Remnants of Faith: Gods among Men

Even the Dead don't dance forever
Betrayal in the Haunted Mines

The group convened near the underground city again, except for Enyel. Enyel decided to check up on King Arthemius’s lead about undead disappearing into the nearby tunnel systems. After 15 minutes of waiting, the rest of the group figured they should look for him, much to Elric’s chagrin.

With his Orlan luck, Enyel quickly stumbled upon on a group of vagrant hobgoblins, with something much more ominous – an owlbear. With a lung full of airs, and assisted by a splendid singing voice, Enyel shrieked. His fearful yelped reverberated through all the caverns, and his companions made haste.

Enyel had a hard time avoiding the clubbing blows of one of the hobgoblins, but a well-placed Firebolt distracted him enough for the others to intervene in time. In the commotion, the Owlbear lost its restraints and inflicted crimson gashes on both the Paladin, Ra’el and the capable fighter, Thorood. The skirmish lasted for a while longer, but eventually, together, they managed to finish off the Hobgoblins and Owlbear without issue.

They patched themselves up and continued with the task at hand: supervising the mining operations and stop any potential interruptions from Brutus and his lot.

The group managed to cross a rope bridge, even though it wobbled extensively under the weight of the Kaessar, Ra’el. Without the clever thinking of Thorood and the preparedness of Elric, Ra’el may have tried crossing a bridge too far. After the successful crossing, their little investigation within the mining operations of the City Below began. The passing of time was difficult to follow in the cavernous depths, but it seems that the operation had come to a complete standstill.

In an area further ahead, they found a skeleton stuck in a cage above a door.

“Hello,” it said, causing a sudden stir within the group. It proclaimed it was the guard and that he couldn’t let anyone in. Enyel, always quick-on-his-feet offered that they arrived under the orders of King Arthemius upon which the caged skeleton quickly shared that they had stopped working due to an evil presence — the numerous undead were afraid of a spectral apparition. A ghost.

The irony of it all had the fellowship in stitches for a minute or so, until they finally met with the Foreman. Bolstered by their many successes, they exclaimed they would take care of the ghost so that mining the adamantine could resume.

They were told the ghost was roaming the excavation area. This particular area was crowded with tracks, empty and loaded carts, spines of metal chains hung about from the pitch black cavern’s ceiling – motionless. Elric could not feel any magic in the area, but Ra’el sensed there was something unnatural around this place. Perhaps a good guess based on the piles of bones and rotten flesh scattered around like sacrifices in a strange ritual.

That’s when – darting from the rock’s wall – a spirit dashed, with piercing screams, towards the form of Elric.

“Get out!” the apparition screamed at Elric. Thorood, his sword lined with silver, quickly intervened wounding the phantom. Enyel, too, tried. Ra’El and Elric proved more useful as one used his powers and the other his magic to keep the howling apparition at bay. The ghost fled.

Not soon after, a large force gathered by Brutus invaded the area – much to Elric’s surprise. He thought they had a different agreement. To not endanger his companions, he revealed himself to the group of undead and explained he was with Brutus as well. The malicious undead chattered excitingly, and they announced that the invasion of the Kingdom was underway, as well. Uncertain, the group returned to King Arthemius’s halls.

In the City Below, there wasn’t much chaos as expected. Instead, Brutus and a large group were battering the keep’s gates while the King was taunting them. Meanwhile, the Priests of Cernunnos descended from a rickety elevator attached to a system of chains that led down the area. They hopped off to one of the rooftops and Ra’el quickly joined up with them. It seems that he was in favour of the ritual.

Elric worried that his plans were headed awry, he shot a fireball at the others. Wide-eyed, Enyel took the brunt of the blast and got knocked out. Thorood, survived the initial blast and Yorick, one of the Priesthood, flung a potion at him. He contemplated abandoning the Crimson Vigil then and there, gripped with fear by Elric’s sudden betrayal.

Ra’el protected the Highpriest to continue the ritual with an artefact called the Eye of Cernunnos. A mirror-esque item. At the zenith of the ritual, wraiths arrived from unknown parts, rushing into the undead denizens. As the ghosts past through the unlife bodies, they sagged and collapsed – piles of hapless bones and rotten meat. It appeared that unlife was merely a spirit possessing a deceased host.

