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HEROQUEST VII

Following on from the events of the recent meeting of the formation of the Free Towers Pact to oppose the Dymwann various groups were chosen from the Pact to go and assault the Points of Power, where the DarkWind was being controlled, in order to wrest control of the DarkWind from the Dymwann. This is the tale of one such group, the group that I accompanied. Our specific mission was to travel to a point of power and there destroy it, the hope being that if all the points were destroyed the DarkWind would be controlled no more.

We were composed of various peoples assembled from the three Valley Alliance Towers (Wolfhold, Valley and White Retreat). The full tale of those who assembled to go on this vital mission is as follows

Draal LolthsPawn – Drow Priest of Lolth, of House Tumdurgal of Wolfhold.
Nerak Soulblade – Drow Warrior of House Tumdurgal of Wolfhold.
Araikas – Human Priest of Ushaz of the Ambassadors of Wolfhold, High Prince of the Eternal Flame, Patriarch of House Ashkarevon (Leader of the group).
Scrope – Mistweaver of Wolfhold, Black Sorcerer.
Felix the Bold, Elven Blue Sorcerer of the White Retreat.
Giles, Elven Hero of the Valley, of The Valley Tower (co-leader with Ariakis).
Quicksilver (II), Elven White Wizard of the White Retreat.
Sargon, Human Brown Sorcerer of the Valley Tower.
Melkeron, Human High Priest of the White Path of the White Retreat.
Brains, Half-Orc High Priest of the Grey Gauntlet of the Valley Tower.
Mordar, Human Priest of Humakt of the Valley Tower.
Tarquin (Hack) Human Michelin Warrior of the White Retreat.
Barf, Half Orc Warrior of the Rangers of the Valley Tower.

The point of Power we would assault was far away in Orin Rakatha, and in order to get there the Wizards Concillium were going to teleport us. On our way to meet with the Concillium members we diverted to go through the Valdemar village area in order to acquire a talisman.

At this remote site we were met by Master Brath (pronounced Braith) who was a sorcerer skilled in portal construction and use, along with two of his “apprentices” (wizards of several years standing in their own right).

A Portal was being used to transport us as the mists and DarkWind were affecting the long distance teleport spells, causing them to operate erratically. Under his expert direction the portal was opened and we were transported through.

We appeared in another secluded glade where three members of Halmadons Heights were ready to receive us. Sir Daendragon (a paladin) son of Sir Mandragon (now deceased), Perrin and Cannon Thaeus. We spoke with them to determine the local conditions and surroundings.

We were in far North East Orin Rakatha, near to the surrounding mists themselves, in a place where the mists felt clean to Scrope. There were natives in the area, who did not speak the common tongue, and the Halmadonians had generally avoided them, but did not feel that they were innately hostile or evil. The point of Power lay some distance from us down the valley, and from the reports was probably in a structure of some sort. The Halmadonians intended to hold this point, for us to return here, and we arranged a message drop with them should we need to leave messages.

Resolving to travel the valley in the direction of the Point of Power, we encountered a group of the natives, using the Speak with Animate spells those green wizards amongst us were able to communicate with them. It transpired that the Dymwann had been in this area for some long time, two years or so and that they had in essence captured many of the natives and enslaved them. The natives were unable to defeat most of the undead that required magic or power to affect them and were terrified of the undead. We sought to persuade the natives to form some sort of alliance with us or at least elicit some information from them, but while we were speaking to them a Ghast attacked, they fled in terror, we slew the Ghast and left the body near the woodpile the natives had been collecting to show our ability to deal with these things.

We moved on and then found a group of Dymwann (or more correctly our scouts encountered theirs) – both groups then prepared themselves and attacked, we were successful in this battle and slew the Dymwann and looted their bodies. One point to note is that these ones rose up after their deaths, approximately a minute after, they had some sort of an invocation on them that caused this to happen. Checking dead Dymwann for invocations will prove useful.

