Eternal Hunger
Table of Contents

==Act I: The Legacy==
===Prelude===
It has been some 26 months since the events of the summer tourney at Harkwood. Caldor's political situation has continued to deteriorate. In the north Tactitus and Mershall are engaged in full scale raiding, open war is expected soon. In the south, piracy and Ivanian raids along the coast have wreaked havoc. And in the east, an uneasy peace, broken only by harsh words and a surly diplomatic attitude, has prevailed. Denton, Blythe, and Ferrier have formalized relations with fosterlings and hostages and have made overatures towards Donlis.

Aquataine has made no more then a few tenative raids into Caldor since the invasion of 3 summers ago, and the war season is over now, but a full scale invasion is overdue.

Lizardman raids along the civilized edges of the Great Blight have stepped up in frequency and ferocity, leading many to believe they are more organized then ever before. The dwarves of Zarak seem preoccupied with some internal matter, most dwarves have returned to the mountains and little trade or contact has been forthcoming.

In the Ashwood, in southeastern Caldor, fell creatures and strange black horsemen on brilliant white steeds have been reported. Those in the know fear the stirring of the White Tower and the Heralds of Night.

===Mordenheim===
Invitations for Mordenheim's 21st birthday have long been sent, all save to Lord Ferrier and his rebelious lot. Those, Mordenheim plans to send late, leaving them no time to attend.

Mordenheim has applied himself these last two years, putting aside the path of power to learn how to rule from his father. Many lessons have been learned, and a rift between father and son healed, though some scars may linger yet.

Save a few times at tourney and other court functions, Mordenheim has not spent any time with his beloved, Jaelea. Both have been kept busy with affairs of state and the duties of their families. An avid stream of letters and coorespondence has flooded between the two, however.

Of late, Mordeheim's dreams have been invaded with images of his legacy, the impenetrable chest left for him on his first birthday. He dreams of opening it, but he always views the scene from behind himself, blocking the chest, or views the scene from beyond the chest, looking at himself seeing the inside of the chest. Sometimes a golden light illuminates him from within the box. Sometimes hideous tentacles sprout forth and draw him into the box. Other times a wind rushes forth carrying the wails and screams of the dead. It is almost more then Mordenheim can bear, and he looks forward to the night of his birthday with great trepidation and anxiousness.

Every few months he has strange waking dreams where he speaks to Max, his dead friend. Max warns him of impending doom and a hungry darkness without end, but they also speak of other things. And while Mordenheim would never mention the fact of his haunting to anyone, he draws strange comfort from knowing his companion is watching over him.

The druids of the area have cured his visible malady, but they warn that the underlying cause is beyond them. They warn that it could be a Horror Mark, a powerful curse, or some flaw in his pattern. He asks what he can do and they tell him that he can shatter and remake his pattern (not a good option as far as Mordenheim is concerned) or kill the Horror marking him (if, indeed, it is a Horror). Not having all the facts, he decides to put off doing anything just yet, but has a lot to think over.

Roblair
In the west, the new Lord of Fordham has been very busy learning rulership through experience. He is a fair, good-hearted ruler, but inexperienced. His thrist for vengeance against Aquataine and the lords responsible for his father's death has been cooled by time and the grinding wheel of bureauracy. He can never quite muster the men or resources for a sustained campaign and keeps putting off increasing his defenses due to various other expenses and projects. But still, his land is fertile and prosperous.

He has received his invitation, and commanded his smiths to make for Mordenheim a brace of matched throwing knives of inesteemable quality. A matching bandoleer of the finest tooled leather to carry the knives finishes off the gift, and with a small retinue of men, and his trusted goblin scout, Jumpkets, Roblair sets off for Wallace.

Durlemae
Yearning for the carefree days of his banishment, Durlemae once again takes on the role of Crevan, abdicating his lands and titles. His clan begs him not to leave, but his mind is set. Baron Harkwood, his liege, is less then pleased at this turn of events, but this boon he grants since Durlemae was instrumental in the recovery of his daughter and the exposing of the traitor Baerythn and the machinations of Lord Donlis. Baron Harkwood puts the Countdom into reagency under the rule of a dwarven council until they elect a new Count, or Durlemae decides to return.

He retreats into the underground passages of Dundain's Folly and forges until his skin is blackened by the fires. Taking his load of weapons and nothing else but a cart and mule, he sets out to see the lands. Staying mostly to the roads and areas of the kingdom he feels threaten the peace, he gathers intellegence on the goings on of the kingdom. Returning home, he finds that the dwarfs of Zarak have called a moot, sending for all dwarves to return to their homes. Durlemae and his folk, no longer being of the mountains of the north, are left out and know little more then the humans do. He repeats his plan, forging yet more weapons, then taking them on the road to sell.

