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

Not bothering with any of this caution, Jerry slips down from the saddle. Piercing the rough dusty ground with his lance-butt, letting the small pennant drape against it's length.

"Let's go introduce ourselves." he says with the assured confidence of the gentry moving towards the building. He brushes the dust from his soft sleeveless jacket, making sure he's presentable.

Male Human Rogue 4 (HP 23)

"I've seen dumps with more life than this place," Rhodes jokes, "Are you sure anyone is here?"

Perception: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (11) + 7 = 18

46/46, AC 11

The bleak scene in stark contrast to the more verdant farms nearby, it's nearly enough to shake his confidence. However shaking off the feeling; he boldly strides upto the cottage door and raps upon the door-frame. "Hello, anyone home?"

Male Dwarf Gunslinger 4

Smitty's unease at the obviously wrong landscape compels him to draw his pistol. He watches to make sure nothing jumps out at Jerry as he approaches the door.

Perception: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (1) + 7 = 8

The more perceptive among you spot the fleeting figure of a man briefly peeking out a cottage window before pulling away abruptly.

Jerry's lance pierces the ground, and the blighted grass that he strikes crumbles to ash. When he knocks upon the door, there is a strained silence for a time until at last the door opens a crack. The gaunt face of a man peers out. He is thin, with wispy gray hair and deep circles around his eyes as if he hasn't slept in days. "Who knocks?" he asks simply.

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

Trina kneels to examine the soil and plantlife, and to obscure her appearance - no sense in scaring the locals any more than necessary, or inviting blame for the whole malady on the fiend. Between the landscape, the tall grass, and the crowd of the group around her, she hopes she goes unnoticed, though she does tug her hood back into place and curl her tail beneath her, trying to make herself as unnoticeable as possible.

Crouching, she spends a few moments in contemplation of the rotting fields and dusty soil, trying to examine them in as much detail as she can without the conveniences of an herbalist's lab.

Stealth 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (2) + 7 = 9
Know: Nature 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (17) + 5 = 22
Survival 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (17) + 9 = 26

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

"How odd," Sylvia murmurs as the grass falls to ash at the touch of a lance. Since nobody afoot seems to be withering or dying, she slides from the pony and retrieves a couple of small, empty vials from her belt pouch. Kneeling, she scrapes some of the dirt and some of the blighted vegetation into the glass containers, sealing them with corks and replacing them in her pouch for later analysis.

46/46, AC 11

"I'm Jeremiah Roberts, we have been sent by Lord Wallingham about the Blight. I'm sorry for your loss." he says genuinely concerned, "We have come to seek the source of it...." he looks towards the woods.

"I know it cannot bring your son back, but maybe it'll prevent others from such a horror. And it could help the land recover." he replies to the ajar doorway.

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

Caladrel looks in horror at the desolated surroundings as they approach the house. He notes the reaction of the vegetation to Jerry's lance.

He dismounts his horse and kneels to examine the blight closely.

knowledge(nature): 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (17) + 10 = 27

Knowledge Nature DC 21:
What has befallen this vegetation is no natural phenomenon you are familiar with. It appears to you as if the plants have been drained of their life essence, and all that remains is a shell. The affliction is metaphysical, rather than biological.

"The horror is already spreading," the man says in a hollow voice. "My wife. She is wasting away. I watch over her as best I can. I dare not sleep. Not after..." He stops speaking and stands with a blank expression.

After a time, he says, "Can you help her?"

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

Caladrel stands and approaches the Jerry and the man at the door. He overhears the the man's query as he approaches.

"I'm sure this is devastating to one who is so closely tied to nature. We will try. May we see her and assess her condition?" asks Caladrel.

If the man accepts, Caladrel will do a heal check to learn more about her affliction. Heal: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (8) + 8 = 16

The man turns wordlessly inside, evidently meaning for you to follow. The house seems bleak and lifeless, not because it is unoccupied, but because an unnameable pall seems to have settled over it. He leads you to a small bedroom on the first floor, where a thin woman lies in bed. A wooden chair is pulled up beside her.

"She's going the way my boy did, but slower."

As you examine her, there comes a loud thumping from above, as of a commotion on the second floor. It sounds like someone is banging on the floor upstairs. Mr. Smythe does not react to the sound.

Heal DC 15:
"Wasting away" is a good description of it. She is dying, but there is no apparent cause.

Heal DC 20:
She appears to be suffering a loss of life energy. This affliction is metaphysical. It is as if something is draining her very essence and vitality.

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

Sylvia follows Caladrel in as if she owns the place. Leaving the elf to examine the woman, she looks around the place and, upon hearing the thumps, fixes Mr. Smythe with a look.

