Campaign of the Month: April 2019

First Blight

Tearsday, 03.04.841 TE – Raven’s Roost
Revas, Rhea, Sargis, Valeria

Raven's Glen

The sun is high up in the sky on Tearsday the 3rd of Cloudreach when the Lonely Siren makes its way towards Raven’s Glen and its adjoining keep Raven’s Roost. Waves are lapping at the sloop’s hull, and the siren at the front of the ship is parting the sea in front of her with ease.

Salem stands at the bow of the ship, holding onto the rigging with one hand, while stroking Drynne’s hair with the other.

“Soon we’ll be home,” she says quietly.

The young boy doesn’t seem to hear it. He’s holding Senga in his arms, letting the dog look over the railing at the splashing sea.

Nearby, Arna holds onto Valeria’s arms, her face red and freckled, and her eyes tired and only half open. Despite keeping her eyes on the horizon, she’s still feeling seasick, and worries that she might have to lean over the railing once again soon. But Valeria’s strong hands keep her steady, and the imminent need to puke subsides when a gentle hand rubs her lower back.

“Thank you.” It’s clear that she means the words, but they are tinged with a kind of sadness Valeria knows only too well. All of them have been thinking about home and what might be going on that they couldn’t get a hold of their people through the mirror shards or the Elvhen Stone. “I hope they are alright,” Arna says. “I don’t think I can handle them not being alright.”

Further back, holding the steering wheel in his hands, is Sargis, enjoying the midday breeze rushing through his hair and beard, carrying with it the smell of salt and algae, and the sounds of seagulls. Captain Etienne stands near him, keeping a keen eye, but also trusting his sailing skills after having seen him navigate the whirlpool only a day before.

Rhea and Revas are leaning over the railing nearby, watching dolphins follow the ship, and trying to spot whales in the distance blowing water out of their blowholes. A tiny Gereon lies at Rhea’s feet, curled around them like he might get lost otherwise. When Dayron approaches Rhea and Revas, he does so with careful steps, and makes sure to stop a few feet away so as not to disturb the little puppy.

“Do you think there will be fighting?”

“Likely,” Rhea says.

“Alright. I would like to help, then.”

After accepting Dayron’s help, Rhea goes back to thinking about home and her husband, Braedon. Worried, she tries to push those thoughts away, but doesn’t succeed.

All the way high up in the crow’s nest is Hildr, keeping an eye on the ship’s trajectory and its path. Keeping Sargis at the helm informed of what’s ahead is her job, and so she yells down, her voice carrying easily over the wind.

“There are boats ahead! Quite a few of them!”

When everyone has a look, they realize that the boats all belong to fishermen, who have banded together and are talking to each other excitedly as the large sloop approaches. At least six small boats can be seen drifting in the water, with nets hanging from their sides and fish in containers on deck.

The fishermen soon greet the people on the ship with a sort of anxious excitement. They may not know the Lonely Siren, but they very well know their leader Ser Valeria, and when they spot her, voices start talking all over each other.

It becomes clear that Raven’s Glen has been attacked yesterday, and a small force of people somehow made it into the village undetected. By the time people knew what was going on, it was already too late. Buildings were set on fire, people were killed, and whoever wasn’t quick enough to hide in the castle had few options left to them. Especially the fishermen who had still been at sea didn’t make it back in time for the warning bells, and so they stayed at sea, too scared to enter the burning village.

Now that they mention it, the group also sees the smoke rising on the horizon, likely from their home.

Once the conversation with the fishermen ends, the Lonely Siren again rides the waves towards Raven’s Glen, this time with even more purpose.

The smoke on the horizon creeps ever closer, and finally, as they pass a cliffside obscuring their view, the group can make out their home. Or what is left of it. Even from afar it is clear that most of the thatch roof houses are burning or burnt, and Raven’s Roost further up the hill has seen better days, as walls seem to be crumbling.

Even from here the heroes can see the fighting going on in front of Raven’s Roost’s gates, with a massive golem attacking the enemy troops, while arrows are raining down upon them from the walls of the keep. The defenders are surely doing their best, but they don’t seem prepared for what happens next. A purple streak shoots across the sky, emerging from Raven’s Glen’s center square and aiming for the keep, where it impacts loudly with the tower. Someone is directing magical attacks from inside Raven’s Glen, and they need to be taken out.

When the heroes arrive in Raven’s Glen, it is hot and full of smoke, making navigating more difficult than expected. Only the constant barrage of purple magical missiles shooting towards Raven’s Roost helps the group keep their bearings.

Valeria remembers images from her childhood, and it requires some effort to shake them off.

The group passes a dead body near the docks, a woman who used to sell old clothes, her face smashed into the wet mud, her skull cracked open, blood and brains seeping out into the ground.

