A Coming Age of Dark

Session 9

When the adventurer’s came across Ross and I we had already been surrounded by the living dead. We had the situation under control, but some scaly lady started yelling about Bahomelettes or something and all 10 of the zombies just crumbled to dust. I don’t know how it happened but I wish she had done it before one of the zombies got a bite out of my shoulder.

We all stood around looking at each other for a few minutes like idiots. A small, loud one tried to take command of the situation, but was quickly put in his place. He clearly had been raised with no discipline. I remained silent. I’m not sure if this strange party can be trusted yet. They have a half elf tossed over a horse like a side of meat. Dead or unconscious I’m not sure.

Ross, more trusting than I, was happier for the conversation. I guess traveling with a panther and me wasn’t much for stimulation discussions. The beast took a shine to them too. Rubbed up against the short, bloody one like he was a scratching post. Typical. That cat is more pet than predator.

The skinny, horned one tried to get some information out of us about where we were going or where we were from. Ross offered her own story up, but I didn’t see a need. Shouldn’t make a lick of difference to them who I am. I’ll be out of here and back to the monastery soon enough.

While everyone was gawking a group of rich looking vampires sulked in behind us. Their leader was wearing black and red. Vampires love to fulfill their own stereotypes. He offered us a greeting, telling us that his master wanted to invite us to dinner and had an offer of some kind. I don’t have any interest in closing demon portals, but a place to sleep tonight was not an unwelcome idea. Those who sleep outside in Shadowvale tend to sleep much longer than they intended. The scaly one had cast a zone of truth, so we took the vampire at his word. She may be useful to keep around, as long as she’ll stop babbling about her lord and savior.

The castle we were brought to was cool and stone, a welcome reminder of home, but the damn vampires surround themselves in velvet and gems. Needless opulence. I am offered a plush bed, but I use the stone floor to meditate instead. Soft living makes soft men.

The human bard seemed infatuated with a servant girl. She seemed very plain to me. I do not understand the attraction. The young one who travels with him started some rhyming chant. I wonder if he was attempting to cast a spell.

At dinner, the fools stuffed themselves with rich, heavy food. All they’ll be ready for now is a nap not a fight. The master of the house, Lord Vikerns, seemed content to watch my companions stuff themselves like pigs being fattened for the slaughter while he drank some poor sap’s blood from a crystal glass. I have gone days without food before and I will do so again. I will not fall prey to these temptations.

Vikerns told us a story of his rivalry with “Frampt the Betrayer” a local Lich king. He wanted us to kill Frampt for him. I was curious. Frampt seemed to be a powerful being. Perhaps powerful enough to help me in my battle. He also possessed some sort of containment device that my strange companions were looking for. The wizard tried to haggle, unsuccessfully, for a large amount of gold, but they eventually accepted.

We were told that only magical weapons would harm the lich, so our host had all of our weapons enchanted temporarily with some sort of fire spell, even my claw. It felt strange and hot against my wrist. The Vampire Knights escorted us to the entrance of the caves where we were told the Lich “lived”. The Vampires quickly vanished, afraid of some kind of “sunlight spear”. The cowardly dead that fear death have no place with us anyway.

As we walk down into the cave we notice that there are scrapes and gouges on ground where large objects have been dragged into the cave. Further down we find burned books and boxes of old magical materials. They seem to be ruined, but the wizard wastes time digging around them anyway. I cannot imagine power requiring all these frivilous objects and materials. If a power does not come from inside, what use is it? I supposed those without the patience and willpower to harness their ki must resort to other less. . . desirable means.

Once the darkness fully engulfs us, we see a large room with four sarcophagi on raised platforms on either end of the room. We stand on one platform and a pit full of gold, armor, and other offerings separates us from the other. A raspy voice commanded us to leave at once. The voice didn’t sway anyone’s resolve. As we pushed forward all four sarcophagi slid open and 4 decrepit undead soldiers climbed out.

We fended them off, but I blacked out at once point. I saw black, a flash of light, and then felt the life return to my body. No matter, the fight continued. The zombies were defeated. My fury of blows slayed the first. A blow from the Dragonborn’s radient hammer smashed the second. The third was torn to shreds by a Chromatic orb of fire from the Wizard. And the final one was pierced with flaming arrows from the Rogue.

