Attacking the Darkness!

The Fortress of Frostmantle

When last we left the party, they were going to attack the garrison. After taking out one of the archers, the party ran for the tower—but not before Alaric got run through by one of the guards. Immediately following his untimely demise, Slade smooth talked one of the remaining mercenaries, a man named General Weiss, and convinced him there was treasure awaiting him if he joined the party. The erstwhile general agreed to follow them and said he might know someone to help with Alaric’s “death situation.”

General Weiss then urged the party to leave before more people could arrive and discover he had defected to the other side. The party then brutally slaughtered their limbless friend, to which the baffled General replied, “You’re a sick man,” and Slade responded, “You have no idea.”

Their limbless friend dispatched, the party moved on toward the fortress of Frostmantle, Alaric’s lifeless body wrapped in velvet and put on a death cart with four horses. In his current state of incapacitation, the unfortunate ranger was none the wiser to Slade’s carving a miniscule “s” in the back of his calf.

When General Weiss confronted Slade, the halfling admitted he lied about the treasure. Even though Weiss was very disturbed by this news, everyone in the party gave him 100 gold to hire him for a week and take Alaric to a cleric. They even took some of Alaric’s money to pay him off; again, he was none the wiser.

The party continued on a long, uncomfortable ride during which Weiss divulges his sad, mushy life story to them. He tells them he killed his parents and bought his first sword with the gold and, after a few additional unpleasant exchanges with the party, proceeds to ride on 25 paces ahead like the smug bastard he is.

The day went on and the party encounters several peasants on the road, filtering out of the fortress. More people trickle out as they get closer to civilized area. Pretty soon they can see the Frostmantle citadel, the last outpost of mankind to the north, up ahead. Just as they are getting their first glimpse of the city, a company of 12-20 Frostmantle troops ride past them on the road in the direction they were headed; it looked as though they were going to arrest and detain the cleric who was going to help Alaric.

This was pretty much a no-brainer for the party. They decided to go after them in the hopes that the cleric would fight with them and they would all be the gracious recipients of some mighty fine XP.

Meanwhile, elsewhere, on the astral plane, Alaric awakened and started to realize the place he was in was the one from his dream. He saw Bedlam sitting across a bridge and shouted out for the dog to come to him, but alas, Bedlam would not come. As soon as Alaric put a foot on the bridge, Bedlam started to freak out in a doggy way, but as soon as Alaric pulled away, the canine calmed down. Realizing they were at an impasse, Alaric decided to sit there and wait.

Back in reality, the party watched as the captain pounded on the door of the chapel where the cleric was, but before waiting for the old man to show himself, Silver wisely threw a fire opal. A small group of men were thrown to the ground aflame while Slade found the use of a testicle handy in smacking one enemy in the eye socket. David and Rhaine worked to cast sleep and entangle, respectively, while the rest of the party went about their “business.”

Suddenly, the captain got up, clutching his still-burning face, and the door flew open and hit him as the Cleric bounded out and slammed his scepter on the ground. The earth piled up and pounded the remaining soldiers into the ground, leaving the other troops scared shitless. They promptly turned to flee… but the brave party managed to tackle, slit, and rip a few of them before doing so… just for good measure. Slade roused the two remaining sleeping guards and sends them back to the citadel to tell them what happened.

The cautious cleric quizzed them as to what they want, and Weiss told him about their fallen friend, revealing he recommended his services to the party. The greedy ass cleric asked what was in it for him. Silver, putting on her sexy face, suggested, “As a fellow priest, maybe we can make some kind of arrangement” and batted her luxuriously long eyelashes at him. He looked at her, sizing her up, and seemed to take the bait.

Once inside the chapel, he warned Silver she should keep her friends in line. While Slade rode back to get the sadly forgotten Mia and Aeryn and David went to retrieve the body of Alaric, Silver told everyone to be on their best behavior, which was understandably difficult for an evil party.