As we battled one of the natives came up to us, he had been watching us slay the Dymwann and was very impressed with our battle prowess. He offered to guide us to a place where later their resistance leader, one Gabral, would meet with us, we accepted this offer. We waited there for some time until Gabral came to the “Big Rock” and we accompanied him along a path that the Dymwann did not know about. He offered to guide us to a place that Dymwann did not go because they were afraid, someone in the group named this a safe house. On the way on the path we encountered a group of Hoardlings (all trolls) and had the usual fight with such. Later on we encountered a further group of Giant Mist Hoardlings who had with them a Mist Shaman, this was a much harder fight, but in the end we triumphed. After resting and recovering from these we set off following the guide again to go to the safe place. We travelled throughout the night until we came to the house and there took our rest. The guide left us before we went into the house, and told us he was going to go talk to their wise man about us and see if he could offer us some help. Shortly after the owner of the house, one Gyan Masoon, came and spoke with us about using his house and implied strongly that we would be in his debt for doing so, after a little while he left, promising to return at some point. Setting guards we had several hours of sleep.

In the morning we were resolved to travel further up the valley and discover the point of power. However before we were ready to leave Felix discovered a box that had been hidden in the building – one that was coated in a contact poison. He did not notice the poison until after he had picked it up, then it began to burn his hands and arms. The only way to save his life from the poison was to chop his arms off, and Nerak leapt forwards to do the task. With just a few blows Felix was rendered armless.

Soon after Perrin came to us accompanied by a Druid, one Tarren Wildfriend. The Druid came from Hunter Greenshields, and bore information from him about the DarkWind and his researches into it. Some of this information we were already aware of, such as requiring two of the points of power to control the DarkWind. If we destroy the points of power the DarkWind will still exist, but will be simply uncontrolled, this means that it would still be aiding the Dymwann, just not as powerfully as before. Hunter’s researches indicated that the Dark Wind obeyed the laws of Orin Rakatha. Based on this if we could send the wind into the Ikartharian Triangle it should be trapped there, and not be able to leave the triangle due to the wards that define the boundaries of the triangle. In particular if we could force the DarkWind into the void it should be unmade. What we needed to do was to take control of two of the points and use the rituals there to control the DarkWind sending it into the triangle.

He suggested that we abort our idea of seeking out, assaulting and destroying our Point of Power today in order to travel to another group to persuade them to this plan. As we had had many dealings with Hunter he felt that we would listen to him but that others towers would not, and that it was better that we present the plan to others. After a long debate we finally agreed, after all, if everything went wrong then we could always attack and destroy the points once we had them controlled.

We swiftly moved to the tele-portal where we were portaled from our current location to another one. At this new place we were met by some Shadowsfall who were uncommunicative, we convinced them that we were on Free Towers Alliance business, but they were not willing to reveal any information about the group who were in the area. However, they had captured someone who had come through the portal only a few hours earlier, Phaid, Seer of Wolfhold, as we were from the alliance they gave him over to us to deal with. Phaid told us of two visions, that he had been guided to us, for he felt that he must pass on the messages.

In the first of these visions we confronted a terrible spirit, and we fought it, but we could not slay it and ultimately we were all felled. In the second of these visions we sought out a wise man, who armed us, then later when we confronted this terrible spirit we were successful and it was slain and we lived. We persuaded the Shadowsfall that Phaid could be trusted and should be returned back through the Portal and took our leave of them.

Walking for a distance in the blazing sunlight we came upon a wraith generator by a waterfall – proof of the Dymwann’s growing power and continuing taint of Orin Rakatha’s fair land. We moved on and soon after a fetch began to spy upon us, we were unable to capture the fetch as he was too fast, later an undead spirit of knowledge began to spy on us, we were unable to kill this as we lacked the tools. After moving on, Felix cast a teleport, and took several others with him next to the fetch who fled, which we pursued and slew. Further on we were confronted with a Yellow and Blue elemental. It was a hard combat against these but in the end they were unmade and their beings destroyed. Quicksilver was strongly affected by the Spear of Hate that he bore and attacked the yellow elemental relentlessly. Recovering from these we straight cast heals, finishing only a few moments before a force of Dymwann from a nearby copse assaulted us. This force took us unprepared, they were full invoked and we were not. Their assault led by undead that could paralyse and freeze us with fear split the party asunder as several fled rather. In this battle Nerak was slain as he was caused mortal on three occassions after being paralysed by the evil tall flaxen haired priest, as was Brains on who the same priest used a Cause Fatal Disease. I myself survived only just, being diseased and taunted on the ground by the same priest. I resolved that he would die by my hand that night. Our bodies were looted and the Dymwann staggering under the weight of the captured treasure made their triumphant withdrawal to the copse where they intended to meditate and mnemonic.