Our party trudged through the see of metal in the middle of the room towards the platform on the other side. There was a door there, which we discovered had a poison trap on the door handle. Unconcerned I opened it with my claw. Sometimes no having a fleshy hand is helpful. Inside the small room we found another, larger sarcophagus. While we struggled to open the lid, Frampt the Betrayer appeared behind us. The tattered robes and tattered flesh hung from his body. He offered us our lives to leave the place. The rogue stabbed him before anyone could respond.

The Lich was powerful, no doubt. But he was no match for my companions and myself. He stunned, he blinded, and he cursed. But when all was said and done, the Dragonborn took his head clean off with her hammer. An inspired strike if I ever saw one. Many of us were wounded, but as a group we lifted the lid off the sarcophagus. Inside we found a black orb which cast no shadow. His spirit seem to reside inside the orb. He was trapped. We also found the spear those Vampires were so afraid of. The Dragonborn decided to take it, though it seemed to be made from the bones of her ancestors. Not a squeamish one, that’s good. A powerful weapon is worth having on our side.

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Session 8
Durga sure gets around.

So we lost Delg.

Heard that ’portal’s opening’ noise coming from below decks. Got down in time to see old Fancypants getting sucked in. The kinder parts of our little cadre tried to hang on to his legs; wound up cutting the stonesucker in half when the gate shut. Pants got less fancy. It was kind of funny.

Besides, if he was headed where I wound up going, the less of him headed there, the better. Jerry went running off, of course. Terrible reactions. Found him next to some other human. Like rats. Keep finding them everywhere.

Least we didn’t keep this one for long. Brain spiders came back. Tried to take Ryll. Wasn’t happy about that. Came downstairs, watched one of them turn New Human into a squidhead. Made some holes. Died the same.

Old Human got us to the borders of Shadowvale. Some kind of keep filled with some kind of Spellswords. Horns turned me invisible, had me scout the place out. Seemed spooked, jittery. Got the lay of the place, came back to the party. That what we are now, a party? Huh.

We rolled in right and proper. Like usual, the brands got us attention… and passage. Met with Stolas, another hornhead. Ikos got a little happy at that. Turns out there was a murder on the grounds not too long ago. Sounded fishy. She asked if we could look into it. May as well.

We all had our jobs. Strings put on a show. May be a human, but he’s got his uses. Ryll and Teeth went to interview the survivor. Horns stayed to chat up the Commander. I went to look at the killer’s bunk. Suits me. Don’t have to talk.

Didn’t like what I found. Demon stuff. Carcosa stuff. Put all the pieces together, and it all pointed in the same direction. Figured it was time to talk to the murderer.

These other guys, they wear the brand. They don’t know what it means. Not like I do. They heard about Carcosa from that yellow bastard. They don’t know what it’s like. Not like I do. Not like half of Delg does. I saw this killer, he knew.

We talked. Talked Carcosa. Talked Durga. Showed me another angle. Shined another light.

I get it now. Kill, get stronger. Simple. I get it. What’s coming is strong. We want to stop it, we need to get stronger. We need to kill.

I like it. Simple.

Left the human where he was. His part’s done. We’re all playing the game now. Time we keep playing. Make some holes.

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Session 7
Convert the Heathens!

Oh, praise be! Praise be! Thank you dear lord, the almighty Bahamut! You are Great!! You are Good! I live to serve you, and I am humbled by your being. I pray that you are pleased with me. I have been spreading your Word to the masses. I find that many people are eager to hear of your greatness. They have been more than willing to commit themselves to you. A whole town found themselves to be born again Bahamuthiasts! I bet you’re wondering how I managed such a feat.. I’ve been traveling with this group of wingless heathens. We came upon this strange town, where all the people were worshiping a false idol, the “King in Yellow.” To make a long story short, we ended up under the town’s temple on a quest to free the town of it’s yellow madness. We fought a yummy looking squid fellow who was torturing a nice lad, Daryl Free. We helped Daryl live up to his name by defeating his captor and welcoming him into our merry band of ….heathens (I promise you Lord, I am working on converting them, they would make worthy servants to your greatness).