Word reaches Durlemae of Mordenheim's party, as well as the invitation not a few days later. He returns home, retrieves his armor and weapons, then sets out for Wallace, buying exotic and rare woods in every town, village, and city he passes.

===Session 26 (09/08/03)===
==Scene One: An Early Gift==
Oct 1
Lord Fordham approaches Wallace in the late morning. Mordenheim sends his cohort, Tempus, out to greet him at the head of an honour guard. Meeting them at the gates to the castle, Mordenheim breaks bread and shares salt and wine with his visitors. Unimpressed, Roblair asks for quarters and a bath. The servants show the way, and a feast is prepared for the evening.

Mordenheim recieves word from his spymaster, Lucian, that Crevan is in town staying at The Lord and Sceptre, a small, but lavish inn, not unknown to Mordenheim. He pens a letter, seals it, and sends Lucian to deliver it. Lucian approaches the dwarf, who is taken aback by the stranges advances of this human he doesn't recognize. After a few rounds of verbal sparring, Durlemae finally recognizes Lucian and reads the letter. Durlemae tells Lucian to tell Mordenheim that he will see him tommorrow, he will not be coming to the palace this evening. Lucian, under no orders to return a message, offers Durlemae a drink, and a crazy, hazy night of drinking ensues.

Back at the castle, Fordham and Mordenheim renew their friendship with tales of their past adventures, and the events of the last 26 months. Many cups are lifted, many wenches swatted, and much food consumed by all.

Oct 2
Durlemae wakes up with a splitting headache and sprawled on a jailhouse cot. Lucian is also there, huddled in a fetal position on another cot. Durlemae considers strangling the herald, but his head hurts far too much to apply that kind of effort. Instead he calls for the guard, asking to be released. The guard tells him he has to see the magistrate before he can be released and offers him a bowl and pitcher of water to clean up, but Durlemae refuses. Shrugging, the guard leaves the soiled dwarf to his devices.

About this time Lucian awakens, also suffering the pangs of a night's heavy drinking. Durlemae begins to cuss him out in a hoarse voice, little above a whisper, but has to lay off at the stabbing pains his voice creates in his own head. Lucian calls for the guard, who seems to recognize the young man. Lucian graciously accepts the bowl and pitcher, and cleans himself off. Soon after the guard leads them out to the magistrate, where they are allowed to plead their cases. Lucian goes first and though he tries valiantly to defend the antics of the past evening, the court fines him heavily. When it is Durlemae's turn, he chooses not to offer a defense, but simply asks to pay the fine and leave. He too receives a heavy fine, which includes damages and unpaid bar tabs. Durlemae gives Lucian the hairy eyeball outside, and tells him to be off and never trouble him again. Lucian waves and heads off to the castle.

Mordenheim awakens late in the morning, also feeling the effects of the late night. A knock at his door prompts a simple, "Come in" while he continues to freshen himself. The servant enters bearing a fresh ewer of water, and approches very close to Mordenheim. Lucian throws off the disguise and growls at Mordenheim about being more careful, warning that assassins can lurk anywhere. He fills Mordenheim in on Durlemae's plans, telling him that he will arrive sometime later this afternoon.

After a bit of shopping, Durlemae does indeed show up at the castle where he is met at the gate by Mordenheim bearing bread, wine, and salt. After the formalities, Durlemae is shown a room and Mordenheim decides a hunt is in order since his friends are 2 weeks early for the party. Calling his Master of the Hunt and his Master of the Hounds to him, he asks them to prepare a couple days of hunting. The decision is made to leave this evening.

It is late afternoon as the party heads out. Mordenheim, his huntsmen, Tempus, and a few guards, Roblair, a few of his guardsmen, and Jumpkets, and Durlemae. They travel till dusk, where Mordenheim's men have set up the hunting camp. After a bit of catching up and light drinking around the fire, everyone heads to bed, save the watch.

Oct 3
It is sometime after midnight when a strange screeching half-cry half-roar awakens the camp. No one has heard such a strange sound before and everyone is on their guard. But nothing is heard again and after doubling the watch, everyone returns to sleep

In the pre-dawn darkness, Mordenhiem wakes up having heard his huntmaster argueing with a huntsmen over whether or not to awaken him. Mordenheim tells them to report. The huntsman tells Mordenheim that they must see this for themselves to judge the best course of action. Gathering Roblair, Durlemae, Tempus, Jumpkets, and a few more huntsmen, they set out.

An hours march south they stop in a clearing by a lazy stream, shallow but broad. The trackers point to a set of wagon tracks, heavily laden, entering the clearing, then to the same wagon tracks leaving the clearing, much less laden. Then they show the party strange animal tracks, somewhat like lion pawprints, but larger, and seemingly with the ability to jump, fly, or teleport a fair distance as the tracks end and restart at irregular intervals. They also point out that there seem to be two of the beasts, one slightly smaller then the other, perhaps a mated pair.

