Lanterns in the Mist

Dark Victory

A major win, and heartbreaking losses for the heroes.

Wednesday, August 13th, 758, Feldgrau, The Furrows, Ustalav

The group continues their exploration of the ruined city of Feldgrau, slowly making their way through the darkened ruins of the undead-infested town. They are still in the ruined mill, where they had defeated Adimarus Ionacu. Rhakis takes the symbols of Jezelden from the two former Demon’s Wolves, which they grudgingly allow. Katarzyna goes up the ladder to the loft where the Demon’s Wolves had been kept at bay with the Web spell. Abner goes through the remains of Adimarus Ionacu [breastplate, bastard sword, unholy symbol]. Gregore joins Katarzyna in the loft area. Jean-Baptiste and Abner join them, and Gregore asks Jean-Baptiste to determine if the floor is safe to walk on. He reassures them that it should be safe. Katarzyna finds two human hearts in a bowl. She speculates about them, thinking that they are werewolf hearts. Gregore leaves the loft, and Katarzyna asks him to send Rhakis up. They talk about the hearts, and he tells her that one is likely a werewolf heart, the other is probably human. He doesn’t know why Adimarus would have kept the hearts, unless it was related to the worship of Jezelda.

They finish up at the mill, then move out. The werewolves head out in one direction, with Kendra to support them. Gregore, Jean-Baptiste, Grewin, Amelia, Abner and Katarzyna go toward the south of the ruined town. They run across various buildings and debris. They see a red glow in the distance, and hear the sound of a festrog. They hear and see two festrogs, and a spellcaster. Jean-Baptiste tells them to fall back around the corner. A pitched battle with the two festrogs ensues, but the evil cleric is too far away for them to see. Katarzyna goes off in search of her, and lands a solid hit on her with a Lightning Bolt, but is immediately Blinded by her. Jean-Baptiste, Ostovach and Abner quickly arrive on the scene. They attack her, and Abner finally stabs her in the back, killing her.

Jean-Baptiste manages to remove the blindness on Katarzyna and the curse that had sapped Grewin’s strength. Abner and Katarzyna inspect the body. They see that she has stitches in a circle around the crown of her head. Grewin suggests that there might be sigils on her skull. Katarzyna cuts away the skin, and they see scoring on her skull. Katarzyna can’t make out the meaning of them, but Jean-Baptiste determines that the markings are some sort of invocation or binding to a deity named Osiris. Osiris is the god of death and the afterlife of the Akiri. Jean-Baptiste and Katarzyna look at the writing in greater detail, and determine that the writing is actually a spell, a variation of a spell called Canopic Conversion. The spell ostensibly transforms the viscera of the spell’s subject into mummified remains. The only way to know is to check the abdomen of the dead priest. Grewin notices that the body seems to be undergoing some sort of change, that she might be coming back to a semblance of life. Before Katarzyna can even finish suggesting it, Gregore smashes the face of the corpse, and Katarzyna severs the hands from the body. Abner searches the body of the dead cleric as Katarzyna continues to investigate the corpse for other clues. She discovers that the heart is missing, but doesn’t find any other incisions or Akiri writing. Significantly, there weren’t any incisions or scars on the abdomen before Katarzyna began her examination, so the Canopic Conversion clearly affected the organs without showing any effects externally. The cleric had a thin dagger of sorts, which is actually an adamantine surgical knife, Katarzyna decides to keep the blade. Abner finds some vials among the cleric’s effects. The decide to go into the Inn before returning to the base.

They make their way through town toward their camp. On the way, they hear voices. They all freeze in place, and recognize that the room where they had obliterated all the stored skeletons had been discovered. Abner and Grewin sneak forward. Gregore speaks with Jean-Baptiste, and the two of them move forward to face the new threat. Gregore uses his Shield of Ezra as he advances toward them, calling them out in the process. A short fight ensues, and the two are hopelessly outmatched and easily defeated. One of them is taken as a prisoner for questioning. A wand is found that grants a measure of control over undead. Katarzyna doesn’t want anything to do with it. She gives it to Jean-Baptiste, who is eager to use it. Gregore tells Jean-Baptiste that he would need the ability to channel negative energy in order to use the wand.

