Using My Monsters

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Post War Session - 28/12/2009

In which the group meet some Dundorin, and find themselves fighting for their lives against a weird denizen of the deep...

2/4/1472

16:00 – The caravan arrives at the outer defences of Karrag'Durzal.

However, as they turn into the valley that leads to the heavily warded path that reaches the keep's front gates, they spot a gathering of about fifty Dundorin, the standards of two separate clans snapping in the breeze – the Ardo'Runar (engineering merchants) and the Brunardoin (mercenaries, prospectors, bodyguards). The gathering appears to be peaceful, though with typical Dundorin paranoia (or many would say pragmatism) the extensive decorated walls of carved stone have been fortified with heavy shields and are patrolled by squat, armoured figures.

As the group move towards the makeshift camp, a small group of Dundorin emerge; one dressed in fine robes of dark red velvet, edged in gold, the others clad in finely crafted plate armour, each adorned with the skin of some golden furred creature (identified by Grigori as Aurumvorax) . The robed Dundorin (who has honey blonde hair and beard, and bright blue eyes), waves as the caravan nears, and appears to be smiling warmly.

Aramyn waves back, a grim smile on his face, and slows the caravan down until it stops by the group.

“Brother Stone Tooth, by Thoridane and Danaduin, what terrible timing” grins the blonde Dundorin.

“Galdar Ardo'Runar, 'tis good to see ye” comes Aradyn's reply. “What's with the outpost, are our cousins in Karrag'Durzal such uncouth dogs that they would see kin freezin' in the mountains?”

Galdar shakes his head, and looks pained. “Ye'd best come into the camp, and I shall tell ye what is happening over a pint or three”.

16:05-16:25 – The group accompany Aramyn as he meets with Galdar, and the leader of the Dunodorin contingent – Khazzadar Brunardoin; a scarred and grizzled Dundorin with a clawed artifice arm, a rune-scribed patch over one eye, and no beard – and the current situation is explained...

The two groups of Dundorin are about to head back to their clan holds after being attacked by the Dundiir of Karrag'Durzal as they moved along the road to their keep. This was despite them flying their clan colours and runes as protocol demands, and making an open display of their strength in numbers and weapons. Attempts were made to contact the Karrag'Durzal Dundiir, but no one within answered. Unsure of what to do, but reluctant to face their cannons again, the two groups are heading off in the morning. They advice the group to do the same.

Aramyn is greatly disturbed by these reports, and puts it to his cousins that the Karrag'Durzal would not open fire (and even more importantly, miss) unless they had a good reason for keeping them away. He proposes a small group head towards the keep to try and find out what is going on, and, if possible, to lend aid.

16:25 – 16:35 – A plan is hatched (Aramyn is aware of several disused tunnels, dug when the silver mines were being expanded, and likely used now for ventilation, and he feels that a group could move through these and gain access to the keep from its mines), and volunteers are sought.

The group state that they shall only go if paid properly. Aramyn offers them 300 gps, but they refuse, demmanding 400 gps and another of his Blunderbusses.

Aramyn gives a disgusted snort, spits on the ground and tells the group that they can stay and watch the caravan whilst he is gone. He then looks towards his cousins, and they offer (in the case of Galdar, with great reticence) troops to accompany him.

However, spotting his reluctance to donate soldiers to the cause, Seren suddenly puts it to Galdar that, for 400 gold and an Aurumvorax skin (which lends fire resistance to anyone wearing it), they will go instead of his troops. Eager to save his valuable soldiers from harm, the merchant agrees (though he is bullied into sending two of his soldiers to accompany Khazzadar and the unit of warriors he will be leading into a separate area of the ventilation tunnels).

Thus, the group agree to accompany Aramyn into the darkness beneath Karrag'Durzal.

17:35 – As darkness and cold steals across the mountains, the group arrive at a series of squat, stone chimneys; ventilation pipes that lead into the tunnels Aramyn spoke of. Aramyn breaks the moss covered lid off one, revealing a tube of carved stone, roughly 4' wide and choked by cobwebs, which falls into gloomy darkness. A stone is dropped, and the sound of it hitting deep water echoes back.

