Dead Gods Rising
Session #2 After a short while was spent in the ruins grieving the loss of the Tir’Ran child, the group left with the still-unconscious humans to catch up with the rest of the clan who had already started moving towards the next town, Carrington.
Once reunited with the rest of the clan, a council was called to discuss what was to be done. Still grievously wounded, Allorellan and Rowan opted to rest through the meeting while Elithar accompanied his father.
At the meeting, the now healthy humans introduced themselves as Price Brin, son of King Baldrick and Daren Light Shield, son of the current Lord High Palladin of Pallindor and advisor to the king. They reported that contact had been made some months ago with the ancient homeland which the ancestors of the Adearan nation left over 500 years previous. The convoy from the old kingdom was lead by a beautiful woman who had bright white wings by the name of Ariella. She was apparently working out a deal with the King where support troops would be brought to Adearan from the old kingdom to help fight off the barbaric hordes.
Ariel had lent the king her own general, Marcus and a small detachment of soldiers to assist in the protection of the boarder town of Kerrington while more of her troops were sent for. Daren and Brin had been dispatched to Kerrington to see the results of Marcus’ leadership. Unfortunately their group of soldiers encountered an unusually organized and large band of gnolls near the town of Oakdale. Their troops were overwhelmed and as the obvious leaders of the Adearan soldiers, the two men were taken captive (this was highly unusual for gnolls who generally never take prisoners of war or political prisoners).
Brin begged the council of elders to accompany him and Deren as far as the town of Kerrington so that he could accomplish their intended mission. Haldamir and a few of the other clan elders argued that they ought to avoid another boarder town altogether and head towards the coast and more civilized lands, far from the raging hoards. Prince Brin and the clan Ada worked out a deal where a small group of elven scouts, lead by Anwen, another of the clan elders, and would accompany Derek as far as Kerrington while the rest of the clan took Brin to the safety of the capital city. Once there, Brin promised to pull some political strings to allow the clan to enter the city for a month to trade and perform (given the thievery and general chaos that the Tir’Ran are famous for, no clan had ever been allowed into the capital city of Kemlock before).
Through the night, Rowan awoke occasionally to find her father watching over her, showing unusual concern and care. While sleeping, Rowan was given another horrible vision similar to the one seen the previous night while dancing around the campfires. As the chains of flame seared and burned the flesh of her adoptive clansmen, a horrid stench filled her nose. She awoke abruptly to see the grinning face of Brumpim Reekwind, a child-minded half ogre that had been adopted into the clan, leaning over her. The stench, at least, was not from the vision. Brumpim, who was generally shunned by the rest of the clan for his general lack of hygiene and simple minded ways, counted Rowan as one of his few friends. He expressed concern that the “pointy ears” should be more careful and not do such things without him. Though simple minded, Brumpim’s great size and strength had proven useful time and again when the clan was faced with violence.
Assuring him that she was fine, Rowan politely dismissed Brumpim who promised to make her some soup. When his mother (a human that was the victim of a horrible rape by a rampaging ogre) was alive, she would always make him soup when he felt sick and it always made him feel better.
The next day, Brin personally went to each of the elves involved in his rescue and expressed his gratitude for their bravery. Unaccustomed to courtly behavior and dealing with human nobles, Brin came of as full of arrogance and thinly veiled insults to the party members, however, no offence was intended.
Wishing to show a sense of gratitude and faith in his rescuers, Brin requested that those who assisted in his rescue be assigned to accompany Derek to Kerington. Having been raised in the church of Pallindor, the god of Honor and Justice, Brin felt that the greatest honors and rewards could be obtained through self sacrifice and heroism; a philosophy not shared by the Tir’Ran. However, it was decided by the clan elders that the party members were probably the most qualified for the task.
Being accustomed to hasty departures out of necessity in the past, the majority of the clan quickly broke camp and headed off towards the capital city of Kemlock. The newly formed scouting group left with Derek for the town of Kerrington. The trip was expected to take two days at the most. Once Derek was safely delivered, the scouting party was to proceed to join the rest of the clan in Kemlock.
After travelling most of the day, the scouting party made camp in a clearing just off of the main road and a watch was set. During the third watch of the night, Rowan heard something moving through the forest just outside of the camp circle. She woke Elithar and a few of the other elves just as a horse sized spider attacked one of the other scouts on watch at the other end of the camp. As the camp abruptly woke from their sleep and rushed to attack the giant spider, another spider crashed through the forest and attacked the other end of the camp. A furious battle ensued that left 4 of the elves severely wounded and poisoned from spider bites. Rowan noted that these types of giant spiders were generally very territorial and never worked together like these had. While she considered this, Elithar began to dissect the spiders and successfully removed the poison glands and a sharp mandible from one of the dead creatures.
