Eternal Midnight

Thunderstorm warning

After searching the alley, Caiphon discovered the ritual Mord sent them after was indeed hidden there. They patched up Regdar, who was hurt in the melee, and set off to gather supplies. They returned to the cave with the goods, and Brel used the newly-found ritual to ward the caves from an undead assault.

Meanwhile, James and Caiphon searched for Mord amongst the townsfolk, hoping to ask him some questions about his role in the apparent ambush. Mord was nowhere to be found. James had Captain Anthad do a head count, and it was quickly determined that while Mord may be missing, the number of people in the caves had not changed. Caiphon and James worried there was magic at work or worse—some sort of shape changer was in their midst. As a result Brel did a quick spell to detect magic and found none, further intensifying the worry.

From there, the group set out, with Jarek Irenka in tow, to the Hugragag Tribe’s camp.

As they neared the camp, James noticed they were being stalked by a cautious Hugragag brave. He quietly advised the group not to make any sudden or threatening moves. Shortly thereafter, Garruhhgarr and four of his brethren appeared, blocking their passage.

James explained their intent, that they had hoped Garruhhgarr would allow the refugees of Pakkin’s Folly to stay with the Hugragag. Several of the braves with Garruhhgarr laughed and chuffed at James’ suggestion, but Garruhhgarr led the group into camp regardless.

Once inside the camp, Garruhhgarr met with the Hugragag council. He returned, telling the group that the council was divided and the only way for him to gain absolute sway with the council was through the trial of Thunderclap. Garruhhgarr said the rules of the trial allowed him to appoint a champion or champions to participate.

He indicated that in a cave nearby was a token that symbolized undisputed leadership. If the group — his champions — could return from the cave with the token, he would be able to allow the citizens of Pakkin’s Folly to stay with the tribe.

The group descended into the cave and faced several hazards within, including a spear gauntlet, a test of wits dealing with a magically infused river and overhang, and deathspores. As they made it through the field of fungi, the tunnel opened wide into a large, high ceilinged room. Inside was Thunderclap himself, a young adamantine dragon.

The group tried to negotiate with Thunderclap, but the dragon would not give up the token under any circumstances. As a result, Jarek charged the dragon and began a brutal fight. The group ultimately won the battle and recovered the token, a few other magical items, and a horde of treasure. Jarek and James also insisted on decapitating the dragon’s corpse, in order to use the head as a gift to present to the Hugragag tribe. They also found a ladder that lead up and out of Thunderclap’s lair and returned to the tribe.

Garruhhgarr received the token graciously, and the tribe celebrated. The group then returned to the hunting caves and brought the villagers back to the tribe’s encampment.

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Urban Renewal

Seeing Mira Crowleaf’s signal for danger, the group raced through the forest to the caves where the villagers were hiding. They arrived to find several of the men being savaged by wolves, while others were under attack from hobgoblins. Brel and Regdar worked to distract the wolves while James Crowleaf and Caiphon fought off the hobgoblins. When the dust settled, James knew the villagers could no longer remain in the caves.

As he voiced this concern to his comrades, several of the villagers overheard him expressed their desire to return to Pakkin’s Folly. Crowleaf told them they were only inviting trouble, that Pakkin’s Folly was still unsafe. He pointed out that Yannit still remained in the town, as they had no way to kill the spawn. The four men argued with the villagers for some time, until Crowleaf realized the nearby Hugragag Shifter tribe might provide safe haven for the villagers.

Seeking further advice, Crowleaf went looking for Mord, a friend and fellow hunter. Mord was nowhere to be found, and it was quickly revealed he had gone off into the forest on his own. Frustrated and angry, James and his companions set out into the forest in search of the human.

They quickly found him, snagged in a brush pile, and under assault from stirges and bloodrot vines. After fighting them off, Mord said he was inspired by the acts of heroism the companions had displayed, and opted to set off on his own to not only find food, but also find things in the village that would help their quest.

“Wait,” James said, hesitating. “You’ve been back to Pakkin’s Folly?”

“Yes,” Mord replied. “I even found a book in the church that might help you guys fight these things. It looked like there was a ritual inside, so I hid it in an alley.”

James further scolded Mord, telling him his behavior was bound to get him killed, and ordered him to stay with the rest of the villagers. They returned to the caves and after some discussion, resolved to head into Pakkin’s Folly to get food and supplies to present the Hugrugag Tribe with as a show of good faith for providing save haven.

Without hesitation, Hendric Tallhart and his eldest son Beorn stepped forward. Two younger men, one barely 18 years old, also volunteered. Gorm and Rhaa Fadorr gave the group directions on where to find the goods under their store. Nethid gave step-by-step instructions on how to disable the traps designed to keep thieves out of her shop.

