The Whisperer in Darkness

Quest Log 5: Secrets Subterranean
Stay away from that TRAP DOOOOOOR

Poobeyr, Lumen and Grimlock awake the next morning to find that Wistark has, seemingly from nowhere, acquired a dragonling companion. This small, purple creature regards the wizard’s companions with interest, chittering some remark that earns a sagely nod from the man in the moustache. Grimlock and Poobeyr are not curious men and accept the new situation immediately.

Lumen enquires a bit further. Wistark explains that the dragon, Spyro, is his djinni, and has been lying dormant inside his body for more than three Seasons. This brief explanation raises far more questions than answers, but the wizard offers no further information, leaving the elf completely unsatisfied. Considering the book-burning of the night before, this could well be intentional.

After a leisurely breakfast the Risen decide to check up on Lumen’s dwarven lookout, who was paid to watch the burned down family home of Joseph Curwen (the mysterious traveller mentioned in Matthew Toulson’s diary). As they move to leave the inn they are stopped by a towering goliath. Fixing the group with a penetrating stare, she introduces herself as Gravilla Bloodrock, Knight of Arcelor. She explains that her father, Big Sol, has informed her of all the strange, recent occurrences in the village. Eyeing the group threateningly, she bluntly makes clear her suspicions that they are responsible for these events. Wistark remains resolutely silent, Grimlock stares at the goliath with open hostility and Poobeyr scratches his beard, his eyes betraying that he is not even paying attention.

Lumen demands to know if Gravilla is also accusing them of murdering Daniel and Keyleth Glick, indicating with his tone how ridiculous he finds the idea. After all, their deaths (one by bestial mauling, the other by full-body crushing) are not something that could have been forged. The knight has considered this possibility, but puts a hand to her war hammer threateningly. She is yet to learn that it is not possible to intimidate the Risen. Grimlock almost smiles, anticipating a new skull to obtain.

Sensing the dragonborn’s shifting mood and hoping to make Gravilla see reason, Wistark points out that the wounds the group have taken over the last several days are plain to see. If he was responsible for creating all the abominations encountered in Raylack of late, why were the Risen their main targets? Necromantic constructs do not rise up against their masters!

His argument has undeniable sense, and Gravilla reconsiders her plans. Still partially unconvinced, she insists on joining the group’s investigation in order to watch over their activities and determine their intent. It is clear from her stance that the only way to prevent her from accompanying them would be to kill her.

Despite Lumen’s patiently repeated explanations, Grimlock fails to see why this is not an option. The five warriors leave the inn, but before leaving the village Wistark posts a letter to the Magician’s Guild, explaining recent events in Raylack with a particular focus on the Fini encountered in Branock’s Gorge. Gravilla reads the letter aloud before permitting its departure.

Pressing on, the group meet with Lumen’s watchman, the dwarf Bombur Deer, and learn that he did indeed see lights within the old Curwen farmstead during the night, even though no-one entered or exited. Wistark knocks on the door. No-one answers. They let themselves in to find a lantern and a trap door, the latter of which is opened to reveal a ladder that descends into the earth. As Grimlock places his feet on its highest rungs and begins his descent, Bombur decides to tag along out of simple curiousity. A chance to explore underground is worth any danger for a bored dwarf living amongst humans.

Wistark casts a Light. At the bottom of the ladder there are two corridors. As Grimlock steps forward the floor collapses beneath him, leaving him amongst debris in a pit 10ft below. Lumen and Wistark leap over the pit into the right-hand corridor. Poobeyr is not interested in running jumps, and opts to drop into the pit and climb out on the other side with a rope instead. Bombur lies down at the edge of the pit and reaches down with his arm to try and help out, but the dwarf is still right near the entrance, so anyone stupid enough to accept his help out of the pit would immediately have to get back in to reach its far side.

Grimlock is now back on his feet. Gravilla takes this opportunity to jump onto his shoulders and then off again, using him as a springboard to cross the pit. Grimlock ponders a number of ways to slaughter her for this outrage, then tries to exit the deep trap in the coolest possible manner. Running up a wall, he launches backwards and turns in the air in an attempt to land in the right-hand corridor. Instead he cracks his jaw on its floor and falls back into the pit. Nearby, Bombur finally realises that no-one needs his help. The dwarf hops into the pit, walks past Grimlock and exits using the rope left by Poobeyr.

