Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Caradoc ap Segovax: A Darkling Village (Age of Arthur, Session 3)

With our escort of the Kindly Ones we made our way through the forest, guided with all speed past the natural hazards of this great place, heading southwestwards; my heart grew heavier as we neared the darkling village and I contemplated what doom the unbelievers and worshippers of the false god had bought down upon all of our heads. Whilst Soctia marvelled at the shining arms and armour of our guides we began to descend into a valley, the air growing soupy and quite unlike the pure clean vapours of our northern home. We stopped a days walk from our destination and built ourselves a small campfire, once more seeking to divine the will of the gods I stirred the ashes of the fire, peering into the swirling cauldron of red and black; I glimpsed a tall structure many leagues from us, some sort of building rising in a point into the sky as though foolish men had tried to reach the heavens. I sensed a great blackness that had experienced it's birth within that strange place; but the gods showed me that the darkness did not extend to all places equally it seemed to have most affected those places who clung like drowning men to the false faiths, had it just affected them I might have been content to see it as divine punishment for their lack of true faith, but now it festered and threatened to corrupt the entire land, such evil could only lurk in the hearts of men.

Made cautious by my vision our fey guide pulled Sianns shadow over her to shield her from unfriendly eyes whilst I pulled natures mantle around my shoulders and, testing my new feathered wings, followed them towards the village. Siann quickly spotted a strange blood ref fungus with black stems that appeared to be blanketing the marshy land around the village, I examined it but it was like nothing I had seen before, our guide also seemed puzzled but said that he could sense that the spores were causing the land to rot and that it had grown by no natural means. As we left the trees a hazy black cloud of evil hung over the village and, believing danger to be close, we diverted back to collect Scotia from where she had remained with the rest of our guides; we appeared to arrive just as two of the more important Kindly Ones, a horned man and green woman, were having a heated arguement about how to deal with the village. The horned man told us to take 'Slip' a more human looking fey who bowed and wove a disguise around himself from glamour with us as his eyes to the village.

As we journeyed back to the cursed village my divinations revealed that the toadstools were park of some curse or pox on the new faith, but it was one that now threatened to spill outside its boundaries, one empowered by pain and loss terrible to comprehend; a mournful tolling sound accompanied our approach as a funeral bell rung from the top of the largest building in the village although it rose nowhere near as tall as the strange point that I had seen in my visions. Once more becoming one with the creatures of the air I soared up to where the bell tolled and could see how the haze seemed to carry the cursed spores from elsewhere, my ravens eyes spied the distant steeple that I had seen in my visions, leaping from the roof I flew towards the source of the evil infecting the land.

As I alighted and shook off my raven feather cloak the land around the spire was burnt and parched, I could feel in my bones that a follower of the old ways had been burnt here, and that in his death throes he had cried out for justice... no, not justice... vengeance, for that is the way of our gods to punish those who do us wrong; the death cries of the sufferer seemed to fill the clearing for a moment and I could sense the tremendous energies and agony that had infused their final curse. Pushing back with my own power I felt the strength of the curse bend but not break, here was more rage and pain than could be dealt with by any single man, druid or no.

Flying back to where I had left Siann and Scotia I heard an urgent knocking from the centre building; flinging the door open I saw a shambling horde of lost souls pursuing my companions, dead and yet kept suffering through the power of the curse, Siann slammed the door and, I gestured for torches to be made as we purified the building with cleansing fire.

Slip emerged from the shadows, seeming anxious to leave, I told him what I had seen and that the power of all of us, mortal and Kindly Ones, would be required to break the curse; gesturing at a shimmering in the air he lead us through a fey doorway back to his fellows, after some debate they agreed to accompany us. As we arrived near the birthplace of the curse, more of the cursed dead shambled from the darkness, as the fey warriors and Scotia held them back through force of arms, the remainder of the Fair Ones prepared their magics to batter at the resistance of the curse; I had one last gamble, with a need born of desperation, I screamed the name of the great wyrm Bes in my mind and was rewarded by the crash of thunder in the distance.

Above the roar of the thunder and the groaning of the dead I shouting for Siann to place her spear into the ground and call on the blessing of the Huntmaster to aid us, myself and the Fair Ones joined together forcing our power through Siann and into the spear, and through it into the ground, seeking to cleanse and purify it.

"Bes, we need you, the land needs you!"

A forked tongue of lightning struck the spear and I felt the power of the ancient wyrm rip through my body.

Then everything went black.