The wagon tracks have come from the south, and go back to the south. Mordenheim suspects foul-play from his southern neighbor, Lord Ferrier. He decides that the party will track the beasts before they can enter any heavily populated areas, while Tempus and the huntsmen will track the wagon. The two parties break off to their missions.

Jumpkets is a skilled tracker and is able to follow the strange beasts, though their tracks are difficult since they seem to sometimes travel 50 or 60 feet in an instant. He guesses that the beasts are very large and lion-like, perhaps the size of a small cart, or a team of draft-horses. Several hours of tracking, after having lost the trail and found it again, finds the party ahorse, traveling in a broad, shallow stream with rounded pebbles and sandstone cliffs. Jumpkets sees a large, leonine form with glittering brasslike scales around a bend in the stream drinking water. At the same time the beast glances up and snarls. Almost without thought the goblin nocks and fires an arrow into the scaled horror. The arrow sinks into the fleshy portion of its upper arm, so near the heart, but the scales are hard and deflect the worse of the arrow's force. With a snarling cry of rage the dragonne rears up and lets forth one of the piercing, snarling crys of the night before. The roaring screech carries into the bones of the party and their mounts, sapping some of their will to fight and fatiguing some.

The goblin nocks and fires off two arrows in rapid succession, seeming to enrage the beast but not slow it down much. It pounces on him, but the goblin manages to dodge the majority of the attacks with ease. The second dragonne, which was resting on the hill above the stream, hearing her mate's cry, rears up and pounces on the dwarf who was in the rear of the line. The dwarf is suprized at the ferocity of the attack, and drops off his rearing mount onto the ground on the far side of it, putting the horse between himself and the lion-like dragon.

Roblair spurs his horse to charge the larger male threatening his scout, but his horse seems terrified and unable to charge. He dismounts and moves to allow the goblin to retreat. Mordenheim attempts to draw off some of the female's strength, reducing her effectiveness against his companion, Durlemae.

Jumpkets moves away from the creature engaging him while nocking an arrow and narrowly avoids its counterattack. The beast lunges past Robliar, mauling him, but still intent on reaching the goblin. The female tears into Durlemae's horse, crippling the poor beast which falls screaming and kicking under the paws and teeth of the monster. Roblair attacks the huge male, trying to distract it from Jumpket. Durlemae strikes with his modified glaive, slashing visciously across the creatures body, his blow somewhat lessened by his still shaking muscles from the dragon's roar. With the battle lines seemingly drawn, with Roblair and his scout facing the male, and Durlemae facing off solo against the female, Mordenheim lets loose a barrage of mystical energies against the female, seemingly enraging her further.

Again, Jumpkets peppers the dragonne male with a rapid flurry of arrows. Distracted by Roblair's continued attacks the male turns on him, clawing him viciously. The female leaps over the fallen horse and attempts to push past Durlemae to get to Mordenheim, but Durlemae stands firm. Roblair again slashes with his greatsword, but the great beast's scales deflect the greater part of his blows. The dwarf, wounded badly, grimly holds on, trying to keep the brass scaled lion from reaching Mordenheim. Mordeheim reaches in his magical backpack and draws forth his bone rug, and with a practiced flip of his wrist opens it up, steps aboard, and with an uttered incantation, soars aloft.

Noteing his rapidly dwindling supply of arrows, Jumpkets once again reaches deep and fires off two shots into the rapidly approaching beast. Roaring in rage the creature slashes at the exposed goblin, dealing him heavy damage. Again the female lunges at the dwarf, catching the tiring hero with her savage claws and tearing bite. Roblair sensing his opportunity, with his opponent so focused on the irritating goblin, steps behind the massive brass scaled form, and slashes it across the spine, dropping the monster. Durlemae swings weakly, about to drop from his wounds. Mordenheim unleashes another barrage of mystic energy into the female, weakening her.

Seeing her mate down, the female dragonne issues forth a tremendous bellow of rage. At this range, the roar shivers through them, setting their teeth to rattleing and draining the last ounce of energy to fight. She coils to launch herself at the wizard. Roblair staggers forward, drawing a potion of healing. Durlemae, having had enough of this fight, also staggers away, drawing out a potion to refresh himself. Mordenheim decides to climb a bit higher, hopefully out of reach, and fires off another burst of energy.

Jumpkets fires two arrows, which arc up and miss the exposed underbelly of the female dragonne. She launches herself up and forward, coming up shy of the wizard. Roblair runs to his horse to ready his bow, while Durlemae looks up shading his eyes. Mordenheim, seeing his doom approaching fires off a few blasts of sorcerous fire, which the dragonne escapes the worst of.

