The party’s first night in Brondoriand was in the wake of grief. Their hosts, Varnil and Floro of Forline had buried their son not a day before. Still, they soldiered on to give the Champions of Naphrem that which would aid them on their quest to save this land: Jambalaya. And after breakfast, the group received information as well.
The tale was a grisly one and matched much of yesterday’s overview. Here, magic reigned. Well normally, the Spellbound and a network of wizards kept the peace, but now an unstoppable pestilence had thrown them all in quite the apocalyptic tizzy. Plague burned through Brondoriand, while corpses galivanted (at a moderate pace) near Heldelion to the west. It was then the group learned of Teclis, the district’s local wizard. By the tell of the local populace, he was held in great regard by his constituents and his peers as the only one making headway against the blight. He probably has great hair and people who listen to him, too. Jerk.
That may not have been too far from the truth, for he had recently all but disappeared, locked in his tower. Not to be disturbed, they said. With the news that it had recently appeared to be abandoned, the group speculated disaster. Any progress, they reasoned, may or may not be recovered even if Teclis could not be found. Ever practical, they put Teclis’s Tower on their itinerary, notionally aimed at liberating any and all useful items from any and all dried, deep fried corpses that possessed them first. Sigh. Adventurers. They make me so proud.
And hey, if they found the cure that could save the locals, even better. The group set out quickly, that afternoon. There were a few shops open to barter, but the Champions of Naphrem judged that they were not niche enough to bully.
Mere hours later, the party came upon the Tower of Teclis. It did not live up to the hype. A ruin, it was, The gate smashed open, vines on the walls with the charred signs of a recent fire. What’s more, the ground was strewn with a handful of elves who had been slain in the scuffle, some garbed in armor of the guard and some more modestly. Not the largest battle this narrator has covered, but given the circumstances, <pause> apocalyptic nonetheless. The party approached with a sense of dread and on guard.
Soon, they saw that there were survivors. More elves (not of the guard) were burying their fellows and looking apprehensively to the inside. The party’s heads filled with questions as Musushi sauntered up in the Last Stone tradition: smile on the face, weapon in the hand. The elves seemed to care little as they found great affinity with Grog, much to Musushi’s dismay and the others’ amusement. Unfame was hard, the dwarf was finding.
After a few hours of petting Grog and singing his praises (what good narrator doesn’t embellish?), the elves told their tale. The leader was Jeremiah, and the followers, a motley crew of desperate elves seeking news on a cure. What they found was anything but. They came upon the aftermath of a siege. Doing the decent thing, Jeremiah and his compatriots sought to bury the dead while a number of their party searched inside for survivors……. And possibly loot.
Sigh. Despite having so much in common, the two teams eventually came to quarrel. The elves objected to the “sit back and wait while we handle this” attitude by the new group, championed by Elythia, Musushi, and Thomas. Our noble heroes objected to their objections, citing themselves as the expert demon hunters of Odisvalk… Which the elves had never heard of. To which the team objected further!
In the end, it was Layla who proposed a compromise. Both teams would sweep the tower together. Hopefully to meet up with those elves that had been sent ahead. And so they did. Navigating through fresh battle scenes and triggered traps, the coalition of adventurers pieced together the story of recent events. The tower was assaulted and no expense was spared in its defense. Acid vats were found without and within, some still functioning. Furniture was destroyed and half used weapons and fully used bodies lined the corridors.
It was quickly appeared that Jeremiah’s band were not warriors. The recoiled from the grim aftermath of battle and, Thomas noticed, had no weapons of their own. In the midst of his looting, he turned to Jeremiah and bestowed upon him a damaged crossbow, ironically as an olive branch. The elf grimaced, but took it, feeling a little more secure. The two exchanged a solid bro-nod and both groups softened. So began an alliance that would solidify over time into an unbreakable bond of fellowship and cooperation.
Jeremiah shot Elythia in the back of the head the first chance he got. At least he tried to on a spiral staircase leading up to the top floor, right after a vat of acid dumped on Musushi and Rooke. Luckily, Elythia’s magic tiara shattered the bolt before it, well, killed her. As the team turned to beat these pasty elves into pastier paste, they were shocked to find not elves at all. Some turned in time to see the transformation into wererats! Others could only see Jeremiah’s ratified advance party charging down from the top floor.
What ensued became known as The Battle on the Stairway to Hell. The wererats attacked, slashing with razor sharp claws and teeth. Jeremiah’s attack got close enough to nearly tear Elythia’s dress, a crime for which he paid with his life when he ate a Scorching Ray at point blank range. Tourists still come to see the hole his flaming corpse made in the tower.
