The Nightmare Plague

Hasingstoke's Tale
A mystery revealed

Believe it if you will, but this is not my first visit to the Dreadlands, even if I did not know it at the time. It was years ago when I first saw these shores, although my manner of travel remains a mystery even to this day.

You see, I had the unpleasant task, a few years back, to oversee the expansion of the crypt of House Hasingstoke. An unfortunate necessity as a particularly ghastly pestilence swept the family. The workers, for all their good intent, unwittingly opened a new passage into an ancient vault. The tombs we found there dated back centuries. Some of the cover stones were cracked and crumbling, and an eerie light shone forth from one of the sepulchers. One curious digger leaned in for a clearer look when, with an unnatural suddenness, he began to be pulled into the very stone itself. Instinctively, I grabbed his leg, trying as I might to still his tumble when I, too, felt myself falling.

In the next moment, the laborer and myself were in another place. A circle of ancient stones surrounded us, and the air was damp and chill with night. Scarcely had we come to realize that we were, impossibly, out of doors when we became aware of the beastly eyes around us. Low breaths, akin to growls, issued forth a visible mist outside the circle. My companion, awash with terror, tried to flee and I shouted to stop him, but too late came my warning. The beasts were upon him, tearing at his flesh and consuming him even as he yet lived to see it.

My escape was as improbable as the rest of my story, I assure you. Before my eyes, one of the standing stones around me began to smolder and glow with the same light I had aforeseen in the family crypt. Unthinking, I moved toward it, drawn I suppose by the very unnaturalness of it. I felt compelled, I know not by what force or will, to touch the thing. Almost at the same instant did I feel pulled in two directions. Forward, falling as before into the cold stone and at once rearward, pulled by the jaws of the monstrous creature that had ensnared my leg. My eyes clamped shut with the pain of it all and, when again they were opened I was back where I began, though dazed and bloodied for my part. I ordered the archaic vault sealed with stone and plaster so that no other soul might suffer the fate that I did.

It was weeks before the full implications of my adventure were known. At the full moon next was I, all the gods curse it, transformed in some way, becoming a beast as hideous as the ones that tore my companion to pieces before my eyes. Dimly, I remember wandering the hunting grounds of the Hasingstoke estate, sating my thirst for blood on a great number of stag, which I myself killed with a force of rage.

I confessed my situation to one of the Queen’s wisest advisors, a certain Sir Norville Smedley, during Her Majesty’s next progress through the seven houses. He heard my tale and returned one of his own. From him I learned the meaning of the word “werewolf”, and all the horror that beast brings with it. The stones I had described to him he recognized from lore to be a “Druidic Circle”, and he knew at once that such shrines were common amongst the ancient and superstitious folk of the Dreadlands. Sir Norville pledged to me what aid he could offer, along with his silence.

After consulting many ancient tomes, and locking himself away for many days, Sir Norville presented me with the brooch you see me wear now. Through some combination of magicks, far beyond my ability to comprehend, it stays the horrific transformations. Have no doubt I am quite safe to my company. If you will recall, it was by the light of a full moon that you first made my acquaintance on the docks in Southport. You need have no fear of me.

When I learned that Sir Norville intended to send you to the Dreadlands, the source of the cause my vile state, I asked to serve as escort. It was my hope that I might discover some way to rid myself of this foul curse forevermore.

Lord Markham Hasingstoke, Guardian of the Emerald Order

When Rats Attack!
All roads lead.... back to Morrik mansion.

Rats descended upon the party from the outlying woods; many of them larger than believable. There were such large numbers of them that it was difficult to tell that they were attacking the Vistani first. An epic battle bore on as rat and humanoid alike wrestled in mortal combat with blades and teeth threatening at every turn.

The first rat tampled in and took a chunk out of ‘Susan’. In retaliation, Rabbit tried a sleep spell, but it only got one Vistani man and one rat. Stumble summoned a glowing floating war hammer to fight with him and it struck true…. At least when it struck it was true. Esmire poked them from behind (as per his usual style). Lucien also held true to his nature and took them out from afar. Travillian proved his heroic nature and dove into the midst to save those needing the most help. Hasingstoke ran to the outskirts, and then worked his way inwards. Slowly. Gillian and two Vistani men ran toward the horses. Gillian had the cart horse hooked and reigned in no time and charged the cart toward the battle. The horse did not like this idea and the cart came to a stop just before trampling Stumble and Esmire. Meanwhile the battle wore on.

Rabbit ran to the aid of an old woman, but jumping on a rat’s back. He was flung and bitten and went down. Travillian knocked another rat down and started to make his way towards Rabbit. Stumble, knowing he was our group’s healer, headed over as well and got to Rabbit first. He was able to stabilize the lad, but things did not look good for the small one. Esmier, Lucien, and Hasingstoke finished off the last of the scurrying rat creatures, when several of us noticed a curious figure setting fire to the big tent. Gillian jumped down from her pointless cart-attack and ran toward the source. Travillian and stumble saw it and headed over as well; Travillian towards the tent to check on the Vistani Giant and the crystal ball, Stumble toward the strange rat-man figure that Gillian was trying to corner.

The rat-man was trapped between a flaming cart, Gillian, Stumble’s glowing floating hammer, and Stumble himself. Rat-man swiped his torch at Gillian and tried to set her on fire. She pointed at the torch and a ray of frost flew from her hand at the fire. She missed, but it did hit the flame on the cart behind rat-man and lessened that. Stumble’s floating hammer struck the rat-man true, and he fell. As he lay still, his body morphed back to that of a normal naked man. Stumble thought to himself the only possible conclusion: corruption. Others weren’t so certain.