Lumen, meanwhile, has made his way silently to a closed door at the end of the corridor. Listening intently, he hears no signs of life in the room beyond. Poobeyr clanks noisily up behind him in his armour, and the elf looks at the man with visible disgust. Further back, Wistark attempts to unlock the door with the mage hand, but lockpicking is beyond him even at close range. Gravilla appears and arrogantly demands that everyone move aside so that she can dropkick the stone entrance, but before she gets a chance to make a fool of herself Lumen and Poobeyr get it open themselves.

Encounter: Jawsome!

The room locks them inside and tries to drown them, dropping a shark in the rising water for good measure. Lumen manages to tie the shark to a wall. Eventually, Gravilla and Poobeyr break down the door, releasing the rising water. Wistark pulls a tooth out of his shoulder. Lumen jumps to the ground with evident pride on his face. He walks over to the shark and poses wetly, demanding that all present fix this memory forever in their minds. The others take a moment to sufficiently register the soggy elf, standing with the hood of his drenched cloak plastered over his face.

The bold hero is eventually satisfied that his fellows have paid appropriate attention, and starts to wonder how he will get his shark down. The ‘fellows’ leave him to it and gladly exit the drown-room. In the long cavern beyond, there is more water. A fast underground river runs from right to left. A door can be seen on its far side and there are platforms that could be used to hop from one side to the other. To prove this, Poobeyr adeptly leaps to one.

Bombur tries a similar leap, but trips over his beard and falls into the river instead. The fast current begins to push him downstream, but fortunately Grimlock is on hand to pull him back to shore. Back in the drown-room, Lumen becomes so attached to his salty trophy that he decides to hoist its dripping carcass onto his back and bring it along. The lean elf is barely able to move beneath its great bulk.

Wistark attempts to hop to a platform, but is not successful. The wizard topples into the froth and pulls himself back onto the riverbank moments later. He then decides to simply observe for a while. This turns out to be more interesting than expected.

Encounter: Frog Men

The adventurers finish crossing the river and take a short break. Lumen goes back to the drown-room and gets his shark, then attempts to bring it across the river strapped to his back. Poobeyr and Gravilla bet on the distance he will get before slipping and losing it to the water. Grimlock makes his own bet that Lumen himself will fall into the water with the shark and drown downstream.

Over the next half hour the ranger makes unbearably slow progress across the river, taking long breaks to demand that Wistark conjure the floating disk he usually persists in offering. The wizard stubbornly refuses, hoping that the elf will cut the dorsal fin from his trophy and leave the rest where it is. On a number of occasions Lumen almost falls in. At such moments Grimlock perks up to discourage any attempt at giving aid. Because dragonborn bets are for keeps.

In the end, through skill and phenomenal luck, Lumen finishes his crossing, shark intact, and nobody wins their bet. Two corridors lead out of the room. Wistark notices that both are filled with large pressure plates. Ignoring the wizard’s suggestion to wait another ten minutes while he performs the floating disk ritual, Gravilla, Grimlock, Poobeyr and Bombur at first try to hop over the traps, fail repeatedly, then proceed to hit the pressure plates with their weapons in typical brute fashion until the left-hand corridor is safe to travel and they are moderately injured by activated traps.

Gravilla leads the way through the corridor and finds a large chamber, filled with wells that sporadically belch spouts of fire into the air. At the back of the room, a large shape is obscured by smoke. Wistark sends Spyro to take a look, and the djinni quickly returns to report that a gigantic red dragon waits there. The fiend in question sees Gravilla and charges at her.

Encounter: The Stone Arrow

The frenzied lizard is dispatched, its carcass yielding a number of dragon-based lootables that Wistark, Lumen and Grimlock help themselves to. Sensing great magic, Wistark follows the tingling in his moustache to the back of the chamber, where he finds huge arcanic symbols marked on the floor that surround a trap door. He knows that the symbols are magical seals, and moves to dispel them. The shocking burns on the fighters of the front line are healed by Gravilla, who it seems is gifted in the arts of healing. Having seen great courage this day, the goliath has warmed to the Risen considerably. Though she is still unsure of what is going on, the group have earned her respect and she vows to assist the adventurers wholeheartedly until they prove to be unworthy of it.

Having fought for two hours straight, the Risen Adventurers (and goliath accomplice) decide to set a watch on the trap door in the dragon chamber and wait for night to fall. This allows them to eat, sleep and rest with confident knowledge that Joseph Curwen will not use this intermission to escape. Additionally, Wistark creates a 3ft-wide floating disk with a lengthy magic ritual. At midnight, they open the trap door and descend.

