I thought I would give everyone a break and take a turn with the adventure log for this week. Happy Easter. Yes, you will still receive XP credit for writing it this week.
The party set off on Sunreign 9 to recover the item of power mentioned in the ancient piece of parchment. After some math and calculations, it was determined that the party would save a day by going cross-country through the forest instead of taking the roads to Alaril and then going back to the town of Dale. The party had one random encounter with a hungry pack of wolves. The wolves were interested in seeing how the party tasted, until Takeo proved that he was the alpha male and was not to be messed with. After a particularly ferocious growl, the wolves disappeared into the night and did not trouble the party again.
When the party arrived in Dale in the late afternoon on Sunreign 12th, the party discovered that their hated enemy Negus Darkhome had returned to town a few days before. He had arrived at night and his wraiths killed four men as they slept, transforming them into wraiths as well. Negus abducted 4 women and 8 children, threatening to kill them all if the townsfolk called for help. He left a message in the town. If the young man that had followed him to Dale returned, they were to direct him to the Garstred farmstead. Negus had spent several days wondering around the swamp. He was frustrated that he could not find the ghost mentioned in the archives in order to dominate it and force it to reveal the item’s location. He was angry that someone else had apparently beaten him to the ghost and probably learned the whereabouts of the item and vanished before he could intercept them. Since Negus was not a skilled woodsman, he could not track down those that had the item. So he hedged his bets, returning to Dale, the only civilization within several days and hoped that when the stranger returned with the item that he would come through town where Negus could confront him.
The party set off after Negus, arriving on the farmstead about an hour before sunset. They found the barn boarded up, and Takeo did his big bad wolf impression on the door. The door was very impressed.
Inside the barn, the party found the women and children huddled against a wall and surrounded by a wraith and its spawn. A brief diplomatic effort took place. Upon discovering the party did not yet have the item that had caused so much trouble, he gave them 24 hours to recover the item and return it to him. Once the item was in hand, he would release his prisoners and disappear. The party whined about 24 hours not being long enough. Negus considered this and agreed. He extended the timeline to 36 hours. The party whined some more.
Former Baron Darkhome lost his patience. He was tired of endless wet bogs, hidden ghosts, irritating peasants, and whining, meddling adventurers. To make his point, he ordered a wraith to kill one of the peasants. The party leaped into action. No more words, only violence.
Takeo cut down Darkhome within about 12 seconds, permanently ending the tenure of the misguided half-elf on my list of recurring villains. Sadly, he did not do so before Darkhome cast a Black Tentacles spell, which captured and started to crush Wren and Caiden. Also, unfortunately, it caught all of the surviving hostages and began crushing them as well.
The wraiths quickly learned that the party was not susceptible to their attacks, so they focused on Simon (who lacked the deathward protection) and the peasants that were being squeezed to death. Caiden used all of the power he could with his bursts of lifegiving energy to delay the inevitable. By the time the tentacles were gone, the wraiths had fled and all of the hostages were dead. This part will probably be edited out of the bardic tale of the exploits of these heroes someday.
Knowing that the wraith was injured and hungry, and was now uncontrolled since Darkhome was killed, the party returned back to town and convinced the townsfolk to camp out in the middle of town where they could be protected. A little after midnight, the wraiths made their move. Pandemonium ensued as the peasants became aware of the attack and scattered everywhere. There was a brief battle, in which the party managed to kill the wounded master wraith before the wraith spawn were eliminated.
This caused an extremely unfortunate and unexpected problem; the wraith spawn instantly became full wraiths the moment their master was slain. Hungry from the damage they had taken, and realizing the party could hurt them and were a little too much trouble at the moment, the wraiths beat a strategic retreat. They split up, each heading after a different band of panicked and fleeing peasants. There were screams from various parts of town as the wraiths sated their hunger to restore their strength (and create more spawn, now that they were full wraiths and could now create spawn of their own). What followed was relatively brief. The wraiths consumed enough people to restore their energy, then fled into the night with their new servitors. The surviving townspeople of Dale were gathered into town square again. Of the 120 citizens of Dale a few days ago, only 96 remained after the wraith attack. The party urged the civilians to leave their homes and flee to the safety of Alaril a day and a half distant. Simon made a noble and gallant gesture, giving the new refugees 4,000 decar to start their new lives. The townsfolk huddled together and wandered down the road towards Alaril in the darkness, herding their animals and packing all of their personal possessions that they could carry.
The party spent the rest of the night in the new ghost town of Dale. No wraiths or other creatures attacked during the rest of the evening. When dawn of the 13th broke over the horizon, the party was faced with decisions. Negus Darkhome was dead. Four wraiths and about 12 wraithspawn now lurked nearby. Caiden and Simon had been injured by the touch of the wraith, draining some of their vitality permanently. The party could press on into the swamps to accomplish their agenda before Darkhome’s failure and death was noted by Rashid. Or the party could return to Alaril to purchase the diamond dust and healing necessary to restore their lost health.
Which path will our intrepid adventurers take? How long until the mob of wraiths gets hungry again? And, come to think of it, where are the original three wraithspawn Darkhome went seeking the item with? Are there yet more free-willed wraiths wandering around the wilderness somewhere? Or were those spawn somehow destroyed before Negus had his wraith create new ones out of slain townsfolk?
Stay tuned for the next exciting installment of When Side Quests Attack.