Carrion Crown: Kyle's

Aftermath

Cheers began to echo around the camp as the allied forces had won the day. The ovation was split by the sound of maddened cannon fire as more then 400ft away the remaining cultist were torn to shreds of desiccant, putrid pulps of matted flesh by the burst fire of the loaded cannons. The dark night air was swarmed with the sounds of laughter. “We have won” an oddly looking peasant yelled. Only to be backed up by the feral cheers of a victorious army. “We have won”, the peasant said once more. A sigh of relief fell over many of the generals of the allied army. The booming sound of dawarven laughter could be heard from high above on the walls. Maric enjoyed the spectacle of remaining cultist joining there so called beloved undeath. “Hahaha… yea are deserven much more than that” the dwarf bellowed. “Yea know now that these lands don’t want yea. Either do the folk that reside ere. So back to the grave with the lot of yea, where yea belong”. His brother Teyrn was filled will an acute sensation of fondness for Marics words. Rather then express his feelings, he simply crossed his arms and nodded accordingly.

Looking around the battered, barren wasteland of calcium shard bones, pools of already coagulated blood and metallic glint of armour and weaponry, the battle had lived up to those fought more then 20 years before, during the War without rivals. High above, the only visible difference from the precarious planar sky was the ornate encrusted gears, which slowly, but surely, began to disappear from the night sky. In a foul screeching sound, like that of running electricity across the scratching of a chalk board, the clock disappeared. Not before for one last time it chimed, as if in some sick ironic way it had signalled the end of the war.

The wind picked up as the opaque red glaze sky of the harrowed realm disappeared from view. As the moon returned, perched upon the dark expanse of night sky, it was joined by the twinkling spangle of stars as they revisited the Furrows once more. Those soldiers that viewed the carnage from the walls, many could mistake the land for red petal tulips when gazing upon the droplets of blood that covered the expanse. Pools of blood, like that of veins on an arm, were scattered amongst the entrenched vastness of the land. The land looked like welts on skin, especially where the explosion of powder kegs had shaken the entire western flank of the battle. The air still tasted like ash and the foul smell, like a 1000 year old grave that had just been opened covered the encampment. The water and the wine, both tasted like sour milk, leaving a horrible taste in ones mouth. The Furrows was still a graveyard. It was just now that it was filled with even more bodies.

The cheers slowly grinded to a halt, as the realisation of the carnage that had occurred was witnessed to those whom had survived. Instead the entire army bared witnessed to the sorrowful cries of a young woman whom perched upon her breast was the corpse of her beloved Michael. She had obviously lost more then others. But not all those whom saw the woman were filled with dismay. Several of the Whispering Way cultists that had infiltrated the encampment leered with anticipation. It was only amongst them, that they knew the true purpose of the carnage that had occurred. They were one step closer to the Carrion Crown. One step closer. Inch by inch, the cultist knew what approached the future discourse of histories. Such a small thing was a step. But this one was larger then most.

The blackened cloaked figure would be pleased with the result. The figure would be even more heartened to hear the dissent amongst the friendship of those who stood against the tides of undead, and prevailed. Elmore Dane had somehow managed to survive the horrors the Way had thrown in his direction. First several assassination attempts on his life, and now the war. The old paladin had gotten lucky. Elmore still knew more then he even believed he knew. It would be something that would inevitably hurt the undead cult. But they still had time to remedy the situation. As luck would have it Elmore had kept his mouth shut, preferring to keep his knowledge to closed ranks. It was convenient for the cultist that Elmore separated himself and shut his mouth.

It was like sugar to already sweetened lips, the news that Elmore had only stayed and fought due to the ramblings of a bumbling halfling. A halfling that had already caused to much trouble. It was unfortunate that Vrood had escaped, as enjoying the spectacle from afar, the black cloaked figure knew all to well the heroes that had proved to be the difference. Yet from the soiled, rotten, frightful, contaminated and defiling undead army whose remnants remained alight upon the battlefield, the cult had brought extra time to track down he next ingredient. The ravens tongue, stillborn cocoon, the spiral song and blood spilt upon the iron throne, still needed to be gathered for the Carrion Crowns concoction. The cultist could just hope now that the renegade Vood and the concerns of war let there actions go unnoticed to those whom stood against the way. Especially the assembly of driven individuals whom played such an important role in the battle, destroying several strategic locations and cutting down alf a dozen powerful occult members and undead.

Those glistening sobs of the woman echoed once more. It was Adivion Adrissant who moved to comfort her. He spoke to her with melodic words. “Your beloveds sacrifice shall be remembered through the ages by ink, paper and stone. I will build a memorial so those whom perished, so they are remembered. Although many people will not understand the duty of the common and decent folk, like Michael, that stood here today, know that I Adivion Adrissant shall always call you friend. As I will each and every one of you. It was you who won this battle. Not any gods. Not the actions of the angels. Not the nobles that run this land. It was you. Be proud of that achievement. Let us bury our friends, our family. For although oblivion has taken them down a road everyone must eventually tread, we shall remember them. Eons may pass, but I will remember them. Their courage, their passion and their sacrifice shall fuel a new era in Ustalav. One free of the hidden danger that corrupts it”.

Adivion concentrates his net words on his fellow men. “This cult is now no threat. There army has been obliterated. They are dead. As is those whom they worship. Should they choose to rise again, they shall be returned to the boneyard once more with due haste. I know the horrors we all witnessed. But we should put these nightmares behind us. For there will be a new dawn, a new day. New beginnings. We must live without regrets, knowing we were willing to lay down our lives for a noble cause. That is something that is truly noble and can never be taken away. Spread the word of those whom perished valour, so bards may write tales of there deeds. Let there words serve as a warning that we will fight for what is right. We will fight for what is ours”.

Adivions jewel encrusted sceptre glistened under the new array of moonlight, as beams touched the surface of the dewy opulent item. The large golden scarab was visible to those men whom listened to the middle aged professors words. Men whom turned there backs during his words, were greeted by morbid looks from there friends. Although many that listened still felt the battle was still a defeat. The battle had came at a great cost. Yet Adivion words had reignited a spark of hope. Hope for better days, for those whom were spectators of the butchery between bone and flesh.

The Brotherhood of the Strange Crusade sent out plague doctors and began to clear the decadent landscape of the dead. Pharasma priest compiled a list of those whom had fallen, moving about the ranks and asking survivors there names. Less morale men went and pilfered what they could from the corpses. Others opened up alcoholic beverages raiding several nearby supplies of mead that was spared from the previous night. Such mead was set aside to avoid members of the army taking the field with the willies. Nobody had dared place such a restriction on Vineroot. The large treant was singing and dinking the whole battle. Even clobbering one of his fellow care takers of Shudderwood to death for suggesting he should take it easy. Vineroot lollygaged about with the surviving four treants. All whom appeared to be unpleasant with his contumelious behaviour. But they knew they would be leaving soon. Treant were usually nocturnal creatures. Whom slept during the day, soaking up the sun rays and preferring to travel at night. With night fast approaching, their duty to the watcher fulfilled, it was almost time for them to return home. But not without a few last good memories and drinks according to Vineroot.

Several other nobles simply looked haggard or exasperated. Almost immediately after the battle Cassielt and Elmore Dane lead the remainder of the Whisperers end and headed south west, headed for Virlych, through the hungry mountains. The remainder of the armada that had been called from the heavens, returned back to the service of Iomeade. Lancel was among them. Despite the paladin praying for more time to ensure his father was not about to do something fool hardy. Lancels prayers went unanswered. Just as he arrived, he left, in a fiery ball of light. Called back to the heavens all Lancel could offer his friend Ecthelion was “Safe journey and good hunting, may the heavens watch over you”

View
Besieged

On teleporting back to the camp, Falkon, his skin even more translucent than normal turned to the rest of the party and said, “There is much work to be done if we are to survive the night. There is a storm coming of which the likes I have never seen. Yes, we have taken the enemy by surprise, puncturing a hole in their ranks and spreading chaos, but we would be fools to think we have the upper hand. How much more chaos can you spread in an army thats already dead? no, they will retaliate and with a far greater force than we could have imagined. I myself am going to do everything I can to make sure the dead don’t breach our walls without getting fried a little first.”

With that said, Falkon walked off towards his caravan. His caravan looked like a laboratory due to it being covered in weather reading equipment. Falkon opened the back and pulled out 5 shiny 10 feet long metal poles. As he let them fall to the ground sparks flew from his fingers as the metal seemed to drink the electricity. Falkon ignored the strange looks he received from a few onlookers and began to release hinges on the poles extending them each twice until each was 30 ft long. He then disappeared back into his caravan for a short time until 4 huge coils of wire rolled out the back followed. As Falkon came out carrying a handful of wire cutters and gloves he turned back to the small group of soldiers who had been watching with curiosity and said “You look like a scared bunch. Well you should be! but sitting their like a bunch of whimpering dogs isn’t going to save your asses. At least your not as stupid as the other deserters running of just as night falls. If you want to do something useful I could use your help. These 5 poles need to be hoisted up and spread evenly along the walls. I want them as high as you can get them! Once they are in place I need this wire hooked up and woven into a crude mesh along the outside of the walls. Those poles are pure copper, and when the heavens strike down they will drink their fill of lightning and spit it back at any of enemy who are foolish enough to climb our walls. So what say you, do I have the use of your extra hands?”

A few of the older vetrans seem interested in the sorcerers idea. Despite the sylphs appearance, several men put there hands up to help to place the rods around the forts walls. On the wall Falkon can see men placing markers to measure distances.

