-Black Onyx Queen Demands final obelisk destroyed in one month and march on ghoul capital two months after that.
- Khangar needs glasses]
After finding The following message nailed to a post:
URGENT, HELP REQUESTED AT FORT DAWNBREAK.
There is something in the darkness, its killing the common folk at night. We don’t know what it is, all we see are the withered husks it leaves behind.
I request urgent aid, we need someone to come and help cleanse us from this evil before we are all lost to the black.
Ralph of Wrymsroost, Acting Commander of Fort Dawnbreak
I tracked down Captain Ron and told him we could earn the respect of the locals if we took on this mission. He wasn’t interested at first but when I told him we would likely be sailing there, he jumped at the opportunity to be on the sea again.
We set off to the docks looking for the person who posted the urgent message. We found them standing next a svelte looking vessel. The rough looking sailor made it clear we were not his first choice but this being an urgent matter, our help was better than no help.
As we boarded the ship an enterprising elf emerged from the shadows. He introduced himself as Thero Denirav and inquired about a reward, “Is there to be an award for providing aid? Surely it must be a vast amount for such an urgent matter!” The sailor, obviously in a hurry, confirmed that there would be an award but insisted that we must leave now! Thero, assured of payment, hopped on board.
We set off along the coast in the narrow long boat that sat low in the water. The sailors made great haste inspired by Captain Ron’s rendition of “Come Sail Away” and the speedy vessel glided over the water. We reached For Dawnbreak in 4 days time.
We were rushed to the lighthouse to see Ralph. As we approached lighthouse two other adventures walked up to greet us.
One of them was a familiar face, Daedrick Blackheart. I have adventured with him many times now. I find him to be brash and demanding but good in a fight. The other was a large half-orc, he introduced himself as Rowan Oak. He told us that he used to be a slave of the ghouls. After gaining his freedom, he took up the mantle of Paladin and became a follower of Umbros.
Ralph filled us in on the grizzly events that had befallen Fort Dawnbreak. 7 emaciated bodies have been found. All of them were alone and housed on the outskirts of the fort. Ralph noted their locations on a map for us. He also noted that the most recent body was being held in the local Temple of Realtra. He told us to speak with Brother Conalt if we wished to inspect it.
Our group set off to the temple and inspected the body under Brother Conalt’s watch full eye. The body was slightly shriveled and had a slight rash like marking around the neck area.
We convinced Conalt to let us cut open the body. Rowan knew this man in life and believed he would want his remains to be used in any manner that helped put a stop to the attacks. After some group peer pressure, Thero agreed to perform the autopsy.
To the surprise of everyone involved, Thero quickly and professionally flayed the body open. Revealing a corpse full of organs and shriveled muscle. Captain Ron threw up.
Unfortunately, not much was gained and one lunch was lost during the dissection of the body. If that wasn’t bad enough, Daedrick decapitated the body as we were leaving.
He was very obviously trying to sneak behind us. Then he drew his GLOWING sword, chopped the corpse’s head off, and proceed to act like nothing happened.
Rowan, Daedrick, and Conalt started to argue. Rowan got a good hit on Daedrick. Daedrick followed with a hit of his own, which laid the half-orc out on the floor, and then walked out of the temple.
Rowan was amazingly quick to get back on his feet. He rushed after Daedrick and continued the argument outside.
Captain Ron played some smooth Kenny G. to cool everyone’s temper. After many insults later and Daedrick’s telling of his childhood Draugr story, things finally settled down.
Rowan and Daedrick were no longer at each other’s throats but they were far from friends. With this new group tension, we continued our investigation at the last victim’s tent.
The dwelling was sparse. We found a trunk containing a necklace with the symbol for Umbros, Rowan took this for safe keeping. The only clue we found was a marking on the bed that resembled the rash found on the corpse’s neck. It appeared to be some kind of necrotic damage.
Under the guise of getting leads from the locals, Ron and I suggested we go to the tavern for drinks. This was met with general enthusiasm from everyone.
Captain Ron bought a round of drinks for everyone in the tavern. This helped loosen some tongues. The only lead we picked up was on an Ulstra character. The town’s folk seemed a little hesitant of her presence. They described her as an herbalist and a loner. Some even went so far as to accuse her of placing hexes on the townspeople. She lived in a tent on the very edge of the settlement.
It had grown late in the day so our company agreed to stay the rest of night in the tavern.
Daedrick and Rowan exchanged drinks and agreed to let bygones be bygones. This soon devolved into a drink off. Thero, Ron, and I egged them on. Rowan hit the ground first. Thero performed some slight of hand to encourage Daedrick to take a final shot before he fell onto Fenris, his wolf.
