The Price of Immortality

4th Neth - The Journey Home

Account by GM.

After defeating Asar, the group retrieved the everflame and spoke with the restless ghost of Kassen. Investigating the remaining room they discovered an empty tomb and a recently deceased human wearing an iron mask and carrying curious items. Ozzy recognised the masks belonging to the cult of Razmir.

The weather outside the crypt was bitter and recent snowfall had made the ground treacherous underfoot and difficult to navigate. As such the party became lost when they began following footprints in the snow that began from the crypt entrance. Some miles later, travelling in what they believed was the direction of Kassen, they became aware that they were now completely lost in the wilderness.

Whilst the party halted to gather their bearings, Genna strayed further along the trail of the footprints. There she discovered a half frozen Roldare. With the impending night upon them and the life of Roldare in their hands, the party decided to make a fire and camp where they stood.

Unbeknownst to all, they were camping next to the home of an assassin vine. Famished from the lack of organic material and prey, made even more scarce by the recent weather, the vine hoped that leaving Roldare intact for as long as possible would attract other ‘meals’.

As such, the party were woken in the night by vegetation entangling them from underneath where they lay. At this time, Genna had been on watch and her keen instinct had noticed the vine emerging from underneath the snow. A frantic battle against the vine ensued, catching the party asleep and unarmed nearly proved to be their undoing. Nalmae and Berrick were almost killed when grappled and smothered by the vines, whilst others took serious damage. Luckily the group pulled together and defeated the vine at the very last moment.

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Genna's Diary

An account by Genna [‘Padfoot’]

I hates f’ing zombies. I hates f’ing frogs. An I reelly, reelly hates bats, an i hates dis f’ing dungeonm iz cold, wet and smellie. Jus like bleedin’ Kassen reely.
Farmer boy is lookin up tho. Ez found is sord arm at last. Nice pecs too. I nose dat coz i seen im swimmin in der buf.

Wel we got to der boss geezer, an we kilt it no trooble reelly. Dis ol’ bint was outa it on some old altar. Den dis Kassen geezer pops up, ’ee give me dis nice perl. an i cun chuc acid at fings now too. Fings is lookin up!

I wanna get bac to Kassen now. it ain’t much but iz ome, innit? an I got dis perl now too. praps anti wil gis uz mor respekt now.
an i bet im beta at nikin chikinz too. mabe i will be an earo wen i getz bac. praps dem bardie fellas wil songs of me.
Hey, ow mani chikinz dos a perl buy?

[rit bi genna padfoot-de earoin of Kassen down a smellie old ol somwere]

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Session 4 - 3rd Neth

An account by Nalmae Fleetfoot, Scout.

Berric and Gemma refreshed by the water feel well enough to press on. We head east in search of the wheel to open the portcullis that we believe guards Kassen’s resting place. We hope that his slumber has not been disturbed.

The corridor slopes down and splits north and south. To the north is a large pool of brackish water some 2’ deep and a door, swollen with water and barring the entrance to east. I can hear a faint croaking sound. We investigate the southern passage, but this opens on a chamber, covered in a strange blue fungus, with wispy strands hanging down and filling the room. Water covers the floor and four bloated bodies bob on its surface, a large frog and three rats that size of dogs. This looks like a chamber even I doubt I can traverse without disturbing the strands – we are all unnerved by this and decide to press on the northern passage and try to force the door. Berric tries to shoulder the door and is rewarded with a covering of moss on his garments. Unperturbed he tries again forcing the door.

The chamber beyond is oblong and heads away east, with a doorway in the south-east corner. Three stone sarcophagi dominate the room. Berric, Gemma and Misty move in to the room, the water coming to their waist and impeding movement. Ozzy moves as far as possible but cannot progress further due to the party’s slow progress through the water. Atop the centre sarcophagus is a large frog. I do not wish to stain my boots or clothes with the stagnant water, so I beg Ozzy’s indulgence and use him as a means to vault into the room, landing on the first sarcophagus, which thankfully provides a means of staying dry, before leaping to the centre sarcophagus. I draw my sword and stare into large bulbous eyes. Meanwhile Berric makes enough ground to strike the frog, his new flail once again being put to good use. Gemma draws her bow and fires an arrow into the frog, killing it. She packs a punch! Another frog surfaces and threatens Berric, I land a hit, which Berric follows up with another solid strike. Gemma tries to leap to attack, but the frog lashes out with its tongue, which seems to stick to her clothing and draws her towards its gaping maw. She lashes out with the arrow she is still clutching but misses as the slimy tongue impedes her. Meanwhile Misty has made her way around the south of the room and thankfully intercepts a frog creeping up behind me, slashing it with her scimitar. The frog continues to drag Gemma, so Berric tries to crush its tongue, a good solid hit, but the frog does not release Gemma, instead it tries to swallow her, thankfully she is too large but by her reaction, having her head down the creatures throat is not a pleasant predicament! The frog by Misty tries to ensnare her but misses. Ozzy calls forth another icicle by the power of Pharasma in an attempt to force the release of Gemma, which is partially successful, the tongue releases its grasp but Gemma is still within its mouth. Berric drags Gemma out and she appears to be glad of fresh air – I cannot imagine the stink of the creature’s fetid breath – she falls into the water but quickly stands, cursing and brushing the thick slime from her face. Later Ozzy said in jest that maybe we should call her “Toad Stool” – he has a keen and dry wit. I manage to land the killing blow to the last frog. Misty observes that the frogs are well fed, probably feasting on the rats, though I fear Gemma has been driven mad by this place – she suggests eating a frog – what does she call food!