17:36 – 17:50 – One by one, the group climb down the narrow tube, which ends, 60' below; 20' above the surface of a lake of mineral rich, rust-smelling water, still as a mirror and bitterly cold. Bats the size of small mice fill the air, sweeping around the group without ever striking them, and transparent cave fish flit away from the alien invasion into their silent, aquatic world.

Gorthias misses his footing at one point, and sustains some significant injuries as he tumbles 40', striking the water at speed (although the landing is softer than it would be were the surface solid, he still hits with enough force to shatter bones and draw blood).

17:50 – 17:55 – Shivering, teeth chattering, the group swim (with the aid of the swordmage, who, as an elemental humanoid is perfectly at home in the icy waters), towards an area of shallow water to the north of where they have landed, which leads to an island studded with stalagmites and stalactites, and covered in the guano of the hundreds of bats that swoop and chitter in the darkness above them.

However, as the party draw close, a particularly large stalagmite in the middle of the area suddenly reveals itself to be something else. A huge, bloodshot eye opens towards its tip, and a wide mouth, filled with rows of savage, stone teeth yawns towards its base. Festoons of whip-like tentacles, covered in minute, saw-like teeth of flint unfurl from its sides, and immediately begin to whip about, many snaring bats in the area, two, flashing out towards the party.

“ROPER!” Screams Aramyn, and then there is only battle.

17:55 – 18:00 – The battle is short lived but sees significant harm being visited on the group. The monsters tentacles steal the strength of those they grab, and its mouth removes vast chunks from anyone unfortunate enough to be bitten. To complicate matters, where the bat guano is thickest, an invisible miasma of toxic gas hovers (though fortunately, the constitutions of the group prove too strong for its poisonous effects).

Aware that they may face other opponents before they can next rest, the group hold back their most potent attacks. However, they have to use the best tactics they can to stop the monsters consuming any of them.

It is difficult, but eventually, the monster is cracked open, its soft body exposed to the merciless blades and spells of the party, and it gives a final, rumbling scream as its guts are torn out and burned by magic.

The battle is over, with all party members beaten, but alive.

Aramyn searches through the monsters guts and discovers several uncut stones of value (he pockets a Garnet). A stone bearing magic is also found, and given to the barbarian – a stone that can temporarily enchant a weapon if rubbed against it...

Monday, 14 December 2009

Pre-War Session - 7/12/2009

06:30 – The group are back on the road to the Eastern Guild...

06:30 - 08:45 – As the group move along the tunnels, they begin to notice a steady decline in the amount of life. They also begin to notice strangely glowing veins of greenish ore in the stonework, and the occasional cluster of stumpy, luminous crystals; metallic black, but glowing with a sickly green sheen.

08:48 – Sadran dismounts and examines one of the crystal clusters. Ormid joins him, and they realise that it is a growth of Taintstone; a foul material that is formed from the interaction between certain baleful magical energies and normal rocks – and a sign that the environment is polluted with deadly, invisible magics that will, over time, weaken and ultimately kill the group.

08:49 – 08:55 – The group discuss this; Ormid recounting the “headache” he experienced earlier when opening himself to the local magical flux, and with the group suddenly gaining a new insight into the name of the mountain under which they will soon find themselves; Glyr'Tokth, Shining Peak....shining with tainted energy perhaps?

During this discussion, Ormid recounts tales of a highly morphic crystal being brought to Fey from the Risen Isles. Supposedly a material crafted by the little understood Settari (and ancient, extinct race thought to have created humanity), it is renowned for its ability to absorb and neutralise tainted energies (which are alleged to be plentiful and highly varied in certain areas of those strange, exotic lands).

It is also discussed how certain forms of Jade, Obsidian and a few other crystals have a buffering effect against taint.

08:55 – 09:00 – The group discuss several plans to try and prevent themselves suffering from any tainted energies. It is decided that Ormid will open a portal to Lorehaven, and that they shall attempt to obtain either Settari crystal or Jade / Obsidian from one of the vendors that congregate within the Great Halls Market.

