There are dark places in Berwickshire – places lost to the light of the seven, places filled with terrible nightmarish creatures and fear. Then there are places of good – places that act as a beacon for the lost and displaced in the world’s dangers, places where the followers of the seven do good things.
Here are tales of two such places …
Player Mission: The hooks in Elfholme
The Church of Kharach sought adventurers to travel into the beleaguered baronetcy of Elfholme that has long been besieged with demonic taint and mischief. A hermit of the faith had written to the church with a way to end the taint in the area, but a terrible dream and feeling of foreboding has fallen over members of the church and it seems he must be dead or have failed in his task. Adventurers set out into the area to locate the hermit, complete his mission should he require aid, and reconsecrate the shrine he tended to remove the dread that has haunted the dreams of one priest for many nights.
The adventurers who braved this place were:
- Ranger Finn and Kestrel of the Scouts;
- Captain Christo Eadronhart, Guild Enforcer of the Mercenaries Guild; James of the Mercenaries Guild;
- Roger the Blacksmith;
- Krom Goodfellow of the Physicians Guild;
- Morgan Corvidae of the School of Demonology;
- Dame Ravenna Corvidae, Head of the Knightly Black Order;
They travelled out of Carlech towards Pendrake then onto the lands of the baronetcy. A pair of Elfholme militia men stopped them on their way through, warning them of the danger ahead. Dame Ravenna would have no nonsense from them, stating their intent to travel through. Convinced that they were not upon a fools errand and were aware of the dangers the militia men let them pass.
On the path there was a man speaking out against the gods, and one amongst them whom Morgan identified as playing host to a demon. The group attacked the adventurers, he commanded the demon to slay his enemies and it hunted down the people who had attacked the party before vanishing into the woodland. One of the people slipped away only to be caught by the adventurers and after a bit of persuasion, Ranger Finn was able to find out what was going on and convince the woman to escape.
Along the path they met a man who had been sent on a final task by his ex-employer with a request – kill the demon, close the portal, and the man’s employer would be very happy. Ravenna did not like the idea of someone asking for this to be done for personal gain, but as it happened their objectives were aligned of sorts. She made no promises, but it seemed a wider game was being played with the adventurers – who are these mysterious Butcher, Baker and Candlestickmaker?
Getting further into the area they came upon another group of people in the company of the demon, who claimed they were coming to take their souls. Outraged the peasants attacked, the party defended themselves and Morgan set the demon on them to Finn’s horror. She started patching them up, arguing these people had not made a choice, but had been lied to, and Ravenna let her do as she willed though she inwardly cursed the wastage of supplies. Waking up one of them Finn tried to explain what had happened but the man recoiled in fear, rousing his other healed friends, attacking Morgan, before leaving whilst they could.
On the rise near a bridge they found the hermit – a sad ghostly figure who seemed to have been expecting them. Ravenna spoke with him and listened to his plan to close the portal, before lamenting the missing relics from the shrine that had been taken by cultists. They had to find the items from the shrine to be able to close the portal, and the ghost told her she would know what to do when the time came as Kharach would give her insight. A small box of coin from the shrine was passed into their care and Ravenna urged the group on. Whilst she had been speaking with the ghost the others had found a dead local slain by something fleet of foot and Ravenna laid the man’s soul to rest to save it from predation.
Down the road a group of men could be heard counting the adventurers, discussing how best to dissuade them from continuing on their way, but the party could not be turned aside. They spoke of how the one who watched them would be displeased and threw themselves at the adventurers who in turn defended themselves. More patching up of the men and Ravenna urged the party to look for the shrine and the relics, reciting the rhyme the hermit had told her. The shrine was found, though as Ravenna cast her gaze on its brokenness she felt a will overcome her own and she drew her weapon and struck the blacksmith on the back. Then she turned on her party, shield up, mace drawn and advanced. Caught in the grasp of the spell she was unable to fight against the will controlling her own until Morgan, realising what had befallen her, lifted the spell and ordered the group to pay attention to their surroundings. They were not alone …
Eventually he was able to flush out the demon and got rid of it before it could cause more mischief and Finn was happy to report she’d found one of the relics who had proven very chatty for a skull.
Shaken, they continued on their way to fight more locals who were under the bidding of some other power with demons in their midst. They attacked, they were put down, some adventurers healed them. One was convinced the leave the area and lock himself in his house until their task was done and the lands freed of the demon that had gotten its claws into them, but a pair whom the group rescued came after them, still fearful of what “he” might do to them if they failed. So as the party continued to hunt for relics, Ravenna and James put them out of their misery and Ravenna saved their souls from further harm by sending them swiftly to her god. As she did so, she had the feeling of someone pleased with her actions from behind her and turning she found the party had located another of the relics.
Attacked by a fiercer group with more demons, the party fought them off and scattered as the denizens of Sharda sent fear amongst them, but they regrouped, fought back and tended to their wounded.
Up the hill they climbed, heading for a potent demonological aura that hung heavy in the air to those with eyes to see it, and they were attacked by more demons. Christo’s will was turned against him and he lashed out against the others around him. As Ravenna turned to knock him down she was struck by the demon’s enchanted blade and she lost consciousness.
When she came too she was in the physician’s lap as he fussed over her wounds, a nasty cut running across her face that was swiftly scarring. Seeing she was conscious he left her to check on the others – it seems they had been within inches of death if not for the swift action of Morgan outwitting the demon and dispensing healing as Finn, having found the other relic, was bound by Kharachian oaths she could not break. As Morgan reminded them all that they owed him their lives, they trudged on their way. As they walked she felt the stirring of an idea, the inspiration the hermit had told her of, and she discussed with Roger and Finn – the bearers of the relics – what she was going to do. But first they had to get to the portal and that was not going to be easy.