The goblin once again misses with his arrows, and the dragonne plows into Mordenheim, slashing and biting furiously. She almost does it for the wizard with a well-placed bite, but Mordenheim manages to put some of the martial training he has had of late to good use, avoiding the worst of it. Roblair finishes readying his bow. Mordenheim, realizing this is it, decides to finish the fight, one way or the other, and again releases blasts of fire at the on-rushing dragonne, and though it avoids the worst of the flames, it is enough to cause it to crash to the ground, dead.

No one dead or critically injured, the party sets to cleaning and skinning the dead creatures. Mordenheim asks Jumpkets to head to camp to tell the guards there what has happened and bring back help. Without trouble, he finds his way to the camp, and brings back the guards, who are amazed at the sight of the brassy lion-like dragons. With meat and skin aplenty, the group returns to camp to await Tempus and the huntsmen. Soon enough they arrive, but they have lost the wagon in the twisting canyons. Last they could tell the cart was heading to Ferrier, skirting the edge of the Blight. Deciding not to continue pursuit now that the trail is hours old, the hunting party is called off and everyone returns to Wallace.

Mordenheim is most pleased with his early gift from Ferrier, and has great plans for it.

==Scene Two: The Party==
Oct 4-11
Mordenheim sees to his business with the upcoming party. He sets Lucian to investigate the release of the dragonnes, trying to find out if Ferrier is really responsible. Life at the castle is slow, but training and sightseeing, as well as feasts and entertainments, are available in plenty. Early on during this time, the group is invited to a Druid Circle. There the druids get sky-clad and dance about. It is a hazy remembrance for all of them. but Durlame falls ill afterwards and isn't himself again until the night of the 15th.

Jumpkets has a bit of a run in with a young goblin lass, a scullery-maid, literally knocking her over and breaking the dishes she was carrying. While she goes to get him a broom, he hurries off, avoiding her as best he can the next several days.

Towards the end of this time, Lucian shows up in disguise once again in Mordenheim's room, but Mordenheim has taken the spymaster's advice to heart and doesn't expose his back to the servant. Pleased, Lucian tells Mordenheim that Princess Jaelea is close by and should be arriving by mid-afternoon. Not content to wait for her arrivial, Mordenheim puts together a small picnic and tides to meet her with an honour guard. Roblair joins him on his ride.

Picking a quiet spot near a stream, Mordenheim has servants set up the picnic and the party awaits the Princess's arrival. Soon enough they see a coach and horseman approaching. Sure enough it is the princess and her escort. Mordenheim's heart leaps on seeing Jaelae, and the two greet warmly. Mordenheim's excitment is dashed on seeing the short, dumpy figure of Sister Agliminia leave the coach. Mordenheim tries to intimidate the chaperone into leaving her charge under his care, claiming she has no right to interfere with them on his lands. They stare for fateful seconds, but she refuses to back down and Mordenheim is forced to concede. Jaelae takes that moment to introduce the commander of her honor guard, Sir Boers, Knight-commander of her mother's army, a grizzled old veteran of many campaigns. Along with him ride several other knights and their squires. One in particular draws everyon's eye, a golden-tressed lad who's beauty is awe-inspiring even to the men. It is obvious that this knight, young though he looks in his gleaming plate-mail and swan-feather cloak, is a Faerie Lord.

Tongue-tied at the charisma radiating from the knight, Mordenheim trips over his introductions but manages to make some small talk. He finds that this is Sir Tulkas Thallion, the Swan Knight. He is here on a mission to look into the faerie purgings going on in central Aquataine, and as a favor to Jaelae's mother, rode along with the honor guard.

Mordenheim and Jaelae catch up on things while Sister Agliminia gives them some space, for which Mordenheim finds himself intensely grateful. Later, they ride to the castle where another feast is set. The castle is a-buzz with the arrival of the Faerie Lord, and everyone comes to take a peek at his beauty.

Oct 12-14
Jaelea helps Mordenheim put the finishing touches on the birthday party. Mordenheim and she talk about the wedding plans, a topic she is happy to discuss in detail. Other guests began to arrive during this time. The city is nigh brimming with guests and their entourages. A small tent city springs up in the fields. Mordenheim has the guard make sure no one is profiteering from the overcrowding during this time. Mordenheim sends out his enemies's invitations during this time, insuring their lack of ability to attend.

