Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Session 57: The Black Graveyard

Sometimes in life the easiest thing to do is to focus on what’s right in front of you. You see an undead dragon flying with what appears to be an undead woman directing it. You know that this is an abomination and cannot stand. The living will not suffer this and must return these things to the soil. Though we were offered no aid from the people of Volodimer's home we knew what are had to do. We had our task in front of us: to save the living and lay the undead to rest.

After dispatching these things we took our rest and recouped our losses. Sadly, a large number of the town folk were slain by the undead. We offered thoughts and prayers for the dead but knew our task was not finished. Time for us to be off to the cemetery to deal with the witches we had been warned of.

I imagine that the cemetery would have been better defended from the witches had it been less than half a day’s journey from the town. What sort of ceremonies do they have for the dead in this town that requires it to be so far away? Regardless, we arrived and set ourselves to the task as night was fast approaching. From a distance we could see that the cemetery was already in disrepair. We thought that we spied a giant skull on a mausoleum but were attacked by two purple worms before we could figure this out. No sooner did these beasts attack than one of them swallowed Werr-Boy. Flint and his mechanized companion have a knack for being made meals of, although they always seem to make it out. Our wizard was able to displace one of the beasts to another plane of existence while we focused our attention on the other worm. Our combined efforts proved to be enough to destroy the worm but not before it sprayed its poison on some of the group. Sick and vomiting we fought on and once the other beast returned to this plane of existence we destroyed that one as well. Our warlock’s patron wasn’t able to protect him and he suffered greatly from the poison spray. Daylight was fading and time was against us but we needed a moment to cure some of the ailments of our group. Flint and Volodimer granted by magical means the feeling of a great rest to the group. Pushing on we entered the dilapidated cemetery. Judging by the surroundings we knew it was only a matter of time before we were set upon by the witches or their undead forces and we weren’t let down. Once again a hodgepodge of bones put together to resemble another creature much larger and potentially more dangerous came to defend their undead masters. Knowing that this was just the start of the creatures that would attack us I decided to save some of my magic for the witches. Galacart, sword in hand, and I, swinging my hammer, ran to engage two of the three creatures. Aided by out allies using ranged attacks we took these things down with great haste.

This place needed a sacrament and I wanted Flint and I to consecrate the grounds. Before we could even discuss this we heard what sounded like teeth grinding. I heard a voice telling me that I killed “her sister”, although I wasn't sure if this was audible to the group or strictly in my head. From some of the expressions on the faces of my companions I thought they may have heard something similar. Assuming the giant skull on the mausoleum was about to open we scattered to one side so as to not be caught off guard by whatever would come out of the mausoleum. Things were not to go so well for us. Three shambling grave mounds sprang up and surrounded the group. Time to steel ourselves for this next and hopefully final battle with the undead. Time will tell if the Gods shine down on us!

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Sessions 55-56: The Witch Fiend Attacks!

Returning to to visit my ancestral village, Amberdale, has been a bittersweet affair. I was excited to hear from my mentor, the esteemed Barondo, but saddened to read of the circumstances surrounding his missive.

With all due haste and concern, my companions and I traveled the many leagues to the bogs and forests of my homeland. As we neared the village perimeter, my heart was a-flutter with the thought of returning from a long journey. However, my elation was shattered when wraiths appeared from the very air and brazenly attacked my companions and I in the middle of the open road. Unforgivable! We made short work of the restless shades and entered the village proper. Heading to the inn, I reunited with Barondo who explained that my family curse was perhaps to blame for the peril now facing the village. It seems that my father’s inadvertent defilement of the hallowed cemetery grounds left a stain of wickedness over the area. Later, a witch worked her unholy magics over the site, opening a rift to dark lands through which all manner of living dead poured. Even as we spoke, Barondo related that, with nightfall, a horde of undead would descend upon the village, intending to drag it down into ruin. With my companions in tow, I resolved to defend my ancestral homelands with my last breath.

With dusk fast approaching, we had little time to see to the village’s defenses. We were able to sequester many of my people in the old keep overlooking the river, while others took refuge in the hallowed grounds of the village temple. While I set about bolstering the innkeeper’s resolve and ensuring that the remaining villagers were able to hide within the inn, my warrior friend worked to rally a defensive force from the able-bodied men of the village. Sadly, my people being an insular lot and he lacking my command of words, the warrior was less successful than I hoped. Still, he was able to provide another defensive structure to protect my people with his magical citadel even if he was not able to convince them to aid in their own defense.

Soon enough, night was upon us. Out of the forest, on the far side of the river, a mob of skeletons, some stained by time and others, the bleached white of new death, shambled forth, intent upon the village. We fell upon the horde with spell, arrow, and hammer. Between the two priests, a host of hammers, rams, chisels, anvils, and other wonders sacred their gods wheeled and buzzed, shattering the magic animating skeletons with every pass. The warlock, meanwhile, called upon his eldritch powers to blast the hordes from existence. High up on the bluff, a newcomer, not of the village but welcome nonetheless, fell upon the undead with his bow. Though the horde seemed endless, their depravity could not stand up to our righteous defense of Amberdale.

Just as we finished the last of the skeletons, we heard screams coming from the inn. Running to investigate, I was horrified to find that a pair of wraiths had managed to sneak behind our lines and decimate the population of inn. Of perhaps a hundred of my people hiding at the inn, only a score survived the wraiths’ onslaught. Though we dispatched them quickly, many a soul were lost to their wickedness.

Sadly, a similar fate awaited the villagers taking refuge in the old keep. Another three wraiths beset them, killing many before we could save them. Luckily, the magic of the warrior’s instant citadel and the sacred grounds of the temple appeared to hold the wraiths at bay. But the loss of so many of my people pains me beyond measure.

