Overlord Rising

A new temple

Bishop Worem,

As per your instructions I have been traveling with the adventuring group to determine what is going on in Antaria. The group has made quick headway under the direction of Deathreaver who is assembling the tribes under his direction. The way he has been able to do this is by pretending to be a chieftain of one of the tribes. Under the tribal law any tribesman can challenge the others to be chief, so Deathreaver has been able to use this to take control of so far two of the tribes. In addition to the tribes the mayor was taken by one of the humans in the outpost and as a result Deathreaver has put in a new mayor who should be easy to influence. As you can see the elf is setting him-self up to be king of Antaria at some point in the future or if not public king he at least will have considerable control over the peoples.

On the subject of converting the heathens; so far this has been not extremely successful. The locals do not seem opposed but we need to build a presence up in the area and allow our good works to convert the population for us. So I propose you send a small group of the faithful over to me and we will establish a temple and begin taming the desert around that area. The population should then know of the true glory of Sarenrae.

Looking forward to establishing a new center of glory for Sarenrae.
Priest Fredrick

A Bedtime Story

Once upon a time, in the far-off land of Antaria, six friends were wandering through the desert. A desert is like a huge beach, but without the ocean or the strange old men. They were very good at wandering and never got lost, even though none of them knew about deserts or survival or surviving in deserts. They were clever that way.

The leader of the friends was a monster named Roark. He had sharp teeth and liked to say funny things. There was also a pointy-eared man named Deathreaver and someone named Perry who was either a boy or a girl but nobody knew which. All of the other friends were quite small. There was a little pharmacist named Zook and a magical wizard named Sorceron. Finally, there was a tiny little faerie named Guruthos who rode around on a puppy.

One night, the friends were so tired from wandering in the desert that they decided to take a nap. They picked a nice warm patch of sand that was moving all by itself. Before long they were fast asleep, except for Sorceron who watching for danger. Sorceron promised to keep all his friends safe, which was easy because they weren’t really his friends.

Sorceron saw that the desert was moving in the distance. It didn’t look very dangerous. He saw it get closer and closer, and then he killed Guruthos’s puppy with a big fireball.

Then all of the friends woke up. Guruthos was sad about his dog, but everybody else thought it was pretty funny. While they were all laughing, lots of little of ants came out of the desert and climbed all over them.

Deathreaver and Percy flew away so that the ants wouldn’t eat them. Then some lizards came out of the desert and tried to eat Roark and Sorceron. The ants killed Guruthos and ate him but nobody laughed because the lizards were right there.

Then one of the lizards ate Sorceron. Deathreaver was sad because Sorceron had all of the party treasure, so he flew into the lizard’s mouth. Sorceron was still alive in its tummy, because that’s how nature works! Deathreaver and Sorceron killed the lizard, and Roark killed the other lizard, and all the ants went away.

Eventually Perry flew back, and all of the friends had a nice breakfast of lizard and friend ants and toasty dog. Roark even accidentally ate some Guruthos, and everybody laughed!

The next day, they walked through the desert some more and met a crazy man running through the desert. He ran right up to them, because the desert is really quite narrow. He told them he was from a big city full of fierce warriors who were being eaten by some demons. So the friends went to the city but all they found were some tiny little demons! They killed all of the demons really quick, and all the fierce warriors said that they were heroes! But then Deathreaver said that he was their new chief, and they had to work in the mithral mines for years and years until they all died.

Another Misunderstanding

Your Holiness,
As I write you this letter I have nothing but shame and regret in my heart, and only my sense of duty causes my hand to move and my heart to beat. Just last year I failed you, and in your wisdom you decided not to excommunicate me, but instead to grant me the opportunity to spread word of the Holy Turnip to the unenlightened tribesmen of Antaria. I vowed to you that I would not fail you, but my promises lie sundered like the bones of our brethren, now scattered on the desert sand.

We arrived in Antaria several months ago, having met with the most favorable winds as we sped across the sea. I did not know what to expect from the native Alswani, but immediately found that the reports of their barbarism were greatly exaggerated. They were very welcoming of us, and were also open to hearing the Gospels of the Legumes and Other Tasty Things. My hope grew with every passing day!

There were challenges to overcome, of course; the poor tribesmen knew nothing of the very vegetables that play the vital roles in our tenets. These barren lands do not foster the growth of turnips, cucumbers, radishes or even rutabaga. The denizens of this desert do not even have words for these things! But we were making progress, and I think that very soon we would have welcomed new Alswani brothers into the New Life.

But even as we spread the blessed word, a troubling malady began to settle upon the land. A strange disease, the source of which we were unable to discover, quickly spread among the scattered tribes. It was quite unlike any disease I had ever seen before; those who were infected mostly stopped eating and drinking, and seemed to lose their connection to the world. Their skin grew pale and they began to wander around aimlessly. It soon was apparent that we were facing a sort of magical curse, for some of the victims began to slip away into the ethereal realm, becoming shadowy figures barely tied to our plane of existence. Others became so gaunt that they almost looked like skeletons. Still, although the infected were shocking to behold, they remained peaceful and at times were lucid enough to converse with.

We did our best to try to comfort the sick. We found that the glaring sun made them uncomfortable, so during the day we helped to cover them with the cooler soil that lay beneath the sun-baked sand. At night we simply held them and sang them songs of our faith in order to sooth them. We tried to communicate these practices across the desert, and we heard that the disease had also taken hold in The Outpost. With the larger workforce available there, they designated a large patch of land in which their infected could rest, and dug dozens of pits.

When it became clear that our small group of missionaries were unable to take care of all the diseased natives throughout Antaria, we begged one of the local landowners to provide us with a safe haven where we could establish a colony to treat the infected. He led us to a beautiful mansion in the rocky southern lands. It had been built by foreigners a hundred years ago and until recently had been used as an inn and trading post under the name “The Burial Grounds.” We were told that the inn had served a hot beverage known as ‘kaffe’ and had been a popular place for the tribesmen to reminisce after funerals, which is how the name was derived.

