Destiny’s New Servants, Part 53

Destiny’s New Servants, Part 53

A few days later, and Merri is at least awake – if not fully recovered – and they are interrupted by a priest knocking on their door, and saying their presence is requested by the angel. They go, and the angel receives them, and says that for their efforts they will all be classed as Saints in Elven eyes. Merri and Elo are super embarrassed. They will be honoured with statues and festivities, they are told, but first they are to be rewarded; they are each given a Ring of Protection of the Second Power, a Ring of Regeneration and a Cloak of Elemental Resistance. They thank the angel for their gifts, and retreat back to their rooms in the temple. Merri goes back to resting, Elo sits with Aurianna, Felix goes to investigate the manufacturing methods of fine elven cloths and Zege finds a drinking buddy who proceeds to get him hammered on ‘healing wine’, a pale pink concoction of wine and a healing potion.

With nothing to really occupy him, Darrius heads to the library and casts his eye over the books, hoping to find something to snag his attention – and it does gets well and truly snagged on a battered looking book with no title or author on the spine. He draws it out and begins reading…

The books actually turns out to be the journal of a brother at the temple, one Elic Fanal. It seems he was some kind of researcher, and decided to devote his attention to the plane; he wonders if it is round, like a planet, or just a disc with an edge. The journal tells of his travel and the discovery the plane does have an edge; that it is contained somehow by a black spongy substance. He says he tried to poke the dome of the edge, and discovered there are some places where the membrane of it is thinner, and his finger pokes a hole in it. At that point the oily, inky substance that seems to be under this membrane squirts out and hits his face, causing him to inhale it. At the time he thinks nothing of it, he gets a bit of a cold but carries on with his study. He travels the edge in his boat until he comes to an island where there is a bigger hole, about the size of a door. So he goes on through to find another world, where there seems to be no ground or sky; everything is a thick foliage undergrowth with vines hanging down. As soon as he enters and starts to move around these strange black tar-blot creatures show up, with a singular cat’s eyes in the inky depths, and try to ‘talk’ to him. More and more show up, reaching out to him tentatively, until they suddenly swarm him, tie him in their tendrils and take him to a massive orb, like them but huge, with one great white eye in the center of it’s body. It reaches out its tendrils to him and he can clearly tell it’s trying to communicate with him, in thoughts and pictures in his mind. However he doesn’t really understand what it wants’ or what it’s trying to say. After many days (he thinks) in this green twilight, the boss-blob gives up and sends him away, letting the little ones carry him to where he entered and throwing him back onto the island. In a panic, he travels back to the temple and starts to write up his experience. But while he is doing so, he begins to see things – the black ink-splotches – hiding in shadows. Mania sets in and he has himself committed to the care of his fellow temple brothers, for fears of safety. It is here the writing becomes frantic and gibbering, and eventually the pen trails off the page.

Intrigued, Darius takes the book, and asks the librarian if it’s Brother Fanal is still alive, and he can talk to him. The librarian directs him to another brother, who says he is Elic’s keeper. The man pauses then says he thinks it should be okay if Darrius talks to Fanal. Darius is lead down to a room, the walls and floor covered in drawings and equations and writing. Darius tries to question the man about his excursion, but learns nothing more than what is in the journal, and that the man still seems to be a gibbering loon

(note: here there was an expert improv performance in insanity by the GM, which really should have been recorded)

Eventually Elic’s keeper steps in and says he thinks maybe Darius should leave, and tries to calm Elic down. Darius wanders back up stairs, but on his way thinks he sees something flitting in the shadows. Intrigued he looks a bit closer, but doesn’t really see anything. Then there is a puff of black, as something is squirted in his face. His eyes start to sting and he comes back into the room where most of the others are complaining that his eyes hurt.

Merri takes a looks and says she doesn’t see anything, and Elo draws the water pitcher and ewer out, and says she’ll give them a rinse justy to be sure. Darius says they still hurt, and elo examines him again and says she really can’t see anything. Then all of a sudden they stop hurting, but the shadows seem darker and things look like they might be flitting around the room. Scared, he mentions this to the others, asking if they can see anything – but to them, the room is light and airy with nothing flitting around. Even Elo, with her sharp Watchman and anti-evil eyes, can see nothing wrong. But to Darius the flitting things are everywhere – little blobs that look like ink and move like tar, with a single white cat-eye and reaching tendrils. Everywhere he looks, it seems there are more and more of them. He becomes increasingly distressed and the others try and comfort him, and say there’s nothing there. Eventually Elo thinks he’s going to meltdown, and sends Felix to find Enezege, but as Darius’s state deteriorates, she thinks the only cure is to knock him out. Merri gives it her best shot, but only succeeds in slapping him. It is enough though; as soon as she strikes him, the world reverts to normal. Darius looks around confused and relieved, latches on to Merri and bursts into tears.

