An Ancient Evil

Game Master Celestial Healer

The kingdom of Leyland is in the midst of change. New technology and new social structures are taking the place of the old ways. In the midst of this, an ancient evil is awakening and threatening this prosperous nation. It falls upon a band of heroes to face this menace.

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46/46, AC 11

Looking between Sylvia and Caladrel, Jerry decides to mediate slightly: "You both make excellent points, their intrusion is certainly unwarranted and aggression is probably the cause of the dark dreams that abound. The world is changing and we must look to the past and the old ways whilst retaining the knowledge that will guide us to the future." Jerry says palliatively; "We cannot ignore new discoveries, however they must be tempered with the wisdom of the past. These fellows are a fine example, if we could learn from them that'd be splendid - however not at the loss of our spirit or to be corrupted by them."

He turns his attention to the problems to hand, and Trina's revelation. A curt smile slides across his strong countenance; "Splendid calculations Miss Trina, for if we can curtail the expansion of the malevolence - whilst getting rid of the alien infestation. Then maybe having a billet or prison upon this site, upon the assumption that the stars fix the position of the portal."

'Unless of course, these are merely guardians or gaolers for a more ancient entity that resides further on. For what better place to discard an immortal elder horror than upon another world where it cannot corrupt your youth.' he thinks grimly.


The lioness lets out a pleased rumble at Caladrels' touch, pushing her head insistently against his hand. Clearly she agrees with his assessment, rather than Jeremiah's more balanced view.

M Elf Druid 4 {AC 19, T 13, FF 17, HP 28/28}

Caladrel's face softens with a tinge of sadness. "As you say Mr. Roberts. I still fear for our future.", turning back to the device Trina has in her hand, Caladrel continues, "However, the future is naught if we do not survive the present. Can you work that device to close this portal?"

It does not take more than some slight movements to determine, by trial-and-error, how to use the device. Trina should be confident she can reduce the rift to a negligible size easily.

As to whether anyone else has the ability to control the rift, that is, of course, another question entirely. However, you have a variety of clues at your disposal for further investigation:

1. The device Trina is holding.
2. The strange diagram among the alien creature's notes.
3. The strange scrap of cloth you found in the previous chamber:

Celestial GM wrote:
You also see a scrap of cloth that does not seem to be associated with any of the bodies on the ground. It is a torn corner of a larger piece. It is obviously very old, and from what you can make out it bears a pattern of strange figures. There are bizarre geometric patterns upon a background of what appear to be eyes and tentacles. None of the bodies bear a garment with this pattern, so clearly the rest of the piece from which this scrap was torn is not here.

As Sylvia has alluded, there may be scholars who can discern the strange iconography.

Female Tiefling (Motherless) Inquisitor [Sin Eater, Preacher] 4 [HP: 25/28] [AC: 16 | T: 11 | FF: 15]

Unless offered objections to doing their best to close the rift, Trina does so, reducing it as small as the device will allow, careful not to damage it in haste - if they break or disrupt it, they won't be able to repair it, a loss that might be devastating at a later time perhaps.

Remembering the scrap of tapestry, she then retrieves it from her pack and compares it with the diagram in the notes, looking for similarities or perhaps a clue as to what either of them means.

M Elf Druid 4 {AC 19, T 13, FF 17, HP 28/28}

Caladrel looks at the cloth and notes in Trina's hands. "I'm at a loss what these diagrams mean. Larger questions are where is the original piece from which this corner was torn now and how did it become torn and end up tossed upon the floor in the other room? I fear this evil is not contained to only these two deceased creatures. There may be more out in the world."

Caladrel pauses and takes a breath, "Sylvia, I may have spoken too harshly earlier about progress." Caladrel bows to Sylvia. "I apologize. Do you think your scholars can interpret these drawings and give us guidance?"

To be fair, the universities still employ many elves teaching ancient arts of magic and divinity, as well as mundane humanities and the like. Even within the halls of learning there is a conflict between the old and the new.

46/46, AC 11

With a nod to Trina and her sensible minimising actions.