We continued through the tunnels under the Temple and came upon a library. Strange place for a library, if you ask me. Seems a bit moldy. The books were being kept by another squidman. This one seemed a bit nicer than the last. Perhaps he is just indifferent. Either way, we did not have to battle him. Instead, he pointed us in the direction of the Yellow King. We entered the king’s hall, where we found two rows of enslaved beings undergoing water torture. At the end of the room stood the King in Yellow. Most of the travelers in the party had the instinct to free the poor captured souls, and we noticed the Yellow King weakening as we did this. Unfortunately, the evil little man Rook thought it’d be faster to kill them instead of freeing them. This had the negative effect of granting the King in Yellow more power. Foolish Gnome! Doesn’t he know it always pays to be good?! Perhaps he is a lost cause. But not as lost as the one they call Ikos the Weak. He is truly a strange, demonic one. He spent most of the fight with his fingers up one of the poor soul’s arsehole. Try as he might to free the man, his finger just kept going deeper. As he was fulfilling some sort of sick, dominatrix fantasy of his, the rest of us surrounded the King in Yellow and successfully defeated him. I was the one to lay the final blow, smashing the fool’s head in with my warhammer.

With the king down, our perceived reality seemed to melt away, and we were back in the temple again. The floor tiles, yellow when we first arrived, were back to their original marble white. The townsfolk were free of the Yellow King’s enchantment. Everyone, especially the priest who had devoted himself to the yellow son of a bitch, seemed lost. Before they could fill the hole the Yellow King left in their souls with their old Sun God, I stepped in and told them of your Greatness and Warmth. That is how I converted a whole town to serve you. And who better to lead these new worshipers, than my loyal Ricky. The lord taketh away his manhood, the lord giveth it back, and that’s how you make a true believer (perhaps I should not convert too many subjects in this way, even if it is wonderfully effective).

And that’s when she came back into my life. Sweet Sister Justice, with her majestic wings. Real wings. Real, beautiful, functional wings. Can I get an amen?! AMEN! She came from my temple to check in on how I was doing. I am very pleased she saw me convert a whole town. The elders in my temple must be so proud, and surely not at all shocked. They picked me for this mission for a reason. They knew I would get the job done, and spread the good word of Bahamut.

I must go now, I believe it is my turn to row. We are currently traveling down a river in the Marshes of Madness, guided by Guy Ed. I do not trust this place. So far we have seen statues with obscene expressions coming from their nether regions, and one eyed, brain spider creatures who fear the fire. Thank the Good Lord Bahamut that they fear the fire.

Praise be! Your devoted follower,

Kava

Amen.

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Session 6
Turning Yellow

There I was working out the last kinks of my sleep spell; watching Lance talk to himself in his sleep. That’s when I heard the sound, a sound I’ve heard far too many times. A sound that pulled me back to childhood. An abyssal portal opened over Rook’s sleeping body and pulled him through before he knew what was happening. It all happened so fast, there was nothing any of us still awake could do. We did our best to track down an animal for sacrifice, a key component in the ritual to reopen such a portal, but without Rook’s hunting abilities even that simple task was too much for us. All the animals fled the area, terrified by the horrible sound of the portal opening. Delg did his best to complete the ritual, but I knew none of us had what it takes to open up a portal of that magnitude. Reluctantly we moved on, hoping to find another way to pull Rook from the abyss.

While making our way south, we came across the band of slavers we had heard tell of the day before. They had blockaded the bridge we needed to cross to continue our journey. Upon seeing them, we realized there was going to be no diplomatic resolution of the situation, especially with Kava’s well documented zeal to bring evil to justice. We made quick work of the enemy, with the exception of their chief, who had a penchant for rude hand gestures. Also remaining, was their magicker, whom we were hoping would shed some light on the abyssal portals appearing around the area. After the chief was finally cast into the raging river below, we turned our attention to the magicker. He received a grizzly wound to his manhood, courtesy of Kava’s javelin. In exchange for a gentle “lay on hands” to repair his dick we found out that his band of slavers was in possession of a boat in the nearby town of Dunwich. Despite some of the group’s reluctance, he tagged along with us as a new disciple of Kava’s weird ass dragon religion. We made hast for Dunwich, as a ship could come into great use on our journey south.

