You find yourselves lost in a city you faintly recognize. Your pulse pounds as you look around you, and find yourself among five other figures whose faces you know but cannot place.
All around is a wall of sickly yellow fog, tumbling through the alley’s canyon of crumbling, gray brick walls like some jaundiced flash flood. Ahead, the unfamiliar alley splits, curving to the left and right. Behind, from the silent swell of mist, emanates the sound of footsteps—slow, but somehow keeping pace with the careening, hungry wave.
Fierce green eyes blazed as a young Chelish man tried to identify his surroundings. Seeing the fog flood the canyon-like streets, he felt another presence within him and it cried for their escape. His tattered cloak flapped and snapped about his lanky form as his feet did their best to stay ahead of the fog.
Passing others, their shapes distinct in contrast to their hazy environment, he gave them quick glances as he barked: "Run, it's not safe!" His voice seemed to echo that of a deep grating woman's that spoke just before his own.
"Where am I ... how did I get here .... what's happening?" John mumbles as he drags himself half erect against an alley wall.
(Do we have equipment? Are we dressed?)
As you look yourself over, you find that you are dressed in your typical attire, though no one has armor or shields, and each person only possesses a single item.
Lorn has only his heavy wooden shield.
Mashiki is only holding a bristly wooden broom.
John is holding nothing but a tiny cage.
Xander has his spell component pouch.
Durril has but a dagger.
Alico has nothing but his Harrow deck.
As the others look about, an older Varisian man hauls himself to his feet slowly. With a blank face and a small blade in his ragged belt, he surveys the surroundings, not saying a word.
A short, thin creature pulls his mop of black hair away from his face to survey his surroundings. Almost comically large pointy ears and a pallid grey skin accent his orcish facial features. His brow ridge seems to keep his hair out of his eyes once he pulls it back. He stands with a bit of a stoop, looking into the faces of the others. Only the old man seems armed, and barely at that. The half-orc's shabby dress and lack of adornment indicates no one of any rank or social standing. I know their faces. Why can I not name them? Very odd. He quickly pats his own body, looking to find what, if anything, he has to aid him.
He hears the young man (with a woman's voice?) calling him to run, but he isn't sure which way to go yet: into the fog or away from it? The menacing footsteps seem to set his mind that 'away' is probably the best option, but which path, left or right?
The others seem just as disoriented as he. Some sort of spell, perhaps? He whispers to the others, "Where are we? Which way to safety?"
The young Varisian woman dressed in simple farmer's attire glanced about in confusion. Her eyes were bright green, the colour of emerald, but at the corners where there should be red vessels were instead a fine tracery of thin black lines. A moment or two observing them is all it takes to get the unsettling impression that those little black lines are slowly writhing.
Her thoughts were a jumbled mess, something was wrong.
Where are we?
This place is familiar
Her short black hair was unkempt, seeming to defy her nervous attempt to flatten it as she ran a tanned hand that bore signs of a familiarity with hard work through it.
These people seem familiar
These people are strangers
She couldn't think straight, she had felt this way before, or had she? Suddenly she became aware of the sound of approaching footsteps in the mist. A sense of rising panic threatened to overcome her.
Someone is coming
Something is coming
She felt her thoughts clarify as dread overwhelmed her.
We should run
We should run
She looks up at the assembled groups with those strange eyes, a nervous smile spread across her face. The confusion dissipated, replaced instead with fear.
As if suddenly realizing she is holding something she looks down. It is a simple broom, but for some reason its presence comforted her just enough to keep total panic at bay.
She spoke with a quavering voice "We shouldn't be here" she glanced fearfully at the encroaching mist. Her voice dropped to a hushed whisper "Something is coming."
Mashiki begins moving down the ally towards the left branch, slowly at first waiting to see if anyone else is coming.
"I feel like I should know your names ...." John says.
He is holding a small cage of wood and metal that he turns over in his hands.
"This seems familiar..."
Looking around he says "Is this all a dream?"
Xander pokes the man who asks if it's a dream. "Did ya feel that?" he asks. This is no dream. A nightmare perhaps. Not a dream.
