A shot rang out from above. The woman to the right of Kyrie flinched back in pain (-3dmg CultD). A ghostly sword tipped like an ink pen appeared next to her, sweeping at the crowd that pressed in on her.
Kyrie ignored the cultists around her, eyes fixated on the darkness at the back of the room. The figure in the dark muttered another spell—a second spirit blade materialized in the air next to her, a wickedly curved dagger, hanging point-down. It plunged for her face, driving her back to the step ladder (-10dmg Kyrie).
Kyrie was in no mood to retreat, however. She angled her shield before her like a battering ram. “Excuse me, please,” she told the cultists, then ploughed straight into the centre of them. She ignored their shrieks of outrage and surprise, punching a gap in their ranks and forcing two of them back to the shadows.
Standing above the trapdoor Miguel saw his chance. He pointed into the hole, sending his dancing lights down into the cellar, then jumped in after. Surrounded on (almost) all sides by feral snarling cultists, he turned to the woman on his right and struck. She fell immediately to his swing (-14dmg CultD Dying).
He cast a glance to Kyrie. She was just ahead of him, with her back to him, focused on the back of the small cellar. The sight of way lay before her chilled him.
Before Kyrie lay Tanya, unconscious and stripped naked at the base of an altar of piled stones. Atop the altar sat a cat’s-eye gem almost as big as a man’s fist, and over her stood the tall figure of her midwife, “Goody” Niska. Niska wore a black smock to match, if not filthier and more worn than the others. In one hand she carried a dagger and in the other a disk bearing the image of a bloodshot eye. The air around her rippled with multicolours ripples of energy.
Malgorzata Niska scowled at the barons. “Couldn’t you oblivious fools have remained ignorant just a little longer?”
The two cultists in front of Kyrie spread out before her, putting her in the middle of four. The two in front attacked at once. She fended them off with her shield, but a third caught her arm from behind. She pulled back only just in time to feel the hot sting of a shallow cut across her face (-3dmg Kyrie).
The woman cackled, “we’ll see how pretty you are once we cut your face up, dearie.” She was one of the two with wild eyes shining with a dim red glow.
Meanwhile Miguel fended off the attacks of two women. The other red-eyed woman thrust her dagger at him with startling speed for an untrained commoner, even as he parried it (-5dmg Miguel)
(Unsurprisingly the only cultists actually to hit their targets were those under the effects of the bloodlust enchantment. Further details I couldn’t fit—there is a low dish of water next to Tanya. Her body is dirty from the conditions she’s been lying in, but there are no obvious signs of harm. You can see the corner of an eye drawn in red over her bulging stomach.)
Posted on 2018-02-10 at 00:24:02.
Edited on 2018-02-11 at 00:04:07 by Sibelius Eos Owm
Zeran dropped down into the cellar, landing next to Miguel. There was no room to stand and shoot, so he decided to make some room for himself. He flipped his pistol in his hand and clubbed the nearest cultist upside the temple, knocking her off her feet (-5dmg CultE Prone).
Giles sighed, stepping down the ladder. “Doesn’t anybody use the stairs these days?”
One of the cultists beside Miguel at the base of the ladder saw lunged at him (-2dmg Giles). He swatted her knife aside and shoved her back with one foot, then dropped the last three feet to solid ground. His spirit blade forced the cultist to back off to the left wall (-4dmg CultB) while he stepped around the woman Zeran had just incapacitated. Without ceremony he stabbed the woman before she could get back up to rejoin her companions (-12dmg *crit* CultE Dying)
Niska from the back of the room raised her holy symbol. “Gyronna, turn your eye and let your flock never suffer alone.” A perceptible force radiated outward from the bloodshot eye, filling the room with a heavy presence. The pressure faded at once, but it left behind a subtle weight (-1 attk/dmg/save/skill All). The cultists on the other hand seems bolstered (+1 same).
Kyrie ignored the two cultists in front of her. She side-stepped around them to the altar and their leader. Niska dropped into a fighting crouch.
“I might not be that smart,” Kyrie said, throwing down her sickle, “but if you took Tanya thinking I wouldn’t come for you, you’re stupider than I thought.” She grabbed the midwife by the wrist in a crushing grip.
Miguel brushed off the other cultists, dancing around them. They were no threat by themselves. Their leader was the main danger. He tumbled past the two cultists at the back of the room, running up against Niska with his sword out. Amazingly, the dirty black smock held against the edge of his sword as well as armour (-9dmg Niska).
“Unhand Mistress Niska, you trull!” screamed one of the cultists behind Kyrie. All four conscious women swarmed Kyrie and Miguel, but none of them came close to landing a blow against either of them.