Encounter: Holograms

After fighting three battles against machine-created virtual beasts, the group give themselves a few minutes to rest. Lumen gets out the necromantic tomes he took from Father Malley’s house and tries to set them ablaze. Wistark puts this fire out before it has a chance to take hold, and demands to know what the elf is doing. The wizard argues that such books may hold knowledge that he could use to destroy the animated works of necromancy they so often fight, and that it is foolish not to know thy enemy. Seeing that the others have already proceeded into the next room, he asks Lumen to hold off burning them until the group are out of danger and all options can be discussed. Lumen seems to accept this, so Wistark goes after the others. Lumen burns the books.

The next room turns out to be the lair of Joseph Curwen. Six identical Curwens stand at its far end, all in the midst of a ritual. A corpse lies at their feet. Grimlock kicks down the door and enters with Poobeyr and Gravilla in tow. Wistark runs up and joins them, then demands that the necromancer cease his spell immediately and greet his guests. The six men do no such thing, and pay no heed to the adventurers whatsoever. Wistark nods at his dragonborn companion, and Grimlock runs fearlessly towards the necromancers.

Encounter: A Black Ritual

Joseph spends much of the fight completing a ritual on Albert Dunwithy‘s remains that absorbs his power and character. It also seems to withdraw memories, for the necromancer awakens from the ritual to blame Grimlock for the slaughter of his family. No relative of Curwen’s was slain by a dragonborn, but the entire family of Albert Dunwithy was famously butchered by dragonborn mercenaries, save for one leaky infant. Eventually Joseph is defeated.

As Wistark helps Lumen to his feet he discovers the elf’s werewolf bite. Lumen reacts defensively and hides the wound, which arouses the wizard’s suspicion. However, there are more pressing manners to attend to. Joseph Curwen is interrogated, providing a number of startling revelations.

  • Firstly, it was Bango Skank and Joseph Curwen who ‘opened’ the Fini in Branock’s Gorge.
  • Secondly, when Wistark, Poobeyr, Grimlock and Lumen first passed through Raylack, they were probably searching for Bango Skank.
  • Thirdly, Curwen tricked the four adventurers into going with him to Branock’s Gorge, where they were ambushed by monsters and killed by the Fini. Curwen then took their corpses to Raylack Church graveyard and paid Zud to bury them there, as he can only absorb the essences of bodies that have stewed in holy ground for a while. He planned to return two days later to dig the adventurers up and perform the ritual.
  • However, fourthly, Bango Skank intervened by invading Father Malley’s dreams to teach him a ritual that brings the dead back to life, resulting in the revival of every corpse in the cemetery. Presumably only the Risen Adventurers had died recently enough to be brought back with their minds and bodies intact.

Wistark demands of Joseph the names of any tomes that hold spells for dispelling necromancy. Lumen, however, begins making a fire to destroy all of the necromancer’s books. In the resulting pyre most of Curwen’s collection is burned to cinders, but Wistark saves the tomes that Joseph suggests – the Necronomicon and the Grimorium Verum, creating further tension between the wizard and the elf.

Curwen then gets out a knife and tries to kill himself, but Grimlock saves him the trouble and cuts off his head instead. As he moves to add the new head to his collection Gravilla demands the right to crush it with her hammer. A short, violent argument begins between the two. Grimlock wins the dispute, and the floating disk is used to carry Albert Dunwithy’s incinerated body back to Raylack. Lagging significantly behind the rest of the group, Lumen drags his shark.

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Quest Log 4: The Fruits of Malley
The Risen visit the home of Raylack's missing priest, hoping to unearth his whereabouts.

The priest of Raylack Church, Father Malley, mysteriously disappeared from the village shortly before the recent tide of strange events began. Seeing that this may not be coincidental, and hoping for an easy day in Raylack, the Risen visit Malley’s home. Unfortunately, this day will be one of the hardest they have yet faced. As the group walk up the long path to the priest’s house, they encounter a villager who informs them that of late, a loud dog has been barking at all hours of the night. Wistark is surprised to hear that a holy man would be negligent enough to leave a dog on his abandoned property.

