52 weeks of Wednesday night gaming has led us here. On a St. Patricks eve in the corridors of Basement Games, wildly diverse gamers gathered around two tables to explore and exterminate. Team DM JB was out in force, with spry JB Jr leading one table made up of short creatures with high energy and even higher voices. Lazy, head drooping, hairy-eared DM Sr led the table of older, wiser, slower, steadier, elder kaniggets. The table of youngsters numbered six and had a raucous good time, slaughtering their foes with abandon. The other table however, had a different story to tell…
Aldus Splintershield, wounded from his run in with “the 13th axeman” sent Malgram and his team of searchers back towards town, while he joined our party of heroes, made up of Quinn the knight, Jarren the wizard, and a new recruit Brandis the paladin. Together with Brother Splintershields urging, they went exploring northwards into a valley where it looked like the disease may have originated. The bright moon shone down on the white snows of the winter valley, making the shadows under the eaves of the towering trees all the more dark.
The party stumbles northwards towers the steep banks of the eastern hills towards some shallow bear caves. At one such cave, they smell a horrid stench of decay, and investigating, they turn up a pair of dead bears infected with the disease. No recent tracks in or out of the caves, and the bears are undisturbed. This leads them to believe the bears contracted the disease elsewhere and brought it back to the cave with them. The party continues on northeastward, and they come to a pool.
The thick ice covering the pool is broken and black water splashes against the icy edges, where red crystals have formed, keeping the break in the ice from closing. They find a campsite the woodsmen used, and find an old tin drinking cup covered in red crystals. Here is where the axemen became infected.
The pool is fed by a stream, so thy follow the stream to the north until they come to a strange sight. A giant boar-like demon lies dead and decaying across the stream. Long jagged crystals shoot out of him at odd angles, and he causes the stream to pool up and flow under the ice around him. Aldus rushes forward and begins his cleansing ritual to purify the infected demon and hopefully wipe out the worrisome crystal plague. Just as he finishes the ritual, there is a flash and the divine white glow is replaced by a sickly green light, and out of the flash, a number of ghostly warriors step forward. They wear armour of ages past, and look like a troop of soldiers. Two leaders surround Alsud, stabbing him with their long pole-arms (glaives) while six swordsmen create a protective picket-line to keep the rest of the party from helping the poor dwarf founding father.
Reacting quickly, the knight and paladin, shoulder to shoulder charge into the ghostly soldiers lines. Each took out a phantom warrior, who exploded into whisps of shadow when they fell. If a warrior was next to a fallen comrade, he would take in some of the shadowy essence of the dying phantom, becoming stronger for it. The wizard began throwing his arc lightning, frying up the phantom warriors 2 by 2.
Meanwhile, Aldus staggered under the blow of a phantom captains glaive. The blade cut through the dwarfs leather armour, spilling his blood over the red snow, and Aldus went up on his toes with the force of the uppercut. The other phantom captain ignored the party to take a swing at the town founder as well. Aldus went down under the attack, and the rest of the party was unable to get to him. As Aldus creid out and fell to the snow, knocked unconscious by the blow, the heroes saw a bright flash of light in the sky. Not from the attack, the brightness came from behind them, from the direction of town. This was bad.
Time seemed to slow down, and silence filled the night, broken only by the singing blades, the grunts of bodies pressed far beyond their strength. The two phantom captains cackled as the knight, paladin, and wizard hacked through the remaining phantom minions. One of the ghost-leaders took his glaive and dropped it over the dwarfs neck, and with his foot stomped downwards. Aldus’ head rolled free in a spreading field of red. The demonic shadowy ghost warrior looked ot his comrade. The deed is done, they be our reward!” So saying, the second captain strode forward and sung his glaive wide, striking all three heroes as the glaive spun in a complete circle around the whirling warrior.
Soon the second captain joined the first, and both warriors gritted their teeth as they faced the dueling glaives. Quinn was knocked down and back, while Brandis stood firm and got cut to ribbons. Launching himself to his feet, Quinn tossed the paladin his sole healing potion and struck the first captain a mighty blow, bloodying him. Brandis took him in the chest, and the captain exploded into shadowy tendrils as he screamed his last. In pure rage, Quinn struck the head off the second captain, and even as his bloody sword swung free of the ghosts insubstantial neck, his eye caught upon something shiny on the dead dwarfs body. He bent to investigate and found that the Aldus was actually wearing Dwarven Armor +1, which Quinn knew the dwarf wouold want to see go to good use, along with the 75 gold in his pouch.
Behind them lay their home, threatened by loss of the cleansing ritual which died with their founding father, the dwarven priest Aldus Splintershield.