Spring turns to Summer and the fresh greens of the season deepen in hue. The sun shines, the days lengthen, the time of blossom is soon to be over. The adventurers take little heed of these passing seasons, only noting the advancing of time and the growing sense that the evils in the world are about their business with more vim and vigour. Brigit and Tungdil set out with their respective companies to seek their own goals.
But no one expects blood in the long grass, and no one thinks that the season of growth may be the time of sorrow.
Monster Mission – The Shrine at the Darlan Pass
The Church of Sidhe seek a way to remove the corruption and taint that has been plaguing their shrines since the Lord of Black Mirrors turned his gaze upon them. Seeking adventurers to go “patrol” the Darlan Pass masks the true intent of the Church of Sidhe to carry a relic through the pass to the site of the battlefield of 994 to attempt to reconsecrate an untouched shrine. For the enemy has eyes and ears everywhere, and who knows where they will strike next …
The adventurers who set out upon this task were:
- Ranger Conchobar of the Berwickshire Medium Infantry; Ranger Finn of the Guild of Scouts;
- Captain Christo Eadronhart, Captain of the Berwickshire Medium Infantry; Shane Base-born of the Guild of Mercenaries;
- Pestopheles of the Physicians Guild;
- Fortescue Everbright of the School of Enchantment;
- Errant Humphrey Vortigen-Smythe of the Knightly Griffin Order;
- Brother Mark of Thorne Abbey and Brother Robert Eddlemann of Sidhe; Tungdil Stonehammer of Tralda;
The priests were called to assist in a matter of civil law between a merchant and a devotee of Longstor. A flock of sheep, bought and paid for by the merchant, had been slaughtered and devoured by the White Star. Compensation had been offered by the local nobility, the Vortigen family, but both individuals had a claim on the money – the merchant for the loss of his livestock, the Longstorian for the loss of her companions. Listening to the two arguments the party sided with awarding the merchant, as the owner, the right to the compensation under the agreement that he pay the Longstorian in retrospect for the care she had taken of his animals. He agreed, but proceeded to take money back in payment for the meat, wool and milk the Longstorian had used from his livestock. The merchant was satisfied with the result and paid off his “witnesses”, the Longstorian took up her fox cub friend and stalked off into the woods.
They came upon a group of people beating on some captured foul spawn who were members of the White Star, before coming to a toll point on the road. Under writ by the local Lord and under orders from their Sergeant, the mercenaries were to search and confiscate any silver items or the company were to pay a levy to retain the items. Finn’s dagger was confiscated, much to her confusion and protest, and Errant Humphrey questioned their orders with some concern. However, orders is orders, but the whole affair seemed mighty strange to the nobleman and his company – particularly since silver was one of the few weapons required to hurt a particularly nasty demon. They avoided an ambush by bandits, were set upon by Konnish warriors, and came upon the Longstorian devotee in conversation with a group of White Star.
Wishing to parley the orcs spoke with the group and the Longstorian looked on, her wolfish companion stalking around the party until she called him away. Agreeing to talk to the Thane on their behalf, Christo tried to urge the White Star to help them against the Konnish at which point a bag of bandages were flung at them and a curt gesture given to indicate the direction they should go. They caught up with the merchant who thanked them for their aid in the civil court before they diverged from the main trade road down towards an outcrop that looked over the old battlefield.
A scholar and his two students were on a field trip and were discussing the balance of the argument for the battle between the Lirronese clans and the Black and Templar Orders that had occurred here in 994. Extending his discussion to the adventurers the scholar sought their opinions as the Sidhean priests set to blessing the shrine. His questioning and the generally evasive nature of the scholar and his students set the adventurers’ teeth on edge until they began demanding answers as to the man’s faith and the purpose of his trip to the area. Eventually he decided it was time for them to go and led his two students off, leaving the adventurers querying his true nature and the whole experience. The shrine, blessed and consecrated, was still at risk from the Konnish nearby – so the company set off to hunt them down.
They came upon the Mercenary Sergeant, possessed by a demon, in the company of other possessed individuals, who attacked them. Once they had removed the demons, the party realised that the Sergeant had been working for the Konnish against his will and that the confiscation of silver had been commanded by the dangerous demon rumoured to be in the company of the Konnish. They hurried on to the village, met up with a couple of the White Star sent to help them, and found an ugly scene – bodies of wolves and bears and foulspawn piled to one side and two Konnish constructs following the orders of a scarred Konnish man. They leapt into battle against the wolf-headed creature and the half-formed Crystal Ogre and the Konnish allies, putting them to the sword, and were able to retrieve a number of silver items that seemed to have been set alight to destroy them.
A quartet of dwarves approached, sent from Dun Mhurdo to help guard the shrine, wearing the red tabards with the sun that proclaimed them followers of “the Prophet”. Errant Humprey and Conchobar led them back to the shrine and left it in their keeping before the group returned to Baronet Quinn Dexter to report their success and ill news.
