Five paladins walk into a bar

The Long Night (continued)
The chase and the horrors they found

Kristin and Kenebet stepped down into the farmhouse’s basement and were immediately assaulted by the smell of blood and feces, the heavy scent of death on the air. They descended further and quickly found the source of the smell; in the center of the room lit vaguely by a lamp dangling from the ceiling was a pile of bodies. Four in all, they bore the ragged claw marks of the creatures that had been dispatched above. Kenebet mumbled a prayer to Gen as she knelt down next to the macabre pile and voiced what they were both thinking, “What do you think they were doing?”

Kristin shrugged and opened her mouth to say something when both paladins began to feel something familiar, like a tingling at the back of their minds letting them know that evil was near. In unison the two women wordlessly reached for the bodies and one by one began shifting them aside. At the bottom of the pile, glinting faintly in the dim light as if the blood could not mar its perfect surface was a small blue bead hovering an inch off the ground. Kenebet and Kristin stared for a moment, shocked stunned and confused all at once. “Did you two find anything down there?” The loud call from where Brother Loquehand was keeping guard stirred the paladins from their shock.

“You could say that.” Kristin quietly mused as she reached to pick up the bead. Kenebet quickly held out her canteen and Kristin dropped it in without another word. They stood and quickly made their way back outside, the stench in the air all of a sudden seeming pervasive and overpowering. They emerged into the cool night air and were immediately enshrouded by the claustrophobic mist that seemed to cling to this land at all times. Loquehand stood guard just at the top of the stairs, the lantern hanging from the stick in his backpack making him the most distinct thing in sight, he quirked an eyebrow, “Are you two alright, ya look as pale as a landhugger on their first trip ta sea.”

Kenebet and Kristin glared at the sailor, Kenebet spoke up, “The air down there became very… offending.” she paused to take in a deep breath of fresh air to emphasize her point, “We did however find another one of those beads; it was under a pile of corpses… we couldn’t sense it at first, it was very strange.”

Loquehand shrugged, “Nothin ‘bout this isle’s made sense yet, don’ see why ited start now.” As the other two conversed Kristin set about looking for tracks in the grass surrounding the house. Before long she found the same heavy trail leading off to what she could only presume to be the next house. “Oy,” She called to her companions, “Are you two going to just sit there jawing or are we going to catch up with this thing?”

They were nearing town, they were sure of it, but there was no proper way to tell. Everything was obscured by that thrice damned fog. Darius, Tam and Borchaire stumbled their way through the thick curtain of mist, never able to see more than ten feet ahead of them, leading the two frightened children they had found in one of the old farmhouses. Tam looked down to the children as they began to lag behind, their small legs barely able to carry them on. Tam frowned then bent over and took the children into his arms, he lifted their small frames with ease and resumed walking, “Do not worry young ones, we shall be safe soon.”

Borchaire slowed his pace till he was even with Tam, “do you need a hand with them?” Tam smiles, “I’ll be fine, these children are no burden.”

With Darius leading the way the small group reached Edenmore fairly easily, as the buildings loomed out of the mist as formless shapes they picked up their pace. They headed straight for the inn and wasted no time going inside. Darius began to head upstairs, almost an afterthought he turned and said, “I’ll go get the innkeeper.”

Darius briefly disappeared upstairs then returned with a shaken looking innkeeper trailing behind him. Laury looked haggard and was dressed in a hastily donned robe, she looked about to snap at the group until she saw the children, now unconscious in Tam’s arms. She whispered quietly, “Those are Adrian and Bella’s kids. What are they doing here? What’s going on?”

Borchaire responded in an equally quiet voice, “The alchemist that killed that man earlier broke free from the jail. He killed the guard and moved on to the surrounding countryside. He murdered these children’s parents but missed them, so we brought them here. Can you care for them, we must rejoin our companions.

Laury stuttered for a moment then nodded, “Alright.”

Tam turned to Borchaire, “I will be staying here and seeing about barricading this building and sending word to the surrounding farms. I have a bad feeling about tonight and I will not leave these children undefended.”

Borchaire nodded, “Alright, good luck to you.” Without another word Borchaire and Darius ran outside to catch up to the rest of the party.

After exploring three more farms and fighting off their twisted occupants, Kristen, Kenebet and Loquehand had resigned themselves to the fact that this had become more of a cleanup than a chase. The Alchemist was moving more quickly than they had anticipated and his knowledge of the surrounding land left them no way to cut him off.