Gillian ran toward the burning tent with one goal on her mind: the crystal ball.

As she lifted the flap she quickly realized that Travillian was also in the smoke-filled entrapment looking for something. Together they searched the best that they could and found that neither giant woman nor crystal ball were in the burning tent. As they ran out, Gillian realized she was on fire. Stop, drop, and roll would have been effective, but her party members came to her rescue and quickly put her out.

Lucien and Travillian quickly took to scanning the outskirts of the camp for any traces of the vanished giant, or more trouble. Nothing was found. Looking upwards, they saw the frantically whirling swarm of bats begin to move off. They headed eastward, over the elder barrows and deep into the wilds of Barovia beyond.

As the party gathered together again they walked through the carnage: Vistani and rat alike. Rabbit seemed stable for now. Any other serious injuries were being looked at by Stumble. Gillian and a Vistani man gathered the horses and calmed them down.

There were discussions with the Vistani, but everyone was pretty set on clearing the area as soon as possible. Travillian and Stumble talked with the Vistani man and came back to the party saying that we were to take the Vistani’s four horses, and they were going to take our two corrupted ones. The party loaded up in the wagon and on the horses and headed north….. once again toward Morrik Mansion.

Lord Hasingstoke seemed to become more and more uncomfortable as Gillian stared at him. There was some discussion among the group as to the nature of the rat-man who, in death, became fully human. It was pointed out that old tales and songs mentioned something called “were-creatures” that would change from human to animal form under certain circumstances.

“But…”, said Gillian, eyes locked on the noble lord, “No one here would know anything about that, would they Lord Markham?”

The Third Earl of Hasingstoke cast his eyes downward. “Very well,” he sighed. “I shall tell the tale…”

The Vistani
Curses! And stuff...

The decision was made: we would carry on through the night without rest or stopping.

It would be over two hours on the journey toward the Vistani camp. Trivallian navigated as Gillian handled the cart horse. Hasingstoke and Stumble took the other horse. The others rode in the wagon. Early on in the trip Gillian remembered the magic items she’d been trying to read earlier. She handed off the reins to Trivillan and studied the woman’s cloak. It wasn’t long before she was able to decipher it was a Cloak of Resistance (+2). Thinking this garment would be more harm than good on it’s current wearer, she began to untie the woman to remove the cloak and then retie her. Lucien watched menacingly. She offered the cloak up to the group and Rabbit was the most in need of it’s protection. It was much too big, but the bright young bloke took up the challenge and fashioned it to fit him.

Glancing at him reminded Gillian that she also had Halfling armor that had been left by another shriveled body from Morrik Mansion. She studied it and found that it was armor made for Halfling spell casters. Rabbit hesitantly put that on as well.

As the party approached the Vistani camp (they could see the light of the bonfire in the distance and hear the light melody being played), Trivallian struck up his instrument in the same tune. “I know one of them has been following Gillian, but if it’s alright with all of you, I’d like to make first contact” Trivallian offered. The party agreed and steered the cart parallel to the camp on the outside of the brush. Trivallian hopped off the cart and continued playing and humming to the Vistani’s song.

Upon entering the clearing, he was greeted with the music dying down rather abruptly and suspicious looks from all assembled merry-makers. Trivallian, undeterred, finished out the verse and applauded the Vistani’s music. He introducted himself as a traveler who needed help. Then he took off his hat to reveal two horn-like bumps on his head. The Vistani collectively slinked back a few feet and a large man with a work hammer approached Trivallian, with purpose.

“What I mean is that we need help and we’ve come to you for your wisdom…” Trivallian attempted to dig his way out of the potentially sticky situation. “My friends and I have come for your help.”

The Vistani man barked out some words in a language Trivallian did not understand. A little old woman came forth from the large tent and approached Trivallian. She looked at the horns and then said “You come. All come. Come.” In broken-Common. Trivallian walked back toward the woods to gather the rest of the party.

Meanwhile, back at the wagon. After hearing the music stop abruptly, Stumble began his own jaunty dwarven melody. Gillian tried to harmonize, but gave up after the first song as her light ethereal young voice did not seem to mesh very well with his baritone harking. Lucien, always suspicious, drew his arrow and scanned the area around them. Rabbit got curious and hopped off the wagon to disappear into the brush.

Trivallian came back to the wagon to let everyone know we should join the Vistani camp. Gillian started to hide the dreamfaring septer in the back of her bodice, but was advised that it may offend our hosts and cause them to want to steal it more. So she wrapped it up and shoved it deep down into her bag. The bag she kept very close to her the rest of the night. Trivallian gave instruction not to seem too cautious and to try not to offend our hosts. He then almost asked where Rabbit was, but shrugged instead. Lucien made an off-color comment about ‘besides, if we run into trouble, we’ll just kill them all…’ Which caused Rabbit to appear out of no where and pipe in “No, we’re not!”

With that, they drove onward toward the Vistani.

The large man with the hammer greeted the Cart horse. He looked over it’s weird falling out hair and mangled sharp teeth and nodded. He then, to the chagrin of Gillian, who was still holding the reins, unhooked the horse and led it over to be tied up for the night. The others had already hopped out of the cart. Lucien was keeping a close eye on the sick, unconscious woman.

