Carrion Crown: Kyle's

Returning to the surface

Making there way back to the surface the intrepid band of adventurers found there welcome wagon of law men cleaning up the rublbe and debrie of the collapsed building of old man Marshan, the owner and sole occupant of the destroyed building with the alien hieroglyphic. The bloodless boodparts of the fallen crows had been placed in large woven black bags. Jimmy the crow yells out “Do these are to go to Viktor Von’Drakh to sort out, so we bury the right body part with the right man”, dangling a large black bag. The sickening smelking slime at the ruined building was not quite as it was before, the morning air and rain had was most of the stench away. Not that the heroes new much better, as Carrion Hill always smelt like a garbage dump. They could understand Kraven Morrhead, there guide, had lost alomost certainly lost his sense of smell. “I smell cheese…” old Kraven said, when returing to the surface. The escaped so called lunatic was still wanted by the asylum guards, but every time Kraven had been taken back he found a way to escape. So the crows did not worry about taking him back. Old Kraven hurt no body and the crows expected to find him dead one day, venturing into the catacombs beneath the city. The act itself was illegal, but the crows simply had a soft spot for old Kraven. He was also the best guide in the city. But Zephyr had been requested to arrest old Kraven by Ecthelion.

“If you need me again you can find me at Hammers Forge after I get out. It should be tonight. I make it my business to known evey nook and cranny of the catacombs and sewers. I can get ya to any place you desire, without that lot knowing”, he motions his head towards a nearby crow member.

It had been less then an hour into there investigation of the ruin house the beast had destroyed. The adventurers had learnt that the insignia on old man Marshan’s house was that of Yog-Sothoth. The beast had used one of the dismembered crow body parts and smeared it on the wall. From this action they could conclude the creature had some intelligence. The bloodknight was still suffering from minor hallucinations from the strange device Viktor had stapped her in. It was strange, as now and then colloured pigments flared up as shapes in the photorecptors at the back of her eye. Her brain was struggling to determine what was real and what was not. The blood knight could remember what the clearly deranged alchemist had said to her.

The blood knight looked a little white in the face. As did Ostarion, his corpse carried wby Muerete with a large stake protruding from his heart.. But the adventurers had gained some valuable insights. At least three keepers from the original six were alive. There life force gave the creature power. Undoubtedly several of the cultist like old man Marshan had undoubtedly been consumed by the creature. Two other bodies had been found floating in the pool of water and black slime in the Sunless Grove. It was obvious that such an act empowered of devouring the Keepers the creatures tether to Golarion, making it grow in power. From the recount of the scared creepers and the facts at the encampment, along with the pnakotic manuscript that had been left behind, it was obvious the other keepers had left in a hurry. Most likely fleeing for their lives and in hiding, to prevent themselves from bring devoured by the beast they had summoned.

The notes they had found at the Sunless Grove campsite suggested the conjuration ritual to open the portal for the beast would draw upon the spiritual essence of the casters. There was un undecifered passage which Ostarion laughed at when he seen read it. It read as “Hideous use of this essence by consuming it, growing in more powerful with the bargain, such that only the end of such essence can challenge an intruders right upon this world”. The bargain with the alien creature had undoubtedly made the keepers more powerful, however doing so had linked the keepers souls to the creature on the far side of the portal. The passage suggested that the creature will grow in power if it can consume the souls of those whom conjured it. However should the agents whom conjured the creature or set them beyound the creatures reach, the spiritual energy will be lost to the creature. In this way killing the keepers before the beast can do the same, or somehow removing them from the creatures grasp, should banish the beast back into the dark tapestry.

An Abdar cleric runs up to Jimmy and his crows cleaning the debris shouting “That’ll have to wait, word of the destruction old man Marshan house has reached the citizens and many citizens are starting to panic. I need your mens help with some looting braking out in the filth, hopefully we can disperse the rioters before they do any real damage. Zephyr will have to nurse that bunch. If more word got out the mayor was dead and this lot was responsible, we would have utter chaos on the streets. Thirteen dead nobles, a serial killer portraying bodies in a grotesque manner – with his latest victim Shae Mistle the famous sculptor – and a beast on the loose, I will need all hands on deck to prevent the city consuming itself in chaos. There are already caravans and wagons being pack to leave the city in the hundreds. Coach houses and stables are the epicenter of clots of mobs trying to arrange transport. It is our job to maintain order in these sections of the city, so no one his seriously hurt. But without words from the mayor to maintain order, we are gonna have problems”.

The Abdar cleric looks at the adventurers. “I ain’t saying you should go around killing folk, but you should keep your weapons handy incase word gets out your suspected of murdering them folk at Belfors, as to deter folk. Let Zephyr protect ya and try and talk em down should you encounter any rioters or looters. Its the crows business to deal with em and not yours, leave it to the watch, we don’t need nore vigilantism in the streets”. With that the Abdar cleric runs down the rroad with the crows in toe.

Nearby the Adivion rests against a sign post. He waits for the crows to leave before comming over and talking. “This city is going to hell and fast. We can still leave if you wish during the commotion. We owe no loyalties to these people. Let them become victims to their own filthy streets. I have arranged horses at quite an expensive price for us to leave. But knowing you Ecthelion, I have also arranged lodgings at the Madman Inn should you feel indebted to this rotten city. But if things escalate further we should leave”.

Returning to Mayor Heggrys manor, the heroes found sitting on the desk where Ostarian was studying is a freshly inked parchment held down with a 1,000gp diamond. On the sheet, written in careful common “My Friend, Ecthelion. I am planning to take a different path and study this tome further. By the time you read this I have already left so do not come for me. For breaking my oath I have left these two scrolls for the fight coming up. Use them wisely. Ostarian the Exile.”

As they wound their way through the impossible rat-nest of buildings that was the streets of Carrion Hill, Don Blanco stopped momentarily.

“Cuervo Caballero,” he said, his voice seemingly smaller than usual, “Do you suppose I have angered La Dama?” His face winced with pain at the vocalisation of the thought that had plagued him since he ripped the stake out of Ostarian’s heart. He scratched the back of his big, bald head in frustration. “I mean, I did kind of… Unkill? Is that a word? That Vampiro,” his shoulders slumped. Ostarian’s demise was still fresh in his mind, “But it was necessary! Our Amigos didnt comprehend what not destroying him would mean! I could’nt tear his head off myself- he was our friend… And I hadn’t the stomach to do it myself.” He paced, his frustration at the situation clearly troubling the half giant. “Sol Caballero passes off a duello to you and his diosa hasn’t given him reason to feel culpado. Why do I feel like I have forsaken La Dama?”

After following the heroes at a distance discretely, the elf wanted to make sure that these people were of good heart and deeds before introducing himself. He had made that mistake when he went to help a family in distress the second week of leaving Greengold, and ended up slaying the villagers turned werewolves trying to trick him. Seeing that they took the cultist alive and handed him over to the crows, was enough for him and his goddess to decide to travel with the group for now. Walking forward to them all assembled talking about marching on the Asylum to find the leader cultist, the elf forget that other folk did not have the keen hearing he did, and coughed politely as he approached. Standing casually and bowing slightly “Greetings Heroes of Harrowstone, walkers of the world of men, I am a fellow traveller Amandlon for those that call my name among humans.” Our paths seem twined like the farrow vines and I offer my bow, wise words and of course the goddess’s blessings upon you all." He raises his head with a trained smile.

Ecthelian had been the only one from Harrowstone who walked amongst the group, yet new comers seemed to take his company as being with him all the way.. It was unsettling to see this. Not because of Pride, or self importance, but because he knew that at any time, his ‘friends’ could do something that would put his life as a Sarenrae Paladin in jeopardy, and tarnish his name and title. It was for this reason that Ecthelian had thought hard about continuing his journey alone. Ironically, he found the idea of ‘free will’ compelling, yet he always came back to the ultimate knowledge that he simply was not strong enough to conquer all evils that were thrown at him… not yet.

Amandlon could see looking into the halflings eyes that he was younger than he appeared, they did not carry decades of experience in them. They did feel pain and heavy burden of loneliness though it seems. Thanks to the goddess I see why my path is here with these coarse heroes now, to lift their burdens and show them the faith to be held in the good and right of helping others. And of course to show them the delights and wonders from being on the open roads, surrounded by sunlight and sounds of nature every step of the way.

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More Bickering

11 years ago

The Raven Knight stood in the middle of the street, one hundred eyes fixated intently upon him.

“I will not allow you to do this Hadrian” Hadrian smiled at the Raven Knight, a trickle of blood stained on his upper lip. “My dear Ulysses, do you not see?” Hadrian nods at the men surrounding the Raven Knight. All stood with the same lifeless determination as their master. “Death does not became us, your words are meaningless here.” The Raven Knight felt the eyes of the village on him. Men, women and children lined the street, their expressions broken. He had tried to reason with them but the vampires hold was strong. He had felt the good in these people burning deep within but he feared his voice no longer reached them. Knowing he could not prevent the morbid procession the Raven Knight stood aside. The procession began to move forward again with Hadrian at it’s head and the Raven Knight watched as the bodies of those he had slain were carried past him, stakes protruding from their chests.

The Raven Knight stood at the entrance of the dark cathedral, the holy symbol of Zura painted above it’s oaken door. Shaking the Raven Knight listened to the black mass being conducted inside and lowered the giant wooden cross beam in place. He knew that Hadrian could not escape.

Kneeling before the door the Raven Knight offered up a pray of forgiveness before throwing the torch at the door. He continued to pray as the flames caught hold of the wooden structure. The shrieks had come first, piercing the evenings sky as the dark spawn within began to howl. The Raven Knight continued to pray as the horrifying sound dwindle and another sound drifted through the cracks and sparks of the fire. The screams of the children, the mother, the fathers infected the darkening sky and the Raven Knight stopped praying. In silence he kneeled at the door as the flames died down.

Present day

The Raven Knight stood staring at Ecthelion, the past fading from his mind. The Half-Knight knew he could not do what was asked of him. So easily his companion disregarded life in the hunt for the dead. Ulysses takes a deep breath. He still heard the screams, they never stopped. He vowed that things would be differently this time. Staring intently at Ecthelion the Raven Knight places his weapons on the ground before him. A pray of forgiveness moves siliently on Ulysses lips as he kneels on the ground, his eyes not leaving Ecthelion. Without shifting his gaze the Raven Knight adresses the Blood Knight. “So fixated we have become on personal honour that we have forgotten why we stand together. Have we not already lost when the goodness in men can not unite? I will not stop you with steel Blood Knight, too much violence already shadows our hearts. Strike me down and take the body if that is your wish, I ask that you only strike true and dishonour me quickly.” The Raven Knight lowers his head exposing his neck to the Blood Knight. Silence fills the cave.

The Blood Knight walks over to the kneeling Raven Knight draws his sword, and places it on his neck.

“For once you have learnt humility Raven Knight. I have given you chance to defend yourself but you have chosen to yield. If I were to take my life, or you my I fear the hope for this territory would diminish. You have acted with bravery and modesty. You’re blood price will not be paid. And as award for your sacrifice I give thee what was once promised”. Sheathing his sword the blood knight gets a pair of braces with a symbol of a raven and throws them at his feet.

“You’re champion has yielded half knight, and by virtue of duel the body of Ostavian the black now belongs to me. I will now take the blood price that is owed.” With this the knight moves to retrieve the body from the wrestler.

The Raven Knight does not look up, a pray begins to move silently upon his lips.

Zephyr holds the binding chain of Kraaven’s. ‘Clap clap chink clap’ "Bravo, bravo that really was eventful, so you Blood Knight solemnly agree to the terms that you will be charge on Ostarians behalf. "Looking towards the Blood Knight for a response “Well….. that is…. only if he is convicted of course.”
The construct shouts “ENOUGH!”

It turns from its patrol and walks towards the commotion.

In a gruff voice the Blood Knight replies to the Zaphyr actions, “I take only what is owed to me crow. Do not question my motives or see yourself bleed. If you want more answers you are more than welcome to accompany me to the witch Anca house Crow”!

“I am a mere humble observer, I do not question your motive until the court hearing Blood Knight. Think of it as a friendly warning. Oh witchcraft its a rather barbaric nature of magic,something that I rather not delve into. Feel free to go on your own.” Xephyr has a large grin on his face.

The Blood knith responded,“Will no others speak. give me my leave mask one at let thee price be paid!”

Dan Redbeard White Muerte’s chest heaves up and down with the anger he feels at the situation. He looked at the crimson visor of the Blood Knight as he approached and sighed. He knew that he had to hand the body over. It pained him greatly, as he felt that La Dama would look upon him with a heavy heart.
The court of Abadar would ensure the body would never rest. The witch would draw his spirit back from the dead to commune with it, further denying his former friend eternal rest. Neither decision was the right one. The Blood Knight reached out to him, his arms ready to take the weight of the corpse.
And yet…

Muerte looked up and felt all eyes upon him, apart from his closest friends, whose were closed in prayer. He saw the smirk of the lawman. The sneer of the guide. Lastly he looked to his little friend, Ecthelion. When Ecthelion’s eyes met his, Muerte bowed his head knowingly and smiled with serene wisdom.
He holds the body out with one hand under Ostarion’s back.
“I cannot do what I feel is right. So I will do what I feel is wise. Lo que siembres, cosecharás.”
Quicker than his size would tell, Muerte seized the stake with his free arm and wrenched it from Ostarion’s chest. He cast the body away from the Blood Knight’s reach and at the ground in front of Ecthelion. In the same motion, he dropped the stake onto the ground and stomped it into splinters.

Ben Lehmann “No”, screams the knight as he watches the body fade into mist. “El Muerete, you bastard what have you done…”

The construct walks up to the corpse of Ostarion and kneels.

It leans close to the corpse and whispers quietly “An eye for an eye makes everyone blind.”

A device appears from the arm of the construct. It looks like a disc with a number of blades protruding from it.

The construct puts the saw to the Vampires neck and proceeds to saw the head off the abomination.

“I have done what none of you could see was the right thing to do, Sangre Caballero.” Muerte said calmly as he gently folded his arms. “Wisdom is Del Sol and pride and honour are the clouds that block its light from us.” He watches on, patiently.

The blood knight screams in rage.
“ARRRHHH… I tire of how many times this group deny me the price that I have been promised. I have done nothing but aid the group and give thy sound advice of a military mind. YET THEE OPPOSE ME. You are all dogs of low honour. I promise and inform you of the truth, and you turn from me and make war, you are nothing but a bunch of oath breakers”!

The construct stands with the head, and places it within its chest cavity.

“Your oath was to Ostarion the Dwarf.”

The construct points at the headless corpse.

“Ostarian the Dwarf has been dead for many hours, Comrade.”

The construct turns promptly and resumes its patrol.

The Raven Knight lifts his head from pray and looks at the Blood Knight, picking up the bracers as he stands. “That is enough, it is over my friend. You had an oath to Ostarion, to help him slay your demon and in turn you would help him defeat Vrood. I offer you the same Oath Blood Knight… you have proven yourself to be honourable beyond belief. There need not be anymore blood shed today.”

The Raven Knight turns to his friend Don Blanoc. “You have acted with great risk but also great wisdom. It takes courage to stand in the face of adversity and stay true to your convictions.” The Raven Knight nods at his friend turning back to the Blood Knight.

“What do you say Knight? Will you allow me to fight by your side?” The Raven Knight pulls out his dagger and places the blade in the palm of his hand, awaiting the Blood Knights reply.

The blood knight addresses his friends. “Yes the dwarf was blood bounded to me, more important than that of a puppet and its creator, incomprehensible to those of a programed mind. Do not speak of understanding of honour of an oath when your fickle words have none”.

The Raven knight responds, “On my name, my honour and code, I will swear to hunt the demon by your side. What say you Blood Knight?”

The construct continues its patrol, but it speaks.

“I do not understand. All of you fleshlings speak of honour and blood as if it is a currency to barter amongst yourselves. And yet you fight and kill one another when it suits your purposes. And with each death, you feed your own annihilation. Oaths are but words, and speaking to the dead achieves nothing.”

The Raven knight says to his comrades. “The Machine shows more humanity than all of us.” The Raven Knight kneels and holds his hands up, the dagger still upon his palm, and looks intently at the Blood Knight.

“ENOUGH, I care not for any of words anymore. A rightful blood price was sort, but unruly denied”
Turning to the Raven Knight:
“Your words are noble winged one, but I tire of the grievances and insults against my honour from members of your group. I have given my soul to this armour and yet the turn from council. And by your friends actions I could not live by thy code or oaths not that thy demand”.

With that, the blood knight makes his way towards the exit.
He turns briefly to Zahpher: “I will find the beast on my own accord old crow and see your will be done by my honour. You feathers of your group may shadow me if they wish, but if they oppose me thy wings shall be clipped. To you winged knight, yours show wisdom and may the blood of many enemies by shared with you arrows”.

The blodod night says to his compatriots. “However to thy other, do not seek my assistance as none will be given. And if thee seek blood for recommence, bring thy coffin as a blood price will be paid and rightful death will be given”.

The construct, yet again, turns from its patrol and kneels before the Blood Knight. It bows its head.

“As you wish comrade. You have aided us in our task, and yet you live. The living may prosper, the dead are our enemy. I hope you do not perish.”

The construct stands, and stares at the party as the blood knight walks away, to prevent any unneccessary killing.

Confusion may have been the reason why Ecthelian had been so still while the events unfolded. The Blood Knight had fraternised with those untrustworthy, and threatened to take the Undead Ostarian to those whom Ecthelian believed would likely raise the Vampire again, and yet, the Raven Knight bows before him and asks him to remove his head… The halfling just did not see how this could help the Paladin in his fight against evil and chaos.. A dead man cannot crush that.. perhaps a Martyr… given the right circumstances… but this was not one of those times….

And then the giant looked down into Ecthelians eyes, with a look that said ‘I know what I should do’, and then decides to do the complete opposite…. Should the vampire have risen there and then, Ecthelian was sure he would have climbed up the big oaf’s body and slapped in the face for his idiocy!!

And the blood Knight.. What to make of him? Threatening to smite an innocent man down just to take the body to a whore who promised a good time? Good to be rid of the man perhaps.. Ecthelian made sure to cast one last detect evil over the man as he walked away from the group.. just to be sure

Zephyr raises a wide grin on his face and nods towards the Blood Knight. " I bid you a good day blood knight, do make an effort to show up at the trial. Otherwise…. the hunter of the beast will become the hunted of the crows."

Thus turning to the rest of the group. “Well you lot truly know how to escalate a situation, all for the worse.” Shaking his head at the golem.“Well! You rather do nicely in the mines, perhaps those spinning blades could do for an upgrade to a drill. As you are now accountable for the dwarf crimes, if he is convicted.”

The construct says “I am bound to the programming the creator has instilled within me. I believe he resides within your city. He is accountable for my crimes.”

“I thought this wild bunch are your creator’s.” Zephyr scratches his head in confusion. “Speak of this person now, as the crows can begin an investigation on this facade person.”

White Muerte had maintained his air of calm. He looked down at Zephyr, his arms folded. “Remind me what use you actually are to us Cuervo. All I have heard from you is preaching of crooked laws and threats of unjustifiable incarceration.”

The construct looks at Zephyr. It turns its head slightly to the side, perplexed.

“I am forbidden from speaking the Creators name, Comrade Zephyr. But he resides within your city of Carrion Hill. He has created a device which will grant us the ability to perceive the beast. The blood knight spoke with him briefly, though I do not know what they discussed.”

It begins to walk away, but turns back to Zephyr hesitantly.

“Forgive me Comrade Zephyr, but I find your laws confusing and contradictory. As are all the laws of this land. The provinces I have visited with my companions have vastly differing laws to those that your city enforces. And the churches our companions follow have differing sets of laws once again. Why is this so? How does one conform to all laws?”

The construct stares at Zephyr.

“Meeeeee!” placing his hand on his chest. “I am the man that’s contracted to make sure that you stay true to the laws of Carrion Hill. The humble guide that shows you how great this beloved city really is. A cracking shot with a gun, and now your private contractor of killing the beast. I am clearly needed in this group, without me you are nothing.” Smiling while looking at Muerte bulging arms. “What do you bring to this depraved group. Picking up and throwing things, clearly any half-wit loathsome beast could do that.”

The construct continues to stare for a few moments.

“…Fleshlings make and enforce the laws?”

Chuckling at the golem “The man that is leaving our group has the only sufficed evidence on this mysterious creator of yours. Bah! He never mentioned of any such device in the past. Now! Stop coming up with bazaar stories golem and tell me the truth that these people are your creators.”