"What's upstairs? What's making the noise?"

Perception: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (5) + 8 = 13

If he doesn't answer, she proceeds up the stairs.

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

Trina scowls and dusts the remains of the earth and plants off her gloves as she rises, taking advantage of standing after the man of the house disappears inside with Caladrel and Jeremiah. "It's being drained away," she announces to no one in particular, "the life just... emptied from it, leaving behind just a husk. Not by anything physically, at least that I can tell...."

She shakes her head and looks to the forest edge ahead. "I cannot think of any explanation that does not come back to some kind of magic. This isn't a biological or chemical effect - there's no evidence of any sort of material infection or assault. It's purely metaphysical. Whatever's draining away the life from these crops - and presumably the people too? - it's doing it without laying a finger or fang on them."

Male Human Rogue 4 (HP 23)

Rhodes follows Sylvia and Caladrel inside, taking a quick inventory of the situation. He pulls out a handkerchief and covers his mouth.

46/46, AC 11

"I will do everything I can." Jerry replies earnestly to Mr Smythes request.

Following Caladrel and Mr Smythe further into his hovel, Jerry's expression grows more concerned. Unconsciously avoiding touching any of the walls or furniture he approaches the sick-bed. 'So now there's a definite time-limit no more mucking around.' He kneels down to Mrs. Smythe and examines her, first visually - then with a glance to the farmer checks her wrists and joints.

Heal: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (6) + 6 = 12

'...but slower....' "Did your son go into the forest? I heard he was a shepherd so would be outside often. Did the sheep have a favourite pasture?" Jerry's voice takes on a low tone, only just feeling the edges of the man's sorrow.

"The pasture is right on the edge of the forest," Mr. Smythe explains.

"We don't eat anything from these fields anymore. Just what's canned from last year. It won't last the winter, now."

At Sylvia's question, he grows somewhat more animated. "Just our little girl up there. No reason to go up."

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

"Ah, has this affected her as well?" Sylvia continues up the stairs, insatiably curious.

46/46, AC 11

'So it could be emanating from the forest? His wife probably won't travel there as frequently...' he reasons.

Looking up just as Sylvia starts up the stairs, the noble frowns unsure of whether they should be agitating the man so. However they have come here for answers and the elf's brash city manner could be useful in that regard.

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

Caladrel looks up after checking Mrs Smythe. "I am at lost of what is afflicting her. She is wasting away like the vegetation outside." Turning to Mr. Smythe, Caladrel asks, "May I examine you. Are you afflicted as well?"

If permitted, Caladrel checks Mr. Smythe. Heal: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (13) + 8 = 21

"Wait," he says to Sylvia. "My girl is... not well. She was having nightmares. They started just after we lost my boy. I thought... I thought they were grief. But I started having them, too.

"They aren't natural. Terrible things. Things nobody should see. Things no sane person can describe. That's why I don't sleep anymore. When I close my eyes, I see those... things.

"Well, no one can tell a little girl not to sleep. She's not herself. She's wild. It did something to her mind."

Mr. Smythe is not well, but his condition can readily be ascribed to sleep deprivation. He doesn't seem to be wasting the way his wife is.

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

Sylvia pauses halfway up the stairs, one hand on the rail, and looks back to Mr. Smythe, eyes hard and flashing. "Really, sir, why did you stay here, given all the horrible things that have happened? Could you not take your daughter to safety? Surely you do not wish to lose both your children, and your wife as well."

"This is our home," he says simply.

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

Sylvia scowls. "Not if you're dead," she retorts angrily, and continues up the stairs, muttering to herself.

46/46, AC 11

'Home is a powerful thing, to lose it is to be outcast. There's a connection deep down in your bones, especially if your families stayed in the same spot. Inertia is an interesting thing.' he thinks.

"I could speak to Wallingham, see if he can find thee a new plot. At least until we sort this out." he adds confidently. "Things you say? What kind of things? We've stout hearts and tough bowels." he adds unnecessarily graphic.

Sense Motive DC 11:
Mr. Smythe is not uncaring, but his trials have sapped from him the will to resist. He has fallen into despair, which is why he has not acted more wisely.

Mr. Smythe looks blankly at Sylvia and Jerry. At Jerry's question, he says, "You may have strong bowels, m'lord, but I do not have the stomach to recount these things. Please do not make me."

As Sylvia ascends the stairs, she arrives at a small chamber with a single door on the far side. The noises are coming from beyond the door.