Trivallian introduced the group with flourish. Another old woman came out to join the first. The second old woman asked if the uncouncious woman with our party needed help as well. Trivallian named the woman ‘Susan’, and said that yes, she did need assistance. The first old woman went over to the side of the Vistani camp and marked out an area and chanted and blessed and spat on the area. She then turned to our party and said “You sleep there. In morning you will meet Madame Eva.”

Gillian needed no further prodding. She threw her bag in front of her, and curled up in the center of the area so as to be surrounded by the men she travelled with. The rest hesitantly strolled over to the area. Stumble demanded that watches be set up. He and Lucien took them.

During the night, Gillian, Lucien, and (one other player who I don’t remember which one) had a disturbing dream: they were buried alive in a wooden box, when suddenly the box is ripped open and large glowing red eyes in a pale white face with large fangs is standing right in front of them. Then they wake up. Lucien was the first to wake up with this and shookenly kept it to himself. However Gillian woke up screaming in the morning and shared the disturbing dream with the others.

Upon awakening, the party found the man with the hammer still keeping watch over them as well as several other Vistani milling about the campsite and making breakfast. Our hosts offered us food which we graciously accepted. However, once each of us had woken up enough we began to realize our symptoms had gotten worse. Trivallian’s horns has poked through the skin. Esmire’s skin was turning a reddish color. Rabbit’s hair went white. Gillian’s black nails were more pointed and poking through her gloves….. etc…etc…

The two old women came out of the big tent. They ushered the party toward it. The second old woman told Lucien to leave ‘Susan’ outside with them. Vistani attended to her.

Inside the large tent there were rugs of all shapes and colors. There were throw pillows and two tables. One had a ball-like figure with a cloth draped over it. The other had several cards laid face up upon it and behind that table sat a third old woman. However after a moment the party realized that the table was not small, it was of average size…. The woman however must have stood at least eight feet tall and was mildly spherical in girth. Her haggard voice demanded to know who the leader of the group was. Gillian and Lucien immediantly pointed to Stumble and cleared way for him to walk forward. Surprised, he conceded and stepped toward the table. It was around this time that Gillian noticed that the ball and cloth were glowing that tingly magical glow. So as stumble passed her, she mocked falling into Travillan which allowed her to scoot closer to the magic table. She wasn’t able to study it quite yet, but she did keep an awareness of it.

The old woman told Stumble to pick a few cards. She did some magically looking signals with her hands and then looked up from her table. “You have brought great evil here” she said as she pointed to each of us. Then she told us that help is coming (per Stumble’s prod for assistance from the dream world). She couldn’t tell us when help was coming but that we only had “three days”. She said we should seek the “horse that is not a horse, in the house that is not a house.” Gillian assumed this to be some sort of temple with a symbol of a horse as their holy symbol. The rest of the party was not so sure, and so they all gnawed on that information for a moment.

It quickly became clear that it was time to leave, when some of the party began hearing hissing sounds coming from the table with the ball and cloth on it. Stumble shoo-ed most of the party out, but as Gillian was turning to leave, her new claws got snagged on the cloth that had been covering the ball. This revealed a crystal ball filled with black smoke. Stumble tried to grab Gilli to get her out of the tent, but she shifted the wrong way and ended up falling instead. Stumble’s glare at that moment would have been something to have been frightened of had Gillian not been paying so much attention to the smoke filled ball. For, before Stumble was able to pick the young girl up, she witnessed the same glowing red eyes, pale skin, and fangs that she’d seen in her dream staring up at her from the smoke of the ball. The words “You have failed me.” were all that was spoken before Gillian went into frenzied explanation of how the face was the same from the dream. Lucien overheard the commotion from inside the tent and drew his bow. Rabbit had been checking with the Vistani who were tending to Susan. Esmire and Hasingstoke mulled around outside until further instruction. It was Trivallian who re-entered the tent to try to help Stumble and Gillian. Gillian had seen enough and ran from the tent toward the horses. Trivallian saw the figure in the ball and grabbed the silk from Gillian’s claw to toss it magnificently back over the ball as he ran out of the tent as well.

Trivallian joined Lucien and Gillian as the three of them grabbed the horses to resaddle one and retie the other to the wagon. Rabbit was still musing over the Vistani near Susan. Stumble had exited the large tent as well and was now staring with Hasingstoke, Esmire, and the rest of the Vistani toward the rapidly darkening sky. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of screeching, whirling bats were circling above the camp and, in defiance of their nature, blocking out the noonday sun.

To say that danger was upon us would be quite the understatement….

Morrik Mansion through Search for the Vistani
.....Actually working together for once. Only now it's made us freaks.

After the attack, the party was quite shaken. However it was decided they should carry on through the woods to Morrik Manor in search of their lost Sable.

As they came upon the south east wall, they found two mutilated bodies. Behind those was a wall with large overgrown leafy substances upon which the flowers looked rather odd, almost as if they were moving. Rabbit hopped down and went over to investigate the body parts and noted two black crystal type rocks lying beside them. Stumble, the ever loyal, searched further down for Sable. Gillian followed Stumble. Not too far off (but somewhat difficult to see due to the waning sunlight) they came across two more bodies. One was not so mutilated, but shriveled as if something had sucked the life right out of it. The other was the body of the strange creature that had initially attacked Sable, then disappeared into the trees with him. The monster had been torn in half by some thing that was obviously more vicious and powerful. Beside these bodies was another crystal-like rock but this one was red, and eerily glowing.