After a few hours of hard work and shouting commands the rig seems to be in place. On finishing, Falkon thanked all those who gave him a hand and said, “I will look for you in battle and smite down the enemies around you, good luck to you all and may we live the night.” with that said Falkon began to walk around he camp carefully taking note of which poles he could see and where. After being completely satisfied with his rig he decides to go take a bath in the mote of holly water to relax before the battle.

Horns blow that sound the return of a scouting party. A lone wounded rider arrives at the gates. “There comming… There comming”. The man rides all the way up to the wooden palisade. He triesd to catch his breath. “Water.., I need water”. A nearby man gives him a waterskin of water which he guzzles down. “The undead, there comming. In much larger numbers then we could have ever expected. From my count we will be out number 4 if not 5 to one. We cannot win against such a force. We need more men”. The fear in the mans voice is vivid to those around him. All of whom give each other disturbing looks. “The will be upon us within 6-8 hours. We need to run”. The man pulls off his cloak with the insignia of .pharasma and tosses it to the ground, showing his dissent for fighting a war he cannot possibly win. “The reports so far only indicate tge foward party of the undead horde. Sonething dark leads thrm”.

One of the nearby guards also tosses his cloak to the ground, saying “If they want Gallowspire let them have it. There ain’t no worth un us risking our luves here today. If the pale lafy once us to stop these cultists, let her fight her own dam war. A few hundred men dying here today ain’t gonna change any outcone. I got dam kids to look after”. The man relinquishes his sword to a nearby guardsman.

“Yeah, let Lastwall deal with’em” another guardsman replies. “They will never breach Arodens and Iomeades wards anyway, them seals were were personally created by the human god king himself” another says. “I don’t see any of the noble baron or baroness her to protect the lands so why should we”. “I ain’t fighting a war for sone gods I don’t even believe in”. The sound of crackling thunder can be heard in the distance. “If things couldn’t get any worse, they expect us to fight in the rain”.

Another man falls to his knee and whispers “Sarenrae, Iomedae, Pharasma and Desna, please do not forsake us”.

Moments later the sky begins to tremble. Although rhe storm brews in the distance, the clear blue sky teems with static electricity. Metallic objects are for a split second magnetically pulled upwards towards the sky. Even the nearby cannons slightly groan as the magnetic force moves them. Moments pass, before Red lightning strikes at the ground a few feet from the soldier prayonf. In a puff of smoldering smoke a figure unfolds it wings. “Do not fear child. Iomeade would never expect you to stand alone. My name is Lancel Dane. A friend of those whom you serve”.

“Iomeadae sends one planar ally to help us against thousands. Big help that’el be”. Metallic objects a pulled towards the sky once more. 80 or so red lanterns descend to the ground called from planar pockets created above in the sky, by Iomeades own will.

Lancel stands. In a soothing calm voice he says “You were saying”….

Ostarian is impressed with the level of craft needed to summon that many creatures to a battlefield. I wonder which school this summoner studied at and if I know them from my last two centuries of travels. Looking across at the frightened soldiers Ostarian agrees with them, they are useless and many will die without ever killing one enemy. Well it looks like war has started and I better collect all my gear and pack my books. This war will not be won here that is sure and I must go find Ecthelion, as he is the hammer to my anvil, and bane of Vrood. No matter how the way ends Vrood’s blood will feed the dirt very soon. No trial or fine for that noble necromancer, quick messy death is his reward for betraying the academy we studied at.

A guard whom seems barely able to catch his breath runs into the command tent. “Huuurrrh…. hurrrh” he says trying to catch his breath. “We found him. The necromancer behind this. Huuurh… hes in Feldgrau, currently being besidge by several werewolf tribes. A guardsman spotted a umbral dragon known as Merrowgrath fly over the small town. A man that match Vroods description was seen briefly conversing with the dragon before he returned to the small town”. The man gives an unformal salute while he backs off.

“Hmmm does this change our strategy” Oswald the dwarf adds to the guardsmans words.

“Well it will be up to the heroes. Do we send a small contingent to attack Vrood at Feldgrau or do we defend here, and hope Vrood comes to us”, Benjan speaks.

Cross with the sheriff response Kendra puts her hands on her hips and yells at Benjan. “So you would see my fathers killer escape. You read the journal Adivion gave me, Vrood killed my father and he must be brought to pay for his crimes, lest all of Ustalav fall into a war with Gallowspire which would see our country fall under the shadow of war and darkness of the spire once more, like tshat of 600 years ago”.

“Well Ostarion did study with him. Is this Vrood a predictable person, or will he have tricks up his sleeve dwarf”. It appears Elmore Dane is not pleased with the news Ostarian studied at a school dedicated to necromancy with the cultist.

“I do not think it matters. This encampment must be ready to defend itself despite what our friends here decide”. Lancel points out.

Srbastian Traft unravels a large map of the Furrows and begins to study the area around the town of Feldgrau. “Repots suggest both Silverhide and Demon werewolves were spotted in Boskgrove”. Traft points at a decrepit old grove on the map. “The grove once once home to kellid druids and attracted various different fey creaures. Old folk tales tell stories of sleeping werewolf tribes that once plagued Ardeal. In paricular a creature called the Devil in Gray”.

Rogerif Yharloc fulls back his wolf skin cloak to reveal a large bitemark scar on his back. “Aye, I am the only person alive to have fought the devil and still live to tell the tale. He gave me this scar, but I took one of the monsters teeth” Yharloc shows a tooth twice as big as any hand. “The devil in Gray is the most dangerous creatures I have ever fought. It has killed more than 50 people, and they are the only recorded ones. If the Devil is running with the demon wolves you sure are gonna have one hell of a fight on yea hands”. Yharloc turned his attention back to Traft. “I know this lot is competent, but sending them into Feldgrau with both Vrood, Jazeldans, the Demon in Gray , Forest fires and a host of werewolves and undead is suicidal”.

“At this point what choice is there” Kendra further added.

Pursuant to Kendras statement Traft with open palms adds “So do you eant to stay and defend the fort, or do you head to Feldgrau and hopegully end this”. Traft eyes Ecthelion, the Raven knight, Murete, Unit 1, Ostarian, the Doctor, the rowdy rogue and the sylph sorcerer in the eye.

Staring at Elmore, Ostarion says “I care not what you think about the study of the arcane arts, is not the weapon you hold also an instrument of death and you all studied that. Vrood is predictable, but that is not the question is it. It seems that this command has not intelligence among them. He is the leader and driving force behind the army and it is his head we need to seperate from his neck to win this war.” Turning to Ecthelion, “I am willing to go with any to strike at Vrood and leave the peasant army here to die or live by their own skill at arms.”

Having finished his casting of Arcane Eye to scout the enemy positions and types Ostarian passes this information to the council as well. “You should care less where I studied Elmore and more about how you will save your soldiers lives today. Vrood is predictable, he wants power over death and life, and he is willing to make deals with devils to do it.” Walking to the battle plan table Ostarian holds a few pieces up “If I was here fighting with your soldiers my study from the school of necromancy would kill hundreds of undead abominations and end this war in a single day. However, I am not a paid soldier or even here to save their miserable lives. My oath is to kill Vrood and I will be going with any that want to cut the heart out of this enemy.” If we kill some necromancers and undead on the way you would bonus from this I expect. How much would you pay for me to stay and destroy the undead army for you?

Falkon steps forward, "I say we stay, not for honor or glory but to bring Vrood to us. If go go looking for him, who’s to say we wil find him anyway. For all we Know he might be trying to draw us out with the plan of teleporting back here to slaughter our men with us out of the way. If we crush his army against our walls he will have no choice but to come, and when he does, it will be on our own ground and we will be ready! Let our army busy itself with the masses while we take out the leaders. War is like chess, every game relies on it’s pawns, we should not be so quick to abandon our own.

Dr. Slanimirc thinks to himself about the Ghoul Fever Epidemic that lurks within the walls and the time he needs to quell it. Hmph perhaps its not for the best if I bring it up, as the troops are already suffering from banecrophobia, (Fear of the living dead) I’d hate to see the panic it would create if they knew what creeps inside these walls, the false hope of believing this place is a sanctuary is all the moral they have got going for them at the moment and I intend to keep that placebo effect. Nervously, he twiddles his thumbs before speaking to the group. “I am staying as I am far more needed here then you could possibly imagine. By tending to the wounded and sick as i fear and dread that we need every possible soldier we can get, If we want any chance to succeed in the up-coming battle.” Turning to Ostarian, Dr. Slanimirc asks “Ostarian may I have a few words with you alone, I need your expertise in some distressing matter I have stumbled across.”

Kendra steps foward into a position of power near Traft. “So you would see this murder escape with his life. Ecthelion has been on his trail for months now. He is cornered, stuck. The werewolves have him trapped and we are going to simply turn our back on the atrocities he has committed. The murder of my father. The destruction of Ravensgro and Lepidstadt his actions caused. The uprising of the werewolves. If you will not go, I will not go after him I will go myself”, her voice seems etched with sorrow.

“Now now lassy, don’t be getting hasty. We have a war to win and that take precedence over any personal quarrel. To many lives hang in the balance to put personal feelings ahead of an army that would ruin this land”. Oswald the dwarf gets several nods from other aristocrats around the room.

“I don’t see Ardeal here to protect is backyard. Let the army pass on by to Gallowspire. It has remained unmolested for over 1000 years. The knights of Ozem have protected the spire from armies greater then this before. They will so again. Why risk all these mens lives for a war that will not make a difference. Even I have heard of the seals placed upon Gallowspire from my father. The wards upon the spire prevent its destruction and protections that are placed upon the structure prevent any creature living or dead from entering the bowls of the spire. Magic said to be created by the god king himself Aroden. I see no point in staging a fight here when we are so horribly outnumbered”. Kendra replies.