When they arrived in town, Caiphon suggested they make a quick stop to Mord’s hiding place to retrieve the ritual. As they slipped into the alley, five figures stepped out of the shadows – two bugbears and a tiefling. They attacked the group immediately. As one of the bugbears moved to strike Caiphon he hesitated, recognizing the Avenger.

The Bloodghost Syndicate was in Pakkin’s Folly.

Caiphon flashed the syndicate’s hand signal and the Bugbear lowered his mace.

“What are you doing here,” Caiphon asked, quite shocked.

“We were sent to kill people, said they’d be in this alley. I didn’t know you were one of them. What’s your angle on this? You working for the Vampire Lords, too?”

Caiphon’s reply came in the form of a swift axe blow to the bugbear’s head. After a brief skirmish, the assassins ran off down the alleyway, but not before Brel detained one of them.

Caiphon quickly learned that when the Vampire Lords took over Jakkra City, the Bloodghost Syndicate quickly offered fealty in exchange for their lives. Their first order of business, they were told, was to wipe out a group of humans in nearby Pakkin’s Folly that had bested both Yannit and Lord Graw. With one swift blow, Caiphon beheaded the gangster.

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Town Hall Meeting

As the heroes crossed Pakkin’s Folly, a gruff voice called out to them. A hulking figure emerged from the shadows, with partially healed wounds all over his body. It was Yannit, the Vampire spawn they encountered days ago. He was clearly spoiling for a fight and ready for revenge. The battle was brutal, with Regdar falling in combat until Caiphon revived him.

Realizing Yannit would continue to regenerate until he suffered a fatal wound in direct sunlight, Brel suggested dismembering the spawn. Further, James suggested throwing Yannit’s remains into the fountain which sat on the site of the original well Dar Pakkin set when he founded Pakkin’s Folly. Together, they moved the fountain’s center column that exposed the well and tossed the parts in.

From there, they crossed the square to the town hall. As they neared the structure, they began to sense something wrong. There was a buzzing at the back of their necks. Their heads felt thick. The closer they got, the more intense the feeling became.

Then, outside the steps, James heard a voice inside his head. “Come no closer,” it said. “Inside is only death.”

As Caiphon rounded the right front corner of the building, he heard the voice inside his head as well. “Go no further, Caiphon. Pelor has forsaken you.” Caiphon began growing agitated.

And as Regdar climbed the steps, the voice rang out in his head, too. “They know you’re a freak, Regdar. They know your magic isn’t natural.” Frustrated, he kicked in the door. Swarms of crawling claws poured over every surface, surging towards him. Skeltal archers sprang up from the benches and let their arrows fly.

The battle was brutal and protracted. Caiphon fought his way into the hall. As he neared the podium at the head of the room, an unseen force threw him across the room, smashing him into the wall and further pummeling him with psychic power. Something possessed Regdar and caused him to lash out at his friends. Brel dissipated the swarms with thunder waves. Throughout the course of the battle, the voice in their heads grew increasingly louder, encouraging them to leave.

After the swarms and archers fell, Brel rushed the podium and, after using a quick flash of light discovered Lord Graw was a nothing more than a brain with powerful psychic abilities inside a jar. The former mage was no match against their combined efforts. His jar was quickly ruptured and his psychic energy dispersed.

They searched and cleared the building and then returned to the village streets, only to see an flaming arrow spark in the night sky, from the direction of the hunting caves. It was the signal James had arranged with his wife, Mira if there was danger. Harried, the group set off into the forest.

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Exterminators

After leaving the townsfolk in the caves with Endrin and Willem Talhart, the heroes ventured into Pakkin’s Folly, looking to clear the town from threats and verify Reeve Krayth Manoli’s safety.

They snuck into the town from the north, and Caiphon scouted ahead, spotting several undead denizens lurking in the main square. As Brel attempted to join him, he was spotted and a brutal battle began. They were unable to stop the undead guards before one of them set off a bright flash of light, some sort of signal. The guards were soundly defeated. Sensing danger, Caiphon quickly picked a lock on a nearby abandoned home and ushered his comrades inside. After waiting a bit, a large vampire thrall Jarek recognized as Yannit, a particularly vicious warrior in the service of the vampire lords. Yannit was leading a two human familiars with leashed patrol drakes. They investigated the remains of the battle, and Yannit muttered the new mayor wouldn’t be too happy at the news.

Brel created a distraction, sending one familiar and drake into a nearby alley and then Regdar struck by teleporting behind Yannit. They had the element of surprise. All five men brutally attacked Yannit, taking him down quickly. The rest of his patrol fell in short order. Unfortunately, they were unable to kill Yannit, due to his vampiric heritage and the lack of sunlight. They left his body behind and headed off toward the Reeve’s estate.

