There is a creature that was once a man in the midst of Knight’s Folly, a marsh on the edge of the town of Auklish. Baronet Auklish wants it destroyed at any cost and has offered a hefty bounty to see it done. Many have gone to the marsh, few have returned.
The adventurers of Berwickshire have been tussling with this creature for almost a year – ever since his forces began gathering in the marsh and claiming lives to rebuild his army. They have defeated his fae counterpart, who fed upon the tale of the undefeatable hero of times long past, the scion of King Eadic Piercer, his illegitimate son who had long protected Berwickshire’s borders from raiders and thieves. They learnt of his longstanding blood oath, his belief that Berwickshire was his to rule and cleanse of the enemy nestled in its heart. They had learnt his tale and decided to put an end to the threat he posed to the world they knew. And so, after a planning session in the Bigg Juggs tavern, the adventurers set out to destroy the Black Prince.
Those who set out upon this endeavor were:
- Ranger Finn; Wulfric Nolastname of the Berwickshire Medium;
- Doctor Leofrick Kyle of the Physicians Guild;
- Master Mortimer Lowe of the School of Necromancy; Albrecht Crowe of the School of Enchantment; Daniel of the Mages Guild;
- Sir Stewart DePiercy, Head of the Knightly Griffin Order;
- Primate Olivia DeHaviland of Vleybor; High Father Andre of Rolbor;
The adventurers set out from the road out of Auklish and were met with a grisly scene – unwary enterprising mercenaries, scouts and others crucified along the road in a warning against intruders, a warning of what the undead would do to those they caught. Of all that were dead or rising again as zombies, two were recovered from near death. They were cut down and tended to, though limbs were dead from loss of blood. They spoke of others who had come in with them, and of a bag of alchemy they’d been forced to abandon. With nothing further the adventurers could do they continued on their way. They were ambushed by undead as they were held up by a death knight in Black Prince livery. As the undead clawed up from the ground beneath their feet, the Primate of Vleybor held aloft the Cup of Vleybor, sending the wretches cowering back from the holy item and creating a defensible perimeter around the party.
They worked through the marsh slowly, fending off the undead that lumbered towards them or lurked in the shadows waiting to pounce. They came to a depression in the ground which led to a tunnel which filled with a lingering mist. Through this mist came a number of powerful monsters that hammered into the party as Sir Stewart suddenly was no longer there, merely an incorporeal observer to the ruin of his allies. An aged Griffin Knight stood beside him, clad in the garb of a Head of Order who watched the scene solemnly before asking “Why are you here?” As Stewart was trapped, unable to help or intervene, the party broke and crumbled, to lie bleeding unto death or grievously wounded or simply disappeared as they fled the scene. The figure spoke with him, challenging all the command decisions he had agonised over, playing on the difficult decisions he had been called to make, recalling the people he had lost in his time as a Knight of the realm. This was his test, the test to prove his worth to the long line of noble knights who had been Head of the Order and touched by the blade blessed by Sidhe and Crowa as their Order item. This was his test for the Griffin Blade. He answered well, for the Knight suddenly stepped back and ordered him to draw his sword, offering the bastard sword from his own scabbard. And as Stewart pulled it free the scene shifted and he was returned to the company just as the mist rolled back to reveal the undead waiting for them. If he was successful in his task then the blade in his hand would become the Griffin Blade, but for now he was granted the use of it, for without it he would surely fail. With this ringing in his ears, Sir Stewart gritted his teeth and stepped into battle.
Beyond the short tunnel the party encountered an outrunner for a guard post, a ghost who challenged them as they approached, confused that a group of people would be coming towards them from the lines of the Southern Barons. This was a ghost from the last battle of the Black Prince, a man trapped reliving the day and night before the clash with the Barons from the south who sought to claim Berwickshire’s lands for their own. Repelled by the Griffin Blade he swore sorcery and called out to his allies, calling for the Prince’s mage Vestibay. Others came at his cry, thinking it to be an attack and the adventurers were soon faced with a defensive line of Berwickshire men and women. Eventually, once the Captain of the Watch and the Captain of the Guard had arrived (the latter in Black Prince heraldry), had tried to reason it out and once Sir Stewart and Primate Olivia and others tried to explain that they were simply ghosts and there was no sorcery afoot, they made it past this camp line which faded away as they turned around. Another scrap with undead before arriving at another set of ghosts, who seemed to be gathered in the camp keeping their spirits up ahead of the oncoming battle. These did not challenge them, only accepted them as latecomers to their Lord’s calling, and when Sir Stewart said they were looking for the Prince they directed him on with awe – for clearly these were great men if they were looking to speak with their Prince on the eve of battle.