Thorood finally made his decision and rushed to Elric. Elric managed to evade most of Thorood’s attempts to cut through his body, but all Elric could do with his unleashed magic was keep the enraged Fighter at bay. The ritual complete and the attention of the Crimson Vigil on him, Elric withdrew. He vanished in an instant to a place the Crimson Vigil knew not where

Through dazed vision, Enyel saw that Elric was enveloped by a spirit as well. A being wrought in flame.

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Dancing with the Dead, pt 2.

Thorood had set off about a week after the departure of Enyel, Elric and Ra’el. As such, give or take a few days, Thorood arrived at Qevarra about a week later. He was eager to find out what his companions had learnt about the disappearance of Hargrond’s body, but it proved to be little.

However, Elric’s skulking finally bore some fruits as he managed to find an opening to infiltrate the Temple of Cernunnos. Once again, he disguised himself as the High Priest of the temple, through a skilful use his magic. A fooled disciple shared information pertaining the location of the Hand of Cernunnos, a magical item once donned by Hargrond. Apparently, it had been taken further south to the continent of Xult.

During one of the days, the companions met up with the governor of Qevarra. He proposed, for a reasonable sum, that the Crimson Vigil curbs individuals with ideas that are tinder to the smouldering embers of revolution. The group pretended to join the Governor’s cause while they intended to provide aid to the Undead revolutionaries. The Governor explained to meet up with the King Below – Arthemius. Who may or not be who he says he is.

Enyel stayed behind to finish the contract — he did not jot down any type or form of a signature yet he left the building with a sack full of gold.

They went to the City Below again, introduced themselves to the King and they received lodgings in his underground city. Arthemius proved not a fan of Enyel’s signature performances, but he let the Orlan stay in his palace hewn from the cavern’s rock. The others preferred not to stay in that place. Before they left, the King told them he needed the companions to protect an ongoing mining operation during the next day.

With some time to spare, Elric colluded with Brutus. Ra’el ventured back to the surface, uncomfortable to be around these strange undead. That’s where the High Priest approached him. The Priest had realised someone had impersonated him. He shared his concerns with Ra’el and pleaded for his help; there is a ritual that will end the City Below. What will Ra’el do?

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Dancing with the Dead
Viva La Revolucion

It’s been a while since the Crimson Vigil’s conception. After the disaster in Toussaint, a race of strange beings descended from a rift together with a fleet of winged-lizards — Dragons. After a fight with the Fey Queen, the one who opened the fracture in the world, the beings offered the leader of the Crimson Vigil, Thorood, a single task: find a pathway to the realm of Cernunnos.

Elric asked Petyr for any ideas he had about Cernunnos. Petyr shared information about the city of Qevarra for that’s where the dead are said to roam. Elric, Enyel and Ra’el left the Crimson Vigil base under clandestine circumstances, avoiding any signs of their affiliation with the Vigil. The journey lasted them weeks until they finally arrived at Qevarra.

There they found a city more like a town in size until they reached the Necropolis. A bustling city of lights located underneath. Indeed, the dead dwelt here. They subsisted under a seeming yoke where they toiled away in the earth’s crust. Reapers harvesting minerals for trinkets, baubles and knickknacks from a world above.

Above is where Enyel found a strange friend in a gambling man who called himself Hans. Although Enyel was apprehensive of partaking in such wealth-decreasing activities – he’d instead add coins than deduct them – Hans chipped away at his walls until Enyel gave him. Deiddha smiled upon Enyel that night; he had doubled his proceeds. That was also his final turn.

Ra’el attempted to meet with the Governor, but the queue of Bureaucracy proved long, indeed, whereas Elric looked for evidence of the worship of Cernunnos and found himself a temple. From a nearby library, he learned from a female mage that it wasn’t certain if the things underneath the city were undead or something else entirely. He went to look for his friends to share the information. Instead, he found Enyel, drunk, blabbering and generally uncomfortable to be around. Regardless, Erlic made sure Enyel was comfortable and safe in the nearby inn.

