The Kharachian Church called a quest to defeat a great evil in Berwickshire in the days drawing down to their Lord’s holy day. A number of adventurers answered the call and fought with the creature, being blessed in the light of Kharach, but were not able to defeat it. Through the sacrifice of a warrior of Longstor, a troll called Balrat, a prayer was carried to Longstor that the visions he had seen would be shown to those who would fight against the horror known as “The Shade”.
On the Night of the Dead, Longstor answered this prayer. And so the adventurers gathered in the ruins of the old tavern and bore witness to the past, to arm themselves to face the future.
The vision the adventurers bore witness to was of the tavern 20 years in the past. The Axirian Senate has granted Ithron some autonomy and the country once more has a king. It is the year of the Battle of Darlan Pass, the year that a group of adventurers set out to hunt the Cult of Arkos and do other great deeds. The tavern, The Globe, is owned by two such adventurers and they are making preparations for their final offensive against the Cult’s leaders when a strange group of travellers come to the door claiming to be from the year 1014 …
Through the vision the adventurers were able to interact with people of that time and learn more of the fated four men who would be involved in the creation of The Shade – the scout Paulus, the mage John Hall, the Boar Knight Sir Richard Clifford and the alchemist Jorge Harris – as well as meet the young Alexander Grey who would bring much woe to the county. The party allowed the adventurers to learn some of their darker secrets, read of their hunt for the Cult, hear the tales of their deeds and socialise, before the long slog through the gathering darkness that would descend upon their hunt.
It was the Night of the Dead, and the Gods were watching.
Hunting The Shade
Admittedly a little confused as to the vision they had been shown, a number of adventurers gathered to set out on the hunt with the aim of sorting out the three souls intermingled with the Shade and ultimately destroying the creature. These adventurers were:
- Ranger Finn and Tendon Vay of the Scouts Guild; Senior Guildsman Conchobar of the Berwickshire Medium Infantry;
- Master Ash Stocktown and Ember of the Alchemists Guild;
- Guildsman Krom Goodfellow of the Physicians Guild;
- Errant Ravenna Corvidae of the Knightly Black Order;
- High Mother Anne Turner and Father Finwe of Longstor;
With knowledge of the goal of the four adventurers met the previous evening, the party set out along to road to the old lair of the Cult of Arkos. They encountered groups of White Star foulspawn as they neared the old Vampire’s tomb, along with some of the created shadowy faced monsters the Shade was known to create when it “stole” faces and exerted it’s influence through them. As they climbed up to the bridge across the river they came face to face with a group of “militia men” who were out hunting the foulspawn and using the bridge as a lookout point. After a bit of banter they warned the adventurers away from the ruins because they were “creepy” but they let them through with little fuss.
In the ruins below the Vampire’s tomb the adventurers fought off a number of undead including an vampire which was eventually staked. Beyond they found a strange setting – a “shrine” lit with candles and bearing an orb and a ghost. The ghost was that of the scout Paulus, who told of how his comrades had touched the orb and vanished for their bodies were gone when he arose as a ghost. They had never come back, and he knew them to be no longer in the land of the living. But he had stayed, lingering to stop any others from being killed by the orb and the cultist’s shrine, and he refused to be laid to rest until this task was done. After some thought (and some cleansings and dispellings) High Mother Anne prayed to Longstor and Ravenna prayed to Sidhe and Kharach for guidance. Kharach spoke to the knight and she came to the conclusion that the last ditch plan of “hit it with a mace” seemed to be the only course of action. After clearing the area, and taking the responsibility upon herself, Ravenna made a quiet prayer to Kharach, asked Tralda for a bit of luck and crushed the orb with a blow from her mace. The item exploded, knocking her backwards as the thin crust cracked like a skull and a wisp of smoke curled out of the ruins of the item that had been the cause of the cultist’s strange ability to work as one. Was this the cause of the blending of souls of the Shade?
High Mother Anne dismissed and laid the soul of Paulus to rest before the party gathered up the few items he still carried on his body with his permission – including a piece of the True Mace, a holy relic of the Kharachian Church – before heading up the hill to clear out a Vampire’s nest. However, it turned out to be a lingering presence of undead. In the tomb they found the deathslept body of an Axirian who Alexander Grey had brought to the place years after the death of his “friends” and his slide towards evil, and at a loss of what to do members of the party agreed to return and tend to this unfortunate individual at a later date. But for now, they had to locate and destroy the Shade.
How fortunate that when they returned to the ruins they found it waiting for them.
