Thursday, February 8, 2018

Devils in the Village (#4)

2/7/2018, Session #4

In the company of  Emmet and Bartley, we make our return to Carrock.  Their prisoner—still incoherent and suffering from malnourishment, is bound to one of the beasts of burden, and we travel on foot.  The going is slow, but along the way, we learn a little more about the town of Carrock and its inhabitants.  Another druid, Maglarosh, watches over Carrock—I feel that we must share news of Damyca with him.

Travel is uneventful except for the piercing cry of a single wolf during the first night’s watch.  It brings back horrible memories of Carcerus and the destruction of Shadfeld, but heralds nothing malicious—at least not yet.

Carrock is a small village, full of vibrancy and the smell of hearth-fire smoke.  A partially-constructed tower sits at the center of town; the brothers reveal that it was commissioned many years ago by previous inhabitants, but never finished.  It is used to store goods and foodstuffs.  The town itself lies within a light wood, with several gardens.  Fishing and hunting seem to be the primary trades, and the building of chief import the Inn of Carrock, run by a man named Drachus.

In advance of our arrival, we send one of the brothers to alert the town leaders and Maglarosh of our arrival, as well as to make sure their sister is not among the welcome party.  We wish to avoid drama, and know that the presence of the prisoner will likely be unwelcome.  Drachus is the apparent leader of this town, though seems too young to bear such a responsibility.  He takes news of Shadfeld’s destruction with an admirable seriousness that defies his young age; it is clear he cares for the well-being of Carrock. 

As feared, Drachus will not allow the prisoner to re-enter town.  The boy’s state seems unchanged, though he awakens briefly to mumble something about “three streams.”  Tussugar agrees to watch over our prisoner while we escort Drachus to the Inn of Carrock to share more news, a meal, and a welcomed ale.

At the Inn we encounter Aibreann, wife of Drachus, and the victim of our prisoner’s violence.  She has auburn hair, unique among her siblings, and is pregnant (presumably with Drachus’ child).  We learn later that she is adopted, and that the baby is thankfully unharmed.  Drachus has little to add to what we know of his wife’s attack, and for the moment, it seems inappropriate to press Aibreann for information on the matter.

We are saddened to hear that Erathmar is not here, nor has he passed through.  My worry for our employer grows.  We finally agree to camp outside the limits of Carrock, both to quell my worries of Korvich and Carcerus, as well as to keep the prisoner an appropriate distance from the Inn.  Maglarosh awaits us upon our return, however—the quintessential druid, an older, aloof man who smells of the wood and the beasts that reside within.  We tell him the true details of the assault on Shadfeld—leaving out only our encounter with Kezia, which is not easily explained—and Tussugar angrily confirms that it was Korvich and cultists of my faith that carried out the attack.

Maglarosh tells us of the “shadow binding,” lore of ancient druidic nature, that tells of a time of darkness and reshaping of nature.  He had intended to seek out Damyca, having had similar premonitions, and fears that our tale may speak of this “shadow binding” or perhaps dangers of a larger scope than any we imagined.  Maglarosh agrees to watch over our prisoner in hopes that he will recuperate, as the druid agrees that he may play some larger role in the events of the last few days.

Relieved of our burden temporarily, I return to the Inn for a much-needed second drink with Tussugar, who seems to turn his anger at my involvement with the destruction of his town inward.  

When he sees Aibreann, it appears as if he has seen a ghost, startled by her presence or perhaps by recognition of her; it bears further discussion, though now does not seem the appropriate time to have such a discussion.  Despite being relieved of our prisoner, camping outside of town seems the most prudent course of action.

The next day is spent pursuing various tasks, odds, and ends.  Audric works for Drachus at the Inn of Carrock to relieve some of the financial burden of our stay, while I spend some time with the hunters of Carrock.  News of Shadfeld has spread, however, and when the questions start to come, we reconvene the group to investigate the unfinished tower and the rest of town.  Carrock seems woefully unprepared to deal with the threat Korvich and Carcerus present, though there is little we can do about it.  With no apparent direction except to wait for the recovery of our prisoner, we seek out Maglarosh, who has little to report except more murmuring and night terrors, this time about “seeing her” and “don’t take me!”.  The meaning of his babbling, however, or the source of his insanity remains unknown.

Disappointed by our lack of progress, we camp for a second night outside of town.  This night, however, we are awakened by a piercing scream.  When we hurry to investigate, we find two creatures assaulting a woman—goblins, perhaps, though longer of limb and with movements that confuse perception and that make us uneasy.  They have red, glowing eyes and fanged maws—not goblins, then, but something more feral, more dangerous.

We test arms and spells against the creatures, but Tussugar and I are nearly felled by claw and tooth, the dwarf having disdained his armor in our haste to investigate the scream.  The creatures seem resistant to our spells, and possess a constitution greater than that of any goblin.  Their gaze, as well, has the ability to incapacitate, and once they hit with their claws, they smother the face of their opponent with their fanged maws, suffocating their victims.

We are victorious, though it is a close thing, and not without consequence.  The dwarf Tussugar and I sport many wounds, and we were unable to save the woman.  We can see residents of Carrock peeking from windows, though it does not escape our notice that none stepped to our aid during the conflict.


  1. A few details become clear in the moments following the battle. Two villagers have been slain: the woman, and also a man, set upon by one of the creatures before you arrived. The attackers themselves have clawed hands, but feet closely resembling those of men. Their lifeless eyes are blood red, their hair a tangled mess of oily strands protruding from the backs of their bloated heads. Their flesh is leathery and strong. These beings are no goblins, nor any other familiar foe.

