A Misty Meeting
A quick note about Game Master (GM) notes for campaigns. These notes are the GMs has made about running his campaign, and thus can continue information not known to the in-game characters.
Our story begins on the roads of Invidia, where a storm began blowing in. Two weary travelers, Dario and Daimonion, came to a crossroads as they traveled north towards Port-a-Lucine, the jeweled city of culture in Dementlieu. Approaching from the west, just as they arrived were two grizzled warriors, both heavily armed and dressed as woodsmen. The rain drizzled down on the quartet, as introductions were made all around. Named Rimo and Tallorn, the pair of rangers told Dario and Daimonion they were heading towards Darkon and agreed to accompany the two wanderers in making their way north. (1)
Rain began blowing in heavily and wind whipped across the adventurers’ backs like the lash of a slavedriver. Trying to gain shelter amongst the overhanging trees, the quartet huddled beneath their cloaks as Dario attempted to light a fire. After several tries, the wily rogue managed somehow to get the wet wood to burst into flame. (2) Unfortunately for them, the soaked kindling put forth a thick smoke, which billowed around the group and left them gasping for air.
When, finally, the smoke cleared, the quartet quickly found that they were in unfamiliar surroundings. The road leading north was all but gone. Dense forest pressed around them, like a solid wall of living hardwood. Immediately, all four began questioning as to what, exactly, had happened.
However, the smoke that had just so recently swept around them slid slowly through the woods, and dissipated, leaving two odd figures in its wake. The first, a robed individual, stepped forward boldly and, after some odd smatterings of attempted conversation, introduced herself as Dera in an ancient form of Balok. (3) The second person, small and lithe, quickly disappeared into the shadows and scrambled up a tree for safety.
Just then, the howling began. Tallorn’s ears perked up and interpreted the sound—wolves, howling as if they were of one voice, though many. (4) With a worried expression, the ranger was quick to let his comrades know of the unnatural feel to the sounds. Looking out through the shadows of the trees, wary of the wolves, the adventurers swiftly realized that there were bigger problems to deal with first. At least 75, if not more, humanoid figures were slowly forming an ever-tightening noose around the warriors’ positions. Begging the newcomer to join them in fleeing this menace, the five dashed madly through the forest, attempting to get away from the mass of bodies. Listening carefully as he ran, Tallorn recognized the sounds of a chorus of voices over the winds. In a dissonant, off-key tone, the forest echoed with the sounds of a morbid Tepestani children’s song. The look on the warrior’s face, as he recognized the tune, harrowed the very souls of his comrades.
Fate was not on the warriors’ sides that night. Dodging both the howling winds and the mocking cries of the mysterious figures, the group ran through the night and to the edge of a small clearing in the woods. Edging nervously around the expanse, they noticed a line of seven figures, linked hand in hand, in the center of the clearing. Drawing blades, the group approached…only to hear the hideous song pour forth in one voice from their collective throats. As lightning flashed across the heavens, at last the mysterious figures were revealed—flesh rotted and fell from hollow bones, and each of their mouths was twisted in a hideous grin as they sang. (5)
Battle was joined. Acting swiftly, Tallorn charged one of the beasts, with two swords drawn. However, he direly underestimated the unholy strength of the creatures. With a powerful blow from its meaty fist, Tallorn fell with a gaping head wound, bleeding on the rain-soaked earth. His allies gasped in revulsion, but held their ground to stave off the undead menace. (6)
The conflict boded direly for the adventurers. While scoring several hits, Daimonion’s was soon surrounded by three of the creatures. The hands of a girl, no more than 12 years old, soon clenched around her throat, and the brave swordsman fell. Dera, realizing the horrible fate she would endure at the creatures’ hands, summoned an arcane mount to bear her and Dario away from the combat, but as she tried to grab the young rogue’s hand, she slipped from her saddle and the mount vanished. Fearing for her life, the lithe figure fought her way past one of the walking corpses and scrambled up a tree, where she rained down crossbow bolts.
Were it not for the heroics of young Rimo, though, the group may have met a grisly fate. Eschewing his favored bow, he waded into the fray with a longsword and cut down several of the creatures where they stood. Quickly binding Tallorn’s wounds, he defended Daimonion until Dera and Dario regained their bearings to form a more organized retreat. As the creatures slowly fell, the staggered Tallorn managed to speak some unknown incantation, reviving Daimonion and allowing all 6 warriors to continue their flight. (7)
After an exhausting run, the group finally arrived at a small settlement. Strangely, though, lights still burned in the four buildings despite the fact that it was well into the night. Desperately seeking refuge, the sextet shambled into the largest of the buildings, apparently once a town hall. Deserted, the hall stood silent. No life moved in the hall, save the adventurers themselves. However, a silent figure sat face-down at a table in a darkened corner of the room. Fearfully examining the body, the warriors came upon a sheet of parchment on the desk, in a strange script:
Such are the final words of Hyskosa, seer of time… A town shall be razed, then rebuilt in a day The One Who is Many shall raise them from clay. The circle of slayer and prey will be sundered. Yet death brings no rest for the world-weary hunter. The four pillars of alabaster will fall, But a demon’s sheer will shall use three as his thrall. Five that once stood shall splinter and quake, As the hordes of the Pike-Lord leave death in their wake. A house built on pain will tumble and fade And a realm will still scream though the Black Knight has paid. Truth be shown through eyes, though the Black Mists will rise. Eth radk amn liwl noos igna shi izrep. (8)
While little could be discerned from this mysterious message, Daimonion kept the parchment for future reference. After an hour of quiet rest, Tallorn and Rimo barred the doors, while the mysterious woman slowly explored the house alone. Coming upon what appeared to be a master bedroom, she slyly pocketed a bag of coins, each labeled “One Mournepiece” which she kept to herself.
Dera, however, was not content to merely stand by. Desiring to search the remainder of the town, she lifted the bars on the door and slipped outside, while Rimo and Tallorn protested. (9) Dera did not get so far as the first house, when disaster struck. Not noticing the stench of undeath around her, she opened the door to what appeared to be a crude smithy, when a huge bald corpse smashed her skull with a massive hammer. Watching hesitantly from the door, Rimo and Tallorn leapt into action. Rimo took a rib-cracking blow to the chest, but with a powerful two-handed stroke, felled the beast and then tended to the fallen mage. Examining the hammer, the pair found it to be well made, and kept it. (10)
While those three fought outside, Dario, apparently an expert of metalwork, came upon a vital clue. (11) The fireplace poker in the town hall indicated a form of metalsmithing found only in the remote forest land of Verbrek. However, how the group came to be so waylaid was beyond them all.
After re-barring the doors, the group fitfully rested. Dawn broke peacefully, and no trace of the undead scourge could be found. Mystified and still aching from their injuries, the sextet set out again. (12)