However, as they approached the saint’s body, the spirit within cast fears on the party and sent Rowan screaming away, unable to call upon her Lady’s gift. But, as she ran back she managed to stop one of her apprentices from fleeing, kicking him back into the fight and finally getting to end the Fayund. The body with the other spirit inside was putting up a great fight and Master M passed Rowan his special hammer as he tended to his wounds. As she got it down, she kept it pinned as the Kharachians tried to dismiss the soul inside, but were unable to free it. As it kept getting up and kept being beaten down, Father Lucius decided to try cleansing the body and dashed around to complete the ritual. As he finished, there was a sensation of a held breath being exhale and the wrong spirit rose from the body for the Saint to reclaim his corpse and rise on to Kharach, leaving behind his mask – now a holy relic.
As the party made their way back, exhausted, towards the exit, they found that they could not pass a point in the path, where a hooded figure stood waiting for them. This claimed to be the Dragon Barwyck, one of the Seven Dragons who could crown the Supreme Dragon and bestow power onto the new Queen, currently bound to the Liche as its Voice or the one who spoke on its behalf. It declared that three members of the party had proven themselves worthy of its Voice and could bear his mark and undertake his trial to become his new Voice should they be able to take it from the Liche. These three were Rowan, Enacus and Lucius, though Rowan declined as she reasoned that to bear Barwyck’s mark would mean she could not bear the mark of the Lirronese Dragon whom she was seeking. With no other interested party seeking this final Dragon, she was concerned that she was currently the only candidate and whilst honoured, could not do what it asked. Barwyck accepted her reasons, named her ‘Daughter of the North’ which boosted her confidence at meeting the Lirronese Dragon’s criteria and marked the two priests. All they have to do now is touch the Liche or something bound closely to him and they would replace him as the Voice. Not a small task then!
The party were able to ask some further questions of the dragon before he left that place and when he was gone travelled back to Newcroft to report on their findings, reclaim their pay, sell the silver crown and get on with the business of regrowing Cornway’s hand and continuing the build up of plot towards Summerfest.
Rowan headed North to seek out information from a man in Dunlirron on the dragon, hoping that she had made the right decision.