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EoD 24: Victory in Darkness

The party’s jubilation was short-lived, for then another shadow thing—this time a jibbering, cackling, muttering thing—oozed under the door to the east.
EoD 24: Victory in Darkness

For the balance of the day, the heroes mooched about town, replenishing gear, talking with the locals and so on. That night, in the Dancing Bear, the group laid their plans—tomorrow, they would return to the ruined Shadowed Keep and recover the bodies of the heroic fallen. 

However, it was a quiet night in the tavern, and Helmia thought everyone could do with some cheering up—she’d liven up proceedings by transforming into a bear and doing some dancing—she remembered well the dancing bear that had so enlivened that evening two months ago when she has first met Lion, Theoden and Polumya. Unfortunately, while her mastery of the druidic tradition was deep and impressive, her grasp of rhythm and dance was less so. In fact, her performance was so terrible many of the customers left, declaring that she wasn’t even a real bear! Nurlon, the tavern’s half-elven owner, was not best pleased with Helmia’s performance and suggested in no uncertain terms that she never, ever do it again.

In any event, the next morning—with memories of a bear jiggling in a most unseemly fashion yet burned into several of the party’s memories—the band set out for the ruined keep. They took with them the Masterson’s wagon and horse—lent to them by the grateful family—and Shawn’s two new “squires”, the ex-bandits Inar and Jarak.

They reached their goal—the ruined keeped—four or five hours later. It was a gloomy and glum day—dark clouds hovered over the woods, and the ruin, but all seemed quiet. Syllana and Shawn scouted ahead and indeed reported that the place seemed abandoned. And so it was—or at least it seemed that way. The heroes gained the courtyard without any untoward incidents. Parking the Masterson’s cart in the courtyard, they made their final preperations to once again descend into the depths.

The ruined donjon seemed similarly abandoned. Polumya and Helmia remembered the way to the cellars and—lighting torches and setting magical light aflame—the heroes returned to the grim realm in which their companions tragically met their end.

It was cold in the deep cellar; water dripped from the ceiling, and grey sludge covered the floor. In short order, the party crossed the water-filled, zombie- haunted pit and reached the near-frozen chambers beyond. Advancing cautiously through the chamber with the riven ceiling, they at first came to Lion’s horribly shrivelled and decomposed corpse. Shawn knelt by his son’s side in a desperate attempt to find life while his new friends spread out in front of him. It was well they did, for the group’s presence had not gone unnoticed. Three shadow-things burst forth from the chasm and silently hurtled toward the party; none would reach their prey for a barrage of magical attacks—notably a burst of divine radiance from Polumya—destroyed all three before they could sup upon the heroes’ vitality. 

The party’s jubilation was short-lived, for then another shadow thing—this time a jibbering, cackling, muttering thing—oozed under the door to the east. It attacked and injured Shawn—draining his strength—before Jalt slew it using the holy aspergillum filled with holy water. By now, Shawn’s squires were terrified. Jarak clearly wanted to flee, and only the threat of imminent death at the hands of the homicidal elven scout, Sylanna, kept him in the room. Inar faired slightly better and proved the braver of the two but even he played no part in the ensuing battle.

Cautiously, Stor and Polumya advanced to the edge of the chasm. Stor, dropping a light into the chasm, caught a glimpse of something black and terrible clinging to the rock about 30 feet down. Polumya tried to attack it with a radiant burst of energy but missed. The thing—nothing but a smudge of deeper darkness amid the shadows filling the chasm—seemed to glare at the heroic priest with unholy and baleful intent.

Moments later, the thing burst from the solid stone beneath Polumya’s feet and attacked. Its touch was death. It grabbed the hapless priest and almost slew him with one attack. Badly damaged, he could do little but heal himself. A barrage of magical bolts from Stor injured the thing, and a terrific strike from Yalt, channelling the power of his holy faith, brought the thing close to death. Helmia, however, conjuring a beam of pure moonlight, wrought the thing’s destruction as it tried to flee back into the stone beneath the party’s feet.

With this final foe slain, the party gathered themselves, healed what wounds they could and retrieved the horribly shrivelled corpses of Lion and Theoden. Clearly, something was afoot here. So many undead lurking together was unusual, as was the intense cold, which got worse the closer one got to the chasm. Cautious investigation revealed water of an unknown depth filled the chasm. The water radiated strong evocation magic and extinguished the party’s lights—both magical and mundane—when they were submerged within. The group pondered what to do next…

This post is a session summary from my weekly 5e D&D Edgelands of Darkness campaign set in the Duchy of Ashlar.

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