In our 20th session, we continued with Chapter 3: The Blood Marriage as the characters made their way through the haunted forests of Nordheim to the Midnight Temple. Here’s the write up which contains spoilers for the campaign.
19th Rimetrail, 92 FY
There’s drama in the characters’ camp just before dawn – the mysterious horse-shaped birthmark on Zygmunt’s arm starts burning, setting fire to the tent he is sharing with The Gears and Herr Biegen. The fire is soon put out and Zygmunt is unharmed. Perhaps the meaning of this sign from Svarog will become clear?
That morning, the characters enter the unnaturally quiet forest. Penumbra sends Kalo ahead to scout, and the pseudodragon reports back that hundreds of dead dwarves are shuffling about in the trees ahead. Herr Biegen is dispatched into their midst, but the dwarves pay him little attention. When The Gears approaches, however, he is soon surrounded by the undead horde, although they remain at arm’s length. Attempts to communicate with the dead prove fruitless.
Penumbra notices that the Holy Robes are glowing. When she holds them aloft, the dwarves’ moaning takes on an almost sing-song tone. The tiefling leads the way through the forest, flanked by the other adventurers and surrounded by undead dwarves.
By the third day in the forest, the party have been joined by hundreds more dead dwarves, perhaps even thousands, and the walking corpses are beginning to brush up against the characters. The constant sound of their moaning wears the party down.
When a dead dwarf reaches out to touch Bubbles’s hand, she responds by cutting it off. This causes a horde of undead dwarves to attack until The Gears turns undead.
The dead begin to mumble in dwarvish. One by one, they say their names and tell their stories to the characters in a torrent of insistent voices as they continue through the woods.
Eventually, the characters reach the edge of the forest and the dwarves stop following. Ahead lies a crater in the earth with the Midnight Temple at its centre.
Kalo scouts ahead but is spotted by the derro guardians and flies back to report. The characters have a short rest and discuss their options.
Penumbra drinks her potion of invisibility and sneaks down into the crater. She studies the standing stones covered in glowing runes that surround the temple and determines that these are conferring Chernobog’s dark blessing on the occupants. She tries to push one of the stones over but isn’t strong enough.
The other characters head down the slope and Bubbles casts silence in front of the western double doors where a human blood mage and a darakhul shadowmancer are standing guard. The blood mage dispels the silence and the shadowmancer bewitches Bubbles. Seeing Zygmunt as a shadowy enemy, the ranger fires arrows at him.
The characters move in and attack, the blood mage summons a blood elemental, and derro appear from the north and south. A fiercely fought battle ensues.
Louthin summons a swarm of rats with his staff, and topples one of the standing stones onto the shadowmancer, pinning him. Penumbra casts hypnotic pattern to mesmerize a group of derro, The Gears casts spirit guardians, and Bubbles and Zygmunt attack the two enemy spellcasters in melee. The ghoul drops first, but the blood mage is a fearsome opponent, draining blood from the adventurers to boost his own hp. Eventually Bubbles takes him down, and the party finish off the derro.
After toppling a fourth standing stone and doing some healing, the characters enter the temple antechamber…
Map by Jon Pintar