When they arrived, Caiphon again picked the lock but discovered something was blocking the door. Caiphon and Jarek forced it open and discovered a charnel house. A large carrion crawler, carcass eaters and corpse rat swarms feasted on the bodies of Manoli’s honor guard, all brutally slain. The men cleared out the vermin, but not before Caiphon was infected with filth fever from the bite of a corpse rat. He was severely weakened and in terrible danger. Regdar and Jarek quickly searched the rest of the house, only to find it empty until they heard a thump in the wine and root cellar below.

They moved Caiphon to a bedchamber and left Brel to guard him, and then set off to investigate the noise. They found the door to the cellar barred. Jarek called out a few times to whomever was on the other side of the door, but to no avail. Realizing discretion was the better part of valor, the two men returned to the bed chamber where Caiphon slept, fighting his infection. They barricaded themselves in the room and took turns on watch.

In the middle of the night, Regdar heard something on the steps. He woke Brel and Jarek and the three set up an ambush, only to discover it was Captain Anthad, the head of Manoli’s honor guard.

Relieved by the sight of his rescuers, Anthad told the men how he barred himself inside the basement and further hid inside a large barrel when it was clear the battle was lost. He said vampire spawn broke into the house by first masquerading as an old crone in need of aid. When the guards opened the doors, the spawn descended on them rapidly.

Jarek asked Anthad if he knew of “The Mayor” Yannit spoke of. Anthad only knew a name—Lord Graw. Jarek knew of Graw, but by reputation only. He was someone the Vampire Lords held in high esteem but it was because he entertained them. The men returned to the bedroom, replaced the barricade and rested for a few hours. Caiphon eventually awoke, his fever broken. However, he had changed. Pelor, he felt, had abandoned him in a time of need. Perhaps, he thought, Pelor was not necessarily a merciful God, but a vengeful one, and perhaps Caiphon should be the agent of that vengeance.

Rested and recovered, the men, with Anthad’s aid, decided to set out to the town hall to confront Lord Graw.

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Incident at Fainglow Monastery

After moving the villagers of Pakkin’s Folly to a series of nearby caves, the heroes set off to Fainglow Monastery on foot. Shortly after setting off, Willem confronted Jarek, accusing him of being a vampire. Jarek invited Williem to test him, and Willem promptly used Turn Undead on the stranger. Nothing happened, yet Willem remained suspicious.

The trek was difficult, and things became even more troublesome when a group of five Shifters emerged from the forest and blocked their path.

James quickly realized they were led by Garruhhgarr, chieftan of the Hugrugag tribe. Garrhhugarr accused them of being responsible for the darkness and told them to return to their village. The heroes negotiated with the shifters, and convinced them they were not to blame for the darkness and actively working to eliminate it. The shifters were so impressed by the heroes, that they revealed a hidden path to the monastery, cutting their travel time in half.

When they arrived at Fainglow, the found the grounds in ruin. The dormitories and outbuildings were wrecked, ruined and burning. Dead bodies of Paladins, Priests, and Clerics littered the area. Caiphon and Willem were distraught by the sight, but pressed on. They reached the main temple to find it was magically sealed. Nine stones and the inscription “Only the genesis of your faith will allow you to pass.” James realized the stones spelled “OF ELYSIUM” and the temple doors swung open.

Inside were more signs of slaughter. Jarek refused to enter, and then relented after a brief confrontation with Willem. As they moved through the empty halls, the men felt like they were being watched and followed. Their suspicions were confirmed once they entered the main hall and were attacked by creatures of the undead — A Deathlock Wight, Tomb Motes, and Skeletons. The battle was fierce and Willem briefly fell in combat.

After the battle, Caiphon recalled the room being bigger. After discovering another magic seal obscuring a hallway, the group encountered Endrin, the monastery’s librarian and apparent sole survivor of the massacre. He was praying inside a sacred circle of protection. He revealed to the group that when the attack started, he was hurried into the library and sealed inside to serve as protector and steward of the ancient volumes.

The heroes related their journey so far, and Endrin found them the Tome of the Vampyr, detailing how the creatures are created and defeated. He also revealed a large treasure trove, passing them off to the heroes.

They helped the librarian gather his things and returned to the caves outside of Pakkin’s Folly. The villagers were excited at the sight of Endrin, and many struggled to touch him, thinking his appearance was a sign from Pelor. After discussing it, the heroes decided their next move would be to check on Reeve Krayth Manoli and clear the undead out of the village while Endrin researched a ritual that would cancel the darkness, at least over Pakkin’s Folly.

