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A strange notice appeared in the market square, a plea to adventurers to help the writer in an important matter. Urging them to come to the derelict elven city at the heart of the Ferracuna Forest, what would follow would be a night of mystery and puzzles that would unearth the very heart of the city …

The adventurers who answered the call were:

  • Captain Christo Eadronhart of the Berwickshire Medium;
  • James of the Guards;
  • Wren of the Alchemists Guild;
  • Albrecht Crowe of the School of Enchantment;
  • Sir Vincent Savage of the Feudal Order of the Stag; Errant Thomas De Piercy, Feudal Vassal;
  • High Father Andre of Rolbor;

The adventurers came to the ancient city unharmed and passed through the ancient Bone Wall that had long kept the outside world at bay. But within the gateway lurked guardians yet and the party fought off a number of scarecrow sentries before falling prey to some opportunistic fayunds that pounced from the shadows. They were met by the elven sorceress who had laid claim upon the city’s rulership, who asked for their aid. She was dying, once bound into a terrible creation by her Father during a great war long ago which had made her guardian of the once fair home of the elves. Trapped in fae she had aged only a little, but the city had drawn on her strength and life to begin the process of healing the wounds left by the ancient war that had stolen away its people. Such would be of little consequence to one of the elves, but a thousand years of guardianship has taken its toll on the sorceress. If they could get her to the centre of the city, down into the catacombs, she would be able to break the bond that was killing her. Alas, the war with magic had crafted a place that impenetrable to her or her mage-crafted minions – a great stinking marsh that swallowed up magic and spat out animated corpses of long dead warriors. Here the dead hold sway and robbed of her power she would be helpless. But in the marsh was a key to a door to a tower that would lead them down into the catacombs. Get the key, clear the way into the tower and she would empty what was left of the treasury for them.

But everything comes with a price.

The adventurers picked their way through the sinking quagmire, fought off undead, destroyed a vampire and found the key, before picking their way through ancient defences of the city. Automata in ranks lurched into action or juddered midswing to a halt, their mechanisms rusted and seized over the long years. Beyond them they fought off undead that came boiling out of the ground at the edge of the marsh and met the sorceress once more who detailed some of the hazards she would expect them to face – who knew what time had done to the alchemy stores or the catacombs hidden within and without the earth. More undead waylaid the party until they came upon a Rolborian hant – one of the builders of a tower that had tried to overlook the ruins. He had fled the worksite during an attack, taking the pay chest in a fit of panic and greed which earned him the wrath of his god. Bitter and sorrowful he bewailed his fate as the companions tried to investigate the darkened tunnel up ahead. Inserting the key in an old iron lock led to a series of panels glowing with magical power which when pressed in concert would drop the barrier that blocked their way.

But as the group slowly worked their way forward and found the panels, Albrecht investigated all the panels and the orb that stood beyond the final barrier. He vanished, snatched away to somewhere else in the tower, leaving his friends behind without anyone who could see the panels clearly. Christo was able to feel the warming panels with his limited sense of magic and with a liberal dose of luck the whole party were able to get through the tunnel and transport on to the room where Albrecht might have gone. But he wasn’t there!

All that greeted them were a shuffling mass of undead. They cleared the room, fearing the worst, only to have Albrecht suddenly appear amongst them. He had portalled into the room, seen the creatures and drunk a potion of invisibility in a quick thinking act of self-preservation that had undoubtedly saved his life. The room then spoke to them, warning of the presence of dangerous substances that would have to be neutralised before continuing on. Wren set to the task and was able to clear up the ancient alchemy mess that time had made, as her companions fought off the odd shambling corpse that came at them from out of the misty darkness of the catacombs. The danger removed, they were transported down another level of the catacombs.

They were faced with three circles of magic and a request for identification papers for access, the room calmly stating that access would only be granted to the King, the High Priest or the Grand Sorceror – none of whom had conveniently left any papers lying around … However there was a way to get past if they removed the power source for the door. Wren and Sir Vincent stepped into two magical circles that opened the third so that Albrecht could work at unravelling the tangled weave of magic that held the delicate Opus stone in its housing. The comments of “we could just smash it” were met with horrified and outraged cries from the enchanter as he worked, and the rest of the company were left to face down the undead that once again lumbered out of the mists – however Wren and Sir Vincent were trapped in their circles. The “lock” unpicked, the group were transported down once more to another undead filled room, but soon they were joined by the sorceress who finally told them what was going on … To stop the drain on her life she would have to sever herself from the city but bind another willing host in her place. The Dutchman needs a Captain don’t you know? Horrified at the risk to the soul of the fool who would volunteer to do this, Wren began to mutter her outrage, but the sorceress laid out the conditions – 50 years bound to the city and the soul would be free to go on wherever it chose. If they died in the next 50 years they would remain bound to the city until the end of their care of the city, but if they still lived when their watch was done then it would be as if nothing had happened. But they would be quite safe, so long as they did not fall into corruption and therefore hamper the city’s attempts to heal itself …

Errant Thomas offered his services, as did Albrecht and Sir Vincent (until warned that his Lady of Battle would not be able to gather her to him in battle), but James was the only one who – exasperated at the debate and argument – stepped into the circle of soulfire and offered himself willingly to the task. With the words uttered it was done – the sorceress elf was freed and James felt soulfire course through his body as the city claimed him. Writhing and screaming in agony he was oblivious to the undead that appeared out of the mists one last time. The sorceress opened a way to the treasury as promised and conducted the rite to send them all on their way.

James, however, now bears the scars of the city for all to see and feels a connection to that ancient place that has tight hold on his very soul. But what is a wait of 50 years to Kharach, the timeless God of Death?

 

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