Jerry adds: "Mayhaps the owner of this garment knows some of the cryptology and science of these creatures - it doesn't seem like these creatures would have need fot cloth. Or the technology for them to weave it, if they are nude."

Female Tiefling (Motherless) Inquisitor [Sin Eater, Preacher] 4 [HP: 25/28] [AC: 16 | T: 11 | FF: 15]

"It appears to be the only lead we possess," Trina acknowledges, carefully returning all the papers to the aliens' satchel, then after a bit of thought adding the crystal device and the torn piece of tapestry in there as well, might as well keep everything together. "And I do not perceive any alternate routes for us to further explore, unless I missed one. I can only pray that what we've done will be enough to stymie if not cease the dilapidation of this forest and the surrounding lands... and people."

She carefully puts the satchel safely in her own pack, then shoulders it, retrieves her dropped glaive, and turns to look at the rest of the group. "I don't know about all of you, but I intend to pursue this little mystery a bit further, after we report back to the manor; any leads, and any of your company, would be most welcome. For now, unless there's another path we wish to investigate here in the woods? If not, it may be beneficial to us to head back; hopefully we can reach the forest's edge before dark falls again."

46/46, AC 11

"I haven't seen any other path in these caverns, has anyone else?" he looks around the group as he agrees with Trina's assessment. "It does imply that this is the direct source of the problems and not some slumbering entity. However I'd feel safer if we did a patrol around the forest to remove anything too predatory and insidious - or maybe could establish a gaol or camp about this portal?"

"Then head to smoke and the seats of learning, to see if we can learn from some seats." He adds cheekily, with a wink to Sylvia.

M Elf Druid 4 {AC 19, T 13, FF 17, HP 28/28}

Caladrel nods in agreement and adds, "Let's take one more close look around this room for any secret passages we may have missed. If we don't find anything, I suggest we go back to the old Druid. He will be able to sense if the evil has left this place. Also, I am concerned for his welfare and I want to make sure he will be able to recover. Once that is done, I agree with Trina. We can make our report at the manor and then continue to follow the trail. I do not want to see this plague spread further than it already has."

He inspects the walls of the cavern carefully. Perception: 1d20 + 13 ⇒ (16) + 13 = 29

Caladrel finds nothing else of interest in this chamber.

None of you saw any other routes in this system of tunnels.

Are you headed back to the manor and to see Gindel the druid (who you already brought there)?

M Elf Druid 4 {AC 19, T 13, FF 17, HP 28/28}

Returning to the Manor seems to be the consensus.

Caladrel informs the others, "I cannot find anything unusual in the walls. Let's return to the manor."

Caladrel leads the way out.

46/46, AC 11

"Good thinking, sir. Though we may wish to take a little detour about the forest to ensure it's safety." Jerry adds remembering all the corrupted creatures out there, whilst hoping that they'll revert he doesn't want them to be preying on the local wildlife.

Female Tiefling (Motherless) Inquisitor [Sin Eater, Preacher] 4 [HP: 25/28] [AC: 16 | T: 11 | FF: 15]

"Hopefully if the forest starts to mend, a guard can be established in this place," Trina says with a nod to Jerry, as she follows the two men toward the exit. She turns to Caladrel next. "Perhaps your superiors may have a suggestion in that regard, especially if Gindel is willing to accept their aid. But that's all fairly irrelevant if this doesn't put a stop to the spread of the taint; it wouldn't do much good to assign someone to guard this place only to lose them to whatever evil's seeped into this land a few days or weeks later."

As soon as you emerge from the tunnel, you can plainly see that a change is coming over the surroundings. The magical darkness that enshrouded the base of the waterfall is dissipating, and breeze of healthful air stirs the branches of the trees.

Even should you detour slightly, you are not ambushed by any otherworldly hunters as you were on your approach. While it is certainly overly optimistic to assume that anything else that emerged through the portal is simply gone, you wonder whether the aberrant creatures can sense the waning power of the void in this place. As for the plants themselves, it will surely take this wood some time to heal.

