At long last, the players are ready to embark into the mountains ahead, unsure of what strange things await them within the jagged lands beyond. What dangers will they face? Will their ranks thin? Will some go mad? Will they awaken new horrors upon the land? Only time will tell!
Author’s Note: Due to a handful of things, part 2 was cut very short. As such, I decided to merge the recap with part 3. Stay tuned for more after the jump!
We pick up a day after suiting up and a night of debauchery. Our rag tag soldier team sent to aid the party remains waiting for action, as they venture forth from town. The scenery becomes a drastic change from the sprawling cityscape to a (once) lively forest. Of course, much of it looks off due to discolored water, dying plants and the occasional sickly wildlife. The team found their first conundrum, do they pursue the more flat valleys ahead, with a quicker trip to the downed airship or ascend the cliffs towards the mysterious grey area on their map that is likely the source? They elect to ascend upward rather than push forward. Much to their surprise, they soon realize they’re not alone. A series of footprints descend into a patch of forest ahead, one that pushes against another cliff face to continue the hike.
As the team makes a cautious pace forward with the soldiers, clouds begin to roll in… as if on cue. Not to mention, they feel as though they’re being watched by something. As they keep their wits about them (sort of) while surveying the area, a large bird creature does all it can to stay hidden. This is the character of Bird. Eventually, he gives up and reveals himself while the accompanying soldiers press forward as the team bickers with their new “friend”. As if time became warped, the storm suddenly gets worse as sounds of screaming and explosions break the silence. Everyone stealthily makes their way to edge of the woods, observing an ominous bonfire by a camp.
Upon closer look, one of the guards has been tossed on the pyre-like tower, impaled with strange stakes. The purpatrators are robed men with masks made of sticks, twigs, mud and twine. The cultish characters pay the group no mind as they take part in some strange ritual before sitting in one of their hits, at which point the storm has escalated into a full fledged downpour with cloud-to-ground lightning in the area. As everyone prepares to move in and get the jump on the cultists, other oddities occur. They all hear the sounds of footsteps circling around them as well as detached laughter. As half of them investigate, the others ready a strike on the 3 cultists. The investigators turn up very little, as if the noises were never there. Jev’eng sneaks behind a corner as Delvin grabs the musket loaned to him by the artificer-and-then-jev’eng. Jev’eng turns the corner to see the three cultists slumped over in an uncanny state as barely visible humanoid forms stand in the back overlooking a guard strapped to a chair, barely conscious.
Jev’eng unleashes caltrops, Ha’Shar tries to use psychic magic (which fails) and Delvin unleashes smokepowder fury. Meanwhile, Taliessen and Bird ready from the sidelines while helping from afar. Two of the cultists move to attack while the third one unleashes deadly magic, particularly damage Jev’eng with necrotic corruption. None the less, the crew makes their way inside the eerie hit and do their all to slay the dark devotees. After the last one falls, the bodies continue to twitch as inspection reveals they all look relatively decayed, as if they were animated by necromancy. Jev’eng scours the other huts and finds creepy cult symbols and ritual craft, which he destroys. Taliessen checks the fire, trying to gather whatever information he can; whether from speaking with the dead or observing the eerie grounds. Meanwhile, Delvin aids the soldier who wakes up and begins to have a seizure. Bird, confused, flutters around the hut, noticing a dagger on an altar behind the chair. Everyone meets back in the hut with the bodies, only to see them all flail violently. Even the red-shirt-guard begins to do so, barely able to say “I’m sorry” before strange parasitic lifeforms burst from the three corpses and the guard, ready to feast on their next meals.
A wave of eldritch energy floods the area, as the fight gets really weird! Ha’shar and Bird especially suffer mentally, as their senses blur and everything begins to spin a bit. The party splits the vile beasts between the interior and exterior, as they’re busy trying to carve up those who’ve already taken a beating. Poor Delvin and Ha’shar have the head-leaping beasts try to burrow into them, hacking at them, before both manage to shake them off.
Bird takes a sacrificial dagger, only to be greeted by a divine force. Said force urges him to kill the parasites. Taliessen lures a couple of them towards the bonfire, only for them to use the corpses of the burned as puppets, all according to plan! While this is happening, Jev’eng holds the line and batters down whatever comes his way. Worse yet, the taken corpse used to be one of the guards! Horrifying! The puppeted corpse soon falls before being thrown back into the flame. Meanwhile, Ha’shar is nearly taken over by a parasite before Delvin leaps to aid his fallen comrade, with Bird joining moments later. Meanwhile, Taliessen and Jev’eng do their best to hold the rest of the puppeteers from taking down the team. One by one, the parasitic horrors are worn down, as the team can finally see what they really look like… Their bodies have an almost simian trait to them, while their heads are leech-like… with several small eyes. And on their hands, ghastly massive claws for burrowing. Their frame is decently sized, by lanky, seemingly able to collapse forms as needed.
As the last one is slain, the team deliberates on what to do. A nasty storm still rages, and it’s too dangerous to wander far. However, the land they’re on is likely cursed. Ha’shar conjures a magic hut, while Jev’eng provides space in his tent. Taliessen and Jev’eng swap shifts for watch. Eventually, Taliessen breaks after witnessing a deer struck by lightning. With the poor critter crippled beyond recovery, it’s put out of its misery. Seeing no point in wasting resources, the cleric doggy gets to carving up the deer in one of the huts… all menacingly. Everyone awakens to discover a bloodied sweetgrass and a deer carcass sitting about. After convincing that he didn’t go mad, the rest of the party shrugs it off; pelt, meat and other remains… Also, the dagger is pleased. Everyone presses onward!
Down the way, it’s pretty tranquil until more BANG sounds ring off. Delvin begins to have slight flashbacks, as the team calms him down. Further up, a cultist is stopped dead by the shot… before another parasite prepares to leap out. Another shot causes the beast’s head to explode moments after escaping the body. The killer threatens the team from afar. Most of them try to be a distraction as Jev’eng tries to get the jump on him. This fails, as he’s a prime target while Bird takes off to ready his own attack. He swoops and helps to disarm the babbling madman… who is one of the guards who fled the scene! The older one, in fact! He reveals that they’ve actually been gone for around three days, but they don’t believe him, as he’s uncontrollable angry and violent. After he manages to calm down, he wants to leave back to the kingdom to report failure to aid as well as being unfit to serve. They all agree to return his equipment and let him go. As the team departs to climb the cliff, glowing beings begin to materialize. Before anyone can do anything about it, he’s abducted by the aliens as time freezes around the party. Jev’eng realizes he missed out on sweet equipment.
END OF GAMES 2 & 3!
IMAGE SOURCE: Bonethief – Halycon450