The cool scent of pine wisped up the slumbering knight's nose, as he found himself suddenly awakened by the cool night air. The last thing Sir Gerigold remembered was the sweet sleep and embrace after a night of passion with the beautiful Zanthie, a maiden of much beauty and charm he had but met earlier that fine day, not far from his home near Elturgard.
As he blinked open his eyes, his vision greyed from the darkness, he found himself fully clothed and suited in his chain mail lying on the forest floor. His weapon at his side, along with the presence of four other strangers. All with looks of complete confusion and bemusement upon their face. A few shouts flew out as the strangers all threw accusations at each other, readying their weapons for battle. Meanwhile, Gerigold looked around to survey his surroundings and saw a signposted trail leading off in two directions. After a brief exchange with the others, and a defusing of tensions, they realised they were all in the same predicament. Gerigold wandered over to the signpost, spotting that only one direction on the post had any lettering still intact. The post showed Rennet Manor, half a mile hence way to the leftmost path.
After the party of five, all of which were completely unknown to each other had discussed the situation for a few moments. They decided as one to head towards Rennet manor, and as they travelled down the wooded path they came to a home nestled in among the trees.
The Party Consisted of:
Sir Gerigold - A Male Half-Elven Paladin of The Morninglord (played by Paul)
Hazard Darkstar - A Male Human Fighter (played by Alexander)
Greynen Falstaer - A Male Half-Elven Warlock (played by Mark)
Morgaen Nightbreeze - A Female Half-Elven Bard (played by Imogen)
Ragnar son of Bjorn - A Male Human Cleric of Odinson (played by Alex)
Upon knocking on the front door, the group was greeted by an older gentleman by the name of Baron Henrich Rennet. He graciously took the party into his home as they recounted their sudden arrival in the woods. As Sir Gerigold asked questions of the Baron as to what land this was, it became quickly clear that this was not Faerun. The closest town to the East was called Tenbrim and the region was called New Salamniar. Sadly for the party, Henrich had no idea what could have possibly transported them all from their beds to the middle of the woods in the dead of night. Though many suspected the foul play of dark magic was at work.
The baron graciously provided an evening meal and lodgings for the night as he began to express his concern over his wife who had just recently gone missing. She was attending a local party held at the residence of Libran Moldavia (Moldavia Manor). But she was overdue from returning by three days now. As the host had been so gracious to assist the group, they all agreed to go to visit the Manor in search of Eleanor the Baron's wife. Libran manor lied directly to the east, on the path to the closest town so it seemed logical to all this was the best course of action, as perhaps they may find answers to the sudden transportation to this strange land. The baron gave as many details as he could of Count Libran, puzzling that he didn't seem particularly upset over his father's recent death and hosting a party so soon after the tragic event. They all settled in for the night in the baron's home, having been offer a room each to board in. The only request the baron made was that no one enters the room at the end of the hallway. During the night Sir Gerigold took advantage of the outhouse to wash off the sweat from the night before, still clinging to his skin. Meanwhile, Greynen decided to take a peek behind the closed door so interestingly requested to remain shut by the baron. Upon opening the warlock found a crib for an infant lying empty and in light of what was probably a sad tale of the baron losing his child, chose to close the door quickly behind him and return to his room.
The next morning, fully refreshed the party had a warming breakfast and further surprise as baron Rennet offered them each a horse on loan to help them reach Moldavia Manor that evening. Graciously they accepted and began the ride throughout the day in search of Eleanor. Noticing that the forest was much like those in Faerun, and all was normal, with the birds chirping away in the trees. As the group approached the Manor they noticed it looked far more dilapidated than they would imagine it should for having hosted a party a few days prior. With a bit more caution this time, Morgaen circled quickly around and found some lights were still on around the back but they decided to be upfront and knock on the door.
The moment they knocked on the door Sir Gerigold clutched his heart, as he found it pounding unusually within his chest. Not one accustomed to feeling fear, something he had long worked on overcoming in his battles of the past and high pressured negotiations, he was shocked that his chest refused to relent despite taking long deep breaths. Putting this to the side as best he could they all entered the strange manor after Hazard opened the door as there had been a few minutes of silence since announcing themselves. They arrived in a hallway with two half suits of armour, on excellent display at either end of the hallway. Seeing nothing further amiss they pressed onwards into the main dining room.