At the end of Malley’s drive, the Risen find a garden, bordered on all sides by a massive hedge. A single wooden gate serves as the house’s entrance. Wistark pushes it aside and enters first. Within the confines of the garden it is shaded and claustrophobic, the grass overgrown and the hedge wild and untrimmed. A tool shed stands in a corner nearby, and beyond it there is a broken fountain and a dog house. At the end of the garden stands the house, its door and windows boarded. Wistark is unsettled – it feels so quiet and boxed in.

The uncomfortable sensation he experiences reminds him of feelings he has had underground while searching ruins or, in his younger days, exploring with the Dwarves. Lost in his memories for a moment, he surveys the garden for traps. Nothing. Obviously. Still unnerved, he uses the mage hand to open the tool shed at a safe distance. But it is locked. Poobeyr pushes the wizard aside and charges at the shed door, knocking it down with his shoulder. Seeing this amuses all present, and the quiet tension of moments before quickly begins to dissipate. The Risen are further relieved when Lumen, who has keen senses, finds nothing strange in the imposing border hedges.

Wistark crudely suggests to Grimlock that a dog house with an axe hole on top would make a fine toilet. Grimlock takes this seriously, and starts walking through the long grass to the far end of the garden. Inside the tool shed, Poobeyr finds gardening implements and a sticky, blood-smeared axe, the latter of which he adds to his pack. Grimlock reaches the dog house and moves to kick through its roof. A huge dog barrels from inside and bites his unraised leg, unbalancing the surprised reptile enough to topple him over. The hound leaps onto his chest and tears a chunk from his scaled neck with jagged, blackened teeth.

Encounter: Serious Weeds

They are attacked by a large dog and several aggressive plant vines that put up a surprisingly difficult fight, but the adventurers are victorious regardless. They cross the lawn to Malley’s front door. Wistark hacks at the boards covering it with a cloud of daggers, leaving only one board intact. Poobeyr uses his new axe to break the last board, and then attempts to kick the door open. Unfortunately the door holds, and the warrior falls backwards onto his ass. Grimlock charges the door, but it also holds against this attack, and a stunned dragonborn joins Poobeyr on the ground with a bashed face. Keyleth walks despairingly past these two buffoons and opens the door using its handle.

Confronted by a staircase, she walks immediately upstairs. Lumen enters the kitchen and claims several throwing knives. Wistark walks past the stairs into the downstairs study, and finds diary entries written by Father Malley that detail weeks of experimentation with the powers of necromancy. They reveal that the priest spent almost the entire Autumn trying to perfect this dark art in order to revive his dead wife, Bonnie, and also claim that the dog in the garden was an undead product of this very labour!

Outside, in an attempt to nurse his hurt pride, Grimlock tries to vault into the kitchen through its boarded window. He impacts the wooden planks with a deep THUD sound and falls pathetically back to the ground. Wistark hears this noise from the study, but is too engrossed in a local history book to investigate. Meanwhile, Poobeyr has hobbled upstairs and hidden under the covers of a double bed. When Keyleth enters the room, he jumps up and scares her. She slaps him.

Keyleth finds another diary entry, and takes it downstairs for Lumen to read. It chronicles Father Malley’s continuing experimentation, and also provides a startling revelation – in the last days of Autumn, the priest relocated to the mausoleum inside the grounds of Raylack Church only 22 days before the Risen Adventurers earned their name.

The Risen finish exploring the house and reconvene outside, where Grimlock is chopping sulkily at the body of Malley’s dog. All present are shocked to hear that Malley performed necromancy, but the fact he experimented in the cemetery of Raylack Church sends deeper chills down every spine. Could this deluded priest be their maker? If so, could they have been lying stone dead in their graves not a week past? The adventurers set out immediately for the Church, feeling closer to solving this mystery than ever before.

On their way back to Raylack village they are approached by a villager, who informs them that Cain Dunwithy is raving outside the Slaughtered Lamb. The Risen soon come across the man in question, ranting frantically at his followers about the gravesnatching of his famous ancestor Albert. Lumen pays a local dwarf named Bombur Deer to keep watch on the empty home of Joseph Curwen, which recent witnesses say has been lit at night. After a quick meal, the group press on to the church. They find that Albert Dunwithy’s body has indeed been taken, but the empty grave provides no clues.

