August 18th, 2012
9:30PM – 2:30 AM
Freeday, 28th Goodmonth – 3200 e.c.
With white knuckles they grip their makeshift weapons and stare up the rising causeway towards the keep. The smell of rot, death and decay is almost overwhelming. Biting black flies buzz about and an oily fog clings to the ground.
Until recently, even the thought of approaching within a league of Morlan’s Keep , much less assaulting it was unthinkable. However, the town has run out of options, the missing villagers have not returned and the time for retribution had come.
Life in Dimsdale has always been slow, monotonous and predictable. At least it was until a dozen days ago when the villagers were awakened in the night by beastly howls and hisses. These howls were quickly followed by the terrified screams of several villagers as they were carried off into the night by beastly humanoid shapes. Search parties were formed but quickly dispersed and deemed futile when the beasts were tracked to Morlan’s Keep.
Twice after the initial raid, the beastmen returned to kidnap more villagers. Some of the notable missing villagers included Maristis the reclusive sorcerer living on the edge of town and Vela Kresen the popular mayor’s wife. In desperation, a town meeting was called and the remaining villagers hurried into the town hall.
After much discussion and bolstered by a few mugs of strong farmer’s ale, an angry mob volunteered to take the attack to the enemy and assault the keep at sunup. With a grave meticulousness and a grim demeanor, Mayor Thulan Kresen recorded the names of these brave souls in the town ledger.
Recorded this Earthday the 27th of Goodmonth in the year 3200ec. The following brave souls set their life and honor in defense of Dimsdale:
Talistor Niles – Indentured Servant – Lived through a famine.
Berman Golsh – Herder with his faithful sheep herding dog.
Blindorf – Dwarven Stone Mason
Eddy Felltree – Woodcutter
Dakkon Mar – Gambler
Scalen Weiss – Rope Maker
Jezzan – Astrologer – Conceived on Horseback
Hubrick – Dwarven Blacksmith – His two sons were kidnapped
Narom – Shaman
Lerg – Dwarven Apothecarist
Belven Chorster – Scribe – Raised by Wolves
Arnith Thym – Elven Barrister – Extremely strong
Carmine Teseract – Elvan Sage – Lucky
Gulgus – Orphan – Carries a Rag Doll
Shamus – Slave – Owns a strange looking rock.
— Signed Thulan Kresan – Mayor of Dimsdale
The Vine Horrors
Approaching the keep, the villagers encounter two bodies attached to poles by vines wrapped around and through them. As they approach, the vine horrors drop down from the poles swinging their vine covered arms.
The villagers surround them and reign down blows. Dakkon the Gambler drops the first one with a strike from his club. The horror’s chest explodes in black, mucus covered seeds as the body drops to the causeway.
Hubrick notices something extremely unsettling as the dying vines untangle from it’s fallen host. It is his missing son, Keary, still wearing the short sword and dagger gifted to him by his father. Hubrick falls to his knees in sorrow in the middle of the melee. Blindorf the Dwarven Stone Mason pleads with Hubrick to put his remaining son to rest.
The rest of the party quickly dispatches the remaining horror before it gets a chance to attack with it’s thorny vines. With a sickening thud, the body of the late Alban falls to the ground and gouts of seeds spew forth onto the causeway.
No one is physically wounded, Hubrick steadies himself and vows to destroy whatever is responsible for the horrible death of his sons. The party continues onward up the causeway to the gatehouse of the keep. The portcullis is open and all is silent. The tracks of many animals and humans lead through this gatehouse.
It is decided to scout around the keep and not enter through the gatehouse. Cautiously the mob makes their way around the eastern walls of the castle.
The Sinkhole and Crumbled Wall
Approaching the rear North Eastern corner of the keep they encounter a vast sinkhole. A green tinted mist wafts out of the hole and appears to form tortured faces in swirls that quickly dissipate. As a stone mason, Blindorf warns the party not to get too close for fear of a collapse. The mob continues on past the sinkhole but not before noticing the faint sound of tribal drums emanating from the sinkhole.
