The season turns towards Kharach’s holy day and in Berwickshire there has been an alarming gathering of Kharachians at the Black Order Keep at Firebridge. Concerned and curious, Brigit and Wulfric went to investigate and learnt of a threat to the county that Lord Kharach had sent his messengers to warn about – the thin angular crow-like creatures known as the Corvus. There is an abomination in the county, that is making more abominations that may soon threaten the county. The Black Order, at the warning from their God, has summoned the muster to comb the area on the edge of the Akenwode; and Wulfric and Brigit pull what resources they have to aid the endeavour.
The valley located, the muster called and the Black and Griffin Order made camp at its the edge. Adventurers are summoned and told of the threat they face – a vampire with control over a complex network of organised undead. They were to head into the valley, break this network and get out ahead of the forces of the muster sweeping in to clear out the undead.
Did we mention they also had to scale a cliff too?
The adventurers who answered these summons were:
- Pathfinder Wulfric Treewalker and Ranger Conchobar of the Berwickshire Medium and Scouts Guild;
- Nancy and Red Kent of the Mercenaries Guild;
- Dr Leofrick Llew Kyle of the Physicians Guild;
- Fortescue Everbright of the School of Enchantment;
- Errant Ivers of the Knightly Templar Order;
- High Mother Brigit Wooller, Chaplain Griffin of Crowa; Brother of Kharach;
Following a scout trail to the far edge of the valley the adventurers were met by a holy creature of Kharach before being guided to the cliff face. Here they descended by ropes, Brigit, Wulfric and Fortescue heading down first to form a defensible point whilst the others came down the ropes. There was an awful moment when the rope holding Ivers and Nancy snapped and the pair came tumbling down the cliff, but they were quickly tended to by Dr Kyle and left with nothing more than some bad bruising and wounded pride.
The undead knew they were there, a gathering of Nightmares finding them in the dark and proving tricky to remove, but eventually the company was able to fight their way past their foothold and into Vardy’s realm. They met a necromancer who was reluctantly in Vardy’s employ and learnt more about the network of control that the creature had. A number of Lieutenants roamed the valley, each controlling a number of undead but bowing a knee to the vampire. Warnings were given of all, but the company agreed that to best disrupt the network of control, achieve their objectives and try to minimise losses to the militia was to hit all the Lieutenants as they worked back towards the allied forces.
First on the hit list? A thuggish vampire with a taste for interior decoration …
The woods were filled with creeping horrors that pounced on them, but our heroes battled with them, destroying or banishing them to the dust, and coming at last to the lair of the first of the vampires. They destroyed him and hollowed out his home with fire as Brigit tried to calm and quieten the terrified labourer who had been acting as an all-you-can-eat buffet for the brute. Convincing him to hide himself and wait until morning, Wulfric suggested that if the worst happened they would use the structure as a bolt hole. Then on they hurried, crossing the river and out into the open. A headless terror came at them, and the adventurers recognised the hat and tabard of the dread betrayer Henryk. Nothing could stay the fury of those “friends” he had hurt or turned his back on and they beat him to a bloody pulp until Brother could lay the tormented soul to rest.
Down the way they came upon a strange bridge fashioned by a cobbler that led into the darkness. Alarmed at the auras he could see Fortescue warned against stepping onto the bridge as the religious characters were violently repelled from it at the taint seeping through from beyond. But hearing it led the to Glade of Ages, and desperate to check on his brother, Conchobar forged ahead alone. The way closed up behind him, much to Brigit’s dismay, but the company pulled her along – they had undead to quell!
They hurried on towards a figure doing mischief in the darkness. Interrupting the second necromancer making a ghoul, Fortescue mused over how to break the flow of magical energy that connected the unconcious mage to his creation – having knocked out the necromancer before any blood was shed at the mage’s insistence that a sacrifice was needed for his precious creature. Through magic and the power of Kharach the creature was destroyed and the spell undone, and the party continued on. They came to a bridge that was labelled the Bridge of Entrancement. Alarmed, the party considered who was best able to shrug off the ill effects of an entrancement, given their experiences of dryads and the bad times that had followed … so those with resists hurried on ahead and waited with spells and prayers ready should their friends begin to act strange. Brigit called on her book to lift the effect from Ivers, and everyone seemingly right as rain, they continued on into the darkness. More undead and a mound that kept forging more until Brother laid it to rest – the company seemed to be getting into the swing of destroying undead.