09:15 – Ormid works the ritual needed to open the portal to Lorehaven, linking with the teleport circle located in the Apporter's Guild headquarters.

As the portal opens, a waft of foul, warm air redolent with sweat and farts. Leaping through, the group find themselves confronted by the two wild eyed, unwashed attendants who bade them farewell on their last passage through their circle.

It transpires that a few nights ago a terrible wave of blizzards swept over the city, and it seems, buried it. The Apporter's Guild Merchants have been trapped in their work place ever since (having run out of the ritual scrolls needed to open a portal to another place), their attempts to burrow out from the place resulting in tunnel collapses and panic, and the lack of rescue has fuelled a little bit of paranoia!

09:20 – The front door to the offices are opened, and a short tunnel is seen, dug into hard packed snow that has indeed, apparently completely buried the place.

09:22 – Using his enchanted belt to enable him to move more snow, The Veteran tunnels upwards and soon emerges (18' up!) on top of the snow, on a bright, crystal clear, but bitterly cold morning.

Lorehaven (and indeed, many, many other cities in this part of the north) has truly been half buried by the four day blizzard – an unnatural storm of unknown origins (at least to the group).

The lower wards of the city are completely lost beneath almost 30' of snow. As the city rises along its avenues towards the Bardic College and sky port, the degree to which the buildings are buried is lessened somewhat, those on the highest areas only being half buried.

Already the “streets”, which at this part of the city are buried to roof height, are filled with people either trying to dig out their homes, or who are enjoying the bizzare weather for what it is.

09:28 - The apporters, slightly chagrined by their attempts to tunnel along the street, instead of simply heading up, thank the group and promise them free use of their apportation circles in future.

09:30 - A patrol of the city watch hail the group, and their captain – a man Ormid knows from his college days as Rufus Morka – gives an embarrassed grin as he explains that they had completely forgot about the apporters, assuming they would use magic to escape.

09:30 – 18:00 – The group decide to help rescue those trapped by the snows, and to help clear the streets. It is hard work, each member sweating and shivering at the same time.

The day bears much joy as they rescue grateful townsfolk (their good name increasing with each person pulled free), and sorrow as they uncover collapsed homes crushed by the weight of the snows, folks who have simply frozen to death, and a few who, in dread fear, have taken their own lives.

A little after 14:00 hours, they are almost blown apart as two mages from rival schools argue over how best to remove some snow from a particularly weakened home, and eventually come to blows (their magic wrecks the house, though luckily the elderly couple inside are unharmed).

18:45 – Cold, soaking wet and bone tired, the party head to Ormid's home, only to find it still half buried under (now freezing in the sub-zero temperatures) snow.

18:46 – The warforged shoves the snow aside with ease, but stops as it becomes clear that Ormid's reinforced front door is wide open; the snow having pushed its way inside.

At first the party suspect that the sheer weight of the frozen precipitate has forced the door – until they realise that the door opens the other way.

18:48 – Llewellyn examines the doors lock, and spots subtle signs that it has been expertly picked.

18:49 – Weapons and powers at the ready, the group burst into the house...

...darkness, and cold, wet, stillness.

18:50 – 20:00 – A thorough search is conducted of the house. It is discovered that nothing is missing, though a hair-like metal strand spotted by the Vyrleen in the artificers lab is identified as one of those used by the Esoteric Hunters as trimming around the tops of their cloaks.

Worse, the Vyrleen spots a rune that reports back to its creator inscribed alongside the hidden switch that activates the secret door to the labs.

Fury, and a deep desire to hurt the Esoteric Hunters all round!!!

Ormid and the Vyrleen engage in a round of good natured competition, the artificer using his magics to enhance a lock, which the Vyrleen must then pick (end result, Ormid 1, Llewellyn 1).

18/1/50 (Biting icy winds from the north continue to howl over the Feyan North Republic. Crystal clear, but daytime temperatures only reach -12, and at night, fall to -18).