Ozzy examines a sarcophagus and suggests we check the state of the bodies within as he wants to ensure they are unaffected by the water. Berric decides the best way is to use his flail – he must learn restraint – his blow breaks off a large chunk from the corner. Ozzy horrified cries out “Fall!” and Berric sits into the water, extinguishing his lantern. Berric shortly surfaces, spluttering and climbing onto the sarcophagus pushes Ozzy into the water. Plunging us into darkness as our other lightsource is snuffed out. I hear movement nearby and hope it is Berric, I am relieved that it is as he exclaims he can feel a “nest” of twigs under the water as he successfully searches for his lantern. Ozzy calls forth light and he and Berric carry on their argument, it appears to me as if there is battle for leadership amongst the humans. They eventually settle and begin to move the lids from the sarcophagi. We are greeted with a foul stench, which provokes more wrenching from Berric – a waste of rations! I cover my mouth and do my best to restrain the rising bile. Partly decomposing body parts float on the surface, though Berric notices that one bears a ring, golden and flecked with blue, which he removes – how can he touch the rotten flesh or bear to wear that which came from the tomb.

Whilst Ozzy and Berric continue to open the sarcophagi, Gemma moves through the door to the south with Misty trailing. I observer from atop a sarcophagus, with this brackish water further contaminated with frog parts and now rotting human flesh I can not bear to leave this island. I have to leap back and forth as Berric and Oz open each of the sarcophagi and Ozzy collects the skulls from within, he intones that they will be interred with respect. The opening of the lids, causes a lot of movement in the water and large air bubbles arise from the north west corner. Ozzy investigates and finds a pouch amongst the twigs and a crack in the wall. The pouch contains 24 gold, again with the likeness of Field Marshall Gavirk. We must join Gemma and Misty and Berric offers to carry me – I still do not wish to enter the water, I debate staying here. Meanwhile Berric continues his hate of stone, by kicking at the crack in the wall, breaching it and making a hole, which the water slowly starts to flow into – maybe I can stay dry should the water empty (though I feel it may take some time).

Meanwhile Gemma and Misty have made their way down a corridor that opens into a large room to the south. Later I learn that the room has a rusting wheel on a dais to the far south, covered with a black mold. Unbeknown to us, Gemma found that the room floor drops off, as she plunges beneath the surface. Gemma quickly surfaces and both her and Misty swim to the dais to the south. They manage to turn the wheel, rotating it thrice eliciting an ominous click. The air was then split by Gemma’s shriek as skeletons surfaced in the room.

I jump into the water – this had better be good – the water stinks!

Gemma is attacked and hit as we move slowly through the water towards them. Gemma is forced to drop her bow and slashes out with her shortsword, landing a blow that appears to be of little effect as it rattles between the bones of the creature’s ribcage. Our progress is slow and Misty appears unable to get near the skeleton threatening Gemma. I hope to help with a well placed arrow but fall well short of my mark. Misty tries her sling, casting a stone at the skeleton and crushing bone, she also warns us that there is another skeleton in the water, submerged. Berric moves forward, sinking down – finding the ledge that Gemma had acquainted herself with. He plunges beneath the surface. The skeleton Misty eluded to surfaces and I land a hit with an arrow, quickly followed by a well placed shot from Misty, landing squarely on the skull, which explodes, causing the body to sink beneath the surface. Berric has resurfaced at this point, claiming that the water feels much easy to swim in than he is accustomed to, his armour weighing him down less.

Berric moves back to the shallower water and holds forth an a rope for Feral to retrieve – a nerve racking process, as Feral disappeared whilst making the swim, remaining submerged for what seems like an eternity, though probably spanned moments. Either Misty has faith in her companion or cares little for him, as she is unmoved or apparently unflustered by his struggles to remain afloat. I must get out of here and find new boots, this water stinks and the stain will be awful.

