The Alpha and Omega

Second Chances

Lining the streets of The Holy City, conflict suddenly boiled over into riot. Chants against The Church, as well as direct attacks at the new ruling leader, Holy Father Linus Sixtus XIII filled the air. The feelings of unrest were long overdue, but the riots were unexpected.

As peaceful protests turned violent, law enforcers were forced with few options, and eventually resorted to violence of their own. Protesters and innocent bystanders alike were beaten and corralled, herded off to the prisons. The Holy City cleared their streets with brute force, tossing both the deserving and the undeserving in jail.

After the incident in the streets, all accused were held for three days with no information. Crammed like cattle, as many as sixty prisoners were held in large, stone cells. On the third day, conflict again began brewing.

The conflict inadvertently began with a Southerner, Abdul-Hamid Salim. The man was lying in his bed, minding his own business, when he was approached by a mysterious man dressed in a nice suit. Smoke from the mans cigarette billowed into the air, wafting into Abdul’s face. After exchanging pleasantries, Abdul learned that the man was named Mr. May, and that Mr. May had “connections.” Abdul was presented with the opportunity of possible freedom, for an undisclosed fee at a later date. Taking little time to ponder, Abdul accepted Mr. May’s proposal with a handshake. Mr. May then disappeared into the crowd. No sooner had the man vanished than the doors swung open. Confused, inmates began rushing from the stone rooms. Many prisoners mobbed the guards, who fought back with wooden clubs. Knowing the doors would open, Abdul reacted quickly, and picked out the most scrawny and vulnerable inmate he could find: Father Grigori, a priest of the church.

Abdul tears across the room, and tackles Father Greg at a full sprint. Both men toppled to the ground, and Father Greg laid stunned and confused. Whispering to Father Greg, Abdul coaxed him to play along with the act, and proceeded to reign punches on the helpless, clueless priest. Inmates rushed around them. An alarm began to sound, coming from the door at the far end of the room. Stationed in front of the door were two guards wielding clubs, and a Captain wielding a long sword. This door was the only door leading to civilization.

In another cell, three inmates reacted to the mass confusion by searching out each other. Raku Aankorra, a dwarf, immediately began searching for an Elf he had become acquainted with during their three day stay. The Elf, named Vir Tagro, also had a similar idea, and searched intently for his dwarven friend. After pushing and shoving their way through the crowd, the two meet up with each other and began to exit the cell, attempting to look for their belongings. Uni Silia-Laurum, a female Elf inmate, saw the two minority inmates leaving together, and decided they were her best bet at escape. After pushing through the narrow exit of their cell, they found themselves face-to-face with a club-wielding guard. They mobbed the man, beating his face and grabbing at his weapon.

In the cell next to Raku, Vir, and Uni, Sebastian Lionel reacted to the riot with anger. Leo, a member of The Holy Hand, felt that being held in jail for the past three days was ridiculous, due to his high level of authority over the men holding him. He decided to take out the pent-up anger on the first man that pushed past him as the doors flung open. Leo attempted to punch the man in the face, but missed and delivered a blow to the leg. The man took the blow to the leg, and then took a club to the head, knocking him unconscious. Leo took this opportunity to attempt to lift the unconscious man. After a bit of a struggle, Leo heaved the unconscious prisoner at the guard. The guard took the lump of unconscious meat in the chest, staggering backwards slightly. Leo made a grab for the guard’s club.

As Abdul cleared off of Father Greg, he began moving towards the guard outside of his cell. After a bit of hand-to-club combat, Abdul began to wrestle away the guard’s club. Father Greg crawled out of the cell, and made his way, on his hands and knees, towards the corner of the room. He attempted to present himself as non-threateningly as possible. Raku, Vir, and Uni continued their battle against the guard stationed outside of their cell, and Leo did the same. The bell had stopped ringing by this point, and one of the guards stationed next to the Captain began to open the door leading to freedom. Three men wearing black robes embroidered with a golden eye entered through the open door. Prisoners continued to riot, but suddenly began dropping like flies. First, Uni was knocked unconscious by a magical force, then Raku, followed by Vir, Leo, Father Greg, and finally, Abdul.

The six men awoke to find themselves chained together next to all of the other prisoners from the riot, sitting in chairs in the center of the room where the riot had taken place. The spellcaster wearing black robes addressed them, telling them they were to be executed in the city of Borås. They were to be taken by carriage, where they would await their immediate disposal.

Along the path to Borås, the rowdy bunch of prisoners attempted a few different escape plans, some of which included rocking the carriages back and forth, as well as singing. These attempts lead them nowhere, and lead to one prisoner being stabbed in the chest. After the death of one of the singing prisoners, the ride was quiet for the remainder of the journey.

Upon arriving in Borås, all prisoners were met and addressed by Henry Lysø, the warden. The group of prisoners were told that all would be sentenced to death. However, all of the prisoners were given another option; the warden was in need of volunteers to carry out a mission. Only six prisoners stepped forward. Those six were taken to a group cell, where they were fed and clothed a bit better, as well as given the opportunity to acquaint themselves with each other. The rest of the non-volunteers were sentenced to death.

After a day in the group cell, the six inmates were removed from the jail and summoned by the warden. Upon arriving at the warden’s office, Abdul, Raku, Vir, Uni, Father Greg, and Leo were told that their skills were needed in regards to a myth floating around the city. The group was told that children were going missing, and turning up weeks or months later unable or unwilling to speak to anyone. The warden told the party that rumors were circulating about a creature called the Sackman. The warden also stated that he didn’t believe in the superstition, and that he was convinced that the children were being taken by a delinquent human being. The groups mission was to get to the bottom of the occurrences, and stop any more children from being taken. The party was outfitted with weapons and equipment and began their assignment.