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First Session
The main characters are brought together

As Caiphon and Argosius rode to Pakkin’s Folly from the monastery of Pelor, they spied something wrong. A column of darkness emanated from Jakkra Castle on the western horizon. When it hit the atmosphere, it began expanding at an alarming rate.

While their goal was to help Caiphon minister to the villagers and complete his training as a minister, they knew trouble when they saw it and they spurred their horses with some urgency towards Pakkin’s Folly.

In Pakkin’s Folly a street performer named Brel had attracted a small crowd in the town square. He was unemployed, so performing small feats of illusion was the only way to create an income. Brel had been doing this on a regular basis, away from the farmer’s market and away from heavier competition. Militia leader Gareth Bonward and his men had run Brel off a number of times in the past. This time Bonward had sent Regdar, one of the militia’s ranking offers, to send Brel back to the farmer’s market again. However before Ragdar could complete his task he, along with Brel and the handful of villagers in the square, saw the column of darkness rising from Jakkra Castle.

Regdar immediately took control of the situation. He ordered the citizens home, telling them to get their familes and head to the town hall or the temple. He raced back to the militia hall. Bonward told Regdar to take a small group of men, head through the village, warn the villagers of potential danger, and direct them to the two safe havens.

At the temple, citizens had already begun to panic. Willem Talhart, the temple’s highest ranking cleric of Pelor, calmed the populace and told the rest of the brothers and sisters to help maintain the peace and accomodate villagers who sought refuge.

On the outskirts of town, the halfing ranger James Crowleaf was returning from a successful hunt when he noticed the column of darkness. Sensing danger, he sent the party to their homes and families, and encouraged them to be vigilant while getting them to safety.

The darkness spread rapidly and within three hours, the sun was completely blocked. Darkness had crept across the land.

On the highroad, Caiphon noticed an eerie stillness. There were no birds singing. No wind was blowing. He and Argosius began to worry and pressed their horses on even harder.

In Pakkin’s Folly, Regdar encountered what he thought was a transient or a crone, hunched over under a long cloak. As he got closer to aid this supposed person in need, it reared up, revealing its true face. The vampire spawn attacked, pinning him to the ground. Strong hands bound his hands and feet. He strugged to no avail and a strong blow rendered him unconscious.

In the town hall, James heard a rapping on the large doors. An old man’s voice cried out, begging for aid and assistance. James readied his bow and called for the door to be opened. Vampire spawn rushed in. James let his arrow fly. The spawn easily dodged his bolt and lunged at him. Brel leapt up and uttered a spell, issuing forth a thunder wave. His target dove past the wave and was on him in second. Like Ragdar, they were all forced to the ground, bound, and knocked unconcious.

Outside the temple, a similar situation occurred. An elderly woman banged on the doors, pleading to be let in. She cried out in terror—monsters were after her, she said. Willem’s compassion caused him to throw open the doors.

The temple was overtaken in minutes.

As Caiphon and Argosius neared Pakkin’s Folly, they spied a caravan of what appeared to be refugees. A man in front flagged them down and begged assistance. Argosius dismounted from his horse and was beset upon immediately. Caiphon tried to react, but his horse wouldn’t respond and he was dragged to the ground violently. They were no match for the vampire spawn either.

Hours later, Willem awoke in a makeshift prison cell. Strong smells indicated it used to be a stable. He heard voices. As he shook his head to clear his thoughts, he noticed five men in the room with him. One of them was sharpening a very large double bladed axe. The men taunted him and he quickly realized he wasn’t alone. Holy brothers Caiphon and Argosius were also in cells.

The humans gave the holy men a choice: join or die. Always faithful, Argosius spoke first, saying he would never join the ranks of such hellish creatures. The men promptly dragged him from his cell and beheaded him in the center of the room, right before his brothers’ eyes. As they moved to Willem’s cell, the door was kicked open. A lithe and handsome man, covered in blood, entered bearing a warhammer. He struck down one man immediately. The human holding the keys dropped them in a mad scramble to protect his comrades. Quickly, the bloodied man struck down another guard and Willem grabbed the keys and liberated himself. He opened Caiphon’s cell and both men joined the fray.

When the battle had ended, the bloodied man introduced himself as Jarek Irenka. He told the men he had been fighting the vampires and could lead them to where “the assets” - the villagers of Pakkin’s Folly - were being held to be used as food.

Jarek led them to a nearby system of caves. After evading a false floor trap, the trio snuck up on the main cave where the villagers were being held. Their timing was fortunate. Brel caused a large flash of light to distract his captors: four humans and two gray wolves.

After the battle, the six heroes calmed the villagers and planned to get them to safety. Willem suggested they venture to the nearby Monastery of Pelor in search of holy items that might aid in their defense of the villagers.

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