We move back to the fountain, so Gemma may drink again, though it has no discernible affect. Oz heals her wounds instead and then calls forth a refreshing shower of water to flush away the stagnant water. We move back to through the crypt to the east and see if the wheel had raised the portcullis, thankfully we were rewarded for our efforts. While we ponder the blackened walls, Berric resumes his misguided mission and attacks the wall, he suddenly stops and flees from the room, I follow him, concerned for his sanity as he fled into the darkness. I am told Oz had cast detect magic and understood that the water in the trough radiated Necromantic magic and infers that the blasts are from a negative energy burst within the room. He tried to negate the effect by using a positive energy burst, but to no effect. Gemma meanwhile investigated the opening once guarded by the portcullis and noted movement in the ceiling. I try to coax Berric to return with some success, which was nearly undone by Feral bolting past us, having fled from the room. Berric had raised his flail to strike, as we were in darkness, but thankfully Misty had run after Feral and brought us some much needed light. Gemma meanwhile tries her new found skill with magic and throws a blob of acid at the fluttering shape in the ceiling and is engulfed by a swarm of bats. After Misty calms Feral and I coax Berric to return, we see that Gemma is fleeing the room while Ozzy engages the mass of bats. I throw a smokestack in an effort to disperse the bats but only seems to momentarily distract them. Ozzy and I manage to kill the last of the bats and I am annoyed with Gemma’s actions – endangering us and her reaction is to flee and leave us to deal with her mess – she must grow up if she is to survive. Berric continues to attack the walls annoying me and Ozzy. Oz manages to explain to the him that the walls pose no threat! I fear he may have been hit against too many walls in his growing years and that has driven sense from his head.

We proceed to the room beyond, which has a large fissure in the ceiling – the former resting place of the bats – the room stinks of ammonia and is covered in guano.
We press on along a passage to the east. This leads to a large vaulted chamber running north to south, with cracked walls and a large pit some 40’ deep dissecting the room in two. A bridge spans the pit though it has no balustrade to prevent someone stumbling into the pit. Across the bridge stand two statues blocking the way to a large set of brass doors to the south. The statues tower above us and depict villagers holding shields and spears. This elicits the expected response from Berric who charges across the bridge, triggering a trap which causes the statues to move forward across the bridge and push him into the wall – “The statues are alive and attacking again!” cried Berric. We implore Berric to wait as Gemma and I investigate the bridge to find a trigger point. Gemma is successful and tries to disarm it, but instead triggers it and is pushed in to the pit and is knocked unconscious. Berric and Misty hold a rope and I descend to check on her, she still breathes thankfully, so I tie the rope around her and Berric and Misty heave and pull her out. Misty throws down her rope and grapple hook, which I use to grapple up the southern side of the pit and climb up to inspect the statues. I tie the rope around a statue and try to disable the trigger point. I fail! This is a masterful trap. I get pushed across the bridge and dragged back as the rope is still tied to me and the statue. Fearing I may trigger the trap again I leap on the statue. My second attempt at disabling is successful and finally we cross.

The wide brass doors open on creaky hinges. A torch on the far side lights the tomb inside, glittering with the flame of the Everflame, with a dais on the other side and a large stone sarcophagus. Next to the sarcophagus lies the body of a woman. Could this be Dimera, the priestess from Kassen that Roldare had told us had been kidnapped.

As we peer into the dimly lit chamber a voice booms into the quiet void followed by a cold and empty laugh.

Kassen’s heroes have come to fight me again – you will make fine additions to my undead army.

A large, armoured skeleton loomed into view, a cold blue light burns in its eyes. Clad in plate mail and wielding a large sword that reflects the blue glare from its eyes. It moves with unnatural and unholy speed to the dais.

Asar

Come now, come!

shrieks the undead beast. I loose an arrow but miss by a wide mark, I am unsure how this will fair and feel we are ill matched to this creature. Gemma drinks a potion and disappears from sight, while Berric pours an oil onto his weapon. Ozzy summon his god’s burst, while I swap out my bow for my short sword. Berric rushes forward to engage the large plate clad skeleton. From the gloom emerge many other smaller skeletons, one closing on Berric. Feral rushes forward and bites deeply into the leg bone of a skeleton – it appears Feral has the taste for undead. The large champion skeleton lands a crushing blow on Berric, blood flowing down Berric’s arm as the sword is pulled back. Gemma meanwhile unseen by all and unheard has moved up and studied the woman’s body – she can not tell us yet but later tells how she recognised Dimera and she was unconscious.

Stand before Pharasma and be judged

cried Ozzy as another wave of energy flowed into the room. Unperturbed by his wounds, Berric closes on the skeletal warrior who had stepped back, landing a good, heavy blow. Berric meanwhile is almost surrounded by skeletons, most thankfully unarmoured. Gemma closes on the large skeletal champion and lands a good blow. She is rewarded by a swipe of the large sword, which nearly splits her in two! She seems resolute and flanks the champion with Berric. Berric is rewarded with a good solid blow to the champions arm, nearly dislodging the sword. Misty dispatches a smaller skeleton with her scimitar. I and Ozzy try to help Berric by attacking the skeletons that surround him. Unfortunately we are poor warriors and miss our foes. Berric must have been rallied by our support as he ignored his significant wounds and pressed the skeletal champion landing a blow to its chest with his flail. The blow unbalances the champions grip on his sword, causing it to miss Berric. We continue to make hard work of the surrounding skeleton, Oz, Misty and I all fairing poorly. Berric is then disarmed by the plate-mailed skeleton, his flail clattering to the floor with a resounding thump. Gemma deals the final blow to the skeletal champion from behind, while we eventually make short work of the remaining skeletons.

Ozzy administers a healing spell to Dimera who comes around, bewildered and disoriented. She relays how she was captured as her friends were slayed. She says how the large skeleton had repeatedly demanded to know how the town of Kassen was founded.