Aeryn and David retrieved Alaric’s body and brought him to the chapel.

Back on the astral plane… Alaric heard the sound of wind behind him, turned around, and spotted four figures looming ominously close.

“Who goes there?” he called, trying to muster as much courage as he feasibly could given that he was only mildly courageous.

The consciousness of the first figure told him he didn’t know who he was, only that he wanted to cross the bridge—and he did so. The second form approached and crossed the bridge as well. The third form displayed some reluctance at making the journey and confided in Alaric that he was, at one time, a priest. Alaric told him, “If it wasn’t your time to cross the bridge, something would tell you otherwise.” This only mildly heartened the priest, who traveled tentatively forward.

The fourth consciousness started to panic and backtrack on the middle of the bridge after realizing he was at the gateway to the afterlife, but two huge black tendrils grabbed him and tore him in two. The priest, witnessing this, asked Alaric to save him.

“I think that’s what got the other guy killed,” the cold-blooded man replied in tones laden with faux badassery.

Just as the priest turned around and almost made it back to Alaric, the two black tendrils came toward him. The priest called on his god to help, and two golden tendrils floated down from the sky to battle the gnarly black tendrils. Alaric took this moment to call out to his beloved wardog, instructing him to come to him.

“Come now, Bedlam. Now!”

The dog broke out into an all-out sprint across the bridge as there was a shriek from above and the priest was sadly disemboweled. The black tendrils moved toward Bedlam with incredible speed, but the dog made it across just in time and thudded into the chest of his master. Both man and beast started running for their afterlives.

Back in the chapel, the adventurers laid Alaric’s body on the altar, but before they could get very far in the resurrection service, the crotchety old man decided to talk moolah.

“So just to set things straight, we didn’t really cover my fee. This kind of act takes a toll on a man. It is a rare act. I don’t require your service or money, but the gods always need a hand.”

“We’re going to free the land from Frostmantle,” Rhaine said, with Aeryn piping in, “What about a donation?”

The man ignored talk of money and instead fixated on Rhaine’s words.

“This will serve the greater good of my people.”

The man agreed and said it was a binding contract and that if they failed, Rahine’s soul and Alaric’s were at risk and would return to the afterlife. The cleric also recognized Aeryn as a Dragonsbane from the services she attended as a child with her parents.

The cleric instructed the party to bathe behind curtains at the back of the chapel and don white cloaks of finest cotton. The water was rose-scented and rejuvenating. Once everybody was finished with bathtime, they linked arms around Alaric while chanting.

“Sune be the goddess! Bring him back to us! Bring back the mighty Alaric!” the man cried.

“He wasn’t all that mighty…” Slade chimed in.

“Bring back the so-so Alaric!”

A ribbon of white light appeared, and at just the moment that Alaric and Bedlam were running away from the approaching black tendrils of doom, reality began to crack in the chapel. Alaric saw himself and ran toward it.

“Something is wrong; he is not alone, but he also brings great danger with him,” the cleric cautioned them with a pained look. “Prepare yourselves.”

(Which meant: fight!)

Alaric went up to his body and jumped in, which felt like he was hitting a wall or had downed a really bad glass of mead at the local bar. All the same, his consciousness pushed through. Two ghostly arms pushed through the crack after him. To the adventurers, what they saw was a shimmering apparition and a head being born again through a great, gaping astral vagina. It was spectacular!

A shockwave pushed everyone back a moment, and the body remained still for several long pauses before the cleric closed the rift with a crash of his staff on the ground. The tendril thickened momentarily and reached for Alaric while Silver and Rhaine prayed with the cleric. In a vain attempt to save Alaric from the hands, Aeryn grabbed him and ran toward the chapel entrance. Their prayers worked; thunder shattered the glass of the chapel and knocked over the pews as reality closed and the tendril dissipated. Aeryn brought the tired ranger over to a cot and laid him down.

