A World Asunder

Chapter 59: "I've seen enough tentacles and extra eyes to last a lifetime. Or several."

“You took down my army, didn’t you.”

“How many soldiers did you lose?”

“I’m not the callous monster you may think I am. I raised my army to fight the scourge, not kill people. So what happens now?”

(players want to kill Kartha)

“It would be a waste of my existence to give it fighting you. There is an evil down here that needs ending. Something that has slumbered or waited patiently for thousands of years. Let me help you find out what happened down here, you and I have nothing to gain by fighting each-other.”

(players interrogate Kartha)

“Look, I just got here. I don’t know much more than you do. I do know that it’s likely the key to deactivating the barrier is in this building. I’ve seen beasts come and go from this building almost as if they’re on patrol. I’ve also detected a powerful magic signal coming from here. The only one nearby that is stronger is coming from the other side of the barrier.”

(players ask about the surroundings)

You’re in the foyer of some kind of administrative building. The contruction is granite and metal, like a fortress, but the architecture is reminiscent of Kaptalis manor houses. A pair of staircases with most of the railings broken off leads to a balcony on the second floor which surrounds the foyer. There are two doors on either side of the first floor and a guard station in the center. A pair of dwarven skeletons are slumped over a rotting ballista. The second floor balcony has three doors on each side and a pair of double doors facing the entrance. That’s all you can see from your current position.

(players explore the room)
On the other side of the guard station is a trapdoor with a padlock. The padlock is considerably newer than the trapdoor itself.

(players open trapdoor)

Behind the trapdoor is a ladder leading to an unlit room. The torchlight in the foyer is not enough to illuminate the room below. You can’t tell how far down the ladder goes.

(players illuminate the bottom)
The ladder descends for 20 feet before meeting the stone floor.

(players descend)
The room you’re in is hundreds of feet on either side, with rows upon rows of 7-foot cubed iron bar cages. Inside many of the cages are between 3 and five people. The people inside the cages are a mix of dwarves, short and stocky by dwarven standards and Elves with jet black skin and white hair. Mixed in among them sporadically are orcs numbering in the hundreds. In total, there are nearly a thousand people in the room. Most of them are eying you with suspicion.

One of them, an Orc about five rows down, speaks to the people around him in a language you don’t recognize. Then he addresses you in the same language.

(players ask Bakario)
Bakario shrugs his shoulders and says: “It’s some form of hybrid between ancient dwarven and pre-scourge orcish. Let me try something.”

“Epski Ling Heptusha?”

“Jyaro”

You all recognize the language they’re speaking as heptusian, although the syntax is difficult to understand. You can understand general ideas, but not word for word explanations. Bakario is practically wetting his pants with excitement. he says: "I jut proved the thousand-year old hypothesis that Heptusian is a derivitive of ancient dwarven.

Orc knows the following:

-His name is Rukyas

-They were all born in captivity, save for the oldest. Very few of them are older than 30. The oldest person there claims she was captured in the city 40 years ago.

-They are drip-fed memories of other lives by telepathy.

-Some of the memories are of battles against demons of ashen grey skin and hair that flows red like from a wound.

-They’ve made several escape attempts, all have ended with the escapees being taken upstairs and never seen again. The most recent was one of the elves.

-Suicides are common.

-Every so often, one of them is taken by a hooded figure in a black robe. Those taken rarely return, and those who do return are revealed later to be pregnant.

(players finish questioning the Orc)

Bakario asks for a word in private.

“I’ve translated the scrawled note we found in that larder. It’s a suicide note. The pair we found in that larder were brothers, the older one was sent down to hide with the younger while their parents took up arms. The city was under attack by creatures known as “Illithids”, they had been at war for half a century and attacks were fairly common. Every time an attack came, the brothers hid underground until the fighting stopped. But one time, the fighting never started. Their parents never came home, so they stayed in the cellar. Soon they started to hear strange creatures on the surface. They continued to wait, hoping to be rescued by an expedition from the Drow, but no one came. The older brother realized they would starve and killed his younger in his sleep before taking his own life. The note is dated with a pre-scourge notation. I can’t be exact, but It was written at least a thousand years prior to the Scourge. Match that with the wear on the bars of some of these cages and I’d say people have been kept here as livestock for well over a millenium.

Enfys adds: “I can’t tell you much, but they’re distrophic and malnourished. I doubt most of them could run. I think they’ve spent their entire lives caged in here.”

Robyn returns from their sweep of the room and says: “I can’t give you a full count. That trap door we came in from is the only exit. So, how do we get them out of here?”

(players tell the Orc how long it has been)
The orc refuses to believe it and implores the 60-year old elf across the aisle to deny it. The elf replies that her parents were the among the first captured and they made her understand that in order to keep some semblance of hope alive, she could not allow the next generation to know how long their people had been imprisoned. She had begun to suspect that her parents had mislead her and admits that she doesn’t really know how long this has gone on for.

The orc sits down, a stunned look on his face. Enfys says: “Give him a bit. He just had everything he know torn apart. This changes things for us, too. We can’t be solely concerned with the Arkali anymore.”

(players plan next move)

(if asked)
Robyn says: “I think the figure who addressed us in the square is the same one who has been coming down here. Given the condition these people are in, I don’t think we could arrange safe passage until after we bring them its head.”

Kartha says: “The Arkali are still a problem. While you’re clearing this building, I can pick a fight with them and hold them at bay for a bit.”

(players go upstairs)

The atrium is as you left it.

(2nd floor)
The double doors at the top of the steps show aging signs of a break-in. One of the knobs has been forced off and the door bolted in place. The knob on the other door is intact.

(spot DC 17)
You see a narrow pin at the top of the door positioned to break when the door is opened. (disable device DC 15, or dispel magic)

(door opened without disabling trap)
You hear a quiet snap and the door is blown off its hinges with great force. (impact damage 2d6 plus knock-back, reflex DC 17 negates)

The door careens back at high speed and flies across the second floor, then crashing into the first floor further splattering the creature whose jaw was cleaved off by Irythan.

(reflex DC 15 to avoid falling if impacted by door)

Behind the door, you see the shattered remains of an emerald and a magic rune burned into the floor.

(trap disabled)
You hear a pathetic fizzling noise and the door opens on its own. You see a magic rune fade from the floor.

A few feet back from the door is a spiral staircase leading upward.

(3rd floor)

There is a pair of intact double doors, locked (DC 18). You see a faint trickle of blood oosing out the bottom.

(players unlock door (roll or take 10))
Behind the door you see an elf shackled to the opposite wall. A figure in a black robe is facing him. The figure has removed its hood. It’s head is proportionally larger than a human’s, with chitinous grey skin and a series of 3 tentacles extending from it’s mouth toward the victim. It does not appear to have noticed your presence.

(players unlock the door (take 20))
Behind the door you see a dead elf shackled to the opposite wall, it’s scalp caked in blood. A figure in a black robe is facing him. The figure has removed its hood. It’s head is proportionally larger than a human’s, with chitinous grey skin and a series of 3 blood covered tentacles extending from it’s mouth toward the victim. The figure does not appear to have noticed your presence.