They were greeted with a room looking like that of a party gone wild, but with bodies slumped in the corners and several doors off to nearby rooms closed shut. Closest to the door was a body slumped over a table with a bottle still in hand. Sir Gerigold went to touch the collapsed man, to see what befell him and lead to his demise, only to be startled by a drunkard who immediately woke from his slumber. The man went by the name of Montressa Wend The Third Esquire and was still clutching the mostly empty bottle of his own brewed wine. The group went on to question Montressa but as to be expected from a deeply intoxicated man he was almost clueless about what had gone on. It was only when Hazard went over to one of the doorways did the strangest thing happen. The bodies of the dead began to rise once more!
Five of the dead aristocratic guests rose up from the ground in tandem, with glowing red eyes and sharp claws when fingers once were. Hazard was first into the fight cornering four at once with a swipe of his blade that could only have been possible with the assistance of magic, as it swung through four enemies at once. However, the victory was short-lived as the creature closest to him swung with such a heavy blow it felled the warrior in one strike. The others, who are less accustomed to close-quarter fighting fire streams of eldrich energy and crossbow bolts into the dead as Sir Gerigold stepped forward. With a mighty blow from his two-handed maul, he downed one of the fiends and swung at his next nearest creature above Hazard body striking it on the side cleanly. The tolls of the dead rang out as the clerics holy magic caused one more of the creatures to fall. But as Sir Gerigold held the line he was felled by two of the dead claws ripping into him with great ferocity.
The battle raged on as Gerigold and Hazard lay on the ground close to death. With more missiles flying from the remainder of the party. Then stepping up to the aristocrat closest to the group Ragnar swung his mace and smashed one of the creatures back with a mighty blow of his own. Each time one of the dead nobility hit Ragnar a bolt of thunderous energy struck out to them, knocking the dead back to their place on the ground. The foray ended when the final ghoulish being struck out at Ragnar, knocking him cold to the ground, but as he did so the fury of Odinson ran out once more smiting the dead.
With such a long battle, and no one left able to heal the downed members of the party, all that could be done was to staunch their bleeding and wait for them to naturally recover. Finally, after several hours Gerigold and the others regained consciousness. Deciding to rest further to recover their stamina back. Hazard was eager to knock down the other doors but the party managed to convince him otherwise until the group was back on its feet once more. Ragnar confronted Montressa Wend The Third Esquire as to why he didn't warn them or help in the fight, but he was far too sozzled on alcohol to do much of anything. Out of frustration, he tried to take his bottle away, but the esquire had a vice-like grip, all until the cleric unceremoniously punched him in the face, twice, knocking him cold. Testing a little of the wine as he was a man accustomed to heavy drinking as well.
Meanwhile, Morgaen scanned the area for magic and discovered a small trace of magic coming from the westernmost room. Once everyone was feeling well enough to continue Hazard kicked down the door to the west room to discover a library. A book lay open on the table called "Tamalain and other poems", which contained tales and poems of sorts they had not heard off. At the same time, Sir Gerigold focused on the bodies of the dead, investigating them to determine what might have caused these bodies to rise. He found a wound on each of the dead nobilities necks, comprised of many layers of teeth, not just an ordinary bite it would seem.
In the room, the group discovered a brass disk with strange swirl text, which was left to one side. Meanwhile, a dagger with a bone shaft caught the attention of Ragnar. But as he clasped hold of the dagger his eyes turned a milky white colour and glazed over. Everyone stood back in shock at the sight and tried to tell the cleric, but he was so bemused by what he saw he paid little attention at first. His vision changed from a darkened room to one with hues of grey, and as he looked into the dimly lit corner he found he could still see. Somehow this dagger had imbued him with vision akin to that of the elves. After a few moments, the holy man reluctantly put down the dagger but stowed it in his backpack.
Turning next to the disk Morgaen picked up the brass object, with Gerigold alongside as they watched the strange text shifting and moving, never stopping to make a word or form anything of any coherence. As soon as Morgaen touched the disk with her bare skin the whole group of them had a vision of a distant land, with a knight returning home to his keep. He had been awoken and sent on a mission to attend a meeting in a council of some kind as was coming home when a women walked up and approached him as he began to dismount his horse, clearly eying the knight with some affection. She spoke softly to him "It's been lonely in Knighthund in your absence", and with that, the vision faded. Sir Gerigold blinked his eyes a moment, trying to recall any details of the order this knight belonged to and the location called Knighthund, but nothing came to his mind.
As the group all gathered their senses once more Hazard approached the rear most door to the main room and opened it. There sitting behind a desk with his head clutched in his hands was the Count himself, Libran Moldavia. To his side was a gaping hole in the floor leading down to some kind of dark cellar below, with a few barrels visible at the edges of the light. The count seemed somewhat maddened as they began to discuss what was happening in the manor, and what evil had befallen the place. He often referred to looking into the darkness but recounted and recalled when pressed. Gerigold used his well-defined skills of persuasion to calm the troubled count down, with Greynen's assistance.