Raku, Vir, and Leo headed north, to look for clues along the path and in the surrounding area. They began talking to random farmers along the way, and each time the group was met with the same reserved, cautious warning: It’s none of your business, leave it alone. However, the group just wasn’t satisfied with that response, so they pressed onward.

Upon knocking on a strange door, Leo was invited inside for tea by an elderly woman who just wouldn’t take no for an answer. Leo snacked on biscuits and drank tea while the woman talked, only to find out the tea was blood and the biscuits were maggot-infested. In a terrifying display, the old woman turned witch, and let out a scream of terror. Winds began to swirl around the abandoned shack, and Leo was scratched and bitten. Vir came to Leo’s rescue by wielding his fire powers and sending fire down the witch’s throat. The party defeated the witch, and moved back to Boras.

While Leo, Vir, and Raku were fighting the witch, Greg and Uni investigated the abducted children’s houses. Finding candy under all of the beds, the two began to assume the pieces had something to do with the sack man.


As the party continued their investigation of the Sackman, they began to understand how daunting of a task they had been given. Many children had been taken, and in all likelihood, many more would be taken if nothing was done. The party again split up the morning after the witch encounter, all deciding to question different children.

Sebastian Lionel, Vir Tagro, and Raku Aankorra question one boy, Henry, and find candy under his bead and a hat that he loved to wear.
Abdul-Hamid Salim canvases the town knocking on doors, looking for children.
Father Greg and Uni Silia-Laurum talk to one of the children who went missing. Under a stroke of pure brilliance, Father Greg decides to slap the child, invoking the power of the devil within. The child becomes pure evil for a few seconds, tearing Father Greg up. Uni, in another act of quick-thinking, almost kills the child with light magic. However, the spell misses and the child returns to his quiet state moments later. Greg suffered major wounds, but was able to heal most of them himself.

One girl, Dorras, worshiped Barbarian Gods. She had the symbols drawn and strewn all about her room, but no connections were made between those symbols and the Sackman.

Later that evening, Raku, Vir, and Leo set up camp far North along the path. Abdul, through expert detective work, found two children with candy under their beds. However, these children hadn’t been taken yet, so the remaining party members in Boras set up a stakeout. During the night, Abdul sees a man entering a house a ways down the road. Chasing after the man, the party leaves the house exposed. Upon the capture of the man, Abdul charged past Father Greg stumbling about in the streets, and bursts back into the house with the children. Standing in the room with the children were mini sack people, in mid-capture. The party members did their best to fend off the mini-sackmen, but appearing at a staggering rate, the foes outnumbered the party. In the end, the children were taken.

Later that same evening, Vir, Raku, and Leo witnessed the children in a trance-like state, stumbling forward on the road North of Borås. The three party members followed the children towards the mountains, where they found a mysterious cave. Suspecting the cave to be the Sackman’s lair, they pulled back to Boras to gather the rest of their party.

The party later returned to the cavers, and pushed their way through the black depths where they were met by their prey. Shrouded in burlap, the Sackman attacked when he saw the party. Buffed and tanked, Vir did what the party had hoped was possible, and ignited the Sackman’s clothes in fire. The fire spread into a rip in the creature’s chest, and finished him. The children were returned to Boras after a long days and nights walk, still mute.

Tired and irritable, the party returned to the warden’s office to inform him of their success. However, they were met by a more mysterious character.

The Disappearing and Reappearing Man

Sitting in the warden’s office, Mr. May gazed back at the party. With a groan, Abdul-Hamid Salim stepped forward. Mr. May told the party he needed a favor. Confused, the party turned to Abdul, as he seemed to be the only one knowing what was going on. Abdul explained Mr. May’s involvement in freeing them from the jail.

Mr. May told the group that he needed their help in rescuing a child from the city of Himmelberg. This Northern city felt a heavy presence from the church, particularly the Holy Hand. Children were being executed in Himmelberg, and one child in particular needed to be rescued. The child was to be saved, and taken south until further notice. Without having much choice, the party accepted the mission.

Upon arriving in Himmelberg, the party gathered themselves at an Inn. Along the journey, due to Currier involvement, the party learned that Sebastian Lionel was a Holy Hand member in the Holy City. Leo explained that his involvement with them was at this point purely strategic, and told the party that he planned to use his connections to find ways into the church to rescue the boy.

The party investigated around Himmelberg, observing guard patterns, searching through the slums, and drinking at the taverns. Receiving very few leads, the party had few pieces of information to go off of.

Raku Aankorra, who’s past was formerly unknown to the party, found himself in a pickle in the dwarven districts of Himmelberg. Drinking and talking, Raku found himself near hostile dwarves. When a fight broke out, Raku was arrested and held at the dwarven embassy. The party soon learned that he wouldn’t be released, and decided to rescue him from a doomed fate.

Gaining on their captured dwarven companion, the party prepared themselves for the worst. However, they found, upon arrival, that the dwarves were mainly sleeping and unprepared for a fight. Abdul-Hamid Salim made quick, clean work of the dwarves, with help from Uni Silia-Laurum’s Hypnotic Pattern. Raku was rescued, and the party got to keep a pony from the trip.