Oct 15
The day of the party and Mordenheim's age of majority. He is summoned to his father's throne room where he finds both his father and Captain Slann dressed in road-stained armor, seemingly preparing to take a journey. Mordenheim's father tells him that it is time he had a taste of real leadership with no one to fall back on for advice. He says that he has unfinished business to attend to with his man, Captain Slann. The other nobles have been appraised of the situation and Mordenheim can expect his father back within the year should nothing go wrong. If he hasn't returned by Mordenheim's 26th birthday, instructions have been left to proceed with Mordenheim's corronation as Lord of Wallace. Mordenheim offers his father the magical boots he had created, but his father refuses saying he mustn't be tempted to leave his men behind. Instead, Mordenheim offers him the Onyx Mastiff the druids of Brindinford had made for him. Deeply touched, his father calls for Captain Slann to bring him Mordenheim's gift. It is Mordenheim's greatsword, Judgement's Edge, enchanted with magical keeness and the power of frost. Renamed Judgement's Edge is Keen, Mordenheim is overjoyed, and wishes his father good luck and safe jouneys.

The party starts early in the day, with feasting, entertainments, and gifts. Mordenheim has his guards give all the children of the city small trinkets he has been having made for months now. Food and drink are provided for the townsfolk, and the entourages of the nobles in attendance. As evening draws near, the Grand Feast begins. Each noble is announced , introductions made, and pleasentries exchanged. As the doors to the great hall are being shut, a herald pushes in to announce his lord, Sir Dandric Ferrier, brother and right-hand man of Lord Ferrier.

Mordenheim whispers to Tempus as the introduction goes on and Tempus slips off to retrieve the items asked for. Sir Dandric makes an off-hand remark about the lateness of the invitation, apologizing for being so late to arrive, that is a thinly veiled insult. Mordenheim counters politely with the assembled nobles looking on to see which will lose this contest. Mordenheim is holding his own against the oily Dandric, but the match seems a draw. Until Tempus arrives with the dragonne skin and skull, so carefully cured and prepared for just this occation. Mordenheim's cutting remark and the evidence of the skin are too much for Dandric who falters and seems at a lose for words. Mordenheim emerges victorious from the battle.

The rest of the party passes in a blur for Mordenheim, so eager is he to reveal the legacy that has haunted his dreams these many nights and years. Immediatly after the fireworks, Mordenheim begans wrapping up the feast and soon everyone is leaving.

==Scene Three: Mordenheim's Legacy==
With the party in tow and his man Tempus, he enters his father's bedroom where the legacy has been these many years. It is on a small pedestal table in the center of the room, facing the doorway. It seems his father was expecting this and left it set up for the young man. Trepidiously, Mordenheim approaches the chest, his palms sweaty and his stomach churning. He waves for the bars to be thrown on the doors, and mutters a few prepatory spells of protection, he is ready for the worst.

He reaches out, fearful of the protections that had hurt him the last time he had tried to open the box, but this time his hands touch its cool surface. He throws back the lid, his heart leaping in his chest with fear and curiousity. The rest of the party are arrayed near the door, Mordenheim's back to them, blocking the contents of the box. They see Mordenheim draw forth a cloak or robe of some kind. It seems to be of the finest materials and is trimmed with some strange triangular design. Jumpkets and Roblair are the first to see the strange figures entering the room from the balcony and shut out a warning as they draw steel and bow!

===Session 27 (09/16/03)===
Ghastly skeletons of lizardmen rush the guardians at the door, while close behind them come even more ghastly lizardman and human zombies, loose dead skin sloughing off them. Reacting with great speed, Jumpkets fires off an arrow into the chest of an onrushing skeleton, seemingly doing little damage to the creature of bone. Armed with gleaming tulwars, the skeletons push back Mordenheim's defenders, slashing madly. Dark words of power cut the night, seeming to power the attackers with divine fervor while at the same time draining hope from the party. Cultists, in vestements with decorations similiar to the robe Mordenheim had drawn forth from his chest, enter the bedchamber behind the undead. Armed with bows they begin firing arrows into the swirling melee. Roblair slashes the skeleton threatening him, but it nimbly evades him.

Again Jumpkets fires off arrows into the skeleton in front of him, again with little effect. The skeletons continue their attacks, the keen edges of their blades cutting deeply. Tempus pushes his way in front of Mordenheim to stop the advance of the cultists and thier undead, but suffers the attentions of the advancing enemy. A large man with more tattoos then the rest of the cultists steps into the room, pointing his finger at Mordenheim. He yells out that it is time to face his destiny in the service of the Hunger Eternal, that the Feast of Wallace has come to collect him. Mordenheim feels a divine presense trying to overwhelm his will, but he shrugs it off. The zombies lunge at Tempus with longspears held before them. One of the archers pulls forth a particularly nasty looking arrow and fires it at Tempus, cursing when it misses and smashes on a wall. Another particularly large cultist wades into melee against Dulame, swinging what looks to be a large threshing flail. More arrows pepper Tempus, staggering him. Roblair slashes again at the skeleton in front of him, smashing it into pieces with a brutal cut. Mordenheim prepares a fireball, but the cultist priest touches one of his tattos and a black maw of energy swallows the magic before it has a chance to form fully. Durlame slashes the skeleton threatening Jumpkets, but with much the same ineffectual results, his blade merely shearing off a few ribs.

