In the north of Berwickshire there are a collection of small hamlets that make their own way. Occasionally visited by traders, travellers and the occasional itinerant priest of the Gods they can hold their own against foulspawn and the undead that linger in Berwickshire. However, sometimes things come along that they just can’t fathom.
Who you gonna call?
Yeah, those guys …
A message was sent to the Newcroft guilds and churches asking for assistance whilst Morgan and Ravenna both received direct messages beseeching their aid; calling for all willing to help to come to the hiring square in Newcroft to meet with a representative of the North Kelther Community Alliance. The adventurers who attended the hiring were:
- Guild Senior Kestrel of the Scouts
- Master Mortimer Lowe of the School of Necromancy; High Guildsman Morgan Corvidae of the School of Demonology;
- Dame Ravenna Corvidae, Head of the Knightly Black Order; Errant Vincent Savage of the Order of the Stag;
After speaking with the Elders representative, Ravenna shared what she knew of the area – that several hamlets including Rockcliffe had suffered from mass grave robbings over a single evening, and that she had received a report from an adventurer who had followed a strange behaving feyund away from the Rockcliffe litchyard to a forest clearing, where they saw a man giving instruction to some great monster. Given the description, Ravenna was working on the premise that this monster was the culprit, perhaps even being one of the crystal ogres that had appeared in Ithron recently. Morgan urged finding the creature behind the ogre of being utmost importance, and Mortimer voiced a concern that something clearly had plans for these dead bodies. A representative of Lord Kenton also offered payment to help clear the area around Rockcliffe of the White Star and having agreed to what was expected of them, the party set out.
They came upon the old orc camp away from Rockcliffe and fought off some of the attacking foulspawn, though Ravenna tried to convince them to leave of their own accord after they spoke of a great monster with huge claws. One fled before her, but the rest attacked and were put to the sword. Further along the road they found an orcish body torn apart and a poorly implemented ambush, then on along the river to Rockcliffe. It raised Ravenna’s spirits to see a group of town militia on the road so late in the evening, clearly about their duties and whilst they were not exactly observant they were prepared and challenged them as they approached. They spoke of what they had seen – some travellers, a dark elf off in the woods, heard some strange noises and a group of the black order passing through about a day or so ago. Ravenna, waiting for news of her unit, was glad to hear they had made it this far north and hoped to cross paths with them at some point.
Along the road they came to the main watchpost, where a small tower now stood overlooking the bridge and the river where they were challenged by men up off the road. They made their way through, with promises of good behaviour, and Ravenna sought the Elder of Rockcliffe who they had been told to meet. He introduced her and the group to the Elders of Butteryhowe and another village, both of whom had suffered litchyard robberies in recent weeks. Listening to them Ravenna offered to investigate the strangeness, but would have to negotiate a price for her companions. The Elder of Rockcliffe took them aside to discuss the matter in private. Once a price to compensate them was agreed, the adventurers set off out of the town. Morgan wanted to quickly look at the cave nearby where they had fought a demon off the last time, to check it hadn’t slunk back, and went off accompanied by Errant Vincent. The others waited for them and along the road came a cloaked figure who seemed to be seeking someone in particular. The locals had spoken of two priests in green – one with a wooden sword (known to Ravenna) and one with a staff who she did not recall. The man gazed at them, mumbled something about their being the ones he sought and he settled himself upon a nearby rock. He told them of his vision of a corruption to a place of purity, of its cause being guarded by a terrible monster, and how important it was to restore the purity of the pool in his vision. Ravenna offered to help if she could and received a boon by his hand from the gods. Seeing as removing this corruption was likely along the lines of their own goal the others also offered their aid and received some gift or other, but the man recoiled from Morgan when he approached, saying that he had nothing for a man in Morgan’s line of work. Holy people and Demonologists don’t seem to mix it seems …
Once more gathered together it became clear that their task involved hunting the crystal ogre, a possible demon behind it, and removing the threat to the land. Morgan was a little jumpy and keen to press on, urging the others to follow for the hour was growing late. On the path towards the litchyard the adventurers were attacked by orcs and Kestrel began examining the tracks and disturbed ground of the dug out graves as the others looked on and kept look out. It was at this time that they were approached by a figure out of the darkness, which Ravenna instructed to halt and declare himself. He named himself a member of the men-at-arms at Firebridge, the Black Order Keep, and Ravenna took him aside to interrogate him with questions. It seemed he was one of their scouts, part of a couple of reinforcements who were late arrivals to the main unit and he had been sent to scout another way through the area ahead of their advance. The main unit, with Sir Borreous in command, was only a little further on and he hoped that the knight would be able to answer his commanders questions. So once their scout had concluded his investigation the adventurers pressed on.