The fanatic women swarmed to the back of the cellar, crowding around Kyrie and Niska. Zeran dashed after them and plunged into the crowd, diving between their blades. None of the cultists was fast enough to stop him. He came up to the far wall with his back to the corner. “Don’t worry, love, cavalry’s here,” he told Tanya’s body.
Without any flashy tumbling, Giles simply marched on the back line. He singled out one of the woman and drew back his sword. She caught sight of him approaching and whirled around, not fast enough to avoid a glancing wound to her side (-5dmg, -1snk CultF).
A death cry rang out to his left as one of the women next to Zeran collapsed. Giles’ blade popped back to his side, ready for a new target (-14dmg *crit* CultB Dying).
Niska’s scowl turned to a sneering grin. “You foolish child, you still believe your own lies. Virtue is just a mask to conceal the monster within. The more you hurt, the more hurt you bring to others—suffering demands more suffering.”
The bloodshot eye in Niska’s hand darkened, throwing out a ring of shimmering darkness. At once, black tendrils shot from the eye like the blood vessels of her unholy symbol, reaching out to every person in the room, conscious and not, sparing only two of Niska’s followers.
With the entire charter party now standing within range of Kyrie, they scarcely felt the wave of void energy, even if they failed to fight back against the sucking darkness (-3dmg Miguel, Zeran) (-6dmg Kyrie, Giles, Tanya).
Niska’s cultists were less fortunate. The lash of energy scoured the bodies of the three fallen, inflicting not a mark on them, but leaving no doubt that they would not be attending their own executions. Of the three still standing, Niska chose the two uninjured cultists to spare, leaving Giles’ target to her fate. The black tendril struck her in the back, sapping her consciousness in seconds (-12dmg CultB,D,E DEAD, CultF Dying).
Niska’s grin faded when she saw the lack of effect it had on the adventurers surrounding her.
One-handed, Kyrie pulled Niska in close. She almost lost her grip on the priestess for a second, but managed to pin both her arms behind her back (Niska Pinned).
“Do you yield?” Kyrie asked.
“Go ahead,” the priestess spat. “Prove me right. Execute me right here.”
Miguel raised his sword wordlessly. Despite Niska’s bluster, she had no wish to die, fighting against Kyrie’s grip when it looked like her encouragement had been too successful. Miguel struck the priestess with the flat of his blade (-9sub Niska).
Despite their losses, the two remaining cultists did not break their fanatic morale, redoubling their efforts to tear Kyrie off their mistress. The one under the battle fury thrust at Kyrie with her knife again, trying without success to strike her head or joints. The other fought to loosen Kyrie’s grip.
Zeran turned his pistol on Niska. “No one is going to care what happens to you when they find out you tried to sacrifice an unborn child.” He fired. Blood added to the stains on Niska’s shabbles (-9dmg Niska Bloodied)
Giles, seeing the cultist he had been fighting drop from her mistress’ necrotic outburst, simply turned to the next woman next to her, the one attempting to break Kyrie’s grip. He jabbed his sword at her, scoring a shallow wound on her arm (-5dmg CultC). With his other hand he pointed his spirit blade to the high priestess. With every strike, her strength waned (-3dmg Niska).
Malgorzata Niska twisted in Kyrie’s grip, trying to jerk her arms free to no avail. “Don’t be so simple,” she hissed at Zeran. She whipped her head around to look at him. The hanging dagger of Gyronna blinked over to him at her glance, forcing him to duck (-4dmg Zeran). “One miscarried child does not a man’s faith break.”
Kyrie yanked Niska’s attention away from Zeran with a rough tug. She shifted her grip to get an arm around the midwife’s body. She held tight as she kicked uselessly. “Stop,” she said. Kyrie lifted her shield arm and slammed her elbow into the base of Niska’s skull. Niska’s body finally went limp. Kyrie dropped her unceremoniously to the cellar floor (-3sub Niska Unconscious).
Miguel sighed, glad that was over. He turned to the last two cultists. “Throw down your weapons. Come peacefully and you will not be harmed further.”
The two looked from the body of their mistress, to each other. The red-eyed cultist made up her mind immediately.
“Screw this.” She ran for the cellar ladder and climbed out of sight. The other followed her close behind.
(This one took a bit longer because nothing really interesting happens. The battle was basically over other than dropping Niska. Anyone who wishes to go hunt down the two escapees may start immediately, though as a reminder it’s cold down here and Tanya’s in her birthday suit, so at least somebody should take care of her.)
(As another reminder, of the four bodies left in the cellar, one is actually still alive)
Posted on 2018-02-16 at 23:17:54.