While they speak with Dimera, I climb the dais to light the lantern we had with the Everflame. I notice how the coffin has no top and within lies who I assume is Kassen, resplendid in full plate mail. As I light the lantern, a form appears in the air, next to the sarcophagus, it is Kassen himself if the likenesses around the tomb are to be believed.

Thankyou for defeating Assair. I have much to tell you – it is only right you should know the truth and history of Kassen.
Over 200 years ago, Assair was a dear friend and we fought side by side along with Irimine. We came across a horde of magical treasure, greater than any mortal could handle. We took as much as we could carry and locked the treasure away. To protect against theft and madness of those who gazed on the treasure, we each took part of the key, which was split in three, forming an amulet for each of us. The treasure safely locked away, I founded Kassen with my proceeds and wealth, attempting to tame a small piece of the Fangwood. Kassen thrived, and grew but we were raided, not unusual in the depths of the wood, but these continued until we had to act. I lead a party and we tracked the raiders to base outside of Kassen. Many townsfolk had been killed so we confronted the bandits, when I discovered to my disgust and amazement that Assair led the group. He appeared driven by greed and he craved my amulet. I held my own and managed to kill him but I was mortally wounded in return. My friends helped to carry me to Kassen where I died two days later – my body was interred with the body of the townsfolk and Assair. Unfortunately, someone clearly disturbed Assair’s body and he has risen. I need you to retrieve the amulet as the wealth it guards is too much to handle. Should the key fall into wrong hands, then much will be lost.

Gazing on him and noticing how he absently stokes his chest, I realise he has lost his amulet. When asked he does not know who took the amulet – but asserts that both Assair’s and his amulet are missing. With that Kassen walks to his tomb and pulls out several items, gifting them to us to aid us.

Bag – Holding Type 1
+1 bashing shield
Elemental gem (blue)
and each of us is given a pearl

This is for each of you to help you in your time of need – should you need an extra chance in life.

He implores us, with much urgency and stress.

Please the keys must be returned. For the sake of Nirmathas, not just Kassen – it must not fall in to the wrong hands!

Ozzy respectfully lays down the skulls he had rescued from their watery grave and asks if they could be left here. Kassen is grateful as they were brave townsfolk who were interred in their own tombs for their efforts. We spend a moment in silence to honour them. I consider Kassen’s word and realise the weight of them – it appears though the townfolk of Kassen sought to challenge us to become responsible members of the community through this rite of passage, their fates are now beholden to us, if Kassen’s words of this magical horde are to be believed. For my part I see no deception or malice in his pleas. Merely the continued burden of a man who has taken his responsibility to the grave, a punishment no good soul should have to bear. I must understand how the Pharasma can allow such suffering – she is meant to weigh and judge men at their deaths, but who am I to question a god, She has been a good ally in the power wielded by Ozzy. It appears fate has handed us all an opportunity to give back to our community, for my part the good kindly people of Kassen have always treated me with respect, despite being a clear outsider. This is my chance to repay that kindness.

Friends, we must accept this quest and do all we can to aid Kassen, perhaps if we are successful Kassen can finally rest in peace.

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Session 3 - 2nd/3rd Neth

An account by Nalmae Fleetfoot, Scout.

Battered and bruised by the cursed arrows (though thankfully blunted), Misty took pity and healed my wounds. We were all weary and so we chose to rest. We decided to use the adjacent room, with the picture of Kassen and his army facing his enemy. I am curious on the symbology of the necklaces, so I studied the headless statue of Kassen in the pool room to the North and noticed that it also depicted Kassen wearing a necklace, though with far less detail and less eyecatching than the painting.

I am still amazed by the naivety of my colleagues. Berric decided to refresh himself in the pool, I can only assume he stripped off to take a swim as Gemma seemed keen to observe, by Berric’s reactionary curse and the rock I heard hitting the wall I can only assume Gemma was well rewarded. I do hope this childishness does not threaten the party, as they must realise we are in a hostile place and could be attacked at any moment – we do not need distractions. I ponder the fickle and playful nature of humans as I drift off to sleep, it will be my turn to watch all too soon.

I was dreaming of the woods surrounding Kassen and the beauty of the music of the birds welcoming the morning when I was snapped back to our current situation with Berric shaking me awake for my watch, this dark and dank tomb is oppressive! Curiously I notice that my pack appears disturbed, perhaps I had a less peaceful sleep than I thought. I took my watch and gently woke Ozzy and asked that he take over. I tried to recall the bird song from my earlier dream but alas it did not come, my mind kept focusing on Kassen’s necklace, why I do not know.

