Land of the Dead
A golden bomb from Apocalypse City has obliterated the eastern seaboard of the Core. Worse, radiation spread west, sickening and killing thousands more across the domains. The adventurers survived only through the sacrifice of one of The Missed, Chilton AnDearg, who taught himself chronomancy in order to return to the era before the world ended. But Chilton was too late, and now the adventurers have only one hope. They must find the chronomancer whose books Chilton used to learn temporal magic, and they must find him before he is killed in the ruins of the Enclave.
The adventurers race against time. Their only hope is to reach a man who is about to be murdered—whose murder is already a detail in future history—and save him from the ravenous dead, the only thing to move in the irradiated wasteland once known as Darkon.
Who Are the Players in this Tale?
Piros Quill: A man of average height and weight; fairly handsome. He wears greens and browns, usually with his face hidden in his hood. He brings something good, something bad—a little of both. A certain panache, as it were. And he’s very good in the forest.
Aurora Zarmina: Aurora has brown hair, violet eyes, is slightly above average height and is slightly slender. She is very athletic and skilled with the sword.
Torianne Black: She is of above average height, very lithe and quick on her feet. She has black hair and green eyes. When push comes to shove, she does her best to avoid attracting attention. As a jester, she is a jack-of-all-trades, with some performance skills, including juggling. She lives at the Enclave, is very literate and works at times in the Civic District. She is somewhat distractible, however.
Years After the Bomb
After traversing the snow-swept landscape of an uncivilized domain, the adventurers make their way to the ruins of the Enclave. Behind them lie villages that have been overrun with by the Dead, and by what appear to be many years of forest growth.
They learned from Dr. Chilton AnDearg that the chronomancer died, clutching his spellbook, at the foot of the monument to The Missed at the heart of the Enclave. This is the key to returning to their own time, or rather, before their own time, in order to stop Beck from receiving the Gold Bomb and destroying the Lands of Mist.
Two decades of growth have led to some trees piercing the paved streets of the Enclave, and more than a few collapsed homes and business. There is no sign of life as the adventurers enter the town. The air is still, and thick with the palpable stench of rot. Things died here, and things are decaying here even now, even in the winter cold.
The Streets of the Enclave
The buildings of the poorer sections of the Enclave have been smashed, as if by a large hammer. But most still stand. Tori notices that the skyline is missing the government buildings of the civic district, including the offices where she works and the court where Lord Protector Daghaeron held court.
Piros takes a look at the many tracks in the snow. There are groups of creatures moving about in the Enclave. Slow-moving creatures wander the streets in patrols. Faster-moving, also unshod creatures move into the ruined buildings on occasion, deviating from their patrols. Some time ago, a single group of booted feet can be seen, moving in a single trajectory, out of the Enclave.
Tori looks for signs of smoke, a hint of living creatures in town. She doesn’t see anything, but Aurora catches the scent of wood smoke, somewhere far off in town.
Moving cautiously, the three adventurers make their way deeper into the Enclave. They intend to start their investigation at the Monuments to the Missed, where the chronomancer is to die, clutching his spellbook.
Soon after entering the Enclave, the adventurers spot their first band of wandering undead. They evade a pack of zombies easily enough. Seeking a better vantage, they make their way to the brewery. There, enjoying the rare shelter, they drink strangely sweet (fey-touched) beer from purloined mugs on the rooftop. Before beer pours from the keg, sweet spring flowers pour into the mug, liquid until they touch the glass and then become solid.
Tori looks to the Civic District once again, where she worked as a scribe. She sees that the courthouse is indeed blasted to rubble. The office buildings that flanked the great plaza have been battered to a single story each. She cannot tell if the Monument to the Missed is in deep shadow, or if it has been darkened for some other reason. She cannot see a single one of the once tall statues.
From the rooftop the adventurers again look for signs of smoke. This time Aurora spots a tendril of smoke rising from the extreme north, even beyond the perimeter of the town. It rises from where Crispin’s Glen stood.