After arriving in Dunwich, we made our way to the port to inspect the ship. On our way their, we came across a group of sun worshiping Paladins. They told us of a new splinter religion that had taken over the town, pushing them out. We agreed to help investigate this new religion that had turned the town upside down. Upon arriving at the docks, we spoke with a peg legged man in charge of the ships. He was a zealous member of this new religion, and invited us to attend a service at the temple. We left our captured slaver and that little shit Jimmy on the boat and made our way into town.

We were told that once the temple was of white marble, but had turned a bright yellow through some sorcery. As to not raise suspicion within the congregation, I cast invisibility upon myself to keep an eye on our ragtag party. The service was run by a charismatic preacher named Father Chambers. Other than the odd insistence on all things dandelion, he did not seem any more dangerous than any other local demagogue.

After the service, away from the prying eyes of the congregation, we did a little investigating around the temple. When Delg made the Sigil of Sacrifice, a tunnel appeared. We followed it into the underbelly of the temple. The chamber we discovered seemed to defy the laws of physics. Staircases littered the walls and ceilings. As we traversed the area we lost sight of what was up and what was down. We came upon a bridge and while crossing we noticed another group of travelers in the distance, crossing a bridge similar to our own. As we continued deeper into the cavernous space, we came upon a most horrific looking creature playing a dissonant sort of music. We attempted to communicate, but could not reach an understanding. We began to suspect this creature was the cause of the town’s obsession with yellow. When Delg showed the creature a sigil, the creature lost its mind and began to attack us. Thankfully, my companions were able to defeat it before I was suffocated to death. Upon the creature’s death, several statues and paintings on its likeness fell to dust.

We were eager to reach the surface to see if perhaps the town had regained some normalcy, but as we made our way across a set of twin bridges, we were attacked by two terrifying creatures. It made me reveal my most shameful, darkest secret from childhood. We were just able to defeat the creatures and remain standing on the bridge, when an army of the same creatures appeared behind us, blocking our way back. So we ran, with the bridge collapsing beneath us. For now we rest, still remaining in this forsaken labyrinth.

Ikos

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Session 6a
Well. That took a turn.

Woke up to the sound of a portal opening. Must have been one of those spaceholes Ryll was talking about, one of those holes we sent Gary through. I feel a little bad. It wasn’t pleasant.

Woke up to a dark forest with a yellow sky. Two suns, two moons. Whole place smelled like rot. A lot of prisoners chained up to the trees, left for dead. All of them branded. Asked one of them where we were, who had done this to them. Mentioned Hunters. I traded him an arrow for his time.

Didn’t take long for one of these Hunters to show up. Rough, ashy skin, human-sized. Had a brand on his chest, little different from ours. Found a tree to hide in while he plucked one of the gibberers and dragged her out to a cliffside. I waited until he’d split her and started sorting out her innards before I started putting holes in him. Another portal popped open while I was putting the Hunter down; spat out a halfling brandbearer named Yvette. Glad to see I wasn’t the only one new in town.

She was handy with a sword, but not handy enough to put up against the hounds and Hunters hot on our heels. I spiked a couple of ropes down the cliff, cutting ties before they could get to us. Problem was, only way down was into a lake. Wasn’t pleasant. Thick. Smelled like mold and a rat, three days dead in a sunny swamp. We made it across, just barely. The halfling pulled me through at the end.

We took the time to rest up before setting into the city. Odd place. Didn’t feel right. Lots of tall towers with flying ships up above. Lots of vultures circling the joint. Not a lot of action in the streets, just bodies. Old bodies, fresh bodies, more with the brand than I could count. Yvette and I, we stuck to the shadows, picking our way through, looking for answers. Or maybe just a way to get the hell out.

We found an elf instead. Chained up around a bunch of bodies, skin split right off ‘em. Locks were easy enough to pick. Said she’d been taken by vulturemen. One of them came after us, so I guess she was telling the truth. Took his spear after we poked a few holes in him.