Ron and I carried Rowan up to his room. The three of us still standing settled in for the night, while Fenris stumbled around outside with Daedrick latched to his back.
During the pre-dawn hours Rowan, Ron, and I were woken by shouts from the guards. We rushed outside and met up with Thero and Daedrick. Thero told us he had seen a smoke like creature leaving a tent while he was patrolling the wall.
We inspected the tent and discovered 3 bodies. Whatever was attacking these people was growing bold. This tent was close to the wall and an entire family was slain.
Our group headed to Ulstra’s to check on the old woman. I found her to be a kindly person. None of the town rumours held up to scrutiny. She even gave us a couple necrotic resistance potions!
As we were saying our goodbyes, two guards rushed in and told us to get to the temple. We ran to the temple. We found a haggard looking Brother Conalt outside. As Rowan healed him, he told us that three smoke creatures appeared out of the recent bodies brought to the temple. He was able to slay one and escaped.
We entered the temple and confronted the two remaining creatures. I was the last to engage the enemy. To make up for my tardiness, I rushed in with two mighty swings of my hammer…both missed. I could feel Daedrick’s disapproving gaze bore into the back of my head. I heard him say, “What a disappointment!”.
The creatures continued their assault and seemed to pull the strength out of Daedrick. His muscle mass was visibly diminished. Even in this weakened state, Daedrick smited one with his radiant blade. The other was put down by a well placed arrow from Thero.
After he had seen the creatures first hand, Brother Conalt identified them as Shadows. They had the ability to suck the strength out of a body. Given enough time, a new shadow would emerge from the corpse. We all agreed it would be best to move all of the townspeople behind the wall for the next few nights. Before we left, Conalt handed us 3 vials for holy oil. He said it should prove damaging to the Shadows.
Shadows usually stay in dark caves during daylight hours. Our group poured over the local map. There were some cliffside caves but they were to far away from the fort and the Shadow Thero had seen traveled in the opposite direction.
Looking at the map I saw the well centered in the middle of the settlements outside of the walls. It was in the general direction that Thero saw the shade travel. Surely nothing bad’s ever happened in a well? Rowan thought it would be worth checking out. Our group proceeded to the well to investigate.
As we approached the well, Rowan was able to sense 6 creatures under us. Wanting to get a better sense of the terrain at the bottom of the well, our group brainstormed an item that might become the number one piece of adventuring kit…the chicken scope. I tied a chicken into the well bucket, Daedrick used beast sense on the chicken, and Ron lowered to poor foul to the bottom of the well. Looking through the chicken’s eyes, Daedrick was able to confirm the creatures were Shadows and that the bottom of the well opened into a large cavern. We reeled in the chicken scope and tightly sealed the well.
An elaborate plan was hatched. We would construct a tent surrounding the well. Ron and Thero would then use prestidigitation to project stars and the moon on the inside of the tent. This night time scene would draw the Shadows out, then the tent would be removed and they would be slain in the daylight. During preparations, we were interrupted by screams to the south. We rushed to aid the citizens but were too late.
Two Shadows claimed another victim. We shredded the tent to expose the creatures to daylight. This weakened the creatures. After dispatching the two Shadows a third creature started to manifest from the fresh corpse. This one was finished before it completely left the body.
It was now clear that the cavern had multiple exits, not just the well. With only 4 Shadows left, we chose to take a more direct approach. Rowan poured vial after vial of oil down the well. He then lit the oil with a torch. We all gathered around the well, everyone readied an attack. Thero, Rowan, and I applied the holy oil to our weapons. I was eager to finally land a solid hit on one of these creatures. Daedrick struck first, his glowing blade vaporized it’s target. Next up, Rowan cleaved a Shadow in two with his axe. Then Thero pinned one to the side of the well where it burned to ash. I readied my killing blow on the last monster…just as Captain Ron shouted, “Mine!” and cast some spell that sent the creature back into the flaming pit it was trying to flee. Before the Shadow had a second chance to reach the lip of the well it turned to ash. All eyes turned to me…and Daedrick just shook his head.
Our party returned to the town victorious. We settled into the tavern were Captain Ron regaled the townsfolk with tales of our heroic deeds but the festivities were to be short lived.
That night I drew 3rd shift for my abysmal combat efficiency the prior two days. As I peered out from the wall, I saw 20-30 humanoid shapes in the waning moon light. I had seen these shambling monstrosities before. “Ghouls!!!”, I shouted to the guards. They started sounding a warning bell and woke the garrison.