(players kick down the door (DC 15 strength check))
Behind the door you see an elf shackled to the opposite wall. A figure in a black robe has turned to face you. The figure has removed it’s hood to reveal a head that is proportionally larger than a human’s, with chitinous grey skin and a series of 3 tentacles hanging from it’s where its mouth would be. The creature has monochrome red eyes and lacks a visible nose or ears. The creature says nothing and prepares to attack.

Combat with Illithid

(combat ends)
The figure squeals in pain and falls dead on the floor.

(players search room)
On the desk, you find a leatherbound book written in a language you don’t recognize. However, folded into the page is a note written in arcane script and a schematic for a magic barrier. Additionally, folded into the inside front cover, there are instructions for a spell to extract memories from a living Elder Dragon.

View
Chapter 58- "What are those?"

Once you’ve passed the rubble, the cave opens up into a long passage as wide as a city boulevard. The floor is scattered with masonry loosened by the years.

“On the upside”, Robyn remarks, “At least it’s warmer in here.”

The passage continues into the pitch black passage.

(players reach main chamber)
The passage drops off sharply in front of you into a pit. You cannot see in what light you’ve cast how wide or deep the pit is.

(players illuminate the dropoff)
You can see rubble below and what looks to be scattered pieces of a switchback staircase jutting out from the cliffside. The cliff descends for at least 50 stories.

(elves get spot checks, dc 20)
(Success) You spot depressions and glints of metal between the stone bricks in the wall to your right. Clear indicators of a hidden mechanism.

(investigate) Further inspection indicates that the mechanism is a hidden door, you cannot determine what lies on the other side. The mechanism can be activated by manipulating the cogs between the bricks.

(players open the door)
The room on the other side looks like an armory. Racks of battleaxes, pikes and shields line the walls. The racks are covered in cobwebs, but the weapons look as though they haven’t aged a day. A row of three locked trunks are against the opposite wall and there is a lever on either side of the entrance. Each lever has a different rune etched beside it in the stone.

(players ask Bakario to check the runes)
Bakario takes a moment to look and says "The one on the left is the Rune for “Daylight”, the other translates to ‘Exit’, though I’m unsure whether it means the door we came through or the way to the surface."

(players look at the chests)

(left trunk contains a Mithril breastplate)

(center trunk contains an assortment of mundane weapons, though some are inlaid with expensive looking gems)

(players open chest on the right)
(spot DC 25: The trunk, though constructed of metal, appears strangely organic in nature. Rows of teeth are subtly etched in either side of the opening.

You attempt to open the trunk only to have it attempt to bite you (surprise round for mimic)

combat with mimic

(players exit room after pulling ‘daylight lever’)

You emerge from the room to see a massive array of luminescent stones hanging from and clinging to the ceiling. The area the cliff descended into has been partially illuminated, though some of it is still shrouded in darkness.

The chamber is massive, easily a size rivaling most cities. In it, you can see the ruins of a city that has long since been abandoned. Walls and entire buildings have collapsed and among the rubble-strewn streets below, you can see an ecosystem of aberrant creatures that you’ve never even heard rumored. Some of them look predatory in nature, all of them look alien.

(if players take note) Most of the creatures are just wandering, but some of them seem to be moving in orderly patterns. You are too high up to make out specific features, although enormous eyes, tentacles and gaping maws of sharp teeth are common.

You can also see a clearer picture of the dropoff. It’s at least 500 feet down, punctuated by short stretches of staircase jutting out of the rock.

(the largest platforms below are large enough to fit 7 people, real distance 520 feet)

(if the subject comes up)
Reilly says: “We’ve smashed her army, but Kartha is still down there. Our commandos can make it to the bottom this way if they have to, but it will take time we don’t have. If Kartha gets to the artifact first, we’re done. We can cover the exit or we can follow you as backup, but you need to go now.”

(players descend)
(DC 15 climb checks, DC 10 with a successful ‘use rope’ check)

(players reach second platform)
You’re just under 20 stories above the bottom of the rock face, standing on the only available platform. As you shift to make room for Enfys on the platform, the masonry underfoot begins to separate and stone blocks start falling off the edge.

(Lorraine and Christine)
You feel the stone beneath your feet begin to give way. You can make one standard action before you begin to fall. A move action requires a successful reflex save.

(players make it to the ground)
The city looks no different up close, save that you can see details like broken street lamps, windows smashed in and doors rotting away. Most of the doors are made of some kind of organic matter, similar to wood. Some are reinforced by rusting iron shims. Most of the strange creatures seem to be staying away from the edges of the city, but you hear the occasional throaty chirp or inhuman growl close by. From where you are you cannot see any creatures.

Enfys points to your left and says:
“I had Bakario make a rough map of the streets. That house over there looks intact. Let’s take shelter in there while we figure out our next move.”

(players take shelter)
The house was once a two-story structure, but the walls on the second floor have almost entirely caved in. a collapsed wall covers the staircase like a ceiling.

You first enter the living room, which appears to double as a dining space. The room has an empty fireplace and a large stone pew with a cushion that has long disintegrated into scraps of moldy cloth. Across from the fireplace are two sconses mounted on the wall with piles of wax. There is a dining table in the center that is set for a meal, albeit with some of the dishes and utensils knocked on the floor. A bottle of wine sits on the table next to a rusting corkscew. The table is crowded with pools of melted wax from the chandelier above that have since hardened.

Enfys moves an old plate and fork aside and blows off some of the dust to make room for Bakario’s map.

Bakario is halfway across the room examining scrolls, tablets and books on a shelf.

(players may search the house)

(kitchen) Enfys leaves the map and joins you. She lights a torch and mounts it in one of the sconses on the wall. The kitchen is small, but well equipped. A ceramic oven sits open with a lightly charred bone lying on a roasting rack, the marrow eaten away. There is also a lightly rusted iron stove with a pot lying on the floor next to it. All the food that may have been there is gone. You can also see a locked trapdoor in the far corner.

(open lock) The lock has rusted beyond the point of tumbler manipulation

(open lock result 15 or higher) Age and rust has weakened the locking point enough that the lock could be forced open with enough leverage.

(players open trapdoor) The room below you, illuminated by the kitchen’s light appears to be a larder. It’s hard to know for sure from the entryway, though.

(players enter larder) The shelves of the larder are empty. In the corner, lying on the stone floor, are two orcish skeletons huddled together. One adult, one child. The adult is still holding a rusted sword. Strewn about the floor are wax wrappings of cheese wheels, paper bread wrappers and other scraps. There is a note written on one of the bread wrappers. You can’t read the text, but you recognize the Orcish characters.

(players go back to the living room)
You return to find Bakario shackled by one wrist to the bench next to the fireplace. He’s trying to form words, but no sound is coming out. He’s frantically pointing at the bookshelf.

(players check the bookshelf) Bakario has removed several books and there is a key on the top shelf.