Under the dim dusk sun, the Risen Adventurers stand before the door to the cemetery mausoleum, the site of the priest’s most recent experiments. Its entrance is unlocked, and Poobeyr quietly opens the door. Wistark throws a Lightbang inside, which explodes brightly. The group leap into the room. It is empty. A trail of footprints in the dust lead them between large stone coffins to a contraption in the floor. Coloured crystals stick outwards at odd angles. Remembering a poem in Malley’s diary, Lumen suggests pushing the crystals in a certain order. When Grimlock follows this suggestion, the contraption activates and a circular hatch opens in the floor.

The dragonborn ignores the available ladder and drops to the floor below. Fortunately this is not a great distance and he lands without harming himself. He proceeds down a pitch black corridor to a balcony, and hesitantly the others follow. Wistark sets a Light ahead of Grimlock, revealing a large chamber that houses more stone coffins. Steps lead down from the balcony into the main room. Grimlock continues to lead, but after descending the stairs and taking his first step into the chamber, he treads upon a pressure plate.

Encounter: Disturbing the Dead

Grimlock springs a trap, and the group are overwhelmed by the vicious fruits of Malley’s necromantic experiments – swarms of animated hands and a huge morbid snake composed of human remains. In the aftermath of battle, hands lie in pieces everywhere. Each step knocks fingers across the floor. Keyleth Glick lies dead on the chamber steps.

Putting to one side their feelings of grief and failure, Grimlock and Lumen find a high alcove at the end of the chamber that houses a small study area. Inside there is a short, squat work desk and two tall bookcases filled with necromantic tomes. More importantly, Fraedlen Malley sits on the desk chair, slumped against a wall, his heart ripped out through his chest.

Lumen finds the last entry from Malley’s diary on the desk and discovers that the priest, after being visited in an educational dream by Bango Skank, was successful in bringing his wife back from the dead. She awoke insane, and he was forced to kill her, fleeing the scene shortly afterward… on the same night that the Risen awoke in the graveyard.

Though he has now learnt all he can, the militant elf is not done yet. He creates a fire, hoping to destroy all the secrets of necromancy in the bookcases before anyone else (companions included) can discover them. Grimlock attempts to save one bookcase, but he picks it up ineptly and the large books fall to his feet. The fire quickly turns into an inferno and Grimlock and Lumen are forced to leap from the high alcove back into the main chamber to escape the conflagration. Wistark is enraged with the elf, but can do nothing about the fire. The group carry Keyleth’s body to the doctor’s clinic in Raylack and sleep in the Slaughtered Lamb.

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Quest Log 3: Troubled Toulsons
Having entered Raylack bearing the mauled body of a small boy, the adventurers are rewarded with a chance to retrieve more dead children.

Early the next morning, Doctor Asclepis determines that Daniel Glick’s wounds were beast-inflicted, confirming the innocence of the Risen Adventurers. Lumen privately shows the doctor the werewolf bite on his arm, but unfortunately the man has not encountered lycanthropy and misguidedly prescribes simple antibiotics, leading the ranger to stock up on enough of this medicine to start taking double the prescribed dose. Despite the seriousness of his own infection (filth fever), Poobeyr decides to man his way back to full health.

It is here in the village clinic that the Risen meet Keyleth Glick, Daniel’s older sister. She is grateful to Grimlock for killing the werewolf responsible for the death of her brother and for carrying his body into Raylack. The young half-elf accompanies the warriors back to the Slaughtered Lamb to inform Sheriff Brandis of the doctor’s findings. The owner of the inn, Draevek Norn, is concerned that a local farming family has not been seen for over two weeks. When he encounters this formidable-looking group, he employs them to visit the Toulson’s farmstead home on the village outskirts. It is agreed that payment will be given once the welfare of the three Toulsons has been determined.

Keyleth, perhaps a little smitten with the impressive new dragonborn in her life, offers to come along and help. She is training to be a warlock, and promises that she is very capable in a fight. On the road to the property the usual sounds of the country wash over the group – birdsong, rustling tree branches and the steady beat of their own walking feet (a great bass boom in Grimlock’s case). After twenty minutes they arrive at the farmhouse, and Wistark knocks on the front door. No-one answers. As he knocks again, harder this time, Grimlock walks around the side of the house and sees an out house. He has been struggling to hold in a dinosauric level of shit for some time and, after looking quickly through the farmhouse window, goes to do his lizardy business.