We readied ourselves on the wall and waited for the ghouls to come into range. Daedrick pulled out a strange sling device, loaded a javelin into it, and proceed to launch a javelin further than I had ever seen. It landed squarely in the chest of an approaching ghoul. Using my superior battle tactics and the fact that no one else could hit the damn things yet, I commanded Daedrick to launch another javelin. Another ghoul was quickly skewered to the ground. I heard him laugh and say, “that’s the most damage you’ve done all week!” I held my tongue (But am making a note to count that one as my kill) and focused on the battlefield around me. The first wave of ghouls had come in range of the archers.
In all the comotion, I heard a creaking noise. I rushed to the inner side of the wall and saw a little girl lifting the bar from the gate doors by herself! I shouted to my companions to stop her. Rowan was the first to close, he dove to tackle her and was brushed aside with just one of her arms. Daedrick charged in on the back of Fenris, slashing at her shoulder. The image of the girl was pulled away. In its place was was a large ghoul. The ghoul threw the gate open as the first wave neared the wall.
I leapt to the ground and delivered two heavy blows. On the second blow I attempted to trip the monster by sweeping its legs. The swing connected but the leg stayed firmly rooted in place. It was like striking a tree trunk. Daedrick was able to close the gate as Rowan and I flanked the ghoul. Unfortunately this left me, Rowan, and the large ghoul outside the walls as 7 more ghouls closed in.
The large ghoul mounted a counter attack and broke through the door, knocking me back inside with it. Rowan shouted for us to shut the gate. I aided Daedrick and together we were able to close and bar the gate.
Thero and Ron moved up the wall to cover Rowan as he attempted to climb over the wall. On his second attempt, he was able grab Ron’s hand and was pulled up. To hear Captain Ron tell it, Rowan’s first attempt was like watching a fly smack flat into a window pane.
Daedrick and I re-engaged the monstrous ghoul. Maybe due the fatigue of holding the door, Daedricks first attack went wide of the mark and missed. I could see the frustration on his face. I followed this up with, “See! It is hard!”. This got a grimace out of Daedrick. I proceeded with my attack…and missed. Eventually (longer than it should have taken) we put the creature down.
On the other side of the wall, the ghouls tried following Rowan’s example and jumped at the top of the wall. Being much shorter than the half-orc and peppered by Thero, Ron, and Rowan they stood no chance. By the time Daedrick and I made it back to the top of the wall, it had become somewhat of a sport. I tied Daedrick to the end of my rope and swung him like an angry mace back and forth along the wall. We were able to kill 7 more ghouls in this manner (making a note to also count these as my kills). I pulled Daedrick up after he was good and bloodied. Honestly, I don’t know how much of it was his blood or the ghoul’s.
The Ghoul line finally broke and started to retreat. Daedrick then did a very Daedrick like thing. He jumped on his wolf and chased down a couple of the lagging ghouls. This went well until the edge of the retreating line realized what was happening, turned, and fired a volley of heavy crossbow bolts. Two of the bolts hit Daedrick square in the chest knocking him clean off Fenris. We rushed out to provide aid. Between Thero firing arrows and Captain Ron throwing insults, the ghouls continued their retreat. Showing only a small amount of hesitation, Rowan healed Daedrick.
We gathered what we could from the ghoul corpses, the only thing of note was a necklace of sending. Someone back at the landing is sure to be interested in this. We headed back to the tavern. Finally, it seemed this ordeal would be over. I got a good night’s rest, woke up to a big breakfast and a bloody mary. Then I heard it: thwoomp, thwoomp, thwoomp and the shouts of “Dragon!” coming from outside. (Note to never stay at this tavern again) I asked the bartender for her best bottle of bourbon, thinking it might be my last drink.
Thero and Ron joined me at the bar. Thero asked Ron how fast that boat was and his reply was not fast enough. We all made piece with the situation and passed the high shelf spirits between us.
There was a loud crash from outside as the dragon landed inside the walls. In a booming voice she introduced herself as the Onyx Queen. She demanded to see those from Mariner’s Landing and the leader of Fort Dawnbreak. The three of us sheepishly exited the tavern.
To our surprise, we weren’t killed immediately. She demanded that the Mariner’s destroy the final obelisk in one months time. We all just nodded. Sure, sounds reasonable to us. But then some foolish young soldier rushed towards the dragon, weapon drawn. Daedrick and Rowan tackled the kid before he made it to far. The Onyx Queen then turned to Ralph and demanded that he ready every blade (man, women, and child) to march on the ghoul capital two months after the fall of the obelisk. She then punctuated her point by crushing the foolish soldier in her claw. The wet crunch and scream that followed were gut wrenching but we were powerless to stop her. She threw the body to the ground and took flight.
Rowan checked on the mutilated soldier. He was able to stabilize the young boy but it was clear he would be disfigured for life. With this ominus news hanging over us we quickly said goodbye to Ralph. We boarded the boat and set off with all haste. We must deliver the Onyx Queen’s message to Mariner’s Landing.