(players pick lock on shackles (dc 20))
The shackle on Bakario’s wrist falls off and clatters on the floor. Bakario says: “there’s a key on the table, but that works, too”

(players break shackles)
One of the links on the chain snaps and

(players unshackle Bakario)
Bakario says: "Thanks, those shackles had an enchantment that kept me quiet. I’ve known colleagues to use similar enchantments on creature’s whose utterances… ach, nevermind. Listen, Kartha was just here. She paralyzed me by magic before I even noticed her and shackled me to the bench. She told me to deliver a message to you. She said there are forces here that are more evil than you can imagine. She said that the creatures who drove out the people who built this place still here. She said something or someone appears to be giving them commands and that she wants to put an end to them. She said she was going to the large keep in the Center of the city. You have more experience with her than I do, but for what it’s worth, I think she was telling the truth.

(players decide next move, anything said by mind-chat is heard by ilithids.)

(available information)
The keep Kartha traveled to is about 2 miles away as the crow flies.
The creatures you’ve seen so far are unlike anything you have ever encountered, there is no way to know their exact capabilities (allow dungeoneering check).

(Knowledge dungeoneering dc 20)
The environment has been pitch black for an extended period of time, so the creatures must either have darkvision or another means of perception adequate for navigating.

Some of them have discernable mouths and sharp teeth, even from a distance, so either they eat each-other or there must be some source of meat around.

(players head toward keep)

If your presence has been detected, the creatures seem to be keeping their distance deliberately. You can hear noises from the aberrant creatures in the background.

(ask players: Are there any preparations you would like to make? Any spells to cast? What is your formation? What is your pace?)

You pass rows of houses and tenements for several blocks. The street eventually opens up into a market place, arrayed with small ruined buildings and market stalls.What few stalls are still standing have merchandise and gold coins laid out on them as if the merchants had simply gone to grab a ledger, albeit crusted over by spiderwebs in varying states of age.

(Potential Drider encounter, if players try to pick up gold)

You push the webs out of the way and pick up a handful of gold coins. As you put them in your pouch, you hear a sort of malicious moaning coming from one of the nearby buildings. A emaciated head and torso of an elf crest over the roof of the building, followed shortly after by a spider’s thorax and abdomen, with eight spiny legs. The abomination prepares to pounce. (normal initiative)

(players defeat creature)

The abomination falls dead with a screech that is eerily human, as though it experienced a moment of awareness before death. Enfys approaches to confirm that it’s dead. “Hey,” She says, “Come take a look at this.”

Enfys points out an array of old scars on the elven part of the creature’s body. Some of them seem to indicate torture, though others are etched in arcane symbols.

Enfys runs her dagger across the creature’s throat, bisecting the airway and the carotid arteries. She says to you: “Go ahead and pick up anything useful you can carry. I need to examine this beast.”

(players return)
Enfys, up to her elbows in blood, says: "Sorry about the mess, but I had to be sure. The humanoid torso is no elf, at least not like I’ve seen. The liver is much too large, the vasculature is all wrong and it has two extra vertebrae. I can also say for certain that this creature was once entirely humanoid, though I doubt it was of the same elven blood we know.

(players continue to keep)
After another hour of walking, the streets open up again to a public square with a dry and ruined fountain in the center. At the opposite end of the square is a 4-story keep with a massive staircase leading to a set of double doors. The 3rd and 4th floors both have balconies overlooking the square

(players approach the keep)
You see a figure cresting the balcony overlooking the square. It is humanoid, tall and gaunt, dressed in a black robe with tight sleeves. A hood conceals their face. They don’t speak, but you can hear them by some form of telepathy. The voice is eerily calm and shows no sign of emotion.

(if players used mind chat underground)
“I could not help but overhear your conversation. You seek our prize. That which will carry us into your realm unhindered. It matters not.”

(if players spoke of their army over mind-chat)
“We have dispatched a sortie to eliminate your forces. By now they will have sprung an ambush. Help will not be arriving.”

(regardless of mind-chat subject matter)
“You will die here. Buried in the dirt like all who thought to challenge us.”

(if players did not use mind chat)
You cannot hide the magic which pervades you. It will be your undoing. Tell me, what is it you seek which compels you to tread on the bones of a dead people, knowing you oppose harbingers to the death of civilizations?

(players say “artifact”)
“Material ends? Typical. You will die here. Buried in the dirt like all who thought to challenge us.”

(players say they don’t know)
“Creatures of the mundane flailing their curiosity at the darkness. I suppose it’s in your nature. Nevertheless, you will die here. Buried in the dirt like all who thought to challenge us.”

The figure casually waves it’s hand as it walks back inside the building. Two creatures leap out of a portal in the fountain and lunge (show picture)

combat with Otyughs

The second creature succumbs to its’ wounds and crumples to the worn cobblestone. There is no sign of the figure that apparently sent them.

(players enter keep)

(listen DC 14)
You can hear the signs of a fight going on inside the keep just beyond the door. One or both of the combatants is using evocation magic.

(players enter mid fight)
You see Kartha holding a spear and fighting an aberrant creature. The creature is a disembodied head with human-ish features and reptilian skin. Its mouth contains several rows of needle-like teeth and many eyes extend from its scalp on short, thin tentacles.

Kartha shouts: “Help me finish this thing off!”

(players kill creature)
The beast falls from the air like a stone and hits the stone tile floor hard. You hear the telltale sign of a skull cracking and blood begins to pool around its remains.

(players enter after fight ends)
You see an aberrant creature lying dead on the ground. The creature is a disembodied head with human-ish features and reptilian skin. Its mouth contains several rows of needle-like teeth and many eyes extend from its scalp on short, thin tentacles. It has a spear sticking out of its left eye. Kartha is holding the spear.

(fight is over)
Kartha takes a deep breath and says “I think we need to talk”

(out of character)
“See you on Thursday”

View
Chapter 57- "This can't possibly be all of them."

(players ascend the cliff)

(Climb checks, DC 17. No taking 10.)

The blizzard cuts at your nerves and your grip and it take tremendous focus to ascend. At the top, you see a scattered group of evergreens stubbornly clinging to the rock. Several of them are peppered with crossbow bolts and various forms of weapon damage. You also see two Arkali lying in the snow. The blizzard has already started to Bury their corpses.

Enfys remarks “It looks like Gareth gave as good as he got.”

(Players reach the gate)
You reach the stone passage Gareth had mentioned. The gate appears to have be smashed in and is lying in a twisted heap at the bottom of the passage. The passage itself is a stone tunnel with a curved roof and there is a frozen trickle of fetid, dirty water that has formed icicles at the entrance.

(players enter)
The passage continues for what feels like at least a mile. It begins to get warmer as you pass though and the fetid ice begins to melt and smell of sewage and rotting flesh.

You turn a corner and you can see an opening 20 feet away lit by a flickering white light. The smell of rotting flesh is growing more powerful.

(players approach opening) The passage opens to a disused Cistern, although it smells more like a cesspool. The area is lit by glowing white stones that flicker much like candles. Cleaner water appears to be dripping from points in the roof into the overflowing cistern.

