Empires Shadows

The Beginning
Wynterhaven and its Environs

14th day of Harvest, 513

• The mercenaries; Led by Alzir Mithresian, a human Cleric of Avandra and consisting of Barabbas gro-karnac, a half-orc warlord and Kildrak Barathazburk, a dwarven warrior of vampire decent, arrived in Applewatch with a trade caravan they had been assigned to guard. Collecting their pay they set out for Wynterhaven for more work. After being ambushed by Kobolds the heroes arrived in the small town.

15th day of Harvest, 513

• LacEo kobold medking in funds the group took on a small job from the towns Warriors Guild: to eradicate the nest of Kobolds that were harrying merchants and farmers around the towns perimeter. They hired a local to the Nentir Basin, Garthius Ratstink a half-elf rogue as their guide.

• They quickly took out the sentries and sneaked into the Kobolds lair behind the waterfall. There they descended on the kobolds in a confusing melee. During the melee the adventurers were confronted by a ferocious goblin by the name of Irontooth who, along with the kobolds, they dispatched

• The party tended to their wounds and Barabbas took the Goblins Iron tooth as a trophy. He also found a necklace of a carved skull bearing rams horns. While searching the cavern the adventurers came across a letter written in goblin from someone named Kalerel.

• On returning to Wynterhaven the party discovered that a local scholar named Apothius Moongem had disappeared while leading a small expedition north to a dragon burial site and that his wife, Delphina is offering a reward for someone to go and search for him.

16th day of Harvest, 513

The party travel north and discover the burial site over run with hired thugs searching through the dragons buried hoard, and overseen by a spectral apparition of Kalerel.

• The heroes defeated the thugs and banish the apparition of Kalerel. They discover the bloody and tortured but alive form of Apothius at the burial site. After a harrowing interrogation the party return Apothius to his wife and collect their reward.

• While searching around the town they discovered the legend of Shadowfell Keep. Apothius explained that the keep was built on the site of a rift into the Shadowfell. Ser Keegan, a paladin of Bahamut, ran mad with the voices from the Shadowfell rift and ran amok in the keep, killing his own men, wife and children before killing himself. The adventurers went to Lord Padraig who set up a meeting with Trading House Voran to secure the funds for the mercenaries pay.

• The mercenaries argued with the banking clan over the price and when they will be paid. A guard attacked Garthius as Alzir summoned a mote of divine light and launched it at the Lead Representative of the Banking Clan. The guards were easily overcome by the party but the town Watch backed up by the militia arrive, summoned by the frantic ringing of the bell from those within the panic room, and the group are arrested for the murder of the town guards and Lord Padraig.

16th day of Harvest, 513 (night)

• The party escaped through the sewers and exit near to the Keep. They decided to take a look around the keep and decended into the ruins dungeons. Kildrak charges a pair of goblin sentries and falls into a spike filled pit, concealed by a dusty, stone colours tarpaulin. Rats swarm around him and the party fight off the goblins and rats.

• They head south anArmenia cavernd come to a set of pitch black catacombs. They expend a sun rod and find an exit to the south where they battle zombies and skeletons, making their way through a torchlight corridor to a pair of alters, flanking a tomb. In the alters the party finds four dragon statues and Alzir examines them, proclaiming them statues of Bahamut.

• They head east, into the tomb and are confronted by the spectral form of Ser Keegan, the keeps former protector who accuses them of being grave robbers. The party protest their innocence and make an offering of the statues to Ser Keegan, who accepts.

• Next they decided to retrace their steps and explore a northen passage way that they had neglected before.

  • Garthius heard the sounds of voices coming from beyond a big double door. Kildrak lured a pair of goblins out to them by pretending to be a superior officer and ordering them out. He and Barabbas lay in wait behind the door and killed them silently when they came out, with Alzir and Garthius’ aid before heading north into the next room.

• They found themselves in a torture chamber and fought and killed a goblin torturer and discovered a cell full of prisoners and a note from Trading House Voran, offering to purchase them as slaves, as per their long standing arrangement. They surmised that Voran were going to send warning to the keep ahead of their departure so that the mercenaries would be captured and sold, probably to fight in the gladiator arena and that that is why they were so reluctant to pay out up front.

• In the prison cells amonMinotaur qjpreviewthg the other prisoners were a minotaur Knight, named Foostus, pacing the small space, so tall that his horns scraped the ceiling of the cell, setting off sparks, and a dragonborn warlock, Hadar the Hungry. Alzir and Barabbas offered them the chance to come with them and help to clear out Shadowfell Keep. They agreed and Garthius picked the lock, assisted by Alzir and Barabbas.

• Kildrak was asked by a goblin that was sharing the cell next door with some of the prisoners for help and to release him. Cautious, Kildrak consulted the rest of the party. After much discussion they decided to release the goblin, Splug, and to have him act as their guide. However they continue to distrust him. Alzir takes the note from Trading House Voran hoping to use it to clear their name in the future.

• They take the easten passage and Garthius hears voices from up ahead, stopping the party by raising his hand. Alzir questions Splug about whats up ahead and he tells the party that the room ahead are the personal chambers of the goblin Balgaron the Fat. Hadar the Hungry brightens up at the prospect of a good meal.

• Garthius scouts ahead on Alzir’s orders and discovers two sentries engaged in a grueling card game with a bell set on the table between them. He communicates this back to Alzir who tells him to remove the bells clapper and to then start the attack. He creeps back around, steals the bell and quickly disassembles the clapper before returning the bell and attacking with his short sword.