The construct continues to stare.

“If you, as a fleshling, keep the law, that would mean you are required to sleep approximately 46% of your time. Also, any time you are required to collect money and taxes, you will keep some as part of your wage, in order to obtain luxuries.”

The construct pauses a moment.

“The statistical economic efficiency of your city would be increased two-fold or more if autonomic machinery assumed your role as lawkeepers.”

The construct continues to stare at Zephyr

A number of the crows walk down the stairs responding to the whistle blown by Zephyr. One blow of a whistle usually meant for neaby crow to hustle to tbe blower, two was a crow in distress needing immediate aid. Zephyr had only blown once, so the crows took there sweet time.

Old Kraaven spat on the ground in disgust before unravelling the linen he had for trousers and started pissing on the stairs. “Ohhh cut that out ya old bugga” one of the crows said before the group of five began to laugh.

Following them down was an odd looking man whom had clear prism googles on; a narrow divided mustache that began at the middle of the upper lip, with long whiskers pulled to either side of the center. The areas beyond the corners of his mouth were shaved; a stovepipe top hat and wore a black suit with a red top coat. He looked more like a a circus director then anything else.

“Good morning there Gentlemen, My name is Aldus Hammerlock and I’m a Jack (detective). I was commissioned by the Abdar Church to help you with there investigation. Especially after your party expressed concerns of the integrity of a lady called Anca and a man called Viktor regarding the undertaking of your investigation. I am here to replace them and are an independent contractor regarding your case. I see you have already started without me. Things all seem to be all gay (all clear) here, have you toffs (gentlemen) found anything of note. I would like to prevent the need of tom sawyer (lawyers) by clearing up this mess. My techniques are brand new from the campus of the Sincomakti School of Sciences. They call it forensic logic and pathological studies of criminals. The science truely is new age. The Bhaltvrest Hall, Gray Tower, and the Hermitage, guard a diverse collection tomes regarding the techniques and applications in Rozenport. I am one of the most successful graduates and have written several books of my own. But enough about me, I must get to work if the truth about your crimes is to revealed”.

He twist the prism on his glasses, it seems to focus the lens making objects appoear larger to the wearer. “If you require it any evidence must be catalogged and logged to the Abdar church to support your defence. I will do the same with anything I find which shall be made available for you to study”. He began to examine and write a basic description of those whom he could see.

“Just a moment before you leave, I require and examination of those whom are charge with crimes. I need to place your hands in this charcoal and then on the parchment. The charcoal is magical and will tell me any magics you have cast in an area recently. It will also glow a green if you have been in an area within the last 7 days. Like I said truely new age science. So whom would like to be first”.

“A member of our party was deceased, but ceased to continue walking and speaking until recently. He was threatened by another of our party, which provoked his attack. He almost destroyed the threatening party member before he was rendered inert by a shard of wood puncturing his heart.”

“Then my comrades argued about killing one another for quite some time. During that time the stake was removed. Our comrade, the Blood Knight, left moments ago after I removed the corpses head with a blade drone, believing the hostilities would continue when the deceased woke up. I believe the Blood Knight took offense. The blood on my arms is that of the Dwarf.”

The construct points at the headless corpse, and presents its hands to Hammerlock.

“How… what is the common word?” Muerte ponders with an amused smile, “quaint? Yes, quaint. How quaint it is that you try to belittle me. I started out meeting Cuervo Caballero,” he gestures to the Raven Knight, “then travelling with him a whiles. He met Sol Caballero,” he gestures to Ecthelion, “and here I am, aiding their cause to end the plaga of undeath.” His smile diminishes suddenly and what few of his visible facial features harden. “But make no mistake. I am no fool, pendejo. My hands seek a physical weakness on my foe and break him. I have dehorsed a charging knight by seizing his throat. I have won a 30 man battle royale after starting as the first entrant. And I have recently throttled a giant. All tasks im sure a man like you wouldn’t have the cojones to do.”

‎"Have you ever seen a forest prosper with no sunlight? Only the foulest tasting mushrooms, and vile spores will grow in such a place! When I went to the Shudderwood, it was like that! Nought but boggy marshes, and poisonous tangle weeds! I walked through drop vines, and they shied away from my brilliance… for I embodied that which the Shudderwood had turned away for so many lifetimes now – I represented the light, which those of the wood have sought to repel! Light – is the embodiment of all that is good.. and those in the Shudderwood turn me away… turn goodness away!

I saw a disease which had forced its way into the land. That of the werewolf! The smell of wet dog hung thick in the air, could make eyes water, and the stomach contract. The beasts darted from shadow to shadow around me.. afraid of the light! Afraid because the light is the embodiment of all that is good, and lycan disease has no part in goodness.

I took pity on the Shudderwood, for why should it not deserve the chance to break free of the evilness that lurks in it, and to grow, and reach up toward the sun, and embrace it.. embrace all that is good? I sent men there… members of my church, to purge out the evils within, and purge they have, but the disease has stretched further than I had thought! Werewolves have been sighted all over Ustalav, and this can not be tolerated! We must not allow the disease to infect our homes! The church of Sarenrae will be offering a monetary reward for any wolf heads which are brought to them… Culling of the wolf is the safest way to protect your families"

The construct watches quietly from the shadows, its arms crossed.

“Oog.. Oh get off it unit 1!!” Ecthelion responds.

Unit 1.25 steps towards Ecthelion, and hesitantly places its hand upon the shoulder of the decrepit man. It kneels down beside him and looks Ecthelion directly in the eye.

“Virtue and purity. All fleshlings are capable of it. Few are willing.”

The construct stands. It leans close and whispers.

“Having watched and learnt from all of you, I find that the concept of innocence is merely a degree of guilt. If a guilty party is to be apprehended, then a score of innocents must be sacrificed in order to reprimand them. The dead will be judged by their gods. Is this so?”

The construct looks at Ecthelion, awaiting a reply.

“NO!” The construct’s clear misunderstanding of the law and order of things angered Ecthelian, who stepped back before going on, "Purity is NOT something that is always possible! There is no chance of purity for a werewolf when the moon is at its full…See More

The construct stares for a moment.

“I think I understand, comrade Ecthelion. The Lycanthropy virus corrupts flesh. As does the curse of undeath. Actions and natures will inevitably converge.The corrupt must perish to preserve the pure.”

The construct pauses a moment, and dips its head slightly and looks away.

“Ostarian the Wise…he fought to preserve the pure. But he dabbled in arts that were forbidden; arts that will bring about the end of all of your kind. I am to prevent such an event. Therefore, I judged him dangerous in his state, and I beheaded him. His death is mine to bear.”

It looks at Ecthelion again. It looks…pained…somehow. Even for a machine. Its behaviours are beginning to look unsettlingly human.

“I am sorry comrade. I know he was no enemy. But he harmed you. I knew of the nature of his being, but I was unable to understand the change that was wraught upon him, and the danger it presented. I shall not be so careless again.”

The construct stands vigil over the decrepit paladin for the remaining hours. After some time passes, and it is convinced nobody is near, it says

“…the Creator is both wise, and generous Comrade Ecthelion. You have ever been his ally. I do not know the intricacies of his craft, but I believe he may be able to restore you.”

The construct returns to its vigilance.

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Vroods farewell

Vroods eye had kept constant watch over his pupil, ever since he had arrived in Carrion Hill. It was always funny how he had kept tabs on his student. Watching the stake plunge into the dwarfs chest, he was upset at first, but grinned with malice. The dark cloak figure would be happy. A rift had been created and the biggest threat to Vroods and his masters identity now lay dormant. Ostarion had know both Vrood and his master by name and face. The dwarf had extensive knowledge into the whispering way, studying with Vroods master at the same Acadame in Caliphas. But now he did not have to worry about such things.

Salem 1692

Vrood clutched at the shrunken head around his neck, calling forth its powers to contact his master. The shrunken head appeared before the dark cloak figure whom was busy studying the Carrion Crown recipe. Several ingredients were still needed. “Massterr” came Vroods whispers. “Osstarrion the dwarrf is dead. The halfling is vulnerrable, Osstarrion currssed him with an aging spell. He ssuccumbed to the vampyrric tome of the book of eterrnal necrromancy. I knew he could not handle such powerr. It is unforrtunate he will not be joining uss”.

The black cloaked figured continued to write on his parchment, unflinching despite the new news. He stopped writing for a moment. "I will dispatch Clanartus Viliras and the Red Mantis assassains to capture the halfling. They should fare better then Scarlett, her failure was not forseen by my divinations. Ecthelions sisters blood is not pure enough to complete the Carrion Crown elixir. We traded to much to Nalinzarborg for her soul. She has proven to be useless to Orcus and me, a liability worth discarding of when you get the time. Only the blood of Ecthelion will do to complete the elixir. Lorrimor and his friends did a fine job of hiding the facts about the halflings bloodline, but in the end we learnt the truth.

I am personally heading for Caliphas to secure the other subject should the halfling elude us. But I have concerns for Illmarsh as I have lost contact with the riders we dispatched to trade the seasage effigy for the ingredient we need. No more games Vrood, this has gone on long enough. I want you to put an end to our pursurers. Especially Anca the witch. Orcus has informed me she is on the pathway to discovering Ecthelions ancestry. Information that was expensive to come by, and truths that I do not want Ecthelion or his frirnds to know.

“What sshould I tell Lucimarr and Nalthezzarr, they sstill believe I am loyal to Rred Churrch”, Vrood responded.

“Turn there attention to where it belongs, and that is erradicating Tarkus Finleys in tje Tusk Mountains, and Viktor Von’Drakhs Age of Metal preventing the lesser seals from being opened. Marrowgath is hunting Dantz, he saw to much in Xin-Grafar and can reveal my identity”.

“Marrrrrowgath, ssurrely a drragons time is betterr sspent on Ozem”, Vrood replied once more.

“No!”, came a swift and direct response. “I cannot risk it, when we are so close. Those whom know to much must die before they can piece together the puzzle. Cassielt and Ozem will be blind to our strike from the shadows. Kaiden in Lepidstadt is still busy with dealing with unrest and the inquisition trials. This shall be our first strike, the sewers are filled with more dead then those lost at the Furrows. Vorkstag and Grine did an excellent job of preparing our connections within the city. With the elder shaman of the rat folk tribes in Lepidstadt under my direct command, Kitch will prove little but a hindrance. But for now, Dantz, Anca, Viktor and Tarkus must all be eliminated. They were there at the begining. Friends of Lorrimors whom you failed to kill in Ravensgro. I cannot allied w them to learn znything further”.

“The witch is herre in the city, how do I dissposse of herr”, Vrood replied.

“Use Kendra and the demon wolves she brought with her, just make it as though she believs Anca is you. When she is dead kill the others that travel with Ecthelion and bring him to me”. The cloaked figure began to write again, his infernal scriptures and plans for the future were now well on he way. He paused a moment “And Vrood, do not fail me again”.

“Yess massterr”. Vrood rubbed the magical pendant again to dispel its enchantment. “So much to do, so little time. Do you not know you cannot rush art Master”. Vrood turned to the gagged Wilhelm the bardic musician who proclaimed his music to be better then any art in the land. “Now where were we. Arr yes, I was going yo get you to show me how you play the harp without fingers, I think I might make a birthday cake as a surprise for Ecthelion with your fingers as the candles”. Wilhelm looked in horror as Vrood closed in with a sharp scalpel. Windhelm paswed out as his third finger was removed. He stopped his art making for a moment. His art would suffer without a compliant muse, he would have to wait for him to wake.

With that Vrood looked bsck into his crystal ball once more, at Ostarions lifeless body. Vrood considered claiming Ostarion body, to raise him again. The master had commanded him to do it in the past to Ezekial and Ambriel, to learn more about the adventurers. But in his heart he knew Ostarion would be a much harder to soul to submit. “Farewell my favourite student, I am afraid we will never meet again. For the gods will not undestand our art Ostarion. I like you renounce them as nothing more then propaganda to keep the common folk in line. But when Tar-Baphon walks the surface of Golarion again, people will be able to see a true god walk this world once more”. Ostarion dismisses his scrying spell, and starts to ponder of a clevr trap for his pursuers. With Saera at his disposal, and Kendra working with werewolves, a wicked grin crossed his face. “Perfect….”

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Ostarions end

After the filthy battle in the rotting sewer Ostarian moves to one side to study the huge ancient tome, while the others are searching for trinkets. Fools, they do not understand true power is not in trinkets. Defeating the locks he turns the cover and sees thin pages with fine writing, and hears a maddening whispering, things that would make weaker creatures insanse. Ostarian’s force of will and greed for power drives the whispers away for the moment, and he sets his mind to reading this strange language. Their appears to be a list of summoners and rituals describing spells of such power never seen in centuries, world walking spells, calling forth something called the old ones. One thing is clear, they summoned the beast and it needs to consume them all to close the spell and stay on our world. We can not let this foul beast stay here. Ostarian looks at the two knights, Ecthelion in particular, as he knows that they will have to kill all the summoners to stop the beast from consuming their souls. We will have to kill their souls first.

Looking at the powerful spells in this tome a deep sadness comes over Ostarian as he knows now that he will not be able to control this level of spells with this blood curse upon him, spells are already difficult to prepare. Running a dirty hand over his teeth, he knows that he is a vampire, even though the teeth have withdrawn and will come out when he calls them. The spells he still has left can detect that he is tainted with undead and vampire bloodline from his past that has awoken. Lost in dark thoughts Ostarian does not know what to do. He cannot return to his clan forever and his new friends will want to kill him.

Scratching notes on parchment Ostarian continues to read the very difficult language of the tome. He can tell that this translation is in fact a translation of a much older text, with the information and spells contained within spanning thousands of years in the hand of an unknown race. Handing the parchment to Ecthelion, he sees that Ostarian’s eyes are a deep red and sparkles with excitement and yearning. Written on the note are three names, Keepers Crove, Hyve and Myre, who are the last surviving summoners of the beast. Looking straight into Ecthelions eyes and in a firm voice “My friend, we need to kill these summoners to weaken the beast so we can kill it before it comes completely through the tapestry. I will need to study more and scribe a scroll or two.” Ostarian goes into the cultist chamber to study more.

“If these people have truly summoned this beast, then they have committed a most heinous crime, punishable by death. We must uphold the law, and destroy the creature purging the town. I trust that you have sufficient evidence, and are sure without a doubt, that this is what has happened?” Ecthelion looks into Ostarian’s eyes – as the eyes often are the first sign of any misdirection – and what he saw startled Ecthelion. Eyes the deepest hew of blood! Ecthelion had stared into such eyes before, but never without the Sunraysia Razor drawn. He stepped back, and his hands swiftly went to the mighty scimitar, but he did not draw the blade. “You have lost your taste for garlic I see, Ostarian.” Looking around to ensure that no one else was listening in, Ecthelian steps in closer to Ostarian and goes on in a whisper, “You know that you cannot keep this secret hidden from me for long. Why would you not tell me. I can see from your actions that your affliction has not taken you completely yet… but your very being here threatens my companions safety. There may be a cure you know?” (At this point, I roll my religion check +9 for a cure, and state what the cure might be….. if I don’t succeed, then I go on with the following……..

“You have done many good things this past month Ostarian, which Sarenrae has witnessed through my own eyes! There is a ritual which can be undertaken, which can reverse the effects. It involves acknowledging Sarenrae’s scripture, and handing your fate over to her. It can take place at an altar standing in the sunlights rays, at it’s strongest time of the day. You must approach the altar, open Sarenrae’s holy scripture and place it upon the altar. Read from it, the chapter of the vileness of the undeath. Once you have read this, you must remove your robes down to your skin, so that Sarenrae’s holy light can wash over you, searching for any evils, and cleansing them from your body. You must then read the chapter on why the Undeath must be purged from existence. At the completion of the chapter, Sarenrae will ask you a question. Your fate will depend on your answer.” …. “Please Ostarian, If you do not agree to this, then you know what I must do,” Ecthelion tightens his grip on the Razor, and draws it slightly. There is a holy symbol of Sarenrae on the base of the blade, which gleams up at Ostarian (I am expecting Ostarian to shy away from it slightly)

“You cannot fool me Ostarion. A paladin of Sarenrae knows a Vampire when he sees it, up close. The garlic you use to wear, the increased strength and agility, your red eyes… You are an abomination” Ecthelion said.

Wearily Ostarian places a hand on the shoulder of his ally of the past weeks “I have destroyed many undead with you at my side and have been proud to do so, your strength of purpose was a mirror to mine in the hunt for Vrood. I fear that the madness of this town and its evils was stronger than my will, the eternal tome has awoken a family curse within my blood where I will become what I despise the moment I weaken.” Staring at the others searching through the rubbish around the altar “My soul has been torn asunder and tortured, my flesh burnt from my bones, and now my body rejects life at its core. Your words are pleasing to my forlorn heart and I know that you would do your duty rather than suffer an undead abomination to take another step. That is what I liked about you…you are so like me.” Showing Ecthelion the ancient tome “To save this city, someone has to know the beast and its ways…only I can read this insane collection of arcane lore. I will give my soul to end Vrood and I make an oath that I will not bow down to the weakness in my blood and injure any innocents.” Smoothing a hand over his shambled clothes “I need to believe that gods exist before I can submit to their will. Prove this god of yours is real and then I will talk.”

Ostarian’s heightened awareness sees the slight movement of the holy blade and symbol that seems to flare, pulling back instinctively, Ecthelion notices that there is Ostarian does not cast a shadow on the wall of the cave behind him. Glancing down Ecthelion uses the polished blade to check for reflections and sees none. Ostarian’s eye harden and the dark energy in the room pulls in to Ostarian as he mutters “Care, half-knight, I mean you no harm and I will try to remove this curse but do not think that I will let you kill me without trying.” Ecthelion feels the familiar tugging on his mind of a domination enchantment, though he can see that Ostarian is not trying to use it…the power of his gaze is not practiced or understood well yet. “I will not harm you my Lord, I gave an oath to you, but I do not care for the others and their deaths will be on your next actions.” Ostarian stares waiting for a response from his old ally.

With a determined stare Ostarian moves closer to Ecthelion as two sharp incisors slide out of the dwarves pale gums “Well, hero of harrowstone, general of Feldgrau, and leader of this rabble. What are you going to do now?” Shifting his gaze towards the other adventurers handing out the recovered magical trinkets “If you say nothing, they will be none the wiser, but then your false god will have something to say about that wont she?”

Stepping back, Ecthelion draws his mighty scimitar as a move action, and glances down at the remaining wounds on his arm and side where the stalactite had connected. His muscles bulge for a second and his eyes roll back in his head slightly, as he suddenly emanates a golden glow, and his remaining injuries fuse themselves back together (Channel energy as standard), before holding his sword high, and brandishing the holy symbol once more, declaring his smite evil upon Ostarian the Evil. Ecthelion knew that he had drawn most of his divinity for the day, but he still had a few contingent healing spells available. “Do not test me Ostarian.. I have given you a choice! Fall before Sarenrae’s feet…” Ecthelions looks up into the Dwarf’s bloody eyes… His face hard, and unmoving…..“….Or fall before mine!”

With his improved initiative and lightning reflexes Ostarian sees Ecthelion draw on his holy power, and takes this opportunity to draw from the unholy power of the tome to throw a dark brown line of energy at Ecthelion (ranged touch 18) to siphon off his strength (lose 11 str Fort save 16 to only lose 5 str). Ducking and moving back into the small study area Ostarian whistles and a swirling cyclone of air whips around Ecthelion threatening to sweep him up in the 20’ tall cyclone that seems to have two dark blue eyes looking at him.

Ostarian sees the intent set on his friends face and knows that he will give his all in this fight “My friend, if you fail in this task, know that I will treat your body with respect. But I will feast on all the others till my hunger is fed!”

Frustrated that his enfeeblement spell missed, only furthering his hatred of the lazy enchantment, Ostarian chants darks rituals of a spell that will drain Ecthelion of life instead. “I am glad that spell missed you my friend, I do not want an easy battle, my blood stirs for excitement and the challenge of a true adversary” Stepping into his new study and throwing down his heavy backpack, the stack of tomes crash to the ground in a heap. The air elemental tries to drag the halfling into the air (Reflex DC17 or take 5pts dam. another RDC 17 or be picked up in its churning wind taking another 4pts). The dwarves teeth are now fully out and his eyes have become blood red, veins on his neck pulsing with eagerness.