Further in the village, sheep and goats are bleating in fear, and the noise is the only sign of life for quite some time, until the group rounds a corner and finds a middle-aged man sitting on the floor, holding his intestines in his hands. He’s spewing blood, and seems on the verge of unconsciousness.

When the village center comes into view, it is not what the group expected. Burning buildings surround it, and many purple crystals have been placed on the village square in regular intervals, with one massive crystal at the square’s center. Flickering purple energy seems to travel from the smaller crystals to the large one, and the group is witness to the large crystal spewing out a missile which shoots directly at Raven’s Roost.

There, near the crystals, the group then notices several people. Four familiar looking bodies shamble towards the group, each one of them a villager they have seen once or twice. Now they are dead, their eyes devoid of life, and there is nothing in them except for the demon possessing the dead body in its rage.

Behind them, almost hidden behind the large central crystal, stands yet another figure, this one very much alive. An elvhen man looks at the group with bright red eyes, his face tattooed in ways that are unfamiliar even to Revas. He is dressed in elegant mail armour, and carries a shield and spear. His white hair is short at the sides and slightly longer on top. All in all he looks like a dashing man, if it weren’t for the deadness in his eyes.

Next to him is a figure that looks nothing like him.

Rhea recognizes the being next to him as an arcane horror. Even in death, a mage runs the risk of succumbing to demonic possession. In the body of a deceased mage, a pride demon becomes an arcane horror, funneling spirit magic through itself even as its desiccated remains crumble. An arcane horror knows magic, and has the tools to sap the power from other mages.

The figure next to the elvhen man is tall and slender, and seems to be female. It is floating slightly, and its hands move in weird patterns, almost as if it is composing an eerie song. Its matted grey hair looks like that of a corpse, and when its face comes into view it is clear why. The skin is emaciated and grey, and only red eyes distract from the fact that this body has long been dead.

“Welcome. I am glad you have finally arrived,” the elvhen man says. “I am Sathurian, and this is my beloved Mellia. If you do as I say, we will stop this assault, and you can keep your little castle and your people. All we require is the man named Braedon Burdock, and we shall leave you alone.”

Sathurian nods at the group. “Master Augustus is nothing if not understanding. If you hand this Braedon Burdock over now, we can forget about all this and just continue on with our lives.”

When Sathurian spots Revas, he sneers. “So you are the one he has been talking about.” He looks Revas up and down. “I don’t understand why he was so adamant to protect you.”

The group doesn’t listen for long, and when combat breaks out, Sathurian is in the middle of the field, his spear seemingly everywhere at once. Next to him, the arcane horror named Mellia dishes out spells, keeping people under control, and sucking the life force out of everyone near her.

During the first round of combat, Sathurian waves his spear and speaks. “So you choose to resist. Well then, maybe this decision will be easier for you if we bring out our little helper. He’s been so useful already, giving us all kinds of information. Come on out, puppet.”

And so Sathurian motions for Mellia, and shortly afterwards, the door to the building behind the two opens, and out comes a familiar figure. His face has been beaten up, and there is blood seeping from several cuts on his face and arms, but there is no denying that this is Ardis, Revas’ lover. He is not bound, and he’s holding his spear in his hands, while walking towards the group.

Sathurian grins. “Greet your lover, puppet.”

“Aneth ara, Revas,” Ardis says, his voice odd and monotone.

“Ir abelas,” he then continues, just before he lunges to attack. When he strikes, the heroes are as shocked as they are surprised. Ardis, the gentle giant, is attacking his friends with a ferocity that is unheard of.

During the fight, Sargis’ rune in his armour goes off and protects him from Mellia’s spells, and the heroes take out the many small crystals surrounding the square.

When Mellia is killed, Sathurian realizes that he can’t win, and he goes to Ardis and teleports away with him.

The troops far up on the hill near Raven’s Roost are left to their own devices, and are soon crushed by the united effort of the people in the keep, or they disperse in all directions.

Uncertain, and in some ways broken, the Heartbreaker Gang rests and tends to their wounds as Revas’ bondmate has disappeared without a trace or known way to reach him.

The Steel Picks, by now, have reached the shore, at least some of them. And the men go about trying to put out the fires that are still burning everywhere.

In the keep, chaos reigns. Wounded people are sitting at every corner, and there are a few people kneeling over corpses, either crying or trying to get them back to life. People are running back and forth, carrying supplies or wounded, and Gale can be seen at the center of the bailey, directing someone carrying Flora to the infirmary and following them inside.

Up on the ramparts, Faustus is navigating her people, and making sure that the wounded are taken down to Gale’s infirmary.

A soldier comes down the ramparts, a body thrown over his shoulders, and as he passes the group, they recognize Dora, who seems to limply hang from the man’s strong shoulders. Out of a nearby building, Cole comes running, Bert trying to catch up to her and almost stumbling over his cane.