(players enter cistern)
Inside the cistern the smell is overpowering. It takes great fortitude and focus to avoid vomiting. You note bits of corpses in various states of decay floating in the cistern. Spider webs have saturated the walls. The cistern itself has a network of 3 canals going outward into the tunnels

Bakario has already begun reading the runes carved into the masonry. He tells you: “This dialect is much more modern than the writing on the bridge. I think I can make some of it out. Give me a few minutes.”

While waiting for Bakario to finish, you see a body float toward the Cistern from the canal to the left of the way you came in. You immediately recognize the blood red hair and ashen skin. A scrap of its shirt catches on to a jagged rock on the side of the canal. Bakario is still gawking at the runes.

(players examine the body)
On close examination, the Arkali warrior is breathing and his eyes are wide open and tracking you. She still is not moving, but you can see the seething hatred in her eyes.

(dc 16 heal check)
You notice what appear to be sharp human bite marks on the Arkali warrior’s left shoulder, adjacent to the base of the neck.

(regardless of player action)
The glowing stones begin to flicker and then quickly snuff out. The room is pitch black.

Combat 1 Drider

(One round in) From near the entryway you hear Reilly shout: “Bakario, go back to the path and get reinforcements! Enfys and I will hold them here!”

You hear the distinctive snap of someone priming a sunrod, and see Enfys toss a live one into the murky water. The illumination is far from perfect, but even the shadowy illumination allows for better combat conditions. You see Reilly engaged in a melee with two Arkali spearmen.

(Drider below half) Enfys and Reilly are still holding off waves of Arkali trying to pursue Bakario.

(combat ends)
The Drider succumbs to it’s wounds and Enfys has started plucking arrows out of the Arkali who were trying to chase Bakario, who has still not returned.

Now that the din of an indoor fight has died down, you can hear gunfire and shouting from down the passage. One of the voices is getting louder and closer (listen DC 12 indicates the voice is yelling for help in Bastion Common)

(what do you do?)

You see Robyn running down the narrow passage. Their sword is sheathed, but smoke is coming from one of the barrels of their tri-pistol. You can hear them shouting: “Arkali! They’re here in force. We can’t hold them much longer!”

(players approach Robyn)
Robyn continues: “We’ve all gotten up the cliffs, but we got ambushed from behind by Arkali. We’re holding our own at the entrance, but they just keep coming from Pelor knows where.”

Boom the sound of a grenade blast echoes through the passage, shaking down loose bits of masonry and dust.

Robyn coughs back dust and continues: “We’re going to start taking casualties soon. I’d say we can hold them off for three hours, maybe four if Enfys and Reilly join us. That’s if we fight to the last. Not what I’d call a tempting option”

(players resolve the conflict)

Reilly approaches Bakario and pins him against the wall with the stump of her right arm. “Start talking, bookworm. Those Arkali practically jumped on my sword to get to you. I need to know what the seventh hell is going on! Why do they want you so badly?”

Enfys interrupts: “Reilly, calm down. I don’t think they wanted him. They wanted the book he was carrying.”

Reilly uses her intact hand to grab the Paragon’s Journal from Bakario’s satchel and releases him. “Sorry, scholar. I was running a bit hot. Regardless, I think we should leave this with someone who can fight. I’ll keep it safe.”

“That’s a group decision, Reily.” Robyn, who has been supporting a wounded elf, continues: “If the Arkali want that book, then that only makes it more valuable. Not a decision to be made by one person. I say we let Enfys keep track of it.”

(players decide who keeps the book)

Reilly hands you the Journal. “I hope you realize,” she says “That the Arkali will come at you with everything you have for as long as you’re holding this.”

(players continue)
You continue down the passage. Soon the scent of rotting flesh dissipates and you begin to feel a breeze. A flickering white light is reflecting dimly off the walls and you can see the end of the narrow tunnel in the distance.

(players reach exit)
You reach the remains of another iron gate, smashed open as before. Beyond it is a staircase descending into massive open cavern with glowing stones hanging from the ceiling on long heavy chains. On the surface of the cavern, hundreds of feet below you see the ruins of a great city, at least twice the size of Gildenport. Even from the distance you can see the most alien of creatures, unseen in modern ages, stalking the ancient boulevards below.

View
Chapter 56: "What the hell is she doing here?"

You reach the foothills of Mount Maitheranas an hour after sundown on the third day of overland travel. You were able to cross the Faskian border without being engaged by a force of any considerable size. Travel in Weslyth was slow because of the cold, muddy roads.

(to Irythan)
“Irythan, wake up.” One of the soldiers, a Dwarven man by the name of Tobryk, is kneeling over you. “I thought you should know. I was on patrol and we spotted a battallion heading toward the mountain. I didn’t believe this at first, but they were flying Paragon colors. Do you know anything about this?”

(players take down camp, ask for marching order)
It is nearly dawn by the time you’re underway again. Clouds rolled in from the south overnight and snow is beginning to fall. You feel a slight chill as the wind picks up. After about 3 miles, the trail begins to narrow as the mountain grows more steep. Soon your entire expedition is going single file along a narrow strip of rock.

(to Veil)
You see a scrap of grey cloth stuck on a dead tree after about a mile of single file hiking. The branch it is stuck to appears to have been scratched deliberately with a knife in a line pattern.

(veil investigates)
You find a small flask in a knot hole with a scrap of paper inside (beat). There is a note that reads “It’s Gareth. I had planned to wait for you at the base of the mountain, but I spotted a small group of Arkali scouts heading up the path. I’m following them to find out if they know where this artifact is. Continue up the mountain. You’ll either find more notes, or my corpse. Whatever happens, the Arkali must not find the artifact. Do whatever it takes to stop them.”

(players continue)
Visibility has been cut to about 20 feet ahead as the blizzard picks up, though the path has widened significantly. A half mile from the dead tree, you come to an ancient looking stone bridge, with runes carved into the stone pillars flanking the walkway (pause).

Bakario looks over the runes and says: “This makes no sense. This writing is ancient Dwarven, but it references events that occurred during the Arkali wars. The Dwarven kingdoms collapsed Millenia before the scourge began and the language died out to be replaced by Heptusian.”

“I’m sorry, my old dwarven is rusty. I can’t translate this without my books. If this snow lets up by the time we get back, I’ll make a charcoal rubbing and try to translate it back at Polaris.”

(spot check DC 17)
You notice the bridge is crumbling in a few locations, the centuries have not been kind to it.

(players cross bridge)
When you get across the bridge, there is a translucent figure waiting for you. You immediately recognize her as Kartha of Termalyn, the Paragon turned necromancer you fought at Polaris.

“Don’t bother with your weapons,” She says. “I’m miles ahead of you. This is just a projection so we can talk without being interrupted by an attempt to kill me. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting to see you here. And I see you brought friends.”

“Look, I want us to put the past behind us and work together. That business in my old office was beneath us. We all want the same thing, although that inquisitor friend of yours didn’t seem to like me. Really, Enfys. I thought you knew better than to work with Bastion agents.”