The North Western corner of the keep has collapsed and the blocks are stacked down the hillside. The climb is about 30 feet up over the large fallen blocks. Something is not quite right about a few of the stones. They appear to be placed strategically to cause a deadly avalanche if tread upon. Blindorf notices this right away as do the other dwarves and advise everyone to avoid them at all costs. The party carefully scrambles up the rubble avoiding the trapped blocks and enter the courtyard of Morlan’s Keep.
As the last rank of villagers makes their way up into the courtyard, a beastly howl is heard from the gatehouse followed by the deafening gong of a bell. Two fleshy faced, beady eyed humanoids are seen running from the upper level of the gatehouse to the South Eastern tower as the bell’s reverberations die out.
Afterwards, all is quiet and still, a low fog clings to the ground. Approximately 20’ in front of the party is a large well covered in chaotic sigils and runes. It has a timber frame suspending a block & tackle with hook attached. Along the eastern wall of the courtyard is a ruined, burned out building. The tower in the south west corner has a single, stout door.
Belvan Chorster the Elvan Scribe and Arnith Thym the Elvan Barrister search the rubble for large rocks to use as missile weapons. In the process Belvan finds a half buried capstone set into the ground. The large flagstone bears a sigil that Belvan confidently translates as: “Til Life Shall Pass”.
The Well of Chaos
Narom The Shaman investigates the well. As he stares into the abyss of the well he loses all awareness of himself and topples over the edge. At the last second he grabs hold of the lip of the well. Lerg – The Dwarven Apothecarist and Blindorf – The Stone Mason both sprint to the well to save Narom. Lerg gets there first and as he reaches the edge to grab Narom his willpower is overcome by the shear nothingness of the abyss and he topples over the edge. Blindorf reaches out but fails to save his dwarven comrade. Such was the untimely death of Lerg.
Narom manages to pull himself out of the well and collapses in a heap at it’s base. His face is shallow, grey and sunken.
Talistor Niles the Indentured Servant remains at a distance observing and appearing disinterested in the events.
The Charred Chapel
Meanwhile, Shamus the Slave started running for the barred, burned out building immediately after entering the courtyard. As he approaches the structure he sees two massive copper doors intricately carved with demonic faces and devils. The door is barred from the outside by a stout timber. Across the doors in old, red flaking paint is the word “REPENT”.
Shamus lifts the timber and swings open the massive doors. The noon day sun floods through the opening revealing a burned, ruined chapel. At the far wall sits a grotesque frog idol statue. A thick black ichor flows out of it’s tooth lined maw and into a basin below. The ground is littered with burnt timbers. It is clear the fire happened many years ago. There are several items scattered about the ground. Among the fallen timbers are skeletons still clad in chainmail shirts with maces at their sides. A soot covered censer lays on the ground, it’s surface carved with intricate chaos symbols.
As soon as the party enters the chapel, the sounds of a roaring fire and the screams of the burning are heard. Carmine Teseract stays out in the courtyard observing with a detached interest.
Shamus spots a locked iron coffer half buried in the ground. Arnith Thyme the Elven Barrister attempts to use his lock picks to no avail. As is his nature, Blindorf barrels forward and swings at the lock with his hammer. After several blows the lock breaks free and Blindorf reaches in. A cloth marked with chaos runes holds three cones of dark incense. Blindorf casts the blasphemous items upon the ground.
The party leaves the chapel to don the chainmail shirts and equip their new weapons. Blindorf enters the chapel and notices the frog idol’s eyes and teeth are set with gems. Blindorf charges the idol in a fury but stops 10’ away as an intense heat radiates from the statue. It is determined to be an idol to Bobugbubilz the vile chaos god of slimy amphibians, rot and swamps.
After much discussion the villagers decide to leave the idol, incense and censer behind and continue their search for the missing villagers. Jezzan The Astrologer decides to go back and grab the incense and censer but finds it is missing. It was just there a minute ago!
The Battle At The Beast Tower
The villagers surround the door to the tower and find it is locked. Arnith Thym the Elven Barrister possessing prodigious might and two others attempt to force the door open but it will not budge. Berman Golsh the sheep herder swings his flail at the door in a futile show of force. Blindorf “borrows” Eddie Feltree’s handaxe and proceeds to hack the door down in his usual style.