The party returned to the gate of Himmelberg, where Sebastian Lionel tossed a few coins to a begger. Little did they know, this begger was really a hobbit thief that would impact their party in more ways than one.

The thief snuck into the city, following the party. When they discovered he was there, they invited him to stay with them. They returned to their room, where they were met by Mr. May. The disappearing man had reappeared once more. He told them that the party was taking far too long rescuing the child, and that they needed to finish soon. he then produced a dagger from his suit, and glanced to Abdul-Hamid Salim. Keeping the dagger as incentive, Mr. May left, leaving the group to question Abdul. Abdul told the group that the dagger was his grandfather’s, and that he had lost it when they had been taken captive in The Holy City. Abdul also stressed that he needed the dagger very much.

Sebastian Lionel, donning his Holy Hand robes, entered the church where he had lied and deceived the head priest a day ago. Entering the confessional, he spilled his true feelings and emotions about his actions in Himmelberg. The rest of the party sat seemingly innocent in the pews while Leo confessed his plan to the priest. Father Paul promised that he wouldn’t turn in Leo, but told him to be careful. “Don’t do anything rash,” he told Leo.
“Define rash.”

While the party did some detective work in the slums, Abdul learned that the orphans were being kept in the church. Now with a proper lead, the party headed back to the church to speak with Father Paul.

Leo told Father Paul about the strange child, and the Father knew almost instantly who the boy they sought was. Calling on Abdul, Leo followed Father Paul upstairs. There, Leo and Abdul met Dante.

The boy looked quite normal, and kept a pet dog with him. He was a quiet, nice boy, with a striking resemblance to Mr. May. This fact was noticed a few hours later. Before Father Paul would release the boy to the men, he requested that they check his parent’s graves. Confused, Abdul and Leo agreed, simply because they needed Dante out of the city as quickly as possible.

Traveling to the slums, the party found the graveyard where Dante’s parents were buried. One lonely man stood watch over the graveyard. The party pretended to pay their respects to the dead couple, but were watched closely by the grave keeper. In a botched attempt to dig to the coffins, and a hobbit tackle that was “not very effective!” the party was chased off of the lot by Holy Hand members. Frustrated and irritated, the party split up, planning to take the graveyard at night.

Abdul, Vir Tagro, and Mo entered the graveyard later that night, while a Holy Hand member stood guard. As soon as the guard left his post, the crew moved to the graves. Vir dug up the father’s coffin, only to find it empty. Quickly digging up the mother’s grave, they found only dog bones inside the coffin. They hopped out of the hole, only to be met by two junk-yard dogs. The fight was treacherous, leaving Vir badly wounded and bleeding quickly. In an attempted to cauterize Vir’s mangled leg, Abdul pushed a lit torch to the wound. In pain, Vir bit part of his tongue off. Abdul and Mo ran like the wind until they found Father Greg to heal Vir.

Agitated, Abdul burst into the church and told Father Paul of the empty graves. The Father was stunned, and told them they could take the child, but would only have a day until he would alert the authorities. Leo retrieved the pony from the Inn, and set a cloaked Dante atop the mini-horse with Mo. Surprisingly, the group escaped the town to the party unscathed, only to realize they exited the wrong gate. Gather the party in it’s entirety, they made their way through Himmelberg again. And again, they were somehow not discovered. Hitting the dusty trail, the party headed South to deliver the rescued child.

OP Barbarians

The Party continued their ride towards Neheim. Their first night Ver saw a hill moving toward the camp during his watch, this hill turned out to actually be a giant. The party easily killed the pussy giant despite a few poor decisions made by the less combat oriented members. The next two days and nights were uneventful until the party came to a gate. By no fault of their own they were ambushed by barbarians at the gate and the dps squad was quickly made worthless by op weapon shattering spells, and all of their money was taken from them. With the holy hand only a 3 hour ride behind and with no money, the party continues their ride towards neheim.

Two Days and Two Nights

By the time the party arrived in Nieheim, evening was falling. What met them near the gates was an arrow, landing with a thud in the dirt at their feet, loosed by a terrified guard. Preferring not to be shot, they halted, raising their hands, to which the guard replied, “Y-you’re not… one of them?” Under other circumstances, such a question may have been met with a witty, if irreverent response; however, with the Holy Hand fast gaining and the other guards prepared to fill the group full of arrows, none so dared, responding in the negative. Without a moment’s hesitation, they were ushered into the comparative safety of the small city.

The guard, by the name of Bob, apologized for his hasty shot, explaining the city’s state of alert. Several nights, the city had fallen under assault of soulless creatures, tattered and rotting, and dreadfully persistent: decapitated, deprived of limbs, they fought on until destroyed entirely. Sensing need of their skills — and without any other way to buy food and lodging — the party thanked the man, and after obtaining a map of the city, set out to the governor’s office to offer their assistance.

Inside the town hall, one of the governor’s men met them, asking to know their business. Informed of their desire to meet with the governor, the man obliged, returning moments later to let the party know of their audience. Within, Governor Smith — an aged man, gray-haired, looking to have seen his share of adventure and fighting in days long gone — sat on his throne of wood, waiting. After introducing themselves as travellers, escorting two children to their archaeologist father in Abu, the party made their offer, and with little in the way of options, the governor agreed, giving them lodging in their choice of inns, and stabling for the three horses and pony.