Player Mission – The Burned Lady
Late in the season the adventurers came upon a winter carnival that had, at its heart, a beautiful dryad that had caused all sorts of bother to the adventurers. This is a continuation of that tale.
News reached the adventurers that the Lord of South Shielding’s son had gone missing – abducted? Killed? Absent without parental leave? But the name of the lands stuck in Brigit and Wulfric’s memory, so they went to join others heeding the call for aid. These people were:
- Pathfinder Wulfric Nolastname, Chief Ranger for the Berwickshire Medium Infantry and Head of the Guild of Scouts;
- Seamus O’Malley, Nancy and Red Kent of the Guild of Mercenaries;
- Dr Leofrick Kyle of the Physicians Guild;
- Master Albrecht Crow of the School of Enchantment;
- Novice Alexia El of the Holy Rose Order;
- Mother Brigit Wooller of Crowa; Supplicant Valtr of Kharach;
They were met by Constable Johnson, a guard of great ego and little care for peasants, who was unconvinced the matter required the intervention of adventurers and their weighty requests for pay. But, commanded by his Lord, he agreed to pay them all a fixed sum for them to “wander the woods and find the missing boy”. Leading them out of the hiring square he extolled the skill of the local Guards over the Foresters and informed them that a group of Guiadonese had been kept bottled up at the port as per orders, whilst Brigit and Wulfric recounted what had happened the last time they had been in the area. Villagers going missing, beautiful people being taken … it seemed too much like coincidence.
They came upon the Forester investigated a dead man whose face and arms had been sliced and peeled of skin in a crude but efficient manner. As Dr Kyle examined the body the Guard and Forester shared their usual banter, and the Guard went back to town and Brigit and Wulfric filled the company in on their last misadventure with the carnival, the Bequifisian mirror and the dryad who they had cut down and set on fire. The Forester told them of a cult that was growing in strength locally who worshipped a “burned lady” and the pair voiced their concern – that the skinned man was being used to make the dryad a new face! Pish tosh said the Forester. You’re adventurers, you can deal with stuff like this.
On the road they encountered Red Kent on guard with a group of guidonese who had hired his help but were yet to pay him. After they admitted to having no coin and still waiting for their pay chest, Red Kent joined up with the adventurers to help them track down the young Christopher, and the Guiadonese kept trying the peddle their alchemy. A host of undead crossed their path and as Albrecht began to enchant a weapon there was a man in green spotted walking a ritual. Brigit, Novice Rose Alexa and the mercenaries bolted to go interfere only to hear the group ahead praise Githas. Slowing to a stop, they greeted the heretics with frosty politeness – until Brigit spotted the dryad. Her beauty was marred by her face, all twisted and damaged, and Brigit tried to approach her but she vanished into the woodland in the blink of an eye. As a Githasian tried to convince several of the party that Githas was not an evil god, a fight broke out and he ran off as the adventurers rallied together.
Tracking the fleeing man led them to more of the followers of the burned lady and the dryad herself, who clearly recognised Brigit as she shrieked abuse at her from behind her wall of mortal protectors. Casting magics to break Brigit’s sword and causing members of the party to sleep, a fight kicked off which led to the adventurers putting them down. On they ventured, saving a Githasian priest from his threatening cultist forcing him to preach of the Burned Lady to a group of locals – after which Brigit took him aside for a frank talk. He was the priest who had turned the dryad to Githas, but he had lost any control on her and those who followed her were turning to a corruption of Githas’s teachings. A beautiful creature blessed by his Lord, the priest was unable to hurt her, but he could not allow her own corruption to continue. Brigit learnt what she could from him before sending him on his way – for once the aims of the light matched the will of the dark – but she did not intend to make a habit of it.
Ahead they almost caught the dryad as they bypassed her protectors, but she gave them the slip and entranced Valtr with a mere touch. Knocking him out the adventurers chased after her but she disappeared into the trees and the companions debated what to do with the Kharachian. They decided to disarm him and wake him to see if he could lead them to her, but his entranced heart was not required for spotted a man skinning people up the hill and went to put a stop to it. The screams of another led them further on to find a Thaumaturgist in green robes bound within a circle of magic as a knife appeared to float in the air and slice flesh from his body. Brigit stepped into the circle to protect the man and the others found that no one could enter after her – as before her eyes the knight gained a wielder who attacked her. Unable to block his swift blade with only her shield hand strong enough to be used Brigit was brought to the ground in a brief struggle and the knife went back to its grim task. Luckily her boot had fallen outside the circle and Nancy was able to haul the dying priestess back to safety. Albrecht tried his hand at stopping the knife by heating the wielder’s chain though it was not enough to stop the Githasian as he wriggled free of the burning shirt. Brigit, freshly roused and bandaged, stepped back into the circle to attempt to wrestle the knife from the man’s hand, nudging the wounded mage back towards the edge of the circle so that other might be able to drag him clear. But with only one hand she was not quick enough and yet again she was brought to the floor as Albrecht was finally able to stop the man holding the knife at the cost of grounding himself. The circle wavered and fell apart and the party dashed to the aid of the mage and priestess bleeding on the ground. It seemed the mage was being skinned “for her” and offered a scroll in gratitude for the party saving his life. Albrecht offered to pay for the tending of his wounds and the regrowth of his casting finger, and some agreement was settled as the party debated what to do with the Githasian. Seamus put him out of his misery and they hurried on.
