An Evil Upon Us
A fantasy/medieval setting on the planet affectionately known as Gurth.
The campaign will begin firmly in the genre of low fantasy/hard fantasy, in which magic is rare and limited, non-exotic danger lurks in every smelly alley, and reality is static (no crazy plane shifting or intergalactic travels).
Character Creation Guidelines
You are a human of any reasonable adult age. You have lived your life in the city of Talathese (or nearby) unless you spend 10 points on Unusual Background and the GM approves of that background.
Each character will be of the same total point value (potential heroes!), but this can take near-infinite different forms. Perhaps you're a witch who lives in the woods. Or a bar owner with a penchant for civic engagement. Or an exotic mercenary, looking for your next gig. Or the local teller of tall tales. You decide.
The make-up of the party will determine the flavor of the campaign.
Write up a brief physical (tall? nimble? ugly? strong? skinny? blonde?) description and background that answers at least these questions:
- what's your name, age, gender?
- What's your personality like?
- are you wealthy? poor? average?
- what's your profession?
- how did you get so good at it?
- Any important relationships? Enemies? Allies? Contacts? Secrets? Vows?
Find a picture that represents your character.
The GM (John) will create your character sheet unless you want to tackle it, subject to these limits:
Max points: 125 Max Disadvantages: -40 Any Esoteric or Supernatural traits require approval of the GM.
You each have a free/undocumented Debt to Saul of the Priory of Luna. At some point, he did you a huge favor -- saved your reputation, your fortune, your sister, your life. If you don't define it, the GM will do so for you.
- Raziel Rameriez, swordsman, played by Darren
- Quiquampoix, fabulous courtier, played by Blair
- Argan, druid-witch, played by Melissa
- Drip Magnete, inventor played by Josh
- Remedia, a mystic played by Wendy
- Raizin, a rogue hairdresser played by Mikey
Resolution to Aid
As the curtain opens on the campaign, it is a drizzly late summer day in Talathese.
- Argan is busy chopping vegetables for a fragrant homemade soup.
- Raziel Rameriez is muscling his way through the market crowds to make contact with the merchant who has contracted his body services for the day.
- Drip Magnete is shoulder-deep in the gears of an enormous winch at the marble quarry.
- Quiquampoix is in the grips of an unpleasant hangover, attempting to awaken the two mysterious women who seem to have shared his apartment last night.
Each recalls their debt to Saul and plans accordingly.
- Argan begins preparing the soothing poultice she knows Saul likes.
- Raziel arranges with a colleague to cover his duties in the market.
- Drip finishes repairs on the winch, receives payment, and scavenges the quarry for an attractive chunk of mineral-rich rock to give to Saul.
- Q has his clothes laundered and collects supplies to load upon his small, swaybacked mule.
Late that afternoon, each independently departs the city and begins making their away up the switchbacks into the foothills west of town.
They spot each other on the trail, but do not interact until hapless Q steps in a hole alongside the path, which traps his foot, releases a swarm of ground-dwelling bees, and douses his fine leather boot with a thick coating of honey.
Inwardly alarmed, he keeps his cool even as the bees begin to sting his neck and face. The mule, however, pulls away in panic.
Noting the commotion, Drip rushes back to help by lighting a smoky lantern. Argan moves forward to help control the mule. Raziel, at the fore, pauses to look over his shoulder, and then up and down the hill, in case this turns out to be a distractive tactic by some unseen enemy.
Soon, all is well, honey is collected, introductions are made, and the party, with a common debt and destination, continues on together.
A few miles later, they crest the ridge and spot the monastery. Monks are going about the chores of daily life, but there are also scattered groups of families with their belongings. Pilgrims maybe. Or displaced refugees. Three Wolves are spotted, roaming among the distressed families.
Argan and Drip pause to chat with the nearest huddled folk and learn that rural families have come to the monastery because of recent child abductions.
Q and Raziel continue on to make contact with one of the Wolves, who is sternly polite and not very helpful.