Stumble bravely flipped over one of the bodies and to everyone’s horror, the shriveled face of Stable stared back up at him. Gillian gave an affrighted girlish gasp and Stumble filled the rest of the party in on what was happening.

It was time to leave. They decided to bring Sable back with them so Stumble dragged his body over to the cart. Gillian had noted the eerie glow of the red crystal and decided to study it’s meaning. Obviously if it was laying next to Sable, it must give us some answers just as soon as she could figure out how it worked. (She secretly hoped it wasn’t what killed him in the first place.) She picked up the crystal and headed back to the cart to study for a while.

Esmire, filled with a roguish curiosity, came over to investigate the foliage. But as he turned his back he was suddenly struck with a sickening pain in the back of his neck. He began to run in terror of something no one could see. Trivillan, being quick on the uptake and having a keen understanding of terror, ran after him and was able to head him off at the path in the woods. Trivillan noticed a green wiggly thing at the back of Esmire’s neck and without thinking twice quickly grabbed the creature and plucked it from his friend’s skin. Esmire quieted and passed out. Sensing oncoming disaster, Gillian encouraged Rabbit to strike up the wagon and get ready to run. Gillian reached down and helped Stumble heave Sable’s body into the cart and then Stumble ran to help Trivillan with Esmire. Rabbit pulled the wagon around to get closer and Gillian reached down to grab Esmire, but her hands slipped and Esmire’s limp body fell back on Trivillan and Stumble leaving his pack in Gillian’s hand. She threw the pack into the cart (Notice how Hasingstoke was so influential in this particular scenario when everyone else is pulling their weight? Huh. I guess he’s with the horse…. Not to mention Lucien. What was Lucien even doing? Possibly watching the perimeter for any trouble. He has that elfy paranoia going for him.). Stumble and Trivillan man-handled Esmire’s body into the cart and Trivillan jumped in while Stumble hopped on the back of the horse with Hasingstoke.

Along down the path the road broke into two directions, but before the party had time to decide which way, Lucien noted a woman in a black cloak with long white hair. She was singing. None of the party could make sense of this, especially when she turned around and her face was ghostly pale, with white eyes. Suddenly, Trivillan had a disturbing notion that he could recall the tune. She was humming one line over and over again. It was a local children’s song that he had heard in this town. The line went “Merrily, Merrily, Merrily, Merrily…”

Everyone tensed up.

After Stumble determined her to be evil, Lucien shot an arrow into the woman. She wavered for a moment but stood up straight again, with an arrow sticking out of her.

Gillian jumped out of the cart and ran to the woman, trying to pull the cloak from her (it was glowing which told her it was magical). She nearly got a hand on the woman, but was knocked away and she ran back to the cart.

Trivillan took over the reigns as Rabbit decided he’d had enough of this and cast ‘sleep’ on the creepy woman.

The party decided that it was a good idea to bring the woman with us. So they loaded her in the wagon (Esmire had come to by now and was available to help).

The party all agreed that this woman had been taken by: the corruption.

The night was growing dim. Lucien suggested again that the party stop and make camp before anything else could come upon them. He was outnumbered by those who felt it would be safer back in town. So they headed down the road toward the town.

It was not long before they came upon a blue mist that the horses refused to pass through. Lucien fought not to give the ‘I TOLD you so’ face, in his gracefully smug way.

They noticed the blue mist was very farmiliar. Much like the blue mist in which dream creatures had escaped from the barrels back in Ashenport. This did not bode well.

Everyone tensed a little more.

Gillian grabbed the dreamfaring septer from her bag and grabbed a rock from the ground. She approached the blue mist and attempted to capture the essence into the rock. However she was met with merely an icy cold feeling. She put the septer away and scurried back to the wagon. When asked by Stumble what was wrong she replied “That’s not the way to go. It’s cold.”

Curious, Rabbit jumped from the cart and ran into the woods.

The party mulled over potential options. Lucian suggested setting camp. Esmire threw a rock.

From the other side we heard a tiny voice yell “Hey, that almost hit me!” And realized Rabbit was on the other side of the mist. The party questioned if it was safe and Rabbit assured them that it was, if not a little cold though. So Esmire tamed the horses with his magic wand, and then walked through the mist.

On the other side he began to flail around and act very funny.

Not thinking too much more than that, Gillian slapped the rear of the horse leading the wagon. At some point someone had decided to tie the second horse to the back of the wagon, so this meant an entire caravan and the rest of the party (except for Gillian and Lucien who had both jumped off of the wagon) were driven through the mist.

There was a battle between Stumble and Hasingstoke involving a war hammer and some very damaged armor. It was then that Gillian suggested that perhaps she and Lucien should wait until that had subsided before going through, so if they too were caught in this fit of rage that the mist was causing, they wouldn’t add to the chaos. So they waited until Stumble and Hasingstoke duked it out.

Eventually they did enter through the mist.

The party all reloaded onto the wagon and heaed back toward town. Gillian now handled the reins.

As they argued about the plan of action, Esmire suddenly noticed that Gillian’s fingernails were turning an unusual shade of black. He then looked down and noticed an unusually veiny texture on his own skin. In fact, in looking around, each of the party members seemed to be exhibiting unusual transmutive traits.

It seems the corruption has gotten us all.

Suddenly our plan options have slimmed out a little. Gillian suggests requesting help from the Vistani person that had been following her previously. Travillian remembers approximately where the Vistani camp was supposed to be located and offered his help in navigating there.

