The Curse of Jaewith

The Story of the Once and Reborn King

Book One: From Ashes of Empire

Part I: The Horn of Ancient Valor

Adventure Three: The Proving of the Warlord

Act I: Curse of Jaewith

Chapter One: The Enemy of My Enemy…

June 22
Last night was a sleepless one for everyone. The drums continued their pounding, but it was more than that. Everyone seems listless and drained. The wizards even more so, and Wulgar and Elricson the most of all. Wulfgar who has learned to trust his premonitions has a bad feeling about this place.

A trail is found that leads up the bluff to a large ledge. The caravan members began hauling equipment and mounts ardously up the steep bluff. Ander and Tristin head off to explore the area and perhaps gain a higher vantage point to scout the local terrain. Gurney insists that Wulfgar and Elricson accompany them in case of trouble.

After some bad experiences attempting to climb the back wall of the ledge, the party makes it to the top of the cliff. Looking down they see the straight lines and man-made constructs of ruins buried on the ledge. Back on the ledge they were just too close to be seen and everyone had missed the tell-tale signs. Excitedly, the party hurriedly climbs down and rushes to tell the others what they have found.

Surveying is begun and after the camp is re-made on the ledge, work begins on searching for the entrance to the caern.

June 23
The drums have become almost a constant background noise for the caravan, begining each night at dusk and continuing through the dawn. But now, strange dreams have begun to plague what little sleep the members of the caravan are able to get. Tempers are becoming shorter, workers are begining to make costly mistakes due to fatigue, and morale is declining. Tristin's guards and teamsters come to the party with word of talk of dissension in the ranks. The common guards and workers want to flee now before it gets any worse. Tristin calls everyone together and gives a speech to rally morale. His speech goes very well, and morale improves. He also institutes a system of rotating work so that members of the caravan have some rest time during the days.

Late that day, surveyers find a cave along the back wall. They tell a tale of cold radiating from it and the smell of water. The party goes to investigate. They find a narrow crevice hidden along the cliff wall. Near the opening it feels cold and clammy. Looking in, sunlight can be seen deeper in. Along the narrow fissure walls leading in are strange and elaborate cave drawings and symbols. The party pushes inside in single file. After about thirty feet the fissure opens up into a large cavern with three passages leading off it and a pool of water. The water comes from the passage on the left, pools, then flows into the passage on the right. The passage on the right is where the sunlight is entering the cave system.

After exploring the cave, the party discovers that the right passage leads to a small chamber with a hole in the floor that leads to the outside, along the southwestern side of the plateau, through which most of the light is coming. At the bottom of the hole are the bones and remains of humaniods and animals. The leftmost passage is dark and wet and very cold. Along the back wall water seems to trickle out of the stone, forming the small stream that feeds the pool in the main chamber. The back wall is also very cold, in places frost has formed. Everyone feels a bit uncomfortable near the wall, but Wulfgar almost loses it when he approaches it. Overcome by terror he exits the area. The central chamber holds what must be the pictograpic story of a scorcher tribe. The walls are covered with cave drawings and carvings, much like those seen entering the fissure, but more prolific.

Grimgroth and Shiatan decide to check out the cave drawings. They seem to tell a tale dating back to The Breaking. Pictographs tell of the tribe being formed after the world was smashed and their journey through a burning and changing land. Many dangers and monsters were defeated as the tribe continued their travels, until the they gained the attentions of a Horror that began taking a victim each night. Nothing could be done about it and the tribe was helpless. They could not see it, they could not fight it, and the spells of their shamans were ineffective against it. After several weeks of this the tribe was frantic. Then the shaman remembered a tale of a Horror that hunted other Horrors. He called this Horror forth in a simple ceremony and the Horror hunter arrived. That night one of the tribe died, but in a different way. From his bursting head, a light pulsed forth and the feasting Horror was revealed. A dark cloaked shape, the Horror hunter, enveloped the exposed Horror and feasted on it. The tribe was saved. The tribe decided to settle this area since other Horrors seemed to avoid the area since the Horror hunter was nearby. The tribal shamans also decided to imprision the Horror hunter to use against other Horrors in the future. This required blood sacrifices to extend the magick of the prison. To avoid sacrificing their own tribe members, war prisoners or slaves were used if possible. That is where the story ends.

Almost everyone in the caravan remembers learning of a Horror hunter called Buulgaathor at their mother's knee. The part they all clearly remember is that he is easily summoned with a simple ceremony. Most of the party remembers this clearly, especially Elricson. Master Grimgroth does not remember this story, nor does Marik or Wulfgar. Grimgroth is suspicious that everyone so clearly, and suddenly, remembers the same story learned at their mother's knee, especially concerning the summoning of a Horror.

Water is running low and it is decided to attempt to break through the back wall of the cave to access more of it. The workers quickly break through the rock to a bricked up wall. One of the bricks is removed and what happens next is so quick that no one can react. A black pseudo-pod bursts forth and grabs the worker who is pulled through the small opening with much snapping of bones, popping of flesh, and gouting of blood. Wulfgar is the only one present who is able to overcome his shock, and before the Horror can strike again, he snatches up the brick and replaces it, re-sealing the prison.

It is decided to leave well enough alone. The cave is put off-limits.

June 24-26
The search of the ruins continues. The Headhunters keep their distance, but seem to be growing in numbers. More and more answering drums repeat the same pounding every night. The strange and distrubing dreams continue to haunt the sleep of everyone until Grimgroth is able to affect a spell which allows everyone a good night's rest.