The rest of the night passed uneventfully as the group slept and the wounded were tended. Two of the wounded elves seemed to recover quite well. The other two, one of which was the party leader, Anwen, seemed to worsen as the night wore on. When camp broke the next day, they could barely stay on their mounts.
As the group travelled onward, the countryside began again to show signs of human habitation: plowed fields, fences, and farms. The first farmhouse that the party came across showed signs of neglect and abandonment. Upon further investigation, it was discovered that no livestock or food could be found and the farm house had been completely looted of all valuables. To the party’s horror, the bodies of the family that had most likely inhabited this farm were found bound in the kitchen with their throats slit. It was determined that the deaths of this family were not caused by gnolls as they typically would see it as a waste of food. Further, the instrument used to kill the peasants was more delicate and sharp than those typically used by the barbarians. Derek was moved to anger over the senseless deaths. Elithar muttered a few prayers and songs over the corpses and the party moved on towards Kerrington.
As they neared the town, the party came across more and more abandoned farms all devoid of livestock, food, valuables, and most notably living people. Kerrington was reached before sunset of the second day of travel. Rowan, who had previously visited this town with her mother, could scarcely recognize it. Rough palisades had been erected around the town and men armed with anything resembling a weapon patrolled the walls. This once idyllic farming town had been transformed into a war camp.
As the party approached, the gates of the town opened and a middle aged man with salt and pepper black hair emerged with an armed escort of obviously experienced soldiers. The man wore a white set of leather armor that disturbingly had screaming and anguished faces etched and molded on its surface. He introduced himself as Marcus, the leader of the body of soldiers in the town and coolly welcomed the group into the city. Marcus and Derek left to discuss the state of the town while the rest of the elven scouting party were taken to some tents to make camp tend for their wounded.
The town was filled to capacity with refugees from the borderlands and tents or hastily erected shelters served as their new homes. Near the tents the Tir’Ran inhabited were other shelters used to tend to those soldiers and villagers who had been wounded while combating the gnolls. Sharing her knowledge and skill in healing, Rowan assisted the local healers as best as she could.
Making her way back to her peoples’ tents, Rowan checked in on the condition of Anwen and the other elven scout still suffering from the giant spider poison. Anwen began screaming in pain and clawing at her neck. As Rowan watched, black hairy spider legs erupted from the base of Anwen’s skull and black mandibles protruded from her screaming mouth. The aberration that was Anwen’s head ripped itself from her neck and scuttled out of the tent. The stunned Rowan chased after the horror only to see it escape over the nearby palisade wall.
Rowan quickly returned to the sick tent to see the other poisoned elf begin screaming and thrashing about similar to Anwen moments before her death. Rowan grabbed a sack and pulled it over the panicking elf’s head, just as horrific black legs burst through his neck. Rowan was just able to contain the creature within the sack and beat it unconscious against a table.
Marcus entered the tent and the situation was explained to him. He asked to see the spider/head creature that Rowan had captured. When the bag was opened, he quickly impaled it on one of his short swords. He then asked Rowan if she would be willing to speak privately with him
Marcus took Rowan to the edge of the town and pointed to the rotting corpse of a horrible old woman hanging from the palisade wall. He said that he had killed the creature, a hag, a few weeks earlier at the cost of the lives of ten of his men. Unfortunately, the hag’s followers remained and had been creating the giant spiders that had attacked the Tir’Ran party and had been terrorizing the surrounding area. The cult had also poisoned the city’s only water source, a river that ran through town. As of that time, the town only had enough fresh water for another 3 days. As fearing that the gnolls were becoming more organized and would soon attack the town en masse, he requested the assistance of the party in destroying the cult and clearing up the water.
Rowan, hesitant to speak for her people, conferred first with the rest of the group. The surviving Tir’Ran scouts did not see the benefit of risking their lives for the human town and longed to return to the rest of the clan headed for safer lands. Allorellan felt that these poor people needed assistance and he would be provide it if he could. Elithar, disgruntled as always about performing a task that he felt forced into, begrudgingly agreed to assist. Derek was elated at the prospect of hunting down and destroying a hag cult. Brumpim was weary of the people of the town who had treated him less than friendly since he arrived, so he was more than happy to accompany the party in this task. The rest of the Tir’Ran agreed to remain in the town and assist in its defense until the party returned. At that time they would all return to the clan en route to Kemlock.
Afterwards, Elithar gathered up the remains of Anwen and the newly dead elf (and the remains of the spider-head creature) and performed the Tir’Ran death rites over them to ensure the passage of their spirits.