09:30 – After a good – if slightly chilly – nights rest, Ormid, Llewellyn and the Veteran head to the Bardic College to seek out some of the crystals they will need to soak up the taint. Sadran stays at the artificers home, whilst Smite and Ardwaine go to see if they can help dig out more of the cities residents.


10:10 – The group arrive at the college to find hundreds of people enjoying the steam and warmth radiating from the runes set into the main stairs (these generate heat when the air temperature gets low enough to form ice, and get correspondingly warmer the colder it gets), and after spending a little time taking in the sweeping view of the snowbound city from this vantage point, move into the markets.

10:20 – Despite everything, the markets are brimming with activity, and soon the group locate a stall run by an obese, soft-skinned Dundorin, swathed in rich cloths and dripping with jewellery, which offers unusual geological samples.

10:20 – 10:30 – A rather heated round of bartering ensues (Llewellyn manages to swipe a diamond that the merchant allowed out of his sight for a split second), and eventually the group purchase two Kai'Yassanian Jade statues (each one capable of being broken in chunks).

However, as they leave the merchant with their purchases, the treacherous bastard suddenly screams “Thieves! Robbers! Stop Them!” - and an oh so conveniently placed group of Dundorin toughs (bearing glyphs that identify them as mercenaries) moves to attack!

10:31 – 10:35 – The marketplace is ravaged by the battle! The mercenaries are tough as mountain stone, and work well together, and the group are caught off guard by how well they fight. During the fight, the merchant tries to make his escape, but he is tripped up by Ormid, and knocked unconscious.


Apart from one mercenary, who's head is smashed open by the rogues adamantium mace, all are subdued rather than killed, and as the guards arrive, they are taken into custody.

10:40 – 15:00 – The group spend time with the city officials going over what occurred in the market. Luckily for them, a number of other merchants validate their story, and they are released without any further questions being asked.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Post War Session - 8/12/2009

And so the tale continues. Caz couldn't make this session, so her barbarian took a back seat. However, horror, bloodshed and battle still plagued the party...

06:50 – 07:30 – The sword is a blasphemous tool of utter evil; a bone-bladed hand-and-a-half sword, inscribed with foul prayers to dark powers, and given awareness by the spirit of a powerful daemon.

As the group approach the Kingfisher, they hear horrible, braying laughter echoing from within, followed by Jaden's furious voice. As they move through the taproom, they see several dazed looking locals, streaked with dirt and blood staring vacantly with untouched drinks, though they flinch as more horrific screaming laughter bursts from above.

Outside the suite where the sword is being held, the group find Jaden, pale and wounded, leaning on the balustrade, breathing heavily, his face a mask of mute rage.

Within the room waits Adrielle, Urdoin and Brynn. The group find that Adrielle has scribed a containing circle around the weapon, and used small blessed amulets to seal it – hopefully containing any baneful influence the wicked sword could possible cast forth. As the group enter, the sword begins to insult them in a harsh, braying voice, brimming with contempt and mocking arrogance.

It tells them that they are doomed, and that when the vial is found, that the world will end.

Despite their best efforts, the group are unable to intimidate or communicate in any meaningful way with the weapon. Varracuda suggests bonding with the weapon, to try and force communication with it, but everyone with any kind of understanding reacts with abject horror at this idea, fearing that the swordmage would be immediately devoured by the swords essence. Instead, it is decided that the sword will be taken to Peregrine, to the Ecclesiarchy of Mysteries, where it can be properly bound and interrogated by powerful magi-priests of Merriel'Shaava.

For the first time, the weapon goes quiet – and the group know that this plan is the one that is most likely to succeed.

During this time there are several arguments between Adrielle, her rogue, and the group (Brynn remains silent the whole time, though he flinches whenever the sword speaks or laughs). At one point, it looks like Emmiven and Adrielle may come to blows, though the mage reigns in her obvious fury (it is of interest to note here that Seren and Adrielle have a conversation at this point which involves Adrielle perhaps being Seren's sponsor when she comes to seek the title and rank of Wizard in the Unified Order – as long as she agrees to keep an eye on the swordmage...)

