A help wanted poster, a keep overtaken by necromancers, and five (or six) unsuspecting adventurers.
The day seemed no different than any other to any of the heroes. They were adventurers, fighters, mercenaries, travelers, and dreamers by trade and life. Although by themselves and together a bit of eccentric folk, none can argue that the greatest of heroes have by any means every been average or normal.
The day started with each answering the the help poster put up by Count Jerald, but none of them knew what for. There was Norm, the human monk with his llama, ever ready to put his mind to the test and himself last. Of course, there was also Rin- she was a mercenary with a penchant for money and the skills with a bow to get it. Palice, the mysterious cleric and servant of Pelor, covered in armor and robes over every inch of himself- his mystery only matched by the powers that Pelor bestows upon him. Next we have Rolf- an oddball of a gnomish paladin, full of valor, integrity and justice with his hammer dealing his righteous fury. Lastly we see Giana and Thoril- an odd sight but a good combination nonetheless- the large Thoril, silent and strong carrying his quick-witted younger sister.
To each of them, their day was normal. They all have their goals and this was just another stepping stone to reach them. Little did they know what happened here would be leading up to something bigger.
When they first arrived at the Pig N’ Sailor, the tavern listed as the meeting place with the Count’s representative, no such person was found. An old man approached them and bought them drinks and while they waited, recounted the story of the Order of the Emerald Path. He instilled in them some lessons about teamwork in hopes that it would help.
Not too much later they were met with the representative of the count- Sir Reginald Crow. He asked them to go to Blueoak Keep as the Count had acquired the deed to the land but reports of disturbances were preventing proper work and restoration being done. Sir Reginald Crow explained that the land was just over the line dividing them from the scourgelands- the part of Geneda that was hit with the scourge and plague many centuries ago that has never recovered. What lies in these parts now aren’t common knowledge and myths, legends and fables have sprung up since then about what dark and twisted creatures and powers lay in the wake all these centuries later.
After some details were left out and some SPLENDIDS! were added in the group agreed to the reward of 100gp each as well as recognition in the court of Count Jerald. After stocking up on supplies they took on the 8 hour travel on foot.
The first leg of the adventure through Geneda was peaceful, but soon after in the scourgelands it wasn’t all sunshine. The grass was gray and brown and dead, the sky darkened, the air seemed thicker, almost like it was trying to choke you. And finally, along the road, the party met up with five men. Four of the men were huddled around in a circle while another man stood off to the side watching, wearing a scarlet robe.
Upon approaching the men a horrid realization hit the cleric and paladin- these were zombies feasting on the flesh of the living. With that they and the rest of the group sprang into action fending off the zombies and taking on the robed man. Rin was quick to draw her bow and flew an arrow into the heart of the robed man, dropping dead in front of them. The zombies put up a fair fight, their powerful limbs incapable of knowing pain slamming the adventurers with full force a few times before being put down.
A quick search revealed that these zombies were once no more than commoners, perhaps those that lived here centuries ago. The hooded man, however, was still a mystery even with his belongings- his scarlet robe, a dagger, some silver and a mysterious spellbook.
Deciding to move onward the group followed the directions further to Blueoak Keep where they were met with more resistance. Even more zombies and two more robed figures stood barricaded outside the keep walls.
Knowing that this threat must be removed the group rushed into combat slaying these wretched undead so that they my advance. However, the necromancers seeing the zeal and power that is plain of any paladin decided to sap his strength with vicious black rays of enfeeblement. With the paladin weakened the rest of the party bested the robed figures and remaining zombies while pondering the condition of their friend. After moments of trying to figure out what to do the paladin’s strength returned and they continued on their way.
Inside the walls of the keep they could see that the large two-story building was not all that was contained. A small dog kennel and stable also resided to the right of the building and the party decided that it would be a smarter idea to secure the perimeter of the building before heading inside. At the kennel Rin decided to approach and see if there was anything inside, but was suddenly greeted with an unexpected discovery- zombified dogs. The group, half of which were heading to the stable turned around except the Paladin who continued into the stable. As soon as the dogs were disposed of the rest of the group noticed the Paladin fighting off a zombified horse and quickly defeated it. Not much besides the rotting flesh of the creaturs could be found around the building or the stales and kennel. After seeing the walls as secured as they like they finally headed inside.
The first room they found was a mess- destroyed furniture and debris everywhere. The only worthwhile pieces left were a desk and some ruined painting on the wall. They moved on, single file, with the paladin riding the llama as a steed in the front. As they opened the door a hallway presented itself with a door to the left, a door in front of the, and an open room to the right.