Over the space of the next two hours, as dusk fell, the party reformed and resurrected our dead members, meditated and mnemoniced. We prepared fully and assaulted the Dymwann in the building at the copse. Not only did we need to recapture our equipment, we also had to recover something far more important, our pride. This was the place of power. Guarded by the Dymwann, the Fleshweaver and another blue elemental, but we did not back away, we pressed our attack. Mordar was teleported into the heart of the monsters by the elemental and there he was slain. Relentlessly we pressed our attack, and one by one the Dymwann fell, Sorcerer Scrope Dark Engulfed the Fleshweaver removing it from the combat, clearing the way for us to deal with everything else, which we did, although the two scouts and the flaxen haired priest fled into the night. The Fleshweaver returned and we attacked it, using the scroll of Humakti Sanction from Mordar’s body we removed it’s power defences and then I fell upon it with cause mortal after cause mortal, removing all it’s power, everyone else also attacked at this point, with bolt after bolt of magic raining in on it. The Dymwann scouts and the priest returned as we assailed the Fleshweaver distracting us from our main objective. I assailed the flaxen haired priest my hands burning with fell power and as the Cause Mortal invocation burned through his body he fell, and I was revenged upon him.

We resumed our assault on the Fleshweaver and suddenly around us were the cries of the Kalid Legion of the Valdemar led by Sergeant Bellach. At first we were heartened seeing these are reinforcements to slay the Fleshweaver, but then to our dismay they attacked us. We cried out to stop them, citing that we were part of the Free Towers Pact, but they paid us no heed and pressed their attacks upon us. Weakened as we were from the fight on the Dymwann and the Fleshweaver we fell back, and ultimately fled. The Kalid then fought the Fleshweaver but were unable to defeat it, one of them claimed the point of power in the name of the Valdemar legion of the Kalid only to be slain seconds later by the Fleshweaver’s unholy power.

After more Kalid reinforcements arrived they continued to fight the Fleshweaver unsuccessfully. The Kalid withdrew as one announced himself as Major Sanders calling upon us to surrender. We surrendered to the Kalid in order to avoid further bloodshed, maintain the Free Towers Pact and to combine our forces against the Fleshweaver in order to ensure that it was stopped. We combined forces to defeat the Fleshweaver, Scrope’s Dark Bolt 6 proving particularly effective at this point.

We moved inside the base that the Kalid had captured earlier that day as prisoners and spoke to the Kalid at length about the situation. We explained about Hunter Greenshields plan at length to Major Sanders, as the Kalid had a Druid with them (Lanyar of their Earthwarp sect) they accepted our explanation as to these matters, and agreed to go along with the plan.

We slept until dawn at which point our weapons, focus’ and talismen were returned to us. The Druid Tarren Wildfriend came to the place we were sleeping and then spoke at length with Lanyar, the Earthwarp sect druid about the necessity of the plan, and convinced him that this really was the way to go, Lanyar said that he would carry word to major Sanders of the plan. Tarren Wildfriend said that Hunter Greenshields had travelled throughout the night and would be awaiting us on the other side of the portal with important information about the DarkWind and other matters.

We walked back to the tele-portal, where we met the Shadowsfall guardians. The news that these guardians had was deeply troubling, for the attacks on all of the other points of power had failed and the forces had been repulsed by a stronger Dymwann presence than had been expected. Dymwann had become aware of the Portals by pursuing some of the groups who sought to use them to escape and the portals were becoming tainted with undead power. The integrity and security of the system was now compromised, they advised us to ensure that we were spiritually protected before using the portals and that after we had used them they were going to be disabled to prevent further tainting, or having them used against us.