Tatiana had the Touch, so she was our best bet at finding a way out of this sulfur-smelling bonepile. We posted up for a few hours in the baseline of one of the spires, resting up for what was bound to be a hard climb. The elf said the place was named Carcosa, that she’d been stuck here a couple of months. She was branded, just like us. Hunted, just like us. Wanted out, just like us.

The three of us made it to the central tower well enough. Had to sneak around some giant reptile thing and a bunch of vulturemen to get there, but between me knowing how to keep a head down and a little darkness on the elf’s part, we made it to the door. Halfling stumbled a little, but I pulled her through. We were even. Ring of corpses kept the birdmen out. Seems like corpsemeat’s the running currency on magic ’round these parts.

Meat and blood. Took a little smear of mine to get the door open (having a magicker around’s handy for all this eldritch shit), and in we rolled to the tallest spire in Carcosa. Bunch of glowing runes in the wall, some familiar, some not. Brand started itching. Levitator worked just fine, though.

Caught some skull-headed knight on the way to the top. Seen a lot of things on the road since we left Sen’s Rest, but they all seem to go down if you hit ’em enough times. Tin Can was no different.

Brand started bleeding once we got to the top. Lots of whispers, lots of crazy. Yvette couldn’t handle it for a minute, needed Tatiana to talk her down. Couldn’t really go back now, so we climbed some stairs and got to the roof.

Found out what’s been causing all these wormholes. Big mad-looking god chained up at the top. Looked like a turtle bird. Didn’t have long to admire the view before the elf turned on us. Took me longer than I wanted to get clear of her blindspot, and when I did, she was elbow deep in Yvette’s face.

Needed us for a ritual, she said. Going to summon a tombship and travel home, she said. She was sorry, she said.

I wasn’t.

Poked a couple holes, she stopped trying to get up. This one was a good one. Felt that hotness at the back of the neck, the ringing in my ears. Skin popped right off her at the end, something funny this toothpick does when it offs someone. Made it easy to trim off her face and finish her ritual. Big floaty ship swung in, door started screaming at me, and poof, here I am.

So that’s what I’ve been doing. What’s been up with you? And who’s the new robe?

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Session 5
Strange new bedfellows

Excerpt from Delg’s memoirs, accounting events proceeding contact with the Phylactery. Dictated but not read

Arbiter Delg of clan Ungart. During his 280th year, 5th lunar waxing of the yearly cycle.

The orb! It glows with subtle light and swirling fogs, a voice reached out to me through the device.

The mysterious Moonlight Cabal sent message through the orb of scrying via member Devon de Franco. He told of far traveled adventurers; kindred in spirit to the like of the ragtag group I had been a party to thus far in the events surrounding the demonic upheaval.

We set forth to make inquiries.

Located in the lesser in fortune part of New Bastion we came upon a dreadful dive catering to sailors and ilk of similar nature. Whereupon Lance deemed it necessary to proffer up his art and was seemingly accused of attempted theft. To this day I can’t believe those mongrels would try to thrust such a travesty upon a well known philanthropist to the young.

To my surprise a tiefling chap (with a guise most dubious to our agenda at hand) was set off by his lonesome on the stair, removed from the crowd. After an awkward introduction and subsequent interruption by a frightfully resplendent dragonborn warrior of faith. We made do with an almost begrudging camaraderie from the wizened former and an enthusiastic acceptance of duty from the lady latter. Though they seem to mistrust each other as the citizens seem to mistrust them singly we set off as a whole into the south seeking glory, justice, and if not fortune maybe some leisure gold.

Adventure upon the road ensued.

We started our journey across the countryside. Relying upon Rook and Ryll to ensure our safe passage and keep our heading true Rook came upon a gaggle of goblins on the road. Before we could react Rook took to the shadows or bushes or some such, can be difficult to keep and eye on those shifty gnomes when you need to. Though we were informed of the situation via Ryll who seems to keep a cooler head between actual physical threats.

We attempted to take them unawares.