Chapter Two: The Curse of Jaewith

June 27
On the 27, the bottom of a dig drops out and a deep shaft is discovered. The worker that falls through yells up that he is safe but needs rescue. He claims his fall was slowed somehow and that he landed safely. Everyone is a bit suspicious of this, but Grimgroth and Shaitan are able to ascertain that the shaft has been enchanted to slow falling objects.

Preparations are made to return from the bottom of the shaft. Ropes and pullies are used to form a makeshift platform that can be lowered down. Grimgroth insists on going into Jaewith and it is decided to leave Shiatan and most of the guards and workers behind in case of Headhunter attack. Ander, Tristin, Gurney, Captain Telnap, Yvette and the ten Grim Legionnaires, V'ib Gyor, and Wulfgar decend down to explore the caern. The party uses the magick of the shaft to quickly decend into the depths.

At the bottom of the shaft is a large and long tunnel that stretches back into the plateau. Along its length are runes and symbols that the wizards recognize as powerful Wards vs. Horrors and their minions. The Wards seem powerless, their enchantments long dead. Strangely, thin lines have been cut into the rock. The lines swirl and twirl about the long corridor, thickest around the runes. Each has been carved about the thickness of a thin dagger blade and perhaps an half-inch deep. At their thinnest concentration there seem to be about 1 per inch, and at their thickest there could be no more, the space completely filled. There seems to be no beginning or end to the lines, they just seem to be one long and convoluted carving. The party wonders on this strange sight. The effort and time required to perform this carving is beyond comprehension.

At the end of the tunnel the party finds a set of stone doors, also carved with powerful runes and symbols, again lacking their enchantments, and also carved with the strange lines. The doors have been wrent from their hinges and flung down. The party takes this as a bad sign, but enters the ancient caern anyway.

It proves to be a long day and night for the survivors. The caearn is laid out like a large web in concentric circles. The party finds the passageways that move towards the center collapsed in many places. They have to navigate around the outside of the caern before they can move inwards. At many intersections they meet with undead, Horror constructs, and magickal traps. It is a harrowing trip. Many acts of bravery are undertaken, and many acts of sacrifice. V'ib Gyor and several of the Grim Legion are killed by a Black Mantis swarm, Yvette is almost lost down a Jethula lair but for the heroic save by Ander, and Elricson is almost drained to an empty husk by Q'irel lurking above an archway.

The caern seems to have fallen slowly to whatever power invaded it. Barricades and traps are found throughout the ruins. Little treasure is found as most of the caern's goods seem to have been moved by the inhabitiants as they fought a retreating battle to the center.

June 28
It is well after midnight when the party reaches the central chamber of Jaewith. They find a large open area with a large open temple in the center. It is in this temple that they find the majority of the remains of the inhabitants of Jaewith along with their treasures. They also find a pair of strange orichulum shields, one a smaller version of the other. Both radiate a strong dweomer. It is then that the Curse of Jaewith exposes itself. It is a Wormskull Horror. It tells the party to bring out the larger shield to it and it will let them leave. Grimgroth, who has been frantically reading the final account of the doomed caern in a tome left near the magickal shields, tells the party that the smaller shield keeps the Horror at bay, and the larger keeps it from moving beyond a proscribed radius. If it is able to get the larger of the shields and destroy it, nothing will stop it from leaving the caern and weaking havoc in the world. The party is determined to fight the Horror and destroy it.

It is a bloody battle as the Horror steps from this plane into the etheral plane, reappearing in another location with devastating effect. It launches physical and magickal assaults that leave the party reeling. The Horror shifts Grimgroth's skin around on his body, causing him terrible pain, but it is his Golem picking him up to carry him to safety while under the effects of a damage shield spell that finishes him. Most of the Grim Legion and its Captain, Telnap, are torn apart by the cruel strength of the Horror, but at last it is laid low by the combined might of Ander's glorious strike and Elricson's pinpoint accurate bow fire.

Marik rushes to Grimgroth's side to see if he can help him, but it is too late. Grimgroth gasps out a few last words asking Marik to finish what he, Grimgroth, has started here and to claim his tower back home as his own. Marik vows to do this. Marik also lays claim to an impressive looking bastard sword.

The party rests up and returns to the surface where they find that the Headhunters have finally worked up the courage to attack. Using their supierior position the caravan has held against the initial onslaught. The addition of the party, as well as some of the items found in the caern, turn the tide and the orcs are driven back, for now. Marik fights like a man possessed, his new sword cutting a swath of death through the enemy.

June 29-30
The Headhunters continue their assaults on the caravan. Attrition and fatigue are beginning to take their toll and late on the 30th as the final assault is underway, the Red Claw show up and the assault is turned into a rout.

July 1-5
Jaewith is searched in detail and cleaned out of any remaining Horrors and Horror constructs. The caravan and their allies the Red Claw clean out the last bits of treasure and goods from Jaewith and when nothing more seems forecoming, plans are made to begin the journey back home.

During this time Marik attunes himself to his blade and learns its name is Fury. It seems to have some intellegence, though mostly of an empathic level, and several powers. Its one drawback, however, is that it yearns for combat and drives its wielder to insane heights of frenzy if not controled. Everyone thinks this is a cursed item, but Marik has become inordinatly fond of his new weapon and refuses to relinquish it. Slowly, Marik's personality begins to change, and he begins to shun magick, prefering a more brutal and direct answer for everything.

Head to Act II: An Act of Vengeance

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