They return to their camp, and Rhakis, Kendra and Vasislav are the only ones who returned from their day of scouting. They had run across Acreitia, and she killed four of Rhakis’ wolves, including the two Jezeldans. Katarzyna notices Grewin’s growing discomfort, and as she talks with him, he tells her the he can no longer hear Hala, and that being cut off from her is wearing on him.

Jean-Baptiste and Kendra have discussions about the Canopic Conversion spell and other items. They retire for the night, and set watches.

Thursday, August 14th, 758, Feldgrau, The Furrows, Ustalav

The party awakens and breaks their fast, and those who prepare spells do so. Rhakis takes Grewin aside, and they have a conversation that seems to clear the air between them. Kendra and Katarzyna also discuss various matters. Grewin seems much more receptive to the Rhakis and Vasislav than before, and even shakes Vasislav’s hand.

They make their way through town, south of their camp, and come to a solid bank of fog. Gregore is taken aback, and tells them that they have encountered the Mists. He suggests that they make their way back to more normal terrain. They trudge up a hill looking for another obelisk. Because they have the lantern hooded as they approach, they are attacked by shadows. They uncover the lantern and defeat the shadows, then move on toward what appears to be a green light. It turns out to be another obelisk. There are two priests at the obelisk, and they engage them in combat. One of them raises several corpses during the combat, but they defeat them all. They then turn to the task of knocking down the obelisk. Jean-Baptiste approaches Kendra and Katarzyna about the scroll that has the instructions to inscribe the runes onto the obelisk. Jean-Baptiste wants to destroy the scroll, but Kendra and Katarzyna think it’s hasty to do so without having more information. Katarzyna gives the scroll to Kendra, and takes herself out of the discussion, highly annoyed with Jean-Baptiste’s stubborness.

The group is pleased that the combat didn’t consume too much of their resources, and they decide where to go next. Jean-Baptiste and Abner speculate about the layout of the obelisks, and the probable locations of the other enemies. Grewin also contributes to the discussion, but the others mostly stay out of the conversation. Ultimately they decide to head generally north, and they run into some structures. They follow along the edge of the wall, and follow it in an easterly direction. They come to a building. Ostovatch volunteers to go into the building, which turns out to be mostly empty. They investigate the environs of the building. The lantern seems to brighten, and Katarzyna alerts them to the proximity of undead. They spot a female undead form, who tells them that “her lord has sent her” and that she could “have them for the feast”. They make quick work of her. Abner spies a wedding ring, and appropriates it.

They continue on. They go around some other buildings and skirt around rubble. They see various ruined structures and gardens. They come to a building that looks like an apothecary or somesuch. They find four vials of antitoxin, a jar of restorative ointment, and a small jar that contains dust. Jean-Baptiste identifies it as Dust of Appearance. There is also four ounces of saltpeter and a pound of realgar. He also picks up some vials and jars and they all leave and continue searching the environs.

They head east. They come to a barrier of Mist. They return to a northerly and westerly direction, and feel like they’ve come close to the central tower. They hear a voice say “ENOUGH”, and Kendra tells them that it’s Acreitia. Acreitia is ghastly looking. They immediately attack, with Katarzyna launching a lightning bolt at Acreitia and one of her four minions. Abner then rolls in. Acreitia then attacks Abner. She is fighting unarmed, but in a very acrobatic way. Her four minions all swarm around Abner, but they fail to land their attacks. The battle rages, and three of her minions are quickly dispatched. She continues to attack Abner. She takes him down, but her subequent attacks don’t land as she had hoped, and Grewin finally takes her down.

Ostovach and Katarzyna investigate her corpse, and they find a magical belt. Kendra takes a look at it, and discovers that it’s a monk’s belt that enhances her physical strength. Abner, Ostovach, and Jean-Baptiste cast lots for the belt. Jean-Baptiste wins the lots, and tosses the belt to Ostovach.