• As Garthius attacks the other swarm quietly around the corner to lay into the two sentries. One of them survives and sounds the alarm by shouting. He only succeeds in warning a few goblins in the next room who charge the party, engaging them in a pitched battle.

• The sounds of the skirmish waken Balgaron who enters the fight. Kildrak singles him out and drives him back from the rest of the goblins. Balgaron pleads with him for mercy but Kildrak severs Balgarons head with his fathers axe and claims it as a trophy, hanging it from his belt.

• The party finish the fight quickly and begin to sort through the loot. Hadar helps himself to the fruits and wines stored in Balgarons bed chamber while Garthius picks the lock on a chest containing some gold and a Magic Wand. Hadar, being the parties only magic user, appraises its worth at around 360gp and packs it with the other loot to be sold at the first opportunity. Garthius mentions that he can feel a draft and after a quick inspection Alzir and Kildrak concur that the wall next to Balgarons bed is false. Garthius discovers and uses a lever behind the chest and the wall swings open, revealing a secret escape way.

• They head south down the ascape way and the party can hear the sound of digging, harsh clangs as picks and spades hit hard earth and stone. They halt and discuss quickly whats ahead. Foostus grips Splugs jerkin front and demands to know what is up ahead. He tells them that Balgaron ordered some of his command to excavate the room beyond. He is looking for some great treasure though none know what it is and nothing has been found yet. Alzir attempts to gain insite into weather Splug tells the truth and detects that the goblin is nervous.

• Foostus thrusts splug round the corner, whispering in his ear that he will go first. Splug takes a few steps into the room. One of the excavation team see him and demand to know how he escaped. Splug bellows that there are adventurers following him and the party, angered by his treachery engage in combat. Kildrak and Foostus engage in a pitched battle with some guard drakes on the ramp that leads from the pit while Garthius flits nimble across a set of rickety plank bridges to assault one of the goblins.

• Alzir closes with Splug and quickly swats him with his Morningstar, killing him.

• Hadar steps cautiously onto one, cursing foes and burning them with his green, infernal flames but he overbalances and falls to the floor on his back.

• Alzir hops down from the platform into the excavation site and joins in with the fight down there. Hadar picks himself up and continues fighting and soon they dispatch the goblins and guard drakes. They loot the bodies and Alzir uses Garthius’ dagger to cut Splugs testicles off and stuffs his mouth as a warning for all who betrey them.

• They adventurers then return west, to the corridors bathed in pitch blackness. Hadar strikes a sun rod, bathing most of the party in light while Kildrak and Garthius act as scouts, using their low-light vision to see while moving just ahead of the sphere of brightness. They come across a glyph, carved into the floor. Alzir and Hadar both felt that the symbol was charged with some sort of magic, though neither could tell what its effects might be. Alzir, Kildrak and Garthius spent a few moments arguing as to who would go across first untill Kildrak plucked up the courage and stepped onto the glyph.

• It emitted a terrifying wailing sound Dungeonand Kildrak was struck with some sort of nectrotic magic, withering some of the flesh on his arm. Hadar commented that the magical charge has gone out of the glyph and that it would be safe to walk across now. Alzir looked Kildraks would over and confirmed that the damage was not permanent but that he would likely have a scar.

• They carried on north, through the catacombs untill they came to another glyph. Foostsus suggested that this time they jump across the glyph instead of stepping onto it. Garthius made it across with ease, as did Foostus and Kildrak. Hadar however, stumbled on a rock and landed on the glyph, setting it off and dealing necrotic damage in a wide burst to Alzir, Garthius, Foostus and himself. They were filled with an unearthly terror by the sound and they charged off in different directions along the fork in the corridor up ahead; Alzir and Foostus taking the westen fork while Hadar and Garthius went east. Kildrak was stoicly unaffected.

• Both parties came to their sences quickly and were confronted by another glyph and a group of zombies. Foostus lept across the glyph to meet the zombies, holding them back while Alzir moved to aid Garthius and Hadar.

• Garthius also lept across the symbol ahead of him, baiting a zombie into advancing on him while he circled, attacking and lining him up for Hadar at the same time. They and Kildrak worked in concert to defeat the zombies while Alzir moved along the passage with put him at the back of the Zombies in combat with Foostus. He moved forward attempting ti flank them and invoking Avandra’s power to turn the undead; however the holy light cast from his symbol failed and the undead remained impassive.

• The rest of the party moved up and together, they acted as the hammer to drive the zombies onto Foostus, the Anvil. Garthius noticed that one of the walls was a slightly different colour to the ones surrounding it and further inspection revealed that it did not sit quite flush with them. After feeling the wall and finding a trigger panel the wall slid back and the party entered into a small, empty room

• Kildrak noticed that the far wall shimmered slightly and Alzir stepped forward to touch it, dispelling the illusion and revealing four more zombies. They attacked and quickly overcame them. In the room they found rusted, battered weaponry on racks and an armour stand holding up a suit of battered and worthless armour.They spotted a plaque above the armour and attempt to read it. As they do a booming voice sounds from nowhere, reading the words on the plaque aloud, posing the riddle:
A wondrous treasure,
Valued by all, sought by many.
Found in both victory and defeat,
Yet never at the bottom of a treasure chest.
It marches before you like a herald,
And lives long after you are gone.
Of what do I speak?