You are able to find your way out of the wood and across the fields before nightfall. Wallingham Manor is alight with the warm glow of candles and hearthfires.

Please see the discussion thread so that you can note your xp award.

Female Tiefling (Motherless) Inquisitor [Sin Eater, Preacher] 4 [HP: 25/28] [AC: 16 | T: 11 | FF: 15]

Trina watches the subtle but near omnipresent changes already taking place in the forest and can't keep a contented smile off her face. As the group makes their way back toward Wallingham, she takes note of the absence of hostile creatures, the renewed life in the air, and the vanishing dark magic. If anyone in the group still needed convincing after that, she couldn't think of a more compelling sign.

As the group makes their way through the forest, Trina searches for a piece of discarded bark, driftwood, fallen branch, or other scrap wood - something no bigger than a hand, maybe a forearm at most, that she can use to carve a memento of this place and these events, to join the many such objects she has in her pack. She makes a point of trying to find a piece that doesn't look too worm-eaten, corroded, or withered by the evaporating taint; she doesn't want to introduce more corrupting influences to places already outside the reach of whatever that portal was doing to this forest, or more mundane threats like getting worms in her other carvings.

F Elf Alchemist 4 {Init +3; Perception +8 (llv); HP 25/35}

Sylvia nods in acknowledgement of Caladrel's apology. "There may very well be scholars at the university who can interpret these signs and symbols and mayhap tell us of the strange creatures, perhaps in the Department of Interplanar Studies. As alien as they were and as inimical as their presence was to life here, they may not be of this world. But I speculate. A quick train ride to the University will put an end to uncertainty."

She tugs Chanticleer into reluctant motion, keeping the mule from browsing off into the undergrowth as the party moves out through the forest and keeping up her nearly incessant monologue. "Once we return to Lord Wallingham's estate, I can replenish my supplies and be ready to travel in a day or so. I feel... uneasy. Though Trina did an excellent job of diminishing that portal... or tear... or whatever it was... it still remains and therefore remains a threat. Perhaps Lord Wallingham would be well advised to keep his people clear of the area still, except for a capable watchman?" After echoing Trina's suggestion, she uncharacteristically turns to Caladrel for confirmation. "What do you think?"

"I, for one, am glad to be rid of that place," Rhodes interjects. He had been conspicuously quiet for some time. "Mankind has no business with alien creatures. I cannot get back to Greyston fast enough. I have done the service for which I was hired, and I have no further inclination to go digging into the sordid affairs of the occult." He seems resolved on that matter.

Female Tiefling (Motherless) Inquisitor [Sin Eater, Preacher] 4 [HP: 25/28] [AC: 16 | T: 11 | FF: 15]

"Unfortunate to hear," Trina replies softly, though she nods in his direction. "It's been a pleasure working with you, regardless. Hopefully your future travels will be less erratic."

M Elf Druid 4 {AC 19, T 13, FF 17, HP 28/28}

"Yes, I agree Sylvia. Lord Wallingham should post guards to watch the portal. If it begins to grow again, hopefully we can be notified soon enough to close it again before the taint returns."

Caladrel turns to Rhodes and bows. "Mr. Rhodes, thank you for your service to this wood. If you are ever in need of my assistance in the future, please do not hesitate to call upon me."

Caladrel begins to look uneasy. "This university you speak of, it is in," Caladrel pauses for a moment. "a city? Is this a large city? How far is it? I can only fly so far in a day."

The University is some 75 miles away. The distance can be covered via train in under 3 hours. Traveling by road will take considerably longer.

It is located in the country, but adjacent to the town of Milton, the economy of which is largely devoted to the goings-on at the University.

F Elf Alchemist 4 {Init +3; Perception +8 (llv); HP 25/35}

"That is understandable, Mr. Rhodes. Not everyone has a mind disciplined enough to deal with complex matters of planar sciences," Sylvia comments kindly, trying to comfort the shaken man, "I can lead the way to the University. It is rather a long voyage on foot, particularly when..." She lags momentarily, straining to pull Chanticleer from some shrubbery he's attempting to enter, "... this happens every few feet. However, now that we have some cash, perhaps we can take the mechanical carriage. I believe that is swifter."