The next day, with the careful plotting of Elric, the trio managed to descend towards the Necropolis for Elric had magically disguised himself as the High Priest. In the Necropolis, they met with Brutus, one of the supposed undead, who desired nothing more but to be free in the world above.

To be continued.

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A Snag in the Road
Session 1

During their transit towards the city of Caer Y Syl, the adventurers had joined a caravan for quicker travel, and quickly grew accustomed to each other. They took a break from their journey near the famed mountain pass because of an illness that sweeped through the horses. The leader of the caravan, Halgar, asked the four travelers to look for a scout that hasn’t returned with the waterskins yet, and to look for a certain berry that would ease the horses’ stomach issues.

They were eager to help since Halgar was willing to forgo the price of the journey for them. The druid called Avis, managed to communicate with a nearby stag to locate the berries and concluded they were north-west of the camp. She pleaded with the animal to guide them, but, for unknown reasons, it was hesitant and denied the request.

As they walked past a stream, they noticed a bridge but decided to continue northward for the berries, and they quickly arrived at an ominous looking cavern. Halgrond, a nomadic Arak’Thar, carefully snuck forwards noticing a pile of bones. After inquiring with the Druid they realised it were merely the bones of small animals. However, the Paladin and the Warlock (Heimdal and Rhazien) argued the possibility of the scout’s demise and proposed the search of the cavern. Avis, in a spurt of ingenuity, cast her Faerie Fire into the cave; her spell lit up three wolves in a prowling position.

Despite the Halgrond’s careful sneaking, they had been spotted!

One by one they readied their weapons, or defenses. Avis raised her shield; Halgrond, a monk, grabbed his curved sword and crouched in a stance; Heimdal, the Paladin, brought his shield forward while keeping his sword ready to strike; Rhazien, arrogant as warlocks tend to be intended to rely on his Eldritch abilities.

With a sudden snarl and growl, however, the Alpha of the pack lunged at Halgrond from behind a nearby bush, not afflicted by the Druid’s Faery Fire. Either with uncanny awareness, or preternatural reflexes, the Monk attempted to struck first and failed while avoiding the attack altogether. The Paladin advanced to help Halgrond, while Rhazien and Avis kept their distance preparing their spells.

A thorn shot out from the same bush the Alpha wolf appeared from, but the beast managed to avoid it. Rhazien’s Eldritch blast was off the mark too because he couldn’t quite aim at the wolf.

The rest of the wolves charged from the cavern, weaving past each other. One wolf towards the Druid and Warlock, and crashed into Rhazien but missed his bite. In the scuffle, Rhazien managed to quickly roll away from the wolf. Meanwhile, the Monk had failed multiple times to strike the Alpha and suffered a clenched jaw around his calf for the effort. The Alpha tugged on the taut and sinewy calf, dragging Halgrond to the ground. Before more damage could be done, however the Paladin struck the wolf’s back, severing the spine.

After the demise of their Alpha, the remaining two wolves ran, their tails between their legs.

Heimdal, having proved his martial prowess, also offered aid to Halgrond and eased the damage of the wound while Avis continued her search for the berries. She found them and the group decided to head back with Halgrond carrying the corpse of the Alpha wolf. When they arrived at the bridge again they crossed in order to find the missing scout.

Instead of the scout, they found his pack with filled waterskins, and his set of footprints walking towards the edge of the nearby forest. Puzzled as to why the scout would head into a forest, rather than return with the water, the group attempted to see if they could spot the scout. Aviss wished she hadn’t exhausted her Faery Fire, while Rhazien sent his familiar upwards. The creature could not spot anything through the thick canopy.

Both the Paladin and the Monk decided to edge closer, and as they did they saw a human shape emerge from the forest. The scout clutched his shoulder, divided by a huge bleeding gash that threatened to discard his arm.

“Run,” the scout croaked as he crashed forwards, an arrow jutting from between his shoulder blades.

Once again, Heimdal readied his shield and as he did so a barbarian rushed in a frenzy from out of the forest, both his weapons raised. And an arrow whistled past, barely missing the Paladin. In response, Avis’s control of nature caused another thorned root to lash out towards the approaching Barbarian. A lack of experience with combat caused her aim to falter. Rhazien’s aim was also lacking, but luckily the Monk – with the wolf’s corpse still slumped over his shoulders – threw one of his darts in the man’s heart and he dropped in his tracks.