The party was torn again. Some didn’t want to separate, but the chances of staying together in their freakish state and getting through town without trouble were looking slim. Stumble suggested that we take Sable’s body back to the guardian temple. Gillian had figured out that the crystal was Sable’s heart. Apparently whatever attacked him sucked his life essence out and channeled it into his heart… presumably to be consumed in one tastey bite. However, something slashed it down before it could get to dinner. So Sable’s life essence was resting in Gillian’s small hands.

The party decided on a plan: They would sneak up the side of town directly between the two watch towers, so as not to be seen in the still cover of night, and Stumble would drop Sable’s body off with the guardians. Then they would head back out to the perimiter of town and search for the Vistani camp, who they hoped would help them. There was still the potential danger of the Vistani being a superstitious people.

We hoped they would help anyway…. We were running out of options.

Magicky compendium entry 1

There appears to be magic both magical and not quite so magical in this world. I propose to make a thorough study of both. In this entry, we will examine the effects of blue mist on the living.

Blue mist is encountered in connection with dreamscape phenomenon. It was encountered by your humble author’s adventuring party once before, when they released some large, scary beetley things from wine casks.

In the party’s second confrontation with this so-called “blue mist,” the mist took on a form similar to the auroral borealis, a shimmering curtain that fades into the mist. Horses were frightened by it, and it was identifiably evil, at least according to Stumble, our party’s cleric.

After some deliberaton, curiosity overwhelmed the author, who went to examine close at hand the blue mist. It stretched seemingly indefinitely but had no more width than that of a hair. Taking a deep breath, I passed through the fog and, except for a chill, felt no ill effects.

This of course led to me convincing the party that all was safe.

Dear reader, had all been safe, you would not now be reading this entry, as it would have been nothing but an idle curiosity, a footnote in this compendium.

Esmir walked through firm; being a roguish character, the sort who are of notoriously low self-control, he immediately began to blather and spin around in circles for half a minute. Then the horses were driving through with a slap on the rear. Now things indeed got interesting. First, I caught a horse’s hoof in the stomach and was thrown to the ground. When I lifted my head, I discovered that Stumble, an otherwise goodly and godly Dwarf, was fighting with Lord Poncypants, our protector and benefactor. A mighty blow from the dwarf’s hammer and the clang of sword on plate mail convinced me that swift action was needed to immobilize them, and so I cast Color Spray. However, it appears that Stumble, at least, was still in good control of his mental faculties, for he did little except curse up a storm. Lord Poncypants sat immobile.

The distraction was sufficient time for Trevelan to leap from the cart and dehorse the dwarf, after he managed to bring the lead horse’s fear under control.

Shortly thereafter Gillian, our herbalist, stepped through the mist and began to curse up a storm in Elvish. (The discovery at this stage of her elvishness appeared to cause the young lady some distress but was nothing more than a moment of curiosity and what’s-the-big-dealiality with the rest of us.)

Strange effects, these, indeed, but the most curious bit was yet to come. For we all began to suffer physical defects since our passage through the blue fog. To wit:

personage | effect | cause for concern?
Esmir | prominent veins on forarm | none; long sleeves are in fashion
Gillian | black fingernails | little except in polite company; gloves may be worn
Trevelan | horn nubbins | little except when indoors; the bard wears a hat
Lucien | lost nose | great; a mask might hide the physical effects but is equally a cause for concern!
Rabbit | whitened eyes | possibly; appears to be blind

I developed a scheme to melt some of the colored powder I use in my color spray illusions to fashion some rose-tinted glasses to hide the nature of my eyes until we found a cure for the corruption.

As of this writing, we do not yet know completely the effects of the blue fog or whether they are reversible. We are seeking the guidance of some mystics who have set up camp near town.

Bits and Pieces
From what I remember... please add!

So after everyone was healed and equipped, Travillian (Dave’s character, butchered name spelling) and Gillian went off to secure horses and a cart so that we could travel faster. We ended up with three horses, Thunderbolt (Gillian’s), Lightfoote (Esmier’s), and Warhammer or something sparkly (Travillian’s). And a cart where the rest of the party rode.

However, before we left, we went to speak to Lady Sheila Eldoran at her house. It was believed that she was the daughter of Lord Kyran Eldoran, business rival of Lord Morrick. Lord Eldoran may have used the occaision of Morrick’s daughter’s wedding to somehow cause this corrosive sickness. The party split in half. One part stayed behind at the tavern to wait for the horses, while the other part went to question the lady. Trivallin had a plan and asked for Stumble & Gillian to play along. But, before the lady answered the door, Gillian was distracted by a figure dressed in strange clothes that was watching them. Gillian had seen this same figure twice before. The most recent time was just the night before where the figure made a narrow escape through some trees. So Gillian decided to sneak up behind the figure by going around the other side of the house. The figure got away… again.

Meanwhile, back at the house, Trivillan convinced the lady that he was there to help her. And THEN, when she asked which Noble House sent him, he gave a name of one of the seven, “Von Zarovich”. She reacted abruptly, “Leave here. My father should never have had dealings with that evil Count!”, and shut the door. This caused the party to believe that Noble House was indeed part of a plot against this woman.

With that knowledge, Trivillan, Stumble and Gillian rejoined those waiting for the horses and the group began their journey. Stumble had consulted with a local cleric who, through the use of sacred rituals, determined that Sable might be found near the southeast wall of the Morrick mansion grounds.

