Go on I will throw my name into the ring for the hellion
Done, welcome aboard - Your character may die soon, have a nice stay
And now for 'The Tragedy of the Crusader Lorric'
Under the leadership of Lepanto, who by now has been elevated to the statue of 'local hero', another expedition into the dark reaches of Ruins assembles at the edge of the Hamlet. To the Vestal leading in back comes her Brother of the Faith, Lorric. Both are joined by two for who this expedition is not a service to the God but for their own agendas; the foreign Occultist and the Bounty Hunter Patriot.
They may be an alliance of convenience but that does not diminish their fighting prowess, surely these four can undertake a longer excursion into the monster-infested depths.
But by the time they organize their provisions a flaw in their plan appears...
Gold is in sort supply for our Heroes and thusly only the most basic of provisions can be bought.
(... and that will come back to haunt this quest)
The Ruins are familiar terrain and our Heroes enter them without hesitation.
The first creatures to register our Heroes' newest foray are two Skeletons, conveniently placed as sentries near the entrance to this part of the ruins - as if some dark power was expecting intruders.
Yet the unliving ramble is hardly a match for our Heroes:
While the Skeletons did not carry any items of value, soon after their guard post a crate filled with heirlooms is found and looted.
Proceeding further the flickering light of their torches reveal to the Heroes a Shrine to the God. While it is nothing but a crumbling mess to others, Lorric approaches the Shrine...
... and as he steps ever closer a halo begins to surround the Crusader and images of the God and his Servants will his heart.
Although the shrine crumbles as he touches it, Lorric is now convinced to be blessed and he grips his sword with a previously unknown determination.
The first room the Heroes arrive in is crumbled study, as there are so many in the Ruins. There is nothing of note there.
Proceeding now in the opposite direction, as the ruined study had been a dead end, the Party comes across torture implements which have been unceremoniously dumped into the hallway. Again, aside from the odd placement of such devices, nothing of note happens as the Heroes investigate them.
Another room reveals itself to be empty for anything but some recently disturbed dust. But as to who disturbed this section of the Ruins, no trace can be found.
Venturing on, the Heroes come across another object which is seemingly out of place in his place - a Confessional. Fearing a dark trick, Lepanto pulls back the curtain, torch in hand....
... whatever transpired in the next minutes is not for me to tell, but suffice it to say that the Vestal return to the group as if a great weight as lifted from her shoulders. And that her eye-sight can once more adapt to the dark.
("The hero is absolved a sin" - "Night Blindness Quirk has been removed."; I am not making this up - Sins and Punishments are weird)
The next room the Party enters is an enigma, a crypt connected to the rest of the crumbleing estate like just another room. But our Heroes do not have time to ponder this strange design, because the room is guarded by two Cultists and their undead minions.
While these Cultist might be worshiping the Powers of the Abyss as their 'Old Gods' they are not immune to it's gripping influence once it is conquered into this reality.
But not just dark and eldritch powers can fell these Cultist - Steel and faith are capable as well.
The reward for this victory is forthcoming as the crypt contains a stash of treasure ... but no trace of the dead that were supposedly laid to rest here.
As the Heroes move forward once more, another Confessional (srsly?) is revealed. What motivated Lorric to step forth and seek guidance here is not known, only that through the words of the God he found a peace in himself.
(Lorric lost the "God Fearing"-Quirk)
Heaps of crushed bones and broken skulls fill the next room. Oddly there are no marks that identify the weapon(s) used to inflict this damage upon the bodies before or after death.
A nearby display case holds a precious artefact of the Family, but it is out of reach for our Heroes as the locking mechanism is not only broken beyond repair but in a dark twist the poisoned needle-trap to 'discourage' thieves is still working.
Proceeding onwards the Party comes across another group of undead sentries, but they appear to be as dull-witted as they are fleshless. Whatever Necromancer cursed these bones with un-life is not a master of the dark magic - or these are his/her earliest creations on a path to mastery...
Combat is swiftly resolved against such slow enemies.