We went through the portal, and once through on the other side there was nobody about. We searched the nearby area, and not finding anyone, or a message at the agreed drop-off point we invoked/cast and moved off. Soon after we met a group of towerless with a fearsome creature with it, attacking a druid and a small group, the elemental unleashed a melt animate on the druid. It revealed itself to us to be Azgaroth Fleshburner and accused us of being his enemies as we had the spear forged to fight him. We then fought a long combat against them, and in the end slew all of them including Azgaroth, or rather we unmade his physical form for a time. Azgaroth is a pit elemental and Quicksilver had a great hatred of him, caused by the spear he bore. The druid Azgaroth slew was it seems none other than Hunter Greenshields, however we were able to recover his diary from the remnants of the body.

After doing this we got off the path, as we knew this area was often patrolled by Dymwann in order to heal up and read the diary. Hiding we spotted a figure moving through the forest – after ascertaining he was a Halmadonian from his clothing we attracted his attention. He (Sargent Shaldir) spoke to us and passed on more information that they had acquired. The Halmadonians had been driven away from the portal by a mixed group that emerged from it, he described the group to us, but it rang no bells in anyone’s mind, we assumed that it was the hate cultists or Azgaroth’s followers. They were closing the portals down as the system was now compromised and the attacks on the Dymwann had failed all save one, that by the Kalid. We briefed him on the situation and our decision to try to send the DarkWind into the Ikartharian Triangle. He agreed to guide us back to the safe house via another route and to send Perrin to us (and ask Perrin to find Gabral) as we needed to know where the point of power was, and we needed to speak to the Wise One.

Resting at the safe house Gyan Masoon turned up and spoke to us in an very enigmatic manner, indicating that we were in his debt in some way for using his house, and this was the second time. He spoke of a test of will and then left, closing the door, and ensuring that it could not be opened by normal means. A few minutes afterwards three golems appeared in the building and set about us. There was a metal one that could magnetise things and took damage from non-metal weapons. There was a crystal one that took damage only from sharp and if bolted could refract the bolt back inside itself and strike another. The third was a bone golem that could break bones with a touch. Then Gyan showed himself and used much magic on us, draining our skins effectiveness, and bolting us time and time again. Defeating the golems, Gyan finally vanished. This it seems was some sort of test.

Soon after this Felix found another box within the building and without consulting anyone foolishly opened it. He was struck down by the fell magics that lay trapped within the box and lay as if dead. A few moments later a Hepath of Quandary appeared, it seemed that we must solve the Quandary to save Felix, however we were unable to do so, his spirits strength was weakened as if he had been slain and resurrected once more. Finally we were contacted by Gabral and set off with him to go to meet with the Wise One. On the way we speculated about Gyan, and someone recognised the curious object he had been carrying as a pipe, this lead us to conclude that he was a Rakshasha, a fearsome evil spirit.

We travelled through the night and were assailed by a group who Gabral called the Shunned Ones – members of his tribe who had been afflicted with diseases, diseases spread by the evil spirits minions, the Plague Bearers.

We sought to pass these without battle but it was not to be, we defeated them trivially, weakened by their diseases they were no match for our skill. However the blood from their wounds and flesh as it was carved off fell on several of us, inflicting the same disease upon us, a disease which was unfamiliar to disease master Melkeron. Still we pressed on fighting a group of giant rats, called Skaven, by Gabral, these simple forest beasts too were no match for us. After walking some distance further we arrived at the Wise One.