As Kestrel appeared out of the shadows there were calls for him to stop by the gathered men up ahead, weapons being drawn from sheathes to be dropped back as Ravenna stepped into the light and ordered that they report – the symbol clear upon her chest and her red sash around her waist. The knight gave his report – that they were investigating the strange goings on in the area at her command, travelling north towards Butteryhowe. They had seen nothing recently save the empty graveyard at Rockcliffe and some tracks, which their scout was following presently, and could give no explanation as to what was occurring. The devotee attached with them offered Ravenna some aid for her armour and her axe, and she gratefully accepted – pleased to have a gods touched weapon on her waist amongst all those that bore magical enchantments. The mages conducted some rituals, taking the opportunity to make preparations and the Order watched on. Ravenna instructed them to continue their investigations, but they would press on after the tracks and should they find anything they could not handle they may call upon the unit. Then off into the darkness they went once more. Along the path they disturbed a watchful scout who seemed prepared to knife them all until Ravenna mentioned who she was and he dutifully gave report as to what he had seen – a great monster with huge talons with a man who instructed it to dig through the buried bodies on a battlefield up ahead. The creature seemed to be seeking something and came upon a buried knight, at which the man indicated it was to stop. The creature reached out and touched the body and the knight stood up out of his grave and walked off with the man. The creature was supposed to still be nearby, digging up bodies. It sounded like the crystal ogre from his description – a monster that had not yet been killed by an adventuring party.
So the party prepared to engage with the enemy, Ravenna to target the beast with her axe, Kestrel and Vincent to keep any threats off her and for the mages to provide support. They skirted up to the edge of the open battlefield until they spied the beast and charged into battle. As they did so the creature gestured with its claws and from the ground rose bodies of Lirronese dead from the battle against the Racleith. They swarmed around them, but Ravenna cut her way through to the monster, intending to punch a hole between its ribs and slay it. As it brought down its mighty claw towards her she raised her shield only to feel it buckle and break under the blow. Drawing her sword she continued to try and fend off the creature, landing a number of blows before being clawed at and knocked off her feet. She felt the blow brush across her armour and praised her Lord for his blessings then climbed back onto her feet, slew an undead creature that dared attack her and lunged after the Ogre as it advanced on her fellows. She landed more blows upon it, parrying its claws with her honour sword until she was too slow defending her body as it raked its long claws down her side. Mortally wounded she dropped to the ground bleeding.
But as she lay dying Errant Vincent was able to get to her side as she was being healed, pulled her blessed weapon from under her and charged off after the monster to slay it. When Ravenna was roused from her unconsciousness she found the Errant still striking the twitching corpse until she took back her axe and hefted the remains of her shield. They found some broken crystals in its chest that Mortimer declared contained some damaged souls and Ravenna laid the crystals to rest, hoping that in freeing them they might be made whole in the safety of Kharach’s halls.