“And what of the hundred or so farms that lie in between. Who is going to protect them from this hoard” Landel says to Kendra with a scowl on his face.

“We send riders to warn them to flee immeadiately and return once it is safe. This is not the War of the Rivals. The undead horde have no quarrel with farmers. Sure livestock will be lost, but they can be replaced. You cannot sacrifice a thousand or so people for livestock”. Kendra replies.

“I did not assemble this army to turn tail and run. Kendy surely you can see the folk here have assembled to make a statement, that they will protect the land”. Adivion adds.

Picking up a nearby rose Kendra squeezes it until blood begins to trickle down her arm. “You do not know what you ask these people to do. This is no longer a battle but the sacrifice of many innocent lives. This…” but before Kendra could finish she was silenced by Adivion. “SILENCE. You wallow in a pit of hatred for the person whom murdered your father. You must consider logic in your reasoning”. This is the first time you have seen Adivion get angry about something. It felt as though there was more to Adivions words then you heard. For a long time the room remains silent.

“I am afraid I must side with Lady Kendra” Elmore words cut through the silence like razor blades. “My men already have been persecuted for there beliefs. I myself torn from my tent and harassed by Pharasman so called justice. Cassielt has made it very clear to me this is not an army that has the right virtues to take the field and stand as one against such an enemy”.

Lancel immediately turns to face his father “How can you say such things father. All the years of discipline and justice you imposed on me. Yet you would turn your back on such a blight, and leave the Pharasmans to stand alone. What of your faith. What of Iomedae. Is this what she telks you to do?” Lancels words fell on deaf ears.

“You speak of blind faith son. Although it pleases me to see you once more. You are no longer apart of this world. You no longer have a stake in the affairs of men. Iomedaes creed espouse the ideas of honor and righteousness in the defense of good and the battle against evil. But there is no justice to be found in sacrficing a few hundred men. No honour. No courage. No valour. Those that fall will only add to the enemies ranks and march on Gallowspire. So do as you will. I once told you, you were not ready for adventuringl yet you did it anyway. And look how your life ended. Dying for something meaningless”.

“The inheritor would weep tears of blood at your words father. Evil prevails when good men do nothing”, Lancel replies.

The war tent erupts into arguments, about what to do.

When pulled to the side tne Doctor says “Forgive my Brothers friend, as they were bound to the duties I had sworn upon them. I actually would appreciate a favor in a matter of ergance, as I seek large amounts of materials that you hold most dearly…… Fresh supplies of blood and garlic.”

Amongst the yelling you hear “Foolish boy. Even the heavens cannot change your rash behaviour. I will fight in Lastwall alongside men of real virtue. Not under the banner of men only out to make a name for themselves”.

“Ladies and gentlemen please stop. NOBLEMEN and NOBLEWOMEN stop this now.” Traft yells in an attempt to regain order. Benjan cocks his gun and fires a round into the air. The shouting slowly ceases.

“Well this ain’t getting us nowhere. Every second we spend here bickering, the closer the enemy gets” Riff the halfling advocates to the rest of the room.

“If no one here can convinvce me otherwise, I will be leading my men to Lastwall” Elmore says addressing the council before storming off and leaving the main war room heading into an adjacent private attached room.

“Teyrn, this is what happens when yea try en do business with self serving, self righteous men. En this is why yea never do business with clerics or paladins”. Teyrn gives his brother Maric a puzzeling look, trying to make sense of his brothers words.

Ostarian moves to oneside of the war tent, avoiding the gazes of nobles and leaders by puffing his pipe harder to avoid his anger being directed at them. Stupid folk, an army led by a vampire lord is never a wise thing to leave unchecked in your lands. The corruption and domination will unseat all in only a few years. There is no leadership here and this army will break like sandstone, all have no grit worth knowing, and so I will focus on the stronger undead and its leaders to help sift out the difficult foes and enable the guardsman to fight only skeletons if possible. I will need Ecthelions sword to take on the vampire lord, i should be able to clear a path in for him and enchant him with granite skin to ward of most blows.

When the nervous Doctor moves closer Ostarian listens while watching Elmore walk out. Hmm I could make him stay. No, my energies need to stay focused on the blood drinkers. Ostarian pales when the Doc speaks of needing garlic and blurts "Do they have bite marks, or look pale in the flesh doc? Tell me more of this situation in your tent, maybe my knowledge in human anatomy and arcane arts could help.

Seeing Kendra getting emotional, Ostarian clears his throat and calls out simply but strong “Stupid girl, typical of one who has lived so short a life. Your pa is dead and still will be regardless of what you do now, so honor your family and act proper. Vrood is a threat we will chase to the dirt, but he is only a living creature. This vampire lord and wights though are a different problem. The undead they will spawn in this battle will crush entire towns and cities in the darkest of nights until no one is safe.” Standing to his full height and girth, eyes sparkling with amber power, and sulphur wafting stronger from his bracers “If we don’t destroy this army now while it is under the sun, all our cities will die within the month. There I said it. Time to firm up nobles and earn your place in your families blood roll for future generations to feel proud. Or, if i become a nightwalker, be sure I will visit those who did not stay and die with me.”

Dr. Slanimirc places his hand on Ostarian shoulder to whisper so that others cannot hear. “No, no dear friend the years of training I have condemned and tampered my body with. By injecting myself with various antitoxins and antioxidants it has caused a chain reaction within my body in which has made it impervious to disease related illnesses. Argh you speak of vampirism, the rare disorder in which the sufferer feels a compulsion to consume blood, I do not understand why people slay the sufferers that are affected by this as I find it rather barbaric. Especially when a cure is in the development at this very moment by my Brotherhood.”

“Sorry, I tend to get off topic, time to time. What I tell you now only remains between us, OK. The reason why I ask for these reagents is I am in the crisis of developing a cure in preventing a Epidemic of what appears to be Ghoul Fever. The fever has taken effect on a dozen or so soldiers from various ranks, however I am not entirely sure how many more in the encampment are infected. The only common denominator I have found is that they have all woken up with strange bite or injections marks on their bodies. Putting two together I presume those cultists weren’t here for just a friendly gathering, rather they were quite clever in trying to spread a plague within the walls to turn men against one another. However there downfall to the plan is you and I, because mixing a fresh unaltered blood sample with garlic and various other herbs, it creates an effective remedy and barrier for killing parasites while soothing coughs and detoxifying blood conditions. I only fear that the weaker immune systems are the ones showing clear signs of Ghoul Fever, hence that there are still others that lurk within this encampment.”

Before Elmore walks out the door Dr. Slanimirc yells out. “Someone stop that man from leaving, as we need every armed soldier if we wish to combat against the hordes that lays beyond these walls.” Knowing quite well half of his troop could possibly be infected, since the cultists were compromised in Elmore Danes unit.

Ostarion replies to the Doctor, "While I am glad that you call me friend, dont assume that I like to be touched by even my friends. In this case I will allow it as I respect your study of the body and show a desire to stop the walking dead. It is unfortunate that your body is diseased, but as you can see I have my share of injuries gained over a purposeful career. [Tapping his brass leg straps] I will help you after the battle if possible but now our efforts should go towards purging the undead creators out there (pointing to the fields). Do you have any more of that banana tasting potion to ward of death? I feel we may have need of it as I will share a secret will you. Vrood was a powerful necromancer in my guild, able to cast 5th level spells easily. When he started down the dark path of studying spells that stopped life he made a pact with a demonic werewolf along the way I fear, to become something even stronger. We will need to strike him suddenly when we do or any single spell of his may cause our souls to die horribly.

“My sincere apologies, It will not happen again.” (Removing his hand away from Ostarian shoulder once he speaks ill of it.) “My body is far from diseased, it possesses a unique formula combinations that will cure all ailments in due time.” while quickly assessing Ostarian leg “Argh, about this leg of yours I have been meaning to ask how this burden was inflicted upon you. Perhaps I could assess it later and return you to full health in return for the favor I ask of before.”

Walking back to tge dwarf with a potion in hand, the Doctor gives a confused look. “Banana flavored potion, what potion is this you speak of?” Dr. Slanimirc looks confused for a second before jarring his memory . “Ohhhhhh! You mean my infamous brew Undead Hazel. Hmmm I spouse where you can get that odd connection taste between troll fat and banana.” while pulling out of his bag of holding a test tube rack with 5 remaining vials. My stock is rather limited at the moment, however considering you are willing to help me I will give you two."

“A powerful necromancer you say, my potion should be resilient against most of his effects. I am rather curios if this man is beyond redemption, as I see some form of insanity possessing his mind.”

It begins

Standing next to the large canons facing toward the undead hordes, Ostarian muses that these soldiers will do little to change the battle and probably die horrendously. Watching the gunners it becomes clear that it will not be possible to use these in the raid. Turning his gaze about the collection of small gunpowder kegs Ostarian smiles coldly. Yes, they will do nicely. Walking over and taking a wooden barrow away from some people nearby, Ostarian tips the goods off the side “Its for the greater good people!” and starts loading up some kegs. Pushing the barrow slowly he heads outside the the palisade and summons his stone cottage for some serious work.

