The seasons are turning, some leaves on the trees turning from summer green to autumnal golden hues. Mornings are shrouded in mist, and the mellowing season brings a mellowing of ideas. The Underking of Dun Mhurdo wishes to leave behind a legacy as he enters his twilight years, to the grumbling of his people. And the Collector sends another group of adventurers back into the hidden valley.
Monster Mission: The Underking and the K’Ghan
The White Star Orcs have long been a threat to the county, particularly for the Dwarves of Dun Mhurdo. Their Mining Mountain had been infested with Orcs and their allies, the plains before the Halls infested and battles fought in the tunnels and corridors. Dwarves have died. Men and elves have died. And foulspawn have died in their droves.
But in the twilight years of the Underking of Dun Mhurdo, he wishes for peace. The foulspawn have delivered unto the dwarves a gift – countless heads of the Konnish who have been plaguing the county. This gesture of peace and “we cleared up your mess for you” must be answered with a gift. And the Underking has the perfect token of his esteem for this overture of peace. All he needs now are adventurers …
The adventurers who answered the call were:
- Ranger Conchobar of the Berwickshire Medium;
- Dr Leofric Llew Kyle and Dr Pestopheles of the Physicians Guild;
- Guy Lockless of the Blacksmiths Guild;
- Fortescue Everbright of the School of Enchantment; Anduinn Fox of the Guild of Mages;
- Errant Ectar de Vymont of the Knightly Black Order; Gimris Maple Stonehead of the Roses;
- Defender Tungdil Stonehammer of Tralda; Brother Thomas de Vymont of Sidhe;
After meeting with a steward of the Underking they were given a task – to take a gift of an Orcish sword from a member of the High Guard to the K’Ghan, the final point of the White Star, in a gesture of peace. After travelling from near Dun Mhurdo they met with a member of the Underking’s High Guard and a Rolborian priest. The High Guard are both Rolborian and Crowan, echoing the Underking’s faiths, and are reknowned for strength of character and will. As they approached they could hear an angry Dwarf arguing with another who was clearly trying to calm him down. The adventurers were late, and the effect of the Orcish sword on the Dwarf was beginning to take its toll. A pair of dwarves approached, talking to the other two dwarves in earnest and made an attempt to steal the Orcish blade. The adventurers did not take kindly to this, intervened and determined which was the true and false blades. Before the High Guard and his priest travelled back to the Halls for a well deserved drink and a tea break, the priest gave a dire warning – the blade was an Orcish blade and it made people angry; so angry that they may lose control of who they are. So be warned, and make sure to pass the sword around. Share the burden.
Heading towards the agreed meeting point the adventurers soon learned how angry the sword could make them. Mean things were said, tempers were frayed and some seemed to enjoy (at least from a monster’s perspective) the chance to express their angry selves. They met a group of Dwarves who follow “the Prophet” who tried to convince the adventurers to deliver the sword and give the K’Ghan what for, before encountering a group of Orcs who felt the same way – that their leader had gone totally mad and was no longer worthy of their allegiance no matter that he was foretold by the coming of the falling star.
They met a group of travellers who attempted to steal the sword by magicking it away, but the instant relief of Brother Thomas from his rage warned him that something was amiss. They searched the retreating mage and her protectors and found the sword tucked under one of their cloaks. But on the way their journey took a dark turn as they found bodies marked with strange marks. They were harrassed by creatures that had sensed the opening of the fabled vaults in Dun Mhurdo and a magical item having been removed. Gremlins and their dverge pets tried to take “the precious” (and the mages got to “science” a dverge for their entertainment), and a Cobbler with his fae “friends” came seeking the magical item in the hope it might be a shiny hammer. Both groups were sadly disappointed and prevented from taking the sword, and eventually the companions reached the meeting place.
The K’Ghan, or rather his representative, stood waiting for them with his assembled minions. The adventurers heard his hope for peace, for a home of their own and a place for foulspawn within the promised land. Defender Tungdil took up the sword and offered it to the K’Ghan with his usual blunt honesty and Traldan humour, and the groups parted company – with the smallest chance that this seed of peace might grow, in time, into something more. Or not, its all a matter of politics now.