Edited on 2018-02-16 at 23:18:06 by Sibelius Eos Owm
Kyrie knew better than to pursue the two that had fled. She might be hard to stop, but she was not exactly fast.
"In the end, you hurt your followers more than we did," She observed to the unconscious Niska with a sniff of disdain. But first, her duties saw her look after others before herself. Moving up to the altar, Kyrie placed a hand on Tanya's shoulder, feeling the life swell through her touch and helping to rejuvenate her, "We're here," she told Tanya softly, undoing her cloak to drape it around Tanya.
Event -Troll Sightings (continuous): No sightings this month -Food Shortage: Spoilage in a grain warehouse causes a food shortage scare. Food hoarding and thefts rise faster than the authorities can keep up, costing the barony in lost resources, Double Consumption next month.
Within days, Niska and the single surviving cultist were tried for heresy, abduction, and attempted murder, and subsequently sentenced to be burned at the stake. For some time after the trials, all manner of ills were attributed to the secret work of the cult and Niska’s curse coming to light, culminating in the discovery of extensive rot in a winter storehouse in Viridian.
The barony went through a lean month, resulting in a minor toll on the treasury as the law struggled to keep pace with hungry thieves.
Meanwhile settlers filed into the land surrounding the ancient elven keep formerly inhabited by the deadly dark fey calling herself the Dancing Lady. This group represented a new milestone, the furthest incursion of civilization into the south of Greenbelt and the only territory further south than the capital.
Event -Troll Sightings (continuous): No sightings this month -No Other Event
Spring came uneventful compared to the previous month. The barony added, after two years of quiet support from Jhod, the Temple of the Elk to its lands, returning the old temple to the auspices of civilization for the first time in untold ages.
The aging priest’s elation was only matched by his anticipation of the birth of his and Tanya’s child, now that spring had finally come. Despite his eagerness to personally oversee the reclamation of the temple, he stayed behind to care for Tanya knowing that the day could come any week now, and that there would be nothing to do in the first month anyway.
Posted on 2018-02-27 at 03:32:16.
Edited on 2018-05-11 at 22:41:07 by Sibelius Eos Owm
The Greenbelt Party set out again on the first of Gozran, amidst melting snow and blowing winds. They visited the Sootscale mining tribe briefly, before crossing the Shrike into territory unknown.
Aside from a small herd of wild boars spotted foraging in a valley, the party met no trouble until the fifth day when they finally came upon the isolated barrow mound. Had they not known the location from Narthropple’s maps, the mound might have blended in with the surrounding hills.
5 Gozran Lonely Barrow; G7 Kamelands
A crack in the mound where part of the hillside subsided long ago revealed the tomb’s entrance for what it was, and the party parked their wagon to investigate. From Narthropple’s maps they knew the location, but from the faded piece of cloth retrieved from the mad hermit they knew that the treasure was guarded by traps and restless dead.
Kyrie proceeded first into the mound. The sharp tang of ammonia greeted her as she stepped into the cool darkness. The daylight from outside penetrated less than ten feet into the tomb. Miguel stepped in behind her and incanted a quartet of spell lights, throwing them out ahead of them.
The lights stopped in the centre of a large octagonal chamber close to 30’ wide. The walls of this chamber were decorated with crude, ancient mosaics of hunting, fishing, and farming, while the floor was covered with a layer of guano and crawling insects. The party didn’t have time to appreciate the décor before dozens, then hundreds of dark shadows flitted across the walls, cast by the leathery wings of well over several hundred bats.
The agitated animals swarmed the group, frantically flying around them, landing on any available surface and biting at the heroes (-3dmg All, -1Bleed).
(Not even one of you succumbed to the bats’ distraction ability. Worth noting there’s technically two swarms here. Also worth noting that casting spells or using skills that require concentration are DC 20+ within the area of distraction; concentration for spells, Will for skills.)
Posted on 2018-02-27 at 15:49:42.
Edited on 2018-05-03 at 23:42:08 by Sibelius Eos Owm
Giles and Zeran fell back toward the cave entrance as Miguel dove head-long deeper into the tomb to escape the swarm. Miguel found a corner of the octagonal room that was relatively free of the flapping chaos and started to sing. At the same time, Giles intoned a simple orison to bewilder the weak-minded targeted at the bats. (-1 Bleed All)
The spell spread rapidly through the bats’ hivemind, and soon a full half of the animals spun off from the attack, flapping listlessly without direction.
Kyrie remained in the middle of the swarm, waving her arms, either to disperse or to attract attention to herself to keep the swarm focused around her. The remaining half of the bats streamed past their dazed brethren, blasting over Zeran and Giles’ heads on their way out of the cave.