Tori moves closer to the edge of the brewery roof, tying to follow Aurora’s gaze. She freezes at the sight of a pack of ghouls wandering by in the street below. The creatures hunch low to the ground, and one rises, sniffing in the air. They evade the ghouls, narrowly dodging one that had followed them as far as the brewery roof, and then they move farther from the center of town towards the foundry. Piros takes the time to cover their tracks, accounting for the fact that the ghouls were apparently following them by scent.
As they pick their into the court outside the Tain Foundry, what appeared to be a long-dormant skeleton suddenly bursts into flame. It springs to its feet, and as it does, a pair of zombies, flesh blackened by the presence of great heat, emerge from nearby doorways. The battle is protracted, and Piros and Tori sustain injuries before the undead are felled.
The adventurers’ battle with the undead has disturbed the spirit of a young woman. She waits patiently for them to acknowledge her. When they do, she explains that there are living mortals still in the ruined town. They emerge from their base only occasionally, though, when they have good reason. They dwell behind a stone wall enclosing what was the druid’s grove north of the Enclave.
The ghost girl speaks of the fey cavorting when the destruction was wrought. Then the Dead arose.
The adventurers ask questions in an attempt to find a way to put the spirit to rest, but the girl is convincing when she says that she will not rest until the evil presence in the old Civic District is defeated. Something there, near the old courthouse or the Monument to the Missed, is calling to the undead in the Enclave. The girl’s ghost has the presence of mind to resist it, but countless zombies and ghouls now patrol at the behest of the presence there.
The adventures leave the ghost girl and make their way around the Enclave to the site of Crispin’s Glen. They pass through the old Dawnblade encampment, which the ghost said she believes the undead find “distasteful.” Closer, they find that the grove has grown tall, almost rampant, from within the confines of hastily erected stone wall.
A Dawnblade and a Dreadmaster stand at the gate entrance to the encampment north of the Enclave. The adventurers are allowed entrance after they answer a few questions and they mention enough details that the Dawnblade gets his superior. The man who arrives wears both the bade of the Marshal and the crown of the Lord Protector. The years have not been kind to him, but Tori recognizes him as Ichadbod Raest, the Maykleman who served side by side with the Goblinslayers themselves.
Ichabod is reluctant to believe the adventurers, but he takes them inside. There they meet the chief priest of the Morninglord, a white-haired man named Father Conaway. He believes that the adventurers are speaking the truth. Or, at the least, that they believe what they are saying.
When Piros speaks of events leading to their time travel, especially when he speaks of the chronomancer and Chilton AnDearg, he sees something in Ichabod’s eyes, something akin to recognition. Ichabod refuses to speak of it, though, even when Piros mentions that he seems to recall something.
Then a surprising ally emerges to speak on the adventurers’ behalf. It is Dommer Ignaz, whom the adventurers met in Aulbesmil. He is now Aerkebiskop Ignaz, the ranking priest of the Lawgiver in the Enclave. At his side is the warforged of bronzewood and cold iron, Silence.
Ignaz speaks in questions, as always, but his questions are in favor of the adventurers. He says that twice now the Lawgiver has brought the adventurers to him in a time of trial, and both times they have the same appearance. This must mean something. He believes that the Lawgiver has seen fit to end the unholy tyranny of the Dead over the Enclave.
With the acceptance of the leaders of the Enclave, the adventurers are allowed to meet the chronomancer. They are immediately underwhelmed. Declan the chronomancer is barely more than an apprentice. He came to the Enclave because his master died here.
Declan’s master was stricken blind by a rampaging undead creature. The older chronomancer thought his apprentice had been killed in the same attack, but Declan had survived. Believing himself alone in an accursed world, Declan’s master joined the masses thronging to the statues of the Missed. He died there with those masses, disease ridden and desperate.
When the adventurers speak of the chronomancer’s spellbook, Declan explains that his master’s book was abjured against damage from the elements. It is likely still lying in the tangle of bodies accumulated over all the years. The chronomancer’s apprentice just needs to find it. When they refer to Declan’s spellbook, Declan makes it clear that his master’s spellbook—if it still exists—would be his birthright.
The adventurers begin to grow concerned that they are here to bring about the future that Chilton described. If they take Declan to the mass grave at the monument, then they could be the cause of his death. Still, they cannot do otherwise. Their only chance to find the spellbook lies in Declan’s ability to use a divination to locate it.