Saul soon beckons, and the party reconvenes in a squat stone structure with an apparatus hanging from the ceiling and an old stump with a dozen drinking vessels upon it. Saul advises each to choose a vessel to their liking (a jade decanter, a hammered silver cup, a stone mug, etc.), the apparatus is made to fill each with strong brown beer, and Saul tells his story.
Six rural children, three boys and three girls, have been mysteriously abducted from their beds in recent days. As word got out, panicked families convened on the monastery or migrated into the city, leaving their crops and animals untended during harvest season.
During the sad story, Q requests another glass of beer. And another. He is soon drunk.
Drip wants to talk to any of the parents of the missing, and arrangements are made. Argan does most of the talking, and the grieving couple is alarmed to hear of the party's intended destination. While no obviously useful information is extracted, the show of emotion helps each member of the party resolve to assist.
Meanwhile, Q goes back to Saul's beerhouse to help himself to a few more pints of strong brown ale and then sets up his camp tent.
Afterwards, Raziel goes so far as call for the assembled refugees' attention, and delivers a heartfelt and hopeful speech pledging the party's aid.
Then, the party retires; Raziel joins Q in the tent, while Drip and Argan (despite Q's invitation) choose the bunkhouse.
Instead, he provides Raziel with a warning and instructions for leaving the monastery undetected.
Meanwhile, Q wakes up naked, lipstick smeared, and spooning a fully-clothed grandmother. Clad only in a scratchy wool blanket, he politely escorts Grandmother Matilda from the gardening shed to her family's camp and then proceeds to his tent to get dressed and pack up.
After introductions are made, the party shares a breakfast of fresh muffins, oranges, and boiled eggs with Saul, packs a few extra provisions, and then heads for the olive grove. But first, Remedia and Argan move through the assembled families, their keen senses scanning for any hint of malfeasance. They detect only hope, fear, and sadness, but Remedia also picks up a regional children's song and files it away for future use.
Reunited with Raziel, and with Leviticus volunteering to come along, the party of seven (plus a heavily-burdened mule), treks up into the foothills on a sunny, breezy late summer day, through pasture land and crops delineated by rows of piled stones.
Near the end of the day, guided by Drip's photographic memory of a monastery regional map, they arrive at the Windsong farm. All seems intact, except the front door and upper floor window are open, curtains fluttering.
The party fans out to check on everything, with Q and Raziel entering the house. Drip and Raizin find a well-formed human-shaped footprint with alarmingly long claws below the open window. Q hears creaking floorboards above.
Argan wields her magic to assess any potential threat above, and reports that there is none. The casting drains her though, and she trudges into the house exhausted.
After some initial difficulty, Raizin manages to climb the side of the house and peek into the window. There, he sees a shirtless, overweight man hiding under one of two small beds. Raizin immediately announces, "WE'VE GOT A CREEPER!"
The party demands he drop it and commands him to explain himself. His story is that he simply came over to his neighbor's farm after noticing their absence and open window. When informed of the abductions, he says:
Oh no, I had no idea! I meant no harm, I swear. I did nothing wrong! It's just... a weakness. I'm sorry. I've done nothing wrong! Oh...I knew something bad was going to happen. Ever since the magician and his three beauties visited me. They needed a mule shoed and made me an offer I, uh, couldn't refuse. A few weeks ago. Never felt right since, it's a haunting feeling.
The party commands Fatticus to show his feet to check for claws, but they are normal, filthy farmer feet. The party is mistrustful, but can detect no particular lie, so they decide to take Fatticus back to his farm, escorted by Raziel and Leviticus -- to check for evidence.
While that's happening, the remainder of the party makes themselves at home in the Windsong residence, and Argan begins preparing a fresh vegetable stew for dinner.
Raziel searches Fatticus' small home, opening cupboards and drawers, claiming it is for the farmer's safety. Leviticus remains at the front door, vigilant.
In the bedroom, Raziel finds a chest filled with children's clothing. He confronts the farmer, who swears that despite appearances, he merely collects the clothing and has never touched a child.
