And so we follow the dark adventures of the traitors as they try to get back to the Rookery Halls, and to start their search for the missing vials of Jantherak, the Deathstones, and their own ascension to Lords of the Undead.
* * *
06:00 – Seren and Emmiven arrive in the forests to the south of Irin, though at once it is clear that something terrible has been unleashed here, as everything is covered in a layer of rampantly growing fungus. The air is stained by spores, and the skies are olive-green in hue, racing with unnatural energies.
Jantherak extends his senses as much as he is able and warns them that some kind of major planar breach seems to be in place over the ancient city to the north. He then tells them that he is too exhausted to help them further, though after prompting from the warlord (now a vampire) he warns them that a powerful undead is likely going to seek them out for the vial – an undead who is in possession of one of the other vials.
06:01 – 06:25 – The pair wander through the forest with a growing sense of unease. Everywhere, alien fungi cluster and flourish. The air is thick with the stench of spores and mushrooms, and much of the normal plant life has been smothered by rubbery rhizomorphs. No birds or other normal wildlife are evident, apart from the occasional skeleton, burst open with rampant fungal growths.
06:25 – 06:30 – The two undead stop suddenly when they hear something crashing about ahead. Hiding by the spongy trunk of a rotting Oak, they spot a warforged up ahead that appears to be entirely parasitised by the fungus; its armoured plating peeling and bubbling with rust, its eye lenses clouded by spores. It seems to be in a daze, more a zombie than anything else.
However, heavy footsteps to the south of the group give them a moments warning that it is not alone, and they are able to make out the dripping bulk of a similarly corrupted Iron Defender, its fangs boiling with corrosive slimes, bearing down on them at speed.
Seren launches a blast of thunder at the charging thing and misses (to her shock, it seems that Jantherak has imbued her with some of his power, for her spell is thick with decay – a wave of necrotic energy rather than the sonic power she was expecting), the Iron Defender launching at her and taking a huge bite from her leg; tearing a good pound or two of flesh away and sending her sprawling. Emmiven launches an attack on the warforged, and is immediately blinded as a cloud of stinking spores erupt from within the things dank flesh. In response, the back of the warforged, between its shoulder blades, folds open, and the hilt of a corroded greatsword appears. Pulling the putrid weapon out, the 'forged attacks Emmiven, slicing a huge, dripping wound into his pale flesh.
The battle almost sees the two would be undead overlord's destroyed – the relentless assaults the infested war machines unleash almost too much to keep up with, and the pair are forced to climb into the trees to buy themselves some time to think of a strategy. This proves to be a mixed blessing, for the 'forged badly wounds itself falling from the tree after making a two-handed attack against the vampire and missing badly, whilst Seren, bleeding heavily, her oily, cold blood falling like a black rain to the growths below, slips on a slick, fungus smeared branch and tumbles hard to the ground – directly in front of the ravenous Defender.
However, whilst in the trees, both see a sight that chills even their wretched hearts, for to the north, where Irin stands, the skies are split wide open, and several impossibly vast columns of fungi - covered in green, flame-like waves of spores as well as cathedral sized mushrooms - reach from the ground up into a howling hole in the leaden green clouds. Black and purple lightning crawls through the clouds that spiral slowly around this hole, and a miasma of smoke, dust and mostly spores, hangs over the ancient city.
By this stage of the battle the warforged is emitting a choking stench that stings the eyes and throats of those too close, further adding to their woes. Emmiven is constantly blinded by the 'forged's spores, and makes a desperate move – dropping on him from the tree's heights and diving in to rip its throat out with his vicious canines. The gamble pays off, the vampires natural dexterity allowing it to fall without harm, his mouth finding a soft spot in the 'forged's armour and biting deeply.
The haemolymph is polluted by the fungus and tastes vile, but it contains the spark of life, and Emmiven is rejuvenated by it; a horrific warmth spreading through him as it accelerates his healing and fills him with terrible, unholy vigour.
Looking up Emmiven can see the undead drakven trying to get away from the growling Iron Defender, her hand raised in a spell casting gesture. Charging forwards he unleashes an attack at the thing, ripping a chunk of its rotted hide away – a massive eruption of organic acid exploding from within the thing.
Seren is almost killed, and lies, fading rapidly at the base of the tree. Emmiven is also seriously wounded, but with the life force of the deceased 'forged still singing in his veins, he manages to block out the shock and pain and deal the corrupted homunculus a fatal blow...
...Just as Seren manages to pull free of her stupor...
06:35 – 13:00 – The pair search the bodies, finding nothing of use, and then seek a dark place to hide and rest (having not rested since before they battled the dracani and ice elementals in the Nordvyrr world).
13:20 – 14:30 – The pair wake, spend a little time planning on what they want to do (get to the guild, make vampires, establish a base), and then head northwards, eventually arriving at what used to be the southern fields around Irin – now transformed into a warped rotscape of alien fungi, spore clouds and tangled, rubbery rhizomorphs.