A few moments later the large octagonal chamber was empty save for the piles of guano caking the floor and the accompanying stench. The Greenbelt Party looked from one to the other. They tended to their wounds and shrugged off the encounter, not much worse for wear.
The cobweb-filled tunnel at the far end of the chamber lead deeper underground at a gentle slope, opening at the bottom into another, circular chamber, about as large as the first. Three other tunnels exited this chamber in the cardinal directions. Between the tunnels the walls were adorned with massive stone carvings of four monstrous leering faces.
In the centre of this chamber lay a humanoid skeleton, face down. What little rotted tatters remained of its equipment, most was obviously useless and worthless, save for a coppery glint from a tarnished green ring on one bony finger.
Miguel cast a spell to allow Kyrie to use her shield as a torch as she circled the room, peering down the tunnel to the left. The short tunnel ended in a fair-sized square chamber.
Giles held back to open his senses to scan the room for traces of magic, while Zeran went to inspect the skeleton. He had just confirmed the presence of magic when his concentration was interrupted by a sudden deep inhalation from all around the room.
Zeran froze in the centre of the room, just a few feet away from the skeleton. “Damnit.”
All four stone faces breathed out thick tendrils of black mist, each lashing out at one of the adventurers, striking them full on. Immediately they felt the strength leave their bodies, as if they’d already spent the whole day in hard physical labour (Kyrie, Zeran, Giles – Exhausted) (Miguel Fatigued).
As if that was not already enough, the distinctive rattling of bones on stone echoed from the tunnels to the left and right.
Unseen Armies of the Undead: Top o’ th’ morning to ya
(I just wanted you to know that of all people, the only person to make their saving throw was Miguel with the lowest modifier. For posterity, the effects of exhaustion are: half speed/can’t run, and -6 penalty to Str/Dex. It is an advanced state of fatigue, which instead has the effects can’t run, and -2 Str/Dex)
Posted on 2018-04-15 at 03:00:08.
Edited on 2018-05-03 at 23:41:26 by Sibelius Eos Owm
Mindless skeleton warriors poured into the chamber from either side. Zeran whirled around and blew the head off the first to show its skull, sending bone shards flying about the room (-30dmg *crit* SkeleR1 Dead).
Heedless, a dozen skeletons flooded the room and quickly surrounded Zeran and Kyrie. Zeran found himself working twice as hard to keep out of reach of those skeletal claws, forcing his exhausted body to move despite its protests. One of the skeletons came too close for comfort, scratching his face (-10dmg *crit* Zeran 28/42). Even Kyrie in her armour found she could only hold them back so well (-6dmg Kyrie).
Miguel and Giles each got a shot off, Miguel cutting a skeleton that passed too near in half at the spine (-4dmg SkeleL1 Dead). Giles meanwhile scored only a glancing blow, his exhaustion robbing him of the strength to drive the blade through.
Meanwhile Kyrie threw down her sickle and shield, then drew her trusty shovel from over her shoulder.
Any other day the ancient skeletal guardians of the tomb would have been no match for seasoned adventurers, but they battled their own bone-tired bodies as much as the bones around them. Zeran flipped his pistol and cracked one of the skeletons across the jawbone, sending it sprawling to the floor (-1dmg SkeleR2 Prone).
Giles focused his power of judgement to push his body to move faster and strike harder. He struck another of the skeletons with as much might as he could manage, cracking a few ribs and leaving a blade mark on the bone (-2dmg SkeleR3).
Miguel, seeing the others’ struggle, lifted his voice in song, using the magic of his music to lend his companions strength.
Giles, Zeran, and Kyrie did all they could to avoid the grasping claws of the skeletons, but there were too many of them, and they simply couldn’t move fast enough to avoid their stamina being whittled down with every attack (-3dmg, -5dmg Giles) (-5dmg, -3dmg Zeran 20/42). Without her shield, even Kyrie was struggling against all five of her attackers at once (-4dmg, -5dmg, -6dmg Kyrie 30/55).
“Alright, no pushing. I can only rebury you one at a time.” She spun her shovel and smashed the flat down on the first skeleton to her right, sending its bones scattering away (-4dmg SkeleL2 Dead).
The skeletons pressed in on Zeran from all sides. Without a little space he didn’t have any room to bring his pistol to bear. Rather than try to fight them off, Zeran turned to retreat.
While he couldn’t make his body run, he focused instead on putting one foot in front of the other and not giving the skeletons any openings. He reached Miguel’s side, only 15’ away, breathing heavy but still in one piece (-3dmg, -4dmg Zeran).