020 fantasy artworks kekai kotaki

021 fantasy digital paintings

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Necromancy by fictionalme d4ql2cv

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Auren Vrood and his artwork

The collapsed sections of the tower completely blocked of the farther passage creating a small aclove for Vrood and his tent. The interior of his tent lined with vivisection tables. Some holding twitching animals pinned to the tables in various grisly surgical inspection. Near each was a small easel holding a stretched canvas of which was a masterfully excuted painting of the various subject matter. The horrific pictures would be enough to turn a sane persons stomach. The paintings themselves contained detailed notes about the operations performed upon the specimen and the reactions they had. Elsewhere on the table was some long steel pins, carving tools, a candle, paints and brushes; a tray with ash, hair, bits of cloth, and other scraps of mundane items.

Working on his next specimen which jerks as the creatures still attached spinal cord is prodded. Vrood talks to the man bound to the table. The knights cloak was adorned with the Bastoi symbol of the royal guard. “Do you know why I am angry” Vrood said as he continued to prod his victims body to create the perfect model for his next work of art. “I was only eight years old when your counts troops tore through my land. Did you know Neska’s troops slaughtered my family, salted my famlies fields and left death and destruction in there wake. I myself was lucky to survive, if it wasn’t for me burying myself among the corpses of my family and neighbours, I would have also perished”. Vrood continues to contort his victims ribcage in such a way that the ribs tensile strength almost began to buckle. The knight on the table could now see his own ribcage. He could also see his organs still beating, housed in alchemical recepticals.

“They even made a second trip killing my friend Samantha whom luckily survived her house being burnt to the ground with her inside of it”. Vrood changed his current approached to his flesh muse. He took a step back and made a square with his hands to make sure his model was how he wanted it. Vrood used his thumb to make sure his dimensions were correct. “I only survived when the knights returned by hiding in a trench”. Unhappy with his current models position Vrood moved closer to change the arrangement of the mans internal organs, like a normal painter would when assorting a fruit bowl he or she was getting ready to paint.

Bi gzombies

“For years I lived as an orphan. I scavenged what little food I could from the corpses and burnt houses. I fought the rats for food, and found comfort in speaking to the corpses of my fallen friends. Even the soldiers in the trenches could be friendly. I even built my own little town of bones, the perfect backdrop for what had happened”. Vrood shifted the nights intestinal tract to the side and began to unravel it like a ribbon. “You know many people would say I went a little mad. But when the skulls of my fallen friends and family spoke back to me, I knew I could canvas the perfect vengeance for them. Although, I thought they would have been more mad at me for gnawing off the flesh from there bones in order not to starve to death”. Vrood said the last line flicking blood over the knights helm.“My fallen friends whispered to me. Vengeance…. vengeance….”. Vrood spashed the mans blood around like that of a child with food.

“The skulls, they spoke to me in my dreams and haunted me while I was awake. Samantha told me how to survive. I learnt from her how to hide in trenches or under byroad bridges laying traps to topple passing horses. When riders fell, I took their throats so they could join my kin. Do you know how one survives a wasteland?”. Vrood paused for a moment, looking to rekindle his memories.

“Do you know how scarce food is in a wasteland that had been salted and burnt?”. It was obvious Vrood had lost his chain of thought. He moved back to his canvas and began to paint. “Flesh can be quite an intoxicating palette to taste. You can boil it, crisp it, roast it, steam it, sauce it or season it”. Vrood moved over to the knight again, his eyes full of fear. “Do you know what my favourite part is?”. He let the sentence hang out for a while to track the mans reactions. “The tongue”. Vrood picked up the knights raw tongue off the table and put it in his mouth. He slowly chewed it, savouring each delicious blast of meats tenderness. He began to lick his lips before he gulped down the last of the raw meat. “Now… now, how rude of me, to eat before my work is done. And I still have not told you the rest of my story. Tar-Baphon has always told me in whispers that eating while I work spoils my art”. He moved back over to his canvas again.

“One day a rider came to my part of the Furrows. I lay in waiting under the bridge, ready to add her to my extensive collection of art. She stopped in front of my traps. The rider had grey skin, withered like that of a corpse. In a dry throaty whisper she told me come out of hiding.” Vrood changed his voice to act out what the woman had told, clearing his throat. “Auren Vrood, she said. The spirits of this place have told me of your beautiful artwork. Worry not, for you have a greater role to play. I revealed myself to her and showed her some of my favourite pictures of artwork.” Vrood measured out the knights stomach circumference with circular tubing.

“She took me to Virlych, to the omnious town of Redchurch. There she taught me the art of necromancy, which allowed be to perfect my artwork by learning more about anatomy.” Vrood resumed painting. “Do you know the best art comes from painting death. The best of which is watching the transition from life to death. There is nothing quite like it as I am sure you will agree. There’s no meaning to a flower unless it blooms. The same can be said about the transition of death. Life only blooms once it ends. Something that I love to capture, so it is not lost to the sands of time. Look at those fools.” Vrood points at the knights fallen friends. “They have no appreciation for art. You have to feel art. And true art… is an EXPLOSION!” Vrood taps the end of his paintbrush on the mans ribcage.

“Fine art is the beauty of that single fleeting moment of the soul as it seeks semblance of its life. Yrasa Nine-Eyes, my mentor taught me to appreciate the art of this world that happens on a daily scale. Death. Beyond the pitiful and helpless artworks of those I experimented with in my youth., it has taken me years to perfect my artwork, yet there is somebody even better then me. The Carrion Crown is a piece of artwork that will eclipse all that stands before it. I am just happy I have been a part of it.” Vrood adjusts his canvas so it sit more appropriately on its stand.

“First was the Wardens soul. I had to crush a mans head to prevent the people of Ravensgro learning to much. Then the effigy, sent to Thrushmoor to be traded to enhance the canvas of the dark cloaks work. Finally, the heart of Kvarka Sain. Which I helped retrieve with the Blavk Banner. Yet though my contribution to the picture is only the sketch, more wonders will come from it. The items I gathered are useless without masterful hands working them. Like many others, even Yrasa will confirm this, a true maestro will soon be soon born unto this world. His canvas will become the ultimate artform”. The knights nearly decapitated head rolls to onside. His blinking slows as the darkness of death descends upon him.

“Well, it will be picturesque when it is finished. But first I must destroy the fools that seek to prevent my landscape of death. To long have they critiqued my work. And you know what happens to those whom cannot appreciate true art. They are removed from the picture…”. The last thing the knight saw was Vrood couple his eyes and poke them out with the metal pins.

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Viktors Speech at the Furrows

My dear Ecthelion, it has been too long since last we spoke. So much has transpired for the both of us. I know you have made many friends, and lost many more. But we both know sacrifices are necessary for the greater good. The threat we face will require many more before the end. My condolences are with you, weary paladin. Be strong, as you have always been. We can defeat the insurmountable darkness. I am sure of it. We have to.

I know you must think me beyond redemption after our last meeting in Lepidstadt, but I assure you much has changed. I have always been a broken individual for reasons I am not at liberty to discuss. But I change as the world around me changes, for better or worse. There were unforeseen circumstances in my apotheosis. I am whole again, but there are parts of me that are lost beyond my capacity to contain. I am sure you will understand soon enough.

I sincerely regret that I am unable to fight the coming battle beside you, old friend. We are amongst the few that are left. We alone understand the implications of the annihilation that we face. You fight on fearlessly against an enemy of which you have little comprehension. I truly admire your valiance, Ecthelion. I always have. But such is the tragedy of life, that those with similar goals have to part ways to achieve the same purpose. We are pawns in a game of chess. But even a lowly pawn can become a knight or a queen.

I have learnt much, my friend. I have made powerful enemies, and powerful friends. The battle you have to fight will herald the doom of all that we know and love. I have seen the end of the world, a vision given to me by those whom sacrificed themselves to prevent it. You, and I, and all those we know and love are destined to feed the inevitable annihilation that awaits us.

But I do not believe in endings, Ecthelion. You will fight old friends. You will fight long dead gods. Hope may be lost, but it is not forgotten. You, and all those whom rally before your banner, believe in your cause. They will fight for you. Many will die for you. But they will not be forgotten.

Nor I have not forgotten you, old friend. When the hour is at its darkest, I promise…I won’t have forsaken you.

Voice Booms
My friends. You have gathered here to fight a truly incomprehensible evil. You fight against the dead themselves. You will face friends, enemies, and nightmares beyond your wildest imaginations. The enemy are incapable of mercy. They will expect no quarter, and you shall give none. The fate of Golarion rests on you, Alliance of the Furrows. Send them back to hell!

My children do not receive my commands as quickly as I would have liked. Something I will rectify in future models. But I digress.

There is little time for me to

It has been so long since last we spoke. Despite our differences in the past, we still fight a common foe. And so much has changed. For the both of us. I know how much you have suffered. I know how many you have lost. You have my sincerest condolences, old friend. But such is the nature of war. And as you must know, it is war we now face.

Please, forgive me that I am not able to speak to you in person. Were it possible, I would be right beside you in such a dark hour. But it was not to be. As you well know, I am a wanted man. Word has spread throughout Ustalav of the danger I pose, and is spreading further with each day. One day I hope I will free myself of the chains that await me, but only time will tell.

I know what you must think of me, after our last meeting in Lepidstadt. I took it upon myself to shoulder the guilt, and learn what I could about the enemy we believed was at fault. Alphon, once a dear friend of mine, was a dangerous friend. So gifted, he was always a brilliant scientist. But ambition was his motivator. He truly believed he was a king, and it was his right to rule. But I now believe rights are earned, not inherited. I spoke with him at length, in the place you must have found him. He was utterly consumed by his work. There was little left of the man I once knew.