Their mood was angry with a tinge of anguish, each paladin affected deeply by the tortured farmers they had had to put down. Each twisted body they destroyed further honed their desire for retribution. This is the mindset they were in when they arrived at yet another farmhouse at three stories tall it was the largest home they had encountered thus far. The tension in the air was thick and the mist parted just enough to give them a clear view of the front door, almost inviting them in. The paladins checked their weapons, preparing to go in and clean up what would inevitably be a home full of monsters.

Suddenly, a man’s scream of pain rolled out across the heavy mist. Without another thought the paladins charged towards the door, re-energized by the first sign of human life they had heard all night. Not even checking the door Loquehand put his shoulder down and barreled through. Wood splintered and the door burst inward, the paladins paused for a moment as their eyes adjusted to the surprisingly bright light, then they took in the scene. They stood in the entryway to what must have been the richest home in the area, the walls were decorated with paintings, the curtains were of great quality and the furniture looked comfortable and inviting. This was all marred by the copious amount of blood sprayed throughout the room. In the center of what must have been the living room was a row of bodies, twelve in all, each facedown with blood oozing from a single wound in the neck. Kneeling over the last body, a thickly built man who was still twitching, was the alchemist.

The only part of him that was familiar was his long gangly form, though even that had been grossly exaggerated. His skin had become dark blue and leathery, with patches of scales emerging seemingly at random. His limbs were long and exaggerated giving him a spider like appearance, one arm ended in a hand sporting what could only be described as talons, the other cut off abruptly with a bone white needle sticking out of the thick stump. In the split second it took the party to take in the scene, time seemed to stand still, their thundering heartbeats the only thing they could hear. The alchemist looked up, his face a mockery of what it had been, his lips had fused together and his hair had fallen out, the irises of both eyes had vanished leaving only two milky orbs staring out from sunken sockets. He wrenched his right arm up, dragging the needle out of the corpse’s neck, blue fluid dribbling out in its wake. A wave of pure emotion rippled out from the creature that was once the alchemist, striking the paladins like a hammer blow, hate. They all staggered slightly and the creature capitalized on the moment to run to the nearest window and hurl itself out.

With the creature gone and the paladins dazed, the corpses on the floor chose this moment to start to move. Almost unnoticeable at the onset, the sound of popping was the first thing to draw attention. Like so much popcorn, the popping continued, it rippled through the bodies and was soon accompanied by audible crackling and snapping. The paladins looked on in horror as the dead farmers mutated before their eyes, their limbs extending and dislocating with a loud pop then twisting obscenely till the bones snapped and cracked. This did not go on long before Kristin stepped forward, “You know what we have to do, get to it.”

Kristin, followed by Loquehand then Kenebet, drew their weapons and set about making sure the farmers never finished rising. After the bloody work was don’t Kristin wasted no time leaping out the window after the creature and finding its tracks, she paused a moment then shouted, “It’s heading back to town, we’ve got to follow it!”

The paladins raced away from the bloody scene as quickly as they could, there would be time to put the bodies to rest later, and they had a monster to catch. They met up with their companions following the same tracks that had led them there and with a brief explanation set off once more. Impossibly long minutes ticked by as they sprinted back to Edenmore, each breath wrenching itself from their tired bodies. When they finally neared the town, their pace slowed, and taking the last few steps into the town proper, all the fog vanished. Tstood in a bubble, the fog literally pushed back by something giving them a clear view of the creature at the center, the alchemist.

The Long Night

Temporary placeholder for the write-up of session 2.

A foggy town and the strange blue beads

The island of Thalia is a cold, misty land, long the subject of mysterious tales and superstitions. Though the orc villages on the east side of the island are prosperous and have never encountered any mythical beasts, fears about the island remain. The settlements found there now are full of strong-willed folk, brave or desperate enough to risk whatever ancient danger may lurk there for the chance to make a better life for themselves. Secretly financed by Thycia, one of the Independent Nations, none of the settlements officially exist as that would violate the laws of the Confederacy and so there is no standing military or even official guard on the island.

Stepping off the creaky, barnacled ship the party found themselves standing in what could just barely be called a port. Just off the dock stood three buildings, a warehouse, a small office and a quiet tavern all bordering the road winding its way off into the fog. Determined to reach their destination as soon as possible the group secured their belongings and started down the well worn road, finding themselves soaked with heavy fog just a few minutes into the two hour walk. A long, cold, and wet but otherwise completely uneventful walk later the group found themselves in the 6 building village of Edenmoure, which looked distinctly ill-used as of late, with evidence of camp sites and stomping tracks all around the town center.

Eager to flee the alien chill, Kenebet headed straight for what she guessed was the tavern, only to be greeted by an angry barman pointing at a sign that indicated “No Magic Users”. The quick wits of her fellow traveler Borchaire won the group entrance into the establishment despite the owners surly attitude and gained the group their first bit of solid information about the situation on the island. Paladins of every order and belief had been crawling all over the tiny hamlet for week, sent here for the same reason as our party, a prophetic dream and an order from their superiors to ‘check things out’.