Alaric opened his eyes and heard a bark. A bluish-white ghost dog was at the food of the bed, wagging his tail excitedly. Bedlam was alive… but missing a body. He was sadly ethereal, not corporeal.

“You’ve cheated. You’ve cheated greatly!” the cleric exclaimed.

“What does that mean?”

“I don’t know, but I know there is a balance and the balance always comes.”

Bedlam howled mournfully.

While all this was happening, Slade was still outside, searching for Mia. He found only tracks leading to the north, indicating that the wise wench had hot-footed it out of there. He returned to the chapel and took first watch on the roof.

Dawn came, and the adventurers sit down for tea with the decidedly civilized cleric while talking about the Frostmantle citadel. The cleric also revealed that the divine golden showers of the fire goddess Sune helped bring Alaric back and that the party had her favor. Alaric regaled the group with tales of his travels on the astral plane and the priest nearly crapped his pants. He told them that once you crossed the bridge, the bridgekeeper—aka the nasty black tendrils—wouldn’t let you go. He also warned them that the bridgekeeper wanted to get Alaric and that all creatures that preyed on the dead would want to take their toll back. Adventurers beware!

The cleric said the adventurers must kill the Frostmantles in two weeks. He blessed several items of armor in the group before sending them on their way. Aeryn knocked on the door once outside and it opened after much grumbling. She grabbed the cleric’s face, kissed him, and closed the door. After a few moments, a “woo hoo!” could be heard emanating from inside.

The adventurers approached the city gates and were halted by a guard for an inspection. The guard was then winked at by a flirtatious David, given a copper by a generous Slade, and ball-grabbed by a frisky Aeryn. Having confused him enough, Rhaine begged the party to move on without arousing any more suspicion.

At first there was some indecision regarding the inn where they were going to lodge for the night. The first inn, The Laughing Goblin, caused Slade to remark, “That’s gay; let’s go somewhere else!” The second inn, The Shining Star, looked good in comparison to the third one, Lightfoot McKenzie’s.

Just as they decided on their lodgings for the night, a pimply-faced boy came and offered to take their horses and death cart. After being quizzed by the group as to whether he worked for the inn, another macho guy came and knocked him to the ground, saying, “No he doesn’t, but I do.” The kid ran away like a pussy.

The guy, feeling like a hero for saving the group, demanded compensation of some sort for saving their asses, so Slade sent him on his way with a gold coin and the immortal words: “Othok bless you.” Slade immediately pick-pocketed the gold coin back and then went into the inn and ordered four meads. For this reason, the party would incur some payback in the form of lost merchandise.

Aeryn rented a room—the honeymoon suite—for her and David while the rest of the adventurers got the one remaining regular room. When directed to her suite for the night, Aeryn was told, “Now you want to go up the stairs and look for the room that doesn’t smell like horseshit. That’s the one.”

Slade, in a drunken stupor, gulped the rest of his mead down, asked for a loo, puked up that which he had drunk, and then poured the rest of the drink over himself. While he was doing this, Weiss said he had old connections in the city and would be back by nightfall to rendezvous with the adventurers.

“Don’t forget who’s paying you,” David warned him before he assured the party he was on their coin.

The party found the inn a merry place indeed. Slade took the opportunity to rabble rouse by stumbling up to a table of four men and slurring, “The fucker robbed me.”

“I’m sorry, sir, what?”

“I was out back taking a piss and that shady fellow robbed me.”

The men looked understandably confused.

“Your coin purse is hanging from your belt.”

“That’s my sack of balls,” Slade corrected them. “Never question a man and his balls.”

The men all left, quite distubed.

Rhaine noticed an advertisement for The Amazing Circus of Hoffner, which was running for three nights only in the royal parade grounds.

Meanwhile, Slade asked the bartender to connect him with a guy to help him with his “doings”—whatever that meant. The bartender, Max, said he knew of a fellow and Slade said to tell him Master Tomlinson was looking for him before flipping him a gold coin in what was possibly the most vague exchange ever.