Anyhow… ON THE ROAD! Spears began being hurled at the party. One went through Gillian’s horse and she was dismounted. Her horse ran off. One grazed Esmire’s horse (he may have voluntarily dismounted and ran off to fight the beasties, I don’t remember). His horse ran off too I think. Everyone was in a tizzy cause it was hard to see the giant things hurling sharp pointies.

But we defeated them! (I remember that we won.)

and now we’re all like “dude… wtf… that was creepy. But then again, what’s new.” but trudging on ahead.

Night at the Tavern
A glimpse through Gillian's eyes

She sat across the table, staring down this new addition to their party. Gillian was never one for being rude, but there was something in her that just didn’t trust him. That didn’t stop her from liking this feeling, but still!

She sipped at her mead as she stared leerily. The stranger looked over and caught her eye and then smiled at her. This caught her off guard and she found herself smiling in return. Then she remembered herself and the smile turned into a forced scowl…

So much had happened in the past few days that it felt good to be sitting in a safe tavern surrounded by people. In the morning the party would continue their adventures to rescue their ordained leader, Sable, from the clutches of a very angry clawed green monster from the trees. For now, it was their duty to rest and conserve their strength.

The gentleman who had recently joined our ragged band of travelers had been performing in the tavern as the party arrived. Stumble was the first to notice the large emerald ring he wore and the dwarf waved the man over. We’d been informed that this newcomer was sent by Norville Smedley on a quest to find strings to a magical harp. However, the lackluster lad had yet to make progress in that venue and decided to take up safety in our larger numbers.

Around the table that night, the travelers retold stories of their recent adventures. The most recent involved a band of ghostly pale humanoid creatures who seemed to plague the forest outside of this current city. As the party rehashed the tragic loss of Sable in battle, the bard then stood and shared, quite charmingly, the tale of “the corruption.” The root of which could be dated back to about six months prior, just before the plague of dreams begun to haunt them.

Weary and worn down, and still not all in the tip of health, the party bunkered down in a local tavern for the night. In the morning they would once again begin their adventures after regrouping supplies and paying another visit to the two temples located in the Village for healing and information.

Gillian had finished helping Stumble off with his armor and then found her way to her own bed. Sleep was not a welcome function to the young woman anymore. She longed for a time where the simple act of closing her eyes didn’t frighten her. But she was getting better and more skilled at controlling herself in both this world and the dream world. Besides, now she had friends in both.

And she drifted off to sleep, she thought about each of the members that made up her party. She was grateful for their company, no matter how tense and difficult traveling together seemed to get. Traveling through this life is difficult enough without knowing that the nightmares are real and coming for you. This was a journey no one should have to take alone.

She promised herself that she would find Sable soon. If he was still alive, he would be all alone. That was a thought she couldn’t bear.

She forced her eyes closed and thought of tomorrow.

Deeper into the caves

With the goblins cleared from the cave, the party cleared the blocked passageway into the unworked section of the cave. The sickening smell of vermin wafted up. After they lit their torches and lanterns, they moved cautiously ahead until they came to a four-way intersection. Gillian pulled out her familiar (who’s been with her the whole time!) and sent the friendly rodent down the left passageway . . . only to discover that it went pretty endlessly into the bowels of the earth.

So they set off down the middle, feeling their way along the rough watery walls, until they turned a corner and spotted some large egg sacs.

The party pondered what to do about this and eventually settled on burning the sacs, which of course released a huge swarm of fully hatched and dangerous spiders, heaven knows why they were still trapped in the egg sacs or why they didn’t burn up when the egg sacs were lit. (Brian, feel free to edit out my sarcasm here!) (Of course, the party was probably getting off easy considering that apparently insects burn like charcoal.)

The spiders began nipping at the paladin, and when Gillian tried to help, she got caught in swarms, too, which made her feel a little sick. Fortunately, the brave cleric of Moradin summoned a Great Farting Beetle With a Bad Case of Acid Reflux, which sprayed the spiders with acid out of its rear. Meanwhile, our leader and Gillian continued sticking their torches in the faces of their hundreds of enemies.

When Gillian and Sable repositioned themselves around the corner, Rabbit found he wasn’t terribly useful against spiders except as bait, but fortunately he got out with just throwing up a little bit and wasn’t bitten. Sable picked him up and tossed him away from the swarm, and a second beetle came down from the heavens to mark its territory all over their multilegged butts.

With the swarms dispatched, the party explored the cave further, finally coming to a massive pit. Gillian cast Light on a rock and threw it across the pit, and it stuck in what turned out to be a web strung as far up and down as the eye could see. Lucien didn’t really want anything to do with it and manufactured a fire arrow, which burned the web. A few moments later, and black bundle fell past where the party stood.

After a few moments, Gillian lit another rock and dropped it into the pit. They counted one . . . two . . . OMG A BILLION EYES . . . four . . .

and prepared for battle with the massive spider.