Kava, Ikos, Ryll, Lance and myself, positioned upon the road waited for Rook to make an opening move. Somehow we always seem to either misplace or leave the lad Jerry unattended when the danger comes forth. Well to the point Rook opened with his bow while Lance got his Lute (of all things) prepared. Whatever some say of what I can do and it being unnatural or unsafe, whathaveyou. That bard does some randy odd things with music, with a mere song he seemed to soothe the fight right out of half of those goblins.

A fight ensued, danger, blood, fire, magic, heartbreak, you know the typical roadside brawl of good pitted against the thralls of evil. Whereupon we came up victorious in avengeance for the caravan folk and their odd beasts of burden, probably horses, but you know how nasty a those goblins can be to livestock.

A meager amount of gold recovered from the scrawny buggers and a flask of water-breathing or some such nonsense.

After we made more headway on our journey we entered another small village as one does out in the wilderness. The purchase of some horses were made with a bit of dickering with the locals. my fine shoes were spared the rigors of the road and our variance in height seems to be less an issue in conjunction to walking speed.

And thus we found our merry band on the road again, we just couldn’t wait to be, on the road again. Going places we have yet to been, see the wonders we may never see again. Almost as a gypsies along the highway, good friends, keeping the world turning our way, not the way of demons. Lance making music with his friends. We were on the road again.

The true troubles were just starting but we couldn’t wait to be on the road again.

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Session 4
Woe in a Borough

Excerpt from Delg’s memoirs, accounting events proceeding contact with the Phylactery. Dictated and read. Withheld mumbling and inarticulate rambling. (scribes note)Segments may be redacted in accordance to current treaties between sovereigns. (scribes note)The old codger seemed to have confused some things chronologically.

Arbiter Delg of clan Ungart. During his 280th year, 5th lunar waxing of the yearly cycle.

Shortly after our fierce encounter with the ferocious owlbear. Yes owl-bear, bear-owls are an entirely different set of circumstances. Our journey landed us at the gates of New Bastion. And what a relief to be in civilization again after the dreary road, ah the markets, the people, refined conversation on more than just the portent of clouds. Yes those sad dismal country folk, how i tried to do right by them. ….
(he seemed to drift off to sleep)
…Well you see as soon as we entered New Bastion I got right down to the business of offloading Jerry into a more appropriate caregiver. As you may be aware if you’re familiar with the rest f the tale, this came to little fruition. His family was dead, Rook and bandits did in for the Aunt(mumbles in thought) something I can’t seem to recall her name. The Sun worshipers were unwilling to oversee a child marked as he was so he stayed on.

I made my way over to Lord Harington’s fiance, whom was supposed to further the plot in this demons tale. The Lady Rhosann Lewis a highly (respectable) woman, was in a bit of a flutter when we arrived dealing with the aftermath of an apparent murder. One of her personal guard was cut down on the estate grounds not a overlader swallows flight from the (good) Ladies own rooms.

An investigation ensued

We came upon a graveyard at the end of the trail where we questioned the gravedigger. A loathsome little (Gnome), he openly admitted to robbing the deceased. Forthwith was reported to the New Bastion guard and reprimanded. Our investigation lead to a grave and a name.

We returned to the Lewis estate where Rhosann and Lance were becoming well and good friends. We inquired about the grave and trail. The Lady was not forthright with information but one of Lance’s refrains and she spilled the truth upon us. She had been keeping company with those she should not have been, bearing the mark that our group had acquired. The Mark of Sacrifice. it had been haunting and hunting her.

That night we set a trap to try and end the suffering.

Hiding Rhosann in the closet, Ryll took her place in the bed while Lance, Rook and Myself were positioned by the door, on the terrace and under the bed respectfully. We were set upon by a Revenant. The ghastly undead creature almost put Lance down, shrugged off many a weapon attack and bulled straight through us ultimatley slaying Rhosann Lewis.

Mourning and morning followed

One of those nights we contacted the Moonlight Cabal. Shady little coterie knowing some information on some of the more forbidden aspects of the Art. I was presented with a Scying Orb and we were set out on a quest to put and end to an ensuing apocalypse of demonic catastrophe. Due to the nature of the knowledge and some of the faces of the group I am resigned to leave any persons of association anonymous.

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Session 3
Marked

The last few days have been…inauspicious, to say the least.