Having shouted and received no reply, Wistark tries the farmhouse door and finds it unlocked. He enters slowly with Poobeyr, Lumen and Keyleth, but there are no armed marauders waiting. The group spread across the room and find scattered pages from the diary of Farmer Matthew Toulson. They detail disturbing disappearances from the Toulson’s herd and a strange encounter with a man called Joseph Curwen. Lumen opens a cupboard in the corner of the room, but no Toulsons hide within. Another diary entry reads of the vicious slaughter of the Toulson’s cattle herd, and of Matthew’s son Thomas who was sent on his father’s horse to Raylack village two weeks before, but did not arrive and was never seen again.

While Wistark reads aloud from these diary fragments, Poobeyr loses interest and heads upstairs. He finds two bedrooms – one clearly decorated for a little girl and the other for a little boy. As he tries the third door, Wistark joins him on the landing and they enter together. This is clearly the master bedroom, but that is not what immediately grabs their attention. A man lies on the bed in a pool of blood. It appears to have come from cuts on his own arms. He glances at the two men as they enter, then loses interest and stares upwards. He repeats the words “Bihrast Skalyan”, his breath getting shorter and shorter until he breathes his last and passes on.

Taking the last written diary entries from Matthew Toulson‘s hand, Wistark learns that in his last days Matthew was haunted by whispers in his mind. He deciphered phrases: “Dagon”, “Urlyah” and “The valley is where we rise”, then followed this last hint northeast to the valley known as Branock’s Gorge. By the day of his return he had completely lost his mind. But what of his two children: Thomas and Isabella? Wistark wonders if perhaps they have been taken to that valley.

Poobeyr finds 100ip in a chest at the foot of the bed. Having been thwarted of 2ip the night before, he tries to conceal his find from Wistark, but fails. Wistark is annoyed by the man’s petty selfishness, but is too concerned about the present situation to quarrel about it. He returns downstairs and informs Lumen of the body and diary entry. Grimlock is also present, having finished clogging up the out house. To spite Poobeyr, Wistark also informs the pair of the pess in the farmer’s chest. With the farmhouse fully explored, the group head back outside. The tool shed is empty save for farming tools and a large scythe, which Keyleth equips herself with. Over at the barn, Grimlock kicks open the tall wooden doors and a wave of sick nausea rolls over all present.

Encounter: Psychic Squatters

Isabella’s partially eaten body hangs from a noose inside the barn. All hell suddenly breaks loose, and the group are attacked by powerful psychic monsters. Stunned by the ferocity of the mental assault, the Risen Adventurers take a suggestion from Lumen to barricade themselves in the barn during the fight to divide their enemies. The tactic works and they emerge victorious. Wistark uses the dagger cloud to cut Isabella’s body down from the rope. She is long dead, but perhaps Thomas Toulson is still alive, held captive in Branock’s Gorge.

Since the gorge is a day’s journey away, Poobeyr mounts his horse and rides to Raylack to update the innkeeper. The other adventurers leave the stench of the barn behind and travel northeast. When Poobeyr rejoins the group shortly before nightfall, they are in a forest on the edge of a dark, misty swamp. This swamp lies directly on the path to the gorge and therefore must be crossed. Lumen finds a trail of footprints in the mud which may show a safe path through the bog, and the group follow it into the mist.

Encounter: Lights and Mist

Unfortunately, it is a perilous place, and the adventurers soon find themselves exchanging blows with a large group of swamp creatures and a powerful Will o’ the Wisp, which has the power to compel targets to leap into danger. During this battle the mist lifts and the waning moon is revealed, causing Lumen to have an agonising convulsion. The pain passes and he is able to continue fighting. In the end all adversaries lie dead and the adventurers walk unopposed out of the misty swamp.

One uncomfortable night without sleeping sacks later, the group reach the entrance to Branock’s Gorge. Arriving quietly, they peer down the rocky valley and see that it is swarming with monsters. Floating tentacle creatures and flesh lump demons mass at the valley’s bottom. Sixty feet above them stand stocky crab beasts, looking over the gorge from high cliff faces. Though it looks grim, Thomas Toulson could be alive here somewhere. The adventurers break from routine and approach stealthily.

Encounter: Battle of Wills

They get quite close, but then a teleporting vorpal beast appears in front of Poobeyr and plucks him from the battlefield to dump him in the middle of the monsters, alerting them instantly to his presence. The Risen begin an incredibly hard battle against these fiends, but their troubles have only just started. A huge, mystic wall of tentacles stands at the end of the gorge, and it assaults the group with a constant tide of dizzying psychic attacks. Unifying under the mental fortress of Grimlock Skullfucker, the group are able to temporarily fend off this barrage and concentrate on dispatching their enemies.