Raziel doesn't believe him, and stabs the farmer twice, fatally.
Leviticus rushes in and asks, "What happened?"
Raziel replies unsteadily, "He attacked me from behind."
Leviticus gives Raziel a long, hard look and finally says, "I understand."
The two walk back to the Windsong farm in silence, and walk in the front door to the smell of a delicious meal.
Into the Mountains
Under questioning, Raziel admits and justifies his slaying of farmer Fatticus. Remedia admonishes him to preserve resources that may be of use to the group, including witnesses, and in any event, coordinate activities with the rest of the group. Argan presses further, asking why he was hunted by the Eastern mercenaries, and what his background was.
Raziel slowly and deliberately provides an overview of his elite warrior training in Sri, and the unfortunate events that caused him to flee to Talathese and assume his current role as a freelance bodyguard for wealthy merchants.
Temporarily satisfied, the group enjoys a delicious vegetable stew prepared by Argan. Later, Raizin and Drip search the Fatticus house, and find a few items of utility, but no further clues. Meanwhile, Raziel disposes of the body and most of the evidence in the pigpen. However, he intentionally leaves behind a few items of childrens' clothing, soiled with Fatticus' blood.
That night, Remedia consults the realm of dreams and Drip works into the night, transcribing his memorized map of the region onto parchment.
The next morning, after hearing Remedia's thoughts on the matter, the party collects an extra mule and a cow and begins the trek higher into the foothills, bound for Devil's Finger.
However, Q begins leaving glowing green footprints. The matter is investigated, but no cause can be ascertained, and the group decides the effect must simply be tolerated, hoping that no one is following.
At midday, it is determined that the cow is slowing them down too much, and Argan chases it off into a rocky pasture.
Late in the afternoon, the party leaves the wagon trail which leads to the mining camp, and follows Drip's map along game trails, higher into the trees, towards their destination.
At sunset, camp is set, and Q invites everyone into his 4-man tent for a party. Beer is consumed and songs sung.
Remedia sets up her hammock and covers it in leaves and twigs for camouflage while Leviticus patrols the perimeter dutifully.
Eventually the party dies down, and Remedia, with her superior night vision, spots an approaching flock of creatures. When they seem hostile, she mimics the sound of a hungry great eagle, and half of them scatter, but the rest attack.
One attaches itself to her ribs and she cries out in surprise as its needle-sharp proboscis pulls blood from her body.
The rest of the party spills out of the tent, with Drip quickly lighting a lantern to illuminate the night. Combat ensues, and though injuries are relatively minor, the party is shaken by the experience. After bandaging is complete, a night of fitful sleep follows.
In the gray of pre-dawn, Q's tent is quickly vacated due to an infestation of cockroaches.
After a morning spate of kleptomaniacal chicanery, the party proceeds up the mountain towards Devil's Finger. Q and Raziel give the ancient site a wide berth, and ascend the rocky mountainside to get a better vantage point while the rest of party strides in to look around.
Raizin finds a few small items of interest, Argan assesses the entrails on the rough-hewn altar as having belonged to a goat, and Drip deduces the chemical nature of a sticky residue on the remains of a torch.
The party also identifies tracks, belonging to:
- 1 man in boots
- 2-4 smaller people in boots, possibly women
- 1 very large man in boots
- 2-4 barefoot men with long claws
- several children
The very large boot tracks come from the south (towards the sea) alone, but the rest seem to have arrived from the east, towards Talathese, the same direction as the party. Subsequently, all lead south.
Some debate results in a decision -- follow the tracks south, towards the sea, rather than seek further information at the mining camp to the north.
Late in the summer afternoon, the party departs Devil's Finger, carefully following the tracks, and minutes later discover that the footprints diverge. The ones with claws break away from the main group and lead into a tangle of enormous boulders at the foot of a rocky peak. Raizin and Raziel offer to scout ahead, and soon spot a cave entrance. The party convenes at its entrance to discuss strategy.