Again Jumpkets fires from underneath the small table he is hiding under, but again his arrows seem to pass through the skeleton rather then impacting anywhere vital. Tempus rips open the side of a zombie's head with his chain, but falls under the massed firepower of the archers and zombies. The priest utters a dark benediction on his cultists, inspiring them to greater ferocity. Blood, magic, and zombie flesh fly as the two groups clash. Durlame is almost overcome by the dark magic of the enemy priests but manages to shrug it off, slaying undead after undead. Roblair pushes forward, step by step, cutting a swath with his sword. Mordenheim retreats to the back of the room and tries several spells, most with little effect. His fireball useless now that the fight is in such close proximity to his allies and himself.

Things look grim for the heroes, but sudden inspiration washes over them when Tempus staggers to his feet miraculously overcoming his wounds to defend his master. Rallied by the determination of the cohort, the party pushes through the cultists. Dark magic flows from the priest, and the party's blows against him seem somehow blunted, as if the damage were being shunted off somewhere else. Seeing an opportunity, Mordenheim fires off a fireball onto the balcony, incinerating several undead and cultists, including the lesser priest. With the lesser priest destroyed, the high priest loses whatever magic was shielding him, and the party's blows drive him back.

Desperate to inflict whatever damage he can, the cult leader summons forth a maw of darkness, that eats the very light, trying to buy himself time. But Mordenheim has long since prepared himself against the dark, ever since Max was cut down by the Grimlock assassin, Felga. He summons the very power of daylight, driving the darkness back. Durlame, able to see again, drives the cleric back. Laughing, the priest tells Mordenheim that he may have beaten the Feast here, but that he hasn't won, that he will still come to Ras Sadir at the Hellmaw, if not as a petitioner, then to rescue his beloved. Mordenheim is struck with fear at this, realizing that Jaelea is at risk. The priest's life ebbs from him when Jumpkets's arrows sink into his throat and chest.

Quickly, Mordenheim and Roblair rush to the Princess's rooms, an echoing scream from that direction dashing any hope that he will be in time. In Jaelae's quarters, Sir Boers lies dead, his throat slit. Of Jaelae and Sister Agliminia there is no sign.


Table of Contents

==Act II: For Love's Sake==
==Scene Four: Once Again, Into the Blight==
Oct 16
Sissi, the young goblin lass that Jumpkets had encountered before comes forth with an eye-witness acount of the cultists making off with Jaelae. She tells them that she saw a woman and three men put a bundle on a fifth horse and gallop off, shortly before the body of Sir Boers was found. She says she recognized the woman, she is a local aristocrat who sometimes works at the castle as a lady-in-waiting for the extra money. The family name means nothing to Mordenheim, he cannot remember ever meeting anyone of that family, but he sends guards to the family's estate, as well as sending scouts and Jumpkets to scour the area for the princess and her abductors.

Figuring that Sir Boers wouldn't appreciate being reincarnated by the local druids, he sends a summons to the local bishop. It takes some time for the bishop to arrive from his home outside the city, during which time Mordenheim also sends for the druids. Both his father and he having shunned the Light, he doesn't expect much volunteered help from the church, and he is right. The bishop offers that the dead man can be raised from the dead, but that in return the church should be allowed more lattitude and freedoms in expanding its influence. Mordenheim thinks this over, but realizing that the church expanding its influence must be at the cost of the druid's influence, he declines. The bishop shrugs and says he will see what can be done anyways.

One of Jaelae's knights bursts in, demanding answers and a rescue mission. Mordenheim motions his guards to let him through, then slaps the man as he rages on. In the stunned silence that follows, the knight draws himself to his full height and says, "Sirrah, were it not that my Lady is missing, I would challenge you for you have dishonored me. When this matter is decided, expect my challenge!" Mordenheim hotly replys, his anger and panic at Jaelea's dissappearance getting the better of him. The knight storms off.

The Greatjohn, leader of the local druid circle and his newest druid apprentice, a young girl wrapped in a tunic of ivy, dispense some healing, citing the dangers of too much artifical healing and that "nature must take its course". Roblair is hesitant to accept the healing, fearing the faith of his convictions, but also the illness that took the dwarf out for so long. The druidess is very friendly, and especially forward to Mordenheim. She seems amused by something and seems to hide a secret behind her smirk.

Mordenheim heads to his father's study to see if his father has mentioned any of this in his logs or journals. Finding only reports and recent journals for the most part, Mordenheim does stumble on a passage that reads, "the feast is active. Odd that it would after so much time has passed. It can mean only the thing I have feared since the box was delivered so long ago. I must prepare myself…. for every eventuality." Mordenheim drifts off to sleep, it being sometime close to 3am at this point.