Enfys replies
“I still know better than to work with necromancers.”

Kartha displays a rude gesture, then turns to face you and says: “Antiquated moron. Look, I’m not interested in being your enemy and you sure as all hells don’t want to be mine. Let’s find this artifact together and go our seperate ways. I’m at a cave entrance several miles ahead. I won’t wait forever.”

Two miles up, you find Gareth seated on the ground with his back against the cliffside. He’s badly wounded and clutching a primed pistol.

(players approach)
Gareth says: “About time you showed up. I thought I was going to die up here. I’ve been trying to find a way into the mountain’s cavern. I thought I caught a break when I saw a hewn stone passage, but it was locked behind a steel gate. I doubled back to try to find another way, but a mob of Arkali ambushed me. There were about 10 of them, well trained and well armed. I fought them off, but the path gave way underfoot and I fell down here and snapped a femur”

Gareth pulls the flap of a blanket off his leg to reveal a splinter of bone sticking out of his leg.

“That was a few hours ago. I think they’re still up there. The passage is up top and a dragon’s wingspan to the left. There should be enough of the path left to walk on once you reach the top. Take care, though. One of them was massive.”

(players talk about where to go)
Enfys says: “It will take half a day to get up that cliff with our whole force. Look, we’re going to have to fight Kartha’s army eventually. I say we do it now. I can help control the battlefield and our people are more than a match for lesser undead.”

Reilly argues: “Yes, but if we engage them directly we’ll take casualties before we’re even underground. It’s worth the extra time if we can fight them in a chokepoint where their numbers won’t do as much good.”

(players talk briefly)

Gareth interrupts: “I’ve been tracking a force of lesser undead. I’d recognize the skeletal footprints anywhere. I was maybe 20 minutes behind them on the way up. I lost them about an hour ago. Is this the same Kartha that was part of the Termali Paragons? I thought she was killed in an assault.”

(find a place to sneak this in)
Gareth’s voice is weak: “For what it’s worth, you’ve earned a friend in Bastion for as long as I breathe. Doesn’t seem like that will be for much longer, though.”

(Players engage Kartha’s army)
The expedition party inspects and loads their weapons before marching forward up the mountain. Reilly stops you for a second and asks “What should we do about Gareth?”

(call for Fort saves vs cold)

After a 9-mile rushed hike up the mountain, the path widens until it levels out to a plateau surrounded by stone obelisks. You see a horde of 150 lesser undead in battledress under Paragon banners. In front of them is an Elven man in dark robes wearing a sword on his belt and carrying a staff. The man waves a flag of truce and beckons you to approach.

(Spot DC 20, DM roll)
You notice recent displacement of snow

(players approach)
After approach, you notice that there are two luminescent stones flanking a large cavern mouth behind the lesser undead. The elven man meets you halfway between forces and says: “Kartha wishes to meet with you. We have reports of Arkali already inside, so we’d rather not delay. The terms of parlay are for both sides to take hostages and all parties to enter the meeting unarmed. I have been ordered to volunteer myself as a hostage. Is this agreeable?”

(players decline)
The elven man goes pale with bloodshot eyes and draws his sword. The friendly infantry at your back lock gunpikes in firing position and ready shields. In a raspy, ancient voice, the elf says “You brought this on yourselves.”.

Combat, 1 vampire. Armed with longsword and lighting staff

Lightning staff:
-Call lightning (5th) x1
-Lightning bolt (5th) x4

Special:
- 2-4 zombie attacks/round (5 melee, 1d104 stabbing).
- 1 paragon commando/round is killed.
- If players spot the snow displacement, -5 casualties.

Combat ends
Kartha’s commander falls to earth, riddled with holes. His form suddenly turns gaseous and flys away. The lesser undead flee in a panic, all the while being peppered from behind by gunpike rounds.

(players approach the entrance)
The entrance is surrounded by rubble. It appears it was magically blasted open. There is a broken obelisk by the entrance, covered in Runes that look similar to Dwarven, but you can’t make them out.

(Players have Bakario translate)
Bakario takes a moment, then says: “This is in Orcish. Some of it is broken and worn, but I can make out the last few sentences fairly clearly. It says: ‘So we flee our home to the surface and Bury our civilization forever. Only the greatest of Sacrifices will stop the Cataclysm before it swallows the world. One day we will return to…’ The text ends there.”

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Chapter 55- "Invading southwestern Fask"

“You’re out of your damn head, Reilly!”

This is the argument you walk in on when you return to the Hexagon to sleep and prepare for the journey to Weslyth. Cecily’s funeral was brief and you managed to make it back by sundown.

“Enfys, we can’t just waltz across Fask with 60 heavily armed stubborn bastards. It would attract attention and we’d be cut to pieces by the Faskian army before we got halfway to Weslyth.”

“So instead we assault a fortified port with no naval support? Even “Mythril Bitch” McTeague couldn’t pull that one off"

“So we should leave a fortified garrison to report back to their commanders that 60 Paragon soldiers have landed on the beach? They’d cut us off at the border.”

“Not if we land near the Heptusian border. They haven’t fortified the Granite beach.”

“Enfys, It would take half a day to get a force of 60 up those cliffs. We’d be too exposed.”

“More exposed than sailing up to a fortress in a stolen Kaptalis prison ship? Did you lose your good sense along with your right arm?”

“That was low, Enfys.”

(players interrupt)
“About time,” Enfys says, “Can you talk Warmaster McTeague out of invading southwestern Fask? We agreed it would be a bad idea to march our entire force across Fask, but Reilly thinks the best option is to Seize a fortified harbor.”

Reilly says: “Look, I’ll save you some time. We can either go without the infantry support, assault the harbor, or scale the cliffs at granite beach. If you have a fourth option, I’m dying to hear it.”

(players discuss travel to Weslyth)

Robyn speaks up: “Okay, so we get to Weslyth. What about the mountain? I’ve been in that region. The mountains there are steep and the paths are narrow. Not to mention the weather: it’s a hard winter in northern Weslyth, especially in the mountains.”

After your preparations are finalized, you head for the Ironjack with a sailing crew and your retinue. Enfys, Reilly, and Bakario have joined you for the journey. The word from the gates is that Gareth left on horseback a day ago, traveling with haste.

The sun sets as you cast off and you settle in for the two-day journey. Enfys and Reilly drill the landing party on amphibious combat with by boat and by swimming. By the end of the trip, the crew is able to board and disembark under combat conditions and to use coordinated fire from a landing craft. Enfys has also taught them how to swim without damaging their weapons and how to fire their weapons while treading water.

Bakario has also been busy. At mid day of the day before the landing, he approaches you with a decrypted passage from the book. It’s been translated to Bastion common syntax. It reads as follows:

“Vartan Mirranel.
21st of Newfrost, 1036 AC.

