The Sky Pirates party discovered what lay outside the portal they took in the underground spire and uncovered some dubious information about the town of Lullin.
Cast of Characters
Wood Elf Barbarian – Red
Lord Malvolio Blackwold
Yuan-Ti Wizard – new DM candidate
Aasimar Paladin – Emergency DM
Andelle (Ann for short)
Wood Elf Druid – new player convinced to try D&D by her wargamer sister and brother-in-law
Human Wizard – 12 year old boy
Dragonborn Fighter/Bard – older teen girl
A loud crash followed by footsteps echoed down from the ceiling above, breaking Del out of her terror. “Hello?!” she called out in hope, trying to focus on the noises and ignore the heated argument that Bobby and Tyrone had gotten into over the burning corpse.
The steps seemed to multiply, splitting from one pair into many, all of which immediately sought out and descended creaking wooden stairs. Closer they came until the stairs disgorged six armored men into the basement.
“What was going on down here?”
“Well, you see, there was this monster…” Tyrone began.
“Who are you?” Blackwold interrupted.
“I am Guard Sergeant Kells,” the front-most of the seven, a somewhat imposing man with a kind and handsome face, explained as he cast a frown towards the wizard. “Now, what was going on here?”
“There’s a town nearby?!” Del exclaimed in horror. “There was this monster made all of human parts…”
“A Flesh Golem,” Tyrone corrected.
“A Flesh Golem, a Flesh Golem,” Del repeated, almost in a daze as she threw the bag off her back and ransacked it for a large peice of fabric. In a flurry, she laid the fabric onto the ground and began to scoop the ashes into it.
“It had to have been made from the parts of people from the town,” Del insisted frantically. “We need to find their relatives. Their spirits need to be put to rest…”
“Why do you need to do this?” Blackwold demanded.
“They can just rest here,” Bobby insisted.
“What? No! They need to be where they should be! No one can rest in some damp, smelly basement! They need to be under the sun! Their families need to know…”
“It’s alright,” Kells said, putting a comforting hand on Del’s shoulder and ushering one of the other guards over. “We will take care of it. Thank you. Now, you should all head into town. There has been a band of creatures in this area.”
“A band of creatures?” Balthasar inquired. “Do you know anything else? We may be able to take a look at them if you need.”
“No one has quite seen exactly what they are, apart from small, but they have been stealing from the townsfolk on this side of town and have been seen around this manor house.”
“Thank you, sir.”
After a night in the tavern, the party descended the stairs from the sleeping quarters to the sweet smell of baked goods. Standing near the bar, a pudgy man twiddled his thumbs nervously as his eyes darted about the room. Behind him, a tray of freshly baked pies and tarts sat on a tray, the heat from the oven barely gone and casting delicious smelling steam about the room. The man seemed to perk up once he caught sight of the group, and he made aught broad gesture toward his tray of fresh food.
“Have one,” he smiled, although the look soon turned to uncertainty again.
“Are you in need of assistance, my good man?” Paladin Balthasar inquired.
“I… yes!” the baker exclaimed, relief washing over his face. “My brother – Ellys – is missing. I went to take his breakfast pie to him this mornimg, like I always do, but he was gone. He’s always there. He would never go to work without his pie.”
“Did you notice anything suspicious, Mr. …?” Tyrone chimed in, picking a particularly scrumptious-looking morsel from the tray.
“Tib. And, well, this was on the table,” the baker said, fishing within his arpon’s large pocket and producing a tatter of parchment. Del looked over Tyrone and Balthasar’s shoulders as they read: *I am going out of town. -Ellys*
“Is this his handwriting?”
“Well, Ellys and me, we cannot read…”
“Oh… well, then that is quite strange,” Balthasar grumbled. “Would you mind if we took a look around where he lived?”
“Not at all. He lived by himself next to the graveyard. It’s on the edge of town; let me show you.”
After looking around Ellys’ house and finding nothing, the others had gone to talk to the Bishop that lived in the church rectory immediately next to the graveyard and to investigate the graves. Del leaned on the sturdy stone wall surrounding the place. Four mausoleums stood at each point, the cardinal directions of the cemetary, and one deep hole marred the perfect lines, the earth recently overturned. As Balthasar came wandering back through the well-kept grass, Bobby approached the mausoleum nearest Del. The young wizard carefully looked at the lock on the door before giving it a sharp tug.
“Leave the dead be,” Del and Balthasar said, one after the other.
“The grave digger could be inside though.”
“Do you hear anything down there?” Del asked, scowling at him and prompting the wizard to listen carefully.
“You would hear a grown man trapped in a mausoleum.”
“Bishop Bat said Ellys was not acting strangely before he disappeared, and he did not have any recent disagreements,” Balthasar sighed. “He said Ellys was digging the graves for the Smiths last night but has not seen him since. I am not sure if we will find much else.”
“Ann found some scuffs near a grave – they bore the name Smith,” Tyrone said as he and the big Dire wolf Ann approached. “The tracks stop only a short way past, and Ann said she could not pick up the scent of anything but death here. We’re at a loss.”
“Maybe we can camp out in the cemetary,” Bobby suggested, “see if the person that took him comes back?”
“We should not disturb the dead so,” Del sighed. “We should stay outside this… cemetary and avoid the fire. It will let the person know we are here if they show up.”
Just shortly after midnight, Del sat near the edge of the graveyard, looking up at the stars. Ann was roaming about, still wearing the skin of a Dire Wolf, and the others were inside Ellys’ little home. Everything was quiet, beyond the trilling of the midnight insects, until a loud howl pierced the night. Del stood, eyes cast about the graveyard and around it in search of Ann, but only the darkness answered her.
