Dark Legacy of Evard

2. Witching Hour

 5/18/11: Tom joined us for a severely deadly encounter. While people died-died in this one, the rule in Encounters is that you can bring the character back to life the following week at the cost of four surges.

Anyxia the DarkBringer - Shade Mage
Esprit'e - Eladrin Assassin
Klott - Dwarf Warpiest
Krefix - Krefix Dragonborn Slayer
Netochka Nezvanova - Elf Rogue
Waillin - Dragonborn Blackguard

 The heroes had come to the trown of Duponde to rest. They were travelling north to deliver a marriage contract. But the bridges of Duponde became flooded, and the heroes were stuck there. To make matters worse, the town slipped in the shadowfell - the realm of the dead.

The adventurers gathered with the other denizens of the Old Owl in the common room. They were:

Tilda - the owner
Harald the barkeep - whom the heroes had just rescued from gargoyles and healed him
Katha - a bossy female dwarf
Kristyd - a studious female dwarf
Kildrak - a strong and quiet male dwarf

Now that they were in the shadowfell, each breath sent out a plume of mist although it was not that cold. Failure felt assured, and hopelessness dogged their every step. They noticed that Nathaire, the scholar who had talked of visited the tomb of the great wizard Evard, was nowhere to be found. Neither was his halfling sidekick.

Tilda wanted to start barricading the inn from monsters. Klott asked how they had traveled to The Shadowfell. Tilda said she didn't know. She looked at Anyxia suspiciously and asked, "Don't you call yourself 'The DarkBringer?"

Harald said, "Looks pretty dark right about now..."

E'Sprite chastised Harald, "Hey - who brought you back to life?"

Anyxia said, "If only, my friends! Do you feel it? The air is rife with double-dealing, self-advancement and treachery etcetera!" (the three tenets of Chaotic Evil). "This is the best day of my life. The potential for self-advancement in the Shadowfell is unlimited!"

Katha ordered the heroes to go outside and explore. Klott chatted with Katha and her siblings and learned that they were from Zobeck, a city that was home to kobolds and clockwork beings called Gearforged.

The heroes decided to look around, especially in Nathaire's room. Tilda didn't think it was right to snoop in there. Netochka said, "I'm really sure we discussed it before and he said it was ok. We discussed it". Tilda bought the lie 100%.

In the room was clothes and gear. Klott asked the dwarves how using tables and chairs would keep out ghosts. E'Sprite pointed out that the Shadowfell was a place of despair and hopelessness. The only way to stave it off, he said, was through "physical activity". Tilda shivered. Klott held the middle-aged matron, to comfort her.

Klott spoke in dwarven to the dwarves. Katha explained that she knew ghosts could get through, but barricading would keep them occupied.

The heroes headed outside. They saw that the cobblestones on the street looked like skulls. a pervading sense of anxiety and hopelessness washed over them. A puddle nearby was red, and looked like blood. A nearby lantern hung from chains, and had spikes pointing out of it. Over every doorstep was a swinging noose hung from he roof. 

Anyxia's zombie children gleefully ran about. One ran up to the puddle and said "Wow! Real blood!". Another hung himself from a noose and yelled "Mommy look at me!".

the heroes headed to the stable. Their 2 elephants trumpeted proudly. They also saw a horse and a war dog - the mounts of Nathaire and his halfling buddy. E'Sprite assumed this meant that the two had walked to the graveyard. 

The heroes heard noises and muffled cries from two nearby alleys. One alley held a claw mark on the wall, that faded away. A voice cackled. Klott felt that the creatures of the Shadowfell were toying with him.

In the other alley was a fissure. Thick black fluid rushed up from it. Waillin held out his sword and touched it. Anyxia had heard of these pools of necromantic seepage, but wasn't sure what they were for. To Waillin's shock, the black stuff covered his sword and engulfed his hand. Waillin had contracted a disease called Soul Rot. At the final stage, he'd die and become a wraith. Klott knew he might be able to cure Waillin once they had time for a long rest.

Grimbold's patrol neared. They greeted the heroes. Grimbold asked for their help. There were two pressing issues. One was that the halfling had been spotted running into the forest. The other issue was that the armory was over-run with creatures. The townspeople would need the weapons and armor inside to be effective guards and patrolers. 

The heroes decided to go to the armory. They'd need to go south and pass through town square to get there. 

The adventurers began to make their way through the shadowy, twisted streets of Duponde. A dozen large horseflies carrying a severed zombie head flew by. The zombie head rolled its' eyes and mouthed the words "help me". The heroes followed it, and watched the flies deposit the head on a roof and begin to eat it and fly into its' mouth. 

Netochka climbed up to the roof to get a closer look. Anyxia teleported up. She cast mage hand and pulled the flies to her. They swarmed her, and she cast a burning hands that scorched them all (a critical). Anyxia kept the head, who smiled.Then it winked at her. It could communicate only through facial expressions. She stuffed it in her lantern case.