We broke camp and our fast shortly after and the devout among us began their prayers to their gods. I asked Berric to accompany me to investigate the unexplored corridor to the west. It is a curious corridor, with 4 alcoves in the eastern and western walls, each harbouring a statue, crudely in the likeness of Kassen, but with very poor craftmanship, almost looking like an afterthought. The corridor laid to the south and alternated alcoves with walls, so I would have to walk past statues, then be flanked by walls, then pass by another set of statues and so on, until a door could be seen some 40’ away. Each statue clutched a cruel looking, serrated blade – not quite a sword but menacing none the less. Curiously the first four statues (covering some 20 foot of corridor) had the blades clad in leather. I asked Berric to observe and go for help if the need should arise as I made my way carefully down the corridor. I hoped to investigate while the priests prayed. I checked every crack and crevice as I made my way south but somehow missed the pressure plate set into the floor some 20 foot in. Unusually I was not harmed by this trap, Berric was not so lucky. I can only assume he is easily distracted or prone to boredom and seeks some diversion to gain focus, he had unwound the leather cladding around the serrated blades and the trap caused these blades to come forcefully down, catching him on the shoulder and biting deep – if he had only stood where I asked and not unwound the padding he may have faired better. My way forward was hindered by the swords that had now descended in front of me and behind. I took a lesson from Berric and unwound the padding on the swords behind me and wrapped these around the swords to the statues wielded infront of me. Meanwhile, Berric having stared at the statue in disbelief resorted to what appears to be the only means he has of complaint, out came his flail and chunks of stone began to fly from the statue. I am unsure of what he hoped to achieve, short of attracting anyone within 50’! I only hope the noise does not disturb the chants and pleas of our clerics.

My progress to the door was slow but uneventful, it appears the trap needs a manual reset. The door appears unlocked and not trapped, so I made my way back north to await the rest of the party. It appears Berric, having successfully removed the blade from the first two statues was busily hacking into the arms of the remaining statues. Given that he had probably awoken Kassen himself from his long slumber with the noise I saw little point in intervening and left him vent his anger and angst on the stone – better that than one of us.

Shortly after we were ready to proceed and Berric had kindly cleared a path to the door, devoid of swords or arms, but the floor strewn with stone. The door revealed a large room, with a pit to the south. A large statue sat in the pit, towering above the lip and holding two very large shields, nearly the size of one of us, each bearing a word: “Home” and Family. The pit was flanked by two staircases, which lead down to the pit and up the other side. While we studied the room, Ozzy tended to Berric’s shoulder imploring Pharasma to not take him yet and the wound closed over and looked less raw after his administrations and prayers.

Berric, with movement back to his shoulder decided to fire crossbow bolts in to the statue! So much anger! These deflect harmlessly off the shields, they would have been very useful in the arrow trap room and granted me a less painful passage (assuming I could lift one – they appear heavy). I decided to observe how my human colleagues tackled this situation, especially as I had become weary of being pierced by arrows.

Misty approached the stairs and descended into the pit, as her feet touched the floor, the statue sprang to life, twisting and turning where it stood and one of the shields crashed into Misty and sent her flying into the wall, shaken and surprised. Not only by the statue and its hostility but also how the stairs had transformed in to slides and made egress from the pit a more difficult proposition. While pondering what to do, I spied a keyhole on the back of the statue, so approached with caution – this thing appeared to be able to sweep its shields into most of the room. I attempt to jump onto the statue’s back, with the brass key from the firepit between my teeth. I made a hearty attempt, though felt somewhat foolish as I slid down the statue. By this time, Berric, Misty, Gemma and I were all in the pit, only Ozzy had wisely chosen to keep his distance. We all spent the next precious seconds trying to scramble up the statue with little success. Berric even knelt and allowed me a height advantage as I stood on his back, all to no avail. I called for a swift retreat to the edge of the room, near where we entered for a rethink and reassessment. This proved a stroke of genius (though I hope the party did not notice my face and wonderment, which betrayed the decision as lucky). The statue stopped moving and whilst surveying our options, I noted that the door at the far end of the room that Gemma had investigated and noted locked (it had even broke one of her lock picks!) had a keyhole of similar size to the key I held. I feel a fool as I place the key in the door and it unlocks the door, we had no need to engage the statue and sustain further injuries (I saw that Misty had to heal herself).

The room beyond was clearly our goal and challenge, as the village elders had left and array of items for us, all clearly labelled with our names. I was blessed with a wonderfully crafted bow and two potions that claimed to grant invisibility and heal wounds. Gemma had similar potions and a lovely crafted bow. Berric was rewarded with a Flail (I hope he treats it more fairly than his current one, for it bears the craftsmanship of Kassen’s smithy and must have taken a long time to make) and potions granting the strength of a bear and magic enhancement to his weapon. Ozzy received a well crafted mace, a wand of curing and a scroll that could restore vigour and health (Lesser Restoration). Misty had a beautiful scimitar, a scroll that will turn her skin to bark and a wand that produces flame. I had to gather Berric’s gifts, as he seemed intent on breaking down the shield wielding statue. He seems to be paranoid or phobic of these statues, I do not see him wanting to be immortalised in stone.

We move back through the arrow trap room and descend the stairs into a room with carvings showing people of the town crying – such sorrow fills this room. As we pass into the room animated skeletons emerge from behind the pillars. These aberrations have part rotted flesh still clinging to their bones and the marrow that once carried life now shines eerily in the torchlight. What hate can drive a soul to exist in this pitiful state. We engage with them and our weapons can find little purchase on the wet slippery bone. Ozzy, steps forth and calls on Pharasma to send these perversions of life to the graves from whence they came. I feel a powerful wave of hope wash over us and a vile skeleton falls. While our weapons prove near useless, Ozzy sends forth two more waves of energy and each time one animated skeletons falls. We gather our breath and can hear water steadily dripping from the darkness at the edge of our torchlight.