Through impatient questioning from Elo and teary answering, they manage to eak out of Darius exactly what happened, where he’s been and who he’s spoken to. Very cross, Elo takes ‘Zege and they track down the man who cares for Fanal and demands that he find a way to fix Darius. He comes back with them, and worriedly looks at Darrius, then gets him to lie on a bed, while he performs some kind of anti-venom spell on the poor boy. Eventually he is done, and the Brother draws Elo and Zege outside where they are told that while Darius is probably okay, here is a potion of dispel poison just incase. He apologizes again, and says he will personally see the book is locked away and that Brother Fanal receive no more visitors. Felix, questions if maybe such a rift should be sealed, and the Brother assures him that the Eladrin are on the case. With that, the Brother leaves them. Zege says he’s going to go back to drinking – there’s a party going on in their honour and he intends to make the most of it. Darius is told to rest, and Merri says she will watch over him. Felix says he will also remain inside, but Elo decides she needs to go out and decompress with the stiffest of drink in hand. She finds the closest bar and spends a good few hours complaining about her comrades to a bar filled with awed strangers and drinking until the wee hours.

Next morning they decide that it would be best of they left now, before anyone can get into any more trouble. They leave swiftly, and quietly, and head back to Drakemar’s to let him know that their task is complete on their way through back to Toreguard, as the dragon can see they need some personal time.

The group arrive in Toreguard city, and head straight to Acacia Ave, where Mrs Wiggins is delighted to see them. They have a nice dinner, a peaceful evening, and just as they are about to turn in for the night the drizzle that has been going all day turns into big storm drops. They fall asleep to the sound of pelting rain and all is well… until the mid-point of the night when there is a terrific boom of thunder and a sound almost like an explosion. Zege and Darius sleep right through it, and while Merri wakes, she just rolls over and goes back to sleep. Elo and Felix however, get up. Elo looks out the window and sees a tree on a hilock outside the city walls has been struck by lighting, and is slightly on fire – the rain doing a good job of putting it out. Elo goes and sits on a chair next to the window, looking out into the dark street below, and notices there is some poor sot outside. A man on horseback, with something slung over the rear of the animal, is asking for directions by the looks of it, and she thinks maybe he’s wearing the clothes of a road warden. Felix comes into Elo’s room, asking if everything is okay, and she tells him that a tree was struck by lighting, everything is fine and to go back to bed. Assured, he returns to sleep. Elo thinks maybe the warden is bringing someone who was too close to the lighting into the infirmary, thinks no more of it, and also returns to sleep.

The next morning they are midway through breakfast there is a knock on the door, and Mrs Wiggins admits a rough looking chap. He asks directly for Elo and she talks to him in the front room of the house. The man introduces himself as Farmer Edward Horn, and that he thinks his hamlet needs her help. Horn goes on to tell her that the tree struck with lightning the previous night was near his neighbor’s land, one Farmer Jenkins, and that Jenkins was brought into the city, to the morgue, last night by Warden Ernest Samson. Elo is confused, thinking surely this is cut-and-dry, when Horn goes on to say that while everyone at first thought it was just a dodgy ticker, it might be something far more sinister. He says while everyone respects the wardens, and they do a good job in general, he thinks maybe they need someone more specialized on this matter – someone like Elo and her friends. Horn then goes on to tell them about the manner of Jenkins’ death – that he was found with a ghastly green pallor, and contorted into a stance of warding, his face a rictus of fear. The farmer also mentions that there’s some who’ve been going around saying that this is the revenge of Ruperc Mirny, a dissident farmer. Elo says she vaguely recognises the name – something about a riot that went wrong?

Farmer Horn tells her that’s right. About five years ago, there was a minor uprising of the farmers. They didn’t like the heavy taxation placed upon them, and decided to riot to make a point, with pitch-forks. The guard ended up being called in, and Mirny – the leader – was killed, along with all the others – even the ones that tried to flee. The farmer goes on to say that the hill on which the tree stood was in fact the burial mound where the farmers were laid to rest, and that an odd green fog has been seen coming from it. He adds that many think that Ruperc Mirny’s ghost is wandering free and killing people. Elo agrees that maybe it would be best if she and the group were to investigate, and help the rural wardens out a bit. Farmer Horn thanks her profusely, and leaves, saying that he thinks Warden Samson must still be at the South precinct watchhouse.

Elo goes back to the breakfast table and as they finish eating they discuss the case, and decide that they should go see the warden first. They gather themselves up and leave.

As they approach the south watchhouse there is a bit of a crowd. While the others wait outside, Elo elbows her way through the mob, flashes her badge and is told where to find the Warden. She hurries through to the canteen and sees a lone, weary and travelstained man eating a bowl of soup. Elo gets two mugs of coffee and sits down, passing one over to Warden Samson. She introduces herself, and explains what’s she’s doing there, and he nods and admits he’s glad he doesn’t have to deal with the fiendish case. He details a bit more about the body – though the summary is the same, and says that the last time he saw someone with that kind of look on their face it was a few years ago, when a demon managed to weave it’s way through the seal and kill a man. He also goes into more horrific detail about the uprising of the farmers, and gives Elo a better idea about what happened that day. He says he sincerely hopes she can catch whatever badness is causing such problems, and says again, he’s glad he doesn’t have to deal with it. She leaves him to his breakfast and returns to the others.