M Elf Druid 4 {AC 19, T 13, FF 17, HP 28/28}

Caladrel's face becomes stricken when Sylvia mentions the mechanical carriage. "Mechanical carriage? I have seen them from a distance, belching their black smoke into the air and roaring their never ending thunder across the plains. Their tracks cut swaths through the ancient forest like ugly scars. I can scarcely breath when I must fly through their wake and the pounding in my ears is enough to drive me mad. You don't mean to actually ride in one of those things, do you?"

I assume you are going into the manor to report your progress?

F Elf Alchemist 4 {Init +3; Perception +8 (llv); HP 25/35}

"Well, I haven't actually taken one myself. They are quite swift, though, and should save a great deal of time. Maybe somebody could cast sleep on you. I may be able to make a sleeping poison... er, potion," Sylvia reassures the tall elf.

Yup, heading back to the manor house.

M Elf Druid 4 {AC 19, T 13, FF 17, HP 28/28}

"I hope it doesn't come to that," answers Caladrel warily. "Let's head to Lord Wallingham's manor. We need to inform him of what we found. Then he may have someone who can teleport us to the University."

Female Tiefling (Motherless) Inquisitor [Sin Eater, Preacher] 4 [HP: 25/28] [AC: 16 | T: 11 | FF: 15]

"I've never, either," Trina adds, "though I can't say I'm fond of the idea of being crowded into something moving that fast with that many people with no safe exits." She twitches slightly at the thought, and a couple of the eyes on her head-tendrils squint as if wincing. "They're amazing creations, though."

F Elf Alchemist 4 {Init +3; Perception +8 (llv); HP 25/35}

"Teleport? You would trust magic, which could very well drop us into the ocean, rather than something made of cogs and gears that you can see and feel and touch?" Sylvia sighs. "Honestly, I just don't understand some people."

She continues to tug her transmuted chicken-mule along the path behind her.

Female Tiefling (Motherless) Inquisitor [Sin Eater, Preacher] 4 [HP: 25/28] [AC: 16 | T: 11 | FF: 15]

"I imagine it's more a question of who to trust than what," the tiefling muses. "A well-practiced, capable spellcaster is extremely unlikely to mar such a spell, barring outside interference of course. On the other hand, someone who's more of a neophyte with that sort of power might result in unpredictable effects, especially if there are extenuating circumstances such as distraction, fear, or the simple capriciousness of magic."

She taps a finger on her cane thoughtfully. "I imagine much the same goes for these machines - a master builder could likely put something together that works flawlessly, while someone more recent to the art would have more potential for errors and mishaps."

The windows and doors of the manor exude a warm glow of hearthfires and candles. Longworth the butler greets you and shows you inside to the library. Lord Wallingham and his daughters arrive with excitement at news of your return.

"I am relieved to see you," Lord Wallingham says with a warm smile. "We are glad to see you return and reasonably well. How was your progress?"

46/46, AC 11

Jerry has been uncertainly quiet since the cavern, the aliens beings have affected him along with Rhodes' announcement. Even at the talk of the mechanical carriage and Luces grumblings of annoyance, he still dwells in his own council.

Howevever, with a tight reserved expression he greets their host. "Reasonable, I expect. There was certainly some hazards and problems, but perhaps this is best discussed over a warm brandy." Jerry says getting down from the saddle and patting Luce's flank gratefully.

Female Tiefling (Motherless) Inquisitor [Sin Eater, Preacher] 4 [HP: 25/28] [AC: 16 | T: 11 | FF: 15]

When no one else steps up to explain, Trina gives the group some time to settle and make themselves comfortable - including waiting on Jerry to be served his apparently much-needed relaxant - then turns to Lord Wallingham and the ladies and does her best to give a thorough but not lecturing explanation.