The heroes continued south. Four severed skeletal hands crawled at them, intent on grabbing stuff from their packs. Klott cast a Smite Undead spell and obliterated them all.

They turned a corner, and saw a ghost hag all in black floating before them. She was holding a bundle of blankets which may have contained a baby. It begged the heroes to take care of the baby. It came closer and closer, holding out the bundle of blankets.. Waillin stepped forward and snarled "Get back, wraith!" (and rolled a natural 20 on his intimidate check). The lady put down the blankets and faded away. The heroes opened the bundle. Inside were maggots feasting on dead flesh.

Continuing on, the adventurers came to the town square. Scanning about, they heard slow, warbly calliope music playing. Ghosts, dancing, holding knives in their partners' stomachs faded into view. 

E'Sprite said, "Ignore it! It is stupid!".

A ghost with an eye dangling from a socket asked Anyxia, "Care to dance?". 

Anyxia held up the zombie head and said, "No, I've already got a partner." Dejected, the ghost floated away.

A ghost holding a fan approached E'Sprite crying bloody tears. She seemed to want to dance. 

E'Sprite said, "Is disgusting! You are a slut! Get away from me!". she floated off, crying more bloody tears.

The heroes made their way past the town square, and came upon the armory at last.

They were on the far side of the river. bridges crossed it and led to the armory. The door to the armory was ajar. A corpse lay there. On its' body were many small bite marks. Waillin began to cross the eastern bridge. 

Suddenly, swarms of spiders poured out of the windows! E'Sprite joined Waillin on the bridge, while Kreffix crossed the western one. One swarm engaged Kreffix, the other dealt with Waillin and E'Sprite.

Shadow creatures appeared. One merged with Kreffix's shadow, slowly tainting the dragonborn's soul with necrotic energy (ongoing 4 necrotic save ends). Another one entered Waillin's shadow.

A deathjump spider had been lurking on the roof of the armory. It jumped down, bit Kreffix, and then jumped back up. Klott healed Kreffix with his magic. Anyxia cast a twilight calling spell that destroyed the third shadow. Kreffix breathed on the swarm.

The deathjump spider climbed down the armory roof and bit E'Sprite. Then it jumped across the river and bit Anyxia. She was alone out there, the rest of the heroes were on one bridge or the other. Kreffix and Waillin were each bit again. Their poison and the shadows necrotic energy were slowly wearing down the heroes. 

Klott raced over to help Anyxia. Anyxia hypnotized the deathjump spider, and tried to force it into the river, but the spider instead fell prone at the edge.  The spider got up and lunged at Anyxia, but she dodged.

(The players' dice rolls got progressively worse as this battle went on. As always, my grey d20 was on fire and I very rarely missed them. The heroes had trouble making their saves, and some of them were taking 5 poison and 4 necrotic every round! Klott ran out of heals pretty quickly, and at this point the heroes got into some big trouble...)

Netochka expelled a leeching shadow from her shadow. Klott immediately cast a spell and destroyed the creature before it could attempt to attack again. Anyxia continued to be menaced by the deathjump spider. She tried to hide around a corner from it, to no avail. 

E'Sprite teleported across the river. He pulled out his Garrotte and mangled and choked the spider (for a massive 36 points from a critical). The spider spit blood everywhere - it was close to death. It escaped his grasp and bit him. E'Sprite died (eventually failing three death saves). 

Alone on the western bridge, Waillin succumbed to the poison and fell to the ground, dead (he eventually failed three death saves). On the western bridge, a swarm continuously bit Kreffix until he, too died! The swarms both were on the western bridge, ready to advance. Three adventurers perished, and three remained.

Anyxia cast a spirit rend which killed one swarm, and bloodied the other. The deathjump spider, having finished off E'Sprite, jumped at Klott and bit him. The remaining sward came at Netochka on the western bridge. They climbed onto her, and dropped her. Neto was unconscious and dying on the bridge. Two heroes remained. The last leeching shadow exited Netochka's shadow.

Anyxia cast a magic missile, destroying the last of the three leeching shadows. The swarm and the deathjump spider converged on the far side of the river, menacing Klott. He blocked their first series of attacks. But they kept at him, and poisoned him. He died from the poison moments later. Anyxia was the only hero left standing.

She hit the deathjump spider with a magic missile, and then hid behind the gargoyle statue by the eastern bridge. The spiders could not find her and assumed she'd run away. They headed back toward the armory. Anyxia popped out and killed the deathjump spider. The swarm had entered the armory.

Anyxia quietly crept over to the western bridge. She knew that Netochka was still alive. She was able to revive the rogue... but the swarm had noticed. The swarm approached the bridge. 

The swarm clambered past Netochka, still thinking she was dead. Netochka stabbed at the swarm. as it passed. The swarm bit Anyxia, killing her. Netochka jumped into the river and swam away, hoping to bring back Grimbold to finish off the swarm and hopefully to revive her friends....