Session Two of the NIGHTWATCH Campaign, In the Shadow of Balaur Mormant
Recap: As you no doubt recall, our heroes were dispatched by the head of the Nightwatch Order to a remote border province to investigate reports of murder, mayhem, and monsters. The commander of the local military garrison dismisses the incidents as the brutal work of ethnic separatists while the governor insists malevolent supernatural forces are involved.
The previous session ended with our heroes’ arrival in the capitol of Kistilek and discovery of three potential leads: a farmer whose livestock were mysteriously slaughtered, sightings of strange creatures at a nearby logging camp, and a merchant whose caravans regularly travel the mountain pass.
Unfortunately, three of the six regulars were unable to attend, so Chris’ Blade, Tom’s Tracker, and Matt’s Mancer decided they would meet with the farmers and the lumberjacks as Jasmine, Seamus, and Hannah hunted down the merchant ‘off screen’. (Their efforts will become the basis of next session’s adventure.) In the meantime, there are confused and angry locals to deal with.
Wake Up in a Hornet’s Nest.
The party awoke to the sound of an alarm bell and the tramp of soldier’s boots as the garrison deployed to deal with strikes and violent demonstrations in the town. (As if monsters weren’t enough, ethnic tensions between the Veradnan and Szek inhabitants are boiling over.) The garrison commander could only spare one raw recruit to guide our heroes.
Chris, Matt, and Tom decided to check out the farm first. The recruit, a local lad, took them south through alleys and side streets to bypass the demonstrations. They passed without incident although the clamor of very unhappy citizens and soldiers weighed heavy in the morning air.
Tragedy struck as the party cleared the edge of town; an arrow hissed past the Mancer’s head to strike the soldier in the neck. The shooter must have retreated as there were no further attacks, but the kid died in minutes from blood loss and a fast-acting poison.
Not a good start to the day.
Our heroes continue south and find the scene of the crime without too much trouble. Once there, they’re treated to the angry bigotry of Jubal, ( a Veradnan) who blames his dead livestock on his ungrateful Szek farmhand, Osip, and jealous separatists.
A quick search of the stable and surrounding woods turn up the mutilated body of the farmhand. (Farmer Jubal must not have looked very hard; the stench of blood and offal is obvious.) Moments later, a malformed Howler beast attacks.
It’s a short, sharp battle. The Howler goes down. Examination of its body reveals massive infection, mysterious deformities, and Death Magic runes carved in the creature’s flanks. “That’s a clue if I ever saw one.”
Matt’s Mancer made a point to dragging Farmer Jubal to Osip’s corpse. After a rather heated conversation, the farmer grudgingly admits he may have been wrong about Osip.
“Nothing dies hard as a deeply held prejudice.” Off to find that logging camp.
Into the woods we go
Heading west toward the mountains, our heroes meet a pair of lumberjacks who agree to take them to the camp. It’s mid-day now, a long hike under a hot sun, and the canteens are running low. Thankfully, the woodsmen know of a fresh-water spring. The party detours only to find the site desecrated by totems bearing the same Death Magic runes.
The woodsmen back away – Death Magic is nothing to trifle with – but the Blade’s battle axe makes short work of them. Nothing dramatic happens once they’re down, but the air seems cleaner and the spring flows clear once again. A small but important gesture.
Our heroes arrive at the logging camp to find it deserted. As they call out to the workers, four figures emerge from the forest.
A undead Dire Wolf, two undead Timber Wolves, and a grungy, goth-looking spell caster.
“Not who we were looking for.”
A Vulgar Brawl
The undead beasts charge, the surly caster mutters a vile incantation. The fight is on and it’s no joke. A swath of greasy flames roars toward the Blade and the Mancer. The wolves rush the Tracker. Our heroes take solid hits.
The tracker gets off a shot and drops one of the timber wolves. Not enough; the Dire Wolf moves shockingly fast for being partially decomposed. The second timber wolf right behind, Tom’s Tracker starts taking wounds.
Meanwhile, The air crackles with arcane energy as the junior necromancer slugs it out with the Blade and the Mancer. They both take wounds while their blows are rendered harmless in flashes of puke-green light. (Scummy bastard is warded. But for how long?)
It’s touch-n-go for a couple turns but eventually Matt’s Mancer lands four solid hits with Arcane Blast. The necromancer screeches in pain and outrage – and disappears.
That frees up Chris’ Barbarian Blade to rescue Tom’s Tracker, who is fending off the Dire Wolf with one hand while trying to put his intestines back in with the other. It’s damn close thing. (Tom had suffered three wounds) Nick of time and all that.
Nothing says ‘Sit!’ like a battle axe to the spine.
Undead wolves down, necromancer vanished, our heroes are chugging the last of their healing potions when an Ent strides out of the forest.
It stops in front of our three heroes, considers them for a long minute, then sets down a basket made of leaves and walks back into the forest. In the basket are several new healing potions, a magic amulet, and a Frost Rune that imbues a single weapon with additional damage and the chance of temporarily stunning an enemy.
Gifts for cleansing the forest spring.
Time to head back
The sun sliding down in the west, our heroes head back to Kistilek. Between the day’s events and a few ‘souvenirs’ to show the garrison commander, they have evidence unnatural forces are at work. Now the governor can add ‘dark magic/necromancy’ to the prospect of ethnic violence and armed insurrection in his province.
Evil is stirring in the shadow of Balaur Mormant.
to be continued.