An arrow flew off on Del’s right, Tyrone aiming his bow into the cemetary before he vaulted the rock wall; Balthasar burst from Ellys’ house with a loud cry about catching cloaked figures before rushing off to follow Tyrone. Del could only look after him in confusion. A frown creased her face, and she moved closer to the graveyard, walking along the wall as three knocks rang out in the night, the sound of fists on stone. The noise was hollow though, and as the mausoleum came into sight, another noise broke the silence, slashing at flesh, blood suckling at the air.
Del picked up her pace, drawing her bow but skidding to a stop as soon as she saw it. Giant, over seven feet tall, a creature stood before Ann. A grimy cloak wrapped around its shoulders and flicked around its legs, stringy black hair brushing at its face and shoulders as the creature drove a giant glaive down at Ann wolf. The thing’s great white eyes were malicious but cunning, glaring daggers at the wolf as it grinned maniacally, pointed teeth as sharp as knives.
“It’s a demon!” Bobby screamed, running full tilt at it and throwing bolts of fire.
Del loosed arrows at it, again and again, and it rained blows upon Ann. As the others converged upon it though, Balthasar’s sword shining with holy light, Blackwold and Bobby throwing pins of light, it suddenly disappeared. Del stared in terror, mouth agape, but the wolf kept advancing, Ann clearly seeing something the others could not.
She leapt forward, jaws closing around nothing but drawing great globules of blood. For a moment, her teeth simply slicked with blood, the white growing darker and darker. Then, the giant blue monster appeared again, its glaive smashing down so hard that Ann flew back. She landed, an Elf again but a trickle of blood dribbling down from her lip.
Then everything went black.
Del could only stare at the thick sphere of tangible blackness that blanketed the cemetary. Her feet moved her again, carrying her quickly towards it as a terrified frown creased her brow. The black might have been obscuring the sound as well, keeping the battle to the blinded and that monster, but it was gone in a moment.
Del flinched but breathed out in a quick sigh as the group came toward her. “Someone knocked on this!” Balthasar exclaimed in frustration, although he was clearly talking to himself. “What were they looking for? Did anyone open it.”
He shook the lock on the door, but nothing showed that the door had been moved in quite a long time. As he rummaged, scowering the stone and the dirt, until an explosion interrupted. The doors on the mausoleum across from the group flew off their hinges, butying corners deep into the dirt nearby after knocking headstones askew.
Bobby took off at a sprint before anyone could move, almost diving into the open tomb. A flurry of feet followed him as did shouts of terror afraid of what he might find again. The sounds that met them as they neared were of wretching.
Del stopped at the entrance as the others rushed in, horrified screams echoing back. Howls about heart and eyes came back, and Del’s eyes widened, her hand covering her mouth. She sat, back thumping hard against the mausoleum’s stone and staring ahead.
“Maybe there’sssss another flesh golem that needssssss replacement partsssss,” Balckwold’s voice hissed up through the stone.
“What would that thing want with eyes and a heart?” Tyrone balked. “It was just some ogre sorcerer. An Oni, it’s called.”
Del refused to look as she heard them struggle up the stairs. She saw feet and legs stumbling out, all together in a group, blood dripping down from what they all held in between themselves. Del studied the ground, the little blades of grass piling up through the dirt, but movement beyond caught her eye.
Torchlight drew towards them, its red glow glimmering off armored chests and drawn swords. “Stop right there!” a commanding and firm voice shouted.
Two pairs of legs, both covered in swishing robes, suddenly disappeared from among the group, footsteps carrying them off into the night. Del shrieked, scrambling back. An arm fell from among her companions, the fingers brushing the grass as the body sagged, now a heavier load to the few that carried it. A gaping wound revealed itself to Del, a deep pit yawning from the center of Ellys’ chest as two more peaked from his face. Blood that had pooled in the cavity behind the broken ribs and flayed skin poured out, splashing onto the ground.
She screamed louder, covering her eyes and pulling her legs up to her chest.
“What have you done?!” Kells’ voice demanded.
“What?” Balthasar answered back. “We’ve done nothing!”
“You’re holding a disemboweled body!”
“If we were guilty,” the paladin continued, “why would we stay here to meet you? We were asked to look after this man’s disappearance by his brother.”
“His name is Ellys!” Del screamed, rocking herself back and forth.
“Yes, yes. Ellys. His brother Tib said he had found Ellys missing last morning when he went to take him breakfast,” Balt has a continued. “I swear, by my oath to Tyr, we have nothing to do with this poor man’s murder.”
“Alright,” Kells admitted, “but those two that ran off, I will need to question them. If your staying here exonerates you, their running clearly condemns them.”
“They were wrong to run, but we have been with them the entire time,” Tyrone vouched.
“They may be a might insane, but neither of them is murderous insane,” Ann insisted.
“They are our travelling companions,” Balthasar said. “We are responsible for them and will make sure to find them. We will bring them to the keep immediately when we find them.”
“Fine,” Kells stated. “Let us take care of the body…”
“He has a name!” Del howled, clasping her legs tightly to her chest. “His name is Ellys!”
“Let us take care of Ellys,” Kells said, his tone calming to barely more than a gentle whisper. “If you find your companions or not, I need you to report to Lord Dumas tomorrow.”
Del felt a hand on her shoulder and flinched, but it simply turned her away from the mausoleum wall. She looked up into pale blue eyes and a concerned look on a hard but handsome face.
“Go get some rest,” Kells said quietly. “Everything will be alright.”