• Alzir and Hadar led a discussion amoungst the adventurers until Hadar came up with the answer, Legacy, which proved correct. The armours dents unfolded, seemingly hammering themselves out and the dust and rust fell away, revealing an impressive set of blackiron scale armour. Since it was of no use to any one member of the party it was decided that the armour should be added to the loot rather than used by anyone in particular. Foostus stowed it away.
• The party decided to use this hidden room as a place to rest, closing the door and Hadar reassembling the illusary wall.

17th day of Harvest, 513 (night)

• While he slept, Alzir was subjected to a strangly lurid dreRoman templeam. He dreamed of his old mentor, Douvan Stoul, but he appeared to Alzir 100 feet tall. He was in combat with a giant dragon on the steps of a Temple to the Pantheon. Douvan, seemingly unthinkingly, crushed Alzir under the sole of his boot. Alzir woke up and recognised the dream as possibly being some sort of prophetic dream, sent by Avandra or one of her exarchs but was unable to make sence of it. He chose not to tell the rest of the group about the dream and they forged ahead.

• The heroes decended the staircase into the lower level of the dungeon. At the base they were confronted by a pair of hobgoblins who offered them the challenge phrase: “Shadow seeks Shadow.”

• Hadar attempted to bluff their way past by calling back, “Sanguine, my Brother.” The hobgoblin called out that they were intruders and surged forward to pin the adventurers on the stairs while hobgoblins poured forward to assist them and two others ran to the back of the room to try and release a giant, man sized spider caged there. The adventurers fought well but there were too many between them and the cage to prevent the spider being released.

• The spider scuttled up the wall and across the ceiling, dropping down behind Foostus and delievering a poisonos bite to the warrior. Hadar called on his dark powers of infernal fire to deliver heavy damage to the spider while Kildrak closed to finish it. Alzir used some first aid and Foostus recovered quickly from the poison.

• They next headed along the east passageway and took the northan door, entering into combat with more hobgoblins which they easily defeat. Hadar finds some salted pork which he packs for trail rations while Foostus finds a keg of ale. The party take a moment for a quick drink before heading south, bypassing a closed door.

• They came to a room with two doors, one leading south and another to the west. The westen one was boarded up tight with a sign written in common reading, “Closed”

• They decided to go that way and Foostus, Kildrak and Alzir put their shoulders to the door, smashing through it. They found themselves in a corrider where the floor was remarkably dust free. They decided to head up the northen corridor and found themselves in a room with four sarcophagi. Foostus noticed a slight slurping sound and turned to find a gelatinous cube bearing down on them. Hadar advanced on it, cursing it and drawing on Cyrics dark power to fight it while Foostus and Garthius charged it. Kildrak and Alzir were about to move to aid them when two of the sarcophagi burst open and two rancid undead flowed out. They charged the undead, Alzir summoning Avandra’s will to turn them, this time succedding.

• The cube squelched forward, engulfing Foostus, causing him to be burned by the cubes acidic compound. Hadar continued to call on his pact to fight it while Foostus swum for the edge of the cube and Garthius pulled him out. Alzir and Kildrak continued to fight the undead, hampered by their fetid stink. Foostus was again engulfed as Hadar teleported through the cube to flank it. Garthius retreated, drawing the cube towards the room containing Kildrak, Alzir and the undead. Garthius headed through the door into an adjacent room and hid. The cube entered the area and advanced on Alzir. Foostus tried to swim towards the edge of the cube again but its tide was against him.

• Garthius sprang his trap, charging the cube and performing a sneak attack. The cubes form disapated flooding the room and depositing and coughing, smoking Foostus onto the floor. The group then turned their attention on the undead.

• Alzir attended to the partys wounds and they searched the area, finding some items of small to medium value that Hadar and Alzir suspect were once the property of Ser Keegan’s children as the jewellery bares their names. Alzir made the suggestion that they later return to Ser Keegan’s tomb and leave these items there though the matter remained undecided.

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Under the Darkness
18th Day of Harvest 513

• Metagame note: Erak joined the party today but without a suitable place to slot him into the campaign he simply joins and we gloss over how he got there… He’s the last remaining mercenary who was guarding the caravan that Foostus and Hadar, the Hungry were traveling with and he decided to come with the party to get revenge. Also I’m very late with posting these and have lost my notes so I’m keeping it pretty vague.

• The party head back north, slightly shaken by their encounter with the gelatinous cube, to investigate the area they had left unexplored. They came to a narrow corridor with a raised portcullis leading into a wide, brightly lit room in which a old, scarred table sat adorned with mugs, plates and maps.

• The party proceeded cautiously, scouting for danger but not finding anything to worry about. Alzir was not convinced and told Garthius to search for traps. Garthius’ keen senses and experienced eye noted that one of the stones before the portcullis was slightly raised at one corner. He took a closer look and discovered a pressure plate underneath. Unsure as to what mechanism it was connected to he advised the mercenaries to keep away from it, though he thought it might be something to do with the portcullis.

• The party sent Erak and Foostus forwards to scout ahead. As they entered the room the doors to the south and to the east and a band of toughened, battle scarred veteran Hobgoblins poured out, led from the front by a huge specimen with steel armour, and small, cunning eyes, springing a trap. The party rushed in to meet battle, Hadar hanging back on the wings slinging curses and fire about the room; Alzir standing amongst them, joining battle with his morning-star and Garthius leaping onto the table, kicking maps and cups of goblin ale across the room and dueling with the Hobgoblin Warchief.