The party returns to their camp after defeating Acreitia. Abner is feeling unwell having been drained of a portion of his essence, as was Ostovach. They vote on whether to stay and rest, or resume their efforts after restoration on Ostovach & Abner. They decide to recuperate for the rest of the day, and continue the fight the next day.

At night when Abner is on watch, the party is attack by fifteen flaming skeletons, one attempting to come into the building. Abner and Grewin attack, Jean-Baptiste pulles a wand and Gregore casts a healing pulse and explodes several of the skeletons, unfortunately injuring Abner and Grewin. Kendra goes out with the lantern, and Rhakis goes and scouts further. They return shortly, see nothing more. Gregore heals them all again. Rhakis and Vasislav resume their watch.

Friday, August 15th, 758, Feldgrau, The Furrows, Ustalav

Gregore restores Abner and Ostovach to full ability, while Grewin and Amelia patrol outside of the building. After an hour of preparation with paste, blood and diamond dust, Abner and Ostovach are back to fighting form.

They decide to check the north and south obelisks, to make sure they don’t restore the runes. Skeletons are trying to put up the south obelisk, and they encounter one patrol, but they don’t run into any cultists.

Jean-Baptiste suggests going to the pit before checking Acreitia’s house. They go to the pit, and Ostovach takes the lantern and goes down followed by Grewin, Kendra, Abner and Jean-Baptiste. The ground is a writhing mass of black soil and arms and legs, and other body parts. Abner attacks with his weapons, then Gregore with his Searing Light, which damages it immensely. Then Grewin attacks with an Undead Bane arrow. The creature looks as if it is running, but it is an illusion, actually it is approaching. It slams Gregore, paralyzing him as he is stunned, and he falls to the ground and sinks into the soil. Jean-Baptiste is held firm. A short while later Gregore is brought back to the surface by undead hands. Jean-Baptiste is also released. From the pit, one of the voices says “Go, we cannot resist too long. Free us!”

The party quickly doubles back to the top of the pit, and eventually Gregore awakens. He tells them that “the fog has been lifted”, that the dead spoke to him. He tells them that they need to destroy the engine that is raising the dead, and Auren Vrood is the key, he needs to be destroyed.

The party then goes to search Acreitia’s home base, where they find a map and a magical paint set. Jean-Baptiste takes a special interest in the paint set, and proceeds to test its properties. First he paints a cooked pheasant, and the paint set produces a three-dimensional version, but it’s tiny, because the painting was smaller than a real pheasant would be. He then paints normal sized bread, which it reproduces perfectly, and the bread is perfectly edible. He then creates an Auren Vrood-killing arrow, but the new arrow is not in any way magical. Jean-Baptiste then attempts to paint a live chicken, but the creature is dead when the paint set creates it. He then creates a cache of wine, and a coin. The wine is excellent, but the coin is common tin, painted gold. Finally, Jean-Baptiste creates a piece of darkwood. The party then discusses the possibilities of using the paint set, an several people turn in for the night during the discussion.

Jean-Baptiste finds a vial, and he dumps the contents out. It appears to be a human heart. He picks it up, and it smells of embalming fluid. A large section of the heart is missing. Rhakis shifts and turns hybrid, and eats the heart, which is the heart of Kevalka Seyn. Rhakis spasms, and drops to the ground, shifting back to human form. He says that a piece is still missing, and the group surmises that Auren Vrood has the missing piece.

Back at their camp, Jean-Baptiste paints a feast for them using the paint set. They have a splendid meal, and they turn in for the night, knowing they will face Auren Vrood the next day.

Saturday, August 16th, 758, Feldgrau, The Furrows, Ustalav

In the morning, everyone prepares for the impending showdown with Auren Vrood. Jean-Baptiste paints a semi-mechanical hand for Ostovach, to help him use his weapons more effectively. The hand functions rather well, and while it is not as good as having his hand restored, it does help him a great deal. Grewin picks spells and tends to Amelia, and Katarzyna selects Lightning Bolt and Dispel Magic spells for the fight. Gregore prays to Ezra for his spells. Grewin receives Cure Heavy Wounds and Valor with elixir and Ostovach receives Cure Moderate Wounds with elixir. When they feel they are ready, they set out for Auren Vrood’s stronghold, the Old Tower.