He begins to shuffle after the young woman toward the left fork, moving with an awkward gait. "Left is as good a way as any, but are you certain? Or is this a 'when in doubt, turn left' sort of thing?"
"Umm, by the way," he stammers. "I am Xander."
Seeing the woman take the left path, the Chelaxian follows, his gait clumsy for a moment before becoming balanced again. He looks at the woman, and for a moment his face seems to shift and discolor.
"Do you feel it too, dearie?" His strange echoing voice asked. "The threat, the danger? Don't know what it is but we know something far more wicked than I comes this way."
As he says this, his hands dart to his pocket and they withdraw a weathered harrow deck. Shuffling them as he hurriedly walks, he begins to mutter in another tongue as he seems to read the cards. Despite being rushed and lacking a table, Alico and the Daughter are attempting a variant of harrow reading.
Confusedly, the group makes its way down the left path. The alley walls sag, battered brick slumping over the path, nearly blotting out the bruised twilight sky. Again the grimy cobblestone path splits. This time one route curves uphill, while the other recklessly descends. Behind, the yellow fog and the relentless sound of pursuit grow closer.
Just before they head down the left, as Alico speaks, Mashiki's demeanor changes as if she has completely forgotten about the peril they are in. Her smile brightens up and in a cheerful voice completely at odds with the harsh, alien sounding words she says
As others pass her she she suddenly remembers the danger they are in. She turns and runs, the cheerfulness draining out of her face and the nervousness returning to her smile.
As they head down the left path Mashiki looks at Xander with a mix of worry and fear "We feel like we have been here before, but we can't remember anything about it. Is this the wrong way? Should we have gone right?"
At the next branch there is an odd certainty in her words "We should go down." Despite the conviction of her statement, she still pauses to see where everyone else is going.
Durril follows the group as they proceed, running with what seems to be a quiet sense of confidence, though he's just as confused and scared on the inside as the others. He's got no response but a shrug at the conversations - he's still trying to piece whatever remains of his fragmented memory together.
John turns and looks to see if he can make out any details in the fog.
perception: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (5) + 5 = 10
The last to speak a youngish man is handsome in a militaristic way, with strong features, and a jutting dimpled chin, green troubled eyes and a air of nobility. He carries a shield, and takes to the rear of the group, glancing back over his shoulder frequently, we should confront whatever it is surely, better to face fear and know it for what it is... Right?
The others seem familiar, but one the half orc, makes his fingers itch for his sword, why am I feeling like that, you judge a man by his actions not his color.
It takes him a while to gather his thoughts and he calls, "Why are we running? Isn't it better to know our foe than run blindly?" He calls, feeling his throat dry and raspy, and sounding less certain than he had meant to.
In common, the Chelaxian turns to the militant-looking nobleman, speaking like an irate mother to her constantly questioning child. "We do not need to know a threat to know it is one. It is best to run!"
"Down? The fog will swallow us down there. We should get above it, somehow!" Despite this, the number of people headed towards the downward slope draws him with the instinctual courage found in numbers.
"We have very little with which to battle a true foe, s... Or foes," he says to the man with the shield. He almost addresses him as "sir." It feels right, but he stops himself at the last instant.
Despite your best efforts, no one can make out anything in the fog.
Then, the mist parts, now mere steps behind. A mask of gray rags emerges, strips of something fleshier than fabric worming and constricting across a body that’s almost humanlike—but too lean, and far too flexible. Gauzy gray ribbons reach out like tendrils, each grasping for less doubtful flesh to claim.
Xander: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (15) + 1 = 16
Alico: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (6) + 2 = 8
Lorn: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (11) + 7 = 18
John: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (2) + 2 = 4
Durril: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (14) + 2 = 16
Mashiki: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (9) + 2 = 11
?: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (5) + 5 = 10
Lorn, Durril, Xander, and Mashiki can take action.
"Lady's Breath! What are you creature?" Lorn calls, searching for some semblance of sanity in the twisted thing, but seeing none and concluding it can only be a threat he advances and smites evil slamming his shield with both hands into the creatures face!