Orders for hot food and drink were placed and moments later the group was introduced to the only other investigator still in the village, a tall man named Darius. He greeted the party with a warm smile and introduced himself as a follower of Danya, Goddess of Love. Pleasant conversation was shared by the fire with blessedly warm food and the group found themselves wanting for something to do. The afternoon was spent scouting the center and borders of town and securing rooms at the inn, everyone settling in for what was inevitably going to be a long time sitting and waiting for whenever this prophecy would manifest.

Over dinner Darius shared what little information he had on local goings on, a caravan of kenku had arrived in town and disappeared with no word and the locals, Darius included, were suffering from nightmares and poor sleep. Resolving to check out the kenku camp in the morning the group retired to a night of troubled sleep filled with vague, shapeless dreams.

They awoke early in the morning, enjoying a simple but hearty breakfast by the inn’s hearth and prepared for the day, everyone feeling a little on edge due to the thick fog that refused to lift. Just outside the east end of town was the circular tracks of the kenku camp, but no tracks in or out of the area remained. However, Kristin’s sharp eyes and well honed survival skills revealed a set of carefully masked wheel tracks that headed south toward the coast. They set off along the tracks, picking their way carefully in the dense fog, nearly forty minutes out from town they spotted something strange. A single kenku stood off the side of the road looking at them, it’s features covers by a mask that ran down the full length of it’s beak, a wide-brimmed hat further disguising it’s features. Calling out to it produced no response, and when they tried to approach it back hastily into the concealing fog and out of sight.

Thirty more minutes following the tracks the scent of burned meat drifted through the fog and the group found themselves emerging into a circle of wagons, all bedecked with bright banners and silk scarves. In the center was a fire pit, smoldering and issuing dark smoke that smelled of charred food, and all around it was the evidence of the owners, instruments dropped on the ground, plates with half eaten meals, wagon doors left open, but there was not a soul in sight. The group split up to scout the perimeter of the campsite when there came the sudden feeling of evil, the prickling in the back of their minds that warned every member of the party that something was coming.

Drawing weapons they prepared for a fight, and were not disappointed. Out of the thick fog came dark, shambling figures, walking with halting and twitchy steps. As they got closer it became obvious that they were the kenku owners of the caravan, but they were covered in a strange blue, scabby material, their limbs all twisted and bent at impossible angles. There was no intelligence in their eyes, no purpose in their movements, they moved like puppets, the broken twisted limbs not of any consequence since they didn’t bear any real weight. The party had a moment to look on these monstrosities in horror before the fighting began.

It was over nearly as fast as it had begun, each of the skilled fighters charged a target, prepared to do battle with a powerful evil, but with one strong cut, severing a limb or rending the chest open the creatures collapsed into heaps. The prickling feeling of evil, however, persisted, and Tam followed the sensation as best he could to a strange discovery. Hovering just barely above the grass was a small pile of what appeared to be blue beads or varying sizes that glistened like drops of water in the sunlight. Knowing he had discovered something heretofore unknown Tam carefully scooped the beads into his canteen, resolving to discover their true nature.

Meanwhile the others were searching the wagons for any evidence of what may have happened to these people, but they found no helpful clues. As they contemplated burning the wagons to save them from brigands the party remembered the strangely dressed kenku they has seen through the fog, perhaps he would know what happened. Kenebet removed from one of the wagons the closest thing she could find to an identifier of the caravan, a long string of small bones, some appearing ancient, and a delicately woven silk symbol she didn’t understand, and the group set off to find this other kenku.

Not far outside of camp Kristin located what seemed to be the tracks of a large group of kenku walking four abreast toward the shore and they took off along the tracks. After only minutes of walking the group located the masked kenku, walking slowly toward the ocean, the sound of crashing waves reached them even through the heavy fog cover. When they caught up to walk next to him the party realized the heavy tracks were coming from this one kenku, as he walked behind him appeared the tracks of what must have been dozens of kenku. He bowed in polite greeting but would not speak to the group until Kenebet offered him the bones and silk she had taken from the wagons.

He spoke then without the accent of the bird-people, and thanked them for returning the relics of his people to him. The priest, as he revealed himself to be, explained that he carried the spirits of his caravan to their final rest, that something strange had happened in the night, it had twisted the bodies of his people. After the short conversation he bid the adventurers safe travels and resumed him slow walk toward the ocean, the footfalls of dozens of kenku keeping pace behind him on their walk to the afterlife and leaving the party to a somber walk back to town.


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