The Living Night

The Story of the Once and Reborn King

Book One: From Ashes of Empire

Part I: The Horn of Ancient Valor

Adventure Two: The Forgotten City

Act I: The Living Night

Chapter One: The Fellowship is Made

May 3
Tristin and Vonda spend a lot of time together. Marik and Aniki also. Ander is examined by Mistress Shalindra who specializes in Charms and Ensorcelments such as his and Britta's. Shaitan is excited about the prospect of adventure and is impatient for Grimgroth's arrival.

May 4
Grimgroth and his golem arrive. A feast is planned to celebrate the reunion. Shalindra attempts to break the spell cursing Britta and succeeds! Or so they all think.
It is a joyous feast, everyone loves Britta, though she is shy and cannot speak the language. Aniki takes her under her wing, as does Vonda, as Britta is no threat to her position.

Plans are made for the expedition and provisions and costs are discussed. Tristin and Shaitan decide to cover most of the costs, hoping to re-coup it in ancient treasure. The party in general is allowed to buy shares in the expedition, and adventure shares and pay are also discussed.

May 5
Even with the heavily laden strongbox, Tristin does not think he has enough cash, so he sends Gurney to cash in one of the letters of credit he carries. The letters were given to him by his father, the Duke in case of emergency. Tristin is worried becuase he knows his father will now receive word of his activities and his disobiedence in not going to Caldor. Tristin hopes the expedition will not take longer then the letter of credit will to arrive at his father's.
Mistress Shalindra looks into Elricson's problems with his memory and declares that his pattern has been shattered. This is most unusual. A shattered pattern is typically the result of some magickal effect: a curse, a powerful spell, or a magickal backlash. It does, however, account for his spontaneous breakthroughs in skills and memories. Shalindra tells Elricson he has several choices: he can undergo magickal treatment to re-build his pattern, which will take months; he can have his pattern healed now, erasing any chance of becoming who he was, but moving on with who he is now; or he can continue as he is, slowly and painfully re-constructing his pattern. Elricson decides to think on the matter.

May 6 - 9
Elricson decides to go the painful route and re-build his pattern. Shalindra explains some helpful tips and teaches him some basic meditation techniques that should be of help. During his experimentations he has a dream.

In it he approaches a man standing before a glowing orb of power. The man is not facing him, and seems old, though still powerfully built. He seems weary and sad. He wears white robes of shimmering incandescence. Elicson immediately feels a tug of recognition but cannot make the connection with his mind in pieces as it is.

Without turning the man speaks, "Greetings. It has been a very long time. My time is short and I may only ask three questions of you. Be wise with your answers, as you will only learn as much as you know. I shall begin…"

His first question took Elricson aback in its simplicty, "Who are you?"

Elricson took his time and answered "I don't know, but I seek to," to which the man smiled and nodded.

His next question asked Elricson, "What do you seek?"

Elricson immediatly replied, "To find what is lost, and seal what is broken," a phrase that had rung in his head since his awakening on that mountain weeks ago. Again the old man nodded, though he did not smile this time.

For his third and last question the man asked, "What is your name?"

And this question seemed the hardest of all to Elricson, though at the same time the easiest. He took a long time answering it, and finally said "That is what I seek." The old man scutinized him from the corner of his eye, but still did not turn, and again he nodded slightly.

"Good answers have you given. Much do you know, and not know. A road lies before you, a split, a fork. You must go forward, seek your way, one way or the other, but you must act, to know. Remember, the choice is yours, but the time is now." With that the globe grew in brightness and swelled in size, until it became the focus and the world for Elricson.

He saw his choices, could feel the split the old man had spoken of. He must choose the path to make himself whole. The one path was the one he had already chosen, to re-make himself as he was, to repair the cracks in his pattern and become whole. The other was to leap from the precipe and become new and whole, reborn as it were, reforged in the glowing light surrounding him. Elricson hestitated then turned from the light of rebirth and awoke from his meditation.

Elricson had undergone a dream test, and he felt more complete and whole than he had since…well since. He felt lost knowledge trickling back to him, early memeories and his mind felt less broken.

Elricson also felt a longing, a longing for something missing from him. Armor, his armor. If he could just recover it, he knew he would be made more whole. In the meantime, he savored his new old memoires, fragmented and jumbled though they were.