We sent word across the desert, and soon the Alswani began to bring their infected family members to the Grounds so that we could take care of them. We discovered an underground spring beneath the mansion’s basement, and we tried to provide the afflicted with as much comfort as we could. We felt blessed to welcome a wise and powerful priest named Bishop Worem, who had sensed the troubles in Antaria from his temple across the sea, and had set upon a pilgrimage to lend assistance. He was not of our faith, but his heart was pure and we were happy to receive his help and guidance.

As the days passed, the effect of the sun on the victims became more profound, until we feared that the disease would progress to the point where sunlight would be instantly fatal. Bishop Worem and I then toiled to create of a magical orb which created a cloud of twilight and thus protected the afflicted for several miles around the mansion.

At first the disease attacked only the Alswani, and we missionaries passed safely among them. But one day, it was as if some unholy spigot of pestilence had been opened upon us, and the disease struck with full force. Of the twenty of us who had landed in Antaria, only I and four others remained healthy! And for some reason, possibly due to our foreign heritage, the disease affected our brethren in strange ways much different from its course on the Alswani.

Brothers Peacemonger, Fuzzybear and Snugglepuss became ravenously hungry and could do nothing but eat. They holed themselves up in the dining room, and we did our best to provide them with food.

Brother Happyshoes (my dear apprentice) and Sister Sweetcheeks became skeletal, and for some reason began to flame like candles! They had to be very careful not to stand near anything that could burn, but were of great use in the kitchen cooking food for the ravenous Brothers.

My dearest Sister Lovebug became incorporeal and seemed to be freezing. As we tried to warm her, she began to fade away and we realized that her very existence depended on her being kept cold until we were able to cure the disease. We bade her to remain in a room in the mansion, and surrounded her with a sleet spell.

With renewed vigor, we set about to find a cure for the disease. We created batch after batch of antitoxins, dumping them into the underground stream in an effort to speed their dispersal to the infected masses. But try as we might, we came no closer to a cure, and I could barely suppress the shame in my heart. Bishop Worem worked even harder than I did, refusing to sleep for days and nights on end. Finally he collapsed, and we placed him gently in his bed. Even then he did not sleep, and we heard his gentle sobs emanating from his room.

Then, soon afterward, our devastating predicament became even more horrible. All of we healthy Turnipites were on the second floor of the mansion working on a new formula, save for Brother Squeezie who was in the basement distributing the most recent batch into the underground spring. I was resting for a moment, peering out of the window and the wandering infected, when I saw some strange figures sneaking closer. I watched in horror as they mercilessly started to slay a number of the afflicted! The brutality of the attack was incredible, and my memories were immediately torn back to the similar savagery that I had beheld in Realmaria.

In those first few moments, I could not have suspected that here in the land of the so-called savages, the TRUE savages had somehow followed me halfway across the world!

In what seemed like mere seconds, the attackers drew close to the mansion. They mercilessly cut down the sick Alswani and we could do nothing but watch and pray for their souls. I only got a brief glimpse of the evil invaders before the slipped beneath the roofline and I could hear them downstairs.

I saw a towering orc with a falchion, who was obviously taking great pleasure in killing with abandon. Slipping in and out of the shadows, a tiny figure followed at his footsteps. Then I saw a strange elf, who I was unable to identify as either male or female (nor determine arcane or divine). He/she was followed by a vile gnome who was gleefully lobbing exploding vials. Then there was a shifty fireball-lobbing halfling, who was looking at the backs of his companions with the same contempt that he regarded the tribesmen. He looked at the tiny shadowy figure with an especially contemptuous glare.

But the sight of the last figure caused me to feel faint, and the world slowed down as he triumphantly strode toward the mansion. Blood was splattered on his chiseled elven face, and he casually swung a wicked rapier as he walked. At his hip dripped a vile barbed whip that bore the bloody evidence of his crimes. Even from my vantage above, I could see the smirk on his face. It was impossible, but this elf was one of the bandits who had slaughtered our brothers on the road to Easton!

The shock paralyzed me, until an overwhelming fear took hold and I activated my Blessed Amulet of Withdrawal. It was a cowardly thing to do, but I was not in control of my own actions. The magic sucked me into an interdimensional pocket where I would be safe, and when I finally regained my senses it was too late to dispel the magic. I was trapped away from my friends until the spell took its course and returned me to the world.

Time dragged on as I floated in space, and dread grew in my heart. I had abandoned everyone I cared about, and they were now doubtlessly being slaughtered by the murderers. If I had stayed, I may have been able to dissuade the attack, or at least I could have martyred myself in order to buy the others time to escape. But I instead had acted the coward, and it is a shame that I will bear forever.

Many minutes later, the spell ended and I faded back into the world. I was still facing the window, and outside I saw a horrible sight. Where there had previously been shade, there was now bright sunlight, and it harshly illuminated the many acres of land around the Grounds. Oh, the horror I beheld! Motionless on the rocky earth, all the many hundreds of infected Alswani lay dead! The murderers had discovered the orb, and had deactivated it with their vile magic in order to more easily slaughter their victims. Men, women and children lay around the mansion as far as I dared to look.

I turned around and saw a much closer scene of carnage. The rest of my brethren lay where they had been cut down, beakers and reagents still clutched in their hands. Dead, too, were the gentle Alswani who had been helping us in our research. I ran downstairs, but heard nothing but the stillness of the grave. The first room I came across was where we had blanketed Sister Lovebug in the cool sleetstorm which helped her remain among us; this was gone now, and Sister Lovebug had faded away into nothingness! She posed no threat whatsoever to the invaders, but they had destroyed her just for the pleasure of it!

I then ran into the main hall and saw the ashen remains of Brother Happyshoes and Sister Sweetcheeks. It looked as if they had literally been blasted apart. Through the open door of the kitchen, I saw the bodies of Snugglepuss, Fuzzybear and Peacemonger. Their eternal hunger had been sated only by the foul blades of the murderers.

I then turned to the sitting room, where earlier a group of mourners had been paying their last respects to a chieftain who had recently succombed to the disease. These peaceful folk had been surprised by the invaders, and with the entire room had been burnt to cinders.

