Campaign of the Month: February 2016

Rise of the Durnskald

Prey on the Weak
Session 24

Asmud had told them all what was coming. Well, Asmud couldn’t talk so he didn’t really tell them so much as used hand motions but Gren had understood and told the others. Asmud was a Shadow, and a cowardly one at that. Still, the information he gave Gren was important.

Adventurers, somewhat dangerous ones. They had made it passed the guards at the gate and were on their way.

Gren paced near his post, the others were still making their preparations for the inevitable attack. He had been ready. He had been waiting for the day when the pathetically weak humans failed in their duties. Today it seems was that day.

It wasn’t long before the torchlight and the sounds of their approach gave them away.

Several of them entered the room in a rush, a small greenish man, an exceptionally large man with an exceptionally large sword, a tall woman rippling with muscles wielding a dangerous looking hammer, and a smaller woman of slight build whose weapons flashed in the light. Two of them hung back as well, a thin unarmed man-child with pointed ears and a woman with an oddly cold look about her.

The others attacked the adventurers but Gren held back, waiting for the opportune time to strike. Things looked good, everyone was in a good position and the fight was going in their favor. Gren charged towards the large man with the sword, only to stop short as the man brandished a symbol engraved with a blazingly bright greatsword. Gren was momentarily confused about that, how could the symbol actually be so blindingly bright? It was as if the sun itself was contained within the symbol and It wasn’t until he felt the heat and pressure emanating from it that Gren realized what was happening, but by then it was too late.

He had been judged by Othanops.

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Diary of Madness: Mt. Krag
Session 23

Something has changed, J. At first I thought it was just the weather, turns out it is something far larger than that. It’s far larger than all of us. The sky has turned the color of slate. There are now two suns hanging motionless in the vast darkness above, yet the light does not appear to reach us as it should.

People have changed too. Several of the guards posted on watch when the change happened have gone through a slight metamorphosis, becoming something familiar and yet intrinsically different. Many of the greener men panicked but it wasn’t anything that a few strategic executions couldn’t take care of. They are restless now so I’ve confined them inside to watch the main gate.

Something is going to happen, soon. I can feel it. It’s like something is whispering in my ears these words of… power, words I don’t understand but can somehow use? I find it difficult to explain myself to you today. I feel like there is something growing within me, and it isn’t one of the parasites.

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Darkness Falls
Session 22

Peyt looked up as the sky quickly darkened, shocked by what he was witnessing.

“Uh, boss? Hey, should the sky be doing that? Markus?”

Peyt turned to where Markus had been standing just a moment before. In his place was a man that looked like Markus but only in a general sense, that is to say that at a distance he could have easily passed for Markus. The problem of course being that this wasn’t at a distance. Not-Markus turned to him.

“Peyt? Is that you? What happened to your eye?”

Not-Markus peered at Peyt inquisitively. Peyt decided that Not-Markus really did look like Markus, just thinner and perhaps a bit older. His uniform was completely different though and from the way he was holding his spear he appeared to be right handed. Markus was left handed. Peyt considered this to be a rather large cause for alarm.

“Peyt? Your eye is gone, what happened to your eye?”

Peyt stared at Not-Markus for several awkward seconds while he was trying to puzzle this out. It appeared that Not-Markus knew his name but was unfamiliar with the fact that Markus had accidentally caught Peyt in the face with a cudgel during a sparring match while they were in training. This injury caused a few complications with Peyt’s sight and left some scar tissue on the right side of his face from the tearing of the skin. The tear ran directly over Peyt’s eye, which itself had taken a milky sheen in the years since the accident. This caused those around him to believe that he was at least partially blind. Not-Markus knew who Peyt was and recognized him by sight but was unfamiliar with an injury from several years ago. Peyt found this troubling.

“You… Who are you and what have you done with Markus?”

Not-Markus let out a nervous little laugh and shrugged helplessly.

“Peyt, buddy, what are you talking about? I’m right here.”

Peyt narrowed his eyes and gripped his spear harder, backing up a step towards the parapet.

“You aren’t Markus. I know what Markus looks like, and you aren’t him. What did you do with my friend?”

Not-Markus leaned his spear against the cliff face to his side and took a step towards Peyt with his arms outstretched.

“Peyt, I don’t know what’s going on in that head of yours but it’s me, Markus. I’m your friend. Don’t you know me?” Not-Markus approached another step closer. “Remember that time I had to drag you home after the tavern brawl in Valley? You were so drunk you couldn’t even walk anymore. Remember that?”

Peyt took another step back.

“Peyt, I was at your wedding.”