If it is not evil -3 to hit and 12 total damage instead of 14. Lorn's AC vs it should be 20 if evil, 17 if not, since he looses 2 for the shield and gain +3 from Smite evil.
Shield Bash: 1d20 + 3 + 3 ⇒ (20) + 3 + 3 = 26 Damage: 1d4 + 4 + 1 ⇒ (2) + 4 + 1 = 7
Shield Bash Crit Conf: 1d20 + 3 + 3 ⇒ (16) + 3 + 3 = 22 Damage: 1d4 + 4 + 1 ⇒ (2) + 4 + 1 = 7
The figure easily dodges, as if Lorn were moving in slow motion.
As the fog envelopes them, Mashiki looks about wildly, brandishing her broom as if to fend off the malignant vapours.
With the footsteps nearing, she says in a trembling voice "We should keep moving."
When the mists clear and the strange figure steps forward she calls out "What is it? Who are you? What do you want?"
Without even waiting for an answer she cups her hand and a small purplish black glob forms in her palm. With a quick toss she hastily throws it at the bandaged figure and then dashes along the downward path. "We need to keep running!"
acid ray with cover: 1d20 - 4 + 2 ⇒ (19) - 4 + 2 = 17
acid damage: 1d6 ⇒ 2
And run a little further away
Durril turns back towards the creature and tries to identify the creature, but his head is still too mixed up to make sense of what's going on.
1d20 + 8 ⇒ (2) + 8 = 10 if any of the following apply: arcana, dungeoneering, history, planes, religion. not much else to do here.
Xander's spell fizzles, and he feels less aware than ever before. Mashiki's acid ray similarly fails, and acid splashes down onto her feet. Durril is thoroughly confused by all of this.
The Chelaxian, seeing the futility of his fellow victims' attempts to combat their pursuer, makes his choice and leaps towards the upward-slanting path. "Save yourselves, dearies!" His strange, echoing voice calls out to those he left behind.
"Follow him I will try to occupy it as best I can... I do not know who you all are, nor myself truth be told, but good luck to you all." Lorn calls, shield raised taking a fighters broad stance and facing the creature.
The ghastly, rag-figure steps forward, and in an almost imperceptible slash, opens the throat of Lorn, who drops to the cobblestones, his lifeblood draining out.
Those of you who try to run find the mist rising all around, and walls suddenly appearing, dead ends everywhere.
John, Alico, Durril, Xander, and Mashiki.
Xander turns to run and smacks into a wall. How could he have possibly missed a wall? "We're trapped!," he cries out. Drops of blood spill from his split lip. The ragged man will kill us all.
Green, ethereal hands appear over the Chelaxian and grab his shoulders, dragging him back. This causes him to fall onto his backside with a dull thud. The fog creeps towards his feet as he scrambles away from it, cursing. "Gods be damned, why like this?"
"What is this thing?"
John steps forward and punches it in the face.
unarmed strike +4 (1d3+3 nonlethal)
punch: 1d20 + 4 - 1 ⇒ (18) + 4 - 1 = 21 (power attack)
damage: 1d3 + 3 + 2 ⇒ (2) + 3 + 2 = 7 (non-lethal)
Durril, still having not shown any expression and not uttering a single word, stands and faces the monster, resigned to his fate. Better to die standing than running away or cowering.
Xander bows is head, resigned to his fate. He falls to his knees. Perhaps if I promise to serve him... No, I don't believe he cares.
He whispers quietly, "Pharasma, grant me a quick death."
Mashiki keeps running through the mist, turning around at every dead end and trying to find a way out.
"Just keep moving, if there is a way out we can find it. If we stay still it will get us. Do we know it?"
John boldly attempts to throw a punch at the ragged being, but the creature sidesteps and with a single powerful blow severs the ranger's arm at the elbow. John falls to his knees, losing consciousness, as his blood mingles with Lorn's on the cobblestones. Strangely, the blood seems to congeal into letters that spell out the word "me."
Glancing into the mist, you catch glimpses of disturbing images: gangly hunchbacked giants, lurching tumorheaps, and spiders scuttling upon forests of legs. You think you hear a woman's scream, and a baby crying, and the sound of breaking glass.
