Dim Skies, Dark Nights

You only need enough light to write by when all around is shrouded in darkness.

The party was on its way to Giant Country when Dogar asked to be let off in Cardinnia, and if they could, to come back for him after at least a week. Luvanar had a “Eureka!” moment, said he needed to visit the The Mages’ Consulate to do some research, and that he would return as soon as he could, then teleported away.

The party arrived in giant Country where they inquired after the missing group of Manriki’s friends. They had come through perhaps two months ago, but had not returned. This was not exactly normal, but not unheard of, depending on the nature of the mission involved. One dwarf became very excited upon the realization that Manriki was Manriki, and began telling the party how great he was. Manriki didn’t stop him.

Desirra walked into the Citadel seeking passage back to Irunnia, and was spotted by Caden. The two of them talked a bit, and Desirra spoke about her recent visit to the land of the giants, and what she had seen, as well as what she had learned, against her will. The mention of bedposts aroused some interest from the rest of the group, and they gathered around her to hear her descriptions of the place.

She told them what she had seen, and wondered if perhaps Manriki or someone would be able to cast a hallow spell on a portable hole or something so they could carry it around. The party did her one better, instead hallowing the entire ship, which took a few days. Manriki also tied remove fear to his hallowed areas.

The party then flew off around 10 AM the next day. One of the first things that they noticed was that the sunlight seemed watery and thin, as though the sunlight, but not the rest of the world, were being viewed through some sort of haze, or perhaps that the sun itself were more distant here. Some spyglass investigation confirmed Desirra’s tale- the earth here seemed used up in places.

About 3 days of travel later, they spied some ogres hiding in the woods just outside of the forest giant territory. The party stopped the airship, and Manriki used a spell that made his voice carry for something like 2500 feet so that he could politely remind the ogres that he was Manriki and that they should surrender. The ogres were a little unnerved by the airship and started running off. The party gave chase, with Caden using himself as bait, which the ogres gleefully took, and the fight was joined.

Aria recorded this perfectly.

It was a pretty tough fight- the ogres hit hard and nearly took out Caden, and then Bleddyn ran up and skewered an ogre’s kneecap. Eilonwy might have been in danger, but Desirra stepped out from behind a shadow and killed some ogres real good. The ogres seemed a little concerned about the sudden appearance of the dual-wielding catgirl. Manriki cast a spell of some kind, then a hill giantess, the same one whose band Desirra had fought a few days ago stepped out of hiding and threw an iron gate at the cleric, hitting him a few times. More blows were exchanged, and suddenly reinforcements rushed over from the other side of the ship.

Aria recorded this perfectly.

Caden was killed, but not before accidentally turning an invisible Desirra to stone, and the giantess insane. The ogres, feeling that they had the advantage at this point, began mobbing Manriki and Eilonwy when Manriki called upon Hieroneous’ power and restored the fallen ones, then politely asked the ogres to surrender again. They considered for a moment, and did.

Aria recorded this perfectly.

The insane giantess ran off into the woods, Desirra chased after her and subdued her, then politely relieved her of her valuables, leaving her portcullis and returning with an enormous opal necklace.

Aria recorded this perfectly.

Then we had a civil discussion with them, where they revealed that they worked for someone named “Gor’rum Tanturo,” also known as “The Dragon,” a bit of a misnomer because the giant brigand is not actually a dragon; he is dragon-blooded. He rules a section of territory in the northern hills where he exacts tribute from the people around and anyone foolish enough to cross through his lands, but does not bleed them dry.

However, since the Mists had started coming, giants had been fleeing the Dragon’s territory, forcing his henchmen to go farther and farther afield to look for plunder, hence the current state of things.

The brigands also mentioned that they had seen the Mists (which came out at night) and the patchwork humanoids, but they avoided them both, because one of the henchogres had tried to eat one of them and gotten very sick from it- they usually find a cave or other secure place to stay at night.

The party let them go, and began investigating the ground, trying to figure out a direction that the corrupted earth was coming from. They figured it out that it seemed to be coming from the north, and radiating out from whatever origin in regular, mostly-straight lines. They continued along this path for about three days, when on midnight of the fourth day, Something Happened:

Manriki was meditating on the deck; Desirra was prowling, as cats often do, and had perched in the crow’s nest (although there were no crows up there). Eilonwy was asleep in the terrarium; Aria and Caden were asleep in their quarters. A small contingent of sailors was on deck, managing ship things. Suddenly, out of a clear, but otherwise dark night, a terrifying sight struck the ship.

What appeared to be a literal river of tortured souls, shrouded partially in a think grayish mist rushed at the ship, filling the air with a constant susurrus of moans, pleading cries, threats, promises and whispers. Several of the crew were struck dumb or rendered helpless by this vision of evil and Desirra was shaken to her core, covering her eyes in order not to have to face this horror.

The specters floated across the deck, leaving terror and fright in their wake. The majority of the crew was overcome by the sight, but a pair of rangers managed to get belowdecks before the battle was joined in earnest. An alarm sounded, alerting the other members of the party.