• Hadar backed out of the room, stamping on the pressure plate as he did. The mechanism released the portcullis sealing him out of the room where he could fire his spells into the room in relative safety. Foostus and Erak worked together to out flank enemies and dispatch them.

• Foostus moved up to help Garthius engage the warchief, swinging his leaden hammer and stove the Hobgoblins head in. The adventurers cleared up the rest of the Hobgoblins and Kildrak cut the head from the Warchiefs shoulders, hanging it on his belt next to Balgaron the Fat’s head, tyeing it there with its hair.

• The mercenaries went south next, passing by the room that housed the Gelatinous cube and through a set of double doors into a room that was dominated by a huge stone statue of an armoured Knight of Agatia wielding a sword. In the north eastern and south easten corners are two much smaller statues of dragons, sitting with their tails curled around their feet, mouths gaping. At the rooms far end a corridor with four statues of cherubs carrying vases sat flanking another double door.

• Hadar looked around and stated, flatly, “This is a fucking trap.” Erak remembered a story from anchient history and shared it with the adventurers, that in ages long past the arificers, wizards and engineers of the Agatian Empire had possessed great magical knowledge which has since passed from the tomes and minds of men. They created a new race of goloms to fight in their wars of settlement, a race known as the Warforged, living statues made of steel and stone and wood. They shared this imformation with the dwarves, who still possess it. The story also tells that they created a line of Sentinels, statues which are not alive like the Warforged but enchanted to move and tasked to guard an area against all who did not bear the sigil of Agatia. These statues are now rare, as the Empire could not replace them without the knowledge they once held. A great many were purged during the rebellion following the Night of the Blades.

• The party agreed and proceeded cautiously, and spent a great deal of time surveying the room before they even moved. Garthius thought he knew what this trap was. He explained that he’d come across one once before and that these were not statues but arcane constructs of stone powered to guard and area. He estimated that the giant statues sword reach was about ten feet and advised the party the keep well out of its range.

• They skirted the western wall and came to the entrance to the corridor two of the cherubs flanked the entrance while the other two flanked the doors at the other end. Alzir held his hand out and murmured a prayer to Avandra for her guidance. “There is magic here but it is not divine,” he informed the party.

• Hadar attempted to use his arcane senses to find the source of the magic but failed. Foostus grew impatient. “What will happen if we climb on them?” he asked.

• “Why would you do that?” asked Kildrak, taking a nervous step back from the minotaur. “To see whats in the vases?” replied Foostus. “I don’t think thats a good idea,” cautioned Alzir but Foostus was in the mood for throwing caution to the wind.

• Foostus leaped up onto the statue and began to climb. The party waited with baited breath to see what would happen. Nothing did. A second played out then two and three. Foostus made it to the top, grunted with satisfaction. Then there was an almost imperceptible grinding noise and the cherub moved, the stone shifting beneath him as the angelic figure of innocence tilted his vase and began to pour the water. Foostus lost his balance and fell with a crash of armour. In the same instance a magical barrier solidified, an arcane partition separating the party from Foostus, locking him in and them out.

• The other cherubs shifted with the same grinding noise and began to pour. The water quickly reached the boundaries of the small corridor, sloshing up against the magical barrier and the water level began to rise. Foostus dragged himself up and the party yelled at him to open the doors opposite them and let the water run away. He stumbled across to them, water dripping from his soaking fur and tried to open them but couldn’t. “Locked!” he called back.

• The rest of the party began checking the surrounding area for release mechanisms but couldn’t find one. Kildrak decided to check out the statue to see if the release mechanism was hidden in there. He hurtled towards the statue hoping to outrun its blade but the automaton moved with unnatural speed, the great heavy stone blade smashing into kildrak’s ribs and knocking him prone. Garthius began to try and push against the barrier but it would not give.

• Erak sprang nimbly past the statues guard, up onto the dais it was constructed on and climbed up its back. He pried open a panel of stone set into the back plate to reveal a small ring held in place. The automaton tried to shake him off but failed and Erak hooked it out with the crosspiece on his sword. The ring fell to the floor and the statue freezes in position but the water keeps falling and the barrier remains up. Erak picks up the ring and places it in his pouch.

• The barrier is not weakened nor does the water cease to pour from the jugs, which have spilled more onto the floor than they could possibly have held and continue pouring at a steady rate. The water is three feet deep now and reaches up to Foostus’ knee. He climbs up onto another of the statues. Hadar, having exhausted all other options summons up hellfire and blasts the vase closest to him with it. The magical fire penetrates the barrier that is repelling Garthius’ physical force and punches a hole through the vase.

• Alzir yells to Foostus, “Smash the vases!” and the minotaur swings his warhammer and knocked a chunk from the vase he is standing precariously on. The cherub beneath him shifts with that grinding noise as its face changes from a beam of innocence to a frown of annoyance and bucks the soaking minotaur off of his shoulders. Garthius redoubles his efforts to push through the barrier, as does Alzir and they are joined by Erak and Kildrak.

• Hadar smashes the cherub and vase to pieces with his warlocks fire. As he does the barrier weakens slightly and the heroes redouble their efforts to break through. Foostus tried to stand but the water is weighing heavily in his armour. Its level it at Foostus’ neck line. Kildrak bellows across to him, “Shed your armour, laddie,” but either Foostus does not hear him or chooses not to. A small whirlpool appears in the middle of the pool of water and Foostus is dragged around in its weft. He catches one of the statues a glancing blow as he is swept around.