They climbed the hill and fought through those gathered against them – the blessed axe-head being shattered in Christo’s hand as he raised it up to strike the demon, leaving Ravenna’s honour sword the only weapon they had. In her own hand she raised it high, and struck the creature. It sent her running for cover as tendrils of fear grasped her mind; then again she went for the beast, sword in hand. The sword grew hot before her foe and startled she dropped the blade. Unarmed she stood, shield up, before grasping the hot blade and fighting her way to the creature struck it again. The pain was eyewatering but she struck it once more before it vanished. It then reappeared before her moments later, holding a wound closed before snarling and stepping through the portal. The scalding pain became too much and she dropped the blade, her palm raw and burned and bleeding under her gloves. As she tended to her wounds, Morgan investigated the portal. The portal clung to him, coaxing tendrils that pulled on his robes as he gathered up the things he could just see at the edges before Ravenna drove him off, concerned at the look on his face. Telling the others to keep him away, she began to do a ritual.
As she knelt in prayer to all the seven gods for aid, she heard a fight break out between Morgan and James, with much yelling. But as she almost lost her focus she felt the power from the portal pluck at her tabard, her armour, to then yank at her sword. Pulling back she nearly fell backwards but instead stumbled to her feet and bowed, invoking the gods to help her close the portal. Pointing her sword at the portal she willed it closed and with a snap it did so. Bright hot white light strobed across her vision and she was flung backwards with the backlash of power.
When she came to she found herself bandaged all over with a splitting headache, Roger and Finn suffering the same fate and looking equally bruised, whilst Morgan lay out cold where he had been struck on the head. It seems that someone had struck him, he had retaliated with magic and there had been a scuffle, but he had not been quite himself and agreed that the best intentions had been in the minds of all concerned. Satisfied that they had sorted it out themselves, Ravenna urged the group back down the valley to the shrine to reconsecrate it somehow. But as the relics were arranged on the altar there was a feeling of warmth and hope and the familiar presence of her god Kharach as the relics “helped” the process now they were reunited and returned to their rightful place. Ravenna and others knelt in prayer of thankfulness and respect.
Their deed complete, the portal closed and the people hopefully freed from the touch of the demon, the adventurers met up with the priest in Pendrake and told him their tale. Faithful of the seven now take up the burden of bringing the light of the gods back to the inhabitants of Elfholme and another hermit will take up care of the shrine. As for the adventurers, they limped back home, hopefully satisfied with a job well done …
Monster Mission: A town called Ember
The adventurers were hired by a member of the Auklish Militia to travel towards the hamlet of Southington to meet with a representative of the Baronet on route to discuss a matter he wished for them to investigate. They set off and on the way came upon an “injured” dwarf in the road. Concerned they approached, only to be “surprised” by another two dwarves who decided it would be unwise to try and rob the party. Continuing on they came upon the Baronet with members of his Militia, some automata and a mage examining the ground. The Baronet wanted the adventurers to help clear the road to Southington, which had taken the name Ember after it became a home to the displaced dwarves of Dun Mhurdo with the help of the little alchemist, and to deliver a message to the holders of the newly sunk mine shaft. The adventurers who set upon the task were:
- Ember of the Alchemists Guild;
- Dr Leofrik Kyle of the Physicians Guild;
- Sir Stewart DePiercy, Head of the Knightly Griffin Order; Errant Vincent Savage of the Feudal Order of the Stag; Esquire Thomas DePiercy of the Feudal Knights;
- High Mother Anne Turner and Father Finwe of Longstor; High Father Andre and Father Jeremiah Bristleback of Rolbor;
After some negotiation and some discussions with the militiamen and the mage as to why they were in the area – investigating some magical upwelling that was subsiding as they observed – the adventurers travelled back along the road towards Ember. They came upon the dwarves at it again, having stopped a young woman who was giving them a piece of her mind. The adventurers offered to escort them towards Ember to keep them out of trouble, but the dwarves waved them on and the woman continued her theological discussion with them.
On the road to Ember the adventurers fought off the White Star that crossed their paths, drove off White Star that had killed some dwarves and seemed looking for someone in particular, destroyed an Automata standing over the body of an Auklish militia man and navigated a pit trap an unwary dwarf had been making – though not until after Errant Savage fell through it and fell onto the sharpened stakes inside. Climbing down Esquire DePiercy helped Ember bandage him and get him out of the hole before they continued on their way.
An ambush of orcs led the adventurers to another group led by an orc wearing a blindfold who raged at the adventurers, claiming them to be friends of the one who kept interfering. Something strange occurred and for a moment Sir Stewart was able to see the orcs attacking and being slain before they struck the blindfolded one to slay. But then he shook his head and the orcs were still before him but the blindfolded “Seer” fled the scene. Is this how the Seer has been able to elude them so far? Before they could continue on however three werewolves were driven towards them by an orc with a silver dagger that it jabbed at the creatures. Agonised and terrified they launched themselves into the party, already wounded and weakened by their tormentors, and the party defended themselves. They slew the orc and took the silver dagger before continuing on to Ember.
In the hamlet they were met by a group of dwarves who told them the woe that had befallen the mine – one day it was perfectly fine, the next morning a group of stone men stood guard around it. Warned of this interesting turn of events the party took one of the dwarves with them and travelled down towards the mine shaft. On the way they smashed through several automata before entering into pitched battle against the different types scattered around the local area as they tried to secure the mine shaft. But the way down was gone, only charred wood and rope remaining, and a faint echoing cry could be heard from the darkness far below. They passed on the message from the Baronet, though Ember urged the dwarves not to sell the rights of the contents of the mine to the Baronet.
But these questions remain – where did these stone and metal men come from? What became of the miners? What will befall the town called Ember next?