It is also during this time that the group work out – thanks to comments made by the sword – that the vial is one of the five deadly receptacles into which the essence of the dread arch-necromancer Jantherak Shade Binder was bound following his physical destruction a the hands of Ivig and his allies after the ancient Guild Wars (in other words, it is a thing of utter and ineffable evil, who's legends are soaked with tales of apocalyptic horror)

07:30 – 08:00 – The group discuss their next plan, feeling suddenly incredibly weary and lost. It is decided that they shall take up the Dundorin merchant Aramyn up on his offer to accompany him to the city,so they can take the vial to the Ecclesiarchy (though they will not reveal to anyone that they have the vial).

08:05-09:00 – Whilst Jager and Emmiven meet with Aramyn to inform him of their decision (they negotiate a good price; 500 gold, plus two Dundorin Blunderbusses), the rest of the group re-meet with Adrielle to discuss what will happen with the sword.

It is decided that Adrielle and her company shall leave roughly half a day after the party do, with an armoured wagon. Within this wagon, Adrielle will carve another binding circle, and keep the sword in this. The plan means that should there by trouble on the road, the dundorin caravan with its many guards and the group will likely run into it first, and with luck, remove it. This has been done to minimize the risk of the blade falling into “the wrong hands” (though of course, if the Unified order mage knew that the group carried one of the five vials, she might feel this plan pointless).

09:30 – 13:00: The different parties seek some sleep and food before they begin their next journey.

14:30 – The party meet with Aramyn, and are introduced to his employees (five Dundorin, and his second in command, a gruff, monosyllabic female named Selodynn). Then, after a brief discussion on tactics, they leave the town and head northwest; first for the Dundorin stronghold of Karrag'Durzal, some eight days away, and then on to Peregrine.

25/3/1472 – 31/3/1472) – Cold, but increasing day length; bright sunny days and clear, cold nights.

For the past five and a half days, the party have made good progress through the rough terrain of the Southguard Foothills, the Dundorin artifice wagon crawling along on reinforced wheels, a plume of black smoke trailing from its engines.

The thaw has definitely started, and the sound of rushing, icy water echoes through the scrubby forest that lines the foothills of the Southguard Mountains. The group are two days away from Karrag'Durzal and spirits are high.

14:20 – 14:30 However, as the caravan moves into a gentle valley, studded with ancient spruces and larches and large boulders, a terrible roar fills the air, along with heavy, crude arrows. Suddenly, from either side of the valley charge hulking figures, clad in kilts of animal skin and wielding huge, heavy cleavers. Gorgoth!

“Gorga” screams Aramyn as he shakes his battle axe free, as the first sounds of combat ring from the wider circle of patrolling Dundorin (accompanied by the barbarian).

And then there is only battle!

It is a brutal battle, with the greenskins dealing devastating blows with their notched war cleavers, and peppering the group with their heavy headed, flint bladed arrows. Grigori is quickly taken down as he is peppered by arrows, despite Varracuda delaying the inevitable with a reflexively woven arcane aegis. Luckily, the warlord shakes him back to consciousness, and the priest works through his agony to unleash a maelstrom of healing magic, restoring almost everyone nearby to full health.

Aramyn and Gorthias battle with a bunch of hulking Gorgoth Gogs, and their leader; a Gorg of horrible stature wielding a rune carved blade, and wearing a kilt made from flensed skin. Though hard pressed, they stand firm with the help of Jager's shadowy spells and flickering, seeking blade, eventually bringing the monster down.

Varracude finds himself isolated from the main group, but puts up a brave defence as he is swarmed by Gorgoth grunts and gorgs. His blade flashes through the sunlit afternoon, cleaving into green flesh and hacking limbs free. Eventually however, he begins to tire, and more and more blows find their mark.

Luckily, Gorthias, now wearing the form of a ram, charges to his aid, and the beasts are cut down.

Jager teleports around the field of battle, whilst Seren unleashes repeated blasts of radiant energy and elemental fire, incinerating her foes and hedging them in with field of relucent energy that sear those leaving them. She almost shares Grigori's fate at one point, being peppered with crude Gorgoth arrows, but stays conscious throughout...just...