• Kildrak shed his armour as Hadar blew another statue and its vase to flinders, shrapnel ricocheting off of the walls and the magical barrier, sizzling white hot as they skimed over and under the water. The barrier weakened again and Kildrak charged at it with a dwarvish warcry. The barrier first stretched like a sheet of cloth, held taught that someone has walked into then enveloped him, snapping back into place behind him. The dwarf, naked save for his fathers axe, strapped to his back and his filthy linen trousers swam to the top and spat water and a dwarvish curse.

• Garthius, Erak and Alzir continued to try and push through while Hadar worked his magic on the vases, blowing another chunk out of a third, already damaged statue. Foostus was dragged under by the weight of his armour and was held under for a few moments before he broke free and crested the water like a horned leviathan. Kildrak was swept up by the whirlpools currents but as he was dragged past one of the statues his hand shot out and he grabbed hold of it. He drew his axe and swung at it, smashing another chunk from it.

• As Hadar destroyed yet another vase the barrier was weakened so much that water began to seep from it. With a mighty effort Garthius and Alzir managed to break through. They swam with all their strength to the last statue and began to hammer away at it with all their strength, chipping pieces from it but not destroying it. Foostus was dragged under again but his flailing limbs had no strength to drag himself back to the surface.

• Hadar cried out, “GET OUT OF THE WAY!” and launched another curse at the statue and vase. Alzir, Kildrak and Garthius flung themselves under the water and the spell hit and detonated the statue. The barrier gave away depositing more than 40 cubic feet of water on Hadar and Erak, slamming them back and washing them and the rest of the heroes into the room.

• They began to slowly pick themselves up, Foostus and Garthius coughing out lungs of water. Kildrak sat on his backside wringing water from his beard like it was a piece of cloth. Alzir stared over at Foostus and proclaimed deadpan, “A fucking Sea-Cow,” which elicited some nervy laughter from the rest of the party. Kildrak grumbled about Foostus almost killing himself.

• They picked themselves up; Kildrak re-donned his armour and Alzir set Garthius to picking the lock while they had a short rest and Hadar shared out some of the salted pork he had taken.

• Before long they reconveaned at the door. Garthius opened the door. Beyond it was pitch black, no light at all illuminating the path before them. The air felt frigid and dank and they could hear groaning, shuffling coming from inside. Kildrak knelt, unslung his pack and dug his hand inside, pulling out a Sunrod, a stick of dull metal that had been enchanted to give light for a limited time. He pressed it to his lips and murmured, “Enlighten me.” The rod flared into life, white light sparking off of the cool metal, searing his lips slightly as he pulled it away. Next to him Garthius did the same, holding the rod above his head with his left hand. Kildrak threw it into the darkness, watching it tumble end over end until it landed in a shallow puddle, the magical light reflected off of the water in beautiful shimmering patterns. It illuminated a scene of horror and decay.

• The room opened out before them, the walls crumbling, the floors to shattered and worn that bare earth showed in places instead of the neat flagstone. In the rooms center a thick pillar held up the ceiling. The room was full of zombies, standing motionless to the left of the pillar, on the eastern side of the room.. The undead turned to stare at the adventurers with sightless eyes. One uttered a load moan. Alzir held his mace above his head and used his shield to shove his way to the front with a gleeful shout of, “This looks like a job for me.”

• Alzir shouldered his way into the midst of the zombies. They scratched and shoved at him but he ploughed onwards until he was at their center. He raised his shield to push back at the press of bodies before him, thrust his mace up to the sky and roared a prayer of Avandra. The Lady of Luck shone on Alzir, bathing him in light. As it fell on the Zombies they squealed, a blood curdling sound that made Garthius’ neck hairs stand on end, and the undead blistered and burned, many of them disintegrating into hot ash that whirled through the moist air, sticking in Alzirs gullet and leaving a fetid taste. Only two still stood, one at his front and another at his back, both badly burned.

• As Alzir was invoking Avandra’s name Kildrak surged forward, axes in hands and Hadar drew another sun rod and whispered it into life revealing more undead hurrying from around the western side of the pillar. He shouted a warning to Alzir and Kildrak. Kildrak span around and met the crush as it rolled over and around him, enveloping the Cleric and the Fighter, cutting them off from the rest of the party.

• Foostus and Erak stepped forward, Foostus flanking with Kildrak while Erak pinned another between him and Alzir. They began hacking away at the undead between them in a deadly pincer. Hadar hurled a gout of green, brimstone scented flame at a few stranglers still ambling around the corner. Garthius used the cover of fighting to slip around and get behind Alzir, holding his sunrod aloft, illuminating the scene in the now garish seeming white light.

• Ahead of him the light showed him a steep staircase to the left, descending into a tunnel of darkness. It reflected off of two bright, hungry eyes and the pale, elongated limbs and distorted features of a ghoul. Behind it a creature fluttered, a being made of mismatched pieces of dead flesh, fused together with a deep blood-red clay and fluttering on a pair of over sized birds wings. Garthius looked it over. It hand one, long clawed limb, ending in a great paw from some sort of big cat and another stubby, muscular that he could not recognise as it had been hacked off at the knee joint and replaced with a blade of the same crimson clay that held it together. A goats head sat atop the human, legless torso. It bleated merrily at him and Garthius felt a stab of blinding pain in the center of his brain, completely imobolising him. His whole world turned white and he stumbled.