Leo, thinking quick, intimated they would be staying at an inn northwest of the town hall, explaining, once outside, that they would not, in fact: Should the Holy Hand gain access to the city, they would have difficulty finding the group, offering precious time to get away from Nieheim. Their horses cared for, the party took up lodging at a tavern near the northeast corner of the city. Knowing that the Holy Hand would make it to the city that very night, watches were set: first Abdul and Moritz, to be followed by Raku and Leo, ending with Vir and Uni taking watch into the morning — Father Greg would get a full night’s rest.

Abdul and Moritz started their watch with some petty theft: breaking into the blacksmith’s shop in the middle of the night, they found a saber to replace one of Abdul’s shattered weapons, and a rapier to begin outfitting Mo. Unwilling to thieve outright from a peasant, Abdul’s conscience convinced him to leave behind twenty silver in payment for the weapons. Nearing the end of their watch, Abdul noticed a commotion at the northern gate. Talking with a new guard (Bob’s shift had ended), he learned that the Holy Hand had attempted to enter the city, and had been turned away.

Unsurprised, if somewhat concerned, the party switched watches, once, then again, without further incident. Roused from their slumber, they left Dante in the care of Moritz, returning to the governor’s office for further details on their new mission. There, they learned that approximately two weeks ago, their High Priest of Mammon, known as von Sterben, disappeared, and ever since the town had been besieged. The creatures came from any direction but west — Sinum Bay — seemingly at random. The governor gave the band of adventurers permission to investigate von Sterben’s quarters in the chapel of Mammon, in the southeast of the city.

Entering the chapel, the group seemed to step into an entirely different — and considerably wealthier — world: the walls, the altar, the pews — everything seemed to be made of gold. Near the altar, Leo approached a lesser priest of Mammon; a stern-looking man with no nose. He refused them entrance to von Sterben’s quarters, even on authority of the governor, stating, “The governor has no power.”

Unwilling to confront the man directly, the party left the chapel, met by a courier without. Leo’s hopes of recovering his salary were dashed when he introduced himself as a messenger from the governor, who requested the presence of the group in its entirety. As it happened, the governor had gotten wind of the Holy Hand group in the vicinity of Nieheim. With no alternative, the group told the truth: the Holy Hand had been executing children in Himmelburg, and they had rescued one such child. They were delighted to hear that the official government of Nieheim considered the Holy Hand no friend; they would be kept out of the city.

Their temporary safety assured, the party’s discussion turned to the business at hand. Forced to admit that he held no sway whatsoever over the church of Mammon, the governor was able to offer a caretaker for Dante while the party went out in search of the source of the attacks. He also requested that, should von Sterben be connected to these events — perhaps held against his will — all efforts be made to bring the man back alive, for he was greatly respected by the people of Nieheim.

The party split up briefly, with Vir, Uni, Father Greg returning to the hotel to sleep through the afternoon. Abdul visited the clothing shop, asking if they might be able to alter leather armor to fit Moritz, to round off the halfling’s combat readiness. Raku and Leo went to the blacksmith’s shop, where Leo sold his spare mace for a gold. Raku, refusing to part with his spare warhammer for the same, insulted the man and left. Meeting up with Abdul, Raku asked the southerner to sell his warhammer; Abdul agreed, restoring some of the smith’s confidence along the way, before all three returned to the inn to sleep until evening.

They awoke at eleven, and after making preparations, saw Dante off to his temporary caretaker. It was decided that Moritz would infiltrate the chapel, attempting to gain entry to von Sterben’s quarters without the remaining priests’ knowledge, while the rest of the party would attempt to intercept some of the mysterious creatures attacking the town and hopefully track them to their source.

Arriving at the chapel, Moritz entered easily, and — after overcoming the initial shock of a building seemingly made of gold — approached the altar. In a cup, in Mammon’s hands, he found blood. Delving further, he entered a stairwell, filled with impenetrable darkness. He made his way up the stairs.

Feeling along the hallway at the top of the stairs, Moritz came across a door. Picking it quietly, he peeked through: a candle sat atop a table, illuminating a mostly empty room. Slipping inside, he found himself looking at a hooded figure, penning some manuscript in the candlelight. Moritz tried to get an angle on the paper, but couldn’t. On a sudden whim, he spoke, “Von Sterben?” The man gave no acknowledgment. Rather than test his luck more directly, Moritz slipped silently out of the room.

Continuing down the hall, he came across another locked door. The lock refused to yield to his repeated attempts at picking it, and concerned about his chances for each second he spent, Moritz made his way back to the stairwell. At the feet of the stairs, he stopped dead: A low murmuring sound issued from without. Creeping out to behind the alter, he spied three more robed priests, standing in a circle, facing inward, chanting. His nerve finally tested, the halfling sprinted down the side of the church, making for the exit. All was darkness.

The remaining party members set out east, the most likely direction, traveling without light. Hearing noises, the party halted, and Vir tried out a new technique: Earth Sonar. Feeling with an extended wave of dirt, Vir noticed four figures, moving at a shambling pace towards the city. A wave of the mage’s guided fire revealed them as undead monstrosities, leaving not a single doubt of malicious intent.

In no immediate danger, but with no intention of letting the creatures reach their destination, the party prepared for combat, Leo’s prayers to the Creator offering them protection, and Uni’s spell giving the whole party near-instantaneous reflexes. Vir began the fight, setting his fire on the monsters, catching three in a raging inferno. As Father Greg, Leo, Abdul, and Raku charged in, Vir continued to immolate the creatures, severely weakening them as hammer, mace, and saber fell on them. The first three fell quickly, the fourth moments later.