May 10
The party has been here several days before Gurney returns with the money. Alot of shopping and custom-ordering has gone on in the meantime. Tristin finds a beautiful war-horn in a curio shop, said to belong to an ancient general. Gurney is closed-mouthed about where he has been, but his time can be accounted for. The expedition prepares to leave for Haven on the morrow.
Anki, Vonda, and Britta remain behind with Mistress Shalindra. Shaitan, Grimgroth, his golem, and the rest of the party fill out the group.

Chapter Two: The Hollow Men

May 11 - 15
The party begins a slow, plodding journey to Haven. Shiatain and Grimgroth lead the party at a slow comfortable pace, stopping at every village along the way. The pair test the wines and ales of each tavern, and each night is spent in the comfort of an inn. The main party, used to faster, more hurried travel, chaff at the pace, but say nothing.

May 16
The party is well into the foothills of the Barrier Peaks, almost to the pass up into Haven when they come across a small village. The village has recently been raided by some brigands from up in the hills. They beseech the party to help them recover their goods and kidnapped maidens. The pary acquiesces to their request. The villagers tell the party that in the last raid, the village witch was slain, burned alive at the stake. The people tell the party that as she burned, she cursed the bandits with death by the hands of empty justice. The people don't know what that meant, but they pretty much feel the party has answered that call and will be the ones to dole out justice to the brigands.
Elricson and Wulgar begin tracking the doomed bandits and the party journies up into the mountains a half day's travel. The party comes on the bandits camp which is a well-fortified cave along a ridge. Fearing that they will be cut down in a head-on approach, the party decides on using stealth. The party makes it to the cave undetected and rush the cave to take the bandits by surprise.

Unfortunately, the bandits have already been taken by surprise by a band of Hollow Men. The few remaining bandits are prisoners along with their captives, the kidnapped maidens. The Hollow Men are squeezing the blood and juices from one of the bandits on their parched and dry skin as the party bursts in. Horrified at what they see, they are momentarily frozen in their tracks, and the Hollow Men attack!

The party fights bravely and in the end defeat the Horrors. Retreiving the captives and the bandits the party return to the village for a celebration.

Chapter Three: The Living Night

May 17 - 19
The party begins the long trek up the pass. Ander begins to feel he is being watched by owls and other night-flyers. He dreams of a forest floor with a strange growing mound the size of a grave. Writhing grey grubs boil out of it and begin to form a man-shape. He awakens as the creature turns and looks at him with a horrible scream of hatred. His paranoia spreads and everyone is on their guard.

May 20
The party stops at the first village they have seen in days. It is deserted and boarded up, but the inn, a Way Station, The Haven's Refuge, is still open and they take rooms. The innkeeper, Turbegon, tells the party that strange attacks have been occuring at night. People have been disappearing and travelers vanishing. Almost everyone has fled the area, either up towards Haven or down the pass.
That night Wulgar, who has some psychic ability of Foretelling, has a waking dream wherein he sees everyone in the inn dead. As he looks the dead rise and tell him that faith can overcome the darkness. He snaps out of it as something moves outside the inn. Something the party decides to let pass if it will. It does and the party passes the rest of the night in safety.

May 21
It is late in the afternoon and the party has reach a large valley at the top of the pass. The sun gleams off the snowy mountain peaks in the distance, a clear sky opens to infinity above their heads, and a beautiful woods and river cut through the center of the valley. The party feels at peace with the grand vista spread before them.
That's when the pair of hunting griffons descend on the party. The horses began to panic from the scent of the majestic animals, and those who cannot control their horses are scattered. Marik manages to keep control of his palfry long enough to bring a griffon down with a spell of Crushing Will. The griffon is knocked unconscious and crashes into the ground. The other griffon rakes at the heads of the party before killing a pack horse. The griffon is brought down with arrows as it feeds on the horse.

The party somehow feels dirty for killing such majestic creatures. They re-distribute the load from the dead horse and continue on. It is after dark when they see the city of Haven ahead as they round a bend. It is lit up like a jewel in the night, the light blazing from its walls. It is still a ways off, but they can finally see the end of their journey.

