Welcome to the Northern Reach! Join us in following an adventuring party through the eyes of their Wizard, Trilith, as they investigate strange lights on a nearby island. Click here to read the backstories of the party!
A Letter from Trilith to her father.
Moonday, 2nd of Rainmoot, 1267
It’s the next morning and I’m still shaken to my core. But at least we’re all still alive. Except Geir’s aunt, that is.
I told you about our fight with the disgusting creatures in the wise woman’s house. Robi felt some powerful evil radiating out of a trapdoor in the floor. Well, we stared at that door for a long time, trying to decide what to do, or perhaps trying to get up the nerve to do something, anything. But I’m getting ahead of myself, again.
As we were debating, Antinua and I searched through Aunt Iduna’s lab. We found some very useful stuff. Antinua found some bracers that look old and well used. I found some prayer books to Pelor and Heironeous that I gave to the lads. Geldion even found a spell in his that he thought might be able to send whatever evil creature was down the trapdoor back to the literal hell that it came from. There was a healing salve and an oil that makes weapons magically more powerful. I found a spell scroll with a Launch Bolt spell (so excited to try that) and low and behold, a wand! I said the word on the wand and a sonic blast took out the window in front of me. Good thing I hadn’t pointed it at one of my friends.
Around that time, Quenya started shouting that there was a man outside. We readied ourselves for battle. But we needn’t have worried. Aunt Iduna’s neighbor, an old farmer decked out disintegrating armor, bravely stuck his head in the door. It was rather touching really. He’d heard the noise and come to defend Iduna. I’m pretty sure the old coot was sweet on her. I do feel sorry for his loss. But once again I’m getting ahead of myself.
He told us an old man in robes had come to the house a few days ago. Not terribly helpful, but better than nothing. The neighbor didn’t look at all useful in a fight so we sent him to town to rouse whoever would come to our aid.
We discussed getting some sleep before we took on whatever was below, but we didn’t know if Geir or Aunt Iduna were still alive. If they were, they needed our help, now.
As we debated strategy, Antinua heard something cackling below in response to our words. Well, the jig was up. Whatever was down there would be ready for us. Robi bravely lifted the trapdoor and took a look but could see nothing but a hallway.
We decided there was nothing for it but a frontal assault.
Robi went first, Antinua followed, then Geldion, then me. I have to tell you, Dad, I was clutching that wand pretty hard and hoping I hadn’t wasted the only blast the wand had left on a window! We’d seen what the creature below could do to a pair of initiates.
The room was dank and unnaturally dark, despite our torch. Across the room, I saw Geir lying on the floor in what looked like a summoning circle. He seemed barely alive. Next to him, his aunt sat calmly in a chair, waiting for us.
Or, to be accurate, Aunt Iduna’s corpse sat calmly waiting for us. She/it looked up at us with dead black eyes full of hate and malice, possessed by some malign spirit.
And the thing that has me shaken and chilled, even now, as I sit writing this over my bacon and eggs, is that she knew us all by name!
Oh, she gave us the usual evil monolog about sacrificing Robi and Geldion’s pure hearts and eating Antinua for breakfast, (why do they always do that?) but how did she know who we were? I mean, it’s not like we’re famous, or powerful, or rich, or anything particularly noteworthy – yet. So was she reading our minds? Had she overheard us upstairs? Or has she been watching us since our trip to the island? This has to be related to the island, after all. Doesn’t it? Seems too coincidental not to be. But again, I digress, I’m ruining a perfectly good story, sorry.
Well, she rose, reeking and creaking with rigor mortis, and attacked Robi, clawing at him. Odd, I thought, that something so powerful as to take over the aunt, kill the initiates, and summon the uglies upstairs would use simple claws to attack. But you wouldn’t have believed the cold and fear that radiated out from the creature. Or maybe you would, I know you’ve seen a lot in your travels.
Geldion read the prayer from the book and called upon Pelor to cast the creature out. It staggered, and it looked for a moment like Pelor would prevail. But the dark was too powerful. The creature recovered its footing. Robi hit it with the holy symbol rending it, but it still looked strong.