    As a deathly silence lingers, villagers slowly step forth from their cottages. The two brothers, Bartley and Emmet, arrive at the scene too late, but to their credit, with weapons drawn. Drachus can be seen emerging from the inn shortly thereafter.

    Tussugar and Zeb are grievously injured, their faces and necks bloodied and raw. Onlookers seem unsure how to react, though finally a pair of women rush forward carrying a load wet cloths, warmed by the hearth.

    Cries and wails resound as onlookers cast eyes upon the dead, for the horror of their disfigurement if not their identities, which undoubtedly are not yet easy to discern.

  2. Does it seem as if Tussugar, Rould, the brothers or Drachus recognize the creatures? I'd be very curious to have Maglarosh take a look at them, as well--if he's not to be found, I think it's prudent for someone to send for him.

  3. Do the creatures have anything on them, or just the scraps of cloth they were wearing?

    How bad off do Tussugar and Zeb look? I just want to check to make sure they are not about to fall over dead as well.

    What can Drachus tell us about the villagers that were killed?

  4. The creatures have only the tattered "clothes" that adorned their bodies. Nobody recognizes them. Bartley and Emmet agree to run for Maglarosh.

    Tussugar and Zeb each have only a few hit points remaining. I believe Zeb has three or four (I don't have my notes on hand, currently). Whether either is afflicted with any other threatening condition is unclear, but they show no outward signs.

    Over the course of a few minutes, the slain villagers are identified: a husband and wife who worked as a furrier and seamstress, on their way home from a late night at the inn. They almost made it back. The account is corroborated by more than one person, giving the implication that they were victims of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

  5. Any chance that any of the hunters I spent part of my day with are in the group of people around the scene? Before things get too trampled, it would be good for them--or hounds, if the village has them at their disposal--to see if there are tracks and if they can be followed.

    As for the creatures--were their eyes glowing during the fight, or just red? I can't remember. In any case, I want to see if they still possess any kind of power, or whether that faded upon death.

  6. The eyes "glow" similarly to a cat's; the moonlight causes them to shimmer, even in death. Whether they possess any inherent power is unclear.

    From your examination, you also note that both creatures bear identical markings on either side of their face. At first glance, these appear only to be scars, but given closer scrutiny, perhaps some sort of indecipherable arcane mark or brand.

    The hunters can be found and sent to look for tracks. I can let you know if anything comes of this, and also when Maglarosh turns up.

  7. If I stare into the dead eyes of the creature, is Zeb affected similar to how Audric was? That's really what I'm getting at.

    Regarding the strange mark--does it look like something that read magic might decipher? If unknown, I'll probably ready the spell anyway and at least try in the morning.

  8. Looking into the dead creature's eyes does not elicit the fear response that Audric experienced previously.

    Unknown on read magic.

  9. After several more minutes, Maglarosh arrives, alone. The old druid lumbers toward the scene, brandishing a knobbly staff. He eyes the creatures intently, taking care not to touch their lifeless forms. Maglarosh, too, appears to observe their strange facial marks.

    "Unnatural," he utters as he turns his gaze toward the companions. "What happened here?"

    (We can continue to play through the conversation, or leave it for the next session. I'll continue to post replies as long as the players remain interested.)

  10. Zeb looks terrible, his face, neck and shoulders having been clawed and mauled by one of the terrible creatures. He recounts the tale to Maglarosh in as much detail as he can remember, looking to Audric to fill in any blanks. Zeb makes sure to mention the effect that the creatures eyes, at least in life, seemed to possess. "Never seen anything like them. These don't look like any goblin-kin I've ever encountered. I've sent a few hunters to search for tracks before too many feet ruin any sign."

    He calls Drachus over. "The safety of your townsfolk should be accounted for. We should make sure no family is unprotected. Whatever these creatures are, they bleed--do you have a militia, or store of arms? Most folk should be able to handle a spear or some such."

  11. Drachus offers his thanks while two maidens begin wiping the blood from your faces and help tend your most serious wounds. Looking around, several able-bodied persons have gathered, brandishing weapons of varying degrees of crudeness. The battle started and ended quickly; in truth, there was little time for others to arrive at your aid.

    "We've some means of protection," Drachus explains. "Maglarosh and our hunters, and a handful of self-made warriors. Though Carrock has hardly felt the need for such: enemies from the mountains seldom wander this far south."

    As you converse, word from the hunters arrives: the creatures did indeed enter Carrock from the north. While daylight will be required to know how far their tracks may be followed (if at all), the woodsmen impart that three distinct sets of similar footprints were found.

    "I welcome you to take sleep at my inn," Drachus says to you all. "It's the very least I can offer."

    He turns then to Tussugar, addressing him directly. "When you are able, Good Sir Dwarf, I'd very much like to speak with you. Alone."

    The dwarf narrows his battle-worn eyes and cocks his head at Audric and Zeb. "Swear to me that ye know nothing of these devils," he says gruffly. "No more secrets."

  12. "Three sets? That means one still lurks. Everyone should be on guard." Zeb will accept Drachus' offer to sleep at the inn--it will be easier, there, to recover, and the walls will hopefully keep evil at bay, if not frightful memories from the encounter this night.

    Zeb snorts at Tussugar's words. "No more secrets?" he says sardonically, watching as Drachus departs. "It seems neither one of us can promise that, dwarf. But we know nothing of these creatures, nor of whence they came."

  13. Tussugar appears satisfied enough at that, offering a hint of something resembling respect in a nod that acknowledges their shared bloodshed as much as it acknowledges Zeb's words.

    Drachus, meanwhile, arranges guards to keep watch near the perimeter of the village for the remainder of the night, outfitting them with signal horns.