46/46, AC 11

"Of course. I would not be one to twist a man's arm when he is dead set on a course of action." Jerry relents, not wishing to say how foolish the man is for letting fear hold his tongue.

"The forest, where the constable went you know it?" he asks cautiously.

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

Sylvia strides straight to the closed door and yanks it open impatiently.

Mr. Smythe ignores Sylvia's journey up the stairs and remains speaking to Jerry. "I could show you where he went up to the woods' edge, but I won't go in the forest," he says with finality.

The door upstairs is locked, but the key is resting in the lock. The door has been locked from the outside to keep whatever is within from escaping. Sylvia easily turns the key and pulls the door open.

There is a commotion as the room's sole occupant scurries to the far corner, upsetting furniture as she does so. The little girl glares up at Sylvia through a gap in her stringy brown hair. She wears a torn and soiled nightgown and her face has a wild, animalistic expression. She stands on the balls of her feet like a cornered beast, as if she is ready to spring at a moment's provocation.

Male Human Rogue 4 (HP 23)

Rhodes accompanies Sylvia, feeling that if there is something wrong, it's best that she's not alone.

"Whaddya make of her?" Rhodes whistles, surprised at the girls appearance. "The habit-wearers down at the orphanage would have a fit if they saw this."

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

Sylvia sighs. "Awful, just awful. I can't in good conscience blow her up, which is what I generally do to problems. Keep an eye out, wouldya?"

Crouching to be at eye level with the child, Sylvia speaks softly. "Hi. My name is Sylvia. This is Mister Rhomaino. What's your name?"

Male Human Rogue 4 (HP 23)

"You shouldn't blow up little girls," Rhodes mumbles to himself, busy with watching the stairs and looking around the upstairs landing.

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

"Don't you become a problem, Mister Rhomaino," Sylvia mutters back over her shoulder, keeping an eye on the child, who she seems to suspect will fly at her and tear her throat out.

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

Stuck waiting outside, Trina occupies herself by trying her best to make sure the animals don't eat any of the tainted grain. She's not worried about Luce, but the horses and Sylvia's mule and pony might start to graze if the group inside takes much longer.

Noting as well that she's not the only one waiting outside, she also attempts to make the acquaintance of the late-coming dwarven gentleman. "I'm afraid we didn't get a chance to meet properly back at the manor. I'm Trina."

46/46, AC 11

"That would be most obliging of you. How far is it to the woods?" he nods and smiles in the slightly patronising way of the privileged classes; whereby it makes it seem he is doing a favour for Mr Smythe by letting him guide the group. 'He wouldn't want to leave his family alone for long.'

Knowing the need more information about what could be happening he adds; "Did your son ever go in there? Or has there been any strange occurrences lately, lights in the sky, omens, thunderstorms? Or do you know any old tales about the woods?" not trying to distress the poor chap.

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

"Mr. Smythe, you seem to be suffering from lack of sleep, but not from the wasting disease. Do you have any ideas about how your wife and son have been afflicted, but not yourself?" asks Caladrel in a empathetic way.

"The woods aren't far. Past the field and the pasture behind it." He goes on. "My boy was in the pasture at the wood's edge. I don't know if he went in. He shouldn't have. The old wives tell stories that that wood was haunted once upon a time. I don't know how much truth there is to it, but I don't go in."

"There's been nothing unusual. And I'm sorry, Mr. Elf, but I can't answer your question." He is becoming distressed. It is clear that his understanding of what is going on is minimal.

Upstairs, the little girl does not say a word, but just growls like a beast when Sylvia approaches.

46/46, AC 11

'Less questions, we need to calm these highly strung folk down.' he thinks placing a hand upon Mr Smythes' arm gently.

In his most placating voice, he adds; "We have some beef and horseradish sandwiches, I was thinking when we get to the pasture we can all have a little picnic." 'Plus some food from elsewhere, may be good.'

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

Sylvia squints at the feral child. "Now now, everything is fine," she coos while taking a good look at her. Heal (untrained): 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (8) + 1 = 9 Uncertain as to the problem, she scoots back to the door and rises, knees cracking slightly.

She shrugs at Rhodes and softly says, "No clue. We should get her out of here, though. I wonder if her father can muster enough gumption to get her and his wife away from here. Maybe I can lend them that pony so the wife can ride. Think Lord Fancypants could spare them shelter in his fancy digs while we investigate?"

Male Dwarf Gunslinger 4

Smitty follows Sylvia and Rhodes upstairs, since Jerry seems to have Mr. Smythe well in hand.

"I agree with you, Sylvia. This is not a fit place for the girl or her mother."

Mr. Smythe nods absently to Jerry. "Thank you for your generosity."