They decided to check out the open room lest they have any surprises behind them. Dead bodies lay strewn across the room and Giana tells Thoril to remove the heads to that they don’t rise up as undead. From here they saw two more doors as well as a stairwell heading up. Opening the door farthest from the hall they discovered a mostly intact office area filled with bookshelves and a desk. It was here that they discovered a tome of magic writing that none could understand. Feeling it was important they took it from the room and headed back. Going from room to room to room they found three more groups of enemies.
In the first room was zombies Surrounded by more rubble and debris. The paladin made easy work of these beasts as well did the rest of the group. Finding no more than some silvers and rotting clothes, the next room held three more robed figured. Again charging in, the paladin impaled one while Rin shot one and the other was beaten.
Having one final room to enter on this floor the group felt confident of their abilities. This room was empty besides three counters around the entrance. Zombies, robed figures and a foul, purple-skinned creature met them and once more the paladin charged with the llama as his steed. He charged into a corner which ultimately worked against him as a robed figure and the purple creature trapped him and paralyzed the llama, knocking him off.
The rest of the part remained trapped in the hall fending off zombies one by one until the path was clear. Knowing he was outmatched the paladin ran past the creature and man to the other side of the room where his group met up with him and his assailants. Once more the paladin’s strength was drained from him from wicked bolts which had been missing him prior and it was up to the others to take down their enemies.
With their enemies finally dead and the paladin restored, they decided they should take out whatever may be upstairs as to claim their reward. The cleric did what he could to heal the group, and did it with a swear instead of a smile. Up the stairs met them with an open room leading into a broom closet of no mention and on final huge door from which inside noises could be heard. Opening the door showed them a small horde of zombies, more robed figures, and another figure clad in a black robe, bearing a familiar symbol to Thoril and Giana. Behind him was a large portal of mixed and gnarly colors and magics.
At first the fight seemed in their favor as they charged in and hacked about the zombies, but quickly the black-robed man flew across the room, paralyzing all of them with ease. But then, just as their adventure seemed to end as it started, a bright light illuminated the place and stepped through was a woman of angelic beauty. She dispatched all who opposed her within seconds, burning the black-robed man with the touch of her hand.
The man dead, the rest of the group returned to life and saw their savior. They went to ask her name, and as she turned to say it, through the portal stepped a 20 foot tall man who grabbed the angel in one hand and pummeled her, smashed her body against the walls, and snapped her in half before finally throwing her down and spitting acid onto her body, melting it before the group. He gave them one look, sneered, grabbed the dead man in black, raising him, and stepped through the portal with him, closing it as they went.
The party was full of shock at what they witnessed and retreated to outside the building, but not before looting the room and noticing a strange looking mace with a skull where the portal once was. It was night, and rather than risk the walk back now they decided to rest in the stables, kennel, and the first room under some debris. The next morning they decided it would be best to go back and report their findings to Sir Reginald Crow. After hearing them out and rewarding them, with a little extra as well, he told them he would send for Count Jerald so that they may tell their story to him and get some answers to their questions.
With a week to spare they all set off with busy work- buying and selling what they found, doing research on the tome with magic writing, and in the case of Palice, paying for and understanding that he held The Star of Erythnul, a powerful mace forged centuries ago in an unholy attack on Heironeous. He prayed for Pelor’s guidance and received his blessing to wield the weapon for Pelor’s glory. Elsewhere they relaxed or crafted more arrows or looked for answers.
Sir Crow then paid for their tavern bill during this time and came back a week later with Count Jerald. Upon meeting and adventurers he thanked them and answered their questions, especially Giana’s regarding the robed men and any correlation they have to recent attacks. Jerald confirmed her suspicions and said they are most likely the Scarlet Shadow, a group of necromancers who have taken refuge in the scourgelands.
And then, Count Jerald gave the group an audacious offer- serve him a few times more, and they may stay at and eventually own for themselves Blueoak Keep. If they agreed, which they did, he would have a restoration team fix the keep up to their liking as well as sending out scouting teams with clerics to remove any nearby zombies that might wander into their area. Excitedly for some and reluctantly for others, they agreed. He told them to stay in Seredia for the time being and that their food and lodging tabs will be handled by Sir Crow until Blueoak Keep was ready for them, and at that time they would be given their next task.
What happens, next, you ask? Well, I assure you, history does not write itself overnight, so next time return and hear the grand tale of the Twenty-Three Artefacts of Syvega. Oh, you say I didn’t mention the Artefacts? Well, of course not! The first chapter of no great tome ever reveals the main plot! Hehe, just return here another time, and hear the rest of the story, friends.