In the moonlight, Leo found the trail of the creatures, leading the party back, finding their source: a cave, guarded by two eerie, glowing creatures. Wights, spoke Uni’s arcane insight. The party readied for another fight, expecting considerably more resistance from the armored, armed foes. Again, Vir began the fight from range, slamming the two wights’ legs with earth. The melee fighters again closed to range, landing blow after blow, but receiving the same in kind. The first fell under focused assault, first dropping his longsword, then crumbling as his leg was mangled between steel and earth. Leo stomped on the creature’s neck, disabling it, while the rest of the party shifted aim to the other wight.

Turning to fight the other, Raku caught sight of Uni’s hypnotic pattern, paralyzing the dwarf. The elf, focused on her targets, failed to notice; thankfully, Vir, standing beside her, did, quickly informing her. Uni, realizing the tactic might do more harm than good in combat, hid the pattern, freeing Raku from its influence. Between the three weapons and Vir’s relentless assault with earth, the second wight met its end.

Exhausted, without quite enough confidence to dare whatever necromancer made the cave its lair, the party trudged back towards Nieheim, looking to rest, hoping to learn what information Moritz might have obtained.

In the Lair of the Lich
Death and the Dead

Midafternoon dawned on Nieheim, and an exhausted party finally awoke in their room in Nieheim. There was much preparation to go about before their expedition into the necromancer’s cave, not to mention a halfling to find.

Asking at the Chapel of Mammon yielded little information. The priests there claimed to know nothing of Moritz, and with no leverage to reveal the truth, the party was forced to leave having made no progress.

With little else to go on, they suspended their search for the sneak, supposing that he had been noticed or caught and was being forced to lie low for the time being. Rather than waste effort on a futile search, the party made one more round of shopping to complete what preparations they could: Abdul picked up a set of steel lockpicks ordered from the blacksmith the day earlier, while Uni — in possession of considerably less wealth — instead bought a sewing kit: the thread, for patching clothing and gear, and the needles for improvised lockpicks.

As prepared as they were able, the party set out from Nieheim as the sun began to set. By the time they had returned to the cave, night had fallen. The wights standing guard had not been replenished — a small stroke of luck — and so the path was clear. From within the darkness of the cave came the overpowering, disgusting scent of rotting flesh. As the passage branched left and then right, the group pursued the scent of evil, deeper and deeper beneath the earth.

Perhaps an hour into the cave, the narrow passage widened into a vast chamber. On the ground lay what appeared to be a pile of rags, from which a pungent smell, to equal the stench which had led them, seemed to emanate. Supposing that nothing in this cave could bear any good will towards neither the party nor the city of Nieheim, Vir let loose a gout of flame, igniting the cloth — which sprang up with a shriek: the wraith attacked. Thankfully, the preemptive strike proved most useful, and between Vir’s flame and the relentless assault of the front line, the wraith fell before long.

Satisfied that the cavern was cleared up, the party continued through the only visible exit in the room, crawling along the dark passageway in pursuit of the smell of death. From ahead, the telltale flicker of a torch led the adventurers to a door. Beyond, surrounded by darkness, a lone, hooded figure sat at a table scribbling on parchment. Abdul, recognizing both opportunity and his forte, motioned the rest of the party to stay by the door, and crept stealthily around the perimeter of the room until he finally took up position behind the figure.

As the party looked on from hiding, Abdul pressed his blade to the figure’s throat. “Von Sterben, I presume?” he inquired. The figure nodded cautiously. “We’ve been tasked by Governer Smith to… retrieve you. Alive, preferably.”

“And supposing I did not wish to return to Nieheim?” asked Von Sterben.

“It doesn’t look like you have much choice in the matter, now does it?”

“I disagree. Heartily.”

At this, many things happened very quickly. Abdul pulled, hard, on his rapier, hoping to sever the priest’s head and end the fight before it could begin. He might have succeeded, had Von Sterben indeed been alive to kill. The hood fell off to reveal the lich beneath, now suitably angered. From his hand came pounds of crushing stone, hammering Abdul in the chest. Then the real battle began.

The party moved forward, to support their ally. As they did, from the walls came eight more wraiths, to support their dark master. Without the element of surprise, and now outnumbered, the party circled, protecting Vir and advancing. Vir’s flames blasted at the wraiths, damaging two, while Abdul — barely recovering from the first blow — took another large rock to the chest, shattering ribs and knocking him back, out of range of the lich.

As the Vir and Uni poured fire and light into wraith after wraith, the dwarf Raku and the clerics Greg and Sebastian hammered at their foes with hammer, staff, and mace. But the wraiths’ icy grip cut through their armor like air, savaging the brave fighters. Greg fell first, slain by the relentless assault. As his killer moved to attack Uni, Abdul took another stone to the chest, crushing him. The southerner slid down the wall he had been backed against, cursing the lich with his final rasping breath, before dying.

Even with the Creator’s blessing, and Vir’s fire devastating the creature from alongside, Sebastian was next to fall, his mace unable to deal his attacker a fatal blow. Having watched her allies die, Uni spun to face the wraith that had now reached her. Furious, she grabbed hold of the creature’s face. Even as the icy grip of death crawled up her arm, she hammered the undead foe with light. As it finally fell, bursting into ash, the elf’s right arm fell to her side, withered and limp. As Vir’s fire leaped from wraith to wraith, Sebastian’s slayer drove its claws through Uni’s back, killing her.