Rolling back from the spell, ecthelion narrowly avoids the ray of enfeeblement… “You area fool ostarian… I will prove to you here an now that my god exists, and protects me from everything you could throw at me..” Ecthelion narrowly makes the Reflex saves, stepping back further from the elemental and casting protection from evil..

“Do not be a fool Ostarian… There are other choices that you can make… It is still not too late…”

With Ecthelions movement away from Ostarian’s pet elemental, the dirt and muck from this fould chamber to the old gods is spinning wildly in the air as the elementals whips around Ecthelion to drive dirt into the eyes of the other allies before are fully aware of the battle in their midst. (ranged touch ray enervation 22AC and lose 4 levels if hit no save).

Ecthelion sees the totality of the sadness in Ostarian as he has become what he hunted, an undead abomination. It almost feels that he wants to die but does not have the strength of will to do it himself. Ostarian calls out “Blood knight, you are not to interfere with my battle here! Under my oath you will stand down and only observe!”

Zephyr will not delve into the problem of the two fighting… Killing each other could be the best thing he thought as it will save on paperwork for the upcoming court hearing. “Well….. aren’t you lot going to do something about it.” Hoping a few more will enter the fight.

Ostarian sees that he has drained his friend of some of his life force, and the sweet taste of it makes the dwarves blood hum for more. Seeing the hero of harrowstone stagger, Ostarian readies to leap upon the knight with teeth bared and a mad look on his dirty face. As Ostarian runs across the cave floor he accidently kicks his pack spilling its contents across the floor.

The enervation hits Ecthelion, and he sees Ostarian ready to pounce… “I will drive you back to the plane you came from, you vile Dwarf!” He yells, charging toward the Dwarf, whom he can only see as a foul Vampire now. “I gave you my crossbow!” Ecthelian yells.

Ectheliona sword strike forces its way through the armor of force to draw blood from Ostarion, though you notice that my skin is hard and the wound heals a little. Grimacing in pain Ostarian continues on his way through to grab Ecthelion (improved unarmed + melee grab of CMB 20).

Ostarian stretches his mouth wide open exposing two incisors that are 3 inches long aiming for the halflings neck. Spittle flying “Damn you knight, you have been my only friend in over 80 years.”

“I have been friend of Ostarion the Dwarf.. I have never been the friend of a creature such as yourself.”

Ostarian falls away and rolls on the ground near his belongings with his life blood flowing out from the vicious gash from the holy sword. Holding up a blood stained hand “Please my friend, dont kill me like this, you know I will just end up in the coffin somewhere to heal. If you dont finish this I will come back for you. I have lost the will to resist my old friend.” Tearing open his borrowed clothes to expose his scarred chest “Do it well my friend before I turn completly!”

Ecthelian steps back, and takes a standard to empower his weapon with the mercy ability… “I will take you down vampire, and extract all the taint of you, through Ostarians Dwarven Sphinctre!”

Closing in on the Dwarf’s body.. He sees the man who was once his friend.. and remembers the times which Ostarian had perhaps saved his own life… Holding the Scimitar above his head, He slashes down upon the Dwarf, dealing non lethal damage and knocking him unconscious. 25 non lethal

Screaming at Ecthelion, blood foaming on his lips, as the wound slowly tries to heal itself “Not a sword, you fool, give me the final death.” Scrabbling on the floor Ostarian finds a smooth dwarven carved oak stake and pushes it across the floor.

The dwarves head rocks back with the mighty hit, but all can see it had little effect except to anger the dwarven vampire “Idiot, I cannot be knocked out so easily” and starts to rise to his feet muttering a necromantic spell.

Ostarian’s blood is congealing and he gets to his knees, a deep purple bruise over his left eye swollen shut with the halflings solid hit. A scar of his gods symbol burnt into the vampires scalp smoldering into the flesh. Ostarian reaches out and touches Ecthelions foot (touch 24AC and no save as ecthelion ages 50 years within 6 seconds).

Seeing the wound heal, and knowing that there is only one way that this can end, Ecthelian kneels above the Dwarf, pinning him onto the ground.. He picks up the Oak Stake… and presses it toward the Dwarvs heart… “I am sorry my friend.. Perhaps this way, you will find proof that my god exists…”… Ecthelian pushes down hard with the stake, and a tear slowly drops down from the halflings face, falling on down on the corpse below.

With the powerful halfing holding him down Ostarian pushes against the stake coming down and watches his friend age and fill with sorrow. Suddenly Ostarian grabs the halflings hand and pulls the stake into his chest pucnturing the toughened ribs “My friend, ware my tomes….make sure you finish this dark job for me…please..” As the dwarf suddenly stops moving and lies on the ground with a stake in his heart.

Wiping the tear from his face, Ecthelian offers a prayer… “Sarenrae! He died not knowing. Please have Mercy… and show him your grace.”

But Sarenrae would not answer. The Sunless Grove was a dark place of evil. The three leafless branches stretched towards the roof, searching for the sun. But the sun could not be found here. Indeed, Ecthelion momentarily could not feel a contact with Sarenrae at all. The trees impulsed with a necromatic energy, which had hastened Ostarions transformation as a vampire. Consuming the blood of the creeper he killed had given him a taste for blood. And how sweet it had tasted. It was like eating after starving for 30 days. Ostarion had increased in speed and strength, but the impulse prevented him from maintaining thr concentration required to weave his more powerful spells. But the lifeless body of Ostarion lie dormant, blood slowly pooled into the darkend slimy pond nearby.

Ostarions transformation into the creature he hated more the anything, the vampire, was brought upon his carnal search for more power. The book of eternal necromancy feed on life force. After his long journey to Carrion Hill and the tiring chase of Vroods shadows in search of answers, the journey had taken its toll on the dwarf. Especially his concentration when he read from the book at Heggrys Manor. Indeed Vrood himself had tried to corrupt the dwarf further. During Ostarions momentary weakness Vrood had killed Mayor Heggry and implicated the adventurers in a murder mystery. Vrood had enjoyed playing with his little art pieces, but he wanted the canvas to be perfect when it came to killing the adventurers. It was to much fun, just like in Caliphas. Vrood could not help himself. He had toyed with his pupil back then.

As Ostarion had turned a page of the tome at Heggrys, the necrotic impulses had lashed out of the dwarf again. This time they had ensnared him, begining his transformation into a vampire. A born vampire from the necrotic energy that now envelope his body. Consuming him. Feeding the the black tome. Morphing Ostarion into not a dead, nor alive xreature. It was something inbetween. But the Grove and Ostarions taste of the blood had eradicated what semblance of humanity the dwarf had left.

The air elemental swirls around the dwarf causing rivulets and eddies to move in the fast congealing blood pooled on the ground. Ostarian looks at peace, even though the deep gash is not healing, and his own oaken stake is embedded in his chest. Pages of his books are stained with drops of his blood.

Standing up and addressing the party, face now tearless and hard…..“Let this be a lesson! I will not tolerate any evil actions within my party”

Confussed by the sudden outbreak of violence Ulysses slides down the fettered remains he is standing upon and runs in the direction of Ecthelion. Seeing his friend lift a wooden stake and begin to plunge it into Ostarion sudden realisation begins to dawn on Ulysses. As he nears his friend he stops as he sees Ostarion grab Ecthelions hand and plunge the stake deep into his own chest. Silence fills the room as it did just moments ago.

Feeling the weight of Ecthelions actions Ulysses moves towards him and places a hand on Ecthelions shoulder, shocked to see that the brief battle has taken a heavy toll on his friend. Ulysses looks down upon the body of the dwarf and siliently whispers a prayer to Pharamsa. Ecthelion moves away from the hand of Ulysses and turns to address the party. He can see the pain in his friends face as a speaks.

Muerte had arrived too late. Ecthelion had issued his warning at the expense of the life of an ally. His shoulders slumped and with a shaking hand he pulled off his mask and sank to his knees, the shock overwhelming the half giant luchador. Disbelief racked him and he shook his head slowly.

His thoughts turned to the ring, to the redemption that champions would offer to heels, that they may rise from villainy to champion a cause for the people once more. How different it seemed in the real world.

“What happened?” he asked, his deep voice quivering.

The construct walks over to the still body of the dwarf as those around it begin to hiss and screech at one another. It kneels slowly and solemnly beside the corpse, seemingly oblivious to the surrounding cacophony of noise and gore.

It does not feel the need to analyse the body. It was well aware of the transformation that the dwarf creature was undergoing. It did not understand. It did not understand the anger and rage of the fleshlings. It did not understand why the creatures it was deigned to protect were killing and shouting at one another. They had defeated an army together, but somehow they still found reason to fight amongst themselves.

It experiences something strange and uncomfortable. It has failed in its duty. The dwarf, once full of knowledge and conviction, is slain. The murderer, and Unit 01’s precursor companion was withered and aged beyond recognition.

It was unable to comprehend the situation. How does it protect those whom fight themselves?

The voice spoke, as if it had been waiting for this moment.

”You alone are beyond the reach of the enemy we face. Those whom you protect are not. They will turn on one another, and they will likely turn on you, eventually, for their own reasons. Such is the nature of man.”

The construct lowers its head.

”Age, death, and war are the weapons of your enemy. Age can be renewed, but death and war are inevitable. You forge the future, and you will know what to do when the time comes. Be strong, my child.”

The construct continues to bow its head for a moment. Afterwards, it leans close to the corpse, and speaks quietly.

”An eye for an eye. It leaves everyone blind. You will be remembered, comrade Ostarion.”

The construct pats its hand on the corpses shoulder before standing and returning to its duties.

Walking over the lifeless body of Ostarion, Ulysses bends over the dwarves body and lifts his upper lip confirming his fears. Looking over his shoulder and seeing Ecthelion with his back turned to Ostarion Ulysses begins to gather up Ostarions scattered possessions placing them gently into Ostarions pack.

Having finished gathering Ostarions possessions he begins to fashion a stretcher using items from his own pack and respectfully moves Ostarions body onto the stretcher, placing Ostarions pack on the dwarves chest. Having finished his work he turns and addresses the party; “Ostarion was a companion and a friend, he shall have a heroes burial… now who will help me with the body?”.

Ulysses turns back to the body of Ostarion as troubled thoughts cross his mind. Surely he would have noticed if Ostarion was a vampire, how could he be so blind! Ulysses thinks to himself “What madness has led to this, if Ostarion has fallen to the darkness than I fear it may touch us all.” He looks back towards Ecthelion and continues to think to himself. “If the same darkness befalls me I hope you have the strength to act as you did today half-knight… you are the last shard of light against the darkness.”

Placing the items back into the dwarves pack, your hand is seared by the flesh cover of the Eternal Tome, a book promising much power to those willing to walk the way of the necromancer. Pouches of diamond dust and expensive jewellry are strewn around the blood spattered chamber showing just how wealthy Ostarian had become since his loses at the battle of Feldgrau. Four spell books written in four different languages, detailing many powerful spells.

“I will help,” Don Blanco said, standing back to his full height. He stepped to the Raven Knight’s side and cast a painful glance down to Ecthelion.

“La dama de las tumbas desearía que descanse,” he said, “Even if he did deny the gods.”

“The Raven knight picks up the eternal tome… “It’s power is too powerful to left unattended. It is safest in a pharasman vault. I believe it wss responsible for the curse on Ostarion”. The Raven knight picked up the Pnakotic manuscript handing it over to the construct. “Although we have lost a friend, there is still a beast on the loose. Do what you can with the manuscript Unit 1, we must learn more of these Keepers Ostarion spoke of”.

Sensing the magic of the book (and with what i assume is a successful knowledge roll), Unit 1 turns to the party and says

“This book is likely immensely powerful, and very dangerous. Magic is a dangerous art, and our fallen comrade is proof of such a fact.”

“I am capable of deciphering the text, but I fear its content may be inherently dangerous. It may be possible to destroy the tome, but I fear such destruction may be just as dangerous an act.”

“I would prefer to safekeep the tome for now. But if you would have me learn its secrets now, or attempt to have it destroyed, I will defer to your judgement.”

The construct stares and awaits the parties decision.

Standing beside Don Blanco the Raven Knight looks over to the blood knight and whispers to Don Blanco. "I fear further violence before this day is over. Ostarions body is to be protected at all costs, let no other touch it Don Blanco, may the Lady of the Graves be at your side. The Raven knight then turns to face the rest of the adventurers, before facing Ostarions body. “Rest easy friend, may the Pale lady welcome you into her fold. The rest of your spell books and your possessions will be buried with you. You will also be beheaded and buried with a stake through your heart. I will bury you on sanctified ground Ostarion so you can be at peace”.

Looking down upon Ostarion after his demise, it was hard for Ecthelian to see him as the man whom he had befriended. His sharpened teeth protruded over his lifeless lip, and it served as a reminder that the Dwarf had become that which the Halfling had sworn to kill. There was no remorse, no doubt. He had followed his code for so long now, and was so devout that he knew that his actions were correct. He had given the choice, and the Dwarf still denied. Looking back toward the group, when Ecthelian spoke, he was surprised to hear that his voice was now a different tone.. deeper, and raspier. He felt weaker than he had before. He could feel the negative energies flowing through him a moment ago, and they had truly affected his body…He swayed on his feet, almost looking as though his legs would buckle beneath him. His skin was wrinkled, and his hair was now long and more grey than golden. He looked like he had aged 50 years, and should be in a small rocking chair…. Yet, in spite of his clear enfeeblement and fatigue, his words were full of vigour….“What are you all standing around for? There is still more evil down here! I will purge the whole catacombs if I have to! Grab those items off the table there, and drag the vampires backpack with us… we may still need those books!”

Ecthelian starts to move across the room, toward one of the exits. “There will be no funeral! We do not have the time to waste on such trivial things with a beast massacring more people daily”.

The Raven Knight slings Ostarions pack over his shoulder and picks up one end of the make-shift stretcher. He looks at his friend Ecthelion walking towards the exit. No man can strike down a friend without remorse.

The Raven Knight whispers to himself in worried tones “Use your anger as your shield little friend and not as your weapon as I have done in the past.” Picking up the stretcher the Raven Knight resolves to keep close to the Half-Knight… “the coming darkness will weigh heavy upon us all, most of all Ecthelion… how many friends has he already lost? How many more?”

The Raven Knight hoists up the stretcher. “Onwards Don Blanco… remember, protect him at all cost.”

Don Blanco nodded to the Raven Knight. “There will be a funeral,” Don Blanco said, matter of factly as he made the sign of Pharasma with his enormous hand, “He will be given his last rites. And we will honour him as our friend.” He crouched down beside Ostarian’s body and pulled El Muerte’s mask over his head, his eyes igniting with his burning spirit. His muscles clenched and he audibly cracked his neck. “Cuervo Caballero,” he boomed to the Raven knight, “Como otro hijo de la señora de las tumbas, te doy mi palabra de que voy a cumplir lo que me pides: As another son of the lady of the graves, you have my word that i will fulfill what you ask of me.”

“Argh big man, hate to disappointed you but if that dwarf is found guilty for the crimes committed the previous day, then his body will repay the debts by working in the eternity mines. That….. is the law of the city after all. The halfing has some wit about him now, suppose wise comes with age. " Zephyr smirks. “As there will be no funeral unless he is proven innocent in the trial. So I ask of you to return the body to the Abadar temple where it can be reposed until the fate of the trial”

“I have read your lawbook crow! And the law you talk of states that he in question has to be a citizen of Carrion Hill. He was no citizen of this town.” Ecthelion responded.

“I am no man, Cuervo, especially not a man of a city that thrives on the desecration of the dead. His body will be put to eternal rest and should you want to attempt to seize him from me…” Muerete rises to full height, towering over Zephyr. He grinned menacingly and allowed his spirit energy to flicker, the blast whipping clothes, moving furniture and cracking windows. “I’ll put you to yours.”

“Yes indeed, he not a citizen but a possible convicted criminal. Our laws state that until proven innocent at a tribunal requested by his astate his body is to be held in contempt, upon which time a ruling panel of magistrates will determine the fate of his sentence. If convicted he will serve no less then 10years per life he is responsible to work in the eternity mines. All funds will go to the morning families of the victims. This is…. only if he is proven guilty otherwise you can do whatever his astate wishes with the body, of course you can appeal the verdict of the case however it will cost ten thousand gold pieces per appeal. If you cannot afford the price and lose the case…. Well the body will remain even longer in the mines. There is a reason it is call the eternity mines after all. Well Dwarfs are renowned for their natural mining, he will become closer to his ancestral heritage. Hmmmph you think death gets him off his vile acts, this city is known for its laws as criminals will repay their crimes even in the after life”

Raising his hands in front of Muerete wailing them about. “Woah…. no need to get violent big fella, I ain’t picking a fight, just stated the facts of the city that is all. As their is enough bloodshed spilt this day.” Looking towards Kraaven Zephyr tosses him his 5 gold pieces. “For your trouble good sir.”

Ecthelion looked at Zephyr with disdain. “Excuse me? That man has admitted to illegally treading foot in the catacombs a number of times before this.. that he knows his way around here is testimony to that. There is also suspicion that he a fugitive of prison, and yet, you throw gold at him… You will do your job, and arrest him, so that he can stand trial… You will do this now, or my party and I will arrest you and have you locked away for corruption, and aiding a criminal…”

Muerte had not forgotten the knife in his shoulder that the groups guide had lead him into. “You heard him, Cuervo.” He rumbled.

Ecthelion added more to his accusations. “…. Perhaps you may make bail…. the price is 5000GP…. Clearly they pay you well?…” Ecthelian says, pointing at the well made items on Zephyrs’ body,… “Or are they tributes to you from other deals which have been made with those who should be behind bars?”

Kraaven looks at the dead dwarf, then at the newly aged halfling. “Looks like its time for me to leave. I ain’t picking a fight. I was just trying to help and make some coin on the way. If you are going to arrest me so be it. But I’ll have my freedom back in a few hours. Van Hammer will simply pay for me to get out or I will escape. And the crows will care less for it. I ain’t causing no trouble and I keep things like Yarresh from stealing children in the city. Don’t complain to me about your lack of cheese….”. Kravens words wafted off into some nonsensical jumble of words about of cheese and how it tastes and smells.

After a while he became lucid again. “So where was I, thats right I was being arrested”. Kraaven holds out his arms for manacles to be put on.

“Very well, Kraaven you know the drill.” Snapping the manacles onto Kraveen’s hands Zephyr grunts. " Fucking more paperwork, I’ll be up all night because of this." Knowing quite well Kraaven will escape.

“Who is Yarresh?” Ecthelion questioned.

It took some time for Kraaven to become Lucid again. While havining the manacles tighten by Zephyr, Kraaven said “Yarresh is that ghoul over there you killed. I told you she was trixsy. I told you just to feed her aleg of lamb. For surely now something just as dangerous as her will claim this grove as there own. Something more dangerous maybe, which cannot be tamed with a leg of lamb”.

Ulysses stares intently at Zephyr; “I claim this body as is my right as a member of the Pharasman church. He is still a free man until he is found guilty. His corpse will remain a free corpse until then. As per the rites of Pharasma his body will be burned and dealt with in a manor befit to the undead, least his corpse rise again”.

Ulysses breaks his gaze of Zephyr and looks back towards Don Blanco; “Come friend, we shall not delay further, Ostarions body must be given it’s final rites.”

Don Blanco nods deeply, and carefully lifts the Dwarfs body into his enormous arms. He nods to the Raven knight.

Don Blanco nods deeply, and carefully lifts the Dwarfs body into his enormous arms. He nods to the Raven knight.

Ulysses draws his bow low, not taking his eyes off both the Blood Knight and Zephyr. “Walk Don Blanco, I am at your back.”

With the hostility dying down Ecthelion sheathed his sword keeping an eye on the Blood knight whom had not yet responded in any way, despite the dwarf he made ablood pact eith cut down before her very eyes.

“I am not stopping you from taking his body, Be warned though you will be charged in place for his crimes.” Flailing his hat in the air looking towards the group as they walks off with Ostarians body. “Shall I add these to your growing list of crimes. Tampering and destroying evidence, defiling the dead, another account of murder, verbal abuse to the authority. You will be in the eternity mine for 1000 years if you keep this up.”

Looking towards the wind sorcerer Zephyr whispers “You be best stay away from that rowdy bunch, as you don’t want to be an accessory to their crimes.” Then turning to the Blood Knight “Did you not swear an oath to the Dwarf , that you will guard him with your life. Perhaps it might be time to fess up what happened at Belfor’s party or do something about them burning your friends body as he didn’t believe in their gods.”