As planning begins, it becomes apparent that the adventurers really are from the past. They do not know how the world came to be as it is—not really. Ichabod and the priests fill them in.
When the fey bomb went off, the Enclave was protected against Evil magic, but there was nothing evil about the fey. They were chaos. Chaos struck at followers of Bane and Delios alike, overriding their defenses, largely built to defend against one another, and destroying the leadership of both orders.
The fey bomb destroyed not things but structure. The more civilized the area, the greater the damage dealt by the bomb. In the wilderness of the domains, such as the Forest of Shadows, Nature absorbed much of the fey blast. Thus, the Banite team still in the area of Aulbesmil, survived, as did the Warden of the Enclave. Within the Enclave, damage was more severe. Within cities, such as Karg, loss was nearly total.
The bomb did not target actual civilization so much as symbolism. Castle Avernus, which stands alone on a hilltop within view of the Slain City of Iluk, was crushed to rubble. Nothing within has stirred since the detonation.
At first, the fey delighted in the destruction of hated civilization. But in the wake of the detonation—and the attending loss of so many lives—a new threat rose, one the fey were ill-prepared to quell. The Dead shambled out of the Forest of Shadows, unearthed themselves, and reclaimed the domain of Darkon. Then they spilled south and west into neighboring domains.
The fey bomb had not been magical. It had been a tool of science, no matter how it had been altered. Its destructive power had spilled over ley line boundaries just as easily as it had rolled west across Darkon.
Those survivors who had fled the ruined towns and cities for the less-damaged countryside found themselves overwhelmed by the hungry Dead. The survivors’ only choice was to retreat back to the crumbling edifices where so many had died when the Gold Bomb detonated. There they hide still, waging a losing war against the relentless Dead.
Their greatest threat has arisen at the site of the ruined monument to the Goblinslayers. Thousands came and died before the monument to The Missed, hoping the greatest heroes of the Age of Mists might hear their pleas and come to save them. So many died that their bodies overwhelm the once proud statues. Within, a sinister intelligence, fueled by Necropolis iteslf, has begun to assemble. The Dead shamble back and forth from this site, and they seem receive instruction before mustering out in crude patrols.
If the hunted survivors of the Enclave have a chance, it must come from destroying this nascent force of evil. Without it, the wandering Dead will revert to their mindless, and far less dangerous, state.
A plan begins to form. The priests of Delios and the Lawgiver alike want to rob Orcus of his most powerful source of minions—the mass grave at the monument. These bodies must be destroyed, and the growing awareness within them must be driven out. If the adventurers can travel in time to fix all of this, then the heroes of the Enclave are willing to band together in a single, final push on the old monument. They will buy time for Declan to find his master’s spellbook, and if they are fortunate they will strike a telling blow against evil within the Enclave.
The adventurers are given silver weapons. There are plenty to spare, it turns out. Not enough people remain to wield the silver weapons that were gathered here over the years.
The Chronomancer’s Aid
Before the adventurers leave, Ichabod takes Piros aside. He is ready to speak about the things Piros said earlier, which stirred memories from a time almost twenty years ago. Ichabod hands Piros a weathered box; he says that it arrived years ago. It was intended for Lord Protector Pieter Daghaeron, but by the time it arrived, the destruction had occurred, and Lord Daghaeron was dead. Ichabod believes that the adventurers might benefit from its contents.
Inside the box is an arrow with a cold iron head, and a letter signed with a name and a familiar rune.
Assault on the Mass Grave
Plans are drawn out. The warriors of the Enclave will attack from the east, in two groups, attempting to draw out the Dead. The adventurers, flanked by priests of the Lawgiver and Delios, will drive off as many of the Dead as possible while they guard the chronomancer as he seeks out his master’s spellbook, which is surely buried in the masses of the dead in the mass grave.
The attackers will distract the Dead with implements from the Hall of Remembrance. The sword and horn of Kara, the voulge of David Mark, the mindarmor of Pieter Daghaeron.
They will also fly the Scarlet Falcon symbol, the symbol that brought the Fey back to the domain of Rivalis.