The armies are in full retreat after the disaster in Foskara. My order warned them not to attempt open combat with the forces of the Scourge, but they wouldn’t listen. I know the armies are going north to Weslyth, hoping to survive the Scourge by escaping it. I must go south. There are still scattered refugees from the war, running from roving bands of the cursed. The magic behind the Arthum-Kalipt is unlike anything we’ve ever encountered in a millenium. I’m going south to see if any of my order still remains. Hopefully we’ll be able to find some way to stop this madness. I’m writing this in code so that it cannot be used against what is left of humanity’s armies."

Bakario says: “You might be interested to know, he used an Elven Cypher that was developed during the Arkali Wars. It would explain why your old comrades couldn’t decrypt it. I’ll let you know when I have more in a legible condition.”

The Ironjack slows and then stops. It is mid afternoon. The helmist comes down a ladder and says: “I can see granite cliffs in the distance. If we get any closer right now, we risk being spotted and I didn’t sign up for exchanging cannon fire. It’ll be dark in a few hours.”

The sun has set and the first wave of the landing party is waiting in a trio of small rowboats. Reilly hands you a spyglass and points to the shore. There is a trench dug in along the shoreline as far as the eye can see with a series of spikes on the beach designed to break up a charge. Opposite the trench is a small brick hut with an iron roof and 3 stone barricades 3 feet high, reinforced with steel struts. The treeline is 30 feet behind the hut. There are no beach patrols in sight. Reilly tells you to wave with a guard’s helmet when they’re clear to make landing.

As you ready yourself to teleport, Enfys waves and says: “When you put a blade in the commander’s ribcage, tell him Enfys Gwalchine says hello.”

(begin combat when players begin approach, hide checks every round)

The signal is given and you see a series of boats approaching at full rowing speed. Some soldiers are hanging off the sides. They beach the boats, disembark and move toward the trench. The dingy is approaching behind them with the rest of the landing party and supplies. The dingy runs aground and soldiers begin removing supplies and materials. A group of ten lay spare planks from the dingy over the trench and begin disassembling the spikes to allow for easier crossing. The landing party then pushes the rowboats and dingy back into the water to be rowed back to the Ironjack. The entire landing takes less than a minute and the landers are behind the treeline in full pack in less than two.

Enfys approaches carrying a torch in one hand and a bottle of cheap whiskey in the other. She says “Let’s see them mount a pursuit while their guard station is on fire. I’m going to enjoy this.”

(players allow it)
Enfys splashes whiskey on the bedding and the furniture and throws the torch over her shoulder as she walks out the front door.

The rest of the expedition party is waiting for you by the treeline. Even the scholarly Bakario is armed and armored. You spread out among the trees and move at a fast clip towards Weslyth

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Chapter 54- "Those who must carry on"

You make it to Freeharbor around mid day. Is there anything you would like to do before you leave for Weslyth?

(Reilly and Enfys are at the Hexagon with the soldiers)
The Hexagon is one of the few buildings that looks like it did before. It hasn’t been rebuilt or repurposed. Inside, Reilly and Enfys are demonstrating a two-person firing technique using a gunpike and a shield. Enfys is bracing the shield with two hands. Reilly has the butt of the gunpike planted in a special indent on the shield. Reilly pulls the trigger and blows the helmet off a dummy 80 feet away, then readies her spear for a charge.

Enfys reports: “We have about 50 soldiers who are solid enough to send into a fight, and that’s only because they had prior combat training. Reilly says they can be ready to bear arms tomorrow, I don’t quite feel right about asking that of them, though. Most of them have good friends who are still in training."

On your way to the Western gate, Fetrian flags you down and says with a grim look on his face: “I’ve been looking all over for you. Cecily wants to see you. It won’t take long, but I’m afraid it can’t wait. Please follow me. I can explain on the way over.”

“I’ll be blunt. Cecily is dying. She has been for years. She was using a considerable amount of magic ability to keep herself alive, but her age has caught up with her. She told me to find you if you ever came back. Wants to say goodbye in person.”

Cecily’s home is a small two-story two-room house in the slums. Cecily is seated in a chair on the second floor, looking out onto the street. She looks exhausted beyond human potential.

“Ah, you’re here. Sorry there’s no where to sit, you’re probably the first guests I’ve ever had here. And don’t give me that look, Fetrian. I’m not spending my last days curled up in bed. This is heart failure, not the plague.”

“Now, our new friends. Thank you for coming to see a friend. need to ask you one last favor. I know the people of this city consider me a hero, but that’s not how I want to leave this world. I know I’ve done good in this world, more than many get a chance to do. But like you, I’m still merely human. When I die, I want you to take my body to the river and float it out to sea like we’ve done with our dead for centuries. I was born a common girl in the slums, I’d like to die as one.”

“You know, I’m probably the first slumdweller ever to die of old age. But thanks to you, I won’t be the last. You’re probably tired of me thanking you, so let’s have one last drink instead. Fetrian, could you grab that bottle of 582 whiskey?”

Fetrian returns with a bottle and 9 glasses

“One of my ancestors stole this bottle while working at the still nearly 200 years ago. It’s been passed down awaiting a celebration that would be remembered for longer than the bottle has aged. What should we drink to?”

Cecily drinks in silence, watching people milling in the streets below her window. The last words she says are an old rebel’s blessing: “On barricades with steel bare, in home on lover’s breast. It matters not, for I leave the world a place more free. Weep not for the dead who may rest, but for the living who must carry on.”

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Chapter 54 (Alternate)- "Your friend didn't make it"

Lilac and Harxen stay behind to escort the Refugees. Declan and Robyn come with you and Gareth to Freeharbor.

Gareth has requisitioned horses for you to travel to Freeharbor and then to Weslyth to find whatever was hidden all those centuries ago.

You make it to Freeharbor around mid day. Is there anything you would like to do before you leave for Weslyth?

On your way to (destination), Fetrian flags you down and says with a grim look on his face: “Cecily wants to see you. Please follow me. I can explain on the way over.”

“I’ll be blunt. Cecily is dying. She has been for a while. The healers tell us it’s cancer. She was using a considerable amount of magic ability to keep herself alive, but her time has run out. She told me to find you if you ever came back. Wants to say goodbye in person.”

Cecily’s home is a small two-story two-room house in the slums. Cecily is seated in a chair on the second floor, looking out onto the street. She looks exhausted beyond human ability.

“Ah, you’re here. Sorry there’s no where to sit, you’re probably the first guests I’ve ever had here. And don’t give me that look, Fetrian. I’m not spending my last days curled up in bed. This is cancer, not the plague.”

“Now, our new friends. I need to ask you one last favor. I know the people of this city consider me a hero, but that’s not how I want to leave this world. I know I’ve done good in this world, more than many get a chance to do. But like you, I’m still merely human. When I die, I want you to take my body to the river and float it out to sea like we’ve done with our dead for centuries. I was born a common girl in the slums, I’d like to die as one.”

“You know, I’m probably the first slumdweller ever to die of old age. But thanks to you, I won’t be the last. You’re probably tired of me thanking you, so let’s have one last drink instead. Fetrian, could you grab that bottle of 582 whiskey?”