Argan wields her sorcery to assess any threats within, and reports that something hostile lies ahead.
Undeterred, the party marches in, Remedia (with her superior vision) at the fore, singing a peaceful melody. She soon spots three figures, standing equidistant and motionless in the inky dark. She advises the others to pause and proceeds forward alone with an offering of candied fried cockroaches.
When the three pale, nude figures do not respond, she attempts to push her gift into one of their hands.
He reacts violently, nearly tearing out her innards with long yellow claws. She shrieks in pain and retreats in horror as the rest of the party leaps into action.
Raizin circles around while Drip, Q, and Raziel rush in to attack the undead creatures.
Combat ensues, and Drip is nearly killed by a particularly violent claw strike -- but Argan channels her mystical energies into healing him from afar.
Q and Raziel parry and slash and hack limbs from the undead horrors, and eventually, they fall.
Meanwhile, Raizin has assessed the cave as a dead end. The creatures were guarding nothing. They were just.... waiting.
Regrouping in the late afternoon sun at the cave entrance, the party begins debating their next actions.
To The Coast
Soon, it is decided. Drip will oversee work to permanently entomb the undead beasts. Argan will create a hearty vegetable stew to which Drip adds various delicacies he finds through lucky foraging.
The party camps the night, only briefly disturbed by the faraway sound of wolves howling.
The morning presents fresh challenges, with a flock of gray sparrows insisting on attempting to nest in Q's hair. But soon, between Drip's cloak, Raizin's corn kernels, and Q's wild thrashing, the little birds are defeated or repelled.
By mid-morning the party is underway again, headed south, following the footprints. Raizin encourages hasty travel, which eats up miles, but also exhausts several party members. They rest while Argan and Leviticus crest the next ridge to see what there is to see and Drip collects culinary and healing herbs from a nearby thicket.
Argan and Leviticus spot the southern sea, and upon it, a smallish sailboat with a dark blue sail on approach to the coastline. The rest of the party rallies up to join them and options are debated.
The party theorizes that the boat is coming to pick up kidnapped children, and comes to a decision. Leviticus, still fresh, is sent ahead to attempt to delay the boat by any means possible, including through claiming he has additional children for sale. Off he goes.
Argan rests a bit longer and announces she's ready to go. But other party members are still exhausted, and so she departs alone to observe Leviticus' progress. She traverses ridge after ridge in descent to the coast, eventually arriving in a copse of trees prior before the beach.
There, she sees the boat anchored just offshore, and a motley cavalcade waist-deep in the waves in the midst of boarding. Leviticus is frozen in place midway across the stretch of beach, and a gray-bearded man in rags stands outside a haphazard dwelling.
|A Motley Cavalcade|
Argan considers her options. She is alone and far outnumbered by individuals with evident sorcery skills. First she sends her owl off into the woods, hoping it will find the party if she perishes. Then, she rips a few inches of fabric from her hemline, wraps it around an arrow, lights it, and fires at the sail of the vessel. She then dives into a gully and covers herself in leaves.
After a minute, she creeps to the ridgeline and observes. Two women are thrashing their cloaks against a smoky spot on the sail, and all of the individuals have successfully boarded, including the four children.
She shortens her skirt further, prepares another arrow, and fires. This one, miraculously, severs the main halyard, and the sail crashes down, knocking one of the women to the deck.
Eyes wide with surprise, she hardly notices the rest of the party rushing up to join her.
The party discusses their options while the group aboard the sailboat organizes repairs. A plan emerges:
- Q and Remedia will approach and parlay.
- Raziel and Argan will remain remain in the bushes and observe.
- Raizin will go talk to the old fisherman.
- Drip will strip and sneak along the tree line to find a place to enter the water undetected, and then swim to the sailboat and disable the rudder with a woodsaw.
Everything goes more or less to plan.