Eventually the Gorgoth are either slain or driven off, and the group can collect their thoughts, catch their breaths, and search their corpses for anything of use (an enchanted belt is found around the Gorg's stinking girth, and a few coins are pulled from filthy purses and sweaty pouches).

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

The Brynn Zombie

I had intended that should the NPC Brynn be killed by the undead, he would rise in the next round as a particularly nasty zombie, and make horrible squidgy sounds with the groups entrails. Alas, he survived, and I never got to finger their guts vicariously through him.

So, here are the stats of the Brynn Zombie. Enjoy!

BRAAAAAINS!!!

Post War Session - 30/10/2009 and 29/11/2009 - The Siege of Greenford!

This is a write up of the two sessions that covered the massed attack on Greenford by the Ravensoul Cabal's undead...

01:30 – 06:30 THE SIEGE OF GREENFORD

The group now find themselves in the midsts of an epic struggle to protect Greenford and its residents. Impossibly, the Ravensoul Cabal have somehow moved a huge force of undead horrors, unliving siege engines and their own insane numbers to the towns perimeter, and now move to destroy it.

The defenders of the town, dwarfed in numbers by the approaching nightmares, take up their various posts along the outer, half-built stone defences. Adrielle's Eight stand ready to the north of the group's position, whilst Brynn and a force of town militia can be seen in a tight formation to the south.

Zombies - staggering corpses of various origins and conditions – come in a great wave towards the town, the frozen air thick with the stench of their corruption. All along the lines the defenders hold, letting the animated corpses come to them, reluctant to give up the scant protection of the stone fortifications.

And then the battle is joined. Our heroes and the Eight do well against these necrotic meat puppets, slashing and hacking at them, and thinning their ranks in mere moments. At the other points of contact, the militia, many of whom are partly intoxicated, or who have never engaged in real life combat before (having been too young to fight in the Aelwyn Wars), do not fare so well, and more than a few fall, only to rise and blank-eyed puppets of evil.

However, before this first wave have been crushed, a second wave of blasphemies is spotted waddling and spinning from the foxfire lit forests to the east.

They are bloated corpses, obese and leaking green-blue witchfire from poorly stitched incisions that criss-cross their bodies. The group see several of them waddle to a small group of men who are out in the field fighting some standard zombies, and cry out as the horrors move up to them, and then illuminate the night with horrible light as they explode in a blast of unnatural flame!

Realising that these things could easily punch holes in the town's flimsy inner wall, the group move to intercept (once they have freed themselves from the remaining zombies).

The initial neat formations and well laid plans begins to disintegrate under the pressure of battle, though the group fare incredibly well. Things become more unpleasant when yet another lines of undead appear from the forests blazing depths; skeletons wrapped in black bandages, with unnaturally long, claw like fingers, and more of the spear wielding, mummified dead like those the group battled at the bandit's lair. A ghoul leads them (and yes, it ends up toe to toe with the sword mage, though it does not manage to harm him too much)

The group suffer wounds at the hands of the monsters, though Emmiven and Grigori work hard to keep everyone fixed up, and although a couple of the Deathflame Zombies and Ravensoul Skeletons are able to blast away and rake at the walls, they do not manage to break through them.

All along the eastern walls the battles rage. Undead tear and claw at the living, and good folk are slain and brought into horrific unlife. Adrielle's Eight fight against a mob of crazed cultists, their songs, spells and swords inflicting horrible damage to them, whilst the less potent militia simply hack and thrust at anything that shambles within reach, praying to Banturn'Vortax, Cellinthar'Valladir, Namaea'Isaala and all the other Gods of light and protection that they will see the end of this battle through living eyes.

From the forests the group spot something huge – roughly the size of a small dracani – covered in warped blue-green flames, and flanked by an too living, and all too evil soul swathed in black bandages and dark robes. At the same time, a line of screaming, ragged fanatics erupts from the forest, swinging flails, bones and other nasty weapons.

Everyone gives only a moments pause to take in the horror; a vast skeletal thing larger than a house, that has a strangely shaped rib cage, filled with inwardly pointing barbs and spikes – as well as several screaming soldiers who are being slowly consumed by the cold, necrotic fires that cloak the thing.