Player Mission: The Creator and Protector, the Maker and Breaker.
The Collector seeks adventurers to go back into the “hidden” valley and he has no shortage of volunteers. Surprised at the interest, he meets the adventurers and lays out his desires – for knowledge on or return of texts and manuscripts, in particular a stone tablet. This is all very well and good, but many of the company only want to get back in, to go and kick in a vampire or two.
These adventurers were:
- Pathfinder Wulfric Treewalker of the Scouts Guild and Berwickshire Medium;
- Nancy Goodfellow, Red Kent and Reynauld of the Mercenaries Guild;
- Perrin and Mara of the Mages Guild;
- Errant Ivers of the Templar Order;
- High Mother Brigit Wooller of Crowa, Chaplain to the Griffin Order and Brother Trevelyan of Crowa; High Father Ezekiel Wheeler of Vleybor; Father Robert Eddlemann of Sidhe; Valtr of Kharach;
Setting out, they came to the veil that shrouds the valley and members of the company who had crossed through before gave the others an update on what to expect. Forging a path through they came out to an unexpected sight of a line of automata bearing a sign that praised their creator Hepsulon, their protector Hepsulon, their “god”. The adventurers were not awed or amazed and methodically took the automata to pieces. They followed the path known to lead to Hepsulon’s realm and met a group of the Damned who were moving the bodies of people killed by followers of Theseven who had done terrible things (the list becoming ever longer and more embellished with each retelling). Some of the company came to realise they were referring to followers of “The Seven” and Brigit took Nancy, Ivers and Trevellyan aside for a stern talk about what they had done the last time they had come through here. Valtr, wheezing and coughing, was adamant he must lay the souls of the dead to rest and a scuffle broke out as the Damned saw the figure in black as interfering with their work. Members of the company stepped between the groups and eventually were able to convince them that Valtr in fact was doing nothing to the bodies, so it was of little consequence and harm to let him do his work. This seemed to puzzle the Damned, but they let him continue. Before they left a fail young woman approached Brigit warily and asked about how she could leave this place. Looking about to make sure they were not being watched, Brigit led the girl back to the Veil and gave her instructions of how to find safety on the other side – ready to leap to her defence if needs be. Her other companions eventually followed her through – fearing more what Hepsulon would do to them for losing her than what lay beyond the safety of their valley – and Brigit urged the company on.
More automata lined the path and activated as the adventurers tried to bypass them. Leading them off into the woods the Pathfinder was able to thin their numbers and the rest of the group worked from one to the next to get rid of the mechanical men. Then on the crest of a rise stood a number of figures in Templar livery with a mummy standing shoulder to shoulder with the dead. As it raised a hand Valtr gathered his strength and destroyed it. The Death Knight in livery raised its mace and challenged Ivers, who stepped forward to meet it. As they duelled Brigit interfered by healing Ivers, to her shame, and Ivers was able to free to spirit of the Knight from his deathless existence whilst the others jobbed the remaining skeletons. At the destruction of the Knight two ghosts formed before them – a Knight of the Temple and a Sidhean priest who spoke of their journey into the Valley some hundred years before to bring the light of the Seven to the people. They had brought relics and texts with them in the hope of making a shrine, but alas they had been unsuccessful and had been trapped in the space between life and death. Valtr freed them from their torment and they left, and the adventurers went undead hunting. As a group found a strange trapped circle that let people pass in but with no escape, Brigit and Trevelyan formed a line of defence. Armed with holy water and an enchanted blade they kept zombies and creatures at bay, Brigit dismissing a Ghoul with her Lady’s power. A cry came up from the trapped circle and Brigit rallied to their aid when the nature of the circle became clear and helped Nancy and Ivers destroy another Templar Death Knight.
