There are many hidden nooks and crannies in Berwickshire, pockets of a world long lost to time; where all manner of things are awry. Into one of these forgotten places our heroes go, to a place where the Seven hold no sway and evil walks openly amongst mortals. Through service and devotion, of blood shed at the bidding of their gods and sacrifice giving with a willing heart, many these souls “ascend” to the “heavens”.
And through it all the Collector seeks his precious treasures …
The heroes gathered together to travel the road to a place their hirer had arranged to meet them. These adventurers were:
- Nancy Goodfellow of the Mercenaries Guild;
- Gimris Maple Stonehead;
- Perrin of the Guild of Mages;
- Errant Ivers of the Templar Order;
- Father Robert Eddlemann of Sidhe; Brother Trevelyan of Crowa; Valtr of Kharach; Supplicant Kate of Vleybor;
Travelling through the night they encountered knots of undead which skulked in dark places, before coming upon a Forester who had come out of the woodlands to investigate the screams. After inspecting their permits and giving a few of the company a bit of grief, the Forester melted back into the woodland to continue her patrol before the adventurers crossed paths with more undead and came to the place their hirer had arranged to meet them.
The Collector is a curious man, eager for the pursuit of his interests and a little haphazard and vague about all manner of other things. He was aware of this hidden valley and had previously sent in a group of “heroes” who had had a misadventure (that’s to say that only one of them had returned and he had lost his mind). What he could tell them was that there was a barrier they had to cross to enter the valley that was very good at keeping people out, and that things beyond it were not as they should be.
Perrin examined the barrier closely and expressed his concern at the evil seeping through the miasma. After trying to walk through the fog they found they were turned around by magics, and through trial and error the company were able to walk through (backwards) by focusing their will on their goals and ignoring the undead that lurked within. On the other side the company found themselves scattered through the darkness, with dangers lurking in the woodland around them. Screams and shouts drew the company together and caught the attention of a pair of villagers who approached the adventurers tentatively – suspecting a humourless prank played by one of their fellows. But no – there were strangers in the valley.
They approached the group warily, questioning them as to their identity. These peasants had never heard of the Seven or the Knightly Orders – only the Three who keep them safe from harm- from the pointy eared murderers and the bearded evil ones who eat babies out of the crib. At the sight of Gimris they panicked. Eventually the adventurers were able to learn a little of the valley lost to the ages: the people worshipped the gods Sybilla, Hepsulon and Darius – gods living amongst them who sought devotion in blood and service and rewarded through “ascension” at the end of their days. This made the adventurers nervous – only one creature would behave so and these were not gods! Their warnings made the villagers laugh – the strangers were clearly addled in wits – and they directed them on past the guardian and down towards the shrine where Sybilla would likely set them straight.
Down the path they went, being flanked by undead, fighting a death knight set the guard the road deeper into the realm (before Father Robert dismissed it) and came upon a group of villagers watching a skeleton cut down a tree. Nancy struck it down and destroyed it, to their horror. Hepsulon had given the creature to them to help build a new seed barn, and they would not be able to ask their God for another one without risking being damned. And the Damned do suffer so.
After trying to explain to the villagers that they were wrong in their faith in this vampire (but they would not hear them) they continued on. They came to a magical focus and after picking over a puzzle and solving it, fending off waves of undead that came at them from the gloom, knowledge was violently forced into their heads, forcing them to writhe. It taught them the way through the barrier and knowledge of the way out, but it was not a pleasant experience.
Traveling on they encountered villagers offering blood in devotion, a pair of shadows who waylaid them, and a wraith preaching the words of Sybilla. Valtr dismissed the wraith before it had finished its sermon, to the protest of the villagers who had been listening and angering the nightmare that had been lurking behind it. After putting a stop to their nonsense the adventurers climbed a hill up to a shrine to Sybilla, where the memories of the ascended where kept by the physicial presence of their shoes. The priest spoke of the wonders of the Mother, who tends her flock and encourages growth and life, and who grants ascension to the faithful and devout. After trying to talk sense into the priest and his flock of followers things got a little violent. And when it was all over only a few villagers remained cowering at the shrine, praising Sybilla and begging Hepsulon for his protection as their Guardian God. One of their number admitted having had dreams for months of a skull faced deity who was reaching out to them, and Valtr spoke to the man of Kharach and the importance of souls – something they had never heard of before. Souls? What are souls? What use do the Three have for souls?
Fighting through more undead they eventually came to the place of Ascension – where Sybilla greets her most faithful and grants ascension to the worthy with a kiss. She was waiting for them, for the time of ascension was at hand, and she mocked them laughing and set her “pets” upon them. Valtr was bound in a pact against his will, and Nancy and Ivers decided together that they had had enough of meddling vampires. Charging the vampire they tried to stake her, but she turned to mist and fled them, reforming with rage a short way away. They charged her, beat her to the ground and pinned her through the heart with a stake. All that was left was her ashes and the heroes made sure that these would never rise up again.
With one vampire dead and their task completed (they found some texts in the tower) they went back to the Collector and reported their findings. Their hirer was distressed that they had not found the tablet, but was moderately pleased that a vampire had been removed. But the adventurers are intent on going back in to remove Hepsulon and Darius from existence and free the people under their thrall.
And so the fight goes on, on into the darkening nights …