A request for help was posted in the market places across the county, seeking the help of adventurers to aid a village in great distress. Concerned, adventurers gathered outside the gate of the city of Carlech to meet someone with more information, and possibly settle old scores …
The adventurers who met with Mr Niels were:
- Godman Armstrong of the Scouts Guild;
- Pestopheles of the Guild of Physicians;
- Fortescue Everbright of the Mages Guild;
- Sir Vincent Savage, Feudal Vassal of the Order of the Stag;
- High Father Andre of Rolbor; Mother Brigit Wooller of Crowa; Tungdil Stonehammer of Tralda;
At the sight of their hirer several of the party took umbridge, expressing their experiences of his last hiring and the fact he’d only paid them half what he promised, promising threats and making suggestions it was time to empty his pockets (with more violence, but we’ll ignore that for now). He, rather calmly, listened to their protests and shrugged them off, telling them that he was trying to help the County, to help the people, and he was going to pay of them all in advance for the work they were about to do. Brigit didn’t trust him, so got him to make a contract in writing with the help of his scribe, detailing exactly what he was paying them to do before making him sign it. With a piece of paper ready to wave in his face should he double-cross them, the adventurers set out.
A village was experiencing some sickness that had a variety of symptoms – some people seemed to have gone mad with raving delusions, other seemed to suddenly drop asleep mid-sentence only to wake screaming, and some just seemed to stare into the middle distance mumbling to themselves. Pestopheles, concerned at these unusual symptoms, instructed the rest of the party to not approach anyone unless suitably protected by covering their mouths and resisting the urge to touch people or their clothes. Armed with her knowledge of sickness surely they would prevail! They travelled to the village and it was late in the day when they arrived but rather than finding the villagers settling in for the night, they found three of them in various states of distress. One kept believing them to be imaginary and seemed shocked that the strangers she was addressing were real. Another kept suddenly falling asleep until his friends would waken him, whilst the third was complaining of seeing horrible things when he closed his eyes. After some long conversation with the trio – punctuated with the occasional dash to rouse them from their sudden slumber or reassuring them that they were indeed real – Pestopheles and Brigit were able to give the a summary of the matter to their party. The villagers were all plagued by visions of a figure whenever they tried to sleep, a figure so terrifying that they were now forcing themselves to keep awake to avoid seeing him. They had so far managed about 3 nights without falling too far into their nightmares, but there is only so long one can stay awake without going mad, right?
The party concluded that something was amiss with the area, or that the people themselves were cursed, and there was some debate about testing a theory. Pestopheles drugged Fortescue into a deep slumber to see if it could induce a dreamless restful sleep but he woke in a sweat having experienced a terrifying meeting with a figure in his dreams. Deciding to test this theory a little further from the village, they followed a track over a small bridge and went looking for the nearest farm to check on its inhabitants. They encountered a group of armed men who were looking for an individual called Woolly who was supposed to be travelling through the area. When the adventurers couldn’t help them, they moved on their way towards the village, but their manner puzzled Brigit and the others, and they watched them leave with some wariness. Which was just as well, for when they had gotten out of sight there came a shout and a cry for help. Godman scuttled off into the darkness to investigate, and raised a cry of alarm that brought the others running – the armed men had attacked the delirious villagers. Hurrying after them Godman, Tungdil and Brigit dashed across the bridge, yelling at the attackers who turned around and praised the God of Slaughter with great glee. Brigit and Sir Savage fought off one of the Abraxians as the rest of the group jumped on the other mad-eyed heretic before they pushed their way into the building to find a villager trying to fend off a third Abraxian. This Abraxian was put down as Brigit went to tend to the bleeding villager who was whimpering on the floor and Pestopheles helped bind his wounds.
The others had searched the Abraxians and found a note detailing their hunt for someone which seemed very odd, which Brigit pocketed, and they tipped the bodies into shallow graves for a Kharachian priest to tend to when next in the area. Then they headed out of the village looking for the nearest farm and to see what the Abraxians had been up to.