14:31 – 15:00 – The pair (grateful that the spores, smoke and dust are blocking the sun) move with growing trepidation towards Irin's southern walls, noting that the tent city of would be festival visitors has now become a rotting hovel.
They see fire being poured from the top of the walls onto screaming figures – apparently residents of the tent city - and realise that the city is under attack from the north, and that no one is being allowed in.
15:01 – 15:15 – Arriving at the tent city, the pair are approached by various wretched individuals – mostly humans. All infected with signs of fungal infestation. They beg for help, but receive only crossbow bolts from Emmiven and killing bursts of arcane fire from the Drakven. Soon they learn to stay back, though more than a few call out in anger at the pair.
15:16 – 15:26 - The pair cross the 30' empty zone at the base of the wall – charred and littered with pugilistic corpses – and call up to the walls that they are not infected and must be let in. The guards disagree, and both Emmiven and Seren are shot with muskets. Realising that they are going to die if they keep this up, the pair retreat back into the tent city, and form a plan.
15:27 – 16:12 – Emmiven uses his new dark powers to turn into a bat, and flies around the cities walls, looking for an officer who is separated from the main press of guards. The walls are mostly covered, and there are a lot of soldiers – natural and 'forged – manning them, apparently taking pot shots at anything that approaches from the tent city or the fungal forests beyond.
To the north, there are signs of intense fighting; flashes of light, sullen eruptions of power and huge clouds of smoke (or spores). A continual roar of explosions and yelling thrums through the air, which itself is agitated by dimensional pressure; a sullen, oppressive heaviness of the soul which crushes the will with its weight. Closer now, the vampire still struggles to appreciate the sheer massiveness of the fungal growths linking the city to whatever realm lies beyond the eye of that horrible aerial storm, and he can see that most of the city is covered in spores, or slimy feelers of fungus, the towers and domes further north appearing completely consumed.
Emmiven spots a pale faced, weary looking officer heading down the steps at the back of the wall for the billets built beneath them. Carefully he follows, not wanting to draw attention to himself, and eventually he observes the young man heading into a two bedded officers billet. Silently slipping into the room, he finds that another officer is snoring in the bed already.
Emmiven contemplates killing the man he has followed, but realises that this would draw undue attention. Instead, he calls upon his shapeshifting powers, and takes on the man's form, before stealing his uniform and leaving him to sleep. Moving through the halls, he greets other soldiers who call to him, before eventually running, as if in a panic, up to the section of wall where the soldiers that shot him are posted.
All eyes turn to him at once, and feigning anxious agitation, Emmiven tells them that they have received a command from the Unified Order, from Saul Methusian himself, to let two allies into the city – an experimental Drakven form named Seren, and an allied warrior named Emmiven. The guards are somewhat sheepish when they explain that they have shot at those two, and Emmiven manages to put on a convincing performance of horrified disbelief, before ordering the men to fetch a rope ladder to let the pair in.
A slight kink develops in his plan when a nearby priestess of Oerdaine'Maelandra offers to heal the pair's wounds when they arrive.
Emmiven then runs from the wall, and as soon as he is out of sight, returns to his bat form, whisking his way back to Seren. By the time he has got there, the rope ladder is being lowered, a squad of muskets ready to climb down and cover the pair's approach.
16:13 – 16:20 – despite the guards pleas for them to hurry up, the pair saunter to the rope ladder, and climb with exaggerated slowness (blaming their wounds). This causes some tension when they reach the top, when one of the soldiers starts to get in their faces.
Things only get worse when the priestess pushes forwards telling the soldier that she must tend to the adventurer's wounds – and offer they rudely rebuff, stating they will “Obtain the healing of our own clergy, the priests of Merriel'Shaava”.
16:21 – 17:01 – The pair leave the wall and quickly enter the city. It is almost deserted, most people being holed up in their homes, hiding from the horrors in the northern districts and beyond. They encounter a few patrols of soldiers, and a Unified Order mage who seems to be casting warding spells on the buildings and withering any fungi he finds. They also see teams of 'forged who are scraping fungal growths off the buildings and streets, and putting the pallid scrapings to the torch.
17:02 – 17:15 – The group arrive at The Roughs and find it also eerily empty. It is clear that the cleaner squads have not been here so often, and there are many signs of fungal infestation; entire buildings swallowed by deformed masses of pale growths and oily toadstools. A few blocks have clearly been left to burn down in the last few days, the residual heat still enough to be felt by the pair as they pass, and they are relieved to find the building in which the entrance to the sewers that leads to the Rookery Halls lies still standing – though heavily overgrown with ferny masses of heavy, slimy growths.
17:16 – 17:17 – Emmiven opens the door, and sees at once that the guards who were watching the entrance to the sewers have been entirely consumed by the fungi (which has blossomed into all kinds of weird and alien forms within the houses sheltered confines). Hostile, the three infested men attack the pair – but are put down before they can do any harm.