When the party went to retrieve the cart so they could sell some of their loot, they noticed the shady fellow wasn’t there and the cart wasn’t as full. Slade immediately returned to ask Max the whereabouts of the stableboy.

“He better be there or he’ll get a lashing,” the bartender growled.

“He’s going to get two lashings because he stole our stuff.”

“All of it?”

“Most of it.” We had twenty suits of armor and now look what’s left."

Twenty being an exaggeration, of course; they had only twelve in reality, and now three were left.

“I am so sorry, Master Tomlinson.”

“It’s not your fault. I just want you to know the atrocity that has been committed here.”

The bartender apologized profusely, but it was clear they weren’t going to get any of their stuff back since the shady fellow was long since gone. It was at that point that the party noticed a symbol on the axle of the wagon wheel—a Cant symbol, the thieves’ language. Someone had put their name on their work.

On Main Street, the party went to look for a reputable store to sell stuff. The Muddy Cloak and the Sloppy Boot looked too muddy and sloppy, so the party went to The Shining Mace where it turned out Max the Inkeeper’s brother Mike the Smith worked. The party ran into a bit of controversy trying to sell Frostmantle weapons since it was illegal, and Mike advised them to request an audience with the royal weaponsmith in order to do so.

“Tell me, do you smith your own weapons?” Slade thought to ask.

“Do you sniff your own balls? Of course we do!” the grumbling man gasped. The party then asked for a jewelry store and Mike recomments Berts, which was just down the street.

“Tell your wife if she wants a real man, I’ll be down at Bert’s,” Slade whispered before leaving.

“Get out!”

They went to Mystical Bert’s, a hippie-ish store, and found some strange magic at work. Everyone felt a euphoric feeling immediately upon entering. Bert, the crazy ass little gnome, apparently had too many magic mushrooms. He was playing a sitar when they first arrived but then got up to dance with Slade and Davied.

“Hello and welcome to my world!” he said, clearly enthused to have customers. He offered to show the women his jewelry collection and danced down the aisles with his arms flailing and waving dramatically, clearly putting on a show.

Silver ripped open her shirt and showed him her fire opals. They had never seen a gnome smile so big.

“Wow, can I touch them? Are they real?”

“I can assure you they’re real.”

“There’s magic in them, isn’t there?”

“Yeah.”

“I don’t have anything like that in my store. All I have is pretty, sparkling gems!”

Slade was dancing with the gnome after getting another wave of the euphoric feeling—not that he needed any more encouragement anyway.

“You my friend need some dancing clothes!” the little gnome exclaimed.

Slade ended up buying himself a classy set of clothes and a jester hat.

“They fit like a glove!”

Although he tried to talk Bert down in price, a wave of euphoria hit him again, making him pay full price. Slade invited him to a dance party later on. Everyone else noticed something was up.

Still, Aeryn continued, undeterred, asking to see a silver-encased moonstone. Bert found one and put it on her. As she stared at herself in the mirror she noticed she looked better than ever and felt radiantly beautiful. For a moment only, as the mirror flickered and went back to normal.

David took Bert aside and talked to him, gnome to gnome. Bert revealed it was hard to sell things in this economy and that he hadn’t been getting enough business. He admitted they triggered a lock on the door and the mirror was rigged and he was a part of the thieves guild, acting as a front. Slade showed him the symbol from the wagon and Bert explained they were his enemies, a rival guild. He then asked for the name of his supplier, grabbing him by his shirt collar.

“”/campaign/attacking-the-darkness/wikis/Daetrus/new" class=“create-wiki-page-link”>Daetrus," the petrified gnome squeaked.

Slade took back his gold while Aeryn paid full price—and then some—for her purchases. Slade then pick-pocketed the gnome and returned the money to Aeryn.

The party left the store and returned to the inn to wait for Weiss to come back and the circus on the following day.

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