I rushed to the basement, in the hopes of discovering that perhaps Brother Squeezie had been able to hide himself from the wrath of the demons, but my hopes were dashed. They had killed him and had stolen the barrel of antiplague; I fear now that they intend to corrupt it and use it to spread the plague even further!

Sobbing uncontrollably, I returned to the main level to search for Brother Worem. As I approached his room, I heard a gentle wailing from beyond his door. My heart lifted ever so slightly, for although he was in distress, he was alive! But the murderers had played yet another cruel trick, and I discovered the Bishop’s lifeless body still on his bed, with arrows protruding from his back. If I have not yet adequately described to Your Holiness the wickedness of these vile men, then please consider the scene that I described above, for it perfectly captures the purity of their evil. Not only did they slaughter a holy man, they did it in his sleep, and from afar with their poisoned arrows. They then trapped a sliver of his soul to be forever tormented in this place.

Mere months ago, I thought that I would never encounter such horror as I saw on the bloody road to Easton. But this catastrophe is an order of magnitude more horrible, and I am losing my faith that there is any purpose in redeeming this world. Can the word of the Holy Turnip really overcome such evil? Can our ways of nonviolence and quaint vegetable-themed rituals truly make the world a better place? This doubt mixes with the regret in my heart, and together they feed my overwhelming doubt and dread. My own shame is unbearable, and so now I plan to cast myself out into the desert. If the Holy Turnip wishes me to live, then he will send the means my way; but I must honestly admit that I am wishing that such favor does not find me. I dispatch this letter to you now, and hope that Turtley Wurtley delivers it to you with haste. Warn our brethren about these men, but I fear there is little we can do to stop them. Doom is upon us, and it bears the smirking form of a vile elf.

Father Spiffyshoes

Fredrick's letter to the bishop

Bishop Worem,

I have arrived in Antaria as requested. The journey across the sea went without event and I don’t feel that I made any converts on the ship. Following the directions as presented I hired a guide in the outpost and set out for the Alswani town of Rock Shade.

As told a priest of Nerull was already here, turns out his name is Radis, and he traveled with multiple companions. As I tried to convince the chieftain that he should force the Nerull priests out, Radis arrived and told the chief that he needed to swear allegiance to Nerull or suffer the consequences. The chief refused and at that point a horrific bone beast stepped out of the shadows, instantly slicing the chiefs’ two guards into halves. I attempted to force Radis to stop with the power of a geas, but that proved not to work. He laughed and vanished from the room. The bone creature continued on to torturing the chieftain. I attempted to run up and strike it from behind, but my scimitar bounced off its hide. It just slapped me with its hand sending me sprawling. As the chief screamed I blanked out.

As I awoke I could hear multiple screams occurring. The room I was in had blood everywhere with some cowering tribesmen. I got up and headed out of the throne room. Bodies littered the passageways of the underground town. As I got near the entrance of the town I saw a huge spider like creature head down to where my mount and the guide’s mounts were stored. I could hear livestock screaming as well as tribesmen; at this point I decided I had to get out into the daylight where Sarenrae light could help me with the upcoming battle. As I exited outside a voice told me to run.

I headed out across the desert where shortly I came upon a mixed group of adventurers headed my way. They seemed to be extremely wary of me and even as I talked to them I thought they were going to attack me. I tried to explain the horrors that were occurring in the town, but as luck would have it they were headed that way. The band was made up of five members – a elf named Deathreaver who practiced the bardic arts , a Halfling named Sorceron (strange that he practiced the magical arts), a elf called Perry (who I have been told is a dabbler in magic), the leader was introduced as Roark a warrior of human and orcish descent, he was pulling a rope that was attached to a floating leather bag, out of the bag a small gnome stuck his head out and mumbled something about being bigtoe or smalltoe or something and ducked back into the bag. Later I was to find out he made alchemy potions.

We reentered the town and I lead them to the living quarters. We encountered some undead and bats and with this brave band of adventurers we were able to make quick work of them. We headed over to the town priests section and encountered the bone creature I had seen before. With this group of adventurers quick work was made of them, along with the priest of the town. Following the destruction we headed down to where the livestock was kept where we fought the horrendous spider creatures. These proved to be tougher as they shredded Roark’s armor but this brave group still overcame them.

I will continue traveling with this band while I wait word on what my next instructions are.

Your servant
Priest Fredrick

A New Party Forms

The sea holds no longer beckons me, now that so many of my companions have been lost to it. Well, I suppose that I didn’t exactly lose my friends to the sea; I found them on our boat with their throats cut. So I suppose that it’s the drow, not the sea, that no longer beckon me. Regardless, our month aboard the ship was a grueling reminder of our recent losses, and I was relieved when the shore of Osiron finally inched above the horizon.

Of our original group, only I and Sorceron remained. But fortune had smiled upon us, and before we left Forestdale we had actually added two more members to our group! Both approached us on the streets, seeking adventure.

Guruthos was a shrunken elf (intentional, he claimed) riding on a dog. At once I found him to be intelligent, capable, and ready to please… but most dogs are! Guruthos made less of an impression on me, but we invited him to join us nonetheless. He had sought out Poppy, but still agreed to travel with us when I explained how Poppy had wandered off as soon as we had landed.

Our other new companion was a cohort named Perry. New to adventuring, he had not yet chosen a path in life and dabbled as a wizard and a cleric (though he was uncertain of which deity he followed, like so many of today’s youth). We took him under our wings in the spirit of charity, and because we no longer had a healer in the party.

And thus we sailed away, cast out of our home by both man and god, to try to save the distant land of Osiron from the Overlord’s invasion. My friends were gone, yet I remembered them fondly and still carried a little piece of each of them with me… in my pouch, to use as material components for my Alter Self spell.

We skirted the shoreline for a day before our able captain sailed into the harbor of The Outpost. This city, he explained, was a trading colony established by foreigners in order to connect the desert country of Antaria with trade routes across the sea. But as soon as we saw the lifeless streets and the disrepair of the buildings, we could tell that the city had fallen on hard times.

