Demons on the prowl and we must make a stand
Black Soul Devil Spawn inhabit this land
The unpure of heart will fall by your hand
Here there be witches, save our
Souls have been lost as the panic grows
Spells cast over blood and broken bones
An evil stronger than we ever known
Here there be witches and all must die
Here there be witches and they must be slain!
Cut off their flesh and they feel no pain
Shackle their hands with sanctified chains
Snip off their tongues before they speak your name
Here there be witches and they must be slain!
-Creature Feature, "Here There Be Witches"
After dealing with a large group of rats, the party returns to camp to sleep off the minor injuries they sustained from the conflict. Sadly, large rats rarely travel alone.
With a new party member, the Jade Cinders are released from their contract with Dimble and now continue to the east. Rats are still a constant annoyance and it will become apparent soon that there is much more to these rodents than first it seemed.
A broken cart's axle has forced the Jade Cinders to pull aside and stall their travel to Galinor. Fortunately for them, a group of Brishtani gypsies had set up camp further up the road and are willing to help. Unfortunately for a certain halfling, this will catapult him back into the spotlight for his past failures.
After a well deserved rest, the Jade Cinders continued on their journey towards Galinor. While the main highways are maintained, the side roads carry their own dangers as the party and refugees would soon discover.
With the temple's lowest chambers cleared of a malicious entity, the party continues forward with the spoils of the burial chambers. Even so, there are more chambers to explore and much more dangerous threats to face.
"How long has it been?" Quent Flintstock expelled a trail of crimson smoke from his ajar mouth as he spoke, despite Dimble's look of protest. "Quite a while. I am beginning to suspect that your shining recommendation of this group was misplaced. I assumed with such extravagant looking bracers they would be a bit less green . . perhaps it would have been better to wait for veterans." Dimble clasps his hands in contemplation and gazed at the hole left by the explosion as he brought his extended index fingers up to his lips. Flintstock sat next to him on the crates provided, feeding the fire with the remaining dry lumber. "Ya gotta have faith in the youngings. Only way they are gonna get stronger is by putting them through the fires. Trust me, I've spent me fair share of time in old ruins of the sort. Cleaning out a rat's nest takes time." "I suppose I will rely on your expertise in this matter. Provided they come back in tact and they were fruitful, I'll owe you that coin." Flintstock chuckled at the mention of their gentleman's bet, taking another long drag from his pipe and exhaling it out into the clear night sky.
The party has accepted the role of caravan guards and dungeon explorers to Gimble, a magistrate to Galinor. While things seem simple at first, other factors would soon arise to complicate things while being compounded by disturbing news.
The party presses on, continuing to seeks out a safe passage to the City of Fey while avoiding those whom have inhospitable intent over them.
"Destramona." Malicious yet beautiful emerald green eyes flashed with a hint of anger as the figure before her in the vapors takes a knee.
"Regarding your previous report on that . . development. It would seem that the men you spoke of have reappeared. They have made contact with Ivalaine and are most likely heading to Galinor. They are also asking of you . . deal with it." Her tongue is sharp and resolute in its intent.
There is but only a moment of pause before the small figure she looks over speaks in a soft echo, "Of course mistress. It will be done."
. . . . . . .
After dismissal of the lesser, her demeanor shifts to one of curiosity, cradling her chin in her pointer and thumb while gently stroking her lower lip.
"My my . . what a fascinating group of individuals. If any survive . . they might grow to be very useful. Especially-"
After the party recovered from their previous brush with death, they could finally get an opportunity to collect some answers. Ivalaine would provide the ritual and the party provided the sacrifice.
While all seemed to be going well and things were finally looking up, other powers watching from afar have decided to introduce themselves. The hero's answers and actions would dictate them either as a minor annoyance or a threat that need to be dealt with.