While Q and Remedia attempt to negotiate the sale of the children, Raizin chats up the grumpy old fisherman. Pizarro says that the boat arrived days ago and the lizardman hiked inland, to return today with the man in black, the three witches, and four children. And no, he adds, his little fishing boat is not available.
Q and Remedia's transactional negotiation does not go well, and when they wade into the sea and attempt to board the vessel, hostilities break out.
Remedia magically commands a seaman to attack the man in black, but the seaman falls into a mysterious fit of agony.
Q is set aflame by Wix, but manages to bury a throwing knife in her shoulder before he sinks into the waves.
Remedia successfully boards, and resists repeated spells cast by Stella, but is stabbed by the man in black and falls into the waves.
During the melee, Drip swims up to the rudder, saws through a connecting rod, and hollers to Ki and Kila Windsong to jump off the boat.
Argan and Raziel sprint across the broad beach to help, but are just too far away to get into the fight.
Just when it seems nothing else could go wrong, a 12' tall octopus-wolf-creature bursts out of the shallow water and lurches towards shore, where Raizin and the reawakened Leviticus are approaching.
Raizin breaks away to pull the kids from the water, while Leviticus approaches the beast.
The lizardman, idle during much of the conflict, pulls up the anchor. An odd gust of wind fills the sail, and the sailboat glides out to sea. The man in black laughs darkly as the remaining two children aboard the boat cower, and the witches huddle together.
The octo-wolf-beast disappears at a touch from Leviticus' sword, the wounded are attended to by Argan, Drip, and Raziel, and children comforted.
On the beach at sunset, burned and bloodied, the party discusses next steps.
When the Past Catches Up
The party arrives at a decision. Leviticus, Raizin, Argan, and Remedia will retrace their steps to the Priory of Luna and deliver the traumatized Windsong children home to their parents and report to Saul.
With the necromancer's damaged boat still bobbing 500 yards out to sea, they approach the fisherman Pizarro, and Drip attempts to convince him to loan the party his fishing vessel. The fisherman rejects the suggestion resolutely, despite the others chiming in with their arguments.
Spurned, the party attempts a new tactic: conviviality
This is met with a somewhat warmer response, and the fisherman invites the trio in. Drinks and fish stew are prepared, and the fisherman's wife, Magdalena returns from an excursion. She immediately is drawn to Q's horrible burns, and sets to tending to them with skill and empathy.
But she also provides a report: that there are men at a campfire in the trees.
Drip and Raziel stealth off into the night to observe, and Q moves is chair over near the door to keep an eye on things. Magalena continues her ministrations, and the engage in light conversation while Pizarro nods off across the room.
Suddenly, the door is kicked in, and a mustached Eastern mercenary demands, "Where is Raziel?"
Magdalena screams and hides under the bed. Pizarro stands up, outraged at the rude incursion into his domicile. Q draws his last remaining knife, but remains seated.
Pizarro approaches, despite the mercenary's warnings, and after tensions escalate, is rewarded with a deep thigh stab that drops him to the rough wooden floor.
Meanwhile, Q takes the opportunity to raise his knife high and aim carefully, eventually hurling his blade into the mercenary's exposed neck. The wound is grievous, and man tries fruitlessly to stop the rapid bleeding, staggering back.
Q jumps up and draws his sword, declaring victory.
Meanwhile, Raziel and Drip, in response to Magdalena's scream, and springing back across the sand, with Raziel pulling away after Drip trips and falls.
A second, larger mercenary steps into the fishing cabin behind Q. Combat ensues, and Q again targets the exposed neck, and a second mercenary drops to his knees, clasping his neck, blood squirting between his fingers.
Raziel and Drip spot two additional mercenaries attempting to flee the scene, and Raziel confronts them. One continues, but the other turns to face him. The mercenary advises Raziel to give up his arms and return to Sri to face justice, but Raziel refuses. Drip, sensing that this conflict is more complicated than he was previously aware, steps away to check on the cabin.
Raziel and the mercenary lock horns, and Raziel emerges victorious, thereafter dragging the injured man into the cabin with the others.