The harbormaster greeted us as we stepped on to dry land. We were likely the first ship he had seen in a week, and he was most certainly disappointed to find that we had come without goods to trade. He directed us towards the key locations in the city (chiefly the sole remaining inn, and the mayor’s residence) and gave us an overview of the Alswani people who lived deep in the desert. He also mentioned that in addition to the lack of trade, they had also recently been beset by zombies every night.

We thanked him for his time and set out in search of the inn that he had mentioned. Our first order of business was to find a new leader to replace Poppy. And within a few minutes of entering the bustling tavern, we identified that very man.

Roark the half-orc (a suitable description, but by no means his name) was the center of attention at the bar, though nobody was paying much attention to him. I spied on his conversation with the barkeep, and was impressed with his quick wit. It was clear from his full plate armor and wicked falchion that he was an adventurer. I then introduced us and asked him if he would join us as our leader, to which he immediately agreed.

Before long, the gnome who would become the final member of our party approached us. His name was… something having to do with “toe” and he claimed to be an alchemist. Most alchemists that I knew had been wizards, sorcerors, druids, clerics or the like, but he professed to be none of those. Nonetheless, we proved his worth to Roark by mixing up a potion, so he was invited to join us as well.

Perry proved to be an important party member by renting some nice rooms, and we then went to see the mayor of the city to inquire about the zombies. The mayor’s residence, though once grand, had fallen into the same disrepair as the rest of the city. He must have had little other business, because upon our entry we were promptly escorted to an audience with him. The mayor explained that as of late, zombies rose from the graveyard every night and wandered the streets. There was also word that the town of Shumia, a few days walk away, had also been affected and possibly more so. He had organized a militia to deal with the undead and so far the city had been kept safe, but he desired that the dead be made to remain in their graves.

I explained that we were quite capable of solving his problem, and negotiated a reward should we prove successful. We then went to the graveyard to investigate.

At the graveyard, we could see no signs of necromancy, save for the obvious signs of the undead crawling from some of the graves. I noticed that the oldest signs of unrest had centered on the newest graves, and as the nights went on progressively older graves had yielded zombies. We decided to wait and watch what happened that night.

No sooner had night fallen then an aura of necromancy surrounded us, and a dozen zombies crawled out of the dirt. The wandered around until they saw us, and attacked. In moments we had dispatched of them, and we were once again alone in the night. The necromancy around us was palpable, and seemed to be boundless… it wasn’t contained to the graveyard, but hung in the streets of the city and the surrounding desert as well. We decided to rest for the night at the inn and venture toward Shumia in the morning.

The trip across the desert on the well-worn road was uneventful, and we were pleasantly greeted by the townsfolk of Shumia. If we were hoping to find the cause of the curse in Shumia, however, we were mistaken; we were instead directed far south through the desert. There, we were told, was the ancient burial ground of the Alswani people, from which the undead had first appeared.

Once again we trudged through the desert, this time without a good road to follow. Based on instructions from the people of Shumia, we tried to time our arrival so that we reach the burial ground at mid-day, to best avoid many more undead.

As we neared the burial ground, we encountered a group of Alswani tribesmen. They were friendly, but cautioned us that their sacred land had been overtaken by the dead. They let us pass freely, but demanded that we not loot the graves of their ancestors.

As we neared our destination, I realized that our plan to get there in daylight had been thwarted. Above us, the sky grew increasingly darker; not the darkness of an approaching storm, but more like an unnatural, foreboding dusk. We climbed over a hill and finally could see the burial ground below us. It was vast, and in its center was the unexpected sight of a sprawling manse. All around it were hundreds or even thousands of undead. We saw skeletons and zombies, but also could make out the forms of ghouls and incorporeal specters.

We hid behind the hill and attempted to plot our way to the grand house, since we supposed that was the most likely source of the necromancy. The terrain was composed of separate hills, valleys, and plateaus, and we thought it likely that we could approach each area in such a way that if we were discovered by a group on undead, the other groups still may not notice us. It even seemed possible that we could avoid some of the combat outright through the clever use of some of our skills such as climbing and acting like zombies.

Alas, we were neither as clever nor as stealthy as we had hoped, and were attacked by vast hordes of undead, perhaps a dozen or more! We fought our way to the manse and eventually stepped inside.

By this point, we had no desire to fight more undead than we needed to, so we asked Guruthos to scout ahead and draw any monsters back to us. He began to open doors and soon returned to us being chased by flaming, exploding skeletons. We dispatched them fairly easily, but not before being somewhat burnt. Guruthos also discovered a kitchen with stairs descending into a dark basement. From far below, we could hear the unexpected sound of bubbling water.

Guruthos then left us in the kitchen as he explored the basement. He soon came back upstairs and told us of a strange man, garbed as a necromancer of Nerull, dumping a powder into an underground stream. We sent him back downstairs to surprise the man. In seconds it was all over; Guruthos surprised him with his deadly arrows, and the rest of us rushed down to kill him before he had a chance to do anything besides cast a darkness spell and try to slip away.

We examined the barrel and discovered it to be full of a strange powder. Even our alchemist was unable to identify it, save for the fact that it seemed to be some sort of disease-bearing agent. It was unclear what the man had been doing, or whether it was related to the surge of undead. We then took a few moments to catch our collective breath before venturing further into the mansion.

Sorceron's Great Day

Dear Diary,
Today was the best day ever! We got lots of loot, and most of the party is dead… especially Frank! All in all, it was a great day.

It all started when we saw a ship following us. Deathreaver said something about dark elves, and then they flashed a lantern at the other boat. It wasn’t very exciting so I didn’t pay attention, but then I overheard that we were going to drop a barrel of limes behind us, because the drow didn’t want to catch scurvy. I volunteered to check the limes to make sure they were fresh enough, and when nobody was looking I dumped a bunch of Poppy’s poison in the barrel, because it was the right thing to do.

The other ship eventually scooped up the barrel and drifted away.

After dark, we anchored the ship because the night was moonless and pitch black. I was sitting alone on deck thinking about ways to burn things, when I saw a light approaching over the ocean. Soon I saw it was a couple of flying drow. They said something about wanting to parlay and wondering why we sent them poisoned limes and scurvy is a serious thing and other crap like that. I hit them with a fireball and went downstairs to find something to eat.