They acquire a cart and horse, and on the way to the affected hamlet, Elo goes over what she learnt from the warden. They arrive somewhere around mid afternoon, and there is a bit of a kerfuffle in the main street. Elo says to ignore it – she wants to get this sorted sooner than later – but as they pass the group of people on their way to the base of the hill, they overhear a woman weeping and someone saying ‘He was only checking the horses!’. They trundle over to the group of onlookers and see a man laid on the floor. There is a ghastly green tinge to his skin and his face is frozen in terror.

Elo gets her badge out and announces the Watch’s presence. The onlookers start to dissipate, and the man’s apparent son takes his mother indoors. One of the onlookers remains however, and says he is Hiram Sampson, Merrill Jenson – that is, the dead man’s – neighbour. He said they’d brought the horses back inside from ploughing the fields that day, and Farmer Jenson said he just wanted to check them over. Sampson says he’d only been gone a moment or two, before this strange green fog started to roll down the hill. He says it was seen the night before, but not so far down. The group thank him, and he leaves to comfort the widow.

Elo gives the body a look over for physical evidence, but aside from the strange pallor there are no physical marks on him. She asks the mages if they can tell if this was magical, and Darius has a look and says yes, the man is covered in blue – the mark of magic. He then looks around, and notices that the blue is touching the edges of the barn, like a tide that has been lapping at the stonework. Elo concludes they can do no more for this poor man for the moment, and they carry the unfortunate into the barn and cover him over with a blanket. As they stand outside wondering and deliberating what could do this they hear the singing of a child. As the sorcerers come to the conclusion that this must be the work of a spell called ‘Cloud of Death’, the child’s song becomes clearer, and they can pick out her words:
Ruperc Mirny, died on a Sunday morn.
Ruperc Mirny, to the fog his spirit borne.
Ruperc Mirny, his icy fingers creep, under your door.
Ruperc Mirny, your soul heeds his call.
Ruperc Mirny. Doomed are you to march, in his misty wake, forever more.

The group give each other concerned looks, and go and check it out. They find a little girl playing hop-scotch and repeating her rhyme, so they ask her where she learnt it, and she tells them there’s a hole on top of the hill where the writing is. Her mother told her not to play there, so of course she went and did the opposite, and her friend told her that now she knows the rhyme, Ruperc Mirny can’t hurt them. They tell her to go home now, as it’s getting late, and it is. It’d been overcast most of the afternoon, and they arrived in a drizzle, and now that night is falling again the rain is turning heavier.

They decide to tackle the hill now, and it looks particularly eerie in the luminous half-light of the oncoming storm, with the blackened and broken tree on the summit. As they get to the top, they see there is indeed a hole in the top with steps leading down, and the writing on the wall, that according to Merri’s stone cunning, was placed there at the time of the burial. They see however there is more of that green fog at the bottom of the hole, so Felix dispels it, and they make their way down into the dark.

The burial mounts have two chambers it transpires – one leads to the pit burial site, and the other is of to one side, and the group assume it’s for Mirny. They decide to go straight down to the second chamber and see if they can sort out the problem immediately. They enter the chamber and see a solid stone coffin, around which there is a thin layer of the fog. Felix says it won’t kill anyone, but it will be quite unpleasant. At first glance the stone lid seems fully sealed, but then the green fog starts to emanate from a crack, and the covering slab starts to move aside by itself. Elo does a quick Detect Evil and almost falls over with surprise by the red glow coming from it. The group back up as the fog grows and four wraiths appear. Merri turns one of the wraiths, as Elo notes with a sick feeling that it has the face of Farmer Jenson. Felix dispels the fog again, and Elo runs forward and tumbles through the wraiths while Zege and Darrius keep them busy. She climbs into the coffin and Smites the bones, but then the green fog starts to come out thicker. She starts to high-tail it out of there, and has just left the casket when the fog resolves itself into the form of a person – one that they assume to be Mirny. It starts saying that it wants to make the people who backed out on it suffer its wrath, and then goes on to say something about how it’s a demon prince called Myurr and how it’s been left to roam the spiritual in search of vengeful souls to help it gain power enough to take on it’s own nemesis – ‘the halfling’.

Unfortunately for it, the group are only half paying attention, as Merri is shouting at Elo she has a plan, and needs Elo to move. Zege rushes over and tried to scoop her up, but gets accosted by a wraith. Elo runs out anyway with Zege behind her eventually, and they pass Merri (the sorcerers having already vanished) and Merri casts flame-strike, bringing divine burning hell down on this strange fog monster. They all run like mad and pop out of the hole as the mound crumples behind them.

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