Anything else you want to do before he leads you away?

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

Sylvia backs from the room and turns the key in the lock, securing the door once more. "I hate locking her up like an animal, but she might harm herself or her family if released in her condition. Let's go talk to the father, hmm?"

She descends the stairs and marches up to Mr. Smythe. "Look, your daughter needs help and your wife needs help. I have a pony I can spare so you can get them out of this area and back to Lord Wallingham's. There's no point you staying here. The crops are ruined and you all are falling ill. If I lend you the pony, will you take them away from here?"

46/46, AC 11

Jerry pats the skittish Mr Smythe on the shoulder and gives a reassuring nod, oozing the authoritative nature passed down by generations of pompous and commanding nobles. "It'd be for the best, I'll write a note for old Wally if you wish?"

Yep, I'm happy to move on. We can persuade him on the way to the woods, then he may takes Sylvia's pony back to the farm to pick up the pair and journey to Lord Wallinhams' manor.

"Whatever you think is best," Mr. Smythe says with utter passivity.

He leads the way across the ruined fields, blighted plants crumbling to ash beneath your feet. His expression is blank and lifeless as he trudges through the devastation. A withered hedgerow marks the boundary of the pasture beyond. The desiccated corpses of an entire flock of sheep lay discarded upon the bleached grass. Mr. Smythe seems utterly unmoved by the carnage. Ahead, the dark wall of the forest looms in a tangle of twisted, darkened branches. A game trail leads beyond.

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

Trina's somewhat surprised to see the man come out, much less to see him begin leading the group on without reaction to the odd person waiting out with the animals. Regardless, though, when it's clear the group is moving, she gathers up her things and hands off the reins to each beast's respective person (keeping clear of Luce of course) before taking up step alongside the rest of the group.

Since Jeremiah seems to be taking the initiative the tiefling approaches him first. "So what happened?" she asks, speaking quietly and hoping not to disturb their newfound guide. "How bad is it inside?"

46/46, AC 11

Clapping Smythe around the shoulder as he leads him outside: "Old chap, let the dog see the hare. Best be off." he adds enthusiastically.

Responding to Trina he adds; "Not bad per say, just dreary and hopeless. But that's what we are for, to bring hope back to the countryside." he adds exuberantly before leaning in to whisper; "His wife is infected, his daughter losing her marbles and nobodies had any sleep."

Though his enthusiasm wanes a touch as the devastation get worse, but he carries on leading the near catatonic man.

Luce plods along near the group, walking cautiously as if each step hurts her paws. She moves to sniff the sheep before turning her nose up at the creatures. Jerry snaps his fingers to draw her away.

"Shall we check for tracks?" he queries.

46/46, AC 11

With a look to Mr Smythe, a sympathetic glint in his eye. 'So he's had to farm these tough lands, then suddenly his work and that of his ancestors has crumbled to dust. Whilst his descendants are fading and dying... soon he'll have no-one left... except the nightmares.'

He gets the wicker picnic basket from the back of Luce and opens it up. Offering a beef sandwich and a hearty bottle of beer to the farmer, as well as the rest of the coterie. "There's some cracking pork pies too, and a bit of mature cheese." then he suddenly exclaims; "Oh, home-made pickle, just the thing for the pies."

Jerry feeds a pie to Luce, then looks to the forest. "I'll just have a peek around, whilst you lot have a snack. That's where the constable entered?"

Moving over the noble checks for tracks, with surprising skill for an eccentric noble chap.
Survival: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (19) + 6 = 25

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

"Best to not go alone," Trina advises. Her tail dextrously retrieves a compass from within her pack while she draws her glaive and moves up, following close on Jeremiah's heels. "We shouldn't go too far in, I think. Just enough to get our bearings - the last thing we want is to get lost and separated."

Survival: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (9) + 9 = 18

46/46, AC 11

"Agreed, just going to check out if there's been anyone else around here." he says as they move into the edge of the canopy. "Taking you away from the spread though." he refers to the wicker picnic basket he's left on the red chequered sheet.

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

Sylvia grabs one of Jerry's sandwiches, the unaccustomed physical labor having sharpened her appetite. Waving the hunk of bread and beef in Smythe's face, she admonishes him sharply, speaking slowly and heavily emphasizing certain words as if trying to drive them into the man's passive brain. "Look, mister, after you've eaten, take the pony back to your house. Get your wife and daughter on it and lead it to Lord Wallingham's. Got it? You must save them. They will all die if you don't. And there you can get some sleep. Do you hear me?" Her dark eyes glint as she fixes them on Smythe's, trying to drill the message home.

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