Then everyone started freaking out because they thought we were being attacked, especially since my fireball had hit the sails and rigging and other stupid things used for sailing. Fishtoe jumped into the water and came back a little while later, saying that there was a boat nearby. Deathreaver then came up with some sort of plan and they gave me a flying potion, which was great. Frank gave everyone else his water walking spell, and we all ran/flew outside in order to take vengeance on that other boat for attacking us.

As soon as we got outside, someone cast a fireball at us. This pissed me off, because we were being peaceful at that moment. Some people are just nasty, I guess. So I flew up into the air to get away from the other fireball targets.

Deathreaver started flying toward the boat using his dragon wings, and the others all dropped into the water. I heard someone casting Dispel Magic, and then everyone who was water walking splashed into the ocean. Then I heard someone else casting Summon Elemental, and I knew the fun was about to begin. Deathreaver was still shouting something about storming the other boat as he disappeared into the darkness.

A water elemental started killing Frank and Poppy. Eland started to fly somehow and started looking for the drow, who were invisible now. I started casting fireballs at random spots, in case an invisible drow or Frank happened to be there.

Off in the distance, I saw massive explosions of fire and lightning illuminating the silhouette of another ship, so it seemed Deathreaver was doing all right, not that I cared.

The water elemental killed Poppy, who started to sink. The two drow appeared after their invisibility ran out, so Eland and I killed a wizardly one. The other one was a cleric, and he flew down to attack Frank and Eland. I killed the water elemental with a fireball, but the cleric was immune. Then, a third drow appeared on the deck of the ship and killed Frank and Eland with a lightning bolt, so I flew off to see how Deathreaver was doing.

As it turns out, Deathreaver was doing great. He had beaten that third drow near death a few times while killing a bunch of his minions, but fortunately hadn’t killed the drow before it teleported over to kill Frank. I helped Deathreaver mop up with a few fireballs, and in the end we killed a few dozen warriors and a lot of skeletons. He asked me how the rest of the party was doing, and I told him they were fine and were looting the drow, because that was the right thing to tell him.

Then we spent quite a while searching the drow ship, and we found a lot of treasure while having a great time. Eventually, we returned back to our own boat. The drow were long gone, and had left the bodies of Frank and Eland on deck with their throats cut. Poppy was nowhere to be found, but Deahtreaver searched the floor of the ocean until he found him (Poppy was unconscious but still alive, thanks to a water breathing spell and the complete lack of predatory fish in recent years). He also remembered that he had left an unconscious Fishtoe drifting away in his bouyant armor, so he went searching for the druid as well and finally brought him back to the boat.

With a song in our hearts (well, in my heart at least) and lots of new loot to sell, we’ll be piloting both boats to Forestdale tomorrow. Deathreaver and Poppy are sleeping on the drow boat right now, and I’m guarding our own ship with Fishtoe. I’m going to slit his throat and get to bed now; I’m pretty sure Deathreaver won’t remember the exact body count come tomorrow.

I’ll write again soon, love, Sorceron

Trevor's Tale

I used to be an adventurer, but I gave it up. I had been adventuring ever since I was a kid and a few of my friends introduced me to it. It wasn’t always easy; as time went on I became a devout follower of Apsu, and my friends had a good time picking on me. (I should note that this ridicule wasn’t directed at Apsu, since many of them also followed Apsu; instead they thought that my way of worship was odd, even though it was based on the actual scriptures, which I doubted they had even read). Nonetheless, we had a great time adventuring until things began to change.

As we adventured, I noticed my friends began to get more vulgar, until they were laughing whenever I said words like “mandate”. Men will be men, and out in the wilderness you need humor to keep your senses about you, so I let it go.

Then, the adventures themselves started to change. I enjoyed tactical combat situations; although I am nonviolent, I still like to direct others and observe the results. But more and more we found ourselves do things like fishing and shopping. Oh, the shopping was the worst! Why couldn’t they just shop on their own time, and battle monsters when we were together?

After a while, I got fed up and left the adventurer’s life behind. I joined the crew of a sailing ship (on which all the sailors are allergic to fish) and sailed away to distant lands. Week after week we visited fantastic realms, from Catan to Westeros, and I honestly didn’t miss adventuring. And when we came to a new port I would spend my days in the taverns sipping exotic drinks. Every once in a while, I would send letters to my adventuring friends to mock them; ah how the tables had turned!

But alas, all good things come to an end, and suddenly we found that our ship had been sold, and we were conscripted into the service of a party of adventurers! All of my memories then flooded back, and it was quite horrible.

For starters, the adventurers had some unbelievable misconceptions about the purpose of the ship’s bell.

Furthermore, they laughed every time one of us said we were going to go below decks.

It was quite unbearable, but fortunately they had a mission which took them away from the ship. On one particular morning, after we had been moored outside the Flotsam Graveyard while the adventurers explored shipwrecks on their own, they ordered us to sail into the Graveyard itself. We were quite distrubed by the notion, but their druid led us through the dangerous waters and we remained safe.

They then left us again, and returned a few hours later, toting a huge and ornate mirror. We were unimpressed, but their bard insisted on telling us their story.

He said that they had returned to the sunken ship where they had been the day before (actually, two sunken ships), and had continued to explore. Within minutes, they encountered a ghostly figure who was guarding the artifact that they sought: the Eye of Boccob. The ghost immediately attacked them, and possessed the body of their priest. (Priests, one should note, are particular susceptible to attacks against their willpower, especially when the undead are involved). The adventurers battled each other, while the bard turned invisible, enlarged himself, and grabbed the mirror.

After that, a typical battle followed. The priest had been protected by a freedom of movement spell, and had good armor, so the adventurers had a difficult time grappling or damaging him. Eventually, the ghost left his body and they defeated it.

The apparently found other treasure on the boat, locked inside an old chest, and then returned back to our ship.

Luckily, the bard revealed that we would be sailing back to Forestdale, and our time with them would soon be at an end! We promptly set sail, confident that soon we would be rid of them.