Fetrian returns with a bottle and 9 glasses

“One of my ancestors stole this bottle while working at the still nearly 200 years ago. It’s been passed down awaiting a celebration that would be remembered for longer than the bottle has aged. What should we drink to?”

Cecily drinks in silence, watching people milling in the streets below her window. The last words she says are an old rebel’s peom: “On barricades with steel bare, in home on lover’s breast. It matters not, for I leave the world a place more free.”

(Reilly and Enfys are at the Hexagon with the soldiers)
The Hexagon is one of the few buildings that looks like it did before. It hasn’t been rebuilt or repurposed. Inside, Reilly and Enfys are demonstrating a two-person firing technique using a gunpike and a shield. Enfys is bracing the shield with two hands. Reilly has the butt of the gunpike planted in a special indent on the shield. Reilly pulls the trigger and blows the helmet off a dummy 80 feet away, then readies her spear for a charge.

Enfys reports: “We have about 50 soldiers who are solid enough to send into a fight, and that’s only because they had prior combat training. I don’t quite feel right about asking that of them, though. Most of them have good friends who are still in training.”

(Cecily is at her old house in what used to be the slums)

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Chaper 53- "Something to be celebrated"

It is Dawn when you finally arrive in Mokarnin, the small town is already being evacuated. Word has already spread that the Termali army has broken through alliance defenses and is advancing along the southern coastline. People are loading up carts and wagons and boarding up windows. Soldiers and city guards are throwing debris into the river and setting up barricades to slow any potential invasion of the town. The nearest fortified location is the city of Freeharbor. You can hear some refugees talking about trying to go there, but you also hear some voicing doubt that they will be allowed in.

You see Gareth talking to a guard. When he sees you, he ends his conversation and approaches you. He asks if you have the tapestry.

(players move to leave) Lilac stops short: “Wait, you’re not serious? The roads are dangerous right now and the Arkali still have raiding parties out. We should wait an hour and leave with the refugees. There is a very real chance they don’t make it to Freeharbor without an armed escort”

Gareth interjects: “I feel for these people, I really do. But we can move much faster on our own. Take Emile if you want, but do I have to remind you what is at stake if the Arkali beat us to our objective?”

(players decline escort)
Lilac glares at you and says: “Serisously? I expected this from Gareth, but not you. Fat lot of good it does if this war means there’s no one left to save. Go find and find your fucking relic. I’ll give these people an escort.”

Lilac walks away to help the refugees pack.

You reach Gildenport just as the sun begins to set. The guards at the gate recognize you in the twilight immediately and open for you to enter.

(players escort refugees)
Gareth says: “You do what you think is right, but I’m going ahead to find this artifact.” He then mounts his horse and rides West, toward freeharbor.

Lilac and Declan walk away to help the refugees pack.

As you are preparing to leave, Declan approaches. A halfling woman holding a baby in her left arm is following behind him. Declan says: “This is Cora. She’s been organizing the evacuation. If you need any information, ask her.”

(Cora is the town healer. She emerged as a leader because of her relationship with the townsfolk and because she was the only able bodied person in Mokarnin who wasn’t conscripted for the war.)

(players finish questions)
Cora waves to the others in the caravan to start moving and begins walking alongside one of the carts.

(ask for marching order)

Soon it is near dusk. You can see the familiar hills that surround Freeharbor and you know from memory that you are just over 2 miles outside of town. Cora approaches you (Point to Rapha) and says: “Excuse me. You’re an Arcanist, right? One of our number is sick. He came down with a fever shortly after we left, but he’s getting worse. Would you mind taking a look at him? I’d like to be sure it’s a mundane illness and not a curse.”

(DC 16 spellcraft check)
Your medical knowledge is limited, but you are able to determine that he is suffering from a curse originating in Necromancy. An expert in the undead would be able to tell you more.

(player examines patient)
Cora’s patient is a Half-Elf man laying flat on a cart under vomit-stained blankets. He is sweating and cold to the touch. He is conscious, but clearly in pain and his tongue is swollen. He looks severely malnourished.

(player asks Cora for information)
Cora explains: “His name is Maru. He was in perfect health when we left. Then he came down with a fever and his body began to bloat at the stomach while the rest of him started to wither away. At first, I thought it might be Cholera, but with the bloating and the rate of decay, I don’t know”

(DC 17 knowledge: religion check)
You recognize the Ailment as Mohrg’s phage. It’s a necromantic curse that transforms the victim’s intestine into a parasite, which then rapidly devours the rest of the body from the inside. The parasite, known as a Mohrhg, then animates the skeleton begins killing any living creature it can reach. At this stage, healing the man would require a “cure moderate wounds” spell or “lay on hands”, as well as a “remove disease” spell, and even then the odds of survival are slim.

(Failed knowledge: religion check)
You are unsure exactly what is afflicting this man, but you know that people who die of necromantic curses end up as undead.

(players attempt treatment)
You attempt to heal Maru and something inside him wretches and you hear muffled shrieks from his abdomen. You see a cartilaginous tendril with a claw emerge from his left wrist and flail before going limp.

(next player action)
As you attempt (player action), an identical tendril lunges from Maru’s mouth at (character)’s neck.

Combat begins, 1 Mohrg

After striking at Lorrain, Maru’s corpse stands up in the cart and more tendrils emerge from various points on his extremities. Smaller tendrils toward the center have stared devouring his flesh as they wrap around and animate what is left of his body.

(players attempt to kill Maru painlessly)
A look of relief crosses Maru’s face as he exhales a final breath and dies. Cora thanks you for ending it quickly and asks for a minute alone.

Shortly after leaving Cora to grieve, you can hear her shouting: “Irythan! Lorrain! Over here, I need help!”

You arrive at Maru’s side to find him convulsing and bleeding from the mouth. Cora is holding her infant in one arm and positioning Maru on his side with the other. Cora shouts: “Check his pulse. I want to be sure this is still Maru!”

As you check Maru’s pulse, a cartilaginous tendril with a claw extends from his mouth and lunges at you.

combat begins

Maru’s corpse stands up in the cart and more tendrils emerge from various points on his extremities. Smaller tendrils toward the center have stared devouring his flesh as they wrap around and animate what is left of his body.

View
Chapter 52- "C'mon. It's a little kid."

(players crossing must make DC 14 hide checks. Failure means the ruins get bombarded)

When you meet up in the ruins with the rest of your Coterie, the steel on steel din from the Alliance trenches has died down. A few stray spells and flaming arrows hit the village, which is now dimly lit by small stray fires, dimmer than torchlight, but enough to avoid tripping in the dark. The lighting reveals smaller writing in blood next to the ominous warning discovered by Veil a half hour ago. It now reads: “Your war was our end. Now we will be yours.” The phrase “Turn Back” is sloshed across the wall in blood as if it was squirted instead of painted on.

(players continue North through the ruins)

You’ve been walking for about 10 minutes in the shadows when you hear the hiss-pop of Kaptalis trebuchets and the thunder of Faskian cannons echoing across the plain. The cannonballs move too fast, but the firepots from the trebuchets arc toward the opposing trenches, not toward the ruins.