We descend down more stairs and emerge into the northern boundary of a circular room, with exits at each compass point. The air is damp and holds a dank odour. A stone pedestal dominates the centre of the room inscribed with words:

South you might take your ease to rest and reflect on Kassen’s deeds
To the east lies they wheel to open the gate
To west is the resting place of Kassen, hero of Fangwood

We decide to head west to see if Kassen’s slumber has been disturbed. We discover a large crypt, a winding catacomb, with deep recesses cut into the earth to hold the soul’s of those departed. The dank odour is replaced by the stench of rotting flesh but I can discern no clear source! There is sound of movement from the hollows in the earth and vile walking dead burst forth. My companions were not always in sight so much of this part of the account has been set down from their tales after the battle.

Gemma was isolated to the south and was forced to draw her sword and attack the zombie. Berric lashed out with his flail and strikes one of the creatures with his flail. I offer support and draw my bow and manage to pierce the rotting flesh of the zombie in front of Berric. Ozzy cries out that these creatures were placed here and are not the former inhabitants of the crypt and sends forth another wave of Pharasma’s essence. Encouraged by Misty, her companion Feral clamps his jaws around the ankle of a creature, though by the grimace on the wolf’s face, the flesh and bone did not taste as fair as expected. Misty meanwhile struck the creature in the chest as it was unbalanced by Feral, the zombie ceased movement but exploded sending blood, gore and viscera everywhere. Thankfully Misty and Feral were agile enough to avoid the sting of the bone. Another foul undead beast crawled out to attack Berric, who laid a good and solid strike into the creature as it stood, it appears his new flail serves him better than the last. I loose another arrow but it misses its mark, as does Berric’s next swipe. Misty strikes the creature, which again explodes, catching Berric who chokes as some of the rotting flesh is caught in his throat – I would not care to taste that foul flesh. Gemma still cornered is charged by a zombie who slams into her catching her on the chest, she reactively slashed out with her shortsword, her wild spirit being directed to good effect, felling the abomination, prompting another explosion, which causes Gemma to retch and cough. She makes her way on unsteady feet to the exit. I flank the last zombie and strike it unawares with a well placed arrow, Ozzy calls forth a gleaming icicle and strikes the creature. The zombie lands a blow on Feral who releases his hold, a deep gash on his side and withdraws with tail between his legs – I hope he is not mortally wounded. Misty, clearly enraged by Feral’s predicament moves forward and strikes, I follow with another arrow which brings another explosion of flesh, which I am thankfully untouched by – I could not stand the foul flesh on my clothes and certainly contact with my skin would be awful, I do hope my companions find a suitable place to cleanse themselves as the smell is awful.

We gather our wits and Misty and me notice an old pack resting atop a large patch of stained earth, I fear the stain is blood. Inside are rotten rations which we discard, a map showing the layout of the enter area – a boon for sure, a potion and a pouch with 13 gold coins bearing the likeness of Field Marshall Gavirk of Tamrin (Tamrin is the main town of Nemathis) and a note calling All those interested in gainful employment to meet at the Ranger’s Lament. We assume this is a tavern at Tamrin.

There is a door to the south that opens out onto a long chamber, some 40’ long, with a trough holding a cloudy liquid and the walls bearing cracked and scorched murals that depict a battle – though little is visible. It looks as though a powerful explosion had occurred, Ozzy suggested that maybe the liquid was flammable. At the far end of the room lies another exit barred by a portcullis. The pedestal inscription bade that the eastern passages held a wheel to open the gate – we have found the gate, now we must find the wheel.

We move back east to the pedestal room and head South as Gemma moved this way. We find a chamber with a fountain of cool and clear water and an inscription:

Kassen’s legacy lives on through his people drink and be refreshed.

Gemma claims that drinking the water, heals and restores health. Berric and Gemma partake.

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In Search of the Everflame

What new drudgery is this? Called from my duties by the towns mayor to trudge beyond the walls accompanied by those who would be considered my peers. For what? To recover the Everflame and return it to the town square, an important rite for the year to come but surely more suited to those who are to be my companions. Never the less it is my duty as a cleric to undertake the religious rites of the town.

Journeying into the woods I watch with interest the reactions of those around me. They show little understanding of what we are undertaking. From nearby bushes three monstrous humanoids attacked us, the young street female shouted “They are not real!” and to give her credit she was correct, we spotted a figure fleeing the scene which gave me my first inclination that this is some form of foolish jest to test us. With the help of Misty, a tree worshipper as far as I am able to understand, which tree is not exactly clear, we made our way further into the forest. While we rested a small pack of wolves attacked us in search of food but were swiftly dealt with.