More undead and the adventurers came upon a Mummy doing a ritual around a death knight whilst a pair of women were being dragged away by skeletons. As they fought off the mummy and the death knight, Finn and the Primate of Vleybor went to the aid of the women after one of them was able to slip her captor and flee back towards the adventurers. They saved her friend and worked their way back to the main party whilst learning that the pair had been part of a mercenary group who had come into the marsh looking to earn the rich bounty. The men had been attacked but they had been left alive before being dragged off. They told that one of their friends had fled across the river with their alchemy stash and once Sir Stewart turned up they made themselves scarce, unfit to challenge the adventurers for the prize. One of the adventurers managed to work their way across the rickety bridge and located the alchemy stash in the hands of a cadaverous corpse before returning to the party and pressing on.
They were reaching further into the marsh and more undead came shambling towards them in great numbers. They were destroyed by the adventurers with their relics and their weapons before coming to a corpse where a number of tracks led away from the river into the darkness. And in the darkness waited creatures to prey upon the unwary, but they were unsuccessful and met their end soon enough. As the ground opened out they came to a particularly sodden section of marsh, through which the scouts guided the party. Out of the marsh clawed zombies and other foul things – a wraith prowled across their path and a weeping spectre kept pace with them, whimpering at the sight of life. And through all this the adventurers kept the faith and their mission close to heart. They met the ghost of the elf who had killed the Black Prince in life, who reminded Wulfric of the promise he had made, reminding them all that with the prince alive those linked to him were not free. They hurried on and came to firmer ground and the first ward.
The barrow had remained hidden for so long due to the workings for three wards that shrouded and concealed it from all manner of ways of seeking things. This first was a trapped and slaved layline of the land that had been used to cause an inversion of magic – so anything looking for it magically would be reflected away. Daniel nearly exploded after he attempted to play with the gem, opening himself to the flow of magic and receiving a sudden influx of power that would have killed him. But Albrecht was able to puzzle through to the solution and was surprised at the simplicity of it – simply channeling soulfire at the item to close the gap in the layline and the ward came undone.
The second ward was kept by a demon through a deal – a horrendous creature with only a single eye on its forehead and a hundred other eyes on its clothes that blinked and gazed upon the party in disdain (a reprisal of the robe from Summerfest!). At first it was fairly amiable, until the adventurers broke its ward and thereby broke its deal. It lashed out at them with its bony claw and its magic. Luckily (or unluckily) for the party Dr Kyle had drank a foretell future and they were able to slay the creature before it ripped through the party for a second time.
After patching themselves up they made their way to the third ward – an elf who had been tortured unto death, resurrected and then deathslept so that the soul was not fully in the body and in dire agony would linger torn between life and death. The screams of this soul kept the unwary or curious at bay and through the presence of the Griffin Knight, Dr Kyle was able to purge the physician’s death sleep and heal the wounds done to the body. But the toil on the soul was too much and the elf woke up mad and terrified. Finn and Primate Olivia tried to help it, but it was afraid and wretched and quite mad, so they eventually got it to drink a physician’s deathsleep so she would be kept safe until they returned to take it somewhere it could be cared for and perhaps be allowed to heal with time.
With all the wards gone they came to the Barrow and ventured inside. The walls themselves were alive, with reaching hands as the dead clawed their way free, as on the wind came the command “Rise and rise again”. Summoned to the Black Prince’s aid they came, and the adventurers were determined not to fail. Drinking another foretell future, they drew their weapons and plunged into combat. Feeling threatened, the Black Prince summoned his mage from beyond death as a Wraith and sent him and his servants against them. The adventurers fought through the creatures that arose out of the walls and floor to break upon the Black Prince, striking his armour. Eventually they broke it to pieces and stepped back, thinking themselves victorious, but the spirit continued to stalk the barrow, roaring at them as flesh and bone shredded from the walls to cling to his ghostly frame and rebuild him anew.
The foretell was denied and the adventurers began again, aware of the Prince’s tactics. They charged him before he could speak and he summoned his mage to his aid. Again they fought but eventually they broke through the armour to send it clattering to the floor. At this point Master Lowe began to cast a ritual upon the armour, thinking to send the spirit on. However the ritual did not work as the soul watched on disdainfully. He kept the mages away by casting fear at them, with his wraith prowling the outer edge of the circle and choking the unwary. Eventually, after numerous attempts at sneakily laying the soul to rest, Sir Stewart, Finn and Primate Olivia were able talk the spirit into allowing himself to be laid to rest and Mortimer Lowe was able to do the deed with a flourish. With a sigh, the spirit of the dead Prince, long forgotten by the realm he chose to protect and forgotten when his family slipped the bonds of this world and went to Kharach’s Halls when Sir Stewart and the other adventurers broke the veil upon the Valley of Kings and sent the spirits of the Kings of Old onto their eternal rest two years prior. And with that sigh 1000 souls fled this world with him and the adventurers were battered, bruised and aching, but victorious.