Peyt found that he suddenly felt terribly cold and weak. He remembered the day that was supposed to be his wedding day. He also remembered the attack that came that day. His sweet bride Valerie died in that attack, she had been found in an abandoned shack on the outskirts of town. She had been defiled and beaten to death. Peyt’s heart ached just thinking about it. Markus hadn’t been able to attend the wedding anyways, he had been assigned to watch duty that day.

“Peyt, I don’t know what’s going on but I’m here for you. Put down your spear and let’s talk, you look like you’re about to pass out.”

Not-Markus stepped forward again, reaching for Peyt’s shirt. Peyt instinctively knew not to let Not-Markus touch him. He wasn’t sure what would happen but he knew it wouldn’t be good. Peyt unsteadily attempted to take another step back, forgetting that he had no more room to maneuver. Peyt’s ankle caught the edge of the parapet and Peyt lost his footing falling backwards.

It seemed to happen in slow motion. Not-Markus lunged forward to grab Peyt’s shirt but barely touched the cloth as Peyt fell backwards over the edge of the wall. Twisting in the air Peyt saw the forest floor approaching. It seemed like the trees were taller than he had remembered, the undergrowth thicker, the rocks at the base of the wall more jagged.

As he plummeted headfirst into the rocks below Peyt’s last thoughts were of Valerie.

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Diary of Madness: Kar'dak
Session 21

His screaming reached a new height today. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m still learning the “art”, best to be careful and take it slow. Wouldn’t want Dax to spill all of his secrets at once now would I? That hardly seems… delightful.

He told me today as I was driving the screws into his forearm that it was his fault. It was his fault that the Mechromancer kept escaping capture. It was his fault that The Imperius wasn’t adequately protected. It was his fault that the “thing” in the Kar’dak plague ruins wasn’t as vicious as I had been led to believe. It was his fault what happened to Kar’dak.

Oh J., I’m not even quite sure how to explain precisely what happened to Kar’dak. One day the city was there and my men had almost arrived to close the trap, the next afternoon the city was gone. In its place was an enormous hole, like someone literally cut the city out of Crinoa. The men I had sent, well, it turns out that they haven’t fared much better than the city did. Initial reports aren’t exactly clear, other than to specify that there was a massive increase in the temperature of the southern rim of the hole. The ground was said to glow faintly from the heat, and had the texture of a thick custard. The man that fell in to this “custard” of course was mostly incinerated.

The others have all fallen ill to an unknown malaise. Several have since gone blind, their hair and teeth fallen out. Others have developed very unique rashes, accompanied by feelings of weakness and fits of shaking. Those that have survived so far haven’t a clue what they’ve managed to contract, and well, I don’t think they’ll make it another day in the woods, much less make it to Burcia. Just as well, we can’t have them infecting our little prizes now can we? Sure I could send some of those that are standing by in Burcia to retrieve their sickly comrades but they just aren’t worth the effort.

Don’t look at me like that, J. It isn’t my fault and even if it was why should I be expected to care? I am the Consulate Seneschal, with the title of Grand Arbiter still resting on my shoulders I essentially run The Consulate for the time being. If I say that those men are to die horrible deaths that is my right.

Journal, my experiments with the captives will soon be complete as well. The brood mother larva hatched in the host dwarf this morning, I always knew the dwarves were good for something, who would have thought that it would be as carriers to an exotic new parasite?

This is looking up to be a rather nice day.

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The Ritual of Summer Fire
Session 20

She could feel it out there somewhere, the pressure of it pressing on the backs of her eyes. Her heart began to race when Salin left the room, she had thought about warning her but she knew that might be a mistake. If that thing was out there (and Summer knew it was) her friends would need to deal with it before it could find her. Unfortunately, the best way to get the beast to make itself known was to let it think that it could attack from hiding. If Salin were acting defensively the beast wouldn’t attack and her chance to be rid of it would be lost.

Summer watched the scene unfolding on the street below, it attacked Salin the moment she stepped out of the inn. Salin was quickly overwhelmed. Summer escaped from the now burning building in time to protect her fallen friend, but found the price to be high. Cinder the Reborn was gone, yes, but the last thing Summer saw before she fell unconscious was its hateful gaze burning into her soul.
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Ozzo's Party
Session 18

Ozzo shifted his weight, irritated. He had waited patiently for them. He had given them a tour. He had been the best host that he could have been.

In return, they had slain his friends.

Ozzo started pacing back and forth in the dark. He felt unprotected now that the door was gone. They had done that too when they made their escape, although Ozzo couldn’t fathom how. The entire gatehouse appeared to be destroyed, almost as if a giant boulder had rolled straight through it.

Ozzo stopped his pacing and looked down into the pool again. How curious of the pool they had been. What did they think was down there, what was so important?