I did my best, in the short time I had, to aid you in his manor. Many of his experiments were far beyond my control. His sentries were set to kill all those they encountered, but I was able to reconfigure it. I encountered several monstrosities within his manor. A blind monster, whom I bound with homunculi I had created. Monstrous spiders, whom I created pheromones to subdue. Everything I did, I did for you and those whom accompany you. I believe you met my assistant Kitch. She was instructed to aid you however she could, but her purpose was far more important than that.

I must confess, my curiosity got the better of me. I did something I should not have done with Alphon’s equipment. And it will always haunt me, the guilt of something that should never have been. And yet, I am changed from the experience. I cannot discuss it now, for I do not know who may be listening. But I must warn you, be very wary if you encounter me, my friend. I do not know where I have gone, or what I have done…but I fear the worst. If you find me, subdue me if you are able to do so. I believe I can be saved, in time. If not, my destruction may be rightly deserved.

I cannot tell you where I am, or what I am doing. But believe me when I say that my work, however abstract and dangerous as it may be, is to prevent the destruction that will inevitably come. I hope, as I have always done, for the future.

I know you have received my gift. It is the first. It is far from complete, but it will serve you well. I have learnt much since our parting, and I assure you: If it is within my power to save this world, it will be done.

I know you do not fear your enemies, Ecthelion. Fear achieved nothing. Conviction does. And I know you believe in our cause.

I know well of the battle that is to come. I will do what I can, however strange and unpalatable it may be to you and those whom follow you. But I promise; you are far from alone.

Our enemies are dangerous. They are numerous, and they are as fearless as you are. There is no need for capture or remorse. They are annihilation incarnate. Expect no quarter, for you shall receive none.

Good luck Ecthelion, and all those whom call him friend. Your road will be lengthy and arduous, but there can be no defeat. Everything rests on you.

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The problems of leadership

A messanger invites the scouting party back to the war room to report to Sebastian Traft how there scouting went. Making there way up the slight hill to the camps war room, the camp moral seems to have lifted after rumour began to float about camp of the scouts single handedly smashing the enemies strategic locations. Arriving at the war tent, other members of the council are present, including Cassielt.

Sensing the obvious discomfort in the room between Cassielt and the Raven knight, Maric walks over and addresses the Raven knight himself. The burly dwarf puffs up blowing his beard out of the way before he speaks. “Gentlemen you can’t fight in here. This is the War Room…”. Teyrn his brother bursts out laughing. It seems he was the only other person in the room to get the joke. He tries to cover his mouth to combat his chuckles.

Cassielt shoots a glance at the dwarves before he begins to talk. “This is a serious matter, it is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder when prisoners are not subject to a proper trial. We seperate ourselves from the darkness we face by remaining true to our convictions. Otherwise any light we bring will still be cloaked in the shadows of darkness. It is our honour, our duties and virtues that seperate us from the Whispering Way”. The angel was quite determined with his words. “Speak for ya self holyman. If ya seen what these brigards, these Whispering Way have done to the hundred or so farmsteads on the edge of Shudderwood, ya might reconsider ya words. Kill’en them traitors without torturing them first was our side being too kind in my book. I can speak on behalf of the hundred or so farmers, there children, even there animals, that such decent folk deserved more then to have there lives destroyed. The traitors were undeserving of a quick death”. A moment off silence passed through the room as those present consider Yharlocs words. The bear of a man was scary, most thought it best not to question his logic.

“Aye, I hear yeah words danty one, but we don’t have the time to dispute the Raven knights deed”, Oswald Furyshield spoke out, quite out of the dwarves normal reserved character. “As a sheriff I can tell you that any law changes during war. Having lived through one myself. Killing a cultist is one less enemy we have to worry about”. Benjan walked around glaring each of the nobles in the rooms eye. “Yet killing is killing sheriff. Surely a man of the law can understand that”, Kendra came to Cassielts aid. “Those whom signed up for this war that has come to our backdoor, that traitors and dessertors are to be punished by death”, the grave knight fisted the table to demonstrate condemnation of the facts. “That would not sit well with the peseants, who only fight to protect there lands from the undead. They are not knights, nor should they be bound by a knights code”, Kendra said as she began to circle the room.

“Enough! All of you. Stop squabbling about the fate of one man when hundreds lie in the balance. If this army gets past us then there is nothing to stop them reaching Gallowspire. Then we really will have a problem”. Traft as the commander refocussed the council. “Now get your heads out of your asses and listen to what Ecthelion and his friends have to say about the enemies strength. I want to know more about what our forces will face on the battlefield”.

The eyes in the room focus on Ecthelion and his scouting party.

Not caring about the dispute between Cas and Raven as Ostarian has already forgotten the murdered cultist he steps forward dragging his left leg slightly. “We have slain the enemy spell casters and destroyed the means of raising the sleeping spirits from the old wars. Vrood is my target and I support another strike inside the heart of the dark enemy to finish the ghoulish army.” Turning away from the war council he limps over to Cas, “I still owe you and my clan always keep their oaths. If you need help in the future call on me and I will come.” Ostarian then limps briskly out of the tent muttering I have important works to do for the next battle, where are those canons?

The wafting smell of garlic and Ostarian’s pipe smoke is all that is left of him in the war council tent.

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Pesky flies

The heroes raids on the Whispering ways armies had obliterated there main forces. The beacon of unrest had been destroyed preventing the enemy from controlling a large amount of the undead army which returned to the grave. The ziggurat in the changing pit and the necromancers responsible for congregating the undead had also been destroyed. Drazmorg had been slain, his infernal book taken by Ostarian. The enemy catapaults had been destroyed and the zombie giants turned on each other. Falcon managed to control some of the wights to destroy some undead skeletons. Three of the Black Banner Company lay dead, with only Knu the goblin surviving. The black mist on the altar above the mountain was unable to free itself, bound by infernal magic. The doorway to the Harrowed realm was closed, at least for the time being.

Sitting perched on a nearby mountain, six indescriminat figures watched the carnage unfold. The enemy had proven themselves more… competent then first thought. Vessnics fangs twitched in anticipation. “The enemy is stronger then we thought” the vampire said in a gruff voice. Ambriel let out a laugh to those whom watched with her. “Is this the best you can offer Vrood”, she said aloud. “The wizards they have recruited are powerful”. Vessnic keeps his eye on the dwarf with the limp. He had known the mans face from somewhere. But he could not remember where exactly. For more then a millennium the vampire had walked Golarion. It had only been the last 600 years in which the vampires unlife had been spent in servitude of the Whispering Way. Most of which was not out of choice. But the dwarf he knew from somewhere. He would have to meditate on it.

Vessnics train of thougth was broken by Ambriel. The ring on the womans figure twitched as whispers on the skull beckoned there call. “Leave… you are needed in Thushmoor. I have lost contact with the two dark riders sent to exchange the seasage effigy for the object we need” the ring whispered. “Pity, I would have enjoyed playing a game with our new friends” Mierela says playing with her cards.“But I do not think our enemy will have foreseen what comes next… knowing Vrood he will not take what happened lightly” she further added. Nuetetia turned to address he compatriots.“You have your orders. Sooner or later the people of Ardeal will be free from the suffering of humanity. The pain of loosing loved ones to old age, disease and the fear of true death. Undeath is the only ultimate true form of freedom that can be given to mortals. As they live there lives in fear and pain. Both of which the human body and mind can be freed from”.

The ghoulish woman preached more about the faults of humanity and how undeath could serve mortals better. “Please Nuetetia, not another sermon, or do I have to gag you like Ezekial”, the harrowers eyes flared, knowing Nuetetia logic could only be halted by words from someone whom had power over the ghoul. “Kill her…. Stab out her eyes. Dangle them like yoyos…” Adgrif spoke up. His insanity got tge better of him once more.

“Thrushmoor” the ring whispered again. “Well it is a shame we cannot hang around and see how Vrood retaliates. Nalthezzar and Lucimar must be furious with there apprentice and his failure to bring down Ardeal”. The sound of battle horns could be heard from afar. “Perhaps its wise to retract that statement” Vessinc says looking to the horizon towards Feldgrua. Alarms sounded in the encampent as noxtious gases wafted outside of beacon of unrests resting place. Several cultists turned to dust afflicted by a disease. Further to the north, Vroods true army began its march towards the allied forces encampment.

“Hmm Lucimars young pet has been busy. Shall I divine the battle before we go using my cards”. “No” came an abrupt response from Vessnic. “Let is be a surprise”. The six figures began to make there way south to Thrushmoor.

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Allies and enemies

PCs slept at Ostarions hovel.
PCw travelled to the allied encampment by horse, after burying there fallen comrades.
PCs said good bye to Maric and Teyrn who were travelling to nearby towns to resupply.
The disfigured twins sisters were left at Ostarians hovel, unknowing to the paladin it dissappeared.
Upon travelling to the allied encampment they witnessed a travelling parade or pilgrimage dedicated to dead.
Saw El Muerete fight in a wrestling match cheered on by his fellows.