However, now a great number of the group were trapped in the circle which contained a jumble of bones and bottles of “parts” and a locked box. After cleansing the area and laying the bones to rest, and then putting together the bits to make some form of person, Ivers knelt in prayer to beseech aid and realisation came upon her that the answer was directly before her. This ended in her opening a bottle that contained parts of something’s digestive tract and, amidst vomiting herself, was able to fish out a small key. The Templar had swallowed it! Unlocking the box they found a stash of Templar trinkets and some wealth and a relic of the Order – a Vleyborian Cross bedecked in purity seals that was later explained to be a focal point for many Errants in the days of old when upon their quests.
Continuing on they came down to a place where the dead bodies ferried by the Damned were being cut up for parts by others – a sight which made Brigit queasy. Valtr raged at the desecration of the bodies and was knocked out for his own safety as the other priests tried to reason with the people. When they heard they followed The Seven (or Theseven as they kept referring to “him”) the people quailed in fear and refused to heed the orders of their supervisor (who was then knocked out for threatening an adventurer before his own people saw to his demise). Brigit and Ezekiel reasoned with the people and all were eventually able to pass on – with a group of people agreeing to wait to see who was going to win in the inevitable battle that would come with Hepsulon or the heroes as to whether they would leave or not. A mound of bodies formed an arch around another magical circle, in which limped animated corpses around a skull. They swarmed at the living bodies on the edge of their space but could not pass beyond the magic, but there was no way round and someone was about to do something stupid …
Without much warning Wulfric leapt into the circle and rushed to the far side, to rebound off the edge of the magical barrier and back into the ravenous horde. Brigit launched herself after him, refusing to let him fight alone as the rest of the company cried out in horror. Their backs against the barrier they fought shoulder to shoulder – Brigit fending off blows and forging a bit of breathing space around them as Wulfric tried to regain his footing. Spotting the skull Brigit cried out to Crowa and Tralda, dashed forward as their companions breached the circle, swung her sword and smashed the skull. Knocked off her feet in the resultant explosion of magic and bone, Brigit was a tattered heap on the floor and many others were knocked off their feet – but the magic was ended and Wulfric found himself flat on his back, looking up at the sky and laughing. Brigit was patched up and brought round with a stinging head and the usual question of “did it work?” before they dusted themselves off and limped on.
An overseer was punishing a pair of Damned, and the heroes put a stop to it. Finding the keys by luck they were able to free the prisoners who had been bound to Hepsulon for judgement, and Brigit did a little physicianing with drugs, water and an apple to ease the discomfort of these poor souls. They agreed to help the heroes find Hepsulon, but for one of them the going was too hard because of his torments and after fighting some more undead (tactical holy water!) High Father Ezekiel placed the poor soul in deathsleep and his body placed somewhere safe to be collected on their return home. Fighting their way on they eventually came to Hepsulon’s lair where his steward greeted them and passed on a message from his master – for the heroes to go home. This did not satisfy the adventurers and they kicked up enough of a fuss for the Vampire “god” to demand them to leave himself from behind his cohort of minions. A fight broke out (surprise surprise!) and the heroes fought their way towards their goal and destroyed him, though not until after he had bitten Trevelyan. Brigit cleansed her student and treated the pollution of his soul and went to ask Valtr if he could do something about the Vampire to find the elderly priest struggling to walk, coughing and wheezing before he collapsed to the floor. This had happened before and Brigit tried to determine where he was wounded, concerned that he had been too sick to even be travelling, let alone fighting undead. It seemed he was on his last legs and as she tried to find something to help him, he told her frankly that his time was up and he was willing to go on to his Lord and his late wife. Taking her by the hand he passed her a sealed document for Ivers and gasped out his final words. Weeping Brigit listened and did not leave his side until he was gone. Then she gave Ivers the message. With the help of Ezekiel and Trevelyan the three of them were able to lessen the vampiric taint that laid over the ashes and the last victim of the vampire, and the group returned soberly to their hirer to deliver their report.
The second of the three is dead, and the probable location of the Collector’s prize has been guessed. Many of the company are eager to return to put an end to Darius’s existence, and the Collector is eager to get his hands on the tablet he long has sought.