The battle raged on, with the group acquitting itself well. Soon, the wererats were defeated with the team’s usual efficiency. As one wererat died, it croaked out its last words: “The agents of Cyric are many.” The team was shocked. All this time and they had no idea that wererats could talk. Oh and the agents of Cyric thing. They were concerned about that too. Burdened by the warning, they pressed onward and upward.
At the top of the tower, the group found something unexpected. An elvish guard had survived the assault. Well, technically. He yet breathed, but the boils and puss on his face suggested that he was not long for this world. Musushi approached, foolishly, it turned out. Detecting movement, the guard suddenly snapped awake and remembered his suicide pact with the kitchen staff in the face of invasion. Deeming it such, he ignited a crudely made tin of alchemist fire, incinerating himself and throwing the team back.
By the time the team hoisted themselves up, the floor was ablaze. They bolted for the door. As they did so, Musushi peeled off to grab something, anything of value. Unschooled in anything elvish, he acquired a mundane sword and several 3rd degree burns. The half elves knew that anything in that room was better off burnt (Musushi included). Layla’s celestial dog ended up being the wisest as he was out the door first. Good dog.
Outrunning the flames, the party sought to quickly search the basement. As they opened the door, they saw two remaining elves. This time, no words of any kind were exchanged. Vines, crossbow bolts, and various pointed sticks met claws, tridents, and chain lightning. Thomas took a trident to the gut and was hoisted like a protest sign, but the team was once more victorious as they concentrated their fire on the big one. They eventually brought the other low with ranged attacks as he ran to collect some nearby documents.
Then the team did what they did best. They divided the gold evenly amongst themselves and Rooke claimed the trident that nearly skewered his companion. Thomas was fine with that and had as little to do with that trident as possible. Among the loot was a diary. Flipping through its pages, Layla identified the wererats’ goal. As it turned out, they had been sent by the Angel Suriel. Faced with blank stares, Layla explained that Suriel was said to be Naphrem’s right hand angel. Their mission: To recover Teclis’s research to further pursue a cure, a mission that they executed violently. The mention of Cyric’s minion membership was not so much a warning, but a final “revelation.”
Sensing a trend, the Champions of Naphrem thought quietly about what they did.
They continued searching.
They continued searching, but didn’t really like what they found. Most notably, Musushi found a crossbow trap behind a particularly kick-resistant door (as Rooke and Thomas found, to great pain). The bolt knocked him (literally) senseless until he was quickly revived. He had to grab something. Layla and Elythia chastized him with great amusement. Grog was nowhere to be found.
Teclis’s notes and storeroom were filled to the brim, but neatly ordered. They spoke of a concoction which was the closest he had gotten to a cure. However, the plague mutated, rendering that cure ineffective. They found Teclis himself collapsed in his office, three days into rigor mortis. Those familiar boils and puss adorned his entire body and a pestilent death stench filled the lab.
From further journals hastily retrieved from Teclis’s office (on account of the smell), it became clear that Teclis was the victim of his own audacity. The plague was evolving. Previous potions that kept the disease at bay were no longer effective, so Teclis took bold strokes to meet it. From Teclis’s scribblings, he believed he had a cure for all. He was the most wrong individual this narrator has ever seen. And I covered the Rebellion of the Gouda Moon. Instead of curing all diseases, his latest concoction infected him with all diseases. Cause of death: Military grade nightshade to end his suffering.
As the temperature started to rise due to the aforementioned raging inferno, the group was faced with the possibility of joining Teclis in fire and noped out of that faster than an orcish baking show. They bravely scooped up all the research and loot they could and bravely ran away. As they sprinted into the dusk air, they watched all evidence of their follies burn away. They were accompanied by the charred remains of Jeremiah, who had flown quite far.
Eventually, the group made their way to Heldelion, where they were ushered in by a rather chatty gatekeeper, who Elythia described as “quite dreamy” and the rest of the party described as the “Latham,” because that was his name. (This narrator still ships Rogethia).
Anyway, they followed the guard’s instructions and became aware of a sick house and tavern nearby. The party was pleased to know that these were two separate buildings. As they made their way to the place of greatest need, the group was met by an old beggar woman, doing her thang. Layla provided food and, in return, the beggar distributed mysterious coins not of legal tender. They were freshly minted iron, adorned with a fanged skull; Death’s head. They looked up from their study of the coins with questions, but by then the woman was gone.
That wasn’t weird at all, for priorities shifted. Who wanted drinks at the Seven Moons Inn? Our heroes, that’s for sure. And boy, did they deserve them…