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Saw a skeletal figure called Baron Samedi, a person whom had a keen interest in the half giant.
Befriended Muerete whom wanted to escape his fanatic followers.
Rested in Ostarions Cottage.
Had a day without any incident.
During the knight while in Ostarions cottage were attacked by the Vilkcaris again.
Ecthelion protected Ostarion from getting bit by calling the dwarfs wounds upon himself.
Unit 1 protected the door.
Cassielt conjured a hound archon to keep the wolf dpirit away with its protection from evil ward.
Muete managed to kill the abomination.
Another day without incident, spotted the allied encampment about 2 hours away, decided to rest and go there the next day, sleeping in Ostarians cottage once more.
In the morning, were woken by Unit 1 as riders approached with more then 30 soldiers following them.
The soldiers were a sentry whom were to escort Ecthelion and his friends to the allied encampments war room.
Met the Grave and Dawn knight.
Needed an hour to prepare for the trip.
In the meantime the 30 soldiers practiced battle formations and maneuvers.
Entering the camp were greeted by some old friends.
The fort was bustling with preparations for war.
At the war room learnt more about the battle preparations.
Met the Raven knight (Current protectorate of the allied army until a leader was elected).
Met Dr Slanamirc and Falkon.
Rested a day.
Next day were asked to elect a supreme commander.
Fued broke out whether it should be Sebastian Traft or Oswald Furyshield.
Eventually Traft elected.
Traft was introduced to the current assembled army as the supreme commander.
Viktor Von’Drake appears as a projection from Unit 1 spouts of a speech.
Arguments breakout about listening to thr ramblings of a fugitive of the Vielands.
The Brotherhood of the Strange Crusade radically oppose the mans words. Warning he is a criminal and dangerous.
The brotherhood say how he was responsible for freeing a abomination called the beast of Lepidstadt which had killed at least 30 people. His actions brought about 3 days worth of riots which caused over 750,000 sails damage to Lepidstadt. The University of Lepidstadt had dubbed him a madman and raving lunatic that should be locked up in Carrion Hill asylum or better yet the tower of Conviction in Bastoi.
The Raven knight defended Viktors words, warning the plague doctors to keep there opinions to thereself.
Confused by the paladins words, especially since Viktor was most likely the provaceteur vehind the sacking of the pharasman temple in Lepidstadt that occured during the riots. The Brotherhood strongly voice there opinions of the man. The two fractions had been fueding for along time. An article was even documented in the Lepidstadt gazetteer about the purported mistreatment of the dead by the brotherhood whom sought out profit or using them for immoral and unethical experiments.
An internal stocktake determines what is availiable to the army.
Pharasman priest invite soldiers to fill out wills and there burial wishes should they die during the up comming battle.
The brotherhood of the Stange Crusade offers a similar bargain. Under Abdar they offer to transport the fallen corpses to work the mines in Carrion Hill as undead miners, to provide there folk at home with sails to compensate them for there work. The contract are signed in blood which means the desd will be raised and zombies and put to work in the mines until there bodies become useless.
The Brotherhood also offer large sums of coin for individuals willing to donate there bodies to science for the Lepidstadt University to use in there experiements.
Rested another day.
Trafts first decision as commander was to send a party to scout the enemies locations.
Pcs accepted the dangerous mission.
Before they left PCs had to deal with some recruits from the Whisperers end under the charge of Elmore Dane whom were suspected spies.
After qiestioning the men Ostarion took one into a side tent and tortured him.
Ostarion created a treasure map from the mans flayed skin.
The Raven knight killed the two suspected spies without hesitation or evidence of there guilt.
Cassielt infuriated by the mans actions demands a trial for the Raven knight for his actions.
During the argument Elmore Dane is dragged from his tent by a Pharasman guard to answer for his mens actions.
After professing his innocence and still greiving from the information of his sons passing, Elmore demands justice for his men that had been killed.
Traft ignores Elmores and Cassielt plees.
The pair threaten to pull there armies from the field and instead join the knights of Ozem to fight the upcomming battle. Advocating they will fight in Vivlych and not the furrows due to the armies current tratment of prisoners and rules of engagement.
Cassielt refuses to in the presence of the Raven Knight and go scouting with such a man whom could stab you in the back without reason.
Bickering amongst the war council begins.
Adivion Adrissant, Maric and Teyrn Bronzebeard arrive to the encampment.
Traft suggest the Raven knight scouts enemy positions until things calm down.
Traft suggest they recruit a talented scout known as Race Monodon.
The PCs recruit race from a tent errected tavern. The man was signing loudly and drinking heavily.
Problems of the Brotherhood of the Strange Crusade occur with there patients.
Rest again.
Head out the next day, passing the pilgrims of the Carnivale of the dead whom join the armies ranks, bolstering them.
Road out. Using a spyglass keep a two hour walking distance away from the enemies encampment.
Camped attop a mountain. Prevented Ostarions conjured cottage from being spotted by concealing it.
Set up watch.
Ostarion snuck out and retrieved the treasure marked on the flayed skin parchment. Among what was found was a painying.

Blackdream3
Dr Slanimirc created a gooey clone from a magical chest. Due to the clone being inanimate and not alive the skeleton patrol it followed is drawn to the undead ziggurat inside the changing pit.
Looking througg the clones eyes Dr Slanimirc sees a hordge of undead cloud giants loading catapaults, rot giants, wighrs, wraiths, draugr, decapitated heads, undead wolves, crawling hands, Whispering cultists, ghouls, zombies and various other undead. Fol,owing the skeletons the clone sees a pregnant woman bound by chains to a rock (Yeselda Sain). Finally the clone follows the skeletons to a dark beacon in a room which pulsates with energy. The undead in the room whisper to each other. A wight whose lower body is decaputated mid drift down to another female wighr. Dr Slanirmirc overhears a conversation between the two (Ambriel and Drazmourg) before the clone is destroyed.
The PCs prepare for skirmish the next day.
Dr Slanmirc tells his allies what he found.

Death knight of orcusi

521552 druid fighting the undead

4e zombies

Corpsecreeper3

The PCs spend a few hours scounting the enemy location from afar with a spyglass familiarizing themselves with the landscape.
The PCs hatch a plan to kill some of the black banner members atop the opposite mountain controlled by the Whispering Way.
Raven Knight unleashes a barrage of Arrows at Nirashi Sylvanmede, the Urgathoa cleric, killing her.
Meanwhile Ostarion sends an air elemental to throw Pudge Whartley and Grelm Hammerlock from the mountain.
The party refuse to help the pregnant woman chained to the altar.

Unholyoffering

Pudge Whartley and Grelm Hammerlock, both survive the fall but are knocked unconscious.
Ostarion commands his air elemental to attack the catapults and the zombie giants that are loading them with severed heads and hands.
The elemental damages the catapults enough yo render them inoperable.
Ostarion commands the elemental then to collect Pudge Whartleys unconsious body.
Pcs then turn there attention on the changing pit.
Skeletons archers fire upon the mountain, missing.
Undead wolves and calavary are sent to tne adjacent hill to confront the intruders.
The PCs attack the changing pit with a ranged barraged.
Ostarion and Falkon unload with a barrage of magical assaults, including fireballs and other long distant spells.
The beacon of unrest is destroyed from the assault.
Two whisperng way curates are also killed.
Knu cuts Yeselda Sains spilling her blood upon the altar, hoping to complete the ritual that opens the Harrowed realm.
The blood spell fails.
The hungry mist is trapped upon the mountain, as no necromancer is there to release the mist.
The PCs use the distraction to attack the zigguraut underneath the mountain scouted by Dr Slanimirc.
Ostarion fails his teleport but uses a heroic point to reroll the dice.
Second roll succeeds.
Telport into the undermountain chamber
Drazmourg and 10 Ghouls were readying for the battle. 4 cultist guard the entrance.
Drszmourg is a wight mystic theurge.
Atop the altar which Drazmourg prays is a large black book (Book eternal necromancy)
Falkon drops 5 ghouls into a conjured electrical pit (modified sylph acid pit)
The Doctor nauseates 3 of the cultists with an alchemist bomb.
Muerete grapples Drazmourg.
Ecthelion and raven knight barrage Drazmourg. Ecthelion smiting him in melee and the Raven with a full attack range smite.
Race picks off a ghoul with a sneak attack, flanking it.
Drazmourg fails to break the grapple of Muerete, held firm.
The cultist not nauseated hurls a ray of enfeebment which misses. The rest sprawl to the side of the entrance to take cover.
Ostarion cleans up most of the other ghouls with a fireball.
The final few ghouls rush Ecthelion and miss, trying to help there master. They miss.
Falkon kills the remaining ghouls with a lightning bolt. Ecthelion rakes a small amount of damage from the blast.
The doctor unleashes a contangion blast potion of mummy rot on the cultists taking cover. The cultists all fail, as the disease rapidly ravages them. Turning there flesh a black grey, slowly dissolving them into dust.
Muerete pins Drazmourg and rips off the disc device that allows the wight to fly.
The Raven knight and Ecthelion finish off Drazmourg.
Ostarion learns the book is empowering the ziggurat in the room.
The book is open to an animate dead spell.
Falkon learns by manipulating the ziggurat they adventurers can gain direct control over a horde of undead outside under the mountain.
Sounds of alarm sound outside, the doctor sees undead making there way to their position.
The cutist turn to dust from the contagion, as they rush away signalling the alarms.
Falkon turns a horde of wights on there allies with the ziggurat.
Ostarion does the same with several zombie giants.
With the whole undead army making there way to the ziggurat room, Muerete smashes the device.
The strange hum of magic stops, as does the glow of the runes on the walls.
The adventurers teleport back to the top of the previous mountain.
They collect Pudge, and make a last recon of the enemy.
They see a vampire blood knight and four grave knights stilk have enough power to cause problems.
With so mucfh undead snapping at there backs they rush back to sentinels keep.
The adventurers briefly stop to rouse Pudge and question him, before executing him for what he did at the Edgewood in. He was commited to death for killing the taverns patrons and owner.
Pudge pissed himself and beg for his life as the sentence was carried out.
The adventurers failed to save Yeselda Sain, Ullis wife.
Returning to the encampment the adventurers went and reported there findings and achievements to the war council.