“So you are giving them permission to take the body?” Ecthelion asked Zephyr puzzled.

“I never said that, I am simply pointing the facts as burning the body will prevent the Abadar Clerics from learning the truth from what happened at Belfor’s party. In which evidence may exonerate or condemn you. Do you take me for a fool you aren’t going to goad me into a fight down here, as I am merely a passive….. Observer, whom testimonial will be presented at your hearing.” Spitting on the ground Zephyr gazes upon the group again. “Better you burn the body well, as I don’t see how you going cinder the bones to ash. A fire needs to be quite hot to do that, while I hope you know lighting a open fire within the city limits is illegal without a permit.”

“Who in the name of the hells are you, Cuervo Zephyr?” Muerte asked aggressively, stopping mid-step. “You stand here, issuing threats of your perverted justice to the three of us. Who are you? Why do we give even the slightest amount of care? We are three sworn champions who have bled alongside one another and you dare to carry on like we should care who you are? Amigo, you are loco. Any of the three of us could snuff you out alone let alone together. Do you honestly think you will make it out of this room to raise your concerns to the courts?” Muerete said angrily.

Backing further away the Raven Knight speaks to Don Blanco. “Easy friend, I would like to leave this city with my honour intact.” The Raven Knight continues to back away. “Three days Crow.” He yells. “Three days”, before slinging his bow back over his shoulder.

“Threatening to kill an official of the law, you just witnessed that didn’t you?” Zephyr looked towards the two abstained members and Kraaven (Falkon and the Bloodknight).

“Please… stay your tongue, for we are in these lands now, and are bound by different laws…” Ecthelion said to Muerete, trying to calmthe enrage half giant monk down.

Muerte begrudgingly silences and scoffs at Zephyr with contempt. He dips his head and leaves the room, still carrying his dead companion. “I didn’t threaten to kill you,” Muerte smiled and called out over his shoulder, “I warned you about the position you’re in. And you’ve had your one warning with me, Pendejo. You won’t get a second.”

“Ostarian’s body is not evidence in the crimes we have been wrongly charged for.. the body must have his head severed so as not to have the Vampire come back once more.. would you allow them to sever the head?” Ecthelion questioned Zephyr. Zephyr did not respond, so Ecthelion added further “Hurry up lawbender.. tell us what me must do with the corpse, so we can be on our way. I would like to clear my name sooner rather than later.”

Zephyr took his time to choose his words carefully, knowing he was still out numbered. “Do with it as you will halfing. As I previously stated I am merely an observer. However expect repercussions of your actions.”

“My knowledge on the laws of this town are clearly not as sound as yours… I wish you to tell me what we can do with it, without breaking your laws.” Ecthelians voice stays neutral. He knows that his knowledge on the laws of this town are not sound, and he will strive to obey them where he can.

Zephyr smirked again, knowing the adventurers were quickly learning how things work in Carrion Hill. “It will come under the act of defiling the dead, if you sever the head from the body. Having witnesses here, do you think that’s a good idea to break those laws….. Hmmmph!” Zephyr pauses before he begins to speak again. “Oh my, looks like I have to repeat myself twice so the elderly can understand, the body must be given to the Abadar Temple as it is evidence for the trial. You can obey this knowledge or disregard it. The choice is yours!”

Ecthelion said addressing his companions…“I suggest you let Zephyr take the body to the Temple.. We tread thin ice as it is, and I am bound. I cannot condone the breaking of any such law..” Addressing Zephyr, “While you are at it, you will have to take all these other carcasses, as well (pointing to the zombies and the creepers)… as they must be evidence as well….”, Ecthelian points out matter of factly.

Responding to Ecthelion words the Raven Knight says “I ask that you respect the tenants of my code Ecthelion. Do not ask of me what I can not do. The body comes, I assume full responsibility for my actions. Concern yourself with your own fate.”

Ecthelion knew that the raven knight would not do as he advised. His code did not permit it. “Then the crow will need to report this, and you must clear the crime in court.”

The very air around muerte seems to shudder, so angered is he by infuriating squawking of the man named Zephyr. He maintains control of himself, though even the least observant idiot can tell that the luchador could release his anger with explosive magnitude.

Zephyr moved so he coukd address all the adventurers. “Yes, I factored those culprits for murdering the 12 Crow members that were sent down here to investigate the beast. The poor bastards didn’t stand a chance it seems. May I signal the other guards to bag all this place as evidence as now my hands are tied with Kraaven.”

Falkon up until this point had been still, slowly observing all that was unfolding before him being said, (OOG: due to the fact that I was at work and when I got home was unable to comprehend how quickly shit got out of hand haha) Inside he did not yet know how he felt about Ostarian’s death. In some way he felt as if he had lost a mentor. He was a mentor that the party had looked to for knowledge and wisdom in all areas of magic. Would they look to him now? Thinking about it made him feel somewhat inadequate. He was never one for studying books and reading about religion. All that he knew of magic came naturally to him and he new little of anything else. He looked at Zephyr and the others as they began to carry Ostarian’s body up the stairs. He was tiered of rivalry and squabbling. For the first time since he began adventuring he felt like he had nothing more to say. Instead he gave each of his companions including Zephyr a curt nod before walking off up the stairs himself pausing momentarily to take one last look at Ostarian, “Rest in peace friend” he whispered before continuing up the stairs.

“Like I said.” Zephyr said looking at the Raven Knight. “His body will remain in the Abadar Temple until the hearings verdict is made. If the dwarf is as innocent as you think, you will have nothing to worry about, thus the body will return to you and you can continue your burial procedure.”

The Raven Knight turns and continues up the steps, his head held high in a determined embrace, the fire of defiance burning in his eyes.

“Cultist…” Kraavern became lucid again. “I know these cultist you speak of. I have seen them doing there dark sermons down here with that book your dwarf friend had. If I was willing to tell you who they are and where you can find them, what would it mean for these”. He holds his manacles above his head. “Sure you can find them yourself, but with only three days before your cheese becomes rotten, the clock is ticking”. Kraaven began to make the clicking sound of a clock with his tongue, swaying his index finger from side to side. The ticking sound turned into sniffles as he sniffed at the air. “I smell cheese….”. He sniffed in the Raven Knights general direction. The madness had him once more.

“Very well…. keep control of your friend their knight. As I feel he is displeased of the situation.” Nodding towards Muerte, Zephyr then gives a quick tug on the chain holding Kraaven “C’mon Kraaven let’s go deal with you now, shall we!” while moving up the stairs Zephyr grabs his signal whistle ready to arouse the Crows as soon as he leaves the building.

Ecthelion thinks back on the many discussions around the camp fires about gods and morals, and remembers that Ostarian talked fondly of his family in Caliphas before the day his soul was twisted out of his body. In recent days, Ostarian explained how he is exiled from his family due to losing the hammer of his clan, and his beard all in the same explosion. The sadness of losing his academy ring also meant that Ostarian could not return to his wizards guild. All in all. Ecthelion can see now that Ostarian truly cut himself of from his family and colleagues leaving only him as the one last ally of Ostarian.

Ecthelian’s body had aged badly, but with the negatives came positives.. He was able to see the world with newfound clarity, which he was excited to explore further. Thinking on the conversations with Ostarian, Ecthelian could not help but realise that they were similar in many ways… One prominent example of this was their separation from their family… Yes Ostarian had been forced out of his clan, and some would say that Ecthelian had the choice to let his parents live (although Ecthelian would never see that he had any choice on the matter), but they had both come to a point where they had very little left in the world. However, at that very point where both men had nothing, they both went very different directions. Ecthelian had turned to faith, and it had saved him. “I am sorry my friend, it could have been very different… Maybe now you will see.”

Ecthelian ensures that the stake is secure in Ostarians heart, to prevent the Vampire rising again, before Zephyr removes the body.

Ecthelion ensures the stake is firmly in the heart before the Raven knight moves to take the body back up stairs and out of the Sunless Grove. Muerete had laid the body down to let he halfl I notice the pulse or that there is signs of life, Ecthelion attempts to Lay hands on Ostarian

Ostarians body is cold, though a faint pulse beats about once a minute, showing some form of life is still attached to this body, as Ostarians sould hangs on by a thread. Lay on hands doesnt heal any wounds or change the dwarfs condition.


Vampires, an account by Van Ritchen

A stake doesn’t kill the vampire outright, it only prevents him from regenerating, or if used in combat along with a failed save reduces a vampire to 0 hp, placing the creature in a dormant state preventing it from regenerating. If the stake is removed, the vampire can still come back and plague you. With Ecthelion and the Raven Knights combined knowledgr they know they have to find some running water, do some jiggery-pokery with a load of holy wafers and some light decapitation, or hope for some sunlight. Or use a gilded stake

The use of silver as a weapon against vampires is actually a false legend propagated by the vampires.

The reason is that only recently in literature has silver had any affect on vampires. It was by tradition used on lycanthropes.

The reason it was useful on lycanthropes is because silver was mystically associated with the lycanthropes weakness, the moon. Therefore, using silver, was in effect using the moon to slay the lycanthrope.

The same reasoning applies to vampires. Except the moon is not a weakness for vampires. The sun is. And gold is mystically associated with the sun, not silver. Therefore to kill a vampire you need to use a gilded weapon. Vampires, being intelligent, have realized mankind is a sucker for stupid myths, so they invented silver as a weakness for killing vampires, knowing they will be born again once the stake is removed. That way when the would-be vampire slayer pulls out his silvered sword and plunges it through the vampire, it can laugh at the stunned slayer and rip his throat out.

Any gilded (a weapon that is made out of gold) stake used is consumed in the process
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Ancient scrolls in most churches of good speak of the difficulty in killing vampires. A stake through the heart only places the vampire in deep torpor and if the stake is removed the vampire will instantly come back to action. That is why the rituals include beheading and sacred anointing on the head to really kill the creatures.

Blowing on his whistle when he reaches the bright sky Zephyr signals the crows. “Over this way lads, I want this place cleaned out before nightfall. As it contains vital information of the invisible beast and our poor brothers at arms that went missing a couple days ago.”Watching the Raven Knight bypass with Ostarians body Zephyr nods in disgust. “Don’t say I didn’t warn you Sir Knight, you are tampering with your fate by doing that.” Then jangles the chain binding Kraaven arms together. “Still with us Kraaven, let’s go sort you out ehhh.”·

“The shudder wood was lawless.. I needed to plough the field to get rid of the weeds, before planting the seeds of law there” Evthelion exclaimed.

The hostility continued. The Raven knight said to Ecthrlion. “I think Courtaud’s Council of the province of Lozeri would have something to say about the Shutterwood being lawless Ecthelion”.

“Don’t presume you know anything of the shutterwood ‘raven knight’.. You weren’t there.. You know nothing of the rabidness there…. And you know nothing of laws?” Ecthelion responded.


The Lands of Ustalav (From The rule of Fear p 9)

Three distinct regions comprise the country of Ustalav: Soivoda, the Palatinates, and Virlych. The largest of these realms, Soivoda, includes the nine counties of Ustalav: Amaans, Ardeal, Barstoi, Caliphas, Odranto, Sinaria, Ulcazar, Varno, and Versex. Forming the central and easternmost parts of the country, these lands are each ruled over by a noble family bearing the hereditary title of count. The count of each realm holds the power to govern as he sees fit, with all lesser noble houses and peasants owing fealty to that lord, second only to the nation’s prince. Largely independent, the counties harbor generations-old bitterness and rivalries that often lead to bickering or, in the most extreme cases, armed disputes, such as the War without Rivals between Barstoi and Ardeal that led to the creation of the cinder-covered wasteland known as the Furrows.

While the prince holds considerable power to effect change and administer laws across the country, the counts’ wealth, influence, and pride makes forcing them to acquiesce to agendas they don’t favor—but will ultimately be relied upon to enforce—a fruitless effort. Thus, each county stands as a state unto itself, defending its people and maintaining a culture wholly reliant upon the county’s traditions and the will of its single unshakable ruler. The northwestern third of Ustalav holds the lands calling themselves the Palatinates: Canterwall, Lozeri, and Vieland. Nearly 40 years ago, dissatisfaction with the weak rulers of these counties led their people to rise in brief, consecutive, and largely bloodless revolts, putting an end to the hereditary rulership of these lands. Replacing their lords, the new palatinates each organized a unique ruling council with the same mantle of responsibilities as a count.

What the people of the Palatinates gain in rulers mostly divested of dusty enmities and flagrantly self-serving agendas, they’ve lost in decisive action and efficacy in affecting national changes, with the dismissive nobles of the court taking umbrage at the intrusion of the oft-changing commoner representatives. Virlych owes fealty to no lord, save the dreaded memory of the Whispering Tyrant, the arch-lich locked away beneath this accursed expanse. Tainted by foul magic and the curse of undeath, Virlych possesses no government, and only outcasts, sentinels from nearby Lastwall, and servants of the fallen lich dare the broken land and its haunted ruins. Three other counties also once existed within Ustalav’s borders. The county of Janoyt once stretched along the eastern banks of Avalon Bay, along with the southern reaches of Varno. After the country’s refounding, these sparsely populated lands lay primarily under the control of the Arch-Duchy of Melcat, to which Ustalav’s new government peaceably ceded control. After Melcat’s transformation into the fanatical theocracy of Razmirian, continued incursion upon Ustalavic lands met subtle but fearsome resistance from Varno. The realms of Grodlych and Virholt were also destroyed during the reign of the Whispering Tyrant, their lands now under the control of the neighboring country of Lastwall or merged in their shared ruin as the no man’s land of Virlych.
-——————————————————

Ecthelian cuts in matter of factly, “if you wanted a lesson on history and nobles, you could have just asked. I am more than happy to share my extensible knowledge with someone who is without it.”

Walking silently to the vanquished dwarfs feet, the blood knight pricks it’s finger with a needle and gives a blood offering muttering “blood for blood”. Turning to the group: “The dwarf called you out and in his discourse forbid me to be his champion. You have acted with honour half knight and your sword has reached far. Blood has been spilt and the duel has ended. Blood for blood has been given. This man was my blood brother and I had given an oath to see his will be done. It was his will; my hands to destroy a scourge of a blue devil.” “However, blood brothers you are not. You now must honour the blood rights of his clan, forefathers and blood brothers. I will not allow you to destroy the body or handle the belongings you do not have claim to. I will be returning the body to the witch Anca, as she is the only one that has acted in my interests and has given aid willingly. She has shown me great magic in abilities to talk to the dead, a blood price I must extract from the body. This is how I will respect his wishes and his ways, not the ways of the crows or the gods that he did not believe in. My oath as a blood brother demands so”. “Now, if any of you wish to challenge my call me out now and challenge thy self to a duel. For in his death I am still his blood bound and will still act as his champion. I will not see any of you desecrate his body or memory further. The body stays as is”. The blood knight grips his sword handle, and takes a wider stance ready to have his sword leap out from his scabbard. “This is the price of my blood. Now speak what is to be”.

“You are far away from home blood Knight…. Things are done differently in this country. An oath here is second to the law, and the law enforcer has spoken… The body is to be brought to the Abadar council….” Ecthelian knew that he Blood Knight was set in his ways, and the laws would not bind him – at least not in his mind… Thinking on his feet, Ecthelian spoke to try to disarm the situation diplomatically… the blood Knight seemed to have a code which was not unlike a man whom Ecthelian had met in his travels, called Shenshi Katanoshi. Shenshi had spoken of humiliation and honour, but it sounded similar… It was worth a try… Standing in between the blood Knight and Ostarians body, Ecthelian puffed out his chest and drew his sword, full defence, and brazenly announced to the blood knight, “I have defeated Ostarian the dark in one on one combat, and thus take ownership over his body, to teach his soul a lesson in humility. Only once he has learned this lesson, can Ostarians honour be restored….” Ecthelian was slightly nervous but refused to let it show… He watched the Blood Knight to see how he would react.

Zephyr has grown fond of the halfing in the previous few minutes and yells. “Stop! Why throw your life away when he has no quarrels with you.” Pointing to the Raven Knight. “That man is disregarding the law by taking the dwarfs body away. So I say let them duke it out as it may knock some sense into both of their thick skulls.” Looking back towards Ecthelian “Then we can continue to return the body to the Abadar Temple, in which we can pursue the evidence of what really happened the other day. It maybe the vital key in clearing your name, So I do not understand why they want to bury that information.”

Zephyr said with a increasinhly hostile tone. “Your a man of the law, i am glad to see you now see eye to eye with Carrion Hills laws.” Looking back towards the Blood Knight , Raven Knight and ElMorete “Well what shall it be, will you sort your troubles out now and let the dwarfs body be returned to the Abadar Temple until the trial hearings decision. Or shall I turn a blind eye and walk away while you tarnish your chances of winning the trial. Easy decision to make the right choice…. Hmmmmph!”

Sitting crouched behind a series of chimneys on the houses near the scene unfolding on the streests, he pulls his cloak over his head, while keenly observing how the heroes handle themselves. As a fellow traveller, he always learns more about his choice of companions. A glint of fine steel armored links can be seen on his arms as he readies his bow carefully to prevent disaster unfolding. His travels have led here for a reason, and he always trusts his path is the right one. After all, why claim to have faith in the way of things, if you do not accept we are all pawns in some greater game.

Just as Falkon was about to leave to return to his companions he noticed someone else up on the roof tops who didn’t seem to be a crow. Who ever they were they seemed to be making an effort not to been seen. If Falkon hadn’t still been invisible he was almost sure that they would have made themselves hidden to him. Yet even with his invisibility and the distance between them, he still felt uncomfortable, fearing the unknown especially in this city….

On walking out into the light Falkon looks around the market. His head is so full of thoughts that all the noise and rabble of traders and peasants is making it throb. He looks up at the sky. The sun was really starting to set in now. The heat was making the stink of the slums even worse as the smell of piss shit and rotten fish crawled up into his nose. Falkon felt suffocated and desperate for some fresh air. He felt an overwhelming feeling of needing to get away from it all and spend some time alone. Looking back down the stairs he could see that his party members were still a way off. Without a second thought he slipped into the shadows. When he was sure he could not be seen he cast invisibility and as he looked down to where his body should have been he began to relax. He spent the next few minutes climbing the rubble until he was on a rooftop alone (free from crows).

He looked down at the markets below. Being up higher hadn’t helped with the smell; the air was still stuffy and heavy in his chest. It was then that he slipped his hand into the secret pocket on the inside of his robes and pulled out the orb of storms. He turned it over in his hands a few times, marveling at its power and beauty. He took one last deep breath gazing out to the ocean side of the city before begging to cast, alter weather. For the first few minutes nothing happened. Then, all at once, the sweetest sea breeze swept over him. As he continued to focus on the spell the cool air picked up pushing away the stinky smog. By the time he had finished and put the orb safely back in his pocket the sea breeze was washing over the city in a steady but gentle flow. The smell of salt and water was far better than what had crawled up his nose in the slums below. Falkon finally felt like he could think with a clear head. It was up here that the death of Ostarian sunk in. Things would be different now he knew that much. This city still held many challenges for him and his companions. He sat quietly contemplating the world around him when all of a sudden felt drained. His focus needed for spells was beginning to run out. He needed to find his companions and rest. That much was clear to him.

The Blood knight keeps an eye on the two Pharasmas. “I am sorry, but your words do not redeem my blood oath to this man. I will not allow this matter to ensue and destroy what honour remains with him. I will not be swayed from this action. Anca will question the body and see the dwarfs will be done, and by his accustoms he will be buried. He did not care for the customs of the ways of the crows, your gods or contracts written. A blood oath elapses all. If this is to be by way of blood grip your steel half knight or choose your champion. Otherwise, let me be and see his blood price be paid to me. See honour returned to this party. But be aware, if you grip steel my code dictates a blood price to the death must be paid. Choose your next words wisely my associates”.

“The law is there to defend Zephyr. Watch, and you may learn some things from an old man.” Ecthlion responded to Zephyr insuts about his age. He then turned and said go the blood knight. “You are no associate of mine Blood Knight. With the dwarf’s death, your tie to me has ended.” Looking down at his frail body, Ecthelian continues, “but I am afraid that I am in no condition to fight you over a foolish matter like this. If it must be done, I choose the Raven Knight as his own champion to defend the body. For it is his responsibility to follow both the law set by Zephyr, as well as the code which he was beset by the Pharasman church.”