Miguel drew out his wand to heal Zeran (+5hp Zeran 18/42) while Giles brought his sword back around to finish off the skeleton he had injured (-3dmg SkeleR3 Dead). Miguel then stepped forward to help Kyrie fend off her attackers.
The remaining three skeletons from the right wing closed on him and Giles, but none would lay a finger on either. Meanwhile Kyrie was counting one down and four—five—to go. The skeleton that Zeran had knocked over came up from flank, where she had just buried its comrade. They swarmed her mindlessly and without mercy (-6,-4,-5,-3dmg Kyrie 12/52)
The newcomer was already injured, so she swept her shovel around and finished the job, crushing its ribs (-7dmg SkeleR2 Dead). As a finishing touch, she drew the sacred light into her body, reinvigorating her and brushing aside the scrapes and bruises she’d already acquired from the fight (+18hp Kyrie 30/55).
Zeran quickly reloaded his gun. Now that he had a little breathing room he could afford to chose his targets. He pointed his gun and blew away another skeleton from Kyrie’s side (-12dmg SkeleL3 Dead).
Giles threw what strength he had behind his sword and cut yet another skeleton in half (-5dmg SkeleR4 Dead). Miguel next to him followed suit, striking down another of the undead guardians (-6dmg SkeleR5 Dead).
Heedless of it’s comrades’ demise, the last skeleton fighting Giles pressed the attack, forcing him on the defensive (-3, -5dmg Giles). Kyrie took a near shot, but as the enemy’s numbers went down, so did their advantage (-6dmg Kyrie 24/55).
Kyrie surged with vital positive energy again (+15hp Kyrie 39/55). She smote down another skeleton with a well-placed shovel sweep (SkeleL4 Dead). “Keep trying,” she panted, showing her exhaustion despite herself.
SkeletonR4: Dead SkeletonR5: Dead SkeletonR6: Uninjured SkeletonL3: Dead SkeletonL4: Dead SkeletonL5: Uninjured SkeletonL6: Uninjured
Zeran dropped another ball down the barrel. Shards of another skeleton sprayed against the stone walls of the tomb (-9dmg SkeleL4 Dead). Giles hacked at the last skeleton, retribution on his mind, but couldn’t quite muster the strength to cleave through. Miguel finished it for him with a stroke to its back (SkeleR6 Dead).
Finally, Kyrie slammed the skull off the last skeleton (SkeleL6 Dead), ending the sudden onslaught as suddenly as it had begun.
Only moments after the last skeleton fell, the exhaustion caused by the black mist of the trap lifted as if it had never been, leaving the barons feeling suddenly lighter than they’d been.
Kyrie retrieved her sickle and shield from the floor while Giles swept the room for magic again, retrieving the tarnished copper ring from the original skeleton. Miguel expended a few more charges from the wand to patch up Zeran and Giles (+20 Zeran 38/42) (+17 Giles 39/42). Finally Miguel cast a spell to improve his and Giles' battle prowess.
The Greenbelt Party regrouped and set their attention for the tunnel leading yet deeper into the barrow. As before the tunnel sloped downward gently for 20’ and opened into a large chamber, 20’ wide and 35’ deep.
The walls of the chamber were adorned with weapons, shields, and armour, with tatterend banners and carved scenes of battle, pillage and conquest. Flakes of brightly coloured pigment still clung to the carvings, but the rest of the décor seemed to have been smashed long ago.
At the far end of the room lay a withered corpse in state atop a stone catafalque, a large wooden round shield and broken sword clutched in its bony hands laying across its chest. It wore a rusted suit of chain and a metal helmet.
To the surprise of approximately no one who had just been swarmed with skeletons, the warrior’s corpse rose from its slumber and stood to greet them. His eyes burned with hateful points of light, and his movements bore none of the sluggish movement of a zombie. He let out a rasping breath, expelling a foul black mist from his mouth.
“Hhhhhh—Thieves and scoundrels, you have come to steal my sword! Don’t deny it! I will spill your guts and drink the marrow from your bones!”
(Lore: Religion 26 (Giles) – The glowing eyes and iconic black breath of decay marks the Lonely Warrior as a wight, one of the most dangerous common undead because of their ability to steal the life from their victims with a touch. Every time a wight steals life from its victims, it infects their spirit with its own energy, and a creature slain by a wight is transformed into an undead monster itself. This wight in particular is probably a cairn wight—an advanced form of wight that can drain the life of its victims through its weapon.)
Posted on 2018-04-18 at 17:32:29.
Edited on 2018-05-03 at 23:40:24 by Sibelius Eos Owm