Your raids on the Whispering ways armies had obliterated there main forces. The beacon of unrest had been destroyed preventing the enemy from controlling a large amount of the undead army which returned to the grave. The ziggurat in the changing pit and the necromancers responsible for congregating the undead had also been destroyed. Drazmorg had been slain, his infernal book taken by Ostarian. The enemy catapaults had been destroyed and the zombie giants turned on each other. Falcon managed to control some of the wights to destroy some undead skeletons. Three of the Black Banner Company lay dead, with only Knu the goblin surviving. The black mist on the altar above the mountain was unable to free itself, bound by infernal magic. The doorway to the Harrowed realm was closed, at least for the time being.

Sitting perched on a nearby mountain, six indescriminat figures watched the carnage unfold. The enemy had proven themselves more… competent then first thought. Vessnics fangs twitched in anticipation. “The enemy is stronger then we thought” the vampire said in a gruff voice. Ambriel let out a laugh to those whom watched with her. “Is this the best you can offer Vrood”, she said aloud. “The wizards they have recruited are powerful”. Vessnic keeps his eye on the dwarf with the limp. He had known the mans face from somewhere. But he could not remember where exactly. For more then a millennium the vampire had walked Golarion. It had only been the last 600 years in which the vampires unlife had been spent in servitude of the Whispering Way. Most of which was not out of choice. But the dwarf he knew from somewhere. He would have to meditate on it.

Vessnics train of thougth was broken by Ambriel. The ring on the womans figure twitched as whispers on the skull beckoned there call. “Leave… you are needed in Thushmoor. I have lost contact with the two dark riders sent to exchange the seasage effigy for the object we need” the ring whispered. “Pity, I would have enjoyed playing a game with our new friends” Mierela says playing with her cards.“But I do not think our enemy will have foreseen what comes next… knowing Vrood he will not take what happened lightly” she further added. Nuetetia turned to address he compatriots.“You have your orders. Sooner or later the people of Ardeal will be free from the suffering of humanity. The pain of loosing loved ones to old age, disease and the fear of true death. Undeath is the only ultimate true form of freedom that can be given to mortals. As they live there lives in fear and pain. Both of which the human body and mind can be freed from”.

The ghoulish woman preached more about the faults of humanity and how undeath could serve mortals better. “Please Nuetetia, not another sermon, or do I have to gag you like Ezekial”, the harrowers eyes flared, knowing Nuetetia logic could only be halted by words from someone whom had power over the ghoul. “Kill her…. Stab out her eyes. Dangle them like yoyos…” Adgrif spoke up. His insanity got tge better of him once more.

“Thrushmoor” the ring whispered again. “Well it is a shame we cannot hang around and see how Vrood retaliates. Nalthezzar and Lucimar must be furious with there apprentice and his failure to bring down Ardeal”. The sound of battle horns could be heard from afar. “Perhaps its wise to retract that statement” Vessinc says looking to the horizon towards Feldgrua. Alarms sounded in the encampent as noxtious gases wafted outside of beacon of unrests resting place. Several cultists turned to dust afflicted by a disease. Further to the north, Vroods true army began its march towards the allied forces encampment.

“Hmm Lucimars young pet has been busy. Shall I divine the battle before we go using my cards”. “No” came an abrupt response from Vessnic. “Let is be a surprise”. The six figures began to make there way south to Thrushmoor.

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The Night Harrows Mission

A dark cloaked figure sits in an ancient laboratory clattered in bones. Five figures watch the cloaked figure as he distills the next ingredient of the vile agent. The figure quickly turns and enchants a spell into a seemingly unoccuppied space. Seconds pass as the flash of a quickened glitterdust spell followed by a hold person reveal a sixth person, making the total now seven in the room. “Adgrif when will you learn you cannot sneak up on me…. Patience is needed my psychotic friend, you shall see killing yet. But inly when the time is right. I intend to fulfill my part of the deal despite your attempts on my life. You do know insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.. You need to change your approach”. The cloaked figure released the spell freeing the assailant.

The previously invisible figure now sparkled. Adgif spoke to the dark figure, “Kill kill kill…. hehehahahaaa. Gorge out your eyeballs until gel comes out. Puss driven bloodlust. I am going to cut off your pretty face and wear it as a mask. You wenched scar faced harpy harlot. I will feed you your own fingers. I am going to cut you so many many times hehe”.

A woman cut the mans ramblings short. “Shall I put the puppy down”. Her features appeared to be rotting, with a leathery, gray skin drawn tight over her frame. Her eyes flared crimson. Her touch withered away a nearby rose, and her brethe smelt like putrid decay.

“That won’t be necessary”. The figure turned to a nearby mirror and cast an invisible eye high up in the sky, above an encampment bumbling with activity. As the eye focused several men came into clear view. “I need you to monitor the situation at the Furrows. In particular these men and woman. Another halfling, some dwarves and a construct are headed there also”.

“What is you want us to do”. A varisian woman spoke. Her blue eyes like a sapphire jewel in the room. Her face like that of an angels in a room of so much decay. The woman had an exotic beauty about her. But her eyes were cold and seemed foccused. Her gown had very light shades of pearl and iridescent beads in an elaborate lace-type of pattern. The very soft colors of the pearl beading is set in flourishes and cameos that pay interesting homage to the intricate decorations of her dress. The pearls were set in such a way that they gave the foundation and appearance of lace and then darker iridescent beading was used to provide shadow highlights and give the bead-lace definition when viewed from someone other than the wearer. When viewed from a 2+ foot distance, the dress almost appears to be made of chiffon and lace – a testament to the skill of the dress’ designer.

This dress was obviously made in a style very far removed from the hard angles and lines of the in-vogue art deco fashions of those seen elsewhere in Ustalav, and was constructed specifically to bring out the beauty, grace, and femininity of the the blue eyed woman. This dress was less about sparkle and glamour and more about reinstating a lost elegance to the woamn, despite her young age. The blue eyed woman looked young while the dress looked old. However it was definitely one of the finest Varisian dresses one would ever find. Especially in Ustalav.

The blue eyed woman clutched an indigo gem around her throat and gave those around her a menacing look. Each of the undead creatures in the room turned there faces. First was Vessnic, with her control over him so complete she could prevent him from looking her in the eye. Nuetetia, Ambriel and Ezekial soon followed, bowing there head in agreement.

“Hellfire fek shades” Ambriel thought to herself. “There is no way the lich queen, I don’t care if your ancestors were part of Tar-Baphons council during the Age of enthronement. That title is mine and mine alone” she further added.

“I just want you to keep an eye on things. Make sure they learn nothing of our true intentions” the cloaked figure retorted.

“And Vrood” the blue eyed woman remarked playing with a harrow card, knowing the action would be a mockery to those who kept there heads bowed.

“He has given me what I needed. He was foolish enough to draw so much attention to my work” the cloaked figure replied. The figure moved along the ground like it was floating. Its fingers fingers fiddled with a multitude of alchemical apparatus as it went by.

“The souls of the hamlet in Canterwell are at your disposal and Warlord Kourzek in Belkzen lays siege to Lastwall. We also retrieved the ingredient you required from Kaer Maga. The bloatmage Davandor put up more of a fight then I suspected. However his blasphemous research into hemotheurgy and its effects on vampires will not fall into the Brotherhood of the Strange Crusades hands”.

Vesnics fangs retracted at the last statement. His eyes full of malaice intent.

“Just keep your distance, do not get involved unless you have to. Leave Vrood to his fate”. The blue eyed woman Mierela smiled at the last statement. For she had already read of the cultists fate with her cards. She just did not want to let on what she knew, knowing the dark cloak found such things trivial.

“And Ambriel, take the horns of Zassrion with you. I want you to make sure Ardeal is as depleted as the rest of the nations. Canterwell, Vielands and Lazarov have all been considerably weakened, so must Ardeal”. The cloaked figure did not even turn to address them with its last statement, to busy was its research. A dark smile crossed Ambriel face, her pet she had acquired from the harrowed realm from the deck the Night Harrowers had used would serve her well. Pity the creature had to be tormented and twisted so much, but she knew the cloaked figure was happy with the end result. The deck had been foolishly left on her corpse when she was killed hat Scholoss Cormarcs. But her new allies had made the most of the item.

“If you get a chance Ambriel, I want you to kill Tarkus Finley and Elmore Dane if you see them on the battlefield. Only reveal your presence if you see them”

Ambriels head was freed from Mierela control. Her fettid skin dropped flakes as she cracked her neck back into position.

“And what of the my small friend the halfling Ecthelion. The assassin you sent failed miserably ", Ambriels neck clicked back into place.

“Leave him for the moment. His orders to the Dawnflower inquisition spread more fear and rife amongst the Vielands then we could have ever dreamed for. Lepidstadt will be to busy fighting the werewolves they will not see us strike”.

“So Sivilenus Tripe still fills the sewers with the undead then, despite not recieving the bodies promised by Vorkstag and Grine” Mierela said flicking the uprising harrowed card from hand to hand, her prcognition knew beforehand where the conversatiin was progressing down. She enjoyed flaunting her talents to the others even if the claoked figure did not like it.

“With the ratfolk gone the city is almost blind, except for Elmore Dane whom knows we have infiltrated a number of the aristocracy of the city”. The figure bent over and smelt its latest concotion.

