Monday, June 10, 2013

Akwamu's way, pt. 1

"Mathura Young Sadhu"
by Tom Carter
I arrived in Bahor a few days ago, and discovered the place in uproar. The local temple of Pelor had been razed overnight by powerful magics and desecrated by the symbols of Hextor, the Herald of Hell and Nerull, the Hater of Life. What is more, many of the clergy of Pelor had disappeared as well. 
      Beginning my investigations, I heard rumours of strange noises heard at night and people gone missing. Unable to find any actual eyewitnesses, I resolved to keep watch at night myself on the rooftops. After a morning of practice and meditation, I lay down to sleep in my room at the Hopping Leprechaun so as to be well rested for the night's vigil, only to be awakened by a loud knocking late in the afternoon. A pair of strangers stood at the door, claiming to be volunteers investigating the mysteries. They struck me as a pair of rather desperate mercenaries. One, an unkempt spellcaster named Davos, seemed most eager to position himself at the head of this volunteer association he was cobbling together.  The other, a grim but astonishingly well-groomed cleric named Bakari, seemed obsessed with meting out retribution for various evil deeds. 
"Temple Ruins" by Jonas De Ro
      Despite my initial misgivings, I was impressed with the information they'd already gathered and the contacts they'd made and so agreed to join forces with them. Together we began our night's watch, with myself on a high roof over the city.
      In the middle of the night I heard a sudden sizzling noise, as if of electricity.  I quickly set off toward the source, motioning for Davos and Bakari to follow.  What we found was horrifying: hundreds of corpses, all very pale and cold like the grave, lying in the middle of a plaza. They were all dressed in the same brown material. Where had they come from? Were they the missing townsfolk? Our questions would remain unanswered, for just then I spotted a shadowy figure on a nearby roof and set off in pursuit. When I reached the peak, the figure was gone, but what I saw looking back down into the plaza chilled me to the bone.  The bodies had been arranged in a pattern
      We had just made this disturbing discovery when another pair of strangers appeared on the scene: a massive fighting man who called himself the Hammer, and a rather stealthy elf from the north named Synast.  They too were investigating these strange goings-on. Examining the pattern, Davos concluded that it was a symbol of some ancient summoning ritual. We began moving the bodies, hoping to disrupt the pattern and thereby prevent any summoning that was to take place.  When the Hammer threw a body, it disintegrated into nothingness! The mysteries were deepening, and we needed answers.
      Davos and Baraki hastened away to inform the city authorities while I remained in the plaza to confer with Synast and the Hammer, only to come under a surprise attack: some evildoer cast a magical ball of flame at us from a nearby roof! Despite our burns we gave hot pursuit (no pun intended), but the creature eluded us. Upon returning to the plaza we were astonished to discover that the corpses had disappeared. 
Nerull as depicted in
 Deities and Demigods
      In the aftermath of these perplexing events we spoke to the clerics of St Cuthbert (Bakari's order), the guard commander, and the mage's guild. We learned that the pattern we'd seen was indeed part of an ancient necromantic ritual known only to the highest followers of Nerull. Its purpose was to raise massive numbers of the dead in the evil god's service. In addition to the symbol, four types of blood were required: that of a dragon, a vampire, a deva, and an old god.
      By this time it was nearly dawn and, with Bakari complaining loudly of his need for sleep, we returned to the Leprechaun. After rest and a breakfast that received strangely mixed reviews, we returned to the plaza where the city guards were keeping watch. Amidst the crowd I spied a strange cloaked figure watching us intently — the caster of the fireball!  Once more we gave chase, and this time Synast's stealth paid off: she shadowed the creature to a secret door in the side of a building in the warehouse district. We entered and descended into an underground complex where we soon found ourselves beset by foul undead creatures. In one room we quickly destroyed one such abomination before it could complete some kind of spell. In another, we encountered a group of  ghouls whose touch caused paralysis. Stricken in this way, I would have surely perished had not the others pulled me aside and cut them down. Now we must continue our search, hoping to forestall the terrible evil that seems about to descend upon Bahor's innocent population.