Then, in chorus in voices that you've never heard but which certainly do not belong to Lorn and John, you see their mouths move and voices echo out, repeating the message: "Me."
Durril, Xander, Mashiki, and Alico.
As terrifying as the whole hellish vision is, Xander chuckles a bit. "Me is killing us. Me will kill me. There is no escape. No matter where you go, there you are. Me, myself, and I." He traces the letters M E on the cobblestones. He seems to have become more than a little unhinged. "Why me? No..." His head lifts addressing the creature, "Why, Me?"
The Chelaxian catches himself red-handed as he accidentally crawled into the congealing blood. Turning his head to see the vague movements just out of sight and the ease this thing was toying with them, his face twists into one of absolute hatred.
A green-black, boiling miasma spills out from his eyes and mouth, forming a wicked-looking hag of a woman. She thrusts her fist up underneath her jaw, her index and pinkie fingers extended to jut into her chin, and sticks her long drooling tongue out.
"Go plow yourself! We ain't gonna give you the satisfaction!" they cry as one before she turned and snapped the Chelaxian's neck, causing her to vanish in a puff of smoke and ashes.
Mashiki shrinks away from the gaze of the half perceived giants and runs from the strange tumor things that she is only vaguely aware of. When shadowy spiders appear in the mist she swats at them with her broom. And then the sounds come.
"Me? Who is me?"
She calls out while she keeps running, looking for a way out, first in common, then in aklo:
"Do we know you?
Do you know us?
Who are you?
Can you help us?
"C' ah ymg' kadishtu?
ymg' ah c' kadishtu?
ahf' ymg' ah?
ahor ymg' c' hafh?"
Durril looks the thing in the...head? If it's even its head. He seems to have remembered how to speak, flat emotionless words tumbling from his mouth: "Me? What do you want with us? What do you want with me?"
The creature moves in silence, wordless. It moves almost too quickly to be perceived, and dances up behind Durril. Moments later, it's razor bursts through his chest, blood pouring out, and then withdraws with a terrible rip.
His blood now mingles with that already sloshed across the pavement, and now the message reads: "Save me."
Xander, Mashiki, and Alico.
Xander blinks at the new message. "Save me? Save YOU?!" he asks incredulously. Hoping that this might be his chance... "Save you. Fine. What do you require? What do you need? How do we save you?"
The Chelaxian stared up in horror at the strange phantom crone tried to kill him, but failed upon touching his neck in an attempt to snap it. He fell to his knees and stared down at his hands as a hopeless feeling of apathy consumed him. Is there no way out of this madness? Can I kill myself?
He instinctively reached for what would have been a blade - he was sure he had one - but only found his cards again. In desperation, he began to properly use the cards, seeking answers from anything that wasn't going to kill him.
Using the harrow deck for some kind of divination
No matter which way she ran, Mashiki always seemed to end up back with the rest of the group. She had watched in a mix of horror and curiosity as the thing had killed two of the others, and was perplexed by the behaviour of the rest. "What are they doing? Why aren't they running?"
As she passes by the group again she calls out "Run! What's wrong with you all?"
"Maybe they are hallucinations? Part of the shapes in the mist?"
She glimpsed the words in blood as she threw herself back into the mist "Save me? Who is me?" With that thought she paused just for a moment as a realization hit her "Who is me? Never mind who they are, who is us? What is our name?"
The creature turns to Xander, who is still trying to wrap his mind around things, and it slowly shakes its head, before rushing forward and biting into his neck with it's razor sharp maw of teeth. Blood spurts in all directions as he dies.
Mashiki, who had been running away, finds herself suddenly somehow turned about and running straight towards the creature, who reaches out in a clothes-line like motion, slitting her throat as she passes.
As their blood mingles, another word forms in the red-brown puddles on the cobblestone.
Alico feels most helpless of all. He finds himself unable to even kill himself, and his phantom won't seem to manifest again. As he reaches for his harrow deck, the cards fall out of his numb hands and scatter, some falling in the sticky blood. Only one card is face-up: the waxworks.