Wistark recognises the tentacle wall from ancient tales – a Fini, which can only be destroyed by powerful necromantic arts. A misshapen 12ft giant emerges from the void to lumber into the fray. Lumen recognises its face from pictures at the farm – the monster is an insane, disfigured Thomas Toulson. The adventurers unite against the twisted figure and Keyleth destroys it, enraging Grimlock by “stealing his kill”. The Fini blasts the group with another mental attack, and this time the dragonborn cannot hold it back. The group are overwhelmed and pass out.

They wake up two days later to find themselves in Raylack under the care of Tanis Asclepis, having been rescued by mercenaries of The Iron Circle. The fighting men of the village have accompanied the mercenaries to Branock’s Gorge, and are not expected back for at least another day. With all three Toulsons dead, the Risen rise from their beds at noon to give their report to Draevek Norn, and gratefully accept a substantial reward. Feeling charitable, Poobeyr also shares out some of the Toulsons’ savings. Grimlock’s fierce anger from two days earlier remains, and he spends the mid-day hours killing deer to dispel his foul mood. Everyone else is simply glad that for now, the battle is over.

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Quest Log 2: Bite of the Beast
Even on the short walk from Raylack Church to the main village, the four confused wanderers demonstrate their uncanny ability to walk into armed conflict.

As night falls around them, the Risen Adventurers come steadily closer to the village of Raylack. Lumen is scouting ahead when he hears noises in the darkness, coming from a woodland adjacent to the road. Signalling for the group to stop, he stealthily makes his way off the road. Unimpressed at being left to wait without explanation, Wistark immediately ignores Lumen’s signal and quietly leads Grimlock and Poobeyr to the spot where Lumen left the road.

Once there they too can hear a noise in the darkness, and under the pale light of the moon can see its source – an unknown man-sized creature, softly chewing and ripping at something lying at its feet. Lumen crouches a small distance away and, noting the presence of his comrades, requests some time to find a good sniping position. Wistark sees the sense in this and grants Lumen two minutes to get into a good spot. As Lumen vanishes into the darkness, Wistark holds back Poobeyr and Grimlock, who have quickly become savagely eager for a fight.

Encounter: Cherished Remains

The adventurers ambush the beast, a werewolf, and it flees into the forest. Suddenly Wistark is himself ambushed by a violent Otyugh, and the group are split between hunting the lycanthrope and saving Wistark from the slimy monster. During this battle Poobeyr is infected with Filth Fever. Far more seriously, Lumen is bitten on the arm and contracts lycanthropy – the infectious curse of the werewolf. Eventually both creatures are defeated and the group reconvene near the road to inspect the remains of the werewolf’s grizzly meal.

The injured adventurers are dispirited to find the mauled body of a small boy. Discovering a petso in the boy’s pocket, Lumen makes a meaningful gesture of final rest by covering the body’s dead staring eyes with pess. Poobeyr, who still remembers with cold anger the incident of a year past when the group cut him out of a treasure hoard due to his “angina”, decides that money should not be spared for the dead. He moves to claim the two ivory petsos for himself, to the horrified shock of the group.

They command him not to ruin Lumen’s kind act, but stubbornly he insists, suggesting covering the body with the priest robes taken from Raylack Church instead. Though this is a good idea, Wistark and Lumen see only greed in Poobeyr’s eyes, and the situation quickly makes a turn for the worse as they threaten him with deadly force should he take the pess. The Flaming Sphere looms closely, with enough power to kill Poobeyr through its heat alone in his weakened state. In the end, Poobeyr has no sane choice but to relent, and the tension eases considerably when he does so.

Wistark dispels the Sphere, and the group decide to take the boy with them into Raylack. Grimlock agrees to carry the body, and so they walk the rest of the tired journey to the village. Having some knowledge of the nature of werewolf bites, Lumen conceals his injury from Wistark and Poobeyr, hoping to rid himself of its curse before they even discover he had carried it. Grimlock agrees to keep the wound secret, and finally the Risen Adventurers pass into the village of Raylack, agreeing not to mention the fact that they recently rose from the grave.