"The blight, such as it is, appears to be withdrawn," she begins, digging around in her pack until she comes up with the crystal rod. "At the site known as the Devil's Hole, we found a pair of alien creatures - I can draw them for you, if you like, for reference - using this object to manipulate a sort of tear or portal. A language barrier prevented any sort of negotiation or terms, and the pair were near-immediately hostile, so the situation was solved with blade and spell instead. The creatures are dead, and we were able to discern how to use this device to close the breach to a miniscule size that prevents access, though we couldn't destroy it completely."

She gestures back the way they came as she talks. "The forest is already beginning to recover just in this short time. The sounds of the wood are back to normal, weather patterns no longer appear marred, and I imagine most of the symptoms of the damage will heal within a few weeks. I doubt you will have further issues with new incidents, barring someone reopening the gate; we did not see any other aberrant creatures on our way out, suggesting their kind all slain or fled."

She nods to Sylvia next. "Miss Pari suggested taking the device and some objects found with the creatures, they appear to be plans or maps or schematics of some sort, to an acquaintance of hers at a university for examination and study... and hopefully, safekeeping from anyone who might entertain the mad idea of reopening the breach."

46/46, AC 11

After making sure Luce is happy in her paddock, Jerry returns to catch the end of the explanation. 'I had planned to couch it a bit more delicately for the old chap, but I suppose she has ticked off most of the points - if a trifle plainly.' He thinks, not disturbing the flow of conversation.

M Elf Druid 4 {AC 19, T 13, FF 17, HP 28/28}

Caladrel listens as Trina recounts the recent events. When she has finished, he asks, "Lord Wallingham, how is Gindel, the old druid? Has he begun to improve with the blight removed?"

46/46, AC 11

"Or the Smythe's? I take it they reached you..." He asks remembering suddenly the daughter they'd locked up. 'Maybe she's been altered or has memories of those tentacled horrors? Didn't someone mention they gathered intelligence from people directly.' a startled expression explodes across his visage, before he suppresses it.

Yay, past the anniversary of the game.

F Elf Alchemist 4 {Init +3; Perception +8 (llv); HP 25/35}

"Fire!" Sylvia blurts, then clarifies with the followup, "We used fire on the creatures but it didn't work so well. Not nearly as well as it should. But before any of this touchy-feely stuff, the rift is still open, though tiny, and somebody must needs watch it. Preferably somebody with strength of will enough not to be affected as the old druid and others were. We'll hurry to the University and back with whatever fix we find. Surely this problem can be solved."

Female Tiefling (Motherless) Inquisitor [Sin Eater, Preacher] 4 [HP: 25/28] [AC: 16 | T: 11 | FF: 15]

"Fire and cold have little effect on the creatures, yes," Trina clarifies. "They seem to have a sort of innate resistance. If more appear... well, I should hope that isn't the case, and I should wonder how they got here if they did, with the rift so reduced as to be almost invisible. But if there are more of them, acid and staying out of their reach with bows or gunshot is recommended." She winces a little and shakes her head, hair and tendrils tossing slightly. "It's fairly unpleasant if they can get a grip on you."

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46/46, AC 11

Jerry bristles slightly at the mention of 'touchy-feely', as a member of the gentry of Leyland he doesn't do 'touchy-feely' - well except on anniversaries or the Queens birthday.

"I see," Lord Wallingham says, taking all of this in with characteristic composure. He joins Jerry with a brandy of his own. "We can certainly put some deputies at the edge of the forest, in case there are any additional disturbances. I would not have considered it while the taint was spreading, but if it has been checked, guarding the area would be prudent."

He goes on: "I am disturbed to hear that this 'rift', as you call it, is still there, however small. I hesitate to ask more of you than you have already done. None of you are obligated to continue your investigations; you will be compensated, as promised, for your efforts. That said, if you would do as you propose and consult with the University, it would be a great service to the realm and her people."

Rhodes chimes in, "My lord, this matter is beyond my ken. Some things, once seen, cannot be unseen. I request you give me leave to return to the capital and be done with this business."