On the second day of sailing, we saw a ship astern and observed that it was gaining on us. As a precaution, the druid cast a spell to increase the winds, and we began to pace the other ship. Then the bard and the druid jumped into the ocean to take a closer look, and soon returned with news that the ship was manned by what appeared to be human slaves of the drow. One of them had cast a similar spell to the druid’s, and the ship began to catch up with us. At that point, the bard then flew back to the other ship and quickly destroyed their rigging in order to slow them down.

That afternoon, the ship caught up with us again. One of the adventurers happened to know how to communicate via signal lamps, and they slowly flashed a message at the pursuing ship. The slaves claimed that they were completely out of fruit, and worried about scurvy. The adventurers bade us to dump a barrel of limes into the ocean, and a few minutes later we saw the sailors on the distant ship hoist it aboard. The ship then changed course and left us. The whole encounter was about the level of excitement that I prefer.

We sailed on toward Forestdale. The next night, I knew, would find us in a tavern Forestdale. Ah, the freckled wenches would surely prove my downfall!

Overlord Rising -- Act II: Into Osiron

Death Reaver and Sorceron struggled to man the rigging and rudder of the ship as it finally pulled into port in Forest Dale. So many of their friends had died at the hands of the sailing Drow. Eland… drown. Poppy… drown while water breathing, Frank… drown and throat cut, Dash… drown while sleeping at the hands of Death Reaver.

The mace of St. Cuthbert… lost to the Drow. The Eye of Baccob… lost to the Drow. The entire crew of the Adventurer’s Pride… dead. All the ship’s provisions and gear… looted.
It was an epic encounter with the Drow, and Death Reaver and Sorceron barely scraped through with their lives.

“Hey Sorceron… I just thought of something,” Death Reaver said as Sorceron was pulling down the sails, “St. Cuthbert is really going to be pissed at Loth… and us I suppose. I may need to stop pretending to be a follower of St. Cuthbert for a while.”

Death Reaver felt a sudden panic. He didn’t know about our losing the Eye after telling him it was in our possession and on the way did he? He chose to respond to the sending, “FRANK DEAD STOP EYE LOST TO DROW STOP CAN YOU BELIEVE IT SAILING DROW STOP IVE NEVER SEEN SUCH A THING STOP SEE YOU IN.” The spell ended its effect before he could finish.

Once the ship was moored at the dock, Death Reaver and Sorceron made their way to the Tiny Hat inn. They had to ask directions several times before finding it. It was located on the outskirts of town in a converted farm house. The inn featured a central pit where wizards and sorcerers would duel. The heroes found a seat and ordered some sausages and roast foul, the specials of the day. Sorceron placed and lost a few bets before Randolph finally showed up and took a seat at the table. He was clearly quite distressed about something.

“You two have utterly failed me, and now I’ve lost my bet with Pharasma that you would prevent the overlord from taking hold of Realmaria… even after finding that loophole in our contract about not offering you any assistance.

“I don’t believe there is any more you can do here to overthrow the overlord’s hold on this land, however I will offer you an opportunity to redeem yourselves in my sight. Across the sea is the land of Osiron. The overlord has not yet chosen to attack this land yet, but my sources say that he may be mounting his troops now that Realmaria is under his control.

“I realize now that the reason Realmaria fell so easily was that we were not united. Each town and region chose to fight for itself and didn’t present a unified resistance. We have a chance to change that for Osiron, to unify the countries and prepare for the coming of the overlord. Besides, I love to shop in the City of Splendors and it would be a shame to see the overlord take control of it.

“If you choose to take on this task, you will need to hire your own passage and fill out your group. Two will not be enough to face the challenges which await you. You will take passage to the trading town called “The Outpost” which is on the coast of Altaria in Osiron. The Outpost is run by Balstirians, even though it’s not in their country… some ancient trading agreement allows them to maintain the city and the trade routes through the desert.

“The countries in Osiron don’t particularly get along well with each other, even to the point of open war, but the Alswani people who live in Altaria are a superstitious lot, and would never break an agreement. You’ll need to gain the trust of each country and work to unite them against the common enemy which is coming. Of the four countries, I know the least of Altaria, they are the farthest from Trehyon where I like to visit, and they are quite savage for my tastes.

“I’m none too inclined to offer you much more help at this point, given your recent failures with returning to me the Eye of Baccob and re-forging the Mace of St. Cuthbert, but if you can gain the support of two of the four countries you may visit me in the City of Splendors and I will reward your work. I’m moving out of my tower in Realmaria on account of the pesky dragon trying to win my favor with lewd gifts all the time.”

Death Reaver and Sorceron considered Randolph’s offer for some time. It was difficult to make decisions without Poppy around to lead them. Finally Sorceron looked to Death Reaver and shrugged. Death Reaver knew that look. It either meant “I’m going to kill you and watch you burn,” or maybe, “I don’t care, you decide.” Either way, Death Reaver informed Randolph they would take the offer and get out of Realmaria instead of sporting the new branded look that was in so in fashion these days.

They gathered a few more adventurers and rebellious fortune seekers, hired a crew with a ship large enough, and willing enough to make the one month journey, bought enough provisions to feed the crew for the journey there and back, and they finally headed out to sea.

Session 13 - Merry Festibert!

Ah, the Winter Solstice… that time of year in which even the most godless monsters find themselves to be Cuthbertians, if only for the presents. I myself have very fond memories of Festibert, the two-day midwinter festival in which the followers of St. Cuthbert celebrate winter’s vengeance over the fairer seasons. At some point, the rigor of the rituals were replaced as it merged with other, non-demoninational solstice celebrations, and we are now left with a wonderful mix of Cuthbertian and pagan customs. Even though my parents worshipped the gods of the elven pantheon, and I myself have a closer relationship to Boccob since becoming a minstrel, I have celebrated Festibert ever since childhood. Some of the older elves speak of a long-lost time during which our people were enslaved by St. Cuthbert and forced to make torture-themed toys, but to me that’s nothing more than mean-spirited superstition.