Then on they went, following their scout through the night. They came upon a band of undead with a nightmare and the arisen grey knight. After having her leg wounded Ravenna watched as her front line scattered before the undead, leaving her to face the nightmare and a skeleton alone. Hand gripping her leg, growing slippery with blood she felt trapped as the skeleton advanced. Smashing its leg she kept it from advancing further, necked a quick potion from her belt and stood to break it apart before turning on her company. She found Kestrel asleep, having fallen prey to a spell, before setting him off after the remaining undead as Mortimer needed her aid for his arms. Patching up his casting arm permitted him to work his magic upon an undead and destroying it before she patched up his other arm and turned into the blow struck upon her armour by the dead member of the Grey Order. They traded blows until she cracked its ribcage and undid the spell upon it, leaving it merely a pile of bones in a tattered grey tabard, before the party continued on its way after tending to its wounds.
They crossed the river and came to a great field filled with ranks of undead. Expecting them to turn upon them Ravenna was loathe to send the scout off alone and they cautiously approached the nearest clump of standing corpses. They seemed not to respond to their presence, only moving once the adventurers set to destroying them. They destroyed as many as they could, patching up their wounded when they were able and the mages attracting the attention of the creatures as the knights and scout battered them with maces and a deathsbane blade.
Then they made their preparations for the final assault. The lair of the creature reeked with a demonic presence Morgan told them, and Ravenna felt sick and anxious at the anger of her Lord echoing just out of earshot at whatever was occurring there. So she drew her honour sword and placed upon it a blessing of Sidhe using a scroll she had been given when last in the area. Then they crossed the narrow bridge and set out to do battle. After entering the room they could not see their quarry, candles glimmering in one corner and from a doorway another watching them. There seemed to be a room beyond and as Morgan stepped closer to look their watcher moved and he darted behind the knights having felt the malevolence of the demonic presence there. Ravenna and Vincent needed no urging and laid into it, but their blades did nothing and the wraith atop the crumbled stairs made it hard to breathe. After Morgan was wounded Ravenna tried to draw the demon’s attention so Vincent could heal him and took a wound upon her leg again for her attempts. To her surprise she felt hands on her leg and Mortimer muttered something before cursing in pain as the leg was healed – the gift from the cloaked stranger perhaps? She continued towards the beast but it vanished, only to appear atop the stairs and taunted them. Kestrel was thrown over the rubble by Errant Vincent, who then pitched Ravenna after him as the wraith began to make the elf choke. She placed herself in its path to only choke herself until the demon bid it stop – its pet would soon have them all. Looking down Ravenna saw the form of a crystal ogre and she lunged at it as the demon muttered over it. Intending to stop the rite she tried stabbing the demon again but to no avail, then she decided to deprive it of its pet and struck the ogre. She damaged it, trying to land a blow on its mighty chest to perhaps pierce whatever heart it had but the demon – angered at her impudence – lunged at her. She backed off, crying out for help before she felt a sharped blade slip between her ribs and she fell to the ground for the second time that night.
Chaos followed whilst Ravenna lay dying, her body and sword arm bleeding out her life’s blood as the others tried to get into the door at the bottom of the rubble. Morgan tried blowing out the candles and was struck down, Mortimer Lowe was also wounded and they proceeded to empty Morgan’s alchemy to find a suitable curative – much to the mage’s fury when he eventually was healed and roused at how much of his alchemy had been wasted by foolish chancing of luck. Kestrel eventually found Ravenna and tried to hold her wounds together, crying for the others to aid in finding a potion to heal her wounded body, for she was already bandaged. As he set about trying to find potions in her own pouches, Morgan eventually made it into the room. Ravenna was eventually healed and she awoke to hear a shriek and Morgan commanding the others to help him as the demon chased him down. Morgan fled into the back room, then came back, knife in hand and charged the demon. He hacked at it with his weapon, shrieking his fury and rage and anger at the creature and slew it.
The body of the ogre was carted back to Rockcliffe and Morgan carried the demon as a trophy – only to find his trophy wake up the next morning and vanish before his very eyes – but the body of the second Crystal Ogre has been studied and the information gleaned spread amongst the adventuring community. Hope springs once more – these monsters are just monsters, they can be defeated and Berwickshire breathes a little easier for the work of their adventuring community.