Fortune finds me taking to the road again, this time with companions. It is not my custom to travel with others, but, under the circumstances, it is necessary. One of them is my steadfast comrade in solitude, Rook the Gnome…though it should be noted that it is his actions that seem to have gotten me into this mess to begin with. But, arguably, our current predicament was unavoidable, unless we wished to allow unnatural evils to manifest in our beloved wood.

But perhaps the beginning would be…well, a better place to begin.

After we fought and bested the bewitched suit of armor, we returned to Sen’s Rest, where Rook urged Village Elder Gary and his small son Jerry to join us for another foray into the ruins. Rook’s motives were unclear to me, and, when I questioned him regarding them, his answer proved vague.

Upon reaching the ruins, we discovered in their depths a large tear in the fabric of space and time, much like those I have happened upon of late here and there in my wanderings. It was only then that Rook’s intent became clear. As the rest of us watched, helpless to intervene, he sacrificed Gary to the portal, dooming the Village Elder to a ghastly and most undignified end, which his young son had the great misfortune to witness.

When questioned regarding his actions, Rook stated that they were necessary to banish the demon that dwelt in the portal and thereby restore balance to the wood. While the Gnome’s efforts did accomplish these things, I cannot condone his means, and I did tell him as much. I also asserted that the orphaned Jerry, who has seen only seven summers, is now our responsibility. Rook did not agree, but Delg the Arbiter, whom I judge to be most upright for a Dwarf, did support me in this.

Soon after these events, Rook, Jerry, and myself became aware that strange and identical markings had appeared upon our persons—mine on my left palm, Rook’s on his neck, and the child’s on his lower back above and betwixt the buttocks. (Delg already bore such a mark, for reasons unknown.) When Rook and I consulted Illya the Mad regarding this phenomenon, she referred to the marks as the “Brand of Sacrifice,” and advised that fell things will be drawn to us so long as we bear them.

Delg, meanwhile, counseled the now-leaderless people of Sen’s Rest to elect a new interim village elder by popular vote. We then set out for Rachdale to report to Lord Harington regarding the fate of his vassal, as well as to deliver young Gary into the custody of his aunt who was said to dwell in that town. But upon arriving in Rachdale, we learned the boy’s aunt is no longer among the living. Lord Harington, whom I judge to be a kind and reasonably wise man, volunteered to take on the boy as a squire.

After Rook and I consulted with local mages regarding the Brand of Sacrifice and learned that one other—a hermit who makes his home in Everwinter—is known to bear it, Rook took to the woods surrounding the city, citing a fear that Harington would discover his role in the death of Gary—which was well. Upon my return to Harington’s dwelling, his lordship’s questioning did lead to such a discovery, and I was quick to note that, while I didn’t agree with Rook’s actions, the Gnome only did what he felt was necessary to prevent a great evil from entering this world.

Too, before his departure, Rook had brought to my attention the fact that Jerry’s brand would surely bring calamity on the house of Harington. I conveyed this to Harington himself and credited Rook with having shown concern for the well-being of the lord and his house. Harington, understandably, felt he could not shelter the boy under the circumstances, but he was compelled to show mercy to Rook, and declared that, so long as Rook is never caught within Rachdale’s city walls, the Gnome might go in peace.

After a night of Harington’s hospitality, and with young Jerry in our keeping, we set out for New Bastion, where Harington advised we might prevail upon his fiancée, Rhosann, for accommodations. We have nearly reached the city as of this writing and plan to seek further knowledge of the Brand from the mages who dwell within its walls.

We did meet and best an owlbear as we journeyed. My new companions are mighty indeed. Let us hope we shall likewise prevail against whatever creatures of dread darkness we may encounter on our travels henceforward, as we quest in search of any means of removing these foul brands from our bodies.

Ryll

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Session 2
Checking out the Demon Ruins.

Finally got our leave to check out those ruins. I was right, by the way – that fancy Dwarf is here for mining contracts. Something to keep an ear on after this demon shit’s on the pyre.