Dying it seemed. The road was littered with corpses of the heretics who seemed to have been in a fight. Brigit tossed their weapons away to deprive their allies any help and Pestopheles examined the bodies to see what creature had slain them, though it soon became apparent that their attacker had been a warrior and it had all happened fairly recently. The trail of bodies led away from the village into the woodland and the adventurers followed it.
Along the path Brigit had a nasty shock as she turned over a corpse to see a face she recognised – a man who had attacked her in a vision from her Goddess – and the place felt very familiar to her. Feeling rattled she nearly cried out in shock as High Father Andre showed her a torn scrap of paper bearing the picture of her family and the name “Woolly” on the reverse along with a message. Could it be, that her brother was nearby? She dared not believe it, but the picture was so familiar to her that she could not help but be gripped by hope that she would soon be reunited with her long lost brother. But other dangers were afoot, and they were not alone in the woods …
They came upon an ancient grave that had been dug out and a fae creature examining the matter with great interest. Explaining that there was an ancient fae “thing” that was now roaming the area to Fortescue and that it needed the adventurers help to stop the “thing”, the party concluded that maybe this “thing” was the problem behind the villagers’ bad dreams. Describing the figure, the fae gave a few more details – a “thing” in rags with a blindfolded face, and aped the walk to give an indication of what it might be. No one knew what it was, but having been given a target, the adventurers were keen to see the creature gone and sent back to wherever it had come from. Having retrieved a rotted book and a scroll which detailed the formation of a ward, it seemed they might be armed with the tools to do just that.
Travelling on they came upon dreaming villager who told them how he had left the village to escape the dreams, except the dreams had come with him. He was sore from his fall down the hill but apart from that unscathed from his latest nap, and the adventurers directed him to return home rather than be out in the woods alone. They heard a cry for help and went to investigate, expecting a group of Abraxians but instead facing a couple of fae trying to retrieve an Elyion who decided that Pestopheles was going to be her new friend. The fae only wanted to take the little faerie to their boss, but when the adventurers refused to hand her over they decided to try take her by force. Once they were put down, the Elyion told them she was looking for her friend – and described in detail the robes that had been rotting in the old grave. Alarmed and instructed to hide as another group of fae came to retrieve her, the Elyion vanished, and the party pushed through the fresh batch of nasty fae to continue on their way towards their goal.
It seemed that a mage of old Berwickshire, the friend of the fae, had had a hand in removing a nasty piece of fae from the area, possibly even taking it to his grave. However, whatever magic that had held the creature at bay had failed and it was now roaming the land and preying on the dreams of the local population. It had returned to his ancient home across a magical bridge, but if they could get to it and conduct the ritual to set up the ward they might be able to repair the magic that had been holding it at bay. Uplifted by the plan that was coming together, the adventurers headed on, avoiding an encounter with faerie gold with only a curious Pestopheles being put to sleep as she examined the pretty box. At having been disturbed the faerie gold vanished, leaving High Father Andre to warn the physician and Crowan Priestess of the dangers of food and objects in the realm of fae.
They came upon the remains of an Abraxian ambush and hurried to the aid of a mercenary named McGowan. Hearing the name Brigit recalled the note and asked the man what had happened. They’d been attacked, he said, him and Woolly by Abraxians and it was a good thing that Woolly had gotten out alive. The pieces fit into place and Brigit dared to ask the question that was burning in her mind – Woolly’s true name. McGowan was shocked and hesitantly asked if she was Woolly’s sister Brigit. There was so much more Brigit wanted to ask him, but they had to hurry on and McGowan was in no state to talk much with the pain, so the party urged him to make his way back to safety where they could talk at length.