They arrive at the Old Tower door to find it is barred from the inside. Katarzyna uses Dimension Door to take herself, Ostovach and Gregore into the tower, whereupon Gregore lifts the bar to open the door and let the others in. Inside the foyer, there are two exits on either side, one covered in a cloth. They investigate both adjoining rooms, then travel back to the foyer. There are doorways in both these rooms next to the one just entered. They take the south doorway, which leads to a large round room with a wall in the middle, and stairs leading to an almost non-existent second floor, much of the floor having fallen in.

Skeletal archers attack. Jean-Baptiste quickly ducks through the opposite door and sees a tent in the back of the room. Amelia is hit by an arrow. Grewin fires off a spell, and sees Auren Vrood on the ruined remnants of the second floor. Skeletal hands reach for Amelia and Grewin. Rhakis goes up the stairs while Gregore Pulses, but none of the undead are destroyed outright. Ostovach and his hounds attack the skeletal hands, while Katarzyna uses Hold Undead on the claws.

Abner and Jean-Baptiste are about to rush into the room and up the stairs when Auren Vrood flies down from the second floor. Jean-Baptiste and Abner rush Auren Vrood, but he avoids Jean-Baptiste’s attack. The attacks come quickly, and Auren Vrood responds with a negative energy spell that severely damages the group, while bolstering and healing his undead minions. Rhakis takes the fight to Auren Vrood personally, and the attacks continue unabated. The group seems to be holding their own, but then Auren Vrood releases a Circle of Death spell.

Amelia dies instantly, as does Silvio, Vasilav, Ostovach’s hounds, and Ostovach himself. Everyone is stunned by the powerful negative energy and by the death of their companions. Katarzyna is in complete shock. Abner and Gregore can feel that they too almost died from Auren Vrood’s lethal spell. The party redoubles their attacks against Auren Vrood, with Gregore and Auren Vrood trading pulses of negative and positive energy. A grim-faced Katarzyna sends a lightning bolt at Auren Vrood, and he is finally defeated. As with the other Whispering Way cultists they had killed during their time in Feldgrau, Auren Vrood’s jaw is melted away with acid as he dies. The tower is suddenly quiet as the party realizes that they have prevailed over Auren Vrood, but paid a terrible price for the victory.

The party quickly recovers from the jarring end of the fight with Auren Vrood. Jean-Baptiste decapitates the necromancer’s body. Kendra rushes over to Silvio. Grewin is inconsolable, weeping over Amelia’s body. Abner goes over and holds Kendra. Katarzyna runs over to Ostovach. He is bleeding from his eyes, nose and mouth, and he looks pale and gaunt. She calls to Gregore to help Ostovach, and Gregore goes to one knee and begins praying, and he Pulses. There is no response from Ostovach. He is gone. The scope of the grim harvest is quickly realized. Vasislav is dead. Amelia is dead. Silvio is dead. All of Ostovach’s hounds are dead. Katarzyna can only stare blankly from Ostovach’s empty gaze to Grewin, Kendra, and Rhakis. Only Rhakis meets her gaze, and he gets up from where he knelt next to Vasislav’s lifeless form, walking purposefully over to Jean-Baptiste. Grewin walks over to Katarzyna, who is closing the eyes of the deceased Ostovach. There is a cold determination in Katarzyna’s eyes, and they share a wordless moment of grief.

Jean-Baptiste starts going through Auren Vrood’s belongings, with Rhakis’ help. They find a rod, a wand, a quarterstaff, an amulet, a cloak, a ring, a spellbook, and a spell component pouch, in addition to his regalia of the Whispering Way. Rhakis tells Grewin to be vigilant, as he and Jean-Baptiste go to investigate and make sure that the area is clear. Jean-Baptiste and Rhakis find a scroll tube and a chest. Rhakis finds another piece of the heart of Kevalka Seyn, but tells them that the heart is still not complete. Jean-Baptiste finds the Carrion Crown poem inside the scroll case. He begins reading it alound, which causes Kendra to convulse and speak the poem at the same time that Jean-Baptiste is reading the words.