Gotta get that sorted first, though. If it’s got Illya on the wire, it can’t be good. Wasn’t hard to find. Bunch of kids outside squawking about Ryll’s ears; lucky that human set ‘em straight before I backhanded some sense into them. Delg took the lead into the underground. Seemed like a good idea to let the stonelicker take the lead until he started slinging steel at an Imp we’d found. Not that I’d cared much for the abyssal anklebiter, but that kind of swing-and-missing’ll get us killed if we’re not careful.

I took point from there. The usual sort of stuff you’d expect from a place called the Demon Ruins. Bones underfoot, undead lurching about. That two-shoes Delg might be on the narrow, but between the torchcone and the traptanking, he sure comes in handy.

Found a bunch of bandits in a room, doing some chanting and stabbing a chicken. Didn’t really know what they were up to at the time, didn’t much care. Show me a human outlaw, I’ll make a coatrack out of them. Had to slap down whatever scarecrow-golem they were summoning in the process, but at least the Dwarf got a pretty sharp reaver out of it.

Portal room was the third room in. Could see how the critters were getting antsy; Illya’s right – there’s something definitely not right around here. We caught a rough time on the business end of the last guy to die there, but at least I got a read on what needs to be done to shut the demons up. For now, anyway.

It’s gotta be me. Ryll’s a good girl, can’t get her hands dirty like mine get. No way that Delg’ll do what needs to be done. And Lance? Can’t trust a human as far as I can stab one. No. Gotta be me.

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Character Creation / Session #1
WE'RE GONNA MAKE HIM BUILD A WALL

Sen’s Rest is a small village situated just on the edge of the Forgotten Woods. To the south of the village, located just past the edge of the forest, is a labyrinthian set of ruins called the Demon Ruins, which are apparently haunted by an ancient demon.

The adventurers are…

  • Delg of Ungart, a Noble Dwarf Warlock. The Ungarts are a stuffy, old money dwarven family, who mostly live in underground mansions. Delg is passing through on a real estate perusal, to buy up some mining rights.
  • Franklin Rook, an Outsider Gnome Rogue. Once had a lot more names; now just the one. Family trauma caused him to become a hermit—the massacre of his clan, who once inhabited the Forgotten Woods. He makes periodic supply runs to Sen’s Rest.
  • Lance Jawn, a Charlatan Human Bard. Once the mentor of local youth, Lance Jawn became a charlatan…somehow. He’s passing through Sen’s Rest and singing at the local tavern. Between shows, he tries to con drunks. He’s in the village for business and conning.
  • Ryll, a Hermit Half-Elf Barbarian. An outsider, never fit in due to her heritage (except with the animals). Born in Sen’s Rest and is finally returning—which drums up some shit.

The area around the Demon Ruins has been growing colder. A dark influence has been extending past its stony walls into the Forgotten Woods, inching closer and closer toward Sen’s Rest. Not to mention, it’s totally spookifying the place up, which is making the animals super grouchy.

Delg and Village Elder Gary were discussing business at the village tavern. The dwarf was interested in buying mining rights for the nearby area, and Village Elder Gary was trying to sell up the place by conveniently not mentioning the evil ruins corrupting the nearby area. Lance Jawn, who was playing the tavern, approached Delg, as the two were familiar each other thanks to Lance’s work with the youth of the Mountain Kingdom. Unfortunately, Village Elder Gary did not take much of a liking to Lance Jawn as the homophobic, crude village elder considered him a “homo.”

Meanwhile, Rook and Ryll had been noticing the strange influence emanating from the Demon Ruins and went to meet with Illya the Mad, hoping the old soothsayer would give them answers. While visiting with her, Ryll, who was familiar with the Abyssal language, was able to make out three (possibly incomplete) names scribbled on the wall of Illya’s home—Yorda, Rato, and Durg. The madwoman warned the two adventurers of coming evil, so they went to Village Elder Gary to discuss with him the problem regarding the Demon Ruins.

Village Elder Gary was adamant that everything was fine…only to cave once Delg convinced him to admit that the Demon Ruins were becoming problematic. He then hired the four adventurers to travel to the Demon Ruins and solve the issue, ideally by “making that fucking pussy demon build a wall.”

After convincing Village Elder Gary to give them some supply money and potions, the adventurers headed off toward the Demon Ruins in hopes of saving Sen’s Rest from certain destruction.

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