“Well all my readings have become true. The paladin whom would be our bigest rival. The carnival which would aid in tge destruction of Lepidstadt. The liar, all them years ago when Cormarc killed his wife. The courtesan whom would see the wrong man accused at Ascanor. I must say Ivanja did a wonderful job. Pity she will be little more then scraps for the wolves. The tyrant….” but before she could finish the cloaked figure stopped her.

SILENCE…. I will not her more of your devilry”. Moments passed before the figure spoke again. " Nuetetia you are the most loyal less ambitious of the group. I have known you the longest since I cured you from your genetic malady that raveged your body. So you shall monitor the situation at the Furrows as it unfolds and report directly to me. The rest of you are not to act without her order"

The pale skinned beautiful ghoul replied “I shall alleviate all those that live from suffering, by transforming them to undeath”. Her voice made a slight crackling sound when she spoke. Sounding like that of a person on there death bed, obvious the affliction she had contracted while she was alive haunted her in undeath.

“I need to see blood bleed from somethings eyes. A severed spinal cord while a child flops around on the ground. Blood… pools of blood” Adgrif babbled. Vesnic simply smiled at the notion of blood. The vampires fangs got sensative in anticipation, of plunging into his next victim.

“Leave, and give this to Lucimar on your way out”. The figure handed over a book to Ezekial. The gag over his mouth prevented him from talking, instead his hollow eye sockets flared up a necrotic green in response. He turned and left the room, like a souless zombified object. His compatriots followed.

As the group left the structure they stopped by Lucimars.
“Well it seems Vrood is destined to fail you worg”.
“<snarl>…. Drazmorg, the Black Banner and Vrood still yet are useful”. The worg like lich growled at the statement, digging its claws into the book it was handed.
“To be corned by wolves” Mierela said as she left the room. Her friends followed laughing.

Lucimar smashed some nearby alchemical apparatus in disagreement and anger. The seal she consumed from
onsuming the flesh of the crystalline seer hued its orange colour, when she was in her agitated state
To be continued……

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Ecthelions Journey book entry to Adivion and reply

Ecthelion sits atop his tall chair, which lets him reach the top of the desk. Under the light of a small lantern, he writes into a small, leather book in what appears to be red ink.

‘Adivion, I have already shown my gratitude for funding the army. I know that we made a deal. I have not forgotten that. I will destroy Vrood, but this needs to be done wisely. I need to know that my comrades are on the level. You have not yet told me what you have found on Ostarion! I told you that I saw him slice a man’s skin off his belly, right there in front of him, whilst he breathed. I have seen too many evils in my lifetime to not be wary of a man who does such a thing. I want to trust the man, he did turn the odds against the undead after all, but I need to be sure of who I fight beside, before they turn on me when I am entangled with Vrood. Just get back to me with what you find."

Ecthelion signs of ‘e’ before closing the book. He sucks his thumb momentarily, before dousing the lantern, and heading to bed.

Adivions reply;
’To Ecthelion, I have learnt from my contacts in Caliphas that Ostarion the Dark for a while studied at Quaterfaux Archives of Arcane Acadamae in Caliphas. The records show the dwarf was enrolled in the school of necromancy at the Acadamae. His closest friend and mentor, for at least three years was Auren Vrood. During the time there was a spike of disappearances. Those victims whose body had been recovered had been flayed beyond recognition and positioned in grotesque manners as to tell a story to the investigators whom found the bodies. Each body had a puncture marks in there neck, parts of there flesh and organs were missing, and the bodies bleed dry.

Many believed the culprits to a nest of vampires, as often there are reports or sighting of vampires in the capital. Over tbe years however, there has never been enough evidence to substantiate the claims. After two dozen bodies had been found the investigators seemed baffled to whom the culprit was Ostarion was brought on board to help the invesigators solve the case. Ostarion had various necromatic magic to aid the case. Included of which was a blood spell which allowed him to correctly identify the mutilated bodies by taking vials of the victims blood for analysis.

More then six more people were killed before Ostarion had his first lead. The serial killer behind the deaths, had accidentally left behind a sketch of how his next victims body was to be positioned. Ostarion had seen similar sketches before, at the Academae. After consulting with his master Vrood with what he had found Vrood offered to help the dwarf with his investigation.

Ostarion was lead by Vrood to a strange manor. Vrood had told him of an expert thst would help him identify the artist responsible. Entering the abode, Ostarion was a suspicious of the artist due to the strange paintings on the wall. The artist had a disturbed sense of what constitued art. Lead into a back room Ostarion was told to sit in a room and wait, while Vrood roused the owner of the manor.

Ostarions curiosity got the better of him. The room only oustanding feature was a large ornate mirror and a large painting with a frame covered with a sheet. The watches report says that Ostarion account of events said that when the lanterns in the room went out Ostarion was attacked by nightmarish creatures. Ostarion in his report believed that Vrood sat behind a mirror and quickly painted a sketch of the dwarf being attacked by vampires. Somehow they came alive in a painting in the room and attacked him. After the watch raided the residence to substantiate the dwarfs claims, they found an array of disgusting collection of art, in which victims had been captured in agoney by paint. Auren Vrood was suspected of being the culprit. However he denied such claims. Since the manor the attack took place was not registered to Vrood and his art portrayals when examined by specialist where done by a left handed artist and not a right handed artist, like Vrood was, the charges were dropped and Vrood set free.

Soon after the allegations Vrood retired from the Acadamae as an instructor and left Caliphas. Ostarion was left with a limp from his ordeal. Although many experts believe the injury is purely a mental scar and not a physical one. Before his time in the Acadamae, not much is truly known about the dwarf. But you should be weary of him, numerous whispering way agents can be linked back to the Acadamae. That said not everyone that attenee the Acadamae is bad. I spent some time there along with Petros Lorrimor for a while. But due to Ostarions close connection with Vrood, I advise caution when dealing with the dwarf.

Ps. I hope you are doing well. Let me know if there is anything else I can help you with. Make note however, Auren Vrood is well versed in matter of the law. He managed to convince the judges of Lepidstadt that he was innocent before. This left Ostarion infuriated and the dwarf almost had a mental break from the ordeal’.

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Darnys in distant lands

Alone across the sea, far away in hostile lands, a filthy young woman in rags and manacles kneels in a prison, her face bloodied, bruised and beaten, a harsh collar around her neck chained her to the floor. Her body shivered, the bruises that marked it each spoke of a moments brutality. She looked up through her black hair at the man who was responsible for the beatings that had ravaged her so. Her steely grey eyes flowed with tears as she suffered.He towered over her, his bare, fat chest glistened with sweat in the light of the cell. His cream coloured silken pants were spattered with flecks of her blood and his face was a mask of exertion, his eyes bored into her with malicious intent. “Look at you, Urthadar,” he said, smiling cruelly, “Chained down and bared, with the shit kicked out of you.” “Please,” she begged, her voice croaking after he strangled her a few hours previous,

“Stop… I’ll… talk, i swear… I’ll talk…” He chuckled and approached her, wiping the sweat from his brow as he did so. “No, nonononononono,” he said quickly, his Orisionian accent thick, “I’m not here to make you talk.” He knelt down beside her and looked her in the eye. She tried to shuffle away from him, but he grabbed the neckchain and wrenched on it hard. “I’m here to make you hurt.” She shook her head and tried to plead for mercy, but he ignored her and rose suddenly, kicking her in the ribs as he did so. She doubled over, her voice caught in her throat as the force of the blow made it’s presence felt. “Get up you worthless bitch,” he spat, seizing her hair and pulling her up to her feet. She screamed in agony and tried to resist him, but it was to no avail. He kicked her legs out from underneath her, sending her face first into the sand. She sobbed hard, pain overwhelming her. He kicked her over onto her back and pressed his boot onto her throat, forcing her to choke and scramble. “You’re a pretty one,” he said, “You’d be a wild fuck, wouldn’t you?” Her bloodshot eyeshot eyes revealed the terror she felt as his words sank in. A heavy dull knocking resounded through the chamber.The brute looked at the door and frowned in spite. “You know how lucky you are, yes?” he asked as he removed his foot from her neck. She sobbed out of relief as the threat in her mind diminished. “No mind…” he said, smiling at her as he crossed the room, “Now the torturer is here. If you survive him, you’ll be begging me to fuck you.” He wrenched the door open and a man in black, studded robes and a pointed hood slowly and methodically entered the room, his every step causing the dozens of cruel implements that were dangling from his belt to jingle.

She whimpered and crawled away from him, as far as the short length of chain would allow. The torturer nodded to the fat guard and turned to a wooden table in the corner of the cell to arrange his implements for his grisly work. The guard laughed and blew a kiss to her as she cowered in the corner. “Goodbye, bitch. I’ll see you soon.” The door creaked slowly behind him as he left the room. “The agony… The horror,” the torturer began, his voice soft and smooth, “You are about to experience… will be… exquisite…”

Almost half an hour later, the guard returned and peered into the room. The woman was bleeding from multiple wounds across her back and blood poured from her gaping mouth. Her jaw was broken, and hanging slack from her face, dull gurgling groans issued out from her mouth. The guard looked to the torturer, who was wiping his implements clean. “She has a lot of… fight… left in her…” the torturer said, his voice cold, “But she is need of… rejuvenation… I will return in an hour… You should giver her some… comfort.” The guard sneered, the cruelty returning to his features as he started to undo his belt. The girl tried to scream as the torturer swept out of the room. As he walked down the hallway, the torturer, his face obscured from the view of the various guards who lined the prison’s hallway, smiled to himself. His steely grey eyes glinted at the thought of how he had redefined the term “Switcheroo.”

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