Summary- Bulleted Version

So much has happened since our last posted adventure:
• The party entered the Goblin cave under a cloud of obscuring mist and darkness.
o They ran into several more large wolf-dogs that were locked behind a cage.
o They came upon three drunk goblins on a cliff, killed them and then stole their weapons.
o Esmir, under the fantastically creative guise of being a savior of sorts to the goblins, persuaded them to act civilly enough for the rest of the party to make their way through the beautifully dwarven-carved entrance door
• The party entered the large entrance door:
o A hallway led three directions
o To the left hallway, there was a large, ornate door up the hallway. The party found this to be an abandoned and desecrated temple of Moradin. Stumble vowed to restore the temple just as soon as the party had rid the space of Noaak.
* Here the party also found a spring of water that had healing powers, and several stocked up hoping this effect would last. (It did not)
* Also, by happenstance, they found a latch in the altar which opened to an empty case which appeared to hold both a sword and a helmet. The goblin slayer and the goblin king.
o Further down the hallway, there was a barricade littered with bodily fluids and torn fragments of cloth and stone. In goblin was a sign that said something along the lines of ‘DO NOT ENTER. EVER.’ The party believed that there is an arachnid-like creature hidden behind this barricade. They left the scene for the moment, but some wanted to explore later.
o When they went right, they were confronted by a giagantic goblin-like creature in his sleeping quarters. Some quick sword strokes, grappling and spellcating later, the creature lay dead.
• Having explored the lengths of both hallways to the right and left, The party continued what would have originally been ‘straight forward’ from the main entrance door:
o To the right, a closed door appeared to have several voices coming from the other side. Lucian heard those voices, decided it could be a potential threat, and jammed the locking mechanism so that no one could get in or out.
o At the end of the hallway, there was another door.
o Before that, there was another door so the left that contained one goblin who seemed to be cooking. Some of the party members checked out this room and found it to contain a pantry and a storage area, and one very confused looking goblin
• Going through the door at the end of the hallway:
o The party found 4 goblines sitting around a table. One of which happened to be wearing a helmet/crown type thing that looked about the size and shape of what would have fit in the altar back in the Temple of Moradin.
o A battle broke out and three of the 4 goblins were killed. The last one, the ‘Goblin king’ was named Darax. Stumble, Sable, and Gillian wrestled him as peacefully as possible to the ground. Stumble took his helmet as rightful dwarven property.
• Several members of the party searched the rest of the room. It seemed a normal bedchamber except for the door at the other side.
o There was a brief encounter between Gillian and Sable at the door while everyone was searching the room and trying to find useful clues. This ended in Gillian opening the door.
• The door opened to a stone staircase leading down into the darkness.
o After a quick jumble of haphazard plans of action, The party grabbed Darax and kicked him down the staircase (afterall, that’s who the voice was asking for)
o Rabbit sent lights out into the darkness to see what was there.
o Something large was flying around very quickly.
o Lucien, stumble, Sable, and Rabbit walked into the open expanse of space, while Esmir and Gillian creptd around a corner, where two tied and bound prisoners were chained to the ground.
• “The Battle of Noaak”
o Rabbit’s dancing lights proved incredibly valuable in the battle of the mysterious monster.
o Stumble, Lucian, and Sable seemed to take the brunt of the attacks while Esmier and Hasingstoke freed the prisoners.
o Rabbit and Gillian, however, stayed clear of battle as much as they could and searched for the dream-faring scepter
• The scepter:
o In a pile of gold toward the back, Gillian and Rabbit found the scepter.
o Noaak noticed.
o Gillian claimed that men do not know how to use the scepter, only women do. (meanwhile, she had grabbed a chage-purse in her left hand.) She convinced Noack that should could show her how the scepter worked, she just needed to touch her hand.
o The monster was trapped in the change-purse and Gillian forced herself to sleep, clutching the change-purse and the scepter.
• Meanwhile:
o After the monster disappeared, Esmir led the dividing of the gold.
o Hasingstoke presented the two prisionsers: the female owner of the Good Sellers business, and her personal body guard.
o Several items were in the pile of gold which were also divided between the party.
• Aftermath:
o Stumble convinced the party to go back to the temple and replace the helmet and sword (where they rightfully belong)
o On the way back:
* Some of the party decided that it would be best to ‘free’ the goblins trapped in the door that Lucian had previously jammed. With a combination of ripping the hinges off of the door, Stumble wearing the Goblin King helmet, and Esmir’s amazing diplomatic skills all of the Goblins were freed and left the cave.
o At the temple:
* Gillian and Stumble placed the sword and helmet in the altar.
* This opened another part of the altar which contained several religious items and a very shiny set of armor, fit for a dwarf. Stumble shed his armor and got suited up in the new stuff.
* The party rested for the night, several had important dreams
• ‘Sable- Knight of the Emerald Order’
o When Gillian awoke, she had a message in her hand for Hasingstoke. Hasingstoke opened the scroll and it was from Queen Catharine marking Sable a Knight in the Emerald Order and defacto leader of this party.
• As the party was about to leave, several were reminded of the large arachnid-like creature behind the barrier. Sable had almost been convinced to leave, however he realized that leaving the creature alive would mean whomever we sent back to this cave would be sent into immediate danger.

The party moved onward toward the barrier. It was destined to be another long day.

Into the Goblins' lair
. . . and out again . . . ?

After a brief but hopefully nonserious discussion about leaving Gillian to her fate, the party charged in after her . . . only to come to the anticlimactic realization that the large carvern into which they stumbled throgh the mist was silent and did not appear to contain any danger.

The party set up some dancing lights and lit their lanterns, ever watchful for the least sign of danger . . . which Stumble found in the form of three alert, but caged, worgs at the southwest end of the cavern. The creatures seemed content to let the party go about their business without disturbance for the time being.

