December 19, 2010

Session 1: The Curse

Cormick (Summoner 1): Menoan transplant, scribe, and shopkeeper.
Erasmus Ghent (Abjurer 1): Local apothecary.
Kheshef (Barbarian 1): An escaped slave turned mason.
Luka (Rogue 1): Vagrant follower of Kheshef.
Norben Fletcher (Cleric 1): Itinerant preacher.

The group wakes on a crisp spring morning to an eerily silent Rustidge. The residents of the large mining town, save the five individuals that gather outside the inn, are trapped in an enchanted slumber. Unsure of a course of action, the small group skirts the town green, eerily abuzz with swarming crows, and arrives outside the chapel hoping for guidance.

The chapel’s door stands open and the motionless forms of sleeping townsfolk can be seen on the floor and in pews. Upon entry, a stooped, half-rat, half-human demon and its hellish rat servants, identified as a lesser pestilence demon and its spawn, attack the group. After the death of the first spawn at the hands of Cormick's summoned ally, red energy coalesces from the withering corpse and floats to the nearest sleeping commoner. He gasps and begins to stir as the energy is absorbed into his body. As each demons falls more energy disperses and zips unnaturally towards the remaining commoners in the chapel, freeing them from the enchanted slumber.

After the encounter, as the group talks with the awakened townsfolk, Norben explores the infirmary and is set upon by another pair of the rat demons. The group rushes to his aid and, with the help of one hysterical townswoman, puts the pair and one of their spawn to rest. The energy from these demons does not revive any of those afflicted by the curse in the infirmary, but instead leaves the church through the open front door.

Still looking for a source of the curse, the group searches the cellar of the chapel and, after a few minutes of rummaging through crates and barrels, discover a recently sealed entrance by its fresh masonry. With the help of Kheshef, a brutish southerner and former slave, the wall is dismantled and a secret chamber is revealed. A summoning circle the color of dried blood stains the center of the floor and occult trappings are scattered on tables around the edges of the room; great evil was done here.

After collecting a pair of books found in the secret room, the group leaves and investigates the gathering crows in the town commons. The birds call out menacingly as the group enters the sparsely wooded green. The branches are black with crows, though Luka spots an anomaly among them: a crow demon; half-human and half-bird with razor sharp talons and a cruel beak. The demon, also a lesser servant of pestilence, incites the surrounding crows into a swarm that pecks furiously at Cormick and Norben while the others pursue the demon. With the help of Erasmus’s fire magic the swarm is dispersed and the demon is quickly vanquished by Kheshef, its energy awakening to two members of the town guard in a heap near the green’s well.

Tired, injured, and wary of another ambush, the group raids the market. Luka is able to force his way into several shops where armor, weapons and supplies are gathered. Now fully prepared, the group heads for the keep, hoping the influence of the curse does not extend beyond the edges of town. Unfortunately, the keep is motionless, two guards asleep at their posts, and Luka must scale the gatehouse with Kheshef's aid in order to open the gate. Once inside, the group scours the stables, finding nothing out of the ordinary, before discovering that the chapel is magically protected against entry. Only "those who serve the Corrupter" may bypass the wards on the front door; entrances to the chapel from the barracks and the keep are similarly barred. Frustrated, the search for clues continues.

The large keep is empty save for scattered, sleeping servants. Evidence of a small fire and burned breakfast in the kitchen point to the enchantment's onset some time in the early morning. A quick inspection of each floor finds the group in the private chambers of Lord and Lady Roels, both abed with strange charcoal marks on their foreheads. The wizard Erasmus erases the marks after it is determined they augment a tracking spell. While awaiting repercussions, Kheshef finds a spyglass and surveys the countryside to the north and south on either side of Rustidge Keep. To the south, he notices a small Menoan military camp; apparently unaffected by the curse. To the north, he sees small fires and signs that the nearby village of Edelford is both under the same spell and on fire. Having nothing left to accomplish in the keep, the group decides to head back to town.

In the castle's courtyard, two guards awakened in the village green are caught stealing horses in an attempt to flee Rustidge. Erasmus casts a spell to charm one, while the other is knocked unconscious and locked up in the dungeons. Erasmus commands his captivated friend to light all of the torches along the wall and in the keep, hopefully creating the illusion that Rustidge's residents were unaffected by the curse.

The group returns to town and, searching likely locations for agents of the Corrupter, discovers more pestilence demons feasting in a brothel. After the building is cleared, the wizard Evrard is found in one of the beds. Erasmus and Cormick discover that by focusing magical detection spells a mystical cord can be see connecting the sleeping wizard to a nearby demon. A short pursuit and bloody combat later, Evrard is awake. The ornery old man is eventually convinced that the town is in some danger and, after he is dressed, he leads the five to his house.

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