Raziel insists that the entire premise upon which the mercenaries' mission is based has a foundation of misunderstanding, and that, besides, he's on a virtuous mission to save abducted children, and that the mercenaries can feel free to come along and help.
The injured mercenaries aren't having it, and, after being relieved of their armor and possessions, are allowed to slink off into the night.
Sleep is had and watch is kept, and Magdalena slips out before dawn to collect an anemone with healing properties. She returns and provides additional succor to the scalded Q. She also quietly divulges that while her snoring husband will always be unwilling to part with his boat, she has her own small pleasure-craft, and is willing to take the party to Naxos, which is the most likely source and destination of the necromancer, according to her husband and his drinking buddy Rugetti.
The party concludes that this is a fine plan, and departs forthwith.
Out of the Frying Pan...
After a few hours at sea, Magdalena turns the helm over to Drip (whom she considers the most teachable), and takes Q below to smear anemone goo into his burns. Drip performs admirably and keeps a relatively straight heading through the night.
They were part of a search party that deployed from Talathese as well, also seeking kidnapped children, those of a wealthy noble from Vishnu who was visiting Fabian Maximillus on business. The rest of Altant's crew, he claims, perished after a skirmish with a black-cloaked sorcerer and his harem of harlots.
With goals so aligned, the quest continues.
At the small island of Skiros, the party docks and, weary of Magdalena's dried fish, acquires additional fresh supplies. From locals, they learn that child abductions are a fear, but more so to the west.
On approach to Santorini the next day, they are passed by two boats piled high with women, children, and their worldly possessions. They are haunted, shattered, dazed.
The party docks at the first village encountered and, unlike their experience on Skiros, the villagers disappear into their huts. Approaching cautiously, they soon spot an armed entourage marching towards them up. It consists of a bald man in a black robe, and ten spear-carrying lizardmen.
The party wisely opts to stay upon the narrow pier, forcing the approaching beasts to organize into groups of four. Parlay is attempted with the robe-wearing elder, but he is of little help, insisting that foreigners must leave. The savage lizardmen soon escape his control, and move forward, growling.
The party begins a semi-orderly retreat, but then the spears come. Followed by the hacking machete blades.
The Easterner prevails valiantly for a few seconds, but soon leaps into the water to escape the onslaught. Raziel Rameriez is gravely injured before falling into the water nearby, only to be expertly extracted by the Easterner's servant's rope-work.
Q manages to parry a succession of blows, but realizes the folly of the fight. Soon, Magdalena's pleasurecraft is underway for Naxos, deck and gunwales bloody, as the lizardmen hiss in frustration on the dock.
The bloodied party sails west after Q overcomes a disturbed Magdalena's objections. Drip buys narcotic healing herbs from Altant for Raziel, and the little pleasurecraft makes good time through varied weather for two days while the injured recuperate, new armors fashioned, and dice games played.
Everyone, including Altant, recognizes her as one of the necromancer's witches. Altant advises letting her drown, which Raziel considers before suggesting she might have useful information.
She is brought aboard and aid is tendered. But when she seems to be withholding information, Altant gets rough, and needs to be talked out of committing evil deeds in the service of good.
Bella's story is that her master, the necromancer Vasolith Crade, was delivering "inventory" (virgins) to an unnamed ally, a top lieutenant in the Black Ether. Because his most recent delivery was light (due to the party's rescue of the Windsong kids), the ally became angry, and harsh words were exchanged. The ally, Bella reports, beat and imprisoned the necromancer, and sold the three witches to slavers. Bella alone escaped.
She has an offer -- I know where the ally resides. Help me rescue my master (and my sisters if possible). My master will know where the children you seek will reside. We will not prevent their rescue. And I know a way onto the island that will allow you to infiltrate the town. We need each other, Bella asserts.
With some reluctance and suspicion, the party agrees in principle, and follows her instructions to approach a coastal fruit grove east of the town of Agrinio. The party wades ashore through aquamarine waters, leaving only Magdalena aboard, with instruction to return to the grove at sunset and sunrise.