Ozzo thought he might know what they sought. The man from the capital, the one who created his friends, he had stopped here before he left that night.

Curious.

Ozzo decided to go for a swim.

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Ozzo Fizzlewyk's Guests
Session 17

Ozzo had received the letter just a few days ago, it was a missive from Dax simply stating “Prepare”. Ozzo knew who and what he was preparing for. They were coming, and they would be bringing her with them. That meant that he would be arriving in short order as well.

Ozzo twitched, his left eye blinking.

His house would need protected against them. His friends would see to that, surely. As surely as the moon rises in the sun and stones bleed sweet honey like the small screaming cakes that they are. Ozzo liked the way the stone cakes squirmed in his mouth when he bit them.

Ozzo decided that he wanted cakes. He told his friends that he required one. A small red one if they could find one for him. Ozzo liked the red ones the most. He liked to imagine that they tasted of something more exotic than the brown or black ones. Yellow ones were good too but those had been gone for quite some time, Ozzo had either eaten them all or they had rolled away when he wasn’t looking.

Ozzo hated it when they rolled away. They were his after all. Everything Ozzo could see was his. Everything would eventually be his, it was his birthright. He knew that as surely as he knew that the moon rose in the sun. How he wished he was one of the scaled wyrms of legend, then no one could stop him. Ozzo was fascinated by their power and ferocity.

Ozzo twitched again, a shudder working its way up his long and slender spine that made him quiver excitedly. Ozzo knew what that meant too. He saw them enter the city and knew where they were staying.

They would be his shortly.

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Looking Glass
Session 15

Markus Endrok looked up at the dreary gray sky with disdain and a touch of fear. What he had seen shouldn’t have been possible, even when he entertained the possibility of divine intervention. He had never seen anything even remotely like it before.

He surveyed the carnage all around him. The Imperius lay shattered in many smoldering collections that could only be referred to as piles, twisted scrap metal and shards of wooden beams. His officers had either all died in the blast, died when the Imperius forcibly became one with the swamp, or had abandoned him for dead amongst the wreckage. He really couldn’t be sure at this point since his outlook and health were fading faster than he cared to admit.

Markus had lost much in the crash. He had tried taking a mental inventory of the damage he had withstood, giving up scornfully when he had tallied no less than three life-threatening injuries before he got to anything below his neck. Markus was blind in his left eye, without a mirror he wasn’t even sure if his eye was still physically in its socket. He could say with confidence that his skull was fractured in at least two places. He couldn’t move his lower jaw anymore either, which upon inspection was because the majority of it was missing. Markus was baffled that he hadn’t bled out by now.

Perhaps that man who was approaching would have the answer, not that Markus could ask the question. Markus was dismayed to realize that he was hallucinating again when the man turned into something more akin to a reptile fish thing with cracked and smoking skin, grinning at him maniacally as it walked closer. Markus made eye contact with the hallucination, his breath taken away by the aura of menace that surrounded it. In that moment Markus knew that this was no hallucination but a harbinger of pain and flame.

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Imperius
Session 14

There was a hard knock on the door leading to Dax’s study.

“Come in, Gavon.”

As the door swung open Dax could plainly see that it wasn’t his dutiful assistant. Consulate Seneschal Archeusio Rex’Amon burst into the room in a flurry of white robes, his face lined with anger. Several men in heavy scale armor followed Archeusio into the room, their weapons drawn and gleaming in the lamp light.

“Dax, you have failed to contain the Pergisurcians as we ordered. They have fled Bestheda Garrison and are now running rampant, turning the populace against us! How could you have let this happen? The Consulate demands answers or you’ll hang for this!”

Dax stood slowly, meeting his accuser’s gaze.
“Archeusio, need I remind you that there are to be no drawn weapons in my presence? You presume to enter my home in the dead of the night demanding answers by swordpoint?” Dax motioned to the men behind Archeusio. “Do you ingrates even know who I am? I am Dax Orbidal, Grand Arbiter of The Consulate. I am the settler of disputes, the master of war, and my command is unequaled…”

Archeusio cut him short. “Except for The Six. Your command is granted by their grace and favor alone. Gloried Elder Markus Endrok hasn’t returned from the south yet and the Imperius has gone missing. The last communication we received from the Imperius is quite damning, if I were you I’d beg for my favor now before you incriminate yourself further.”

“Quit mincing your words, ‘steward’. Why would I require the pathetic favor of a worm such as yourself?”

