With ancient sorcerers roaming the land once more and a great evil threatening the Gods themselves, parties of adventurers seek knowledge across the country. Having learnt of the Blue Sorcerer’s book, Ember seeks brave (and foolish) adventurers to travel into the Lands of the Dead to recover the tome. And other adventurers look to get even with the dubious Mr Niels …
Monster Mission – Pestlestone under siege
Trouble has been reported at the village of Pestlestone, a known bolt hole for the villainous Mr Niels who, as well as being a branded murderer and heretic, is wanted by a number of adventurers for owing them money.
The adventurers who set out were:
- Godman Armstrong of the Scouts Guild;
- Seamus O’Malley of the Mercenaries Guild;
- Junior Forester Henryk;
- Pestopheles of the Physicians Guild;
- Fortescue Everbright of the School of Enchantment; Carmine “Red” Salvadore of the Guild of Mages;
- Squire Humphrey Vortigen-Smythe of the Knightly Griffin Order;
- High Mother Anne Turner, Brother Bartholomew Carver, Father Finwe and Jem P. Wylde of Longstor; Friar Mark of Thornaby and a novice of Sidhe; Sister Ismay Cramer; Tungdil Stonehammer of Tralda;
Setting out on the road to the village they came upon a guard and a trio of mercenaries who gave the party an update on the situation. The mercenaries had been part of the group running with Mr Niels but these three had left the village due to the strange rumours that dogged their boss’s heels – why had he taken to wearing a mask? Was he truly working with heretics? And what about an angry dwarf claiming he owed him money? The village was under siege when they had left, the villagers having escaped when the groups of mercenaries and foreigners descended upon them. Another group of mercenaries met them on the road, having also left Niels’ service. On the way they met a member of a tribe of Kharachian elves who had been sent to track Mr Niels, who gave them some information on his last known location.
Arriving at the village the adventurers met a couple of villagers, learned that Mr Niels had been in the village in the company of his men and his mage but that he had left not so long ago. And why? Trouble on the way.
As the party were in the village the Abraxians came out of the woods and attacked them. They too were seeking Mr Niels, believing he had betrayed them now that he was marked as a heretic. After a number of waves of the followers of the God of War, their leader Father Blanche turned up to revel in the bloodshed. After putting down most of the party he continued on his way, leaving the party to pick themselves up if they were able. The elf returned with news of a trail into the Akenwode, down which Mr Niels had fled after leaving the village.
The adventures dared to tred the mossy green trails of the Akenwode, only to find the woods were playing tricks on them. As creatures came out of the undergrowth, and undead too, the woodland turned them around on themselves or showed them things that were not there. Eventually the adventurers came upon a group of mercenaries who had gotten lost in the same wood after being abandoned by their boss Mr Niels. There was a brief scuffle between the groups – some bewitchment or some confusion – and a wary truce existed between the company until they reached the edge of the woodland. Here the mercenary company handed over a journal belonging to Mr Niels and left them to their own devices.
And so the adventurers returned home, to hunt for Mr Niels another day should the Akenwode not claim him first …
Player Mission – the Library in the Lands of the Dead
The book of the Blue Sorcerer, an individual who took on the mantle of mortality and spent his years among the halfling people, was rumoured to have ended up in the Lands of the Dead – the dry desolate wasteland outside the realm of Kharach’s Halls where the dead wander aimlessly and danger awaits the living who find themselves there.
Gathering a company of adventurers to retrieve this book before any of the other Sorcerers got their hands on it, Ember set out upon this great endeavor at the invitation of ex-Witchfinder Mortimer Lowe (deceased) with a warning of great danger to Berwickshire. Those who went with her were:
- Pathfinder Wulfric Nolastname, Head Scout of the Berwickshire Medium Infantry; Ranger Conchobar of the Berwickshire Medium Infantry; Ranger Finn of the Scouts Guild;
- Captain Christo Eadronhart, Commander of the Berwickshire Medium Infantry; Brorgar and Tucker of the Mercenaries Guild;
- Guild Protector Roger of the Guild of Blacksmiths;
- Dr Leofric Llew Kyle of the Physicians Guild;
- Ember of the Alchemists Guild;
- Master Meror of the School of Necromancy; Master Albrecht Crowe of the School of Enchantment;
- High Father Andre of Rolbor; Mother Brigit Wooller of Crowa;
Guided by Conchobar the company made their way to the settlement of Shittingham where a great tear between realms had opened. On the way they fought several groups of Konnish warriors, confirming the rumour that the Konnish – the long standing demon-loving foes of the Empire – were using the Lands of the Dead as a crossing point to portals into the realms of Arda. Alarmed, they came upon the rift only to find it guarded by a demon and its assorted undead and Konnish minions and the adventurers threw themselves into battle.