(players continue)
You emerge from around a shattered windmill and see a landscape of craters and rubble about 50 feet across. You see a small boy of about 8 years hunched in the fetal position in a crater 15 feet away. He is covering his ears and dry-sobbing. He’s frightened and appears emaciated.

(No magical aura present. Child speaks broken Termali, but with a low-kaptalis accent)

(players approach) The boy is disoriented, but you could try to calm him down (DC 15 diplomacy check)

(success) The child stands up, shaken but aware of his surroundings. He says nothing, but looks at you.

(Who are you?)
The child responds: “Emile, the grainkeeper’s son.”

(Where are your parents?)
“I don’t know where my Mom is. Dad was taken by the soldiers to join them.”

(Why are you here?)
“I have to find my baby sister. I won’t leave without her.”

(players help find sister)
It takes a few minutes, but you lift up a plank to see the body of an infant peppered with shrapnel, missing an arm and section of neck. Before you can react, Emile hobbles over and screams: “Alya! No.” He picks up the body and frantically tries to squeeze the skin of her neck back together. He looks up at you and asks: “Can you heal her?”

(players decline to help find sister)
Lilac says: “Seriously? Fine, then I’ll help the little squirt. Keep walking if you want.”

(players continue)
You turn the corner of what used to be a tavern and see a public font chipped and leaking in the middle of a plaza. The phrase “Husband, brother, teenage son.” is written multiple times on every wall in blood. Rubble surrounding the square provides concealment from the trenches on either side. You are close enough to the trench lines to see that the alliance armies seem to be deliberately keeping their distance from the ruins.

(listen check DC 15)
You can hear a woman sobbing on the opposite side of the square, probably inside one of the ruined buildings.

(Players spot Ghost)
You see the transparent figure of a woman in a laborer’s garb. She is holding an infant feeding bottle and repeating the phrase: “Husband, Brother, Teenage son. All alone.”

(DC 16 knowledge (religion) Check)
The figure in front of you is a Luctunite, the ghost of a soul driven mad by unimaginable trauma and grief. They are often found in war-zones and plague-ridden cities. They are not known for outright hostility, but they are known to make unreasonable demands of passersby.

(if players brought Emile)
Emile sees the figure and says: “That’s my Mom. Why is she see-through?”

(Ghost sees players)
The figure appears to look each of you in the eye simultaneously and says with a grief-stricken face: “You bear weapons like the soldiers. How many mothers’ sons and daughters do you plan to kill with them?”

(players answer)
The figure becomes agitated and says: “Leave your weapons where you stand and go back where you came from. Your war has done enough to this place. I won’t permit you to pass!”

combat, 1 Luctunite

(if evocation is used, bombardment begins in d4 rounds)

(Bombardment)
You hear artillery warning horns from the trenches on either side of you. A fraction of a second later, you see a barrel land in the square and explode.

(Once per round, a barrel charge lands on the field, dealing 3d6 damage in a 15 foot square (reflex dc 14 half))

*combat ends)
The Luctunite wails and fades out of sight. It will return, but for now it won’t trouble the mundane.

Lilac emerges from a ruined building with Emile on her back. She says: “We need to get moving before the Alliance decides to send a patrol our way or flatten this place for good.”

(players continue)
When you finally exit the village, you enter a wooded area to see groups of reinforcements heading from further north toward the Alliance trenches. You can smell wet soil ahead of you, but it’s too dark to see the river you know is there. Many of the trees around you bear the scorch marks of a fireball barrage and you can see a number of bodies on the ground. One of them, a teenage girl, no older than 15, in the uniform of a Faskian footsoldier, clutches a musket and a propaganda flyer. It reads: “Women of Fask, join the crusade to liberate your sisters from the vile Gnomes of Termalyn.”

View
Chapter 51: Try not to get blown up"

(players make contact with )

Harxen says: “We should go make contact with the Termali army. Regardless of how we get across, we need to know as much as possible. Since Robyn and I heard cannon fire, we can assume it’s a joint invasion by Fask and Kaptal. Whoever speaks to them should be an elf, less likely to be a suspect for a Faskian spy.”

The Forward camp is a mile behind the Termali trenches, out of range of Kaptalis Trebuchets and Faskian cannons. A soldier in a chainmail vest over a blue gambeson approaches you. He carries a spear and shield and has a belt of alchemy flasks. Standard Termali infantry gear. He raises his spear and shouts: “New Arrivals! Halt and Declare!”. Soldiers seated at the camp pick up their gear and stand.

(players declare intent)
The soldier lowers his spear and says: “You’ll have to speak with the commander. I’ll escort you.”

The soldier leads you through the camp. The air has a chill and you can see soldiers huddled around fires. They appear in good health, but you can see the terror in their eyes. Many of them have minor wounds and burns. A few have large amounts of blood on their uniforms, probably from fallen comrades. Very few look any older than 19.

Declan says under his breath: “Pelor’s beard. I forgot how much I hate war.”

The soldier approaches an open command tent and ushers you inside. Inside is a man in his mid-40’s wearing the blue officer’s uniform of Termalyn. He has a fresh bandage on his left forearm and several visible scars. He is leaning over a table stacked with maps and reports. The soldier who escorted you salutes and says: “Travellers, general. They say (player intent)”.

The general says: “Thank you, Corporal. That will be all.” The soldier walks out of the tent. The general looks up from his desk, looks you over, and says: “I see 10 people with weapons and obvious combat experience. Among you are witches I’m in no position to arrest and women I’m in no mood to disarm. None of you are from any mercenary company I’ve seen, save for the one with the spike chain. Several of you are elves, so you’re clearly not Faskian spies. So, you’re not reinforcements, mercenaries or spies. Why don’t you tell me why you’re in my camp?”

“I see,” he responds. “It’s obvious you’re no friends of Fask or Kaptal. Right now, the enemy is entrenched and building defenses. I’ve sent word for reinforcements from Mohks-Tathar, but they’re 3 days away. Conventional strategy suggests I wait for reinforcements and attack them en masse, but I don’t want to see what a fully formed joint line of Faskian-Kaptalis forces is capable of. I can’t pay you, but it’s obvious you want to get into Kaptal. We’re attacking tonight. With your help, we would stand a better chance. You have until sunset to give me your answer. Now, I’m sorry. I must get back to work.”

He gestures toward the door.

(players debate)

Lilac interrupts “Wait. There’s another option. We could go straight down the middle with the termali soldiers, but we don’t have to help them take the position. We could get ahead of the Termali forces and punch a hole in Kaptalis lines. Our objective is to get into Kaptal. There’s no reason we have to get involved in this war.”

(if players agree)
Declan says: “Wow. That’s dirty, underhanded and borderline betrayal. I love it.”

Rain begins to fall as you walk back to the tent. The General is inside, wrapping up his maps. He sees you and says: “Change of plans. This weather favors our attack. We’re mobilizing now. If we can break their lines, we might re-take Mokarnin. You can help or you can leave.”

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