Manriki conjured a blade barrier and cast a few more spells as the Mists rolled around him, seeking easier prey, which they found and began tearing apart. Eilonwy, Caden and Aria made haste for the upper decks. Desirra’s conscious mind retreated further from the horror and carnage…

Allowing something greater to step forward.

Without looking at the creatures, she launched herself into a devastating flurry of attacks, hissing and spitting like a bag full of feral cats. She destroyed one of the clots of vaporous evil and heard a tiny voice thanking her as she felt the soul of the lookout she had been sharing the crow’s nest with depart.

The pilot was attacked and forced to release the wheel, causing the ship to slow down. Caden tried to protect his crewmen and found himself in danger instead, as seeing these things shook him badly as well.

Eilonwy emerged on deck and cast a sunbeam spell which had some effect, damaging two of the howling clouds of spirits.

Aria stepped out on deck. She recognized the attackers for what they were. This unnerved her a little bit, but she stepped forward and asked the cloud of howling, pleading, cursing, wailing souls to “tell her their piece.” She was rewarded with a chorus of voices that she could neither make heads nor tails of.

Aria recorded this perfectly.

Desirra and Manriki fought a pretty desperate battle in the bow of the ship, Desirra was able to destroy several of the creatures, and Manriki’s magic inconvenienced them, even destroyed a few of them outright, and because of their effectiveness, more of them turned away from the rear of the ship to focus on them, drifting through the lower decks as they went, much to the distress of the huddled crewmen below.

This was not to say that things in the rear got much better. Caden was in dire straits, and tried a desperate gambit. He threw himself at the elemental energy conduit and somehow merged his form with that of the ship, using the elemental’s power to bolster his spells as he struck at the Mists.

Aria recorded this perfectly.

Aria continued to dance with the Mists, but neither of them was able to touch the other, and it really wasn’t the time for an interview. Instead, the cloud of tortured souls started to choke the life out of Eilonwy, stealing her dreams and filling her mind with darkness.

Meanwhile, at the Mage’s Tower:

Luvanar finished his calculations, checked them once more. “If this is even partly accurate, this would be of invaluable aid to my companions,” he mused out loud. He spoke the words of the teleport spell, and found himself in the cabin he used aboard the Rambler.

An alarm shrieked a warning. He dimension doored to the top deck, and witnessed a truly unnerving sight- Eilonwy was battling a creature so horrible, so foul, that he had to kill.

Aria recorded this perfectly.

One of the smaller clots of Mist channeled dark power at Desirra, seizing the connection her subconscious mind had with her body and giving it a sharp yank. Desirra fell lifeless to the floor. Manriki channeled his own life force into her, then with a mighty surge of positive energy, healed himself and injured the Mists around him. He then had a significant portion of his mental faculties taken from him, and was given some darkness in return.

With a cold, precise hand, Luvanar pointed at the nearest person and fired a polar ray. Eilonwy was struck in the back by the searing blast of cold energy, and then grabbed by the Mists, which continued to feast upon her purity and her thoughts. She channeled her remaining sunlight magic into a blast to push he across the deck towards Luvanar and used heal to bring him back to his senses.

Aria recorded this perfectly.

Luvanar then used his “pick up a blade barrier and hit someone with it” trick to cage the Mists that had come up behind him. They were shredded by the whirling blades of force, but still reached through the spell effect and tore him loose from this mortal coil. Eilonwy fell soon after as the Mists grabbed her again, choking the life out of her. In a desperate move, she unleashed the several potent sunlight spells she had prepared, which the Mists greedily drank in with little ill effect.

Aria recorded this perfectly.

Caden emerged from the ship and realized that the hallow spells that had been cast earlier were being eroded, presumably by the presence of the Mists on the ship. He cast another few spells in quick succession.

Desirra’s new presence expanded somewhat. She tapped into some hidden reservoir of power, and began to literally glow with added strength. She was able to utterly unmake the last two of the monsters that were threatening her and Manriki, and then she began traveling through the Ethereal plane towards the remaining sounds of battle. She, Manriki and Caden were able to clear the rest of the deck, and Manriki brought Eilonwy back to life, with a little difficulty. Eilonwy felt a little sick and disoriented after being brought back.

Aria recorded this perfectly.

Desirra went belowdecks to check on the crew, and wished she had not. The entire middle of the ship looked like a nightmarish charnel house. Apparently the bulk of the crew had run mad, some of them turning on the others, some of them turning on themselves, others still so deep in shock that they would never recover from the sight. There were 18 out of the hundred or so regular crew members who were fit to do anything, and nine of those were still deeply troubled. None of the specialists had been seen during the battle, aside from one of the pilots.

Aria recorded this perfectly.

Caden turned the ship around. Manriki apologized, and brought the remaining people together to heal them, and the Rambler flew away from the northern giant lands at top speed.

Aria recorded this perfectly.



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