Antinua moved up and struck with her morning star but couldn’t damage the thing. I hit her with the sonic blast, but it didn’t do as much damage as I had hoped. She looked awfully tough for a dead old lady.
She/it clawed at Robi gain, digging into his upper arm. It said it hated Robi’s father because he sent it away. Robi looked flabbergasted at the mention of his father. “Who are you?” I asked. It replied that its name is Xexorel. Does that name mean anything to you, Dad? It didn’t to us, but I’m hoping we can learn more when we get home. I’m sure the hall of records has something. (But on with the fight)
I tossed the magical weapon oil to Geldion, who put it on his Morningstar. The weapon crunched into the corpse for some good damage. Robi missed badly with the holy symbol, and Antinua hit but her non-magical weapon didn’t seem to do much damage.
I use the sonic wand yet again, injuring poor auntie’s body, and making all our ears ring. The creature got hold of Robi and mauled him badly. Robi was looking wobbly on his feet. Geldion yelled for Robi to back off (which we all knew he would ignore) and hit the thing, but couldn’t do much. Robi, returning the creature’s serve, hit hard with the holy symbol, tearing at flesh. Black liquid, sulphuric and foul, oozed out.
I used the wand yet again, blasting it with sound, this time sending it careening backwards to the ground. A column of black smoke-the vile creature that had possessed Aunt Iduna-rocketed upward. It disappeared through the floorboards overhead, leaving a black stain. Robi and Geldion ran over to Gier. I told them not to mess up the circle so we can determine what the creature was trying to do.
They lifted Gier carefully and laid him on the floor to examine him. He was dehydrated and chilled, but alive. Geldion bound up and aided both Geir and Robi.
I examined the circle. Don’t tell anyone, Dad, but I’ve snuck a few books out of the tower library that I wasn’t meant to look at. Now I’m glad I did. Those books told me that this circle was for summoning something from the abyss. It included a symbol of Orcus, Demon Lord of the undead. That can definitely not be a coincidence, given all the undead on the island. So many questions crowd to mind. What is this Xexorel’s plan? Was he trying to summon Orcus himself? An undead army? Some of Orcus’ minions? To what end? I guess wiser heads than mine will need to ponder this.
We destroyed the circle completely, though I tried to memorize it first so I can draw it out for the head Magus. The lads took Geir up to warm by the fire. Antinua and I searched the room. We found a box with 50 arcane symbols carved inside along with some black soot. Looked to me like this held a creature of some sort. Could it have been the ones we fought? I don’t know. I’m guessing it only held one creature, but then, where did the ones we fought come from. Might there have been some other creature in the box? If so, where is it now? I’ll have to consult with the tower.
Robi didn’t detect any evil in Geir. I went to the door and called for Quenya who was still scared for me. He flew to my shoulder and said that men were coming. We hoped it was the guys from town, since we weren’t up for yet another fight. Antinua went to check, suddenly appearing in front of them, and scared the nine hells out of a bunch of local farmers. That put a smile on our faces. She can be sneaky sometimes.
Antinua put together a stretcher and Robi helped the men carry Geir back to his parents’ house. Along the way, I asked Quenya which way the smoke went, after some questioning, I determine it went north. That’s a relief since we’re headed south, but I wished I had a map to see what lay in that direction.
Robi decided to stay with Geir for the night, sleeping on the floor next to him. The rest of us headed to the Key Fjord inn for much-needed food, drink, and rest. We even got a sip of the new whisky coming out.
We headed off to bed, but tired as I was, my dreams were filled with walking corpses and scattered limbs. A poor omen indeed. Now all I want to do is get back to the tower with the information we’ve gathered, which might weigh heavily on the battle plans being laid as we speak. I hope what we’ve done has bought us a little time, but who knows what this Xexorel has planned.
Never thought I’d be so anxious to get back to the council. Times they are a-changin’.
Stay safe, Dad,