Another room just like the last one opens up before our Heroes but here the dust and mold bear marks of being disturbed recently.
As the Party comes up on another Confessional (the lost one for this quest - insert random number generator joke here), at this junction Lepanto and Lorric urge Patriot (after lenghy theological debate) to enter and be absolved.
Suffice it to say that it didn't work out as planned.
Procceding on a side path into the Ruins, the Party comes across another group of two undead....
... which prove to be no match for our Heroes.
("I should bring a shovel on the next quest" - "Oh damn, I can't affort the damn shovel unless I cut into the food-provisions")
("Damn, I should have bought that shovel")
As they reach the end of their current path, the Party enters a sheltered room which a group of Cultists have chosen as their camp.
The undead that accompany the Cultist are unusual for such lowly practioners.
Forced to contend with the Cultists' dark magic, which tempts the mind and scars the soul, Lorric reaches his breaking point:
And while Lorric's psyche crawls into itself, Patriot once more steps up to do the deed.
A favour quickly repaid by the hard shield bash from the armoured Skeleton in the front:
But the Vestal's arts can prevent his death at least on this day.
Reminded of the danger they face, the Heroes put their talents at combat to good use and dispatch their enemies without further delay.
And of course loot befitting this victory is won.
Victory and gain cannot however end hunger and fatigue, so the Party repuroses the Cultists' camp and set up their own to eat and rest for the night. In order to silence their rumbling bellies the majority of their rations is thrown into the pot....
... and while the food cooks, Lorric gives a Zealous Speech to remind everyone of their purpose.
Meanwhile the Occultist and the Vestal care from Patriot's wounds ... using traditional and non-traditional methods.
TBC (be right back with the other half of the quest - fellow has got to eat sometime too)
After having rested and healed (and not being ambushed) the Party sets out to cleanse the rest of this portion of the Ruins.
Their efforts are rewarded once more by the discovery of the more Family Heirlooms.
A day's work from our Heroes includes slaying some undead, and there are still a number of them to be dealt with.
But putting the undead to their eternal rest as become a trivial task for our Heroes and so they are triumphant once more.
Loot clearly is not an issue on this quest:
As they continue on, onto the last leg of this Quest, our Heroes once more encounter the Undead. Even by the standards of reanimated corpses these are sluggish and stupid creatures so that the Party can easily catch them unaware.
Through some forced repositioning the weaker undead enter Lorric's reach...
... and with a quick jab the Foreigner's sacrificial dagger dissolves a second enemy.
But as victory draws near the one of Undead appears to have been darkly empowered and his strike hits hard, nearly bringing Lorric to his knees through sheer force...
... to which the Crusader responds with another exorcising Accusation which fells the Skeleton Soldier in retaliation...
... yet the dark force invigorating the other Skeleton is not dispelled. On the contrary it appears to be strengthened by the opposition from the Crusader...
... and where light cannot dispell the darkness, a darkness must be turned on itself.
With these Undead now felled as well the Party begins to search this room for anything of value. Lorric's eyes are strangely drawn to an ancient suit of armour...
... which despite of rust and neglect reveals traces of the dark secrets of these Ruins, empowering the Lorric to fight here with greater power. (Lorric gains "Ruins Tactician")
Up until this point one might assume this expedition has been favoured by some divine being, maybe even by the God itself. But as it is with all such favours, they fickle and of little use when direly needed.
This part of the story is dull and uninteresting.
Moving on, the Party encounters another group of Undead - but unlike in previous encounters these animated bones are quite aware and awake...
But their vigour is add odds with the swiftness by which they are destroyed:
Again, a shovel is needed but nowhere to be found, so our Heroes did with their bare hands, endangering their health and sanity through the hard work in the darkness.
Staying in the unexplored darkness has chipped away at Patriot's sanity, driving his self-hate to the surface.
After haveing cleared the rumble away the Party comes across what was meant to be hidden...
... which is another abandoned study with nothing else of note in it.