With only one of the seven wraiths slain, and Von Sterben coolly stepping out from behind the table to engage the remaining two adventurers, Vir met his end as four wraiths surrounded him. Raku, realizing his plight, gambled: he crashed down on Sebastian’s bag, shattering the wooden container they had taken from the giant so many days ago. With it broke a flask of clear water, drenching him.

For several moments, reality and fate were in flux, the universe contending with the powerful magic the bottle had contained. Then the moment passed, and as Raku came to understand the skilled use of weapons of all kinds, the eight wraiths fell upon him, killing him where he lay.

Mammon's Grasp and the Journey North
Life and the Living

Darkness gave way to blinding light, but it was not heaven that awaited any of the party: even the holy clerics of the Creator woke to the torturous red fires of Mammon’s domain. The great demon laughed at the slain creatures whose souls his servant had sent to him.

Yet their faith was not unrewarded. Father Greg, through his pain, found the will to defy the creature before him, and spat, “By God, you’ve gotten fat.” And though Mammon merely laughed once more, a fresh burst of fire, licking at the Father’s feet, was indication enough that Mammon had been rankled.

“You know,” the demon began, by way of retaliation, “the only reason I have chosen to appear to you worthless lot at all is because I owe you a debt of gratitude.”

“Gratitude?” rasped Leo indignantly.

“Oh yes. It was the child, of course. I was growing concerned that the boy might actually be found out and executed; by bringing him south, you have alleviated that concern. I do appreciate the favor.” The malice in Mammon’s smile suggested that, appreciation or no, the group would be receiving no favor in return. Yet as the demon puffed on his cigar and outlined every way in which the travelers had been of great assistance to him, something curious happened. In a brilliant flash of white light, Father Greg vanished from the realm.

He was not the last. Over the next few moments, Leo and Raku also disappeared, followed shortly thereafter by Vir. With rage, and perhaps a tinge of fear, the great demon let loose a gout of flame, intent on torturing the remaining two; the blast drowned out even the flash of light which consumed Uni as she, too, finally disappeared.

Only Abdul remained. Too large to pace, Mammon instead took several more puffs of his cigar, thinking. His glare at the southerner then changed. “Mortal,” he began slowly, “as you may have realized, your… acquaintances seem to have been rescued. Doubtless, the humans of the north will wish to pursue young Dante and have him slain. Perhaps, then, it is merely my luck that an… honorable warrior such as yourself has been left to me. You seem like the sort who would not want to see a child slain. So allow me to… employ you. I will send you back to the world of the living, with the rest of them, where you will do your utmost to ensure the survival of the boy. You will, of course, be compensated fairly: wealth beyond imagining, each day in my service. What say you?”

Groggily, the various members of the party came to consciousness and life once again. They were lying in a row on the ground of the site of their losing battle, attended each by a cleric of the Holy Hand detachment that had been turned away from Nieheim. What healing that could be performed had been, atop the resuscitation. Glancing about, they noticed that a previously-sealed door had been flung open, and the contents of the small chamber beyond had been emptied.

Once they were all standing again, the captain of the group addressed them. “So you’re the lot that ‘rescued’ the devil-child from Himmelburg.” With a snort, the man continued, “You’ve caused us quite a bit of trouble, you know. Where is he?

“Headed south, we believe,” Leo replied. “We did not realize our mistake until now, and I fear the boy may already be beyond your grasp.”

“No-one is beyond our grasp,” the Captain muttered. Then, decisively, “Sebastian Lionel. Father Gregory. If the two of you still hold to the Creator and his Church at all, you will go north to Himmelburg, bearing this letter to be delivered to the head priest of the church there. Your… friends,” he sneered, glancing first at the southerner Abdul, then at the elves and dwarf, “had best join you, having contributed equally to this nightmare. My men and I will go south after this child, and deal with him before he is in the hands of those heathens.” With that, the Holy Hand set out, leaving the weakened party to stumble back into Nieheim to prepare.

At the Temple of Mammon inquiring after Moritz, the group met the priest Von Sterben — by all appearances, a faithful and high priest of Mammon, perfectly human. And though the scar on his neck looked to have been gouged by a blade not unlike Abdul’s, and though his right arm appeared to have been seared off by intense flames, there was no hard evidence to the contrary. The halfling was still nowhere to be found, and unable to wait any longer, the group left word with the governor, and gathering up their things, set out on the road north.

It was perhaps an hour before nightfall when the group caught sight of a giant hulk of a man, standing beside the road next to a sloppy fire. They approached cautiously, before calling out to him. They were greeted in turn with, " Yuri is looking for dog. Have you seen dog?" The party had not. Greg, though, realizing the danger of travelling alone and the benefit of such a strong fighter, offered, “Would yo-Yuri like to travel with us? It’s safer with more people, and we can help you look for your dog.”

The man agreed, and as they set out north again, Uni muttered out of earshot of the giant, “Best not put him on watch. Not sure he’d understand the task.” And though none of the group thought this to be a particularly kind remark, when night fell, no-one suggested Yuri take any of the watches that night.

Between Dragon and Devil

After a night’s rest, and with the road winding ever northward, the group set out again, their new companion in tow. After a long day of riding, and with evening coming on, they happened upon a scene: three human men accosting a lone elf. The adventurers’ (for by now, any lesser title might be an insult) presence drew the group’s attention, giving the elf time to strike: a volley of lightning struck one in the back. Searing bolts of fire and light quickly joined the fray, until the men fled.