They trek through the neat rows of fruit trees until a farmhouse is spotted. Ragged workers are processing the harvest, overseen by a baton-wielding man in black robes, and two idling lizardmen.
Q convinces the party to move on, quietly.
A mile down the road, the farms are closer together, a few acres each, and the denser population leads the part to approach a small enterprise where two teenage boys are horsing around in the yard at sunset. On request, they fetch their father, who proves to be a font of information.
He says the town of Agrinio is hundreds, maybe thousands of years old, and for many generations, the '12 kings' resided in 'castles' on the south-side of town, in the foothills. For the past twenty years or so, the Black Ether runs things, which is unpleasant, but as long as you pay the tax collectors, you're mostly fine. Naturally he ensured his boys were not virgins as soon as possible.
The party expresses their thanks and accepts his offer of hospitality -- they shall reside in the barn, and old work clothes will be provided. Some weapons and gear are encased in a bale of hay that Altant carries on his shoulder.
Entering Agrinio the next day, the party senses that much of the population has fled or been purged, leaving behind those willing to be enslaved and those willing to exploit the enslaved. Shaven-headed men in black robes patrol the open slave markets with lizardman enforcers in tow. Little stone houses show evidence of disregard and disrepair.
Bella leads the party to the castle of the ally with whom her master was colluding. It's a modest two story structure, with a low wall around it. The party approaches and requests an audience from the four lizardmen at the gate. One walks back to the building while the other three eyeball the party, reptilian expressionlessness on full display.
The party proceeds to openly discuss their plans among themselves, leading one of the lizardmen, and after a croak and click, to raise his spear high.
Through Urog's Castle
Tensions seem poised to boil over into violence, when Q is overtaken with the urge to strip naked. The baffled onlookers blink in surprise, but Drip spots an opportunity.
He hoists his nude compatriot onto his shoulder, and informs the lizardmen that this is just part of the entertainment that their master ordered. Somehow (critical die roll), he convinces the enormous brutes that the entire party should be allowed to enter the mansion.
Sora slips away in the process and slides in behind a hedge along the side wall of the mansion.
Within, two bald black-robed acolytes greet the rest of the party with some consternation and suspicion. Altant's patience runs out first, and he bonks one on the head with a closed fist, felling him. Q and Drip grapple the other and tie him up.
Sora and Drip are soon investigating the upstairs, where they find Rada, a bedraggled servant, hiding in a closet. Drip also finds a variety of arcane supplies (noted *below), some of which Bella advises him to not touch (or stop touching), but he does so anyway. Upon opening a huge book, popping sparks alight in the air.
Meanwhile, Q paints himself purple with crushed berries in the kitchen, and Raziel kills one of the acolytes after the young priest fails to provide useful information. He then drags the corpse upstairs and sets the house on fire. Rada wisely departs, which the party allows.
The party then slips out the back door and infiltrates the garden shed out back. Stairs lead down, and Altant volunteers to charge into the darkness alone. He bellows twice and then goes silent.
The rest of the group, candles and torches in hand, streams in after him to witness a shocking sight.
Altant is on his back, eyes wide and shaking.
Vasolith Crade, stripped nearly naked, hangs upside down by his ankles. Below him, seven small creatures batter and scratch him. They are nude hairless humanoids, a yard tall, with small heads, no eyes, and oversized clawed hands. They hiss and gibber and move towards the party, who starts throwing knives at them.
Rather than bleed, black vapor emits from their wounds.
Bella produces a brightly glowing orb, and the creatures retreat to a far corner of the room. She then runs to her master, who feebly touches her as the party cuts the ropes from which he hangs.
Bella then drops limp, and the necromancer, eyes bleeding and evidently blinded, rises to his feet.
Previous contact and skirmishes are acknowledged, and yet all agree that the priority must be to get off the mansion grounds and into the adjoining woods.
A lizardman greets the party as they emerge from the shed, but Drip (again!) convinces the brute that all is well.