He dreams he is flying over the desert, over the Blight. Canyons and mesas pass beneath him as he flys on through the night. Banking up from the face of a cliff, he sees the clear skies ahead darken with storm clouds from nowhere. Flying into the buffeting winds and stormy darkness he pushes on. Now the ground is flatter, a rocky wasteland. Ahead he makes out a conical peak jutting from the edge of a ridge, he sees a staircase winding its way up the side of the mountain to a doorway set 3/4 of the way up the side. He passess by the door and keeps flying around the mountain, sweeping around it at great speed. On the far back side there is a terrible maw of stone, torn out of the mountainside. Great teeth of stone make it seem like a vast maw has opened in the side of the mountain. Within the maw is a flat almost featureless area but for a conical pillar jutting up a third of the height of the roof. Mordenheim can see that the pillar glows like an ember, and tiny flames seem to flicker along its surface. Suddenly the pillar ignites in a corona of flames. Bright, hot flames.

Mordenheim awakens suddenly, still in the study. There is a knock on the door, Jumpkets has returned with news as have the other guards. Mordenheim learns that the family estates of the Longfellows is abandoned. His scouts were unable to find any trace of the abductors in the night. But Jumpkets tells Mordenheim that from alight his winged cat he was able to make out 5 riders heading into the Blight, trailing many extra horses.

Plans are begun for a rescue party. Mordenheim decides speed is of the essence, so he will take only himself and Tempus. Roblair decides on his three best men, while Durlame rides alone. In addition, Sir Hubert, the insulted knight, insists on going, along with 10 of his men-at-arms. It is late morning, almost noon before the rescue party leaves Wallace. As they leave the cover of the walls and make for the Blight, some 60-80 miles east, a lone figure on a white horse breaks from the trees to their left. The druidess falls in beside Mordenheim, her mountain lion companion loping along beside her. She flashes Mordenheim a quick grin and pats his hand. She rides bareback, save for a blanket, no reins nor bridle either.

It is a tired group that decides to rest for the evening rather then push on. Mordenheim mentions that he feels Jaelae will be safe until he arrives at the Hellmaw. Hubert is doubtful of this and looks at the young Lord askance but says nothing.

Oct 17
The men are breaking camp the next morning when Jumpkets takes Mordenheim aside to show him some tracks. They are lizardman tracks, and fresh from last nite. It would seem a body of lizardmen, perhaps a raiding party, had scouted the party last night. Mordenheim is unsure what to do. He doesn't want to waste time searching for the lizards, nor does he want to let them roam free in his lands. He asks Sir Hubert to send some of his men to warn Wallace. Hubert flatly refuses, not wanting to risk so few of his men in case there is an ambush. Finally, Mordenheim decides Wallace can deal with the matter on its own, as he too is nervous about sending just his cohort to warn the city.

The party rides hard through the day, stopping only once at a small village to water their horses. A few villagers peak out from behind shutters, but no one disturbs the group. Durlame slips off and corners a townsperson from whom he learns that a group of five riders with extra mounts passed through here late last night. The party rides on, Durlame relays his information to Mordenheim who grunts.

It is getting on evening time. The ground has gotten rockier and water is less frequent a sight. They are getting close to the Blight. Ahead is a small farmstead, a good place to stop for the evening. But something is wrong with the place they can see as they ride closer. There is no sign of any livestock, and the place seems deserted. Drawing closer yet, they see the remains of several goats and other livestock, slaughtered and killed, seemingly chewed and feasted on. The bones are cracked for the marrow, and even the fur seems half-eaten. Just the bones, blood and bits of gristle are left. Sir Hubert orders his men to fan out. Mordenheim dismounts, calling orders to search the grounds, and the house, when suddenly the front door bursts open and a blood-covered madman rushes out straight for him!

Before the man can reach him, five quarrels rip through him, sending him sprawling to the ground, dead. Looking at him, Mordenheim can see that he appears half-starved, his ribs poking through his skin like gaunt sticks and his cheeks sunken like a man gone without food for weeks. Sir Hubert's men have gone into the farmhouse and the sounds of nausea and cries of disgust suddenly can be heard. Mordenheim rushes in, seeing the kitchen as he does so. It is a shambles, all the shelves are emptied, more livestock is butchered, and blood is everywhere. Mordenheim steels himself for some grim sight as Sir Hubert's lieutenant is dragged out of the house, he having fainted, but he is not ready for what he sees. The farmer's wife, emaciated to the point of satire, lies in bed, obviously too weak to have gotten up for some time, but strong enough to have eaten her own hand and part of her arm. She is dead.