Then they came to the Mage’s old home and found their new Elyion friend. There was a magical rune gone awry on the ground, so Godman was instructed to wait a good distance from the mark with the ward scroll, and Brigit kept Pestopheles and the Elyion company whilst Fortescue got to work examining the mark. Eventually, after some deliberation, High Father Andre fashioned a circle of protection around the mark as a temporary solution to the inward drain of magic, and Fortescue did something to the mark as he laid an Escan Steel blade between two points. There was a flash of light, the smell of burning hair, and Fortescue and High Father Andre were laid out cold in the circle with blood spewing from many locations. Hearing the shout Brigit went to investigate and fell to her knees in horror at the sight as Pestopheles tried in vain to get into the circle of protection cast by the dying Rolborian priest. Desperately Brigit pleaded with her Goddess for aid and through some miracle the physician was permitted to enter and set about healing her patients. Rousing High Father Andre allowed Brigit to enter and between the pair of them they set about healing Fortescue. With everyone patched up and the mark fixed, everyone could turn their attentions to the bridge.
Brigit had been warned that the bridge was odd, that it could turn the mind of any unwanted guests and even the mage occasionally fell foul of its befuddlement. On a chance comment that he had at times had to return to his house for the book, and had always had to come to escort guests across the bridge, made Brigit ask if they had anything of Ogheim’s that might help them. Holding Ogheim’s rotted spellbook aloft Tungdil chanced his luck and marched across the bridge under no ill effects, as Sir Savage found his determination to cross undone as he reached a little way over the river then turned back having forgotten something quite important. And so the merry little band, led by the dwarf chanting the name of the long dead magus until he grew bored, crossed the bridge in safety and arrived at the entrance to the creature’s lair.
The buildings were nothing but tumbled stones with a circle marked on the floor, but from out of the shadows came the creature that was haunting the nightmares of the locals. With one touch he could render a person unconscious, where they would make the journey into its realm of dreams where they found a circle etched in the ground. At first only Sir Savage and Brigit inhabited the realm, but soon they were joined by Tungdil and the creature, and the scroll was not in their keeping. Fending off the monster taught Brigit that it could easily send them back to the waking world as it had sent them to sleep in the first place and she came round in a shaking sweat to find Godman, Andre and Sir Savage the only ones awake. After willing themselves back into unconciousness (or having a little help) the whole party were reunited in the dreaming world to find that Fortescue had cast the ritual but broken the circle before the creature was trapped inside the ring and was now at his wits end as the creature pursued him with a vengeance. Waiting to hear the plan Brigit drew her sword and put up her shield and kept herself between the mage and the monster as best as she was able whilst Fortescue and Andre mended the scroll between them and set about conducting the ritual.
It seemed striking the beast with an ensorcelled weapon would render it unconscious which Tungdil used to his advantage after beating it into the ground. Taking hold of its ankle he hauled it across the ground into the ring and kept beating it down whilst Fortescue conducted the rite once more and trapped the monster within the ring of stone. Permitting all of the company except the monster to enter and exit the ward at will there was a moment of expectant panic as the creature rose to its feet, then a few victory dances as it bounced off the ward after Fortescue willed himself to waken from his dream. The others followed suit with Pestopheles going back to hasten the awaking through her physicians arts, and Brigit stood watching the creature paw at the wards with curses and moans as to its fate before she was returned to the waking world. Victorious and congratulating themselves on a job well done, there felt to be a lifting of the sleepy malaise that had come over them as they had crossed the bridge. With that good bit of news the thoughts returned to home, warm beds, and the remainder of their pay, and Brigit hoped against hope to find her brother on the road northwards. But they had been in that place too long, and the footprints of the armoured man who had been barely ahead of them after the ambush were now hours old and lost amongst the early morning traffic of the great trade route towards Carlech.
Returning to the city they saw no sign of the man who had hired them, but the scribe who had witnessed the contract was there to fulfill the full details on the agreed terms. And whilst Tungdil might be waiting a long long time for his outstanding 2/6, at least they were paid in full for a job well done.