• The ghoul lurched forward, crabwise towards the helpless Garthius, overcame his feeble defense with a growl and bit into his arm, the ghouls teeth sinking into the flesh and drawing blood which ran thickly down his forearm, glistening black in the sunrods light. Alzir smote another undead with his mace and Kildrak charged through the unoccupied space to strike the ghoul back with his axe. Hadar continued to provide ranged support with his eldritch blasts while Foostus and Erak shifted around the battlefield to flank opponents and catch them in a pincer.

• Kildrak finished off his opponent and charged the winged, clay scout, his fathers axe chipping clay from the joins and slitting flesh from its bones. The clay scout let out a bleat and Kildrak felt the same crippling pain in the center of his head. Foostus charged the ghoul and blindsided him, knocking him off of Garthius and back a pace. Garthius dropped his short sword and drew one of the alchemist’s fire bombs from belt and threw it down into a square between the Clay scout and the Ghoul. Liquid fire splashed onto both creatures, coating them in fast burning flames that quickly burnt themselves out but damaged them both. Erak and Alzir finished up the last zombies.

• The ghoul leaped at Foostus who caught it and held it back with his shield. He then let out a bellow of rage and slammed his warhammer into the creatures ribs with a sickening, dull thud and several muffled cracks. The ghoul fell back and rolled up again, a visible dent in his torso where the hammer had snapped its ribs like dry trigs but seemingly no worse for ware because of it. Kildrak recovered and swung his axe at the clay scout, but was dazed by the mental assault and missed. Erak enlightened another sunrod and tossed it into the shadows behind the ghoul so that it could not escape into the darkness. Then he charged at it. Alzir strode forward, holding up his holy symbol, the Rock of Avandra which was glowing with a pale blue light and murmuring prayers of exorcism towards the ghoul which began blistering and screaming. The clay scout began to beat its wings more furiously and swooped past the party, down the staircase and toward the door at its end. Garthius gave a shout, calling the party to kill it before it escaped as he fumbled with another bottle of alchemists fire and threw it. This time it smashed against the clay scouts back, dousing it in the liquid flame and it fluttered, like a moth burned by a candle then crashed to the floor, the goats head bleating with pain, twitching its arms and wings.

• Alzir stood over the Ghoul, his prayers rising in volume as he neared the end of them. He finished in a crescendo and swung the mace down, splattering the ghouls head across the broken flagstones.

• The group took a moment to gather themselves and search the area. The floor was almost covered in bones in places and the group ascertained that the zombies must have taken on some of the behavioral traits of their more powerful ghoul ally. Kildrak also discovered on the western wall a small tunnel carved into the rock. As a dwarf he was the only one small enough to enter it and so he shed his armour once again and began a painstaking hand over hand crawl along the passage. At the end of it he found a small room. The floor was covered with humanoid remains, so much so that Kildrak couldn’t put his foot down without snapping one.

• Erak called down to him, asking what he had found. Kildrak replied, telling them what he had found and opinionated that the ghoul had used this bolt hole to hide his choice loot. Kildrak searched through the debris, finding little of value apart from a bag of holding containing 176 gold pieces. Kildrak returned along the corridor and strapped his armour back on. The adventurers turned toward the door.