In the infirmary, Gale is desperate to get help. Her hands are firmly planted on Bela’s chest, who seems to be unconscious. She sighs. “Oh, you’re here. I… I need help. My medics are doing the best they can, but we need more mages. I can’t heal all these people, I don’t have the resources. Someone needs to make a decision.”

She points at four adjacent beds. Flora, Arcas, Bela, and Dora are lying next to each other, all of them seemingly unconscious and bleeding heavily. Gale’s medics are trying their best to stop the bleeding, but it soon becomes clear that Gale is right. There aren’t enough supplies to save everyone, and the wounds of the four people in the infirmary are grave.

And so the heroes share their supplies, healing potions, and lyrium potions, with the medics and the wounded. They choose which patients to help first, prioritizing the people they have more contact with.

First patient: Dora
Second patient: Bela
Third patient: Flora
Fourth patient: Arcas

When all wounded patients are taken care of, Gale takes Rhea to the side. She leads her to an adjacent room, where a familiar person lies on a table. Braedon. His armour is dented and blackened, as if something exploded right on his chest.

Gale places a hand on Rhea’s arm. “I’m sorry, dear. He is gone.”

“Braedon was leading our defensive line on the ramparts when it happened. He was coordinating his recruits, and doing his best to keep everyone safe. After he was struck by a magical missile, he was brought to me, still alive. I couldn’t save him. I am so sorry.”

Gale stands in the corner, watching Rhea as she says goodbye to her husband.

Revas comes in to console the weeping Rhea, and when Gale speaks, it is as much to him as it is to Rhea.

“Before he died,” Gale says, “he wanted me to tell you something. He regretted not being able to help you raise Liam, and told me that he loves both of you very much. He apparently hid something in a drawer of your home, something that he was going to give you at some point.”

Valeria and Sargis go outside to work on keeping everyone together and focused on their tasks, helping here and there, carrying supplies, comforting the wounded and grieving, and just generally making sure that everything goes back to being normal.

Revas goes to Oleo and the two comfort one another and tell each other what has happened as they let themselves fall into their grief for just a moment.

Rhea takes some of the items from Braedon’s body after whispering softly into his hair. She takes his star pin and ring, and then goes to then ransack the room and finds an unsent letter from Braedon.

“Dearly beloved Rhea,

you are away traveling, and Liam and I are home alone. I know that Liam is still too small for such a long trip, but I must tell you that we both miss you very much. Much more than anticipated.

I wake every morning and think of you. Liam is often already awake, expecting me to take him to his wet nurse. She is a good woman, and often sings to him, just like you do. I have been practising my singing voice as well, and hope to sing a few songs with you once you return.

I hope your trip is a success, and that the Avvar treat you well. I have heard many different things about them, likely all untrue, but some of them make me lay awake at night with worry. I am sure you would tell me if there was reason to do so, even though our talks are often short and rushed. I trust that you will keep yourself safe, even among the Avvar.

Another day has passed and I still miss you very much. Bert is trying to teach me how to cook, and it is not going well. How he manages to cut things into such tiny pieces is beyond my understanding. It is a good exercise, however, and Liam enjoys being taken care of by Jori. They love our boy with a passion, and it is wonderful to see Jori and Bert interact with him.

You are still gone, and I admit it is starting to weigh on me. Liam often cries at night now, and I am sure he misses his mother. I try to console him, but it is not me he wants, and so all my endeavours are destined to fail.

This morning Bert offered to take Liam for a few days, so I can get some sleep. I have not slept in days, and I feel like a terrible father. I agreed to let Bert take Liam for one night, and I am feeling guilty for being so selfish.

Beloved, I finally got some sleep, and I am feeling much better. I cannot wait to see you again, and after our conversation today I am in a much better mood. When you return, I plan on going on a picnic with you. The weather is so nice, and I am sure you would love it, and so would Liam.

After reading the letter, Rhea leaves her room and goes to Liam and holds him close as she sings to him.

Meanwhile, Valeria speaks with Marissa, Lachtna, and Faustus about the damage and people as well as making preparations to attack Jainen. She also wants to visit Wutherford immediately to speak with Leonara about what just happened.

Valeria also requests a list of the dead and those that were left behind.

Sargis goes to encourage the people and celebrate this victory with them, taking the time to visit Cole and spend some time with her. He hands her the ribbons he bought in Eagle-Eye Hold, and the little girls is very excited. She ties them around her wrist, into her hair, to her clothes, and everywhere they can fit.

Revas goes to talk with Illen as they try to figure out what Sathurian wanted and where his hatred towards elves came from. They think on plans for Augustus before Revas goes to sleep in the aravel and hugs Eira.

As the group settles in for the night, the name of the Heartbreaker Gang hits home to each member as they struggle with their own heartbreak for the first time in awhile…


jaythegreenling jaythegreenling

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