The shadowy figure on the rooftop looks around and smiles directly at Falkon in a casual manner of confidence. Falkon notices a faint rainbow pattern of lights over the elfs eyes, almost certainly a spell that can see invisiblity. Though it is not one that Falkon knows the spellcraft for. With a fluidity of motion the elven figure quietly runs across the roof and jumps across a 20’ gap with ease, longbow in one hand and arrow in the other. A light thud as the elf lands in a better position about 50’ from all the heroes. It is clear that the elf is wearing a full suit of elven chainmail and is very agile. Still, no signs of threat appear in the movements.

Holding the arrow downwards, and standing upright where no crows can see the cloaked figure it speaks in soft auran to Falkon “Greetings rider of the air, sweet meet to those of the planes of air, It seems that our fates are twined together for the now.” Yesterday at 4:18pm · Like · 3

“Honor demands my actions, and this is no folly to be fooled with.You have named your champion. What say you Raven Knight, are you ready to act as the half knight champion”? The blood knight exclaimed, keeping his stance ready to butojutsu his sword brom its sheath.

“Nice to meet you also, agile one. I generally like to keep those who have the wits to see me on friendly terms if I can help it so I can’t be snuck up on so easily. I fear if you were an enemy I could have been filled with arrows from your pretty bow by now.” Falkon chuckles to himself smiling back curiously at the elf. “One gets to complacent about his surroundings when he feels he can’t be seen. So tell me elf, you say our fates are twined, but what brings you here today and sets your eyes upon myself and my companions?”

Chuckling softly “No young one, I am only a fair shot with a bow compared to my fellows, I spent more time listening to the animals of our forests and attending dancing performances.” Turning his gaze on the drama below “My feet bring me here today” smiling a little, “..my dreams show the heroes of harrowstone fighting an invisible beast in this city and they will die without our help.” Kneeling down to study a coackroach feasting on the middenstone wall nearby “I bring no harm or threat to you or your friends. Having walked many paths and seen many things I bring advice and sense to help you choose your paths.”

“Well, we did go out of our way to seek a lunatic as our guide, Im sure we won’t have any problem letting a calm and composed elf accompany us in our search from this beast. The more help we can get the better I say and by you seeing me it seems you have already proven yourself worthy.” With a big polite smile Falkon tacks a step back, “May I introduce myself formally” he clears his throat, “I am Valkoron, Child of air” With that said Falkon took a low bow as air swirled around him. On standing back he added, “Yet most people call me Falkon, must be the black robes and my tendency to fly I guess”, he chuckles again.It seems you have a love of nature just as I have a love of air. May I bring you good weather to help all that is around you to grow. Your help I’m sure will be most welcome……."

“I thank you for your kind words, however I am not yet worthy, there is more to do in this life yet before I can make that claim.”

Standing up and pushing his hooded cowl off his head, you see the material is silky smooth and absorbs the light as it moves. HIs platinum hair is long and untied with a silver circlet across his brow. Fine elven chainmail is worn underneath and moves with his simple actions “Well met Child of Air and a blessing on your family. I am known to my fellows as Amarandlon Edasseril of the stars and the Fireani forest.” He bows slightly “I thank you for the offer to join the heroes of harrowstone, but I must decline your offer sadly since I follow paths not quests.”

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The Sunless Grove

Coc 09

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Pzo9521 ghoul
Yarresh

Sunless grove

Cultist notes found at the abandoned encampment
Look of ye Old Ones Ye Old Ones and Ancient Times

This is ye story of Ye Coming-Down of ye Old Ones to Golarion, how they left Ye Gates where they were waiting and ye horrors and wonders they left on their path.

Ye Old Ones came to Earth, some say they created mankind as slaves for their wicked hunger. Old Ones came to Golarion, but they did not bring life there. Long before their arrival, Ubbo-Sathla dwelt in ye steaming fens of ye new made Golarion, for Ubbo-Sathla is ye source and ye end.

This is a story of ancient times, long before mankind. For ye demise of ye Old Ones is for long gone. Some wise scholars tried to explain their demise by odd correspondances with earthly elements. This vision shall not fool ye reader – by essence, ye Old Ones are not ruled by human motives. Their logic is twisted, and mysterious are their ways.

Yet ye Old Ones are not gone. They wait, sealed in forgotten places, where they dream for ye time when ye stars will be right again. Beyond ye subterranean Wall, Y’golonac sleeps, driven out of his dream by ye summonning of those who seek evil.

Of Ye Old Ones and their Spawn

The Old Ones were, the Old Ones are and the Old Ones shall be. From the dark stars They came ere man was born, unseen and loathsome They descended to primal earth. Beneath the oceans They brooded while ages past, till seas gave up the land, whereupon They swarmed forth in Their multitudes and darkness ruled the Earth.

At the frozen Poles They raised mighty cities, and upon high places the temples of Those whome nature owns not and the Gods have cursed.

And the spawn of the Old Ones covered Golarion, and Their children endureth throughout the ages. Ye shantaks of Absalom are the work of their hands, the Ghasts who dwelleth in Zin’s primordial vaults know Them as their Lords.

They have fathered the Na-Hag and the Gaunts that ride the Night; Great Cthulhu is their brother, the shaggoths Their slaves. The Dholes do homage unto them in the nighted vale of Pnoth and Gugs sing their praises beneath the peaks of ancient Throk.

They have walked amidst the stars and they have walked Golarion. The CNation of Orision in the great desert has known them; The furtherest reaches in the cold waste has seen their passing, the timeless citadel upon the cloud-vieled heights of the unknown beareth their mark. Aklo there choice of words.

Want only the Old Ones trod the ways of darkness and their blasphemies were great upon Golarion; all creation bowed beneath their might and knew them for their wickedness.

And the Elder Lords opened their eyes and beheld the abominations of those that ravaged Golarion. In their wrath they set their hand against the Old Ones, staying them in the midst of their iniquity and casting them forth from Golarion to the Void beyond the planes where chaos reigns and form abideth not. Into the dark tapestry for whence they belong. And the elder lords set their seal upon the gateway and the power of the Old Ones prevailest not against its might.

Bound his venomous claws with potent spells and sealed him up within the city of Illmarsh wherein beneath the waves he shall sleep death’s dream until the end of the Aeon.

Beyond the Gate dwell now the Old Ones; not in the spaces known unto men but in the angles betwixt them. Outside Golarions plane they linger and ever awaite the time of their return; for Golarion has known them and shall know them in time yet to come.

And the Old Ones hold foul and formless Azathoth for their Master and Abide with him in the black cavern at the centre of all infinity, where he gnaws ravenously in ultimate chaos amid the mad beating of hidden drums, the tuneless piping of hideous flutes and the ceaseless bellowing of blind idiot gods that shamble and gesture aimlessly for ever.

The soul of Azathoth dwelleth in Yog-sothoth and he shall beckon unto the Old Ones when the stars mark the time of their coming; for Yog-sothoth is the Gate through which those of the Void will re-enter. Yog-sothoth knowest the mazes of of time, for all time is one unto him. He knowest where the Old Ones came forth in time along long past and where They shall come forth again when the cycle returneth.

After day cometh night; man’s day shall pass, and they shall rule where they once ruled. As foulness you shall know them and their accursedness shall stain Golarion.

- Keeper Myre of the Silver Gate
-—————————————————
Excerpts from the ritual

…. the wailings of the mad are but the birth-cries of the new man – the old man like dust in the desert wind. Cleansed of the lies of mankind, the new man – the man of darkness – is free to absorb the beauty of nothingness, to glory in the stark of the utter void. As your useless reason dissolves, rejpice in the knowledge that in the far off places of Illmarsh, the Shackles, Orision and Katapash have walked the same path, have drunk the same blood, have reveled in the prospect of everlasting night, as you…,

- Keeper of the Sunless Grove
-——————————————
…. you do not yrt know the true gods. Everything you know is a lie. The great old ones, these rulers of the universe and cosmos, these others you have not yet heard of will be the objescts of your adulation, your emulation, your love. You are the fortunate ones – for for the time may comr, if you give your selfless devotion, that you will worship in the flesh in the Sunless Grove, or the Temple beneath tye Tern Rocks, whose glory is beyond your comprehension.

- Catechism of the knights of the outer void.
-————————————————————-

Loot
Yarresh items A10

Abandoned Encampment A12

1st Body in the water A11

2nd Body in the water

X6 the items of the Terrified Creepers A7

Pnaknotic Manuscript A10

Crow Writ A10

6000gp From dust ghoul mounds area A10

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Anomoly (Viktor Von'Drakhs clone) and the Blood Knight

Von drakh srgery

The machine by rudolf herczog

“Do you know what that is?” Drakh whispered, “That is ultra-violet.” Drakh chuckled oddly at the bloodknights surprise. "You thought ultra-violet was invisible, and so it is – but you can see that and many other invisible things now. “Listen to me! The waves from my machine are waking a thousand sleeping senses in us; senses which we inherit from aeons of evolution from the state of detached electrons to the state of organic humanity. I have seen the truth, and I intend to show it to you. Do you wonder how it will seem? I will tell you.” Here Drakh seated himself directly opposite the Blood Knight, blowing out his candle and staring hideously into the Blood knights eyes.

Anomoly

“Your existing sense-organs – ears first, I think – will pick up many of the impressions, for they are closely connected with the dormant organs. Then there will be others. You have heard of the pineal gland? I laugh at the shallow endocrinologist, fellow-dupe and fellow-parvenu of the Lepidstadt Acadamae. That gland is the great sense organ of organs – I have found out. It is like sight in the end, and transmits visual pictures to the brain. If you are normal, that is the way you ought to get most of it… I mean get most of the evidence from beyond. With the right electrcal stimulation I learnt from the books I recovered from Alphon Cormarcs research into creatiin the beast, the pineal gland is an untapped genome of human potential”

The blood knight looked about the immense surgery room with the sloping wall, dimly lit by rays which the every day eye cannot see. The far corners were all shadows and the whole place took on a hazy unreality which obscured its nature and invited the imagination to symbolism and phantasm. During the interval that Drakh was long silent, the blood knight fancied herself in some vast incredible temple of long-dead gods; some vague edifice of innumerable black stone columns reaching up from a floor of damp slabs to a cloudy height beyond the range of her vision. The picture was very vivid for a while, but gradually gave way to a more horrible conception; that of utter, absolute solitude in infinite, sightless, soundless space. There seemed to a void, and nothing more, and the blood knight felt a childish fear which prompted her to draw her sword from her hip, she carried the eastern weapon as a samurai, for many years, but now had to fight the urge to draw it from its sheath. A stronger impulse then ever before.

Then from the farthermost regions of remoteness, the sound softly glided into existence. It was infinitely faint, subtly vibrant, and unmistakably musical, but held a quality of surpassing wildness which made its impact feel like a delicate torture of the blood knights whole body. She felt sensations like those one feels when accidentally scratching ground glass. Simultaneously there developed something like a cold draught, which apparently swept past her from the direction of the distant sound. As she waited breathlessly, she perceived that both sound and wind were increasing; the effect being to give her an odd notion of herself as tied to a tree in the path of a gigantic approaching dragon. The blood knight began to speak to Drakh, and she did so all the unusual impressions abruptly vanished. She saw only the man, the glowing machines, and the dim apartment. Drakh was grinning repulsively at the sword which she had almost unconsciously drawn, but from his expression she was sure he had seen and heard as much as she had, if not a great deal more. The blood knight whispered what she had experienced and Drakh bade her to remain as quiet and receptive as possible.

“Don’t move,” he cautioned, “for in these rays we are able to be seen as well as to see. the wires and attached electrodes pick up sympathetic vibrations. As long as we don’t move we’re fairly safe. Remember we’re dealing with a hideous world in which we are practically helpless… Keep still!” The combined shock of the revelation and of the abrupt command gave the blood knight a kind of paralysis, and in her terror her mind again opened to the impressions coming from what Drakh called “beyond.” She was now in a vortex of sound and motion, with confused pictures before her eyes.

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She saw the blurred outlines of the room, but from some point in space there seemed to be pouring a seething column of unrecognizable shapes or clouds, penetrating the solid roof at a point ahead and to the right of the blood knight. Then she glimpsed the temple – like effect again, but this time the pillars reached up into an aerial ocean of light, which sent down one blinding beam along the path of the cloudy column she had seen before. After that the scene was almost wholly kaleidoscopic, and in the jumble of sights, sounds, and unidentified sense-impressions she felt that shr was about to dissolve or in some way lose the solid form. One definite flash the blood knight shall always remember. The blood knight seemed for an instant to behold a patch of strange night sky filled with shining, revolving spheres, and as it receded she saw that the glowing suns formed a constellation or galaxy of settled shape; this shape being the distorted face of Viktor Von’Drakhs.

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At another time the blood knight felt the huge animate things brushing past her and occasionally walking or drifting through her supposedly solid body, and the blood knight thought she saw Viktor look at them as though his better trained senses could catch them visually. The blood knight recalled what he had said of the pineal gland, and wondered what he saw with this preternatural eye. Suddenly the blood knight herself became possessed of a kind of augmented sight. Over and above the luminous and shadowy chaos arose a picture which, though vague, held the elements of consistency and permanence. It was indeed somewhat familiar, for the unusual part was superimposed upon the usual terrestrial scene much as a cinema view may be thrown upon the painted curtain of a theater.

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The blood knight saw the surgury and laboratory, the electrical machine, and the unsightly form of Viktor opposite her; but of all the space unoccupied by familiar objects not one particle was vacant. Indescribable shapes both alive and otherwise were mixed in disgusting disarray, and close to every known thing were whole worlds of alien, unknown entities. It likewise seemed that all the known things entered into the composition of other unknown things and vice versa. Foremost among the living objects were inky, jellyfish monstrosities which flabbily quivered in harmony with the vibrations from the machine.

Illustrations inferno

They were present in loathsome profusion, and the blood knight saw to her horror that they overlapped; that they were semi-fluid and capable of passing through one another and through what we know as solids. These things were never still, but seemed ever floating about with some malignant purpose. Sometimes they appeared to devour one another, the attacker launching itself at its victim and instantaneously obliterating the latter from sight. Shudderingly the blood knight felt a fear and horror grip her iron resolve, and could not exclude the thing from her mind as she strove to observe other properties of the newly visible world that lies unseen around her. But Viktor had been watching me and was speaking.

“You see them? You see them? You see the things that float and flop about you and through you every moment of your life? You see the creatures that form what men call the pure air and the blue sky? Have I not succeeded in breaking down the barrier; have I not shown you worlds that no other living men have seen?” The blood knight heard Viktors scream through the horrible chaos, and looked at the wild face thrust so offensively close to hers. His eyes were pits of flame, and they glared at me with what she now saw was overwhelming hatred. The machine droned detestably. "You think those floundering things are to be feared? Fool, they are harmless! The University of Lepidstadt tried to stop me; they discouraged me when I needed every drop of encouragement I could get; they were afraid of the cosmic truth, they cast me out like a leper, they were the damned cowards, they could not fathom the true genius of Alphon Cormarcs research, but now I’ve got you! You can attest to my genius. You’ll know soon enough what I am trully capable of. What secrets I can unlock. Mortal, the gods should quiver in fear what my intellect will open. New worlds, far off places and alien creatures.

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I will bring about a whole new science. One which the fools of Lepidstadt will beg me to bring back to them. Look at me – listen to what I say – do you suppose there are really any such things as time and magnitude? Do you fancy there are such things as form or matter? I tell you, I have struck depths that your little brain can’t picture. I have seen beyond the bounds of infinity and drawn down daemons from the stars… I have harnessed the shadows that stride from world to world to sow death and madness… Space belongs to me, do you hear?

Untitled

Things and people are hunting me now – the things that devour and dissolve – but I know how to elude them. It is you they will get if you are not carful, as they got the some of my test subjects… Stirring, dear knight? I told you it was dangerous to move, I have saved you so far by telling you to keep still – saved you to see more sights and to listen to me. If you had moved, they would have been at you long ago. Don’t worry, they won’t hurt you. They didn’t hurt the lunatics from the asylum – it was the seeing that made the poor devils scream so. My pets are not pretty, for they come out of places where aesthetic standards are – very different. Disintegration is quite painless, I assure you — but I want you to see them. I almost saw them, but I knew how to stop. You are curious? I always knew adventurers had no back bones. Trembling, eh. Trembling with anxiety to see the ultimate things I have discovered. Why don’t you move, then? Tired? Well, don’t worry, my friend, for they are coming… Look, look, curse you, look… it’s just over your left shoulder…".

Coc 11

But before the blood knight turned to look, Viktor flicked off the switch and the machine stopped the infernal humming. "Well I can’t have you die eh. My research would be incomplete and no one would learn of the cosmic truths that I am on the verge of unlocking. A doorway to alien worlds. Consider yourself lucky to be one of the first to witness the creatures that exist in our world, but cannot be seen. The effect is temporarily however. The machine will only allow you to see such creatures for a period of twenty four hours. Then you will have to return. Hallucigenic drugs like flay leaf may extend the duration of the visual spectrum you can now see. The asylum freaks I experiemented on managed to be able to be able to see and hear on the new spectrum for up to 72 hours on such drugs. However most were unable to sleep, so can I suggest a panacea to remove any fatigue you may feel as a result from not being able to sleep.

The lunatics I experimented on had very frail minds. They spoke of seeing squid headed creatures, tentacled beasts and amphorus masses of chaos pass into our world through a doorway opened by men in black cloaks in aplace of darkness were the tress could not see the sun. A sunless grove. I did warn you err of the side effects. But your mind is not as fragile as the lunatics of the asylum. I knew you would be able to keep your wits. You are a samurai after all. A dedicated warrior in body and mind. Tell Ecthlion and the others what I am in the verge of unlocking. Your newly attuned senses of your pineal gland will allow you to see this creature you hunt. The screams of the lunatics at the asylum speak of the monstrosity, calling in a world devourer. Should you need to attune yourself once more, or if you would like to undergo further treatments to unlock more cosmic truths, in tbe hope your pineal gland will adapt and evolve, allowing you to see on perviously hidden spectrums permanently, come back and see me. I am sure with the right drugs and exposure your visual spectrum can become fully aware". Drakh unplugs the blood knight from the device. She managed to shake of her momentary madness and regained her balance after a while.

“I will have your potions of slipperiness ready you requested within 8 hours. Should you require any drugs to extend the effects without hoping in the device again or need something like a sedative to help you sleep, or adrenaline to help you remain awake, you know where to find me”. Drakh ushered the Blood knight out the door. She stumbled a bit, still a little groggy from the machine. “I have other patients waiting”, Drakh looked back at the large bear on the operating table with the attached human eyes. “Happy hunting, and please do survive long enough to tell me any side effects you experience from the device. My only other test subjects have been lunatics from the asylum. And they simply scream or howl like mad dogs, so a second opinion other then my own would be most welcome”. Drakh leads the blood knight upstairs out of the basement and through the front door, slamming it behind her.

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Baron Samedi summoned by Muerete

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In a flash of pale white light immediately followed by a swirling black mist Baron Samedi appears before Muerete. His skeletal figure materializes in the swirling mist. As he is materializing he bows. Fully appearing before Muerete at the lowest point of the bow. His eyeball sockets momentarily twitch with blood shot eyes before they turn entirely red, emitting a strange red hue. He begins to sniff the air like a dog. “Ohhh Bloodwine, you spoil me to much. It is good to lays eyes once more Muerete. So what do you wish of me, or what do you want to know, why have I been summoned”. Samedi waits for a response.

“You’re welcome old friend. Very welcome. I need to know what you know of this city, this beast, the undead who till the mines. My allies, they bicker and snipe with another. I need a clear head.”

“Well you do have your hands full. Come sit and lets have a drink”. Two glasses appear out of thin air. The Baron lights a cigar and motions Muerete to have a seat at a table newly formed out of black mist. “Please wait outside ladies, I wull be with you momentarily, I must first have words with my friend here first”. Samedi always enjoyed such pleasures of the flesh. As a gift Samedi could influence there perceptions and reality of himself, altering his appearance to meet out their fanatasy or man of there dreams. It made things much more enjoyable.

Finishing a glass, and pouring himself another, Muerete knew the Baron liked to drag out there meetings. He was unsure whether it was the baron got pleasure out of watching him get frustarted or he enjoyed his company. The baron finished half another glass before he began to speak. His bones quiver, like a electrical jolt to a dead person, a snake without ahead or a recently resurrected person. “What do you know of the outer gods and great old ones”. Baron sips at his rum some more. With nothing but silence, the baron adds further “I thought as much”. He relaxes in his chair, inhaling the smoke through his mouth, which dispersed into the air creating a thick smog or haze. Without any lungs or flesh, the smoke simply wafted out of his cloak. But the baron was suave. He enjoyed it none the less.