“Try not to get swallowed by that” quips Grigori as the thing stumps towards them, its cavernous maw opening to gather cold, decaying flames.

And then the battle recommences. The robed cultist commands foul powers, and sows chaos amongst the party, whilst the near mindless flagellants inflict significant harm by dint of their sheer numbers and fearlessness.

As for the huge skeletal monster...

It is identified as an Ankolian Undead – a vast corpse given unlife through rare unholy fires summoned by dark rituals – and it quickly demonstrates its ability to exhale a chilling blast of rotting fire. However, so intense in the parties concentration on this hulking threat, that it is cut down and blasted by radiant energy in mere moments, its smouldering remains casting a dim glow over the rest of the conflict.

The Corpse Priest is another matter. Surprisingly resourceful and able to unleash mental and physical torments, he battles on, taking advantage of the groups distraction from the flagellants (and the fact that several hard hitters are bogged down battling the last of the skeletons).

During this battle, the group gets split up, and for a moment Shnecke comes close to being taken down as he finds himself separated from the main party (luckily Grigori pours vitalizing energy into him before it is too late, and he is able to surge forth and battle on).

With this wave defeated more organised defenders (those who were not drinking, and some mercenaries who had stopped in Greenford) have come to defend the section of wall the group were watching. The group turn their attention to the south, where Brynn and five wild-eyed militiamen fight a desperate battle against a huge knot of skeletons, zombies, a pale-faced warrior with blackeyes and the unnatural grace of a vampire, and a curious muscle-wreathed skeletal horror with elongated, bladed fingers and mantis-like arms, which give it terrific reach.

The group move with caution, the warriors forming a line whilst Seren and Grigori hang back to support them. At first the undead do not notice their approach, and several of the militia are slain before the group get there. However, more and more of them become aware of the groups advance, and they turn to attack.

Soon only Brynn remains alive, the militia falling to the zombies and skeletons, and the group join with him, and destroy the horrors.

At this point, from the high cliffs that rise from the forests, there comes a loud, dreadful sound. A bloodless scream, followed by a horrific boom, and in a graceful, chillingly beautiful line, a row of necromantic falling stars arc from a hidden area atop the cliffs, and slam into the towns outer walls, blasting away at wood, and reanimating any killed by them.

Weary, but still full of adrenaline and the will to be victorious, the party decide to climb the cliffs and to silence whatever nightmares are up there (this decision is made even easier when they spot Adrielle's Eight doing exactly the same).

With a yell, the party charge towards the forests and the cliffs there. However, as they reach the flickering edge of the nighted realm, a ragged line of lean, hungry looking men and women – some dressed in ornate leather armour and wielding greatswords of archaic construction and great decoration, others wearing the simple garb of labourers and merchants – appear. All have eyes like blood and extended eye teeth, and move with an unnatural fluid grace and terrifying speed.

Vampires!

The group stand firm and the undead blur in towards them, not knowing that Seren and Grigori wield magics which can call upon the very essence of life and the sun – magics that burn at their cold, unliving flesh with especial vigour, and which cling to them, preventing their unholy metabolisms from healing their wounds, and quickly reducing them to screaming ash.

The warriors lay about them also, hewing heads from spurting necks, impaling black hearts with sundering blows and moving to ensure that their blows have the best chance of landing that fatal blow.

And then it's over, the vampires either slain, or driven off, and the group plunge into the forest, suddenly dodging the boulders and arrows that are being lobbed at them by more undead at the cliffs top. The night air above seethes with cold white and blue flames as another volley of deathly missiles screams towards Greenford, and the group realise that time is now of the essence.

Climbing the cliff is a challenge beyond words. Initially the group are driven back by the furious assualts of the undead at the top. However, with Seren and Grigori waiting at the bottom, the more physically powerful characters slowly and agonisingly make their way up the cliff face, battling swarms of limber ghouls that crawl like spiders to stop them, and avoiding the deadly barrage from above.