The Wise One spoke to us of the evil spirit, freed many years ago, and of the prophecy that there would come a band of heroes who would defeat him. This spirit was Gyan, and the Wise One wanted us to defeat him and drive him out of the tribes lands. He gave us a silver crossbow bolt and crossbow. One of the few things that could slay a Rakshasha, and we agreed to do this. Moving back to the hut we practised with the crossbow, planning to rest before we met the Rakshasha, we stumbled upon the two Plague Bearers and a group of Skaven. A fierce battle broke out but in the end we were triumphant, the beasts were destroyed. We rested then moved back to the Rakshasha’s house, the “safe place”, a place that the Dimwann were afraid to go! Our plan was fully formed, the crossbow bolt was blessed by all of those who could cast the good sphere, I was to cast the dispel against any airwall spell, and Nerak to shoot the fell spirit. There we waited for Gyan to appear, hopefully he was unaware that we now knew what he was and how to deal with him. After a while Gyan appeared with his three Golems, however, it was only a projection of Gyan, and not his physical form as we found out when we shot him with the blessed crossbow bolt. A furious battle in the house ensued as we battled the projection and the Golems, thrice the projection was shot, and thrice it was seemingly. However, he had not expected us to have a silver crossbow bolt and before the projection expired he said that as we had taken his favour twice so he had tested us twice, but as we would have slain him thrice he owed us three blades of death. Both Felix and Mordar were slain in the combat. We have not as yet fathomed this riddle. Once his projection failed we felt that he would not be returning, and that as all other creatures avoided the place that it would be safe for us to rest here. We searched the building and found another box that contained a ring, putting this ring on Felix we returned him to life – this was where Felix’s life had been trapped by the Hepath. Melkeron resurrected Mordar, and setting guards we rested for a while. Gabral had agreed to find Perrin who knew of the location of the Point of Power and promised to return with him later that day.

We awoke and began preparing ourselves for the search and assault on the Point of Power. A figure dressed in a costume came up to us and announced himself as the Herald of the Claw, Erelan Black’s claw. He wished to find out what we were doing in the area, and see if any arrangements to confront us needed to be made, we demurred and passed him no useful information, after a while he left. An hour or so later Sir Daendragon and Perrin came to us, to speak of their and our plans. Sir Daendragon had issued a challenge to EB that morning to meet him in honourable combat, to revenge the death of his father at the hands of EB several years ago. However he wished us to go, find the Claw and challenge them in order that they could not support EB in this combat, we agreed to do such a thing. Afterwards he gave us a scroll of Control Fleshweaver (Rank Nine) saying that many had died to produce and bring such a scroll here. He also provided us with the directions to go to find the Point of Power that we could be about our mission and deal with the Fleshweaver.

We set off, and after walking for some time found the Claw, we challenged them to combat. Upon the chosen field we assembled and fought long and hard. However in this we were overmatched, as the preparations of the Claw proved to be more effective than ours and our numbers dwindled. I note that in the course of the battle the two rulers confronted each other, Araikas our leader and the Ruler of the Claw, and from that only Araikas emerged alive and triumphant. Giles and Hack were slain in valiant but foolish attempts at heroism. Only four remained when Araikas took the decision to surrender (Nerak, Brains and Barf were the others), rather than have more pointless deaths inflicted upon us. We had succeeded in distracting the Claw from supporting EB and in weakening them if they could support him. What further need was there for us to continue? We had more important business to be about. In the course of the fight though Nimer Soth the Necromancer of the Claw (properly the Bone Dancer) fled the field of battle to carry word to his lord of our presence.

The two sides withdrew taking with them the kit they had captured, including Giles sword Albran, and when we sought it’s return the remaining members of the claw fled taking it with them. They outpaced us, so we went in the other direction to jump the other members of the Claw, however they too were gone and we fought some flesh creations, that were trivially defeated. The battle against the Claw had weakened us so we took this opportunity to rest, resurrecting and healing those who needed it before pressing onwards.

As night began to fall we came upon a group of Dymwann, and behind those what seemed to be a place of power, with the Dymwann was a Fleshweaver and a White Elemental. We battled these, and slew all except for the Fleshweaver. Against that we withdrew rather than pressing our attacks, as we needed to use the scroll of control at midnight, so that both us and the Kalid would be co-ordinated.