Carrying a paralyzed Altant and unconscious Bella, the party labors to traverse the iron fence behind the house and maneuver into the the camouflage of the woodlands before Urog Beartaker or his henchman return.
Arcane stuff raided from Urog's Castle
Huge leatherbound book that pops sparks when opened Bloodstained leather longcoat that belonged to Vasolith Crade black obsidian dagger that belonged to Vasolith Crade simple jade pendant that belonged to Vasolith Crade Twin-bladed silver dagger (+3 damage vs humans) 4 vials of some kind of blood 4 vials of a clear liquid 6 black candles imbued with minerals and spices wooden 'pizza box' containing a shrivelled face bone tube containing a map of the southern isles
After a long hiatus, we decided to wrap this campaign up with a summary vignette.
The exhausted party of 7 (Quiquampoix, Drip Magnete, Raziel Rameriez, blinded Necromancer Vasolith Crade, unconscious witch Bella, paralyzed Easterner Altant Setseg, and his sidekick Sora) hides in the bushes, catching their breath, for two minutes.
A patrol of five lizardmen spots them and approaches aggressively. Too burdened to flee as a group, Q, Drip and Raziel stand their ground. Four lizardmen are slain with difficulty, but one runs off emitting a reptilian squeal that could only be an alarm.
A debate ensues about next steps. Raziel demands that the Necromancer reveal the location of the other kidnapped children. When the blinded Necro defers, Raziel stabs him in the gut and threatens to behead him forthwith.
The wounded, blinded Necromancer collapses next to Bella and divulges that a ravine leads to a waterfall of a stream that may be followed into an old mine, and that is where the children are kept.
Meanwhile, Sora has splashed blood all over herself and Altant, and says they're going to play dead while the party escapes.
As a much larger force of lizardmen approaches, Q, Drip, and Raziel flee into the woods, leaving the rest of the group behind.
The ravine is actually a cliff with a green pool at its base. Faced with no better escape route as they are tracked by spear-wielding beasts, the trio leaps into the muck, fights off giant leeches, and trudges upstream for hours, evading their pursuers.
Cresting the waterfall, they enter the soggy mineshaft, fight off spiders the size of cats, Drip fashions snorkels, and the team emerges in a huge cavern with scant daylight coming through a handful of tiny dripping shafts above. A dozen lizardmen lean on their spears and a twenty black robed men kneel before one gesticulating gray-robed man with flowing white hair.
And eleven children squat in the mud nearby, staring at the party in wide-eyed silence. They are emaciated and have filthy bandages wrapped around both skinny forearms.
A whispered debate ensues, but just as it is starting, Q's strange curse returns, and a glowing wisp of red vapor unfolds into existence in the middle of the cavern. From it, a grotesque tiny winged humanoid emerges, points at Q, and shrieks, "Master, Master, I have found him!"
The lizardmen and robed figures pause, startled for a moment, and then the white-haired man bellows, "Seize them!"
The party springs into action, gathering up the children and retreating into the underwater tunnel. They emerge sputtering and coughing in the dark, desperately scrambling through the fetid water towards the faraway mine shaft entrance.
And they are pursued. The lizardmen come through first, followed by an unknown number of human voices.
At the shaft entrance, Drip pauses while Q ushers the children out into the fading daylight. Raziel turns to fight the approaching beasts, but then Drip says, "Knock out those two supports, NOW!"
Raziel doesn't hesitate and begins hacking wildly at the moldy old timbers.
Just in time, the shaft collapses on the pursuers and Raziel narrowly escapes the disaster.
Dazed children begin crying now, and the team leads them down the hill away from the village, arriving at an uninhabited beach hours after dark.
After following the beach away from the village for another hour, carrying children now, the party arrives a tiny fishing hamlet and absconds with a sailing vessel well-stocked with rations and fresh water.
After a harrowing week at sea, the party makes it back to Talathese, bearded and sunburned, where they are greeted as heroes.