Once more we set out on our journey with the morning, the inane prattle of the woodsmans’ boy and the street rat soon became numbing so I permitted my mind to wander on the part that destiny plays in such journeys. We faced a new obstacle in the form of a steep rocky slope watching our agile comrades attempt the climb with mixed success, and the less then dextrous woodsmans’ son fall like the fool he seems intent on proving himself to be, I chose to make use of my shield as a sled to hasten my journey to the bottom of the narrow rocky valley, a mistake I will not repeat in future.

The entrance to the crypt in which we are supposed to find the everflame was marred by the corpses of horses showing signs of violence. Mayhap their jest has not gone to the plans of the people of the town?

Ozric Temple “Ozzy the Odd”

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Session 2 - 2nd of Neth
crypt of the everflame

An account by Nalmae Fleetfoot, Scout.

I urged our party to press onwards having heard the faint sound of moaning coming from behind the eastern door. We moved into a complicated room, partly a maze and filled with pit traps. I unwittingly set off a pit trap, though thankfully it was filled with pillows. It appeared as though the town’s idea for creating a challenge or rite of passage had been ill timed and the pranksters who sort to cause mischief had instead paid dearly with their lives. We wondered if the inhabitants of Kassen would feel so warmed by the Everflame given the price some dear friends of the township had paid!

After some investigation, we quickly worked out that team work was required in the maze of pits as 4 levers had to be pulled and those manning these levers had to race through the doorways, jumping over the intervening pits. We just made their way through as Ozzy and Berric held the heavy door open just long enough for all to pass.

The sound of despair we had heard was a little louder now, so we made their way to a doorway along a passage that lead south. Getting past the wooden door proved more of a challenge than the pitiful creature inside. Berric and Ozzy were narrowly missed by crossbow bolts fired by a scared member of Kassen. Roldare had been living in his own filth and starving for fear of leaving this small storage room. The rank of human excrement was thick in the air as were the flies that infested the room. I was disgusted with the so called “adult” of the village reduced to a quivering wreck, so described how to get out and we pushed onwards, taking a western passage. He had given us a key piece of information though – he claims that Dimera, the priestess at the Temple in Kassen has been taken by the foul creatures that now inhabit this lair.

Pushing open another wooden door we were confronted by a strange beetle, about the size of a hunting dog, that spat a foul ichor from its bowel that had a sting to match any bite from a wolf or dog. I had no space to close, my comrades having quickly surrounded the strange beast and beat the last breath from its body, I could not see who struck the final blow through the throng.

Unperturbed, we pressed on down a southern passage and beheld a strange sight. There was what appeared to be a furnace or offering room, with a large central fire pit but the chimneys or ventilation shafts must be partially blocked as the smoke hung think in the air.

I spotted a strange shape apparently of shadow in the room and warned the party, moving quietly and stealthily to investigate. Unfortunately Berric quickly followed bellowing “Where is the creature”. Why can’t the brute be quiet and understand stealth is equally to confrontation at times! A battle ensued with Berric being hit and describing how his arms felt leaden, the very strength drained from him with the chilling touch of the undead – perhaps his reward for brashness. Misty noticed that the pit contained a body and though most of the clothing and equipment had long been consumed by the flames, a dagger still with a bright blade and keen edge laid on the corpse. While the party fought the shadowy creature in vain, Misty reached into the fire, and was rewarded with the dagger, but had to pay with her flesh as the fire burned her hand.

Misty called forth and urged her deity to grant the gift of water, I was surprised when a torrid rush of water fell from midair over the fire and dousing the flames. This brought thick rolling smoke into the room and I along with most was nauseated and left to stumble around helpless. Thankfully Genna and Misty continued to engage the creature and eventually overcame it with the dagger proving especially potent against the creature – the shadow appeared to dissipate back into the ether. For her size, Genna seems to pack quite a punch, if only she could mature she would be pleasant as well as useful, though I must show patience and remember that these people live shorter lives and she will change soon, I remember my petulance when I was younger.

Ozzy called forth some healing powers which sent a pleasant warm feeling coursing through me, looking around many of the party saw cuts and bruises disappear as the strange surge of energy coursed through us. I must understand more of the entity that Ozzy worships, he has brought much help to the party. A quick search of the remains in the firepit revealed a old brass key had survived the flames, protected by the leather pouch (or what was left of it) that its previous keeper had placed it within.

With no alternative exit, we moved back to the hallway where the skeleton’s had attacked and took the western door. Here we were confronted by a pool with a statue looming over it, the head of the statue of the founder of Kassen (the aptly named Kassen) having long left the body and fallen into the deep pool beneath. A strange inscription declared “Magic is the key” and looking down into the shimmering pool, hundreds of keys could be seen in its depths. Misty called forth to the nature spirits and asked to be granted the sight of magic, where upon she detected a single magic key in the depths. Soon I was astounded as Misty stripped off and dived into the pool, her dive to the bottom to get the key proved effortless, however the return to the surface taxed her but she showed true resilience and persevered to the break the surface, gulping for air, much to the relief of her dog companion, who preceded to once again wet her face with his tongue, they must share a strong bond, for the dog was whimpering and pacing whilst she was in the pool.