I had been planning for Festibert for weeks, having Deucce do some shopping, and buying a few last presents in Forestdale. We had returned back to the fishermen’s boat on Festibert Eve, and Kelptoe’s bird had failed to summon our own vessel. Even though we spent the night on their unfamiliar ship, my mood could not be dampened, and I woke up early to prepare the decorations. First I sprinkled sesame seeds and cinnamon in my companions’ waterskins, and I arranged codfish heads in puddles of sacred oil around the deck of the ship. Then I rifled through my friends’ packs to douse their socks in yak urine; this would signify that jolly old St. Cuthbert had visited during the night, in his yak-drawn chariot, and had given each of them the great gift of not being killed in their sleep. This is just a tradition, of course; there are over a hundred thousand sentient creatures in the world, so for Cuthbert to visit all of us in one night would be quite difficult. But that’s what we elves are for! All the while, I was humming one of my favorite Festibert songs:

   Jolly old St. Cuthbert, lean your ear this way!
Don’t you tell a single soul what I’m going to say.
Festibert is coming soon, now, you dear old god,
Visit vengeance on my foes. Here, enjoy some cod!

By the time my friends had woken up, I had prepared for them the traditional Festibert breakfast of pancakes and sausage. I handed out their presents while we ate. To little Poppy I gave a beautiful potion/poison belt that I had specially ordered for him. In addition to allowing the instant drawing of potions, it also contained special pockets that were constructed to aid in the administration of poisons on to his daggers. I gave Sorceron a pair of spring-loaded wrist sheaths for his wands and rods. Frank received a magical vest to boost his swimming and diplomacy skills. Because Kelptoe is Druish and celebrates Solstica instead of Festibert, I gave him twelve crappy presents instead of one good present. I didn’t give anything to Eland, because his people don’t celebrate any holidays and aren’t allowed to participate in such festivities; I will however give him a present some other day, just to let him know I am thinking of him.

I was a little disappointed to find out that Frank hadn’t gotten us any presents. As I mentioned, Festibert is a two-day festival; on the first day you share presents with your friends and loved ones. But on the second day, you air your grievances and deal out vengeance to people that deserve it. In general, if you are close to someone and don’t give them gifts on the first day, it means you are saving some special deadly vengeance for the second day.

After breakfast, Kelptoe sent his bird out again to look for our boat, and we waited. The fishermen gave us a map that the evil priest had been using in his search for the Eye, and we began to plan our excursion. Frank cast a spell to communicate with St. Cuthbert (who must have been fairly upset to be bothered on Festibert) and apparently asked about our quest, though he kept the details to himself.

Finally, we saw our ship returning. As it came closer, I composed a little Festibert ditty which I am sure will become a holiday classic:

   I saw our ship come sailing in,
On Festibert, on Festibert,
I saw our ship come sailing in,
On Festibert, in the morning.

Pray whither sailed our ship that day, On Festibert, on Festibert, Pray whither sailed our ship that day, On Festibert, in the morning. Oh, it sailed to the Flotsam Graveyard, On Festibert, on Festibert, Oh, it sailed to the Flotsam Graveyard, On Festibert, in the morning. And all the bells on the ship did ring, On Festibert, on Festibert, And all the bells on the ship did ring, On Festibert, in the morning.

We promptly boarded our boat and sent the fishermen on their way. I told them their lives would be in danger if they spoke of us or the priest, and they sailed off. We watched Sorceron to make sure he didn’t dispose of them with his fireballs, but he was still feeling under the weather from his recent reincarnation and didn’t risk any more bad karma.

Now wanting to waste the rest of the day, we lowered our last remaining rowboat into the water and climbed down to it, leaving Eland and Sorceron to guard our ship. There were dozens of sunken ships marked on the map we had acquired from the fishermen, but Frank guided us to one location in particular. As we entered the Flotsam Graveyard a fog settled around us, and eventually we saw the form of a partially submerged ship rising before us. As we drew near, we could tell that this particular wreck was only a few hundred years old, much too new to be the ship that we sought, but then we beheld the mast of a second ship jutting out of the water. It looked as if the newer boat had been wrecked on top of a more ancient one!

Carefully, we tied our rowboat to the tilting forecastle of the wreck and picked our way inside. Frank cast Water Breathing on us, and since he knew we would soon be submerged, also took a few minutes to pray for a Freedom of Movement spell. I cast Alter Self to become my characteristic Sahuagin form.

We climbed our way belowdecks and entered the water. The room beneath the forecastle was empty, and a closed door separated it from the hold. Frank strode forward to open the door. He had chosen to lead the party, both because of his new armor, and the widely held belief that no priest of St. Cuthbert could die on Festibert.

This belief is, in fact, the reason why most priests of St. Cuthbert happen to die on Festibert.

Frank opened the door and we were suddenly met by an eerie, unnatural cold that hung in the water and clung to us as we swam through the next room. The hold was empty but for a few rotted crates. Frank skidded along the inclined floor until he reached another closed door at the far end of the hold.

Suddenly, a spectral hand emerged from the door and swiped at Frank, passing through his armor and clawing deep inside his body. Frank gasped and grew pale as his life drained away. Poppy and I swam toward him as a second wraith passed through the wall and attacked. We shouted at Frank to do something priestly to the undead, but he refused, saying something about undead being unaffected by divine magic. The wraiths clawed at him until he backed away, leaving Poppy and I to deal with them. By that point, he had been severely drained and looked to be near death. Nonetheless, he had summoned several spectral maces which pounded at the wraiths.

While the fight raged on, I remembered an ancient Festibert song which was normally sung on the second day of the festival:

  O come, all ye wraithful, spectral and incorporeal,
O come ye, O come ye, to walk the earth again.
Come and seek vengeance!
Vengeance on the living.
O come, St. Cuthbert likes you,
O come, St. Cuthbert likes you,
O come, St. Cuthbert likes you,
Vengeance is cool.

Frank stood amidships, with Kelptoe cowering behind him, and Poppy and I fought the undead. Poppy’s magical daggers were wreaking havoc on our foes, but luck was not with me and I could barely land a blow. Luckily, neither of us were affected by the wraith’s draining grasps (it being Festibert, naturally). In desperation I began to use my wand of healing to strike at the ghostly forms, and before long we had dispatched both of the foul undead.