Upon the ashen pathways tread
Softly, as the whispered dead.
As mortal flesh doth rot and fail
To leech and maggot, ebbing frail.
 
Unhallowed words cannot be spoken,
With whispered oath, death lies broken.
Shed fear, shed life, shed pain, shed time,
Eternity seized shall soon be thine.
 
First spirit torn from Grave-Lady’s grasp
Be rent and sown as soured ash.
Soft the spiral song reverses,
Judgment lost, damnation surges.
 
Keeper of the damned’s soul take,
With packlord’s heart the beast shall wake.
With Men of greed their lies flay
And flesh be wrought in disarray—
Stillborn cocoon, to blessed decay.
 
A hundred slain lie innocent,
Grind bone and marrow to cement.
Craft now a skull of splintered graves,
Unmake life, unmake the slave.
 
Where history churns dream to blister,
Necrophagous secrets whisper
Through chronicles of Raven’s tongue -
A legacy of fear unspun.
 
Blood spilt atop the Iron Thorn
Invokes that which cannot be born.
Arise the Tyrant now unbound,
Bearer of the Carrion Crown!

Abner finds items inside the chest, including 50 pounds of silver dust and a sheaf of papers. Jean-Baptiste takes the sheaf of papers, handing the outer letter to Katarzyna, which she reads aloud. Jean-Baptiste then reads the enclosed letter. It is addressed to Professor Charest, and it involves the activities of the Whispering Way, signed by “Embreth”, who Katarzyna speculates is Judge Embreth Daramid. Jean-Baptiste, Kendra, Katarzyna and Grewin talk about the information in the letters, trying to decide what to do about the information contained in the letters. Grewin approaches Gregore, who is still in his praying vigil. Jean-Baptiste says that there is one thing they have to do, and that is deliver the letter to Professor Chalest. Kendra looks through the other papers, and finds instructions for stealing the heart of Kevalka Seyn, and for constructing a skull made from bones harvested at Feldgrau. There is also a note to send the Sea Sage Effigy to a town called Thrushmore, as part of a trade for a second artifact whose nature remains undisclosed. Auren Vrood was also to aid Acreitia in her task to deal with the “ley lines” in Feldgrau.

Grewin talks at length with Rhakis. Rhakis tells them that he must return to the Margreve. He promises to observe the sanctity of the Temple of Hala/Stairs of the Moon.

Gregore stands up from where he had been praying, and his feet are shrouded in mist, or rather, seem to have become mist. Gregore tells them that Ezra has granted him the power to bring back the dead. He says that it will be quite costly to do so. Kendra chooses not to raise Silvio. Grewin is undecided about Amelia, but brightens at the prospect that Gregore will be able to bring her back. They all agree that there is no question about Ostovach being raised, but Rhakis chooses not to have Vasislav brought back. Rhakis tells them that Vasislav would be cursed if he returned, and Rhakis would not consign him to that fate.

Gregore tells them that restoring the dead back to their full ability will be costly as well. He mentions that they also have to hurry, or the spells might not work, the longer that the soul is ‘beyond’, the harder it is to bring the subject back. Kendra is furiously going through Auren Vrood’s notes and papers. Gregore requests Grewin and Abner’s help in preparing the area. Grewin tells him that their priority is to get their horses in preparation for leaving Feldgrau, and Rhakis agrees to help him retrieve them. Katarzyna and Abner set about moving the bodies for Gregore.

Kendra wishes to do a séance, and asks for help. Katarzyna agrees immediately, and Abner agrees as well, Jean-Baptiste agrees also, but has to look for some things first. Katarzyna uses that time to prepare the bodies of Ostovach, his hounds, Amelia, Vasislav and Silvio. Since Vasislav, Silvio and the hounds are not going to be raised, she prepares them for proper burial. Kendra does automatic writing as she prepares for the séance.