Time passed and at midnight we returned, Ariakis used the scroll of control on the Fleshweaver, and commanded it to send the Dark Wind into the Ikartharian Triangle. “Where do you want me to send it?” the Fleshweaver said “Normally they bring a map and point it out on there!” A few moments of panic ensued as nobody had a map on them, until we sketched a map of Orin Rakatha and indicated on there where the Fleshweaver should direct the DarkWind. The Fleshweaver did as instructed, changing the course of the DarkWind, as the control faded the Fleshweaver once more attacked, but Sorcerer Scrope Dark Engulfed it and then we withdrew.

Our mission a success we travelled back to the Rakshasha’s house, but all was not well, on the way we encountered a group of Ghasts lead by Nimer Soth, these we dispatched easily, including Nimer Soth, however as he was felled his body faded away, leaving behind only the clothes he had been wearing. For one who was a member of the Claw and a feared necromancer, one of the Dymwann Chancellery, he was felled too easily. Now on our guard we pressed on, only to confront a Warrior Vampire and a small group of Skeletal Warriors some few minutes later, a Warrior Vampire that sounded very much like Nimer Soth, for that was who it was indeed. Undaunted we pressed our attack upon the fell creature, however the group of undead were reinforced by none other then Erelan Black and more undead. We were thrown back by this new arrival, but continued our battles, we could not afford for Erelan Black to get to the Fleshweaver and possibly command it once more. The battle raged on and on, most determined that this fell Knight should be stopped, but the power of the fearsome Death Knight told, as one by one our numbers were felled. Mordar our Humakti dropped a Humakti Sanction on Erelan Black from a scroll, only to be felled as Erelan leapt upon him his hands afire with Evil Power, and before any could intervene Erelan ripped Mordar’s soul asunder with nothing but his hands. Ariakis too was slain after striking Erelan several times with the Evil Artefact through which he channelled Cause Mortal invocations, brought down by a fell disease inflicted by the Morgul Blade that Erelan carried. I too fell in this battle, but not before cursing Erelan Black and causing Mortal upon him. After I fell the battle raged on and on, Hack and Scrope drew Erelan off from the main body of the combat leading him astray, whilst those who remained finished off the other undead, including Nimer Soth as he sought to flee the dawn.

Erelan returned from his fruitless chase, animating some of the fallen undead, and attacked us again confident now of his final victory. Many now were felled, either dead (myself, Ariakis and Mordar), or laid low by the major disease that every blow of Erelan’s blade brought (Quicksilver, Felix and Melkeron) or fled (Scrope and Hack). But those who remained did not flee from him, slight though our hope of victory was, they battled on. Barf was slain by Erelan falling before the two blades wielded by the undead lord.

Arriving with the light of dawn came help. Help we had not looked for, from a source we had never sought to see again, Sir Daendragon. Sir Daendragon cast a potion to Sargon and told him that it held several doses of Resurrection and that Sargon was to resurrect the fallen, only together could we hope to triumph. Sargon resurrected myself, Ariakis and Barf, and we rejoined the combat, though we had already been slain by Erelan Black we would not let him triumph. Hack and Scrope returned and too rejoined the battle. As a group we stood and fought. Erelan’s power was still awesome, but we would not yield until at last he alone remained. Now there was no escape for him. The last Lord of the Aldonar met his defeat at our hands. For a few moments there was a silence over the field of battle, we had slain Erelan Black at the last. Then above the body a spirit formed, the spirit of Erelan Black. How many times must we defeat him? He spoke, “As the last Lord of the Aldonar I had power beyond your imagining, now that you have done this, defeated me, I rise up once more and now I have more power than even I imagined. May the curse of the Lord of the Aldonar be upon you all.” Then his spirit faded, this was his last act of defiance, a hollow curse that could not affect us.

We took the kit from the body, as trophies (and loot) and Sir Daendragon took the body of Erelan Black, we made our way back to the Rakshasha’s cottage where we rested and then began our journey back to the Towers, having accomplished all we had set out to do, and more.

The first blow in the war against the Dymwann had been struck, we had destroyed the DarkWind, or at the very least we had imprisoned it. We had also slain (hopefully permanently this time!) Erelan Black, one of the most powerful undead in the land.

 

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