Reeling from the sight, he hears shouts from outside that there is someone in the barn. Quickly he and Roblair head into the barn, where a small boy, perhaps 12 years of age has locked himself in the shed and barricaded himself in. The party lures him out with food, and he is not alone. His older sister, a beautiful lass of perhaps 16 or 17 comes out with him. The boy holds her hand and leads her about, she seems vacant, yet somehow innocent. The party is concerned that the malady that has afflicted this farm is contagious and that the two survivors might have it. Mordenheim casts spells over them to see if they are under the influence of some kind of magic, and what he sees sends shivers down his spine. It is as if a bottomless maw has anchored itself to the center of their patterns, like a giant tapeworm, but spiritual.

Mordenheim is not sure what the curse is, and is afraid he cannot break the enchantment. The druidess is also unable to break curses, nor dispel magical effects, so she is at a total loss. Meanwhile, one of Sir Hubert's men has been feeding the boy rations, and looks worried as he packs away his fifth man-sized meal in as many minutes and still looks hungry. Mordenheim notices a few of the other men eyeing the pretty farmgirl, and scowls darkly at them.

Mordenheim attempts to dispel the magical effect on the young boy, but is not successful. He fears it is a curse, beyond a simple dispelling. Worriedly a conference is called. The disease or spell seems to work quickly, so it seems unlikely the pair will make it back to Wallace if the party splits up. If the lizardmen are still around that is another obstacle to the pair reaching Wallace. Another factor is the fear that this is a magical disease and may be contagious. Such a horror spreading through a populous area is too much to bear thinking of. Talk turns to mercy killing. The druidess is overwrought at this suggestion but can think of no other alternative. She runs weeping to her horse and rides into the fields.

Durlame leads Roblair off and distracts him, while Mordenheim and Sir Hubert lead the young boy around the side of the house. "Here you go young man, a bit of cheese for you," says Mordenheim, pulling a wedge of cheese from his magical backpack. The boy begins to greedily devour it, never seeing Judgement's Edge flash in the setting sun. It is over quickly, the boys slumps dead. Mordenheim feels sick, but feels there is no other way. He and Sir Hubert share a look, then turn to escort the pretty farmgirl around the other side of the house. Mordenheim drops back while Sir Hubert tries to distract her with inane chatter. As Mordeheim raises his blade and begans his cut, she turns and looks him in the eye. The blade proves apt to its name, and neatly seperates her head from her body in a clean stroke. The head rolls a few feet, coming up with the eyes still looking at Mordenheim, a sad smile still on her lips.

Mordenheim grabs up a shovel and begins digging their graves himself. Sir Hubert lends a hand and in the gathering darkness of dusk, Mordenheim volunteers to say a few words. Looking around the farmstead it seems obvious to him that these people were pagans, like himself. Durlame and Robliar have ridden to be close to the druidess who is still weeping a ways out in the field. Hubert's men wait for the services to end so they can all be away from this dark and terrible place to find a camp many miles away.

Mordenheim begins the chants honoring the dead and blessing their passage to the Otherside. His mind wanders as his mouth continues the rote prayers and blessings. Over and over he sees the girls eyes as she turned to him and he cut off her head. Suddenly, aware that something is wrong, Mordenheim comes back to the present. Sir Hubert and his men look alarmed, Hubert's blade is half drawn and he is backing away from Mordenheim fearfully. The men-at-arms are trying to control their panicing horses. At the tree, Durlame and the others look up as they hear a rolling voice like thunder intoning the finishing phrases of a spell or word of power. It is Mordenheim.

He realizes that while his mind wandered, something began evoking a spell through him. Now the sky begans to darken, with a whirling vortex of blackness hovering above the farmhouse. Fiery red lightings light the sky and black sooty clouds obscure the light. Then from the maw-like vortex come black hailstones. Small at first but growing in size as they aproach the ground, the hailstons roll open on hitting the ground revealing hideous monsters. Donut shaped with a long vertical mouth running over half the lengths of their bodies, and short stubby appendages, the abyssal maws waste no time rolling themselves towards the shaken group.

It is pandemonium as over two dozen of the rolling creatures plow into the disorganized group. Sir Hubert's men take the brunt of the attack, three of them going down almost immediately. And when they fall, the maws continue to gulp them down, leaving nothing but the odd appendage or bit of equipment. Tempus and Sir Hubert are both hit hard, while Mordenheim seems untargeted, the abyssal maws flowing around him like water. Robliar and his men, as well as the rest of Hubert's men charge towards the beleagured men. The Druidess and Durlame follow them.

===Session 28 (09/24/03)===
Oct 18
==Scene Five: The Sand Trap==
Oct 19
==Scene Six: Lizard Attack==
===Session 29 (10/02/03)===
==Scene Seven: The Hell Maw==
Oct 20
Oct 21


==Act III: Into the Maw==
==Scene Eight: Hungry Shadows==
===Session 30 (10/10/03)===
==Scene Nine: The Catacombs==
==Scene Ten: Birthright==

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