“The Imperius was attacked! We lost one of our flagships to Linden, another shining beacon of yours that you failed to smother. Markus may be dead, and it’s on you! They haven’t even located the ruins yet, we just know that the ship was obliterated in the swamps by some sort of ‘super weapon’ on Linden’s ship. A ship, I add, that you commissioned to have built in the first place. A ship, I add again, that was stolen out from under you at the very moment of its completion! A ship, I add now thricely, that was designed by and was carrying the Mechromancer! Gods only know what he did to it afterwards. Do you have any idea what this means?! The Six do.” Archeusio’s eyes were wild with fury and his thin lips curled into a sinister smile. “It means that you have been stripped of your titles and lands and are now my prisoner!”

The three armored men were on Dax in the blink of an eye, the brawl short but bloody. Dax struggled feebly, his senses muddled from the pain spreading from his now broken jaw. They locked the manacles and gave Archeusio the key, then hoisted Dax abruptly to his feet.

“I, Archeusio Rex’Amon, hereby declare in the name of The Six that Grand Arbiter Dax Orbidal has been accused of treason by virtue of negligence and that he is to be stripped of his property and titles, at which point he is to be remanded to my custody until which time he can stand trial for his crimes.”

Three more armored men were waiting just outside the room.

“You three, take him to my airship and lock him to the ring in the floor. The rest of you have done a fantastic job and well, it looks like you’ve earned a tasty reward. Dax has two children downstairs, an older daughter and a young son. I think the boy would make for excellent target practice. As for the girl…” Archeusio looked over at Dax. “How old is she Dax? If I remember correctly she’s turned fifteen recently. Well, I trust I don’t have to explain to you fine men what a fifteen year old girl is good for.”

Dax struggled against his captors but was silenced by the crash of a scaled fist to the remnants of his jaw. He fell limp.

Archeusio eyed the room savagely.

“Take what you want but burn the rest when you finish. We leave before the sun.”

Watching from behind the bookcase Gavon knew what to do.

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Grand Arbiter
Session 13

“Sir, I’m going to read the contents of this missive out loud to his lordship at his pleasure.”

“Go ahead Gavon.”

“All right Sir, it reads: "Grand Arbiter Dax Orbidal, it has been brought to our attention that there is a small group of Pergisursians inquiring about our “ancient history” in Burcia. See that they are silenced. Don’t involve Admiral Perth or the royal guards as we wouldn’t want to tip our hand."

Dax stood from his chair, a grimace cemented into the features of his already stern and broad face.

“This is troubling. If that scoundrel Linden gets involved there will be complications. Gavon, where are his last known whereabouts?”

“Certainly Sir, if my sources are correct Linden was last seen no longer than three weeks ago hiding in the farmlands to the north of Bestheda Garrison.”

“His airship?”

“Its location is currently unknown Sir, we know that it is in the south somewhere but we haven’t located it as of yet. We currently have four patrols to the north of Mossgate with six Bolt class airships waiting in the swampland for the signal to proceed. Once his ship is spotted we’ll have Linden in chains within the hour.”

“Good to hear it Gavon but increase the Bolt’s to eight and send word to our special agent in Kardak as well, he may be getting visitors. What to do about these foreigners…”

“Sir, if I may make a suggestion?”

“Go ahead.”

“Thank you Sir. These foreigners are presumably ignorant of our ways and customs and may not realize what exactly they are prying into with their questions. This is unfortunate, as you are well aware our law puts very serious consequences on stirring up this particular bit of our past. It would serve in our best interest to capture them and hold them as our “guests” until we can ascertain what they know and who sent them. Then we send them home, comfortably."

“A valid idea with some merit but I don’t think it will be that easy. It isn’t explicitly stated but if we aren’t to involve the royal guards or Admiral Perth that really only means one thing, the Pergisursian group contains someone of influence, likely a royal or one of their House leaders. Either way, if they are sent home I don’t think it would matter how well they were treated. We would have a situation on our hands, one that could jeopardize The Consulate’s plan. This is ill timed. What of the search for the Mechromancer?”

“Yes Sir. The insectoid automatons continue to plague the lands to the south of the swamp, and have been spotted as far south as Bestheda Garrison. Considering that these automatons are effectively self-replicating it has proven extremely difficult to locate their master by their locations alone. Of larger concern are the newer automatons encountered in the mountains south of Mt. Krag, as they are of a variety that is previously unknown. We have identified a total of four different models so far. Wolf, Hawk, Snake, and Tortoise. Models Wolf and Snake have proven formidable. Given their locations it is likely that the Mechomancer is hiding out somewhere directly south of Mt. Krag in the swamps. I have a bigger concern though Sir.”

“Oh? Proceed.”

“Well Sir, these automatons are scaling up in complexity and size. What if he learns how to reproduce himself?”

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