“What I can tell you is that the Outer Gods are equivalent to true deities. Like that of Sarenrae yor paladin friend worships. Whereas the Great Old Ones are less powerful, more akin to demigods, like the archdevils and demon lords. Like that of orcus or me. The Great Old Ones respect the Outer Gods and may be seen as heralds or high priests of their greater kind. Great Old Ones are far less mobile than the Outer Gods being localized in some fashion. Indeed, many Great Old Ones are imprisoned unable to move until some catastrophe occurs that unbinds them. At this point of release, some prophecies predict the ending of worlds and the ascension of the Great Old Ones to the realms of the Outer Gods. For mortals, the differences between cults of gods of either category is practically meaningless.

Cov 32

What I can tell you is taht Great Old Ones are poorly understood beings who are said to dwell in the darkness between the stars, a place known as the Dark Tapestry or the Dominion of the Black. Little is known of the Dark Tapestry, the darkness between the stars where inhabitants of Golarion believe true madness lies. The few beings able to survive in the vast, cold void of space are too alien for even the gods to comprehend, and present one of the greatest threats to the known universe should they wish to do so.

What is known about the old ones, is that they are truly ancient, and probably pre-date not only the world of Golarion but also its more human-like gods. They are thought to be of a vast, alien intelligence which mortals investigate at their own peril. Those who follow them and draw magical power from their worship are almost always insane, believing that these ancient beings will one day return to unmake the world.

Brideofcthulhu

The Great Old Ones, despite some of their limited ability to travel, may influence the wider universe via dreams and mind control and this influence may stretch well beyond their prisons to other worlds. The total number of Great Old Ones is unknown. It is one of my duties to act as an escort and warden for the dead. Part of the job requirement his helping souls cross over. This includes leading those that worship the old ones to a doorway called purgatory. I do not know where the doorway leads, nor do I wish to know. But Pharasma has declared those that worship the old ones are to be taken to the doorway

Cov 27

As I said before mortals of this world draw power from the old ones. However such power is often raw energy, with no limits. The ancient, eldritch horrors of the Dark Tapestry are beings of immense power who – luckily – have thus shown little interest in Golarion or her solar system. Were the Great Old Ones ever to devote even a fraction of their attention to this corner of space, it could very well end existence as gods and mortals know it. While some crazed cultists and power-hungry arcanists contact aspects of the cosmic beings in the hopes that they can harness their cyclopean might for their own purposes, none can control the raw chaos these forces bring and destruction and madness are the ultimate results.

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Osiriani legends speak of the mysterious Dominions of the Black and their possible connection to the enigmatic planet of Aucturn. Members of the mythical Dominion serve as emissaries and heralds of their unknowable masters and are said to reside among the darkness between the stars, sustained by the very forces that drive them to madness.

Queenofthetentacle

While most who know of the Dark Tapestry assume its denizens reside unimaginable distances away in the void of space, one such race of beings builds an empire beneath their very feet. The intellect devourers of the Darklands are thought to have come from the Dark Tapestry eons ago, though what their ultimate goals and motivations are or were remains a mystery only pondered by the bravest of souls. Similarily there is speculation that the gigantic tentacled creature known as the havero may originate from one of the far corners of the Dark Tapestry. The creatures motives are often difficult to comprehend, understand or fathom. Even the gods lack insight.

There is believed to be fractions of this world that shield us from them. The puppeteers talk about a gold tapestry, a halo that they create around this mortal world to protect it from the darkness beyond. Sarenraes light of the sun is said to have blinded them and driven them back. Others say that purgatory is a place where Pharasma quells the old ones appetite with souls that belong to them. Another is that Aroden gave up his divinity, one which is required to quench there thirst for power. No matter what you believe, seers always come to the same conclusion. Darkness and madness. Destruction, chaos and death. It is possible for doorways to be opened. For aliens to visit. Some may even wish to stay. Such events are usually the result of a alchemist gone mad, a cultist preaching to those beyond or a wizard dabbling in books of power beyond what they can control. Creatures that pass through such doorways are tethered to this world by the voice or voices that called them. Just like anything that is summoned. They become weak when such voices are silenced.

Coc 08

I believe this beast you speak of is a horror or creature of the old ones. Carrion Hill catacombs beneath the city are famous for holding lore in vaults. Infact the old cults use to run the city a millennium ago. Many whom live in the city still pay homage, that is why the city has more shrines to deities then anywhere else in Versex. If someone in the city did call such a creature, you should kill them first as to weaken the creatures tether to this world. For such creatures are powerful and often rival even the most competent denizens of this world.

You should search the catacombs and see if you can find out the summoners name. Alternatively you could contact a witch covern, as they are the wisest into the ways of the old religions. Perhaps Viktor Von’Drakh could help you. I hear his new invention is sending ripples in the heavens and hells with a power it could unlock. Or maybe you could search the local asylum. Like I said, those that see the old ones or talk to them, tend to go a little odd in the head". The baron looks at his glass, then the bottle both seem to be empty.

“My mouth is parched from all this talking, perhaps some more rum to quench this thirst. I am sure it would loosen my mouth”.

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Ravens and Crows

After studying the scribbled notes by Professor Lorrimor in his spellbook Ostarian notices the mad writings by his old mentor Auren in the margins. It seems that Auren has gone completely mad after all. Leaning back and inhaling the cheap smoke in his pipe he wonders on the possibility that all around this table could be just as insane in the days ahead. Suddenly his mind is clear and jerks his eyes towards Unit 1. “Unit 1 I seem to recall that you also prepare your spells from reading a tome or manual of some kind. I would be willing to trade you spells from my tomes for new spells from your manual if you desire. This would benefit all of us if we shared our spells in the days ahead.”

Standing at the mayors table Ostarian felt a twinge of guilt or remorse that he didnt share more of his knowledge about this city to Ecthelion, but he suspected that like all religious fervents, the half-knight would want to destroy it all. They dont understand that we need to study the forces of the abyss and those that seek to pervert life to better defeat them. My study of the battle of Tar-Baphon the lich described the ancient libraries hidden in this town somewhere, and Ostarian’s churning stomach tells him that Advion is here for the same tomes. This unseen beast is likely to be a worse enemy than the vampire spawn I fought so many decades ago. Someone has conjured it, that I am certain, and this beast is hunting with a purpose. I just need time to work it out, and the less my allies know the quicker I will do it.

Ecthelion could tell Ostarian was holding something back from him. He was good at telling such thnings… analysing body language, and mannerisms. He was used to being lied to, for quite often, those lies were all that would keep those people from prison, and in some cases, death. But Ostarian was not one that Ecthelion could keep pressuring to come clean. The more Ecthelion pushed, he knew that Ostarian would be less likely to come clean to him. It saddened Ecthelion, because he enjoyed his talks with Ostarian and the advice from the Dwarf was usually good. Things which Ecthelion would never think of, and still, the Dwarf did not seem to trust him. ….. Perhaps Adivion would be able to offer Ecthelion some insight into the Dwarfs mind. They were, after all, both into similar literature it seemed.

Thinking upon a reason for Advion to be here Ostarian mercury mind flashed to Vrood and Advion discussing several tomes they had researched together in Quarterfaux Archives. He missed his academy already and the study of its huge museum and artifact stores from across the world. Concentrating on Advion the tomes they were studying came back to him, Histories of Adorak, Astral tome of Lama, and the A’Darkorian Tuluun, known as the souls enslaved to all the necromancers here. Even though Advion seemed bored by the academy, he was energised by researching the bloodlines of the old noble families and referencing to his study of Tar-Baphon. We shared many a drink arguing over the Tar-Baphons legacy in Virlych.

Walking out into the cold night air the Raven Knight focuses the last of his anger into finding what information he can about the invisible beast and possible further attacks in the night. The Raven Knight pulls the cloak tightly around him taking care to place his holy symbol beneath his armour.

Quietly he asks one of the nearby guards for directions to the nearest tavern and makes his way down the darkened street.

studying the mayors room Ostarion sees te map of the eternity mines, and how undead are used to mine them. Ostarion says “Undead miners, now my clan are turning in their catacombs. Once our quest is over I think we need to find out who is creating these undead workers and stop them. The Black arts of necromancy are not to be used, even if people are willing to live undying, to make people wealthy.” “Pay the living to work the mines and the town will be better off for it.”

Zephyr is still indecisive about whether to trust the new travellers or not. Thus decides to go gather some intel and evidence of what really happened just hours ago, by rousing the Crows and Abadar priests for a former dispute inside the Crowns Theatre, he waits anxiously for those who are loyal to the cause and takes place on the centre stage. “My fellow peace keepers, I thank you for being loyal to the laws and oaths we tread so dearly.” Looking towards the congregation Zephyr let’s a single outburst of rage.

“Those new folk think they can waltz in our god dam city and believe that they are above the law. By the nine hells we will show that they ain’t.” He turns his attention to the Abadar Clerics. “They call you necromancers, for sending the dead wishes to work in the mines. If we didn’t have those mines this cities economy would crumble in an instant. How dare a Pharasma worshipper show his face in our City and question our beliefs. Because without those mines how would we repair the devastation of the invisible beasts!” Zephyr turns his rage back to the Crows. “We were sworn to protect the good citizens of this city from both foreigners and domestic. Unfortunately we haven’t uphold that duty by letting these folk continue to walk our streets. The Mayor says they are pardoned from their crimes, bullshit! Jimmy, (One of the crows that came and investigated with Zephyr) saw with his own eyes them conjuring a Rock beast to smash through the Dukes front gate. We all know they are the accomplices for the deaths of 13 nobles inside the party and 3 outside of it. We just need the suffice evidence to prove it. That is why I have gathered you all here to help not just me, but yourselves and the whole city that these criminals should be charged for their crimes. Knowing that it is one step closer for Carrion Hill to become a safer place.” (Diplomacy 17+Roll for Gather Information from the crowd and Intimidate 17+Roll to incite the crowd)

Waking up the next day your morning is interrupted by the screams of a servant girl whose duty it was to wake up her master should he not arise by himself at first light. Moving to where the screams come from, on the ground lies the crumpled corpse of Mayor Heggry. His skin blackened by the use of powerful necromatic energy. Clutched in the mayors right hand is the Tome: Necromancy, Common Misconceptions by Dr Van Ritchen. The sevant girl immediately rushes out the door to fetch the crow mercenary guards.

Santiago caruso1

Entering the house is a full detatchment of 12 crow guardsman, 4 Abdar tax collectors and Zephyr Markov.

The lead tax collector says to the group. "I am arresting you all pending an inquiry into Mayor Heggrys death. Also the death of one Darius Finch found murdered in his coach last night. You are also to be questioned on the death of Asheron Coyl damage and theft of private property to his residence at 11 Vermillion Way, the assault on Belfor Vittanis at 20 Peacock Court last night during a private party, the death of 14 other residents during the party and damage, tresspassing, unlawful entry and act of inciting a riot, assault and numerous other charges at the address. Also the disappearance of Endrik Archerus whose house contained a blood stained note with the fellow names upon it, Ecthelion, Ostarion, Falkon, The Raven Knight, Unit 1, the Blood Knight and El Muerete. If you refused to surrender we are legally obliged to take you by force if necessary.

After a through investigation undertaken by Zephyr Markov into the strange events that unfolded last night a fully inquiry is to be undertaken to determine your involvement. Upon any refusal to the terms and conditions henceforth, and a refusal to surrender, runners are to be dispatched around Versex with bounty Warrents to nearby cities for your heads, dead or alive. with the death of two prominent art enthusiast, the kidnapping and assault two others within twenty four hours of your arrival, it is our fiduciary responsibility to see the law is upheld.

The tribunal into the crimes claimed by the victims and evidence against you is to undertaken later today. If you wish to forgo spending time in prison a bond sum of no less then 5000gp per person is to be handed over to the tax collectors here before you now. You have one hour to comply. You are advised to seek legal council. Any questions regarding the claims will be addressed at the tribunal. Are you willing to comply with the demands?".

After waiting for a response the head Tax collector says, “Viktor Von’Drake will be acting as the coroner and lead forensic invrstigator into the case. He will be supported with testimony from Anca Willow whom will contact the dead”.

Looking at the book in the Mayors Hand Ostarion immediately recognises another signature of Vroods. With his tutelage, Ostarion always remembered Vrood teaching students from the tome at a very early stage of the Acadamia taught in Caliphas. When first opening the book Vrood would almost always certainly say to new students “The fun is just about to begin”. It was a signature of his associated with the tome. The corpses damage also looked similar to that of Petros Lorrimors, or somebody who succumbed to a powerful necromatic spell.

Ostarion also knew Vroods stupidly ironic humour Vrood would often employ. which matched his current predicament.He glanced over the tomes on the floor nearby the mayor corpse.


== TOME: Necromancy Common Misconceptions ==

Introduction

Necromancy, it is an art within itself, for it unlike most schools of magic it is more than the simple manipulation of energy, or the toying with time, or space. But rather you play with the very cycle that is life and death, you manipulate one of the two elements that comprise of life, without negative energy there would be no balance in such no life, no existence, it is through mastery of the various disciplines of necromancy that one can gain control over, death, life and undeath you can create objects and organisms, as well as take and destroy the very life essence of another or capture it, forever bound to your will, or perhaps kept safe from harm.

Many sycophants exist, many a wizard or sorcerer pay passing homage to the art of necromancy, even a few claim mastery, but even few can hold true to such a claim. The mastery of necromancy is not a path to be taken lightly, for it is no simply the uttering of a few common spells that one might find of use, but instead a devotion to a discipline, nay an art form that In principle the art of necromancy is not “manipulation” of death, or mastery of undeath, but rather the understanding of negative energy, an the knowledge of its manipulation.

Negative energy as I have many times before said is a basic energy, a necessary part of the structure of the planar spheres, an of existence itself. It is as natural as fire, water and earth, and is as necessary as life and death are to the balance of the universe. This does not however mean that there are not, way to bend such rules, nor way to make exceptions, this path is one that might afford such to one who would truly devote themselves.

Negative energy

Negative energy is present everywhere, in my research I have located negative energies in various locations. It is in essence in every rock, every grain of sand most physical materials will contain at least a trace amount of negative energy. It is for this reason why living flesh, powered by positive energy deteriorates, it is the primary reason for entropy an why nothing living can exist in its innate state forever.

Having said that, it should be noted that although negative energy is necessary to existence, its manipulation is not. An it is often for this reason that we who would medal in such energy are seen as evil or vile, an yet another Arcanist might manipulate time itself, or the elements even perhaps positive energy’s, an yet such are not looked upon with such distaste.

It is safe to say that the common misconceptions of necromancy are based on the common dislike and unsettling relation that negative energy has to the walking dead, an although negative energies can animate inamate objects, such does not make it inherently evil, but perhaps unnerving for some.

Negative energy being so closely tied to the death of living tissues is inherently dangerous to manipulate. As this is the very energy that brings about death, it is logical to say that one needs to be precautions and carful in its experimentation and manipulation.

Direct contact without protection will damage physical tissue; it will drain positive energies, wither flesh and kill organs. Without proper protections or precautions it can warp the flesh to that of something more, with the right knowledge one can evolve one’s own physical state to something far beyond that of the living. Though many a fool have tried to grasp the art of necromancy most either stray from the art for fear of its effects, or are killed by their own hand through stupidity or chance.

Having said that, mastery of negative energy can give on mastery over death, mastery over the soul, over your own physical form. It can make you a master of your own existence, though the dangers are great it is safe to say that mastery of necromancy can lead to mastery over yourself, others an existence itself but necromancy is not just the manipulation of negative energy, it is a combination of positive, negative that create a balance between life and death. Undead, & Reanimation a common misconception.

Many first conjurer up thoughts of vile wizards corrupted by power summoning froth legions of undead, dominating these helpless souls to do their bidding. However as I have already suggested and as much the same with any art considered outside of the mainstream, there are many misconceptions. For instance, a necromancer or individual making use of the school of magic necromancy need not reanimate, control create or conjure forth any undead. It is not an essential part of necromancy and much in the same way a golem “can” be created, or a outsider summons forth, it dose not mean every necromancer condones or conducts such acts.

The practical purpose of necromancy is the manipulation of death, or the energy associated with the decay of positive life energy’s, although the creation of undead is caused in almost all cases by negative energys in one form or another many blame necromancers. The truth is negative energy and the coming about of undead is as nature as life itself. In most cases on death there is no cause for alarm, although negative energy may be present int eh individual through the process of passing on there is not certainty that it will be enough or the right conditions to cause reanimation.

ORIGINS OF UNDEATH

There are numerous theories that try to explain the origin or creation of undeath. In my research on the subject i have seen how many theory’s contradict others, an yet some do complement one another. However those who work in the field are often debating what is for certain the true origin of undeath. I myself believe that undeath in all its complexity originates regardless of its “type” of propagation from negative energy.

The negative energy plane is an alternative sphere of existence, it being one of the most hostile of the inner planes, if for the most part is a dark place devoid of light and life. An is as far as any can tell thus far a endless void. Only the creatures that are immune or protected from the life consuming properties of the plane itself.

Having said this it is critical that one understand that negative energy is natural, an much to the dismay of many a druid or well wisher it is as much a part of the natural cycle of the planes as positive energy and the elements themselves. As part of the planar cycle the negative energy plane is connected to the other planes of existence, both earth, air, water and fire. In turn these are connected to positive plane of existence.

It is ultimately impossible to have one without the other, and thus within the natural cycle of the planes negative energy is present, thus on the prime where there is water, air, fire or earth, there may also be Negative or Positive energy’s. Having said that they are in direct opposition to each other an thus “fight” for dominance a fight that can never be won, as the cycle of the planes itself maintains balance.

At first i thought perhaps those of blind faith that believe negative energy’s an undeath are wrong should be educated. However such is impossible, as we are all as organisms part of the planar cycle itself. Thus it is in-fact integral to have the servants of the gods “mortals” that work for the various elements and energy’s. Why is this so, well it is simple many “mortals” are sentient, an we can all achieve great power and create as we will, thus we can affect the planar balance with our actions.

If we as “mortals” can affect the planar balance then there must be something to keep us in check, this in my belief are the gods, the laws of passing to the next life and of course the dogma of the individual faiths. These individuals band together and set them against each other in a way that will ultimately ensure there is balance even between the sentient creatures of the planes.But still my point remains that Negative energy is natural. An thus animation or “unlife” created by said energy’s is as natural as positive energy creatures such as willow wisps or other creatures of positive energy.

Theory’s of Origin

I shall now explain in details the primary dominate theory’s of origin for unlife, as already mentioned my perspective is really a combination of all the following with the underpinning principal that all undead are creations of negative energy’s.

Atrocity Calls to Unlife: It is said that “evil” or acts of extreme power and dominance over others can in-fact resonate in multiple dimensions. Thus in extreme cases opening cracks in reality of the prime allowing negative energy to flow through. Also sufficiently heinous acts can attract the attention of already propagated unlife that requires a host especially recently diseased.

Sometimes it is possible that these evil influences can reinvigorate the decaying memories of a host, thus emulating or simulating the presence of sentience and or resemblance of the individuals past personality. It should be noted that this spire is the key to the negative energy catalyst within the creature an in-fact is not the soul of the dead individual but rather an entirely different “spire”.

Negative Energy as a Supportive Force: As already noted without negative energy atrocity, draining or exposure is not enough to transform one into undead. Undead have no vitality so were dose the energy for animation come from, what powers there existence, as noted they require negative energy to fuel them. This force is stored an utilized by all undead creatures, it is the sole provider of this metamorphosis. It is the “unlife” essence that is in a way the replacement for blood and food, an as with the living the undead can not exist without it.

Negative Energy as a Draining Force: I shall not exclude this theory, as it should be noted if only so others can see the flaws in this belief. Some claim that the link that negative energy that fuels undead is inertly linked to the negative energy plane, an this may hold truth to it, however it should be again noted that negative energy an the plane are a nature part of the planar cycle.

More precisely those who believe undeath is a draining force believe that undead on the material planes are linked to the negative energy plane via a conduit just as life itself has with positive. The controversial perspective on all this is the flawed belief that the Negative energy plane is the heart of darkness, a void of “evil”. Worse they believe that it is a needy greedy plane that serves no purpose other than to suck the life out of anything vulnerable to it’s grasp.

