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Wednesday, 13 April 2016

[HOW] Chapter Twenty-Two: Strange Times At Avernus Ridge...

Avernus Ridge

[This month's Heroes & Other Worlds' adventure for The Tuesday Knights was another of +Tim Shorts' delightfully malleable micro-adventures, Malice House, and featured some of the most powerful monsters that the player-characters have faced directly (ie. a barbed devil and a night hag). Rather impressively they showed restraint and didn't provoke these hell creatures into a fight... which our heroes quite probably would have lost.]

Fleeing the earthquake zone, Cobblethwaite's Companions and Tristriam's family headed towards the village of Bowes.

This took a couple of days and they arrived to find the small community in the grip of a terrifying "chattering disease", which eventually - after several days of uncontrollable teeth chattering and spouting nonsense - caused its victims' heads to explode.

The village priest, Martin, unable to leave his flock, told Kirchin and the others about a wise woman called Halal, who lived a day or so outside the village, just over the Avernus Ridge. Martin believed she was in possession of a magical periapt that could cure all diseases.

Yuzaru
He pleaded with the adventurers to petition the wise woman for the use of her magical talisman to drive away the illness.

However, once the party reached the ridge, they realised something "wasn't quite right".

A row of crucifixes lined the brow of the ridge, decorated with old human remains, and as the party camped that night, at the foot of the ridge, their sleep was troubled by inhuman wailing from beyond.

Time was also acting strangely, moving too fast, up near the ridge, but thanks to Harry singing them to sleep, they all managed to get a decent night's rest anyway.

Unfortunately, by this stage, it was clear that Kirchin was showing the first signs of the chattering disease.

Cresting the ridge the next day, the heroes were met with the hellish sight of small, globular creatures (which Holly identified as "lemures" - souls being processed for their transit to Hell) throwing body parts into a lake, under the supervision of a huge, barbed devil (again, Holly identified him for what he was).

The devil - whose name they later learned was Yuzaru - called them forth, knowing them by name, and staring down Davian who was, at least at first, itching for a fight.

Halal
Halal emerged from a nearby cottage, but wasn't the wise woman they were expecting, instead Holly recognised her a kind of " demonic night hag".

The crone told the adventurers she would loan them her periapt for a day if they would get Martin to resurrect a moneylender - Sebastian Crow - who had died in the village a week before the disease began, and then bring Crow back to her (unharmed).

She gave them a scroll, the necessary spell tattooed on a roll of fresh human skin.

Returning to Bowes, Martin was reluctant at first to agree to raise Crow from the dead, and couldn't believe that this revolting scroll - or the wicked demand - was from the Halal he knew (she certainly didn't match the description he would later share with Holly).

But he realised that time was of the essence and cast the spell over Crow's grave.

The zombie moneylender clawed his way out of the ground and started to head to the village, shaking off the restraints of Marigold's magical web, but was eventually hog-tied by Davian and the aching Kirchin.

Sebastian Crow
Crow was returned to Halal, who kept her end of the bargain and loaned the periapt to The Companions.

They first used it to cure Kirchin, before racing back to the village, curing the sick and hurrying the amulet back to Halal.

Kirchin, riding his noble steed, Gryphon, returned the periapt to Hala, but couldn't resist trading insults with Yuzaru, who - thankfully - seemed unable, or unwilling at this time - to cross the line of crucifixes.

But the devil indicated that he "knew Kirchin's name" and there would be a reckoning.

That evening the villagers of Bowes threw their saviours an almighty celebration. Unfortunately, in the early hours of the morning this was interrupted by another violent earthquake.

Come morning, a new mountain range was visible to the west, and when The Companions went to investigate not only did they spy plumes of yellow gas bursting from fissures in the ground (the scent of which reminded Marigold of the brief time she had spent being dead), but Davian realised that some of these new "peaks" looked more like buildings with strange-shaped windows and portals in them.

As they drew closer, they realised their way was barred by an enormous canyon, stretching as far as the eye could see north and south, that had swallowed up the land where the Welcome Back Inn had once stood.

Croatoa

Holly once again demonstrated her depth of knowledge by realising that the strange mountains resembled old images she had seen in rare religious tomes, depicting the demi-plane of Purgatory known as Croatoa... the home of The Yellow King!

Peculiar shadows and unidentifiable flying creatures were noted in this new mountain range, and the adventurers decided it was probably a good time to head back towards civilization.

Marigold was quite vocal about this and strongly suggested that they needed to call upon Peter Entwhistle's old compadres in the Wizards' Conclave for assistance.

By the time they returned to Bowes, the villagers had decided they wanted to leave, and so our heroes organised them into a rag-tag caravan to head east with them to Bendwyn.

[It's worth pointing out that the party correctly deduced that Halal (or whoever the creature really was) had released the chattering disease on the village herself, to blackmail the villagers into returning Sebastian Crow to her... for her own twisted ends]

CAST:
  • Davian (Kevin)
  • Harry (Simon)
  • Holly (Erica)
  • Kirchin (Pete)
  • Marigold/Dirkin (Clare)

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