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The End of the Line, Part I

18th day of Harvest 513 A.A

The adventurers pushed through the door to find themselves in a room that bore resemblance to a cathedral, but one in a nightmarish state. Four stone pillars were spaced evenly around the room, about as tall as a man and on top of them sat black metal grating, each of which held a crystal as long as Alzirs forearm which emanated a soft blue light by which they could see. The dividing walls were crumbling, leaving great piles of rumble strewn across the dusty, smashed flagstones. Around the edges giant cobwebs, spun by many generations of spiders hung loose, billowing in the slight draught emitted by the adventurers. Directly in front of them the alter had been defiled, daubed in excrement and a cackling figure plunged a blade down into the heart of a still, elfin figure lying across it. Blood ran down grooves in the table and through runnels that looked to be newly carved for the purpose, towards a hole in the floor, surrounded by a grate, through which the blood flowed. Chains dangled from high above, attached to the ceiling and ran down, through the hole and to the bottom of the pit. There was so much blood that it was obvious this was not their first victim, nor even close to it. Hadar, Foostus and Erak felt a new chill run up their spine as they realised for what purpose they had been captured.
In front of the pit stood two Northman, one dressed in a black dyed leather coat and the other wearing a black fur cloak over dark coloured hides. They regarded the adventures levelly, not saying a word. Alzir heard the scuff of a foot on stone to the north, behind the dividing wall. He nudged Garthius and gestured with a thrust of his chin. Garthius cocked his head and listened. The sound came again and he nodded to Alzir. Across from them the man doing the sacrificing cackled loudly, bringing everyone’s attention back to him.
“Who dares to challenge the might of Orcus?” he bellows followed by another uncontrollable chuckle.
“Are you touched in the head, Cackling Man?” Asks Hadar.
“Yeeeesssss,” hisses the Follower of Orcus.
“Can you not be reasoned with?” queries Alzir. “If you turn away from this life of wickedness, Avandra may be kind and allow me to spare you.”
The follower of Orcus sighs, seemingly genuinely sorrowful. “Alas, no. I cannot. I am not permitted that luxury.” Then he smiles a wicked, mad smile, “Northmen! Seize them! They will make prime sacrifices for Orcus.” He laughs again, raises his hand and mutters a brief, undulating word of magic and a lance of dark, corrupted energy shoots forth at the party.
Alzir and Garthius duck and roll to their left, behind one of the north dividing walls. Foostus, Kildrak and Erak charge forward to engage to Northmen, who draw their simple, unadorned, businesslike axes from across their should and at their belt to meet the charge. Hadar hangs back, the better to support the group with his borrowed magic and luckily the energy misses him.
Kildrak and Erak charge the Northman to the left of the pit, Kildrak getting a good hit in on the flatfooted Northman while Erak stumbles and misses with his first swing. Kildrak hears a throaty hiss from behind him and turns in time to block an attack from a vampire spawn, a pale, emaciated humanoid creature with a huge, bald head and oversized teeth. Erak steps forward quickly to take over fighting the Northman, blocking his attack at Kildraks, exposed back.
Garthius moves ahead of Alzir, moving silently while Alzir keeps his eyes peeled and his ears pricked for signs of danger. Garthius steps beneath a archway to be confronted by two more vampire spawns. He shouts a warning to Alzir, drops his hand to his belt pouch and pulls out one of the grenadeos, an alchemists fire, that he looted from a body earlier in the dungeon. He throws it underarm and the glass bounces off the vampire but doesn’t break, hitting the floor with a harsh clink but no explosion of fire. The vampire turns to glare at Garthius who gulps and turns quickly to block an attack from the one on his left. His sword sails two inches short and the vampire’s claws rake at his cheek. Where they pass the skin blackens and mulches, smoking it gives off a putrid stench of rotting corpses. Alzir charges through the door, Morningstar raised. He swings but misses, recovering in time to defend a counter attack.
Meanwhile Foostus is in intense combat with the other Northman, the light from the crystal bouncing off his armour in a blue corona. He slams his warhammer into the Northman, knocking him back but the Northman surges forward again and deals Foostus yet another wound, this time slashing through one of the buckles on his thigh plate, and leaving a long cut in his flesh. Foostus staggers back, trips and falls. Hadar holds the Northman back with a torrent of energy long enough for Foostus to right himself and retreat. But Foostus is done. He has been slashed, beaten, burned with acid and almost drowned, twice. He calls out, “I’m sorry but I cant keep on any longer and stagger back, out of the dungeon.
The Northman fighting Erak sees him go and calls out, “Turn back Southerner!”
The other smiles and crys, ““Nothing that a bunch of pisswash wetbacks can do against couple of Named Men like Warryn Halfblood” he gestures to Halfblood, busy fighting with Erak, “and Darmum Hardbread,” gesturing back at himself. Alzir laughs and shouts from behind the dividing wall, “STALEBREAD!”
Erak sees an opening against the vampire spawn that Kildrak is battling, shifts and swings his sword in a hard, downward arc, cutting through the vampire like butter, from the top of its head right down through its groin. The vampire crumples, the body turning to burning ash as it falls, leaving Kildrak staring up at Erak. Kildrak grins, “THAT was fucking COOL!” at Erak.
Alzir, from just behind one of the walls, hears this and bellows, “What’s happening?” but is unanswered. A shadow flickers over the rubble. It looks like a goblin, wearing shadow like a cloak, his eyes sunken into his pale face and hooded by his brows so that they lie in a pool of darkness. The Dark Creeper slides round the wall until he is behind Alzir, flanking him while his attention is engaged with the vampire and stabs his dagger at him but it skitters off of the back of his chainmail. Kildraks chainmail protects him from another attack from the vampire but there the claws slash the rings blacken and rust, giving off the smell of corrupted metal.
The Orcus Underpriest continues throwing bolts of dark, magic at Hadar but he dodges easily and begins to call up the power of the Nine Hells. He murmurs the words of a spell and Darmum Hardbread is lifted into the air as though an invisible hand had grabbed him by the scruff of the neck. It swings him around and releases him, flinging him down the hole in the chamber. Hadar bellows a battle cry which is cut off abruptly when one of the chains snaps taught with a faint jingle. Even over the battle the sound of Hardbreads panting, angered breath can be heard as the chain rattles.