The door is hacked apart and ripped off it’s hinges. Sunlight enters the chamber revealing a horrifying scene. Hides and skins of all varieties cover the floor and walls. A wave of rot and decay rolls out of the tower. A stairway spirals up to the right of the doorway and around the tower. Villagers are hanging by chains along the walls and a half dozen beastmen gather at the rear tower wall, spears in hand, but do not charge.
The beastman are horrifying to behold. Two have cat like features with large split grins sporting needle sharp teeth. One has beady black eyes and a fleshy, mandible-less face dripping black ichor. The far creature is covered in flies and dripping maggots and larvae. One is covered in scales and has a serpent’s head. The final beast is covered in oily feathers and has the head of a deranged owl.
Blindorf bravely charges in, relishing the chance to avenge his fellow villagers. Following him is Berman Golsh. Talister Niles slinks in and hangs back from the melee. Blindorf and Berman fell the snake-headed beast with subsequent attacks.
A savage roar reverberates through the chamber as a 7’ tall beastman jumps down from the stairs above the doorway. It’s head is that of a feral bull, nostrils flaring and horns swinging from side to side it has a banded metal necklace with engraved skulls hanging from it. The bullman strides into battle and swings his double bladed axe in a savage arc at Talister who’s back is turned to the ambush. The axe blow nearly cleaves Talister in two from the shoulder down to his pelvis. Talister Niles’ lifeless body splits away in a bloody heap as the bullbeast charges forward to join his comrades in battle.
The Death of Talister Niles
After witnessing the bullbeast’s ambush, Shamus the Slave and Carmine Teseract The Elvan Sage charge into the tower, weapons ready. Gulgus the orphan tentatively enters and climbs the steps to get to a safe elevation. In a furious attack, Carmine charges forward, dagger raised and stabs the bullman through his wrist. This causes the bullman to drop his mighty axe. While he attempts to retrieve it, Carmine seizes the opportunity and plunges his dagger into the beast’s back with a savage overhead strike. The bullman reels but does not die.
Shamus, on the heels of Teseract, raises his club and brings it down squarely on the bullbeast’s head, killing the mighty champion. A panic rises in the remaining beastman as their champion falls to the ground.
The remaining members of the party charge in and attack. The tower turns into a maelstrom of swinging blades, thrown clubs and stabbing spears. Beastman howl in pain as they are struck. One of the catbeasts goes down. In a panic the remaining catbeast jumps over his fallen companion and plunges his spear at Jezzan The Astrologer. The spear point takes him directly in the chest and emerges gore covered out of his back. The spear is withdrawn and Jezzan crumples to the ground dead.
The Tower Battle Aftermath
The remaining beasts are overwhelmed, outnumbered and unable to flee. One by one they fall at the hands of masons, blacksmiths, scribes, slaves and woodcutters turned savage warriors, hell-bent on vengeance.
The surviving party members recover from the melee and begin to free the captive villagers. Most of the villagers are too weak to fight, however, Drevous the Elvan Navigator is freed and ready to join to group.
Meanwhile, Dakkon The Gambler begins to search the room. Lice and flees scatter as he overturns the decaying hides and fur. About halfway through the search, a grub about 1" long lands onto his arm and burrows into his skin, making it’s way towards his heart. Frantically, Dakkon slices at his arm in an effort to cut out the grub. He finally manages to stab the grub and pull it out of his arm. Blood pours out of the wound. Fortunately, his search was not in vain. Under some of the hides is a hidden alcove containing several loose coins (53sp, 23gp, 2pp), an elven short sword set with emeralds and a green cloak.
The Mystery Goes Deeper
Discussions are had concerning splitting up the coins among the party. There are three unlit torches in sconces ringing the walls. The battle axe of the bullbeast and it’s skull ringed chaos necklace still lay with the mighty fallen beast. The bodies of Talister and Jezzan lay in twisted, bloody heaps, their equipment scattered about them.
The newly freed Drevous has very little memory of his abduction and imprisonment. Any details he recalls are fleeting like those of a nightmare. He has a vague memory of a hooded man with a missing hand. This man commanded his vile beasts to cover the villagers in the furs, skins and hides. He then commanded them to lower them into the well thereby transforming them into the hideous beastmen. The rest of the villagers were led down further into the bowels of the keep.
A lone doorway in the North of the chamber leads to a staircase descending into the darkened depths.