Sorry these are taking so long to get published - this hot weather is putting me to sleep! I keep getting in from work and just crashing out. Part 3 (the last bit) should be up real soon though!
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21/5/1472 (Overcast at first, then brightening. Strong, cold wind. Drizzle by dusk)
06:15 - The reality of the physical world is dirty and gritty, full of hard smells, biting sensations and jarring coarseness after the dream (or nightmare) like fey planes, and for a moment the group can only sway dazedly as they process the sensory overload. Even the gravity and psychic taste of this world is a shock after their captivity, and all of them shiver both with the chill and with shock.
06:16 – 06:40 - The echoing boom of the collapsing portal to the dawn fae realm thunders through the mist wreathed pines around them, and the group find themselves in the middle of an ancient, partially vandalised aelwyn stone circle, set atop a moss covered cairn. Vexed, the group are able to make out that some of the vandalism was apparently perpetrated by Dundorin, their crude graffiti cut into the stone, and other bits are apparently in some variation of the tradespeak they all use. In the distance, the group can make out a great pall of smoke to the southwest, as if a town or similar burns, whilst to the northwest can be seen a smashed aelwyn tower, its broken top barely visible through the pines.
Ormid voices his fears about the flow of time in the “real” world compared to that of the faerie world, and it is decided that the group will find somewhere that the artificer can attempt to open a portal to civilisation.
Examination of the immediate area reveals that the single entrance into the cairn has been used recently as a toilet – from the smell of it, by gorgryn – and beyond it a dark tunnel winds into the depths of the tumulus. A faint smell of decay wafts from within, and Ormid realises that he can smell spoiled organic oils identical to those used in warforged, and that the strange patches of luminous, silvery-blue mould that cast dismal pools of light along the tunnel are a species that grows only on rotting bio-organic lubricants.
The tunnel winds in an ever tightening spiral towards the middle of the cairn, where the group discover a befouled burial chamber, thick with the stink of gorgryn waste and the sickening aroma of the bio-organic oils. The tumulus is empty and vandalised. Gorgryn have clearly stayed here for a short while, and everything is covered in their filth. Older vandalism – dundorin and human slogans daubed on the walls – is also evident, and the unusual blue-green luminous moss grows in slimy patches in several areas. In the heart of the central tumulus stands the filth covered remnants of a shattered aelwyn sarcophagus, and behind it a single tunnel opens in one wall; the door apparently rent open. Within it is a shattered blade trap, and a shattered reliquary, surrounded by multitudes of tiny skeletal hands; crushed and broken
In front of the sarcophagus is a large mass of moss, and Ormid finds something beneath it; the badly corroded shell of a warforged. It shows advanced decay, as well as blade and burn marks, and It appears it took a concerted effort to take it down.
06:41 – 07:11 Ormid opens three portals, scribing the circle in the slimy mud of the chamber's floor.
The first, intended to connect with the Apporters Guild circle in Lorehaven simply fails as if the circle there no longer exists. The second – linked to the portal in Garras'Knar - does open, but is blocked by soot covered rubble. The Veteran, using his enchanted belt to dig through the debris, emerges in the blasted ruins of a city that could have once been the trade post he and the group once knew, though he quickly jumps back through when unknown individuals launch some kind of magical flare into the sky as if searching for him.
The third and final portal they try is linked to the ancient rune circle under Darryd Keep. This portal also opens, but the chamber beyond is still and lightless, and stalactites are seen, dripping with moisture, hanging from the chamber roof. Afraid that there may be no way out of that chamber – and suddenly aware that a great deal of time has indeed passed - no one passes through that portal.
07:12 – 07:20 – The group discuss what to do next. Ormid is in a state of shock as he tries to come to terms with the gulf of time that has passed since they left this world, and the multitudes of friends and old allies who are now long dead of old age. They eventually decide to check out the area that the smoke cloud was over, hoping that they may find some kind of civilisation, even if it is destroyed.
07:21 – 08:00 – The party move southwest through the pine forests, and find increasing evidence of the presence of a large army having been here. Then they begin to come across bones and fragments of mummified corpses, circles of rotten and dead grass, and withered trees with ashy, rotten bark, and Ormid recognises the effects of potent necromancy.
Things get even more interesting and disturbing when the group find themselves atop a low line of cliffs, which overlook a cleared area in the forest, within which stands the smouldering remains of a village (the source of the smoke). Here they find multiple smashed skeletons, broken weapons and in the snow and frost limned land below, they can see the scars of a brutal battle. They also find the sundered remains of several eerie cannons, apparently made from bone and gristle, which when functional, would have been imbued with the ability to fire seething masses of necromantic power at their foes, the slashed and blasted remains of many corporeal undead lying flyblown and rotten around them.
08:00 – 08:05 – Feeling increasingly uneasy at the desolation that seems to be ubiquitous in this time period, the group head down off the cliffs, and move across the open expanse between them and the smouldering remnants of the village (a sign by what's left of its eastern gate declares it was called “Gree(burned away)....d”). Bodies, fresh and apparently not undead before they were laid low, lie stinking and bloated here, covered in raucous crowds of heavy beaked crows.
The thick frost and slushy snow is churned and dirty with blood, piss, shit and mud. The unearthly footprints of skeletons and heavy dragging footprints of shambling undead are everywhere. Other tracks suggest bare-footed fiends moving with loping, predatory grace, whilst others came from lumbering, huge things. Numerous blast marks and icy craters, some imprinted with cooked pieces of flesh, suggest some kind of explosive attack. The group surmise they could be the result of the now useless cannons on the ridge, but the staggering line of footprints that leads to each crater suggests something else...something not worth considering.
However, a cluster of tracks heading away from the village, several days old, suggest that some people managed to get away from the immediate carnage, and the group decide to follow them, to see if they can locate any witnesses to what occurred here.
08:06 – 08:40 – The group follow the tracks back into the pines, though they trail more to the north, towards the aelwyn tower they had spotted before. The tracks quickly become hard to find, and it is clear that someone, once they were beyond the immediate dangers of whatever battle was unfolding by the village, began to take steps to cover them. However, the group are able to follow them, and sure enough, they lead to the shattered aelwyn tower.
08:40 – 08:45 – The tower stands in a clearing filled with steaming frost, spring flowers and brightly lit by the slanting rays of the vernal sun as it climbs slowly into the pale sky. Vines and dead brambles cover it, and the group can see that it was, at some point, cut in half, everything beyond the second floor being absent.
Llewellyn, working hard to keep busy, so's as not to dwell on the dark and troubling thoughts that stir menacingly beneath his consciousness – memories of what happened back in the faerie realm when he...you know..., volunteers to check the area out, and skims across to the outer walls that curl protectively around the tower.
He returns shortly afterwards, and reports that there is an overgrown courtyard that has some snow covered, broken skeletons in it, and a flight of stone steps that descend beneath the tower.