Grewin and Rhakis find where their horses had been left. All have vanished, except for the corpse of Kendra’s horse. Grewin does find tracks from the others leading away. Rhakis shifts into wolf form. It takes them eight hours to find the horses that had bounded off, but they able to get them back under control. They decide to camp for the night with the horse, having travel well outside of the environs of Feldgrau. They know their return trip won’t be as strenuous or lengthy since they will have the horses, but they decide that it’s best not to travel in darkness.

Jean-Baptiste and Gregore confer quietly, then go to Acreitia’s lair in search of something. Jean-Baptiste finds a couple of zombie-like remains. He finds the body of Inspector Farren. He and Gregore bury the remains. Gregore returns to the lair of Auren Vrood and tells Katarzyna and Abner that Inspector Farren is dead. Katarzyna can only nod.

Kendra begins her séance. They see a vision of Auren Vrood preparing the sheaf of letters they found. They see cultists swarming through Feldgrau, raising the dead. They see Acreitia directing cultists to raise the obelisks. The see Vrood placing items in the chest, including the heart of Kevalka Seyn. They also see a fragile skull composed of hundreds of bone fragments. He also puts a statuette in another chest. The chests are given to two riders, one to Thrushmore, and one to Carrion Hill. Thrushmore and Carrion Hill are both south of Feldgrau, and both are aligned with the magical energy of the ley lines.

Gregore informs them that they will have to keep the bodies of their fallen companions from coming back as undead. Katarzyna carefully and respectfully takes care of that unpleasant task for Silvio, Vasislav, and Ostovach’s hounds. Gregore helps prepare Vasislav’s remains, since a werewolf has multiple ways he could come back through undeath. Katarzyna handles Silvio and the hounds on her own.

Eventually exhaustion gets the better of them all, and they sleep. Katarzyna expresses concern for Grewin and Rhakis’ continued absence, but they reassure her that the task of retrieving the horses will probably take them a good while.

Sunday, August 17th, 758, Feldgrau, The Furrows, Ustalav

Gregore sequesters himself with the remains of Ostovach after praying for his spells. He starts speaking with the dead, and asks Ostovach if he wants to return. Ostovach says he does. Gregore then waits for Grewin to be present to speak with Amelia. Rhakis and Grewin arrive back at around 10 in the morning.

Gregore addresses them as they are gathering their gear. He tells them that he has enough components for one raising. So they have to decide who comes back, Ostovach or Amelia. The problem is keeping the bodies from turning to undeath before they can be raised, and they have only until early evening to raise both Ostovach and Amelia. After some deliberation, Gregore proposes to travel through the Mists through either the ethereal plane or the plane of shadow, in the hopes of reaching Carrion Hill or Thrushmore quickly enough to raise the second subject. He warns though that there are risks and dangers. With this knowledge, Grewin agrees to ask Amelia if she wants to return. He and Gregore go away from the others, and when they return, a teary-eyed Grewin tells them that Amelia misses them all and loves them, but wishes to remain where she is. So they prepare to raise Ostovach, and Rhakis agrees to take Amelia’s remains back to the Temple of Hala in the Margreve when he departs.

Gregore begins his ritual to raise Ostovach. He says the proper prayers and incantations, and mist begins to emanate from Gregore. The mist goes into Ostovach’s mouth, and his gauntness is diminished. Ostovach sharply breathes in and his eyes fly open as he’s brought back.

They all welcome Ostovach back, and Katarzyna clumsily tells him that his hounds are dead. Gregore restores a bit of Ostovach’s lost ability. Katarzyna, feeling poorly for having so tactlessly informed him of his hounds’ deaths, asks Ostovach if he wants to return to the Margreve with Rhakis, or if he wants to remain with them and press on. He agrees to travel with them as far as Carrion Hill, at least. Grewin offers to smoke a pipe with him. Ostovach is unsteady and still getting his bearings as he walks with Grewin. As Rhakis is preparing to leave, Katarzyna gives Rhakis a missive for Judge Daramid, and Grewin gives him a letter for Myphina. Jean-Baptiste also sends a letter.

The bed down for the night, resolved to leave Feldgrau for Carron Hill as early as they can the next morning.

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