I called upon the Rod of Seven Parts to grant me the agility of the wind and took to the air, scouting the nearby area any sign of the witch causing all of this mayhem and death. Unfortunately, though I thought I saw a shadow flicker over the moon, it must have been my imagination for the witch yet eluded my gaze. I did, however, spot a second group undead shuffling through the forest on the way to village. They assembled on the far river bank, preparing sweep over the town and drag all of us down into their unholy existence.

My heart cried out for justice for my people. It was time to take the battle to these wretches. Grasping the dwarf with one hand, I sliced through time and space with the other, creating a door of magic. With the dwarf in tow, I stepped through the gate, bringing us both into the midst of the undead horde. Immediately, my companion crushed one of the gems of his magical helmet and a great wall of fire sprung up before us, laying waste the undead horde and cutting their army in half. Just then, a bolt of lightning streaked into the army’s flank, following the path of the warrior’s magical javelin as it sailed into the air and embedded into one of the skeletons. Meanwhile, the goliath called upon god to unleash a great storm of lightning upon the enemy as he called down bolt after bolt into their midst. Surrounded as we were, the horde of undead clawed, hacked, and bit at the dwarf and I. With a quick word of the arcane tongue, a shield of force interposed itself before their advance. And my dwarven friend, practically carved from the living rock himself, was unfazed by the their attack. Still more arrows and blasts of eldritch power rained down upon the undead from the far side of the river where the warlock, Lynnya, and our mysterious new ally stood.

This horde though was not the simple brood we had dispatched before. These undead were bolstered by their dark master in some way. They were more robust, harder to destroy. And where we failed to destroy them, they were able to sacrifice themselves, detonating in a blast of fel power. Such was the fate of the skeleton impaled by the warrior’s enchanted javelin, and so the javelin itself. The undead behind the wall of fire, smoldering from the flames before them, broke over the wall, crashing over each other to reach the sides of the wall, creating bottlenecks at each end. The two clerics, with spirits once again flitting all about them, channeled the undead through their energy fields, dispatching many of them whilst I felled many a skeleton with a blow from my sword, enchanted as it was to dispatch the undead. Though it was a formidable battle, we, the hand of righteous justice, prevailed against the horde of evil.

Taking a moment to address our wounds following the battle, I heard a woman’s cackling issue from the half shattered skull of one of the defeated skeletons strewed on the banks of the river. Her cackling, mocking and arrogant, told me that this long night was not yet over.

As the mists of midnight rolled over the town, a quartet of osseous abominations emerged from the forest. They looked as though they had been pieced together from the bones of all manner of creature, from horse skulls to bear claws and the hooves of cattle and goats’ horns. The magic pulling them together glowed deep within their bony crevices with a hellish, infernal light.

As the undead constructs marched toward the river, the dwarf crushed another of the gems of his helmet, causing another wall of fire to appear. As before, the abominations, charred but unbowed by the flames, hastened toward the sides of the fiery wall to resume their march. As they rounded the corner of the wall, with the withering of another of the gems, the dwarf unleashed a dazzling display of color and light and rays of power washed over the creatures. Diminished, they yet marched on.

Just then, the shadow I had glimpsed flickering over the moon suddenly made itself manifest. My heart nearly leapt from my chest as a dragon, its wings tattered and bone peeking through cracks and holes in its leathery hide, descended. However, when I saw the crone, wizened and withered, perched between the dragon’s exposed shoulder blades, I felt the fervor of righteousness rise within me, for my enemy had at least made the error of showing herself.

The warlock intoned alien words of power over his sword, causing it to darken with eldritch power. With such a weapon in hand, he leapt forward to attack the abominations still rushing toward us. With the destruction of another of the gems in his helm, the dwarf unleashed another barrage of light and power at the dragon and its master. Despite its size and undead state, the dragon was surprisingly nimble in flight. It thus managed to avoid the most devastating rays of magic that raced toward it, merely being grazed by the magic. The dragon then changed its trajectory, raking its claws across the goliath as it passed. Incensed, the cleric called upon his storm god to rebuke creature for this offense. With a flash of lightning and a clap of thunder, the dragon fell from the sky. It was then that, with another gem of the dwarf’s helm meeting its ultimate end, another blast of radiance erupted toward the dragon. This time, neither the dragon nor the crone would escape the scorching rays of power arcing toward them.

Meanwhile, while we tended to the dragon and the crone, the warrior and our new found ally joined the warlock in dispatching the skeletal constructs bearing down upon us. The battle to come is perilous but, as the righteous hand of fate and law, we must prevail. I will have justice for death of my kinsmen and vengeance for the ruin and destruction this unholy witch has visited upon my ancestral homeland!

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Session 55 prologue: A message arrives

It has been three and a half months since the Abolitionists returned from the cloud giant keep. Volodemir was taking a rare night off from performing at the Golden Cockatrice -- the famous elven bard Aloria was there for a few days, and was every bit as good as her reputation. As the party enjoyed their evening, the door to the inn flew open, and a travel begrimed messenger ran in. "Volodemir! Is Volodemir here? I have a message," he cried. "Hello, I am Volodemir," came the familiar response. "Father Barondo sent me. He needs your help!" The messenger handed a letter to Volodemir. Flint waved a server over to get the messenger a drink while Volodemir began to read.

Dear Volodemir, it is said that the transgressions of the father fall on the son, yet I never thought the desecration your father wrought would fall upon this town so much later, and so terribly. The Black Graveyard has become home to a wretched evil which uses the power of Law to reach through the hole Manchenko rent and summon all matter of monstrosities. Amberdale is sorely beset -- please come with all haste to aid us and redeem your father's failures.

As Volodemir finishes reading, the Abolitionist turn to other, and they begin to discuss what they should do next.