As they travel towards the city they enter a small dell, covered with trees. They lose sight of the city, but are confident that they are within a few miles at most. As they enter the dell, small pieces of the night detach from the trees above and swoop down on the party. Darkfangs!

The Darkfangs are manta-shaped bits of shadow that freeze the body and soul with numbing cold. Immune to conventional weapons the party has little choice but to run. The party begins a deperate race to reach the glowing city.

Reaching the area near the city, the party finds that the light drives the Darkfangs back. The city, however is sealed and no guards are in evidence. The party yells out to be let in and after a bit of convincing, they are allowed to enter the sealed city portals. The city watch is dissappointed that the party is not part of a relief caravan the city is expecting.

Chapter Four: The Commission

May 22
The party settles into one of the two major inns of Haven run by an ex-troll adventurer, The Restless Troll. The party learns that the Darkfangs have isolated the city for weeks now, and that at night only the very brave or very foolish go outside.
Salim Rossaud is in the city and is lodging at the other major inn, Loak's Legacy. He is making plans to carry his wagonloads of arms into the Sea of Ash. He learns of the party's arrival, and disguised as Miles Standish he has lunch with Tristin and discusses the party's agenda. He seeks to join up with Tristin both for the protection and to ambush him later on. He offers to send a few "friends" over to interview to join the caravan. Tristin is suspicious and rebuffs him.

The party settles in for the siege. Shiatan had sent an agent ahead to begin buying the provisions and equipment needed for the journey, as well as hire men to defend the caravan. His name is V'ib Gyor. V'ib has been in Haven for a week or two and has already purchased quite a bit of the needed suplies. This is good since supplies and provisions are running short in the city, and prices are now extreme.

The party begins to collect rumors about the goings on in the Sea of Ash. Word is that the orc scorcher tribes seem better armed and better organized as of late. They learn of a human habitation at the base of the pass, Thunder Keep, and of the local orc tribes such as the Red Claws, Headhunters, Great Fangs, and the Black Skulls.

That evening, the party hears that a caravan is approaching the city gates. The party rushes to the walls with many other citizens only to see a few scattered pilgrams fleeing the Darkfangs. At the same time more Darkfangs are attacking the city proper, distracting the watch from affecting a rescue of the travelers. The party sallies forth and drives the creatures back into the night sky. The Darkfangs that they are able to kill with magic seem to fade into nothingness, yet the numbers of Darkfangs don't seem decreased.

May 23
The party receives an invitation to dinner at the Lord Mayors house for this evening. The party accepts the offer. The party offers to give up a wagonload of their provisions for the good of the city. The party is suspicious of Miles and begin to investigate him. They find out that he has several wagons of goods being stored in a warehouse, guarded at all times by large, cloaked and hooded men. He has also been hiring for the trip and few recruits are available to the party.

That night at dinner with the Lord Mayor and the Captain of the cavalry, Yurian Stromhan, the party is asked to take a message to Throal, the dwarf kingdom nearby, to ask for aid against the Darkfangs. Messages have already been sent, but it is past due for the arrival of help and the Lord Mayor fears the worst. The party agrees to set off at first light to help the beleaguered city.

The party decides that they will forego breaking into the warehouse as travel at night is too dangerous.

May 24
The party sets out for Throal. They are riding light for speed and hope to make the journey as quickly as possible. It is hoped by all that they will ride into the convoy from Throal so their trip will be shorter and safer. They ride hard all day and encounter nothing. Night is coming on and the party is seaching for a likely camping spot when manta-like shapes of darkness materialize from the trees around them and plummet to the attack!
The battle is hard fought and the party finds themselves ineffective against the swarming creatures. Each Darkfang seems to summon more Darkfangs from the shadows, and the party is in danger of being overwhelmed. Finally Wulfgar remembers the words from his prophetic waking dream about faith defeating the darkness. He calls out to the others and quickly the party gathers into a defensive circle. The party is able to dispel the false Darkfangs with belief in the powers of Light and weaken the other Darkfangs enough to kill them physically. Ander performs a Glorious Deed and his sword awakens as a minor magickal item, which he names Dark Slayer.

May 25
The party returns to Haven. They arrive and after telling their tale of glory and battle, the townspeople feel less afraid of the unknown and a bit of the pall of terror shrouding the city is lifted, if only for a little while.

On to Act II: An Act of Defiance

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