They believe that the very existence of a single undead effectively drains the material plane, an that such is accounted for with the sensations of cold that is often attributed to unlife. They believe that the only purpose of undead is to consume all life all energy’s to feed the evil void that is the negative energy plane.

This view as advised is ultimately flawed, as there is an obvious cycle to the planes, but as already mentioned it is perhaps crucial that there are sentient life with this view, as there are sentient life with the view that undeath is the path of perfection and should cover all of the prime. thus there must be a counter belief to balance this equation. Perhaps the purpose of the Negative energy planes is to do just that, to consume life. however the purpose of the positive is to create such, thus there must be a balance an there can not be one without the other.

Undeath as Contagion: Of course there are many undead who have methods of propagating vie transferring there property to another creature through contact. For example, those infected by the bite of a ghoul will suffer from the disease known as ghoul fever. If one was to perish from this disease or while having this disease int he system they will rise again as a ghoul the following midnight.

It is believed that these highly evolved disease infact resonates in multiple dimensions just as acts of extreme violence power or “evil”. Thus the bite of a ghoul or a vampire infact can create a tear or a rip in the materiel plane thus opening up a channel to the negative energy plane. This mixed with the physical disease itself, that kills the target and evolves the victims flesh make for a powerful mixture an perhaps one of the most powerful forms of undead propagation.

Purposeful Reanimation: purposeful re-animation, where another creatures of sentience nature uses the necromantic sphere of magic to create a creature of undeath. The undead will in most cases be under the control of the one who created it however there are accounts of overconfident users trying to control more undead than there ability will allow. The reasons for purposeful reanimation are numerous the most obvious being as use as servants, however there are many accounts of such craft being used to be with loved ones who have passed or even as art.

Just as there are those that believe undead must be destroyed there are those who feel they are critical and valuable assets, thus for every undead that is vanquished, somewhere another is born, perhaps by other means but regardless necromancers will use there knowledge to “reverse” the flow of life by channeling negative energy’s into the husk or corps of a creature, thus opening a channel tot he negative energy plane an animating the body.

Author Dr Van Ritchen
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== TOME: Proper Protocol: How to avoid Bloodshed on the road==

The necessity of observing proper Protocol in ones travels should be self-evident to all. Without the Protocol to guide us, we are nothing more than beasts, who so often turn to violence upon chance encounters with another. The Protocol provides guidance to all honourable men and women, regardless of faith or moral views. Only the cowardly and treacherous would find it inconvenient, as it can not be utilized for their nefarious motives.

1. The Protocol regulates the diplomatic exchange between two or more parties that are unknown to, or not in relation with each other

2. Upon encounter, all parties are to exchange names and honours, thus showing their peaceful stance and honest intentions.

3. When names and honours are exchanged, negotiations between parties may ensue.

4. Negotiations shall be handled by one representative from each party to ensure swift and efficient negotiations and to avoid misunderstanding and unintentional insults upon the other parties honour that may occur when one party speaks with more than one voice.

5. When negotiations are concluded peacefully and the parties decide to part ways, honours and farewells are to be exchanged to ensure mutual respect for future encounters.

6. In the case the outcome of negotiations is a deceleration of hostilities, all parties shall ensure that bystanders are given warning and time to vacate the area staged for combat.

Penned by Kyoshi No’takashi
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== TOME: Musings on the Balance ==

There is no more of a highly debated topic then that of “The Balance”. It is true that one… even the monks of the Peacock spirit ( http://www.pathfinderwi ki.com/wiki/Peacock_Spirit) must spend a lifetime devoted to its study to truly understand it. But in this essay I will give a brief summary of what I have come to understand. This is just one perspective of the balance mind you, and some will debate and disagree.

I will start with a puzzle… some clues to help us understand the balance and I will generalize so forgive me. We find ourselves in a strange land… it is isolated from all others. We are impressed by all we see, all within are friendly, healthy and vigorous. From what we can tell it has been like this for as long as all who are there can remember.

It seems we are in luck, we are invited to stay and that night we sample the food provided. Now, we find this food unfamiliar though very pleasing… we cannot help but ask what is this? The answer is simple… it is “B” meat and that’s all they eat. We are of course dumbfounded by this, “B” meat they say… the insects that gather honey? We are of course laughed at and lead to a window overlooking a path, those are “B’s” says one of them pointing to a residence across the way. We of course find this all rather confusing and ask, you mean you eat other people? They would simply reply that they eat “B’s”. We would find that they are not penned up, nor kept as slaves because their own food the “A’s” are found right living right next to them.

Finally, we come to an understanding. “A’s” are eaten by the “B’s” who are in turn eaten by the “C’s” who then eat the “A’s”… there is no lording over any because each is food for the other. Now, we are all quite perplexed by this… in-fact some might call this “lawless” but they are adamant against this. They do indeed have laws… and they follow them without question. It is in-fact these laws that make their lives so harmonious.

We have the basis for the knowledge here… how can we discover the laws of this land?

So the land has laws, they follow these laws invariably. It is the basis that makes the balance work so successfully, how do we discover these laws? First, we must find what never happens in the natural world. Second, we must see what makes the balance work. Third, we must see what happens when the laws are broken. Through this method we will have a better understanding of the balance.

Now, we have an understanding of a way find how this works. It is no secret that the system works, the forests thrive and the animals are healthy and well populated. Though, the “civilized” world draws back in horror from it, they fear it in-fact. They see it as a world of chaos, endless competition, and where every living creature lives in fear for its life. this is not the case at all, those who live in this “world” would defend themselves to the death rather then be separated from it.

Take the deer, some would claim the deer and the wolf are enemies… but I can assure you they are not. The wolf does not massacre every deer it comes across, it only takes what it needs. A content and full wolf will pass by a herd of deer who will happily go on grazing. That is the basis from one of the laws, it is not chaos… it is in-fact a law of peace keeping.

It is when one thinks that they are exempt from these laws that the problems start. They create a civilization that flaunts the law at every turn. This is where some might disagree with me, that civilization can work in the balance… but in the form as we see it now. I can attest that there are those who live with the balance and do not flaunt it. So is it civilization that is against the laws of the balance or is the “people” themselves?

Rule 1: Competition, You may protect your territory, you may protect your food, you may not exterminate your competition.

There are four things that “Civilization” does, that never happens in the “wilds” or the community of “The Balance”. The first being the extermination of competition. In the “wilds” an animal will defend its territory and their kills, but it will not seek out its competition and kill it, just for the sake of killing. Even when the two species include competitors as their prey, they never seek them out just to kill them the way a farmer does with wolves, foxes and crows. In general terms, what they hunt, they eat they do not exterminate like the farmer.

It is of note though that animals of the wild can and will kill in self defense, or even if they feel threatened. Take the frozen wastes of the north, in the frozen north there are extremely aggressive wolves. These wolves will form into packs and attack a snow leopard or bear that hasn’t attacked them. The point is though, the wolves will form into packs to look for food, but will not form into packs to look for snow leopards or bears. To put it simply, when animals hunt, even aggressive animals like the wolves of the north, it is to obtain food, not to exterminate competition or even other animals that prey on them.

The proof that this law is followed by everything but the civilized world is that there is diversity amongst competitors. If all acted as the farmer, the competitors would hunt each other to extinction and there would be only one predator. This predator that would remain would be of course the strongest and the only one left.

Rule 2: Take what you need, leave the rest alone

This is one of the most important laws and the most dangerous threat to “The Balance”. The farmer will destroy the source of food for everything else to make room for his own. This expansionist policy is what the druids fear the most.

The biggest problem with this is the excess in food. The more food that is needed to be stored, the more the population will grow. Thus in the coming seasons the land that is being cultivated is not enough to support the now larger population. What does this mean? It is simple… more land is needed to cultivate and thus more intrusion into the wilds. This greater population also adds a greater threat of diseases to be spread and famine to occur.

This puts some of those who work with the balance at odds with each other. Take the faithful of Earastil, he sees to both the wild, and the agriculture domain of the plants. This has caused a certain split in the church and also made those of other faiths who tend to the balance weary of them. Just how far will Earastil go to see the farms thrive and the population grow… and when does it become a hinder to the balance if it is not already is.

This can also be applied to hunting. Take the game hunters of the noble humans. They see little fear in killing massive amounts of “game” and have no understanding of how it can be dangerous to the surrounding wilds. There are times yes, when the population of certain animals grow too large due to an excess of food, like the deer. In times like this it is a policy to cull the excess and return the population to a level can be stable to the environment. This is the job of the druids though, it is for them to decide when this must be done.

Rule 3: Leave no footprints

Any ecosystem can be damaged by the proximity of humans. A logger who cuts a forest to the ground is not only deetroying the inhabitants of the forest whom are dependent upon the forest for there welfare and survival, will also loose his livelyhood as the logger will now have to move to another area so he can cut down more trees. In this way the logger has not only destryed the lives of the creatures that live in the area, but also there own economic achilles heel. With no indudtry the land will become barren for the humans that live there. Co-existence is a fundamental part of nature and society. When one feels the err of the othere, both will be damaged.

Druids are taught never to leave a trace of ones chemical footprint in the wilds, so does “The Balance”. A logger whom cuts down a forest should replant it as he goes, to ensure the land can thrive onces more. The animals in the area can still seek protection of the new trees as they bloom. This is a fundamental aspect of “The Balance”.

Rule 4: Respect cycles

A predator must have prey. A creature that lives must die. We all live in a cuyle of hunting or being hunted. From the insects that are the gardeners of the forest floor, to the carnivores that consume flesh. We all serve a purpose in life. A great cycle that must be maintained to ensure the survival of later generations. Everything has a purpose in life. “The Balance” teaches us to repect this cycle and ensure creatures do not upset. If something should upset this balance, in the end all species of crdatures will suffer. A dragon that kills human for food is no less dangerous then a hunter or fisherman. The dragon will cull thehuman population so it can be managed without effecting lesser species of creatures.

Author Kasumi Havanger
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== TOME: Oneiromantic Manifesto ==

Definition: Oneiromancy is a form of divination based upon dreams; it is a system of dream interpretation that uses dreams to predict the future.

Dreams are a near-universal phenomenon experienced by many sleeping creatures, including the majority of predatory birds and mammals, demons and ajgels, humanoids and monstrous humanoids, and even monotremes and aberrations such as the duck-billed platypus or aboloth. Naturally, this includes all peoples of both the modern and ancient world. Indeed dreaming seems such a commonplace occurrence that one might expect this topic to have been thoroughly explored in the case of ancient Orision. References to Orision dreams abound in modern works, both scholarly and popular, but until now these have focused heavily on the role of dreams in divination and oracles. Much emphasis has also been placed on incubation—the custom of sleeping in a specified location, usually a temple, for the purpose of soliciting a divine dream to answer a question or to gain information—a custom claimed to have been widely practised throughout the ancient world. In addition, the interpretation of dreams has been a popular topic of research, and the famous ‘Ramesside Dream Book,’ which is a list of dreams and their possible meaning, is cited as evidence for the importance of dream interpretation in ancient Orision.

But the variety of genres and contexts in which dreams are mentioned, suggests that their functions and roles were complex, varied, and changed through time. Recently discovered and Orisionology texts furnish new evidence, while concurrently the focus in Orisionology has shifted, encouraging the exploration of a broader spectrum of society. We shall here investigate the many roles which the dream played in Ancient Orision, from the viewpoint of royalty, nobles, and to the extent possible, commoners. We shall look at the emotional response of Orisions to this familiar yet mysterious phenomenon, as well as their own perceptions of dreams. In Ancient Orisiin, dreams could be understood as an external phenomenon—as a sort of liminal zone between the living and the divine worlds, or they could be used as literary devices. We will explore the possible function of dreams in politics, religion, and rituals. Not all dreams are good ones, so we will also examine methods of warding off bad dreams and nightmares. Finally, we will not use dreams to try to analyse the psychology of an ancient Orision, but rather to explore the Orisions’ perceptions of dreams and nightmares, as they are reflected in the archaeological evidence, both textual and non-textual.

In an effort to reconstruct an impression of the earliest Orision perceptions of dreams, this book is limited to reports and documentation attested from the first two millennia of Orision history, that is up to the end of the New Kingdom. This is not to imply that the evidence after this time should be considered unimportant, irrelevant, or any less Orision. On the contrary, numerous Mwangi Expanse and Katapash documents have survived attesting to the growing popularity of dreams and, in particular, dream interpretation at that time. But including these documents in the current discussion would necessitate an explanation of the intricate relationships between Orision and the surrounding cultures of that time, the impact of foreign rule, increasing immigration, and the effects of reciprocal influence. Instead, this book will focus on dream attestations prior to the Shining Crusades, thus enabling us to include lesser-known documentation and artefacts that reflect the roles and functions of dreams from earlier times.

This study has been inspired by the view that for the ancient Orisions the relationship between the nocturnal sphere and the farworld—sleep and death, and darkness and rebirth—held a profound significance and figured largely in Orision religious documentation. The observation that the sun travels through the sky everyday, then seems to disappear (or die) every night, yet always rises again in the morning in a seemingly eternal cycle, played a major role in the Orision belief in the afterlife. Even the fpictorial of the godess Saerenrae and the worship the Orisions have for the sun attribute these beliefs. The events that occurred nightly in the divine realm, out of sight of human eyes also played a special role in Orision religious belief, and one might expect that dreams, the visions that one sees in the night, would also be significant. Some Orisions speculations and theories about these nocturnal events can be found in funerary compositions such as the Am Duat which describes the journey which the deceased pharaoh takes with the sun-god Sarenrar through the twelve divisions or hours of night, and the Book of Night which again depicts Sarenraes journey through the hours. Clearly, the night was both a time and a realm inhabited by the gods and the dead. The pharaoh Akhenaten wrote in a hymn that at night the “earth is in darkness as if in death; one sleeps in chambers, heads covered, one eye does not see another.” Since this was a potentially dangerous time for mortals, when natural rules did not apply, what would be the meaning of seeing a dream while fast asleep in the night? We shall examine what this significance was, how it changed through time, and how it impacted the society of ancient Orision through the New Kingdom. *

The following is an exert from Diviner Banshee’s research journal, made public in the Monolith library*

“And so, as I laid down one eve to rest, I imagine myself from a bird’s eye view, and that something in the room too crept there though not in slumber as I, a supine figure. But it did exist and lay in the same room, perhaps not in the most obvious of ways but as a host, or guest, resting close, lighter than entropy and as the vastation itself, the soul, or whatever one might call it, was conscious, but not of me. And it was through its eyes did I see myself, free of its salt, its inexcapable vise that is I. Of whom it was not aware that we both were attatched to one another, one in the same, seamlessly tethered but still visable of one another when we are infact awake in the form of a shadow, the soul. And when we rest, the shadow-self wakes, our soul that thing and carries us around where ever it travels, to the store, behind the fire on a canvas of brick. We see it, but cannot communicate with it, unless given into the darker form of our art. Shadow magic. But that would mean—O! Are we not shadows? Are we not a soul of another creature’s that wakes in what would be considered the opposite’s nocturne? And when we utilize our magic, does it not utilize the magic of the shadows? And to it, are we not the shadow users ourself! Then it came to me, my experiment to be, to seperate the shadow from ourselves even in the presense of sun or candle; to communicate and bridge the gap of entropic space, where even dark matter and shadows can hide, through the beautiful art of Oneiromancy will we have access to the subconscious of our other side, to swim among the words of the silent, our soul and our shadow, what we cannot simply do with the one poor arrow of the voice, we will penetrate with dreams.

The Shadow-Dreams. The terror in my heart fills with wine as for what I am about to attempt for the love of magic."

Author Diviner Banshee
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Whistling a soft hum to make sure my elemental is ready for my next command Ostarion stands within arms reach of Ecthleion and look at the blood knight for a second or two trying to impart a message to him. “My allies the mayors body is the work of Vrood, I have seen this before and that book is his personal tome given to apprentices. I know it well. I also believe (using spellcraft +15) that the mayor suffered a spell that drained his soul, known only to necromancers like Vrood or Advion, and myself of course.” Looking to the rest of the heroes to see how this will play out.

Standing warily behind Ecthelion, Ostarian has discretely placed his hand near his spell pouch while quickly working out the odds of such a battle in a confined space. Smiling a little, he knew the odds were heavily in the heroes favor, especially having seen them fight vampires and ghosts only this week. Calling out firmly to Zephyr but directed at all in the room “Your crows are the guardians of a diseased and oppressed city that makes money of the flesh of the dead. And you, tax collectors are just thugs and extortors from the thieves guild! How dare you say we broke any laws, and stand there while you city is being destroyed by a beast from the hells.”

“The dead? You mean the mines no doubt. They are under the control of the Priests of Abadar, as the Wills of recently past away choose to repay their debts or still provide an incentive income for their families even though they are dead. Its all governed by law of Carrion Hill.” Zephyr looks in disgust at the travellers knowing that he brought them into Carrion Hill. “Why would you kill Mayor Heggry… Was it to cover your tracks?”

Spending his time in the mayors residence, Adivion had taken to reading a variety ot tomes in Heggrys library. Awoken by the distressing cries of a woman in need, Advion is surprised to find a heavily armed contingent of crow mercenaries ready to arrest his friends. Sensing growing hostilities, Adivion days “I cannot speak for all of those here before you today, but I know for certain Ecthelion of Sarenrae would not have committed the crimes you suggest. I have enough sails to pay for his bail, until this is sorted out. I implore you for your own safety, as of that of the town that you allow us to continue our work, to let him undertake his own investigation into the mayors death”.

Jimmy one of the crows responds “Well ain’t it just dandy. Somehow you are allowed to stay in the mayors manor without him telling the crows. Suspivious enough for ya. Ehhh. The same night you guys arrive in town, there is a death here at the Manor. There are rumours all over town about similar so called accident that happened at Ascanor Lodge a few weeks back. They say there was the mysterious death of several guests at the lodge the same night as Ecthelion and his friends arrived. I don’t know what strange cult you guys are in, or the sick twisted satisfaction you get out of killing folk, but were gonna put you to…” Before he could finish Viktor Von’Drakh enters the room and cuts the guardsmans words off.

“It would be wise not to cease any impulsive judgements without first examining the scenes in which the attacks took place. Anca Willow is here to aid in my investigation into the attacks and disappearances, she has a spirit board that will allow communion with the dead. To avoid bloodshed, I would ask both parties to indulge a full scientific investigation of the crime scenes. A walk through of the four crime scenes is recommended to discover the truth behind the accusations”.

The head Abdar tax coolector spits out, “We will momentarily agree to the terms Von’Drakh suggests, on one condition. These criminals are to be given the touch of truth telling during the walk through as to allow the truth to be revealed. They may remain armed but any lolligagging and we will be forced to enact judgement there and then”. ( http://www.d20pfsrd.com/magic/all-spells/a/abadar-s-truthtelling)

Adivion turns to Ecthelion, “I suggest we leave Ecthelion. I will pay your dues and we can leave this decrepit city. These people you travel with have dragged your name through the mud, only more damage will be done to your name should we stay in Carrion Hill, let alone Versex. Engaging in hostiliies against the Crows will damage your reputation irrefutably. So would indulging a wanted fugitive in the Vielands, by allowing a hypocritical investigation under taken by him to take place. Do not be punished for the dwarfs actions and his new blood hound. You are to important to the futire and welfare of this nation”.

Jimmy the guide that took you to Coyl house originally, scowls at you adventurers, watching Falkon summing up the exits to the room should he find the need to make a hasty escape. “Just you try and run, there are over 1200 sets of eyes in this city loyal to the crows, just see how far ya get dodging arrows from every roof top. The city is a maze, you’d be dead before you got to the filth”.

The tax collector speaks once more. “With Heggry dead, you have about a day until a new mayor is ellected. When a new one is elected all contracts with Heggry you made will become null and void. It is also my duty to inform you that convicted criminals here in Carrion Hill face the consequence of either being put into prison, out into the asylum, forced to pay a hefty debt or executed and put to work in the eternity mines. Any confrontation that results in bodily harm to the peace keepers in this city automatically results in the forfeiture of any current assets occupied on a person during the incident”.

Viktor offers further “Several witnesses at Belfors and Coyls estate are already waiting for peliminary questioning”.