They use the names of the Goblinslayers in their team planning. Ichabod’s group is Team Darius, the Aerkebiskop’s group is Team Alirail, A quickstrike team that will reinforce the other groups are Team Jemily, The adventurers are Team Vatusia.
Horns will be blown when the spellbook is found, and all survivors will regroup at the Glen.
The adventurers and Declan approach from another angle. The chronomancer’s apprentice casts a spell to locate his master’s spellbook, but he must be close to it to sense its presence.
As the battle is joined, Aerkebiskop Ignaz calls down the fires of the Lawgiver, igniting the corpse pile. Unfortunately, the burning mass grave rises as an angry pyre elemental. Burning zombies run amok, posing an even greater threat against the Enclave’s warriors.
The adventurers and their priestly guards face off against skeletal dwarves and elves, zombie humans, and even stranger undead creatures. All the while they stand fast at Declan’s side, sheltering him from the attack of the undead while he focuses on locating—and then digging into the corpse pile to retrieve—his master’s spellbook. The moment it is regained, the adventurers flee the mass grave; they sound horns as soon as Declan and their priest allies are clear. Team Jemily sweeps in to cover their escape, ensuring that they make it back to the compound north of the Enclave.
Declan researched his master’s notes. He finds a wealth of information from the days when the fey still frolicked across the domain borders. He says that his master’s research included the site of a Mistway near the village of Zelkor’s Ferry, far north of Nevuchar Springs. The Mistway is said to connect to a place where the soil is sick, and the night sky is filled with stars that are unblocked by the grasping Mists. With luck, Declan can send them through time, and also to the location of the Mistway.
When Declan is ready, he uses the book to send the adventurers traveling across time and space.
The adventurers arrive in the past, several months before their arrival in Aulbesmil. Nearby, they hear a rumbling sound.
Not far off, they see Beck, standing with his back to them, awaiting the arrival of whatever is rumbling closer.
The adventurers have a moment to strike Beck before he is aware of them, and before his minions emerge from the Mists. Piros fires the arrow of slaying, but the fey lord survives the surprise attack. Thinking quickly, the adventurers brandish cold iron weapons and charge him. Beck manages one brutal slap against Aurora, and then he succumbs to their riot of blows.
Moments later, Beck’s minions arrive. They ride some manner of metal carriage that propels itself on deeply ridged black wheels. The carriage hauls a cart, and upon the cart is the Gold Bomb. The minions themselves are the very definition of horror.
The white rabbit stands almost five feet tall at the shoulder. Its teeth are fangs like sword blades, and a keen sense of malice can be found in its all too human eyes. Horrors dance in its gaze, palpable dread that feels ready to burst into the world around you.
While the dead ventriloquist’s flesh is decayed, and its posture hunched, there is no mistaking the glint of intelligence—and cruelty—in its eyes. Horrors dance in its gaze, palpable dread that feels ready to burst into the world around you. Its puppet moves about on its own, features moving separately from the master’s.
Clad in finery and top hat, this creature’s body fades into dense black fog below the waist. Its fingers, nose, chin and ears are all horribly exaggerated, and its smile—full of short, sharp teeth—promised terrible torment. It keeps one hand behind its back, attempting to conceal something there.
This vaguely humanoid lizard has eyes that are entirely human—and filled with an eagerness to inflict pain that only a human could possess. It brandishes a thick-bladed sword crusted with the blood of its previous victims.
As each moves, its skin shifts awkwardly over its musculature, as if it is a creature wearing its own body as an ill-fitting costume.
The adventurers leap to the attack, knowing that the fate of the Lands of Mist hangs in the balance. The fanged giant bunny falls first, but it delivers telling injuries before it goes. In the fighting that comes next, Piros falls, and Tori is nearly overcome by the aura of sheer terror that the creatures exude. She stands strong, though, and when Aurora fells the purple dinosaur bogeyman—evening the odds to two-on-two, the remaining pair flee in real terror of their own.
Aurora and Tori bandage Piros’ injuries, and as they do the Mists thicken again. When they part, the Gold Bomb is gone, and Beck’s corpse has dissolved into the loam of the Forest of Shadows. The Lands of Mist have been saved from a threat that—in this timeline—never truly managed to arise.