Heimdal, annoyed by the earlier arrow, took a defensive position in case of another missile and Avis, hoping to improve her aim, paradoxically shot a blast of fire into the forest. She had guessed at the archer’s location based on where the arrow was shot from. Her guess proved fortunate as her blast was replied with a cry of pain.

Heimdal ran into the forest, dodging another arrow and impaled the archer on his sword. His second kill.

As if on cue, the weather seemed to shift.

The wounded scout was already halfway to the realm of Cwddwan, and all Avis could do was ease his passing. As a group they decided to take his body with them to the camp for a proper burial. Approaching the camp they noticed billowing smoke that was too thick, and too voluminous to be of a campfire, and they feared the worse. Through careful movement they managed to inch closer unseen.

A group of four Barbarians were amidst the corpses of the travelers that had joined the caravan for a passage to Caer Y Syl with a survivor being held up by the throat.

“You’ve trespassed the lands of Bahl and for your crimes you must die.” the Monk and Paladin, clad in heavy armour, overheard as they had managed to loop around one of the wagons and remained hidden.

Meanwhile, the Warlock had decided to incapacitate the Barbarian leader with an incantation that would throw the assailed in a fit of mad laughter. Unfortunately, the spell had no effect except to tip the Leader off with their presence.

“Who’s there? Show yourself!?” he bellowed and signaled the other three to search.

One came too close to the wagon and the monk suddenly, whacking the barbarian on the side of his head before stabbing him lethally. Heimdal, spurred on by his previous, succesful skirmishes charged headlong towards the Leader, his sword grasped firmly with both hands. His swung went wide, as the Barbarian Leader managed to side-step and struck with his Greatsword against the Paladin’s armour. As a Kaessar, he was wearing a type of stone-armour, and despite being a head (or more) taller than the Leader, the force of the blow managed to crush a large bit of the armour.

Winded, he staggered backwards. The druid remained apprehensive of giving her presence away.

“Idiots. If you are not a part of this caravan I will grant you a chance at your lives.”

“For what reason did you slaughter these people then?” the Monk asked, approaching the Leader unarmed.

“For crimes against my Patron Bahl, they were condemned to death as my god ordered.”

“Your god spoke to you then?” the Warlock quipped, revealing himself. “That’s interesting, since my familiar communes with him quite frequently, and explained to me that Bahl does not appreciate wanton murder.” He dripped with arrogance. “I doubt any god would speak to the likes of you.”

The monk intervened in an attempt to salvage the deteriorating situation.

“What punishment befalls the survivor?”

“Same as the others, same as you all: Death.”

And in that instant the Barbarian Leader greatsword swung towards the Paladin who managed to deflect the strike, but was unprepared for the martial prowess he was going against as his attacks kept getting swat to the side by the greatsword.

Avis, finally providing her aid in combat forced another thornwhip to shoot out, this time inconveniencing the Leader who still managed deliver a second strike to the Paladin that crushed parts of his armour and broke a rib or more.

Perhaps feeling slightly guilty, Rhazien let fly a Eldritch Blast that hit the Bandit Leader square in the chest and with such a force that lifted him off his feet and send him backwards with a crushed chest.

The other two barbarians frenzied, but one was struck down by both the Druid and the Warlock, while the last one was dispatched by the struggling Paladin while the Monk caused the distraction.

Breathing and heaving heavily, the Barbarian leader managed to position himself on his knees. He stared out in front of him, a blank stare coloured his eyes.

“Good. Good. The god is just.”

The statement brought a puzzled expression to the monk’s visage. And then the wind started blowing and the caravan leader who was propped up against the wagon with mortal wounds told the group to run as the wind began to pick up.

Avis sensed instinctively the danger the coming storm would pose, and the Paladin decided to not risk anything. They both ran towards the mountain pass while Rhazien and Halgrond followed. The latter two failed to make it in time and experience the starting brunt of the wind; the sensation of a thousand needles shredding the flesh but dove to the safety of the shelter escaping the preternatural weather.

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