Suprised to see that Advion is still in the manor, Ostarian recovers and moves casually to be within an arms reach of the blood knight as Ecthelion has now a way out, “I will not be placed under any arrest or have my possessions taken away by theiving dogs of the gutters. Whether the dead signed contracts or not, they are still undead, and this is blasphemous across the entire country. The higher law of life defeats any contracts signed.” Looking to Zephyr “I observe that you know you did not bring enough thugs or charlatans to take us, I brought down hundreds of ghouls within an hour, and my allies here have fought a vampire knight to destroy him. Any enchantment that your charlatans will cast will only affect simpletons, so I have no care what minor powers they summon. Have care that I dont see an attack spell in these summonings or I will slay you all where you stand.” Ostarian walks towards the group of collectors and crows so that he has as many of them as possible in 30’ of him “Cast your truth telling spells on me and watch Zephyr as your fake clerics are revealed as lacking grit, and all there spells fail.”

Falkon adds “I say we let them lock us up, I have nothing to hind from you, nor do I fear this truth telling spell. A little bit of truth could do us all a favor and unlike Ostarion I will not try and resist. When the murders continue through the town as we sit patiently in our cells you crows might even begin to see that we are innocent after all. Zephyr, you saw the evil we fought and destroyed in that house, surely you know that their is a greater evil in your city. Your Mayor’s death comes as much of a shock to me as it is to you. I hope that you can clear our names before night falls so we can get back to doing what we all came here to do. Destroy this evil beast and bring the necromantic murderer who killed your mayor to justice.”

“Zephyr, you saw the evil we fought and destroyed in that house, surely you know that their is agreater evil in your city. Your Mayor’s death comes as much of a shock to me as it is to you. Ihope that you can clear our names before night falls so we can get back to doing what we all came here to do. Destroy this evil beast and bring the necromantic murderer who killed your mayor to justice.” Zephyr intrigued by the sorcerers actions again and replies “I honor you courage for coming along peacefully, as I cannot speak of those actions coming from your compatriots. I am curious to know if you actually have nothing to hide or that you know you wouldn’t escape this city alive. Smart move either way. Those fouled tentacle beast you speak of, maybe it was your work, after all your friends conjured those monsters to barge the front gate of the party. As for this necromancer, there is no evidence backing your claims that this phantom Vrood exists. Now the Mayor is dead, you are accounted as prime suspects again due to being the last people in contact with him, before his death. I have come to the conclusion wherever your group treads, death will follow. Are you cultists?”

The Raven Knight clutches his bow and leans over to Ecthelion; “Is this not your friend Viktor? He reeks of evil, as does his companion. He told you last that he is not to be trusted, I fear the truth in those words.”

“I assure you Falkon, I am not resisting these fakirs of Abadar, the greedy. In any matter, isnt a god stronger than a mere mortal, and if I could resist their gods will then I must be the stronger?” Peering intently to the clerics of abadar “Do your best pawns of Abadar, try and enslave my will, usurp my minds control if you are able!” A faint humming can be heard in the room as small eddies of air twirl in the corner behind the crows.

“I thank you Adivion. Your continued monetary support shows your undivided trust in me. If only everyone here was as convinced at my innocence as you are.” To the tax collector, “Adivion here is going to vouch for me, but I do not have the funds to bail my friends out. They will have to be held until the procession… I am sorry my friends. I will see that this is dealt with in a fair and just manner….. However… Anca has something in her possession which does not belong to her, and I would like to see that it is back in my possession immediately. The item is one Ouija board, which I was keeping safe in the house of Professor Lorrimor in Ravensgro. Anca had no right to take the item from us when she left my party, and thus, if she doesn’t agree to hand the item back to me, she is a thief and any evidence which is gathered by her in relation to our arrest should be deemed unusable. As a thief, she cannot be trusted in a legal matter. The same goes for Viktor, as if you read the report from the trial of the beast in Lepidstadt, you will see that Viktor went above the law, and took it upon himself to release the beast unlawfully. Whilst he was aquitted of the crime, such a disregard for legal procedure demonstrates that he is unfit to give evidence in another legal matter such as this. I am afraid that you will have to provide new experts in the matter.” (I polish up this statement with a diplomacy of +15 modifier, to convince the tax man that he needs to use different experts rather than the evil Anca and Viktor).

Zephyr responds"Well…… Looks like your granted bail, for now. Unfortunately for your friends do not share the same fate. You are free to gather your evidence and pled your case on their behalf, as they will be remanded till the court hearing. Know this halfing, if you manage to flee the city, we will place a bounty on your head in every city/town and farmstead in Ustalav for being a wanted fugitive."

Ecthelion had a somewhat of a knack for sensing when people were not to be trusted, and he had never really liked anca.. And viktor had said himself that he wasn’t to be trusted.. It was apparent to ecthelion that for this legal issue to be dealt with fairly, Viktor and Anca would need to be removed from the situation if possible.

“You are probably right Ecthelion (Diplomacy 9+15=24), I will offer you that your friends be placed under house arrest until replacement investigators be found. You will have to wait until a new mayor is elected however. The crimes scenes will be roped off and guarded to ensure they are not tainted, evidence corrupted, removed or false evidence placed at the scenes. You may elect one of your men to watch over the crime scene at Belfors. Adivion can watch over Coyls house, and a tent will been errected over the other two crime scenes with independent afventurers hired to guard them. I would ask that you allow us to catalog you items as to prevent any false evidence being placed at the crime scenes. This will include examining the wizards spell book to ensure adequate protections are placed at the crime scenes as to protect there integrity. If you agree to these terms, we can begin to organise a fair hearing…

As Zephyr suggested you can begin to investigate the crime scens yourself, but you will have an escort of no less then 15 crow guards and 5 tax collectors casting detect magic over you as to prevent any funny business. I do believ the witch wishes a word with you". The Abdar cleric waves Anca in.

Standing in the middle of the assembled crows and clerics of Abadar, Ostarian turns to face Ecthelion as he speaks and watches the guards for signs of hostile action. The room feels heavy somehow, the light a little duller, as the pressure of a vaccuum is building near Ostarian. The allies watching Ostarian can see the dwarf is ready to draw arcane energies from the weave around them “My Lord Ecthelion, Saviour of the Furrows, scourge of devils and werewolves alike, I stand at your will ready to show these fools what cost they will pay for treating us wrong. Just say the word and I will exact a blood price for their theivery and corruption.”

Seeing Ostarion begin to summon in arcane energy Falkon quickly stepped forward “All these men want is to restore order and peace to their city. Tell me Ostarion, why are they so wrong to stand and accuse us of these crimes when all they are seeing is an aggressive dwarf boasting of magnificent power waiting for a chance to smite them down! We all know we are innocent of many of these crimes. What I don’t understand is why you are so foolish as to act like you have something to hide. I do not mean to stand against you, nor do I think you actions the last few days were wrong. However, your hostility in the wake of last nights events is making it increasingly difficult to stand behind and support you. I suggest you put any thoughts for conflict aside before you make matters worse.”

“What is wrong Falkon, is that these so-called law makers, are actually members of the local thieves guild known to extort the locals and throw people in jail. Sometimes they even just send them to become a zombie.” Turning and pointing to Anca “This person is a witch with the blood of a hag, who has stolen from Ecthelion in the past, and is rumored to be a member of a group of assassins.” Turning back to Falkon “I will not use force on any of these thugs unless they harm us or my Lord orders it so.” Pausing for silence to fill the room, “Falkon you dont seem to realise the idiocy of you trusting your life to the hands of people that are willing to let a beast kills its citizens, just to investigate our so called actions.” Facing Zephyr again “Do you believe that the crows really should be focusing on us instead of hunting the beast?”

The witch Anca enters the room. “Tsk Tsk… Boys don’t you know its rude to talk about a lady when shes in the room”. Anca turns her eyes to Ecthelions comrades, completely ignoring the halfling. “I see you have been busy little boy. I thought a nasty mean old monster would have eaten you up by now , but it seems you have done very well for yourself. It looks as though you are still only interested in the touch of men Ecthelion, only surronding youself with cocks smaller then your own. And yes… cocks does retort to chickens… and other things. You are in my home now, while you have been busy chasing a ghost in a cloak I have made real progress into discovering the true objectives of the Whispering Way. But my legs don’t open for free. You should know that there is something I want”.

Anca is momentarily stopped in her tracks. “But whose this brave young man”, Anca begins to circle Falkon. “Such bold words. Such a pretty complexion [she runs her hand from Falkons hair to his mid back, after curling his hair with her hand]. Maybe you have not wasted your time as much as I have thought. This one has potential. Perhaps I could enjoy his company. They always say youth is wasted on the young”. Anca leans close to Falkons ear and whispers “And I could teach you so much”, she kisses him on the neck, watching intently to see if he shudders. “So much pleasures I sense this one has not tasted, like a baby lamb still on its mothers milk”.

Anca turns her attention to the dwarf Ostarion next. “Now don’t be a rabbit in a room of foxes. I am sure there can be a mutual exchange yet arranged here so both parties can… come… how you say… out on top….”. Anca looks at Falkon again in ecstasy and bewilderment. "Ecthelion calls me a thief, but I made a deal with Kendra for the spirit board long ago. You see I placed a tracking spell on the person whom killed her father, not that the harlot would trust another soul with sharing such information. Kendra would not risk sharing information, she’d let no one steal her revenge. But killing a man is not true revenge. Turning them into a frog and making them watch as you destroy there livelyhood, thats more my sort of thing. But whatever helps you get your rocks off.

But speaking of Kendra, I here she entered the Carrion Hill a few hours ago, with a bunch of knights in black armour. They had the stench of wolves about them. I could sense tbe demonic blood that flowed through there viens when I got close to them. But I wonder, what brings you and Kendra to this little city. Perhaps the murderer of her worm food father". She looks towards the Abdar clerics, they do not seem to be very impressed by her display. But desperate times called for desperate measures.

“If I said to you I could help you with this Auren Vrood, and help prove your innocence, would it be worth a favour. But as it stands, Zephyr is right, there is no evidence to suggest Vrood is here. I would you be willing to help you find him, if you agree to help me obtain an item that I desire. Nothing illegal I assure you, just an honest transaction between associates”. She waits for a response.

Hearing Ecthelions words and the Abdar clerics new offer, Von’Drakh says, “It is unfortunate that the road has breed distrust in you halfling. For without friends, this land is surely doomed. I believe I have a solution that will allow you to see the beast. It is a device that will allow you to see on an alternative spectrum of ultra violet light. If you want my help, you no where to find me”. Von’Drakh gives you a sneer before exiting the room.

[Those whom roll a perception of DC 20 hear – “Ingrates, you will all soon learn the true darkness that lies in Carrion Hill”]

Jimmy the crow whom had been friendly with the adventurers acting as a guide, until they had assaulted Belfors house. Jimmy says, “Just try it dwarf. Your as beardless as a babies bumbcheeks. Your a flea trap. A furball. Your mummy probably squirted you out like the orc you are. Clanless, beardless, a fat gnome, a drunk ulf and yellow belly all in one. Just try that spell en you will see how the crows deal with trouble makers”. Jimmy seems keen for the dwarf to back up his words.

One of the older crows gives Jimmy a clip over the ears. “Shut up Jimmy, were not here to start a war. But Ecthelion you should put a leash on that dwarf. We only seek a lawful and peaceful resolution. No need for blood to be spilt”. The man eyes Ostarion nervously, making sure he is close enough to get inside arms lengths radius of the dwarf, should he try anything.

Jimmy pipes up again, “You call us thugs and thieves. It weren’t my actions in question.It was not me pilfering from a house and crime scene. Let alone sieging a private party and attacking innocent patrons and guests. I had words with Belfor and he told me you were not even on the guest list. He would have been happy to speak to the so called Heroes of the Furrows. But them stories can’t be true. Or either you guys are impersonators, sent here to cause problems. Zephyrs right, probably cultists of the old religion. I have heard many nobles here talk about a plot organised at the Furrows to overthrow the barons. A so called allied alliance forged at sentinels keep against the rightful inheritors of the states of Ustalav. This ain’t the Vielands. No decent folk here have any problems here how things are run. I have heard how folk like you treat those with the divine right to rule. We all heard how you put Alphon Cormarc to the axe, parading his head like it was a festival banner. You don’t like how things are run, then don’t come here. Take your business elsewhere. We gots more troubles to deal with then nursing anarchist, hellions, stormy petrel or punks like you”.

Ostarian: (In response to.) Looking to Zephyr “I observe that you know you did not bring enough thugs or charlatans to take us, I brought down hundreds of ghouls within an hour, and my allies here have fought a vampire knight to destroy him. Any enchantment that your charlatans will cast will only affect simpletons, so I have no care what minor powers they summon. Have care that I dont see an attack spell in these summonings or I will slay you all where you stand.” and “Do you believe that the crows really should be focusing on us instead of hunting the beast?” Zephyr find the dwarfs words amusing. " Do not patronize me dwarf our city watch consists of over 1000 men. Good luck trying to stop us. Come along peacefully now and no body gets hurt. Or is it that you have something to hide. Bah! The beast….. it could be possible your work, as far as we know. You possess similar magic tendencies summoning earth elemental and phantom ettins. “Silence Jimmy or I will dock your pay”. The Abdar cleric regains control of the town watch. “Do your compatriots have anything to say for themselves”. The Abdar cleric looks at Muerete, the blood and raven knight.

“Accusation, Accusations, Accusations! We are worse than a bunch of squabbling street rats. Here we stand, accused of serious crimes with strong evidence stacked against us. Yet, instead of defending ourselves and our righteousness, we are demanding to be set free while accusing those who we have known but a night of thievery, corruption, and evil deeds. Where is our evidence?! It is no surprise they are starting to accuse us of being cultists. You can’t say our actions have matched the heroic tales surrounding us. We cannot claim that we are better than they are because they have the dead work for them in the mines. From what I have heard about this, it is not by choice. This is a poor city after all and her people must do what they can to survive. It is a cultural difference that we need to understand fully before we pass our judgments on. As for you Zephyr, you may feel I am holding things from you. Any wise man would be suspicious of us all. I would relish the opportunity to speak with you in a trial to begin clearing our names and start spreading the truth. It is a shame things have turned out like this when the crows could have made such good allies in cleaning up this city. In terms of Vrood I am sure he is rolling around laughing at us as we take the blame for his actions.

Ostarian leaves the group of crows and clerics to stand behind Ecethlion again. He seems confused by the recent events though his walks without his limp and a quickness to his eyes that has been missing since the battle. “Ecthelion, forgive me for trying to protect us from dangerous enemies. I will submit my will to your leadership and not refuse the town guard their right to arrest wrong doers.”

Seeing the blood knight looking across at him, Ostarian feels he has betrayed the knight somehow with the recent events. he knows that is the reason of handing over such enchanted bracers to the knight. Guilt. Thinking through the murders at the ball, Ostarian sighs inwardly and reaches for a large pouch filled with coins and gemstones worth 5,000gp. Throwing this to Zephyr “This is the bail bond money for the Blood Knight there” pointing to the red armored knight with his hand resting lightly on his katana. “This is because of my oath to you blood knight, regardless of today’s events, I will still help you hunt the oni you seek once this is sorted out. But you shouldn’t be punished for your loyalty.” Looking into Ostarians eyes you swear they are now a deeper red and no longer amber, with a strange tug on you mind, you look away from his eyes.

Standing in the filthy street outside the Mayors house waiting for his allies to get their act together Ostarian notices that he is more alert than normal, he can not only see what people are doing around him, he can almost smell their sweat. The roast pork breakfast is not sitting well and the odours here are not helping. Clenching his fists helps a little and he marvels at the corded muscles that respond as today was 100 years ago. Wistfully he wishes he still had his clan hammer to smash things with. Thinking on the great difficulty this morning in preparing his spells as the runes swirled and faded like he was an apprentice again and not able to summon his higher spells. Running his tongue along his teeth Ostarian is relieved to feel no sharp incisors or unusual teeth, maybe it was a dream, or the effects of the strange paintings. Looking at his allies, the knights especially, he knows he will have to play these cards very close to his chest until he learns more.

View
The Long Night

While the others were sleeping in the Mayors Manor Ostarian was up late studied his spellbooks and found tomes. He kept glancing at the Eternal Tome and its promises of power, eventualy he rationalised that the group will need powerful magic to kill the beast of Carrion Hill and earn their coin. As he turned the dry page, a wash of negative energy pushed into his body as he was too tired to resist, and the Tome suddenly turned pages by itself.

Ostarian crumpled in his seat as his blood burned with unholy energies and felt worse than the time his soul was crucified by the ghost. He felt his life essence draining into the Tome and his muscles spasmed uncontrollably. The pain caused him to pass out and his head hit the table hard.

Waking up before dawn, Ostarian did not feel tired anymore. In fact he fact as if he was 100 years younger, his broken left leg could move more, and his hands did not tremble as much. Ostarian sensed that the Tome had awoken something in his blood, but his gain in physical properties only highlighted his inability to summon spells that only yesterday he called forth on his lips with ease. Ostarian had studied the necromantic planes for decades and now knew that he had been exposed to that dark plane and would take time to recover.

Waiting for the others to wake Ostarian knew today would be very difficult. How could he explain to the others, what he himself did not fully understand. The morning sun seen through the window watered his eyes, and the smell of garlic now repulsed him. By reflex his hands had checked for bite marks but had found none, though this did not calm him at all.

View
Between the hammer and the anvil

After teleporting himself and the serving blood knight away from that strange crowd of nobles, Ostarian takes a moment to steady his thoughts as the astral disorientation wears away. Looking next to him he sees the unconscious noble being held by the swaying knight.
A brief conversation to make sure the painting is no longer functional or able to summon forth the bearded devils, and the noble is floated back to his estate gardens by Whisper. Walking around the table Ostarian’s thoughts are dark and at the same time full of passion, he knows that he didnt have to fry all those nobles, but the drunk wench grabbed his breechcloth well and firm. The thought still made him feel wronged.

The power to destroy them all came unbidden to his mind in the form of whispers, of promise, eternal power and command over all the living. It took all of Ostarian’s considerable mind to hold the necromantic energy in check. The blood knight is disturbed but seemed to be loyal to his oath and holding his anger back.

Thinking on the others Ostarian knows they will probably hand themselves in or be caught trying to restore order. Dont they know how serious Vrood and this beast are! Demons and planar aberrations visiting our world with death in the houses of all, we are the only ones strong enough to stop the Whispering Way from whatever evil plot it has. The death of a few nobles means nothing in the greater good of hundreds of lives, anyway most of these nobles need cleaning out, corrupted as they likely to be.

Giving the blood knight some careful instructions Ostarian takes out a polished and valuable black onyx set in copper wire cage. Whispering difficult phrases in infernal, Ostarian feels his soul leave his body again and enter the black prison. It seems like forever but the life force is detected and Ostarian floats his soul straight into the defenceless mayor thrusting his soul into the magic jar prison.
Taking a few steps to get used to the mayors body and voice, so different from the dwarf’s own, Ostarian also noted that the power of the tome still flowed through him even though the tome was stored in my backpack in another room. Taking the time to search for secret doors in the manor, setting the guards at ease as they saw nothing amiss with the Mayor walking late around his halls. Ostarian took whatever wealth he could find that was portable and expensive.

A short time afterwards, Ostarian feels a small measure of guilt towards the fate of Ecthelion and decides to release them all from prison by making the Mayor give a declaration of sworn oath that the new allies are here working for him. That the nobles died was regrettable but a price to be paid in the hunt for this beast.

Hours later all the allies were gathered around the Mayors table eating food and arguing over the legal issue, with our actions, specifically the actions of Ostarian. Did they not see that dozens more would have died, and hundreds more will, because Vrood is playing us all for fools. Vrood is delaying us at every turn using the knights codes against our pursuit of him.

An uneasy rest that night, Ostarian thinks of new spells to prepare and constantly holds the tome close. At some point during the night, Ostarian decides to risk his soul once more and turn a page for more power. With the new insights and spells prepared in the early morning before the dawn, as necromantic spells are best studied without the suns light to distract.

A scream and a crash as a servant girl runs out of the mayors chambers. We rush into the room to see the souless husk of the mayor and Ostarian sees straight away that Vrood is still playing with him and his allies. A dwarven oath is muttered to keep focus on the hunt for Vrood. Hearing guards running up the stairs, Ostarian is feeling conflicted about leaving his new allies to their fate, though the oath to Ecthelion tugs on his soul tightly.

With a heavy heart ostarian decides to see what happens and prepares to help his allies fight if they choose, or leave and let them be arrested. Truly this town doesnt understand what it means to wrong a necromancer, particulary a vampire hunter, and I will watch over my allies until the time is right to save Ecthelion. Maybe even some of the other allies too.

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