Preparing for the worst High Father Andre cast a ritual to see the future and witnessed what lay beyond the tear in reality – undead, Konnish and the feared Crystal Ogre which slaughtered their way through the party leaving few standing. He warned the company of his foresight and they made preparations to storm the breach and enter into combat. Victorious they patched themselves up and took in the eerie twilight of the Dead Lands. Mortimer Lowe, the shade of him, greeted them cheerily and demanded to be freed from the mess the Konnish had made – the rift being the great threat to Berwickshire as it acted like a doorway through which they could invade. It seemed he was responsible for holding the door open and before Meror could start to consider how to untangle Mortimer from the magics binding him, Ember asked a question about the library she sought. Mortimer dismissed her request as pointless, his freedom being the most important thing for them to consider, but Ember persisted until eventually he gave them directions. Promising they would return the party trekked off towards the dim horizon.
The problem with the Lands of the Dead is that its full of the dead. And the dead envy the living for their vitality, which the very ground itself draws from their mortal bodies. The further they went, the weaker they began to feel, and the more dead they came across – lost souls seeking the halls, souls trying to avoid the halls, undead monstrosities that have been twisted beyond recognition – and the great crystal clawed ogre-constructs bent to the service of the Konn that hunted these souls for its own machinations. They fought off the creature, held back the undead that clutched at them, fought their way through the darkness and shadows against wraiths, nightmares, zombies, skeletons, a ghast and a mummy, until they came to a great wall of mist. Unable to see far into it they could only hear the sounds of the dead moving beyond, so the party formed a chain and ventured cautiously into the rippling stillness of the fog.
It soon became clear that there were a great number of undead in the mists, and as the party wound their way through safe paths they were attacked and clawed at by the creatures. A small group of the party at the back soon realised that the creatures were drawn to the sounds they were making and were able to pass the message along the line to their companions, though not before they had ground to a halt fending off the undead. Meror took to throwing sticks off into the mists, luring the creatures away, and after holding a ghast at bay with a deathsbane weapon the company arrived in the relative safety of the library.
Inside was the spirit of the librarian, a memory of what had once been, who insisted that they respect the silence of such a temple of learning! Ember asked after the books written by the Blue Sorceror and learned he had been a prolific writer, every book barely visible on the shelves one of his. Ember was eventually able to locate the book she sought. Urged to take it down from the shelf, picturing it in her mind’s eye, she was able to “read” it in the shadows of that place. As she turned the pages a tattered fragment came loose – the last piece of a book long burned and held only in the memories of the library. The adventurers were permitted to take this piece of the corporeal world back with them, for it had no place in the library such as this.
Throughout all this the party had been attacked by a growing number of undead, drawn to the area by the life they represented and soon they were besieged. They were shown a quick way back to their entry point, the draining effect of the realm beginning to render them weak and exhausted, and they made the dash across the rough ground to where Mortimer was waiting for them, a rampaging horde of undead on their heels. Wulfric was sent into an ensorcelled slumber and Brigit shook him roughly awake as they were left behind. A battle line was drawn to protect Meror as he began to unpick the threads binding Mortimer to the portal, and the undead came closer. Twice the groups clashed, each time driving the undead back but wounding the adventurers in return. With members of the company unconcious or badly wounded, groups began to retreat back through the portal as Meror began to untangle the final piece of the magic. The adventurers held their ground as Meror shouted a warning and raised his foot up. With a crack he smashed the skull on the ground and the portal began to quaver. The remaining members of the party dashed for the exit home.
But it was closing at an alarming rate as they raced the distance between them and the way out, Brigit urging the others on as she took a step back to destroy a creature that got too close. Then she picked up her skirts and hurried on. Roger bolted the gap, Meror stepped through, Christo hot on his heels as the others on the other side cried out to urge them on. Finn grabbed Christo’s hand and Christo reached back and managed to catch hold of Brigit’s fingers to haul her through as the portal snapped shut on her heels.
The adventurers caught their breath, Brigit frantically counting the party to make sure she had left no one behind to die, her heart hammering in her ears. All accounted for, all alive and well. She gave thanks to her Goddess for their deliverance and the party retreated to the pub to celebrate their good fortune and their success.
But Brigit still sees the portal closing when she closes her eyes, still hears the sound of a battle being fought out of sight in the fog, still feels the book she opened in the library between her hands. She has walked the Lands of the Dead and that place has left a mark upon her soul.squire Hump