We then paused to take stock of our situation. Frank was badly weakened, and he claimed to be as powerless as that day long ago that we first met, so we decided it would be a good idea to continue exploring. We passed through the door through which the wraiths had flowed and discovered a room with stairs descending downward. Curiously, the bottom of this boat had been smashed on top of the older boat, so the stairs opened on to the deck of the ship below us.

We saw two giant eels swimming around the deck, and behind them were two of the strange fish-men known as Skum. We did not want to get surrounded, so I cast Enlarge Person on myself and struck at the eels with a now-huge greatspear. They quickly retreated, and we were forced to advance into the room.

Though he was greatly diminished, Frank entered the room first, because it was Festibert. The eels and skum immediately attacked him; being newly inept, he forgot about his Freedom of Movement spell and was continually grappled by all of the monsters. I struck at the monsters over his head, while Kelptoe summoned squid and octopi galore.

Before long, Frank’s lifeless body was floating in the water, so the rest of us entered the room to dispatch the monsters. This time, my luck reversed, and my blades tore apart an eel with ease as the other escaped through a large hole in the side of the ship. While I killed it, I sang the traditional Festibert eel-killing song:

  Deck the eels with all your weapons, fa-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la!
Tis the season to seek vengeance, fa-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la!
Don we now our gay apparel, fa-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la!
St. Cuthbert says to ring the bell, fa-la-la-la-la-la-la la LA!

Kelptoe revived Frank, and together we killed the skum. After the battle was won, we regrouped and healed poor Frank.

All in all, this had proved to be one of the better, as least fatal, Festiberts in recent memory!

Session 12 - The Drowned Captain's Tale
the fortunate dead are buried or burned
   their souls are sent to their gods
   or returned to the earth
   or they pass into oblivion
we the drowned are not so lucky
there is no rest for us
when the moon is dark perhaps we sleep
   but under the full moon we return again to wander our grave
      the sea
we wander the sea forever

there are others around me
thousands of the drowned who moan and wander
   much like i do
but i cannot see them
   i only hear them
   i suppose they can hear me too

once i was a captain of the navy
   in service of the king
i fought pirates and foreign navies
i drowned some of the drowned
      i drowned many of them

sometimes men come here in their ships
their presence awakens us
   some of us warn them away
   some instead beg for company
   but the living never hear us
often they join us in our grave
their voices join ours in crying to the next ships

it has been like this for a hundred years or a thousand
i am here forever

a living man awakes me on a bright day
he bears the mark of necromancy
   i am thus drawn to him
   he bears the mouth bear pot of nerall
he anchors his ship where the water is still deep
and with his minions rows into our grave
he seeks out the ships that had carried us down
   he seeks our secrets
   he descrates our grave
      regardless of his intent he desecrates our grave

other men draw me with their power
they arrive on the ship of the necromancer
magic flares
a demon is summoned to destroy them
   she could destroy any one of them
   but they are many
   they surround and dispel her
one of them dies but does not join the drowned
   his soul flees
   but then his soul returns and he lives again
such should not happen yet wish i it would happen to me

now they themselves row into our grave
they seek the necromancer and find him
   each group rains fire on the other
   their boats begin to fall apart
the necromancer stands alone against his foes
one of them becomes a sahuagin and swims beneath the necromancer
the necromancer casts evil magic at his enemies
   until the sahaugin silences him with magic

the necromancer now jumps into the water and sinks
   his armor sends him to the bottom
yet a draught enables him to breathe water
the sahaugin follows him and keeps him silent
the necromancer channels foul power to harm him
   No, not foul!
   The power breathes life into us.
   It strengthens us, and weakens his enemy!
Time after time, he channels that power,
   and each time I feel renewed.
      More aware.
      More alive.

Now his enemies have separated themselves.
A dwarven priest, a halfling and a monk remain above the water,
   walking upon it as if it were ground.
Confronting the necromancer under the sea are the sahaugin,
   a druid, and a halfling sorceror.
   It was he, the latter, who had died and had returned.
   I feel something new, something I haven't felt since I was alive.
   I feel emotion again, and what I feel is hate.
      Especially for this thief who steals life.

The sahaugin, invisibly, ties a string to the necromancer.
It is this string which cloaks him in silence.
The necromancer attempts to flee along the bottom,
   yet he is unable to escape his attackers.
      He trods along in armor, while they swim with grace.
The sahaugin reveals his position with magical lights,
   and thus the dwarf assails him with lightning.
   The sorceror stings him with missiles.
   The druid swims around.
The necromancer does drain the sorceror, nearly killing him.
   It makes me feel better.
   Can I steal the sorceror's body
      while his soul hangs on by a weakened thread?
But the druid rescues him.
The sahaugin keeps the necormancer silent.

Finally, when the necromancer is himself near death,
   the sahuagin reveals himself in a giant's form.
He slashes at the necromancer and steals his weapon.
His companions help him deal the fatal blows.
As the necromancer falls, the sahaugin draws a black blade,
   and beheads him.
Power flares around me, but not as pure as the necromancer's.
The sword screams, but only we dead can hear it.
It seeks the necromancer's soul, yet for some reason is not sated.
The necromancer's soul is gone before the sword can drink;
   perhaps is has been drawn away to its master?

Now I watch the victors flee the sunken battleground.
They have left me no bodies to possess.
   I think I can do that now.
I can roam more freely now, along the seabed,
   and perhaps into the night air.
I must now decide which is more important to sate:
   My newfound hunger? If so, I will travel ashore,
      and consume as many of the living as I desire.
   My hate for the sorceror? In which case I will pursue him.
      Perhaps his will be the first life I drink.
      After all, it is not deservedly his.
That is the plan, then - I will find the sorceror,
   and satisfy both my hate and my hunger with his death!

The unfortunate dead are buried, or burned, or drowned.
The fortunate dead are freed from their shackles...
   of a mortal body, a soul, a conscience.
I will wander the world forever, thanks to Nerall's blessing,
   and the living will not be so lucky.

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