The group find Raylack’s reeve, Sheriff Brandis, in the Slaughtered Lamb inn in the village centre, and quietly usher him outside to see the young body. The boy is identified to be Daniel Glick, indeed a Raylack local. The reeve is very suspicious of the adventurers for their involvement and insists that they remain within the confines of the village until the cause of the boy’s death is determined by a doctor. The group are not pleased with this restriction and agree only to stay until the end of the next day.

Sheriff Brandis offers them the opportunity to spend the night in his jail if they so wish it, but fortunately they have just enough sense to stay in the inn instead.

Entering the Slaughtered Lamb, Grimlock finds a female dragonborn and, obviously, immediately attempts to seduce her with a manly display. Instead, he trips over a table, crashes to the floor and cuts himself with his axe.

Hoping to make clear that the bloody cut is causing him no pain, he then leaps up so quickly that he knocks a halfling off their seat and gets covered in ale.

Squealing in agony as alcohol runs into his axe wound, Grimlock looks and sounds like the most pathetic giant lizard man ever to exist. The scaly lady leaves in disgust and the adventurers retire to their rooms.

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Quest Log 1: Awake
In the corner of a rural churchyard, something stirs...

Under a bright full moon, an old church stands stoically on a hill overlooking a small farming village. A solitary lantern moves slowly up the road towards the church, swinging back and forth in rhythm with the footfalls of the hunched figure that grips it in their hand. The figure reaches the entrance to the church yard. A 10 foot high, rusty gate makes an agonising, high pitched screeching sound as it is pushed open. A barn owl cries out in response to the gate’s painful wail and the figure stops, listening, holding their breath. The barn owl does not call out again.

Silence. Four men open their eyes to darkness. Arms shoot out in response to a primal, suffocating panic and feel a hard, confining, wooden surface on all sides. In desperation they push against these walls desperately.

The figure takes a few steps and stops again, another sound now reverberating through the still night air. A rumbling sound. Tentatively, the hunched figure moves towards the church’s graveyard, seemingly the source of the noise. The sound increases and the ground begins to shake. He stops, staring at the earth in stunned shock, the muscles of his legs twitching, begging him to move, to run. A skeletal hand suddenly bursts from the earth nearby, rotting flesh clings to white bone, and it grabs at the figure’s leg, tearing his cloak.

Galvanised into action by this grotesque sight, the figure kicks out at the clawing hand and runs, sprinting towards the church building. To his left, an arc of electric blue light explodes from the earth, streaking into the sky and sending huge clods of earth spraying upwards. The figure reaches the large double doors of the building, breathing heavily, and throws them open as hunks of soil and small stones begin to rain down from above, thudding against the building’s thatched roof and making loud clacking sounds as they ping off of the stone tower.

Nestled in one corner of the graveyard, between a dilapidated crypt and the church tower, fresh mounds of earth are thrown aside by scrabbling hands and three figures rise from under the ground, their hands bloodied from punching through the wooden coffins in which they awoke. A fourth leaps out of the hole created by his magical blast. All four were seemingly buried with their weapons and armour, but their packs are missing. The Risen Adventurers remember nothing of how they came to be buried and have no idea where they are. Before these matters can be addressed, they take note of the horde of rotting corpses shambling towards them.

Encounter: Shattered Glass

The zombie masses are defeated with relative ease, but as they finish a desperate cry for help emanates from the church. Inside, a giant, hulking zombie lumbers towards a terrified figure. The creature is quickly put to rest, and then put to rest again several minutes later. The man cowering in the pulpit is the church’s grounds keeper, a man named Zud. Though quite shaken, and terrified by the idea that the adventurers themselves had risen from the ground with the zombies, he points them in the direction of the nearby village of Raylack and even dispenses some information on the church’s history, as well as recent goings on concerning the absent priest (who vanished after losing his wife in horrific circumstances).

He unlocks the priest’s room at the back of the church so that it can be searched for clues. Unfortunately, the only item of interest is a diary entry; “My darling Bonnie, I will be with you again” and a wardrobe full of robes. Lumen explores the churchyard for anything of interest, and notices the words “Bango Skank” scrawled onto the stonework of the church wall. When he runs his fingers across the letters and muses over this odd graffiti, pain suddenly explodes through his skull. An image swims in front of his mind’s eye, called up from his memories. A rocky valley. The words Bango Skank carved into the face of the valley wall. The image vanishes as suddenly as it appeared and the pain subsides.

The adventure continues as the group set off for Raylack…

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