Once these guys have made it to the top, Seren enacts a spell that lifts her and the priest to a height just shy of the top of the cliff. Waiting for them is the barbarian, who grabs them and hauls them to “safety”.

Then, the nights final horror is revealed...

Four necromantic cannons stand side by side; hideous constructs of gristle, mummified bone and tissue, and skeletal remains, carved with darkly shining runes of abominable necromantic and evocatory power. From their fang-studded maws spurt the cold fireballs that threaten the town, and as the group destroy the boulder and bow wielding undead at the edge of the cliff, they pull skeletal limbs from the ground, and shake themselves like great dogs awakening from a deep sleep. Then they move to attack.

But they are not alone. Five emaciated, mummified, animated cadavers with black nails and gums, and coldly glowing eyes surge from them towards the group – Wights. Another thing is also here; the reanimated and augmented corpse of an Urgorgorii. This rotting zombie gives a thick, bubbling bellow, before charging the group.

A cliff top battle with powerful undead is never good, but the party do surprisingly well. The Cannon Warder is quickly blasted apart by spears of radiant energy, and blasts of chaotic power, though it nearly pushes several characters over the cliffs as it unleashes a great ror of brute agony, that pops eardrums, dazes those too close, and shoves them back with its raw power.

Of more concern are the Wights, who's touch drains life, and who's nimble animation makes them hard to pin down. Brynn finds himself flanked by them at one point, but is saved by the very folks he berated earlier this day.

The group do not seem to notice that each wound inflicted on these undead makes the Deathbelchers shudder, as if experiencing their pain.

Two of the cannons are destroyed by sheer brute force. Seren learns quickly that psychic energy cannot hurt them, but she unleashes sheets of withering fire and her chaos bolts find deadly purchase in the minds of the Wights. Jager uses his dark nooses to drag undead from the cliffs, and battles from behind the cover of several boulders, using the plentiful shadows as portals through which he can place his blows. Varracuda comes to the attention of the sorceress by unleashing truly powerful spells through his ancient rune sword; conjuring sweeping maelstroms of flame that wither and consume, and sending spikes of green fire darting towards any undead that come too close, whilst Emmiven does a fantastic job of holding the line, supporting his allies, and dealing deep, destructive blows to his enemies.

Grigori is a horror of radiant power, and his spells cut through many of the undead as if they were mist, leaving gaping wounds from which even their unnatural power cannot recover. The barbarian Schnecke, possessed by the primal rage of the dracani, repeatedly lands blows that could sunder trees, and soon begins to drive great holes in the barrels of the cannons, and Gorthias calls upon his own power to bolster the groups' strength, whilst unleashing deadly attacks on his foes.

At one point Gorthias and Emmiven are taken down by the deadly, icy, decaying flames of the cannons, though their allies quickly work magic or mundane miracles through the use of simply battlefield first aid, to bring them back into the fight, and so, the party holds.

Two of the cannons still battle when the last Wight is cut down by the assassin's deadly shadowed blades, and as this happens, the cannons suddenly....stop.

With the undead around them gone, these crude things loose their animating energy, and simply shut down. In a heartbeat, the desperate battle is done, and the group are victorious!

To ensure that they do not trouble anyone again, the Deathbelcher Cannons are pushed over the cliff, to smash apart in the darkness of the forest below.

EPILOGUE

There is still fighting to be done. Many groups of undead still plague the beleaguered defenders, and after climbing back down, the party help in these conflicts. Suddenly however, the battle in its entirety is over, the animated dead suddenly collapsing into exanimate piles of bones, rotting flesh and putrefying offal – their animating force suddenly turned off by some means – at least, for now.

During the battle two of Adrielle's Eight are slain, and they are horrified by this. However, whilst they battled a potent undead warrior they recovered a foul rune blade that has displayed signs of being self aware, and as the townsfolk begin the grim task of burning the undead, and collecting their loved ones from the bloody snows of the battlefield, and the first work begins on repairing the towns defences, the group gather in the Kingfisher, along with Adrielle, her Dundorin rogue Urdoin, Captain Jaden and Brynn, to help interrogate the sword and to determine what to do next...