Not knowing any better, Father Greg called out, “Ma’am, do you need assistance?” (To which Uni — hand covering her face — muttered, “He’s a guy, you know…”) While Father Greg treated him, the elf introduced himself as Ethrean Farwalker, explaining that he was wandering the human lands in search of things he couldn’t learn in the Elven cities. Glad to have a group to travel with, he agreed to tag along at least so far as Himmelberg.

The next night passed without incident, but as the travelers continued their journey, Abdul-Hamid Salim‘s arm suddenly sprouted a crossbow bolt. Three goblins were aiming tattered crossbows from afar. Ethrean and Vir Tagro quickly joined the list of casualties, scrambling to take cover behind or beside their horses. Ethrean returned fire with a bolt of lightning, but the spell backfired, injuring him badly. Father Greg set about his holy work, healing first Abdul, then Ethrean and Vir, while Uni let loose with blinding flashes and bolts of light. Abdul and Yuri charged into battle, slaying one of the goblins. Vir’s fire bolts dropped the second, and a final spell from Uni sent the final goblin running blindly; Abdul promptly slit its throat.

Night fell without further trouble, and the first watch quickly passed. Late on second watch, Uni’s magical detection was suddenly lit with a brilliant stream of color, a long trail of light far above, flying swiftly west. Woken from his sleep, Abdul shouted upward, “Hello?” A single particle of light zoomed next to him, revealing itself to be a faerie, well-known in the forests of the elves: it spat in his face enigmatically, then flew off. Wiping his face off irritably, Abdul was on his way back to his bedroll when Uni grabbed his arm. “You’re… glowing. Red. I’m… not sure that’s a good thing.” Resolving to consider the problem more in the morning, the group went back to sleep.

The following night, the travelers were met by an Elven rider. Woken from his sleep, Vir spoke with the elf, who explained that he was pursuing the faerie, who had vanished from the Elven forests. Directed east, to the mountains, the elf gave the group the blessing of Eru Ilúvatar and was on his way.

A few more days and nights passed, until, arriving at the gates of Himmelberg, the group was met by a solitary guard, who checked their letter and lazily ushered them through. Treated identically by the guard of the inner gate — a city guard, not a member of the Holy Hand — Vir finally turned and asked, “Is something happening? There’s usually two guards at each gate, isn’t there?”

“Oh yeah, but we’re short on people, with the dragon and all,” he replied. “Ask the Commander when you talk with him, he’ll be able to explain it.” With no other choice, they continued on.

They were greeted by a ghost town. The city of Himmelberg, once busy with everyday traffic of dwarves and humans, was very nearly empty. Even the dwarven blacksmith had packed up his shop and gone north. In fact, not a single dwarf remained in the city, and much of the Holy Hand’s forces were gone as well. From the Commander, they learned the reason — whispers had come down from the city of Oir of a dragon, attacking the dwarven lands. Having read the letter they had carried with them, he gave the travelers three options: Head north, and assist the Holy Hand with the dragon; return south, pursuing Dante into the southern lands, or bring word of the situation west, to the Holy City.

The discussion took the rest of the day. At first, Abdul wished to go north to fight the dragon; his voice was joined by Raku Aankorra, who wished to help his people and restore his name. Sebastian Lionel and Vir wanted to go south, chasing after Dante. Uni, after much silence and a bit of arcane insight, fearful of danger (danger) in either direction, suggested the Holy City instead. The discussion raged on, until early evening: Abdul and Raku agreed instead to go to the Holy City.

Their course set, after informing the Commander, they set out to travel once more, Ethrean deciding to join them a little further.

Not two nights out, they encountered a nearly fatal danger. It was the middle of the night, when a voice rang through their heads: “Abandon your quest.” Demons, Uni knew. Everyone was awake in moments, preparing for battle: spells and prayers rang through the air. Then it was upon them. Two demons, seven feet high each, appeared feet away from Vir and Raku, surrounding the party, black broadswords gleaming in the moonlight. Vir brought up a wall of earth, backing up, but too slow — Leo stepped in, engaging the demon beside Vir, forcing him back as the wall came up. The elf turned his attention to creating a barrier above them, just above the heads of the humans, forcing the demons to swing low.

Ethrean let loose blasts of lightning as the warriors fought toe-to-toe with the evil creatures; Abdul’s blades and Raku’s hammer took down the first, but as Vir’s wall fell, the demon Leo had fought to a standstill found an opening. His blade crossed Leo’s throat, digging a deep gash. The cleric fell to the ground, bleeding fiercely. All attention was turned to the standing demon — except for Father Greg, who in seconds was beside Leo, stopping the man’s bleeding. Less than four seconds passed before the second demon was destroyed. Exhausted and battle-worn, the group fell to sleep, with Greg’s prayers to the Creator for their health filling their ears.

Days later, as though a sign from the Creator, they discovered an amulet inscribed with the symbol of Metatron, the Creator’s right-hand archangel. Fate was fickle, for although the amulet broke the following evening, Ethrean was able to mend it with his magic.

As they neared the Holy City, they were approached by two beggars — a young boy and girl — for whom Ethrean mended clothes. As they moved on, Abdul handed each a gold piece, but they dropped both, complaining that it burned; instead, he gave both fifty silver pieces. That night, however, the two returned, not as beggars but as thieves. Leo, realizing their intent but wishing them no harm, let out a furious, barbaric scream, driving them away.

It was the group’s first taste of the poverty of the area surrounding the Holy City, for as they came up to the gates, they joined the line: a long queue of people, waiting to enter the Creator’s city.