Many of the adventurers present had attempted to lay the creature to rest, but had felt there was too much mixed together for it to work. When they called out with the individuals who had become bound together they saw it twist and writhe, the familiar faces reaching towards them. With a concerted effort, using their dark secrets to draw them forth, they were able to coax forth John Hall, the solace addicted necromancer. When he was free the party were able to bring him to his knees and a lay-to-rest conducted on the soul. Weakened of a piece of the greater part, the Shade fled across the river and into the trees.
On the adventurers went, hoping to track the shade to another known location where it had been sighted, only to spring an ambush by the milita men. The attack ceased when they realised it wasn’t foulspawn that they were fighting and they explained a little more why they were out in the dark, giving the name of their commander. Continuing on the adventurers realised they were near a likely cache left by the four companions from the vision, but after hunting for it they could not find it. Strange tracks had puzzled the scouts all along the path, but soon all was revealed – by a traldan priest under attack by the Shade.
The adventurers came to the rescue! They were able to draw forth the proud Boar Knight and were victorious. Ravenna attempted to take the Shade one-on-one, but failed and was ground into the earth by its spectral strength and fury before the rest of her party pounced on it and drove it back. After laying the soul to rest and patching up the Traldan did they realise he was carrying a dirty bag – which turned out to be the cache they sought. High Mother Anne tried a few games of chance to win some of the contents before Ash tried to force the Traldan to hand over the bag, which led Ravenna to intervene, explaining to the priest the task they were upon and the truth – that the owners of that stash of alchemy had told them where to find it through a vision granted by the gods, and the contents of the bag may be needed to defeat the vile creature they were hunting. How would he feel if he took the bag and deprived them of the item, weapon, or brew that was critical to the defeat of this monster? After some consideration the Traldan agreed to turn the contents of the bag over to the party, but he asked to keep the bag and was offered his pick of the contents (though not the replica Eye of Arkos that he pulled from the bag). The scouts then hypothesised that the funny tracks had been the Traldan casting his ritual of locate, and fleeing whatever danger came after him.
Turning away from river their scouts were able to prevent another ambush, and eventually they came to the camp of these “militia”. Gathered by Grant, a Crowan Mercenary, their orders were to hunt and destroy the White Star Orcs threatening the area. Under the command of their leader they were proving to be good at it, but they had had reports that “the Fixer” had been sighted in the area, and that some boxes had been spotted with some of the foulspawn. The Fixer is a hobgoblin, mixing alchemy and physicians drugs and herbs and roots to make some vile potion, rumoured to make the creatures stronger upon imbibing. They had to be stopped! Two groups had been sighted – one going towards Dun Mhurdo and the other towards Amblebury. After getting patched up and reequipped, the adventurers had a choice – Dun Mhurdo or Amblebury? Ravenna consulted her scouts to learn where the Shade may go next according to the map they had been given by the Kharachian Church, and came to the conclusion that they had to head towards Amblebury, regardless of party sentiment towards Dun Mhurdo. They had a task to complete and like as not they would achieve both goals upon this road.
They found the final piece of the shade, Jorge Harris the alchemist who was planning to run off with his married apprentice Moira Mourney, and brought it down. Ravenna laid it to rest with the scroll provided by her Chaplain and the party took a moment to assess their situation. Turn back, having completed their mission, or press on to try and stop the box with the foulspawn or warn Amblebury of an upcoming assault? Ravenna chose the latter and the party were in agreement.
So they took off after the foulspawn, counting on their smaller numbers and unencumbered state to catch the creatures in the dark, guided by their scouts. They encountered and defeated members of the vanguard, picking their way closer to the main group, and eventually caught them on the road. Its leader, an Ogre calling itself Graknar Who-still-have-Horn challenged the adventurers’ leader and Ravenna gladly accepted, stepping forward prepared to claim the creature as an honour kill. But the fight was not easy. In the dark she lost her footing and was wounded in the leg, having lost her grip on her mace and flinging it into the river. Desperately she reached for her war axe and laid into the creature but it seemed to shrug off her blows until at last, with a fierce uppercut she split the creature in two and claimed the victory. The rest of the party sorted the remaining stragglers, found the box, and Finn climbed into the river in the hope that Ravenna’s mace would not have gone far. Through a stroke of luck they found the mace near where it sank and with a bit of loving care would suffer no ill effects from its brief immersion. They continued on their way to Amblebury to find the town up in arms and preparing for an attack, and with their duty done they returned towards Newcroft and their hirer.
At last they returned to the city and were able to inform the church that the monstrous Shade was no more; gave praise to the Seven; and proceeded to consider the items they had collected on their travels under the agreed salvage rights. Ravenna could count another kill to her name, another step closer to proving herself worthy of her sword, and Berwickshire could sleep a little easier …