Session 17: Heart of Darkness
The sky is dark. Heavy clouds cast long shadows on the ground. A chill in the air foretells a hard journey west. The three day trip is grueling. Snow begins in the middle of the first day. Progress is slow. The first warmth is at the refugee camp half a day’s walk from Goodhearth. Friends know you. Strangers don’t.
Cast of Characters
- Alzaren played by Dave
- Salvine played by Cody
- Baeren Torunn played by Brad
- Octavia Barnaby played by Jolene
- Thundershrub played by Justin
- Sergeant Ericks Overseeing the campaign to retake the Tormad Plateau region
Part One: More Than a Day’s Ride
The party traveled west from the capital as a snow storm began. The journey was difficult, but uneventful. On the evening of the third day they encountered a refugee camp in the western charring forest. Baeren set about seeing who was in charge right away. He spoke to several soldiers who pointed him to the command tent. Sergeant Ericks and several other officers were inspecting a map. Baeren introduced himself and the group as being sent by Captain [Name]. That didn’t have much effect on the mood in the tent, who viewed their arrival as too little, too late. Baeren discussed strategy briefly with Sergeant Ericks who seemed annoyed at the presumption.
Afterwards, the party dispersed to find a warm place to sleep for the night. Alzaren found a covered spot near several tents and began performing for the refugees. Octavia befriended a mother and child and convinced them to allow her to share their tent. Salvine dug a hole and promptly fell asleep. Thundershrub gathered firewood for the refugees and stoked up their flagging fires. Baeren, for his part, encouraged a young soldier and talked the boy out of his megrims.
Part Two: Five by Sea
After finding what rest could be found at the refugee camp, the party set about the business of getting to Gull Island, the alleged source of the undead armies that harried the region. Octavia led the group through Goodhearth, a town she’d lived in for a decade, to the boatswain’s shop. The normal jovial family that ran the shipyard were nowhere to be found, but one partially unfinished skiff sat unnoticed on a rack. The party launched the boat and rowed quietly to the place where Orrin, the ferryman, had dropped them more than a month before.
Part Three: Island Expedition
Upon gaining the island, the adventurers began surveying, hoping to find the source of the undead. Based on their memory of how the onslaught began, they decided to return to the gate at the center of the ruins. Before they entered the city, the party encountered a twisted Mehir made of a soft, ferrous metal. Baeren and Alzaren, assisted by magic, tore down the pillar. This caused a bolt of dark purple energy to erupt from the structure and fly off into the ruins. Octavia noticed that it passed through a ring of flying creatures that seemed to be able to remain aloft despite the sleet falling from the sky.
With that ghastly work done, they continued, trying to avoid notice to the center of the ruins. When they got close to the gate, they noticed a large creature trying to break down the doorway. Baeren approached it, but was unable to get its attention. Octavia used her spectral hand to tap the construct on the shoulder and enraged it. The fight was over quickly thanks to Thundershrub’s use of lightning magics to electrify the creature. After the fight Alzaren and Baeren recovered the core of the construct.
Part Four: High Alert
Salvine, fearing the construct and the damage it might cause, fled the battle using a dimensional doorway he cut out of the air. After getting a safe distance from the thing, he decided to explore on his own for a bit. He used his fel powers to make himself invisible and opened another doorway to the east. After walking for a bit, he encountered an army lead by a dark knight in spiked, black armor. A twisted and warped humanoid creature reported to it they had found the refugee camp to the south. The knight seemed excited by this news, but was surprised by a voice appearing out of nowhere nearby.
Meanwhile, the party noticed Salvine’s absence and set out to look for him. When they returned to the gate, they decided to use one of the sending stones to reach out to him and see where he’d gone. Baeren sent him a message and almost immediately, the situation changed.
Within the span of a few breaths, horns were sounding around the ruins and being answered by others. The party knew it was imperative to find Salvine, who appeared out of another dimensional door soon after they began looking for him again. Once reunited, the adventurers laid low trying to determine the strength of their foes. They were almost discovered as they followed the wall to the west, but managed to hide before the 2,000 strong army of undead marched past. While they marched past, a bolt of arching energy erupted from the other side of the ruins and traveled towards them. The energy broke apart into numerous bolts and struck the undead, appearing to bolster them somewhat.
The adventurers continued along the wall, following the army’s backtrail until they came to a cleared out area full of detritus. Hoping to find some bit of useful information, they searched the area. Octavia found a map of the ruins with strange markings on it. Using that as a guide, they moved towards the nearest area that was marked. Finding another staging area, the party began to understand the markings a little better.
Part Five: Home Invasion
After a brief discussion of strategy, the party decided to investigate some of the larger intact buildings. The first place they stopped was at the now abandoned temple of Vurk. The destruction seemed to not have touched the temple. Inside they found a fountain of holy water and a small library of books. Sensing it to be a relatively safe place to catch their breath, the party rested briefly.
Having warmed themselves and rested for a bit, the adventurers began their trek to the next map marker. The largely destroyed building seemed unremarkable, but after a quick reconnoiter they discovered the place to be guarded by several zombies wearing the armor of Cardinia soldiers.
Baeren attempted to draw the attention of the zombies, but the stone he threw did little to capture their interest. The plan to draw a few of them off and kill them wasn’t going to work so Alzaren snuck into the ruins, crawling on his belly through the rubble until he was close enough to blast the undead with a fireball. Thundershrub entangled the undead, keeping them in place for Alzaren’s blast and the battle was begun. Octavia and Baeren fired from range. Salvine found his courage and let loose several bolts of eldritch energy as well. The leader of the horde decided it would be wise to flee and ran downstairs into the building’s basement.
Thundershrub quickly transformed into a warhorse, Baeren climbed on his back and the two charged after the fleeing creature and into the lair of evil.