But Fortescue could feel a magical presence in that place, almost as if a way to another realm lay just beneath the surface of reality. He could hear voices, the sound of a battle – was it just his imagination or their paranoia that they had let Conchobar go alone to his death? He wanted to linger, but Wulfric was aware that time was ticking on and the militia needed them to do their job. But as they turned to leave there was a blinding flash and Fortescue cried out in surprise at the blast of magic that set his senses tingling. Dashing off into the undergrowth, Brigit went with him to keep him from breaking his neck and to their relief and horror they found Conchobar lying bleeding against a tree – his left leg missing from below the knee. Binding his wounds the physicians tended to their patient and woke him. He was confused, thinking them shadows in the fae, until Brigit slapped him back to sense. They managed to get him on his foot and limping back towards the others, until he was loaned a staff to act as a crutch to free Brigit for the fight, and they picked their way slowly through the dark. It was slow going, and they were beset by small scuttling fayunds from the shadows, and more than once Brigit found herself and Conchobar far away from the lights of the company with the hissing breath of a fayund echoing in the darkness behind them.
They came upon a stinking mire that was spitting forth undead and some monstrosity that spread a sickness through the company. They were able to lay it low and Brigit was able to cleanse the marsh temporarily to let the company get by and make the trek up the hill towards the lair of the Mourney Werewolf. At the bridge they met some horror and it’s cronies that refused to die, sending many of the party screaming in terror until Brother and Brigit were able to dismiss the tormented soul that caused them the most trouble. Brigit, Ivers and Nancy held a shadowy shape at bay whilst Brother laid it to rest. Cresting the hill Ivers duelled the dead member of the Black Order and recovered his honour sword and tabard. Brigit and Fortescue found a dying Kharachian shrine in the shadow of the tomb, and the others found the remains of the Mummy that had been destroyed by something else … but as they puzzled over what could have done this, Vardy showed up.
He tried to intimidate them as he bandied words with Nancy, but Brigit lifted her holy symbol over her head and, gripping it like a weapon, recalled Chaplain Kelly’s tactic with vampires. Dismiss them. So she did so, Fortescue lifting the malign influence the vampire tried to exert on her, and with a flourish burned through the last of her active to send the creature to the dust. The rest of the party made short work of his minions and surprised at their victory, began to head towards the gathered forces awaiting their return.
But they let their guard down – the fight was not yet done. Undead broke from the ground at their feet, clawing at them from the banks of earth along the path. They were running low of holy power, running low on holy water, on enchants, on everything. Picking up the pace they began to take up skirmish order, beating a path towards the exit and hope. Hope of victory. Hope that would come with the dawn.
Their way was barred by some failed experiment by a necromancer, and once the barrier was brought down and the armour of those closest cooled to the touch, they found the two remaining of Vardy’s Lieutenants – the twins. Two wraiths hunted them mercilessly, choking them and chasing them out of the valley. The Corvus was waiting for them and a plan was swiftly hatched to break whatever control remained over the undead – but they had to draw the wraiths away from their valley towards the place. This involved several adventurers being dragged or pushed, blocked and choked, insults, threats and general tired melodramatics until one of the wraiths was tricked into a half finished circle of lay to rest. The ritual was swiftly completed and the souls sent on, but one remained. It was enticed towards the circle as Brother walked the rite around a suitable focus – luckily a feyund that had appeared at an opportune time, and the final Lieutenant was laid to rest with great solemnity.
Exhausted the company returned to the camp and made report. Brigit, Tungdil and Brother caught what little sleep they could and hurried by swift cart to the Tisa Vale to lend their aid to other endeavours, but this is a tale for another time …
As for the remaining undead? The combined forces of the militia, Black and Griffin Orders and the faithful who had answered Baron Korrell’s call mopped up what few pockets of resistance remained. The County can sleep safe again, until the next dire threat rears it’s ugly head.