They began to calmly tease more information from him. Libran spoke of worms, devouring the world and coming for our hearts. He proclaimed he could hear his heart beating strongly. Gerigold interjected as he could still hear the pounding of his heart strongly within his chest, telling the count he has felt this beating too. The count continued on talking of yellow mists and that the worms left alone those that could hear the calling, the pounding in their core. He went on to proclaim his father a bastard and that he deserved to die. Gerigold could tell this was the confessions of a murderer. Pressing him on for more answers, the count finally relinquished the truth that his father had an accident, and he had pushed him down the stairs to end his life, to end his evil tyranny, and he didn't regret it. The group left the broken man to sob away to himself as they carried on the search for the Baron's wife. Thinking the next step may be to descend into the dark cellar below.
Breaking down the door to the final room leading off the dining area they found the kitchen with another dead body lying on the dusty floor by the pantry door. But this time the body never rose from the ground, and the group began to search the whole area. Sir Gerigold went back into the library to search and as he checked the other books upon the library shelf, he came across one that was fixed to the shelf and as he pulled upon it, a hidden area appeared with a staircase leading downwards into darkness. The adventuring party assembled together ready for what lie in wait.
Having found the secret entrance to the cellar below, both Hazard and Sir Gerigold walked down first with Ragnar clutching the dagger at first to see in the dark, but realising he couldn't wield his mace and shield he thought better of it as Greynen lit a torch at the rear of the group. They slowly descended down the stairs into the gloomy cellar, making out barrels of mead haphazardly placed around the walls. Slumped against the mead were the bodies of the dead party goers. Aristocratic nobility of all kinds reduced to little more than a dead husk. As the light spilt further inwards the gloomy outline of two large multi-fanged worms came into view, feasting on the bodies that lay on the damp floor. When they sensed the intruders they began their charge forwards towards them, with Sir Gerigold leading the charge, yet something strange happened. Just as the crazed count had mentioned the worms completely ignored him as they rushed past him into the party. He recalled the count's words that the worms ignored those that could hear the call of their beating hearts, and Gerigolds was still pounding in his chest.
Crashing forward to land a mighty blow Ragnar and Hazard struck at the lead worm. While Greynen and Morgaeon pelted the rearmost with ranged attacks. Many of the shots went astray as the first worm approached Ragnar and engulfed him whole. As before with his clerical might, a thunderous boom rang out into the cellar deep from within the creature, as it burst apart and exploded releasing the stunned holy man in a deluge of Ichor and gore. With the creatures ignoring Gerigold completely he was able to perform a bashful manoeuvre behind the remaining worm and deliver a crippling blow to it. The whole group worked as a well-oiled team as they took the final worm down, with a deluge of blows and missiles.
Leaving the cellar once again quiet with the bodies of the guests behind, Sir Gerigold began to check them to see if any matched the description of Eleanor, the baron's wife. To his sadness, he did find a woman matching her appearance with curly black hair, and he began to say a prayer to Lathander the Morninglord, over her body. Meanwhile the other checked out the bodies of the other dead and found many items of jewellery that they decided to keep, figuring the dead had no need for them anymore. Sir Gerigold carried the body of Eleanor upstairs into the main dining room. Just as the group noticed the weather outside had changed dramatically and suddenly.
Through the open door, they spied a riderless horse galloped off into the woodland. With care, Gerigold lay the barons wife on the ground and raced outside into the storm to see what was happening. In the gusting winds and the storm, he saw a knight clutching his throat fall to the floor at the base of a tree.
Rushing over to see if he could save him in time the knight, dressed in full plate armour, held up his hand to stop him. As he did so he spoke, "Stop The Dark Lord". Gerigold reached for him to lay his hands upon him and heal his dying body but it was too late. The moment after he muttered his last words his body began to turn to fine sand that whipped through the air in the storm. Feeling a burning pain on his wrist, he look at his arm and pulled up his chain mail, to discover a freshly carved tattoo with an hourglass fully animated with the sands of time slowly beginning to drain away.
This was week one of 'Dirty Secrets & Nightmares', featuring Sam as Dungeon Master.
With a cast of Mark, Alex, Paul, Leon & Doug. With Leon & Doug stepping in as temporary players for Alexander and Imogen.
Written by Paul Stebles