Lord Wallingham is unfazed by the rogue's directness. "You are under no further obligation."

To your inquiries, he responds, "My physician reports that Gindel is stable, but very weak. Time will tell how well he will recover. The same is true of the Smythes. What they have been through has taken its toll."

Female Tiefling (Motherless) Inquisitor [Sin Eater, Preacher] 4 [HP: 25/28] [AC: 16 | T: 11 | FF: 15]

"We share your trepidation regarding the remaining gap," Trina replies with a nod. "Hence the hope someone among the scholars can give us an answer regarding a permanent closure. If not they, perhaps someone of Caladrel's circle, or if we could find a mage of adequate caliber perhaps they could provide a suggestion or even direct aid."

The mention of the druid and the Smythes brings another thought to her mind. "What of the constable? Has he recovered at all?"

46/46, AC 11

"It's hearty news that their recovery is progressing." he adds hoping that the constable is doing well too, but still with a little trepidation about the young girls mental health.

Male Dwarf Gunslinger 4

"I am likewise glad for their recovery. And I take some comfort knowing that Bessie can hurt the beasties should we have to face them again."

M Elf Druid 4 {AC 19, T 13, FF 17, HP 28/28}

A look of relief passes over Caladrel's face at the encouraging news regarding Gindel. He then addresses Lord Wallingham. "Having seen first hand the horrible effects these beings and their strange magic can have on the natural world, I am compelled to pursue this further. I will write a letter tonight to Rhaelnnine and inform him of what I have found and the need for me to continue. Can you see that it is delivered?"

Turning to the others, Caladrel says, "Shall we rest here tonight? we can set off at first light. We have several days journey ahead of us."

"There has not been a change in Constable Barston's condition, regretfully," Lord Wallingham confides.

"You are all certainly welcome to stay here again. It is the least we can do." To Caladrel he adds, "Of course, I will see to its delivery."

46/46, AC 11

"And the daughter of the Smythes? I believe they had to confine her, for her own safety - however she seemed susceptible to the rift. Or mayhaps one of the creatures contained within." He leans back, sipping gently of the drink.

"So we are to go by carriage? Or take the train. Although Luce wouldn't like a cabin, it could be achieved." Jerry ponders. "Alternatively, Caladriel and I could have a jolly good run whilst the rest of you take the mechanised train." With a meaningful look to the druid; "You could turn into a bird & Luce does enough a decent run. We could even make a race of it - for I doubt the train is without it's delays and the roads aren't too shoddy this time of year."

Female Tiefling (Motherless) Inquisitor [Sin Eater, Preacher] 4 [HP: 25/28] [AC: 16 | T: 11 | FF: 15]

Trina sighs and nods to the lord. "I feared as much, but perhaps more time is needed. It's only been a day, after all. Maybe with some time and treatment we'll see recovery in the future."

She then turns to the remainder of her companions who will be continuing on together. "I've no objection to either idea," the tiefling says, though her hands twitch slightly - it's hard to say if it's out of some hidden nervousness or another one of her weird spasms. "If we separate we'll need to arrange a meeting place for when you two arrive. Sylvia? I believe you know the city better than any of us... could you recommend a location?"

F Elf Alchemist 4 {Init +3; Perception +8 (llv); HP 25/35}

"Those of us who don't fear the train could take it on ahead and deliver the items to the scholars at the University. By the time the rest catch up, we're liable to have some answers. I'd recommend meeting at the University library. I certainly don't mind waiting there... you?" She looks to Trina for the tentacly woman's opinion.

Male Dwarf Gunslinger 4

"I welcome a trip on the train. Perhaps I can give them some pointers on their engineering. Or, I may even learn something meself."

Female Tiefling (Motherless) Inquisitor [Sin Eater, Preacher] 4 [HP: 25/28] [AC: 16 | T: 11 | FF: 15]

Trina nods to the alchemist. "Not at all. I'd like to see what they have available to the public, as far as the library's resources. If nothing else, it'll give us a start on research. I imagine it's not difficult to find, either."

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