Meanwhile, during an investigation of the east end, Rabbit and Gillian discovered three sleeping watch goblins. Gillian, Esmir, and Lucien “incapacitated” the goblins as quickly as possible just as one was waking up from his drunken slumber.

Emboldened by their success, the party crept closer to the bearhide curtain covering the doorway deeper into the caverns. Esmir scrambled up the slippery ramp and listened at the door: There were some goblins on the other side, but they did not seem to be aware of the party’s presence.

Esmir pulled himself up to his full height, screwed his courage to the sticking place, and walked through the curtain. Using bits of the overheard conversation to advantage, he declared: “I’m an agent of ‘The Hand’ sent to save you from Noaak!”

The party listened briefly to a conversation (not a fight!) in Goblinygook, and then got a little impatient with the proceedings and rushed through the curtain, weapons drawn, to find three very scared goblins who’d been disturbed in the middle of a card game. After a surprisingly inept attempt by some members of the party to skewer said goblins, Rabbit managed to convince the party that the goblins weren’t a threat at the moment, and Esmir told them to get lost, which they did.

A huge door of Dwarven manufacture made the party even more curious about the goblin tribe (and one particular member of the party feeling very vengeful!). They made their way down the corridor, checking as they advanced for sneaky goblin traps

. . . and soon came to a desecrated dwarven temple.

Stumble was understandably a bit upset by this.

The party tidied up just a little bit, and in doing so found two interesting things: A ruined healing fountain under a broken statue, and a secret drawer in the altar that looked to hold a sword—almost certainly the one Gillian was carrying, and perhaps a helmet or crown.

Across the hall, meanwhile, Gillian, Esmir and Lucien had discovered a trap on a door the hard way. The healing fountain came in handy for this.

Down the same corridor, where the workmanship got rougher and rougher until it was natural cavern again, was a pile of rubble with a dangerous buggy smell beyond. The party declined to investigate this further, heading back up the passageway and straight to the door of a mutated, huge goblinoid that was very unhappy to see them. It hefted two huge axes, but some quick thinking from the party with grapples and a grease spell disarmed and restrained the creature. Dispatching him from there was, in the end, not difficult.

The party made its way deeper into the caverns, discovering the kitchen (more paprika!), and what appeared to be the barracks—And Lucien jammed the lock on the door to keep the numerous goblins in their place.

Finally our adventurers came to the last door in the caverns, behind which they knew they would find the goblin’s commanders. They prepared themselves, readied spells, and kicked open the door, arrows and spells flying, charged into battle, and made short work of the flower of goblin foot soldiery (which granted wasn’t very sophisticated). The goblin chief happened to be wearing a very nice helm of dwarven manufacture, which read “Goblin King.” This was without a doubt the helm to match the sword’s place in the dwarven altar. They tied up their captive chief and tossed him down the stairs into Noaak’s chamber.

Then the creature spoke in a frightening voice, cowering a few of the less hardy party members. But our heroes were not to be deterred. They walked down the steps into the creature’s lair.

Noaak, they discovered quickly, was a huge winged shadowy creature that looked like someone’s erotic dream gone horribly, horribly wrong. A beautiful woman’s body, but with the head and wings of some gigantic demon, it swung an axe as big as Sable and nearly took his arm off as he made his way into the cavern.

While the party’s strongest fighters confronted this horrible creature, Gillian and Rabbit snuck past(employing some magical distractions along the way) and found a pile of loot that no doubt came from the sacked caravan the party was searching for. They began tearing through the pile.

Meanwhile, the fighters were taking apart Noaak piece by piece, but the creature’s flight and exceptional strength, coupled with a fearful presence, made their success less than certain. Bringing to bear all their skill, though, they greatly wounded the creature, which retreated momentarily into the darkness above.

At this moment, Rabbit at last laid his hands on the scepter the party sought. He glanced back and forth between the monster, the scepter, and Gillian and quickly decided to hand the artifact over to the “herbalist”. Holding the scepter out in front of her, she called to the dream monster and declared that she could show “her” how to use it.

The monster was intrigued, and for the moment, the party seemed safe from further combat. It reached out its hand toward the scepter . . .

And Gillian trapped it inside a vessel, in this case a random coin purse that Gillian had. Rabbit cast sleep on Gillian to send her to the dreamscape, where she left the creature. The danger was passed.

Now the party was free to ransack the massive haul from the caravans: hundreds of gold pieces, some magic items, and other supplies. The party split some of the treasure but intend to send the rest back to town with the human captives.

Stumble reclaimed the Dwarven crown from the lead goblin and used it, along with some intimidation from his companions, to convince the rest of the goblin population to abandon the Dwarven compund that they had taken for their own.

Finding himself a bit stronger and more confident in his abilities, Stumble decided to give the Consecrate ritual a go in the temple, and found that he was able to cast it, Moradin be blessed. After a brief contest of wills, the goblin slaying sword and controlling crown were returned to the altar. When they were in place, Gillian heard a click and discovered another compartment below the altar. A beautiful suit of Dwarven armor, a mithral holy symbol, and a journal were discovered. The book detailed the how the Dwarfs who built this place had discovered an “evil from below”.

During the night, Gillian recieved a scroll from Queen Catharine in her dreams. The scroll was a Royal Decree to Lord Hasingstoke, instructing the noble to grant Knighthood upon Sable, creating him the leader of the Emerald Order.

The party again discussed checking out the rough buggy passageway beyond the temple . . . which might be necessary if they decided to maintain the caverns as a base of operation.


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