Halfblood shifts, around Erak and delivers a light touch to the mercenary with his great axe which nevertheless finds a weak point in the mans armour, drawing out a short but deep cut at his side, along his ribs. Kildrak puts his shoulder to Halfblood and tries to push his backwards, into the hole but the Northman has too good a stance to be pushed so easily. Erak makes the most of his distraction and swings his sword in a mighty stroke that leaves a long gash along the Northmans upper arm, through his leather coat. Halfblood turns to look at Erak and his eyes go wide, so wide that that a band of white can be seen all the way around his iris’ and he smiles so wide that the blood drains from his lips, leaving them white around his yellowing teeth.
Garthius continues to battle the vampire, who is too quick for him and Garthius recovering his swing quickly enough to parry the vampire’s claws. The Dark Creeper stabs Alzir again with his dagger, this time slicing through the chainmail, drawing blood. The Creeper shifts away from Alzir who turns, swinging his Morningstar at the Creeper, smashing it into his left arm which dangles uselessly.
The Orcus Underpriest begins to move forward, casting a spell as he goes. He flings a blast of necrotic energy at Kildrak, hitting his squarely on the shoulder. The dwarf cries out as his shoulder turns black, the flesh rotting. Another vampire charges Kildrak and strikes at his unprotected back, raking its claws with strength that is surprising from its emaciated frame, leaving the same, corrupted marks in his armour. The chain closest to Erak shudders and the panting becomes louder as Hardbread makes his way up towards the opening.
Hadar eyes the chain and lets fly with an eldritch blast, aiming at the jerking chain ten feet above where it descends into the pit. The blast melts through the links and the chain drops, too quick to follow out of sight. This time Hardbread does scream as he plummets downwards, though its a scream of rage rather than fear, the sound dopplering out. The thud of him hitting the ground goes unheard in the battle. He turns to Halfblood and lets forth a curse in Draconic at the Northman.
The vampire attacking Alzir makes another swing at his back but Alzir senses it coming and leans forward, out of the way. Halfblood swings his axe at Kildrak and it crashes past the dwarfs defences, knocking the dwarf back, half a step and sending the wind sailing out of him. Kildrak focuses himself after that heavy hit, using ancient dwarven techniques to block the pain. He then tries again to push Halfblood backwards into the pit but the larger humanoid does not move. Kildrak breaks off and retreats to a safe distance. Erak brings his sword around and cleaves through Halfbloods arm which drops to the floor. The sword continues through into the Northmans ribs. Erak twists the blade and pulls it free, letting Halfblood follow his arm to the floor, blood pooling around him.
Garthius shifts back and retreats from the vampire to attack the Creeper but his sword pieces the creature shadowy cloak but misses the creature. He draws back his sword as Alzir murmurs a prayer to Avandra and some of Eraks wounds knit back together. Alzir swings his Morningstar at the Dark Creeper which ducks under the Morningstar and shifts away from Alzir, throwing his dagger at Alzir but missing. The vampire that Garthius retreated from advances and strikes at him again, his claws scoring their foul smelling marks into the shoulder of his leather cuirass.
The Underpriest launches another globule of energy, this time at Erak. The energy rots the flash that it touches and Erak bares his teeth in pain. The Underpriest cackles and says, “Voran will pay us a handsome bonus for delivering you to them.” Alzir clears his nose in disgust. The vampire harassing Kildrak swings his claws and scores another set of marks into the dwarf, this time into his arm.
Hadar places a curse on the Underpriest, speaking in Draconic and summons the Flames of Phelagoes on the Underpriest. Black flames sprout up around the Underpriest, setting his robes, hair and skin alight. Hadar snarls at him as his curse kicks in, intensifying the heat.
One of the vampire spawn moves forward to attack Alzir, who is standing back to back with Garthius. The vampire swipes at Alzir dealing its necrotic damage. Kildrak turns on the vampire next to him, his lips peeling back from his teeth which lengthen. The vampires eyes grow wide as it recognises Kildrak as vampirekin and it whispers, “Predator,” drawing the word out into a snarl. Kildrak grabs at the vampires shoulders, pulling it down with all his strength and sinks his teeth into the vampires throat. It twitches twice as long, slurping noises emanate from Kildrak then goes still. Kildrak drops the corpse, blood dripping from his chin as the unlight goes out of its eyes.
Garthius and Alzir see an opening against their respective vampire opponents and strike. Garthius sinks his blade into the vampire’s chest while Alzir swings his Morningstar, splattering his enemies head across the flagstones floor. Garthius twists the blade, lifts his foot and pushes the corpse off of his sword with the sole of his boot. He steps quickly over it and around the corner it was guarding. When hes out of sight of the enemies and the rest of the party he presses his back to the wall and quietly sidesteps along it, up to the opening where the wall has crumbled, hoping to flank the Dark Creeper.
The Dark Creeper advances on Kildrak and stabs Kildrak with his dagger, puncturing his armour and flesh. Erak steps over the Northmans corpse and swings his sword, leaving a long cut across the Underpriests chest. The Underpriest retaliates with a swing of his mace, and misses, the flames surrounding him flickering out, leaving his robes singed and his hair burned off. Hadar bellows at Erak to brace himself, places his hands together and launches a fiery bolt at the Underpriest. It crashes down on him, killing him. Some of the fire rolls off of the Underpreist and Erak is caught up in the splash damage, fire licking at his clothes and armour and singing his eyebrows off.
Hadar curses the Dark Creeper and launches an Eldritch blast of power against it. The Creeper cant dodge and is struck by the dark energy. Hadars curse kicks in, increasing the creepers pain. Kildrak swings his battle axe at the Creeper but misses as the shadows shift around him to block the attack. The Underpriests body suddenly rears up and dark energy and shadow rips out of it, straight at Hadar. The necrotic energy sears Hadar, rotting his skin on touch.
Erak steps around the Dark Creeper to flank him with Kildrak. Erak taps the Creeper on the shoulder. The creeper turns round just in time to lock eyes with Erak as he swings his sword around in a tight arc, slicing his head off. All of the shadow that was gathered around the Creeper rushes out of it as the body teeters and drops to the floor. The head bounces and rolls to rest at the foot of the pile of rubble from the north dividing wall.
Searching the bodies they find nothing of value. They take a short rest and Alzir has a look around the area but finds nothing of interest so the Hadar, Erak and Alzir each take a hold of one of the remaining chains and jump off the edge, sliding downwards, Garthius and Kildrak follow a heartbeat later.

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