Worse than the hostile Cultists and creatures in these Ruins are the Traps that envious students of the arcane, occult and/or macabre have laid out against their peers. Lorric falls for one such trap and it wounds him gravely.
(Note to self, never to try to disarm a trap with a Crusader)
Trusting that Lepanto will be able to safe Lorric from the clutches of Death at her earliest convince the Party proceeds onwards to fight the final confrontation of this quest - which in keeping with the previous steps of this journey is a group of Undead...
... but these creatures still possess some skill they might have had in life. A Skeleton Soldier is swift to lunge forward and swing his old yet sharp blade at Lorric. Worn from combat the Crusader's armour does little to weaken the force of the strike...
... the Crusaders breastplate is sliced open and the blade enters the between the rips, biting into the lungs and finally stopping, logged into the heart. Before any of the Party can come to his aid the Crusader drops, bleeding from his terrible wound.
As he bleeds out he can feel the divine favour which seemed to have accompanied his mission to the HLP Manor receding. As darkness engulfs his mind, a new sensation come to the forefront of his mind: An odd voice, both melodic and rasping at the same time, is .... singing? ... or is it laughing?
Revenge for the holy warrior comes from someone wholly unexpected as the Occultist's reaction fast and precise, his dagger quickly hitting a crucial point in this reality and the other...
... collapsing the magic that keeps the killer Skeleton in its unliving state. Surely such display of dark lore could have felled any other undead just as well, but why did the Occultist decide to strike this Skeleton, the weakest of the enemies before the Party fist?
To avenge their fallen comrade the rest of the Party now attacks furiously, seeking to end this confrontation swiftly and decisively - so that even the determined resistance from the Undead cannot keep them from turning this loss of one of their own into a victory.
Once the Undead have fallen, the sad duty to collect up all the Loot remains. Among the remains of the Skeletons, Lepanto makes an unlikely find:
A Youth Chalice, a holy object to any Vestal, had been in the possession of one the Skeletons.
Meanwhile the Occultist gathers up a strange unnaturally formed stone which he spotted in the remains of the Skeleton that killed Lorric. It was all the properties of a Damage Stone, a common magical trinket often created by first-year apprentices ... but there is a strangeness to it that is not yet explained.
While Victory has already been achieved, there is still some ground to cover and to explore. The party moves on to bring back every last scrap of from this part of the Ruins, so one of their own will at least have died for something (even that something is just a pay-out). And their curiosity is both rewarded and punished:
While finding some more Heirlooms, Lepanto stumbles across a pile of books...
... books of dark lore which she should not have touched. What she read there amplified her grief over the loss of Lorric hundred-fold, causing her to lash out at the Occultist and the Bounty Hunter.
With nothing left to explore the Party returns to the Hamlet ... If this Victory makes them feel like victors, they will have to determine on their own.
- Patriot gains Amateur Weaponsmith (-20% Upgrade Cost for Weapons)
- ... gains Night Owl (+2 Speed when the Torch burns low)
- Lepanto gains Amateur Weaponsmith and Shocker (- 10% Stun resistance)
The Hamlet in Week 6
deathfun, TrashMan and Scourge of Ages recovered from the their last quest, each of them loosing their affliction, and StarSlayer has been cured of his Zoophobia while Lepanto, Patriot and ... were out.
As news reaches the Hamlet that one of our Heroes has passed beyond the Veil, not just our Heroes but many of the townsfolk gather in the Graveyard to commemorate the fallen Lorric.
(Eulogies will be linked here)
At the Stage Coach meanwhile no suitable recruits can be found.
(But if anyone wants to claim either the Crusader, Leper or Bounty Hunter, they can say so until Sunday.)
After the service in honour to Lorric, Heirlooms obtained on his last quest are donated to the Abbey to improve their services.
StarSlayer retreats to the Cloister to recuperate after his stay in the Sanatorium.
At the same time, Patriot and Lepanto take to the Tavern to drink and gamble.
And to close up, here are the next four choices for a quest:A:B:C:D:
Next Session will be on Sunday or Monday, so cast your votes until then.