Fangs and nails
Rip them to pieces
Your breath howling at the rising moon
Head for safety, you are coming soon
Shed your skin
You're rabid with hunger
They're lambs sent to slaughter
Hungry shadows spill across the floors
Run for cover, you stand at their doors
-Hymn to Konfelschor, the God of Moon and Madness
After a restful night of sleep in the "safety" of the witch's hut, Ivalaine and the party discussed what would be their next step. While there was some confusion to what path they should look towards first, the witch of the Jade Mire offered a ritual to unlock latent potential in each of the party members.
Despite just meeting the odd woman, the first one to undergo the trials would be Ayah.
After a well needed rest, the party collected supplies and spoke with the Carthigan Hounds one last time before traveling to the threshold of the Jade Mire.
The party has been warned several times of the dangers within the swamp. Despite these warnings, it is the only true lead that the party can go on and hope that one of the member's dream was a vision and not a terrible nightmare to their doom.
With so much death and destruction in the village of Velth, the adventurers continue to assist the militia and military in their recovery efforts and aid wherever they can.
All the while as they move from the outskirts to the farmlands and back into the village, something does its best to dart out of their view and keep its distance. It bides its time and waits for the perfect moment . . .
Back in the realm of Eagrela, the party stands in the aftermath of the assault on Velth. The once prosperous expanding village now lays in ruins as the injured are cordoned off from the dead and dying. Aggressive burns that blacken and melt the flesh are even prevalent among those caught in the assault.
The adventurers decide they must do what they can to assist the people as well as collect information on their next move.
Resolve to leave takes a backseat to discovering more about the whereabouts of Solus, their former companion, as the group backtracks and re-explores previous rooms. Solus was not located and the party's decisions on interacting with the puzzles and traps of the domain led to several close calls.
Locating a final door, the party escaped one of Ignem's Domains and returned to Eagrela to hopefully complete the quest/favor laid out before them.
Two new heroes have been pulled into Ignem's Domain and things have begun to reach a boiling point. The heat from this place continues to exhaust and assault the party's senses and it feels like it has been forever since the party had felt the cool spring air of Carthigan. With the new found members to the party, the group recollects their thoughts with fresh minds and skills and push on towards their escape.
The rooms seem to be getting hotter as the party progresses, finding more puzzling pieces of lore as they dig deeper in the abandoned domain to the god of fire and creation. Hours pass and discomfort increases both physically and mentally. How much longer can the adventuring party last before the heat or inhabitants of this place wear them down to ash?
With bubbling magma and flames alight in an unknown location, the party continues to search for an exit. The domain has already proven to be deadly as several burns and gashes have befallen the group. Desperate to find somewhere cooler to rest, it's only a matter of time before the heat of this place saps them completely of their strength and vitality.
The masked woman known as Destramona rose to her feet as she watched the vortex of fire engulf the adventurers. There was a moment of pause after the fire had finished its job and died off with a few golden flickers into the night air. With a quick flick of her wrist, she returned the green fire into the small tin lantern but retained grip onto her blade. There she stood quietly, trying to put together what had just happened.
A second figure approached this woman from behind, only giving her a moment to react before she would turn. Quickly, dropping down to her dominant knee, she assumed her submissive role to her superior. With her head bowed forward, her view remained focused into the dirt.
"Results . . .", a sly, silvery male voice would question with a whispering hiss.
"Inconclusive. More testing is needed. The interlopers escaped."
"Not a worry . . . let us pull back for now. Cull out any potential servants for the mass . . . and we will bring this development . . to the mistress."
" ...and so, the curse spread across the plains and brought everything it touched into despair and unbridled pain. The flame's touch swirled its forked tongues over flesh and bones, corroding the empire to its core. Cries of anguish meld into the choir of flames crackling in delight with no opposition to oppose it. The skies alight with a sickly emerald haze that painted into the oranges and crimson sunset. A twilight of chaos and fall of a kingdom was only punctuated by the cackling of evil that overlooked their handiwork in sheer glee."
-scripture discovered in Thelbar Keep