A door was unlocked and lead to the south, so we investigated while Misty dressed, and saw a lovely portrait of Kassen in a kind of antechamber, the seen was so well painted it seems alive and as if Kassen himself stared back at me from across the room. This reminded me of why I had chosen to stay amoungst the humans – they are capable of beauty. Of note though is that the picture shows Kassen battling a foe and they both are wearing near identical golden necklaces with a stone inlaid. I do not know why this stood out of the picture. Misty chose to try the key in the locked door to the west and briefly investigated the passage before rejoining our ranks.

We carried on south and east and where confronted by a large stone door which appeared to open one way. Beyond was a circular room with a large column in the centre surrounded by a pit, with a single stone bridge leading across the gulf on the southern side. Two more doors, one to the south and one to the east (we had entered on the western side) broke the monotony of the stone walls. The chilling aspect of the room was the hundreds upon hundreds of arrows that protruded from the central pillar. I asked Ozzy who was behind me to hold position while I investigate and moved as light footed as possible into the room. As expected the central column spew forth many arrows and whilst I pride myself on being agile, there was no way of avoiding the speeding shafts, one struck me and I felt dizzy though managed to keep my feet, thankfully they were blunted arrows and not the normal hunting ones, which would have surely have knocked me down. I quickly moved to the bridge, and moved across, another arrow striking my side, partly winding me. The pillar was smooth, but close examination revealed a cleverly hidden panel that would slide aside with just the right pressure in the right place, I pushed gingerly as arrows flew over my head and barely managed to disable the foul trap before another arrow could hit me (which would have left me at the mercy of Ozzy). Looking over I saw that Ozzy had showed wisdom in stopping any other members joining us, as they would have been hit – better to let the scout take care of it and ask them to retrieve me should I fail.

We stood pondering what we should do next as Ozzy cleansed my wounds. Surely rest would be soon.

Everflame map 1

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Session 1 - 1st of Neth
crypt of the everflame
The party consisting of a ragtag group of youngsters were called by Mayor Uptal to meet in the town square at noon. Where they were circled by townsfolk dressed all in black. Mayor Uptal set them on their quest to retrieve the everflame from the crypt of Kassen. An annual tradition, marking the remembrance of the town’s founder. The flame serves to protect the town through the winter months and light the heart of all those that live there. This year the pilgrimage to the crypt was seen as a rite of passage into adulthood for the selected youngsters of the town.

Armed with a rusty lantern and winter provisions supplied by the town, the party set forth into the unknown following a torn map.

After setting out, the group were ambushed by a group of orcs. However it was apparent that the beasts were actually an illusion. The scent of pipe tobacco was sensed coming from the nearby woodland, the hallmark of the town wizard.

Resting the night at the first landmark, the ‘Open Glade’, the party were set upon by starving wolves. They managed to defeat them, aided heavily by the protection that their camping spot provided.

The next day they came upon the Gray Lake, where they investigated the remains of a dead body next to the edge of the lake. Clothes that of someone not from Kassen. On his body were newly minted coins bearing the likeness of Field Marshall Gavirk of Tamran.

Onward to the edge of Serpent Gorge where the rain made the ground even more treacherous under foot. The descent proved easy for some of the party, whilst not for others. Berrick suffered a sprained ankle after falling all the way to the bottom of the gorge.

At the bottom of the gorge the party witnessed a gruesome sight. Outside the entrance to the crypt were slain horses, still tethered to their posts. A pile of broken bones lay underneath one of the corpses.

Entering the crypt they discovered a couple of bodies amongst a room full of ancient bones. They recognised the deceased as townsfolk from Kassen. Shortly after the bones rose to form undead skeletons.

The party bested the skeletons and were left with an enigma. Something had gone wrong at the crypt. The threat of danger was now a real one where before it was sensed as more of a harmless rite of passage into adulthood.

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Prelude

You’re not adventurers and you’re most certainly not heroes. You’re youngsters that are coming to the age when you’re expected to settle down, get married and find work in the small town you’ve grown up in.

That town is known as Kassen. It’s a small town on the Tourondel River in the Fangwood of Nirmathas. You’ve never been outside the confinements of the town and you know of few people who have besides traders and the occasional passing travelers.

Since birth its been instilled into you that the town offers safety and protection from the untamed wild land that surrounds it. You’ve been told the stories of the children foolish enough to leave the confinements of the village walls, their bloody demise was fuel for your nightmares and enough for you to know that you’d never stray from the grounds of the village.

The winter winds are beginning to blow. It is fast approaching the 4th of Neth, the most important date in Kassen’s calendar. This is the day in which the entire community pay their respects to Ekat, the founder of Kassen.

Except the ceremony this year will be different, you know because you’ve seen the worry in your parent’s eyes and you’ve noticed the strange way that the adults have been treating you. You’ve remembered the ceremony that takes place every year, though this year you sense your involvement will be more than just standing in the crowd.

There’s a knock at the door of your family home. Outside stands the messenger of the Mayor Uptal. You are requested to visit him tomorrow at his home. You are filled with an enormous sense of foreboding. That night your dreams are filled with visions of the everflame, the torch that burns in the heart of the town through the winter months.

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