Soon the creature looms over the Chelaxian. It puts a single finger to it's mouth, as if to call for silence, and then it's razor is plunged into Alico's heart. As he slumps onto the sidewalk, he can see his blood mixing with the others, and it forms a final word. The phrase is now clear.
As Alico passes into unconsciousness, he thinks he hears a voice yelling these same words. In fact, all of you heard a voice screaming ”Wake up! Save me!” as you died.
And then you all wake up. Confused, groggy, but definitely not dead, you regain consciousness in a grimy cell in a dungeon you don’t recognize. Alico, who has a bloody nose, is in a cell with Lorn, Mashiki and Xander in another, Durril and John in a third. None of you have any equipment, and you are dressed in simple, white uniforms of some kind. You retain full memory of their dream, but no negative side effects, save for Alico’s bloody nose.
Bars separate you from a a struggling human with split lips and skin covered in a mapwork of fresh red lines. Heavy ropes lash the man to a splintery worktable. “Wake up, damn it!” the man on the table screams, his panic cutting through the claustrophobic near dark, and you realize it was his voice that you heard at the end of your shared dream.
Another figure, unsettlingly thin and wearing a blood-smeared doctor’s coat, circles the table casually—stopping every so often to scrutinize one of the man’s wounds or select a different object from a sideboard of shiny blades. Currently, she spins one blade of a broken pair of pruning shears, which glints in the dull light of the lamp suspended overhead. With careless cruelty, the doctor draws the blade across the bound man’s bare thigh, releasing a tortured wail.
None of you recognize either of the figures in the room, or each other, although with each other you have a slight sense of familiarity.
The smaller table next to the one upon which the tortured man is bound displays an array of sharp instruments, none designed for use on living flesh: a gardening trowel, forks, several long pieces of broken glass or metal, and the other blade of the tormentor’s shears. Most of these can. Additionally, heavily loaded sacks lie near the door.
I should note that you are all prone, and neither of the room's other occupants seem to have noticed that you are awake now.
Xander's eyes pop open, but he quickly narrows his lids to look around. Where am I? How did I get here? His eyes dart around the cell. She looks familiar. From the dream?
As his eyes drift toward the other cells, he sees the others, along with the torturer and her victim. Are we to be next? I must get out of here.
is there anything written on the uniforms we're wearing?
No, no writing on them, but all six of you are dressed in the same outfit.
Durril drifts awake, lying still as he slowly surveys his surroundings. That dream, if that's what it was, was strange, but it seems like this is more real, if no less dangerous. And...well, it seems like he doesn't remember any more than he did then, which is...unfortunate.
Out of the corner of the eye, he sees the strangely familiar half-orc in the opposite cell moving around as well. That's good - the others aren't dead either. Perhaps they all had the same dream as well?
As he comes to, the Chelaxian I'm assuming we do not know our names yet chokes on the free-flowing blood in his nose. He sits up and tries to stem the bleeding, before the nightmarish memories return to the forefront of his mind. What the Hell was all that?
Looking around, he sees his cellmate, no longer lordly-dressed but wearing an inmate's stark uniform. He's not dead, either? Perhaps the others aren't ... or is this death?"
"No, dearie, this ain't death."
"You're still there?" He didn't know why, but feeling that crone's presence in his mind both frightened and relieved him.
"Yes, I'm here, but where here is still needs to be addressed."
He turns to the nobleman and waits for his reaction to their situation.
The young Varisian woman awoke suddenly waking from the nightmare with a start. She quickly sat up, looking around wildly in confusion until her eyes alighted on her cellmate. Her confusion faded as she suddenly had a familiar point of reference and a bright smile lit up her face ”We know you! We just had a dream about you. You were one of the people who wanted to die.”
She slowly got to her feet and brushed herself off. The cries from the man on the table suddenly caught her attention. ”Where are we?” she asked the half orc, her smile faded and her brow knitted with concern. ”Did we do something wrong? Why are we in jail? Why can’t we remember anything before the dream?”
She glanced about the room again as if searching for something ”Where is our broom?”