Up the hill they came upon the dryad with members of her cult and a troll and a werewolf that leapt to do her bidding, and the party were hard pressed in the fight. Many of them fell to wounds and the dryad wound her way round them, entrancing them minds and bidding them to follow, come follow … until Wulfric charged at her with knife drawn. She vanished and Dr Kyle was freed of her entrancement to start healing the dying companions. Brigit, once healed and awake, was set to keeping the werewolf on the ground, and Dr Kyle stabilised his patients before starting to heal.
But one was missed and it was only when Wulfric questioned where Albrecht had gone did Brigit spy him lying in the greenery down the hill, his lifes blood flowing freely. Wulfric dashed to his aid, but he agonised howl told Brigit that they were too late. When the company were up, Brigit helped Wulfric bring Albrecht up to the group to lay the body out. Brigit knelt weeping in shock by the mage’s side as Wulfric dispatched the werewolf, and all seemed lost and hopeless. She had failed her friend, whom she had promised to protect. All was lost, his brother now utterly alone in the fae bargain his sibling had made years before. Valtr offered a prayer for the dead but was unable to lay his soul on, and soon Brighella came wandering through the company. “Borrowing” a body the fae hag rolled back his sleeve and collected the prize he had been seeking – jamming his fist into the chest of the Enchanter and ripping his soul free. In rage Valtr swung at the creature but it vanished with a mocking laugh as Brigit screamed in horror.
Shaken, the party continued on, their hearts hardening against the dryad even as her silvery voice bid them follow, follow on … and then there she was, beautiful and dark, standing in the grove the adventurers had found her in before. Many of the company were instructed into her tree, but Brigit pleaded with her to let her try and make amends for the damage she had done to her loveliness – some part of Brigit fighting to attempt the plan they had concocted to try and stop the twisted dryad – now clearly a siren – in her evil ways. The creature permitted her and Brigit prayed to Crowa for aid as she cleansed the tree. The tree spat out the companions, now free of their entrancement, who all backed up in disgust. The siren bid Brigit bring them back to her, and Brigit obeyed as she tried to win the creature’s trust to try a cleansing again. But her friends were not having it, and backed away before knocking her out. And in her unconscious state her Goddess whispered in her ear a way to undo the damage done – dispel the magics.
It was at this point that Albrecht’s corpse got up and began to walk again. Animating his own body, Albrecht (with permission from Brighella) had come back to give guidance on the matter of the siren, but people recoiled from him in horror. He stood over Brigit and urged them dispassionately to get her up, before examining the siren with detached interest. Novice Alexa shook her priestess awake who sat up with her Goddess’s words upon her lips, only to find Wulfric and Dr Kyle rummaging through Albrecht’s scroll case looking for a charged scroll of dispel. Having managed to grab the corner of the cloth before the tree and hauling the offerings to them, the party were now armed with a bottle of alchemical fire which they chucked at the tree. Ablaze again the siren screamed in agony and turned with vengeance on the party, goaded on by Wulfric to led her a merry dance off into the woods. Dr Kyle started to dispel the tree and Brigit took up an inner line of defence (after hauling off her magicked sash and throwing her journal at Novice Alexa just in case) should the siren return and interrupt the ritual. The magic dispelled, the siren writhed in pain, and Brigit cleansed the tree as Wulfric rammed Albrecht’s silver dagger through the creature’s heart. Peace and tranquillity descended upon Brigit as the cleansing worked and the siren was destroyed, her entrancement lifted.
Then all there was left to do was deal with Albrecht’s walking corpse, and say goodbye. Brigit struggled to listen to his dispassionate words as he left what message he could for his brother and his ex-apprentice, confirming that there was nothing left of the contract with the fae that he had to tell them. But as his body began to fail, Brigit destroyed his animated corpse with a vial of holy water, sending the soul back to its new keeper before he relieved the horror of having his body die on him. With heavy heart the company took up his belongings and returned to inform their hirer what had befallen them, to distribute the mage’s belongings according to his will. Wulfric agreed to go tell Conchobar of his brother’s death, and it was decided that a wake for the late Albrecht would be held next market day.
And so it was one fine spring day, death visited the adventurers, and the life of one of their number was snuffed out. Blood in the long grass.