Petty Theft and Murder
For the sake of the world

Leo picked his way through the crowd, letter in hand, until he reached the gates. Informing the Holy Hand posted there of the situation, they took custody of the letter, instructing him to camp with his party outside the city for the night, and to return to the gates the following morning, when they would hear the high commander’s answer.

Rather than chance a night in the slums, the wearied travelers set up camp on the moor beyond the city. Night fell, and upon the third watch, while the sun was still down, the group was awakened by the watch — five men were approaching. On their feet almost immediately, the party prepared for what might have been a hostile encounter; Uni Silia-Laurum covered their presence with an illusion of a fire, masking the seven standing beside it. The men’s voices carried all too well. At the sound of one, gloating about a recent rape he had committed, the mage lay another illusion, a trap: the image of a sleeping woman alone by the fire.

The bait was taken; the trap, sprung. As the talking man reached for the woman he believed to be there, his hand slipped through the form. His confusion was helped not at all by the dwarf appearing mid-air, mid-leap, mid-swing: with a thunderous swing of his warhammer, Raku turned the man’s head to mush. The party let loose their full wrath upon the defenseless men. Abdul plunged his sabers into one man’s chest, then kicked him free of the blades; he fell, choking on his own blood.

As Ethrean and Vir fired spell after spell into the men in the rear, Raku swung at another, crushing his ribcage with a single blow, killing him instantly. The fight lasted little longer; the mages dropped their targets, and with one more swing by Raku, the last man was incapacitated. With great reluctance, Father Greg spared him. The man needed very little convincing to give up his ways; agreeing to the demands of Greg to become a monk, he vanished into the breaking dawn.

Arriving at the gates early, the party was ushered inside, with instructions to visit the head office of the Holy Hand. There, the high commander gave consideration to their letter. After some internal deliberation, the man declared that they would remain in the Holy City for the time being; they could shop or get an inn as they liked, but were not to leave. After the travelling that had brought them to the city, the group had no intention of leaving; they rented two rooms from the inn for a week, with a generous donation by Abdul.

As the sun rose higher, the party went into the market, looking for some much-needed supplies. The first stop was the armorer — a dwarven smith, with a strong arm for hammering and a keen eye for profit. Again, by Abdul’s mysterious generosity — for surely a southerner had little reason to share so freely — the group was outfitted with new defenses: studded leather for the elves, which would protect without hindering their magic, and limited plate and chain armor for the rest. With a final piece of extremely expensive dragon leather, the smith’s pockets were as finely lined as the party’s armor. But in one area, the party came out rather ahead: information. It was there they learned of a monster or ghost of some sort, haunting the keep of the cathedral — Metatron’s Keep.

On a whim, the group set out into the market area, with Uni and Ethrean searching for sources of magical power. Their first hit was a shop of odds and ends: a powerful, bright beacon was found in the form of a small glass bottle of water, labeled “Magical Water”.

Inspecting it closely, Uni asked, “How are we to know for certain this is, in fact, magical?” Though the shopkeeper offered little in the way of evidence, she quoted a price of nine gold. Scoffing, the elf set it down, with another none-too-subtle implication of fraud which the shopkeeper took in turn. Ethrean, his side of chaos showing quite plainly, began bouncing from shelf to shelf, excitedly investigating everything he could find. Abdul, considerably more genial in attitude, brought the woman’s attention to a fine necklace, which he examined with great apparent interest. As her back was turned, Uni casually pocketed the vial; when Ethrean was asked to leave the shop, Uni declared that she would go as well, demanding Abdul follow. He refused, though, and instead purchased the necklace. Outside, with a chuckle, he draped it over Uni’s neck and whispered to her, “Nicely done.”

The bottle, however, had not been their goal in their search for magic. Rather, Abdul’s persistent red aura under magical detection had so far avoided any proper analysis. Thankfully, their next stop was a shop glowing gently with a wide variety of plainly-magical objects, and more importantly, a batty old woman possessed of considerable magical knowledge and books, and a multitude of cats. The woman, recalling a book of old, informed Abdul of his new power: when striking an enemy, he could allow his life force to drain away in order to make more lethal attacks.

The group returned to their inn for the night, with empty pockets, full bags, fine armor, and a small vial of water which needed to be addressed.

The group stared at it for some time. There were enough doses for all but one of them; Leo elected to sit it out. Vir went first, swallowing his allotment easily. Though he felt rather indifferent, he did glow briefly as he drank. Ethrean followed, but his dose didn’t do anything apparent, even to magical detection. Then Abdul drank, and though his thinking felt somewhat clouded, he too seemed unchanged. Greg’s turn came, and instantly the room chilled significantly; he began to glow with a soft blue aura. It was Raku who drank next; he declared that, although it had made him feel perhaps woozy, there was nothing obvious. Less hesitant than when the rest had began drinking, Uni took her dose; her breasts immediately grew significantly.

With little other alternative, the group trekked back to the shop of magical objects and once more asked the woman for her knowledge. Though at first she didn’t recognize Uni, she did recall the others, and informed them of their new circumstances: Vir had been afflicted with an alcohol curse; he would find no nourishment in the usual food or drink, but must drink alcohol to survive. Fortunately, as an elf, the alcohol had a greatly diminished effect. Abdul and Raku did not seem to have much magic about them, though the woman suggested that the one had become less intelligent while the other had become physically more frail. The priest, Father Greg, however, had a much more straightforward curse: a region of air around him would always be rather cooler than beyond it. Finally forced to ask, Uni inquired, “You’re quite mad, aren’t you?”

To which the crazy cat lady responded, “Why yes!”


I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.