Two days ago we received a missive from the Talons for a new mission. We were told to go north, to investigate a possible goblin infestation in the vicinity of Wintervale. What we had assumed to be a routine “clean-out” mission has turned out to be a life-and-limb struggle against a terribly powerful foe that none of us could’ve predicted. A great demon has been summoned, and the undead pour forth in waves. Our greatest lament is that we know no more than that. But we are on a path to the find out, and snuff out this transgression into our realm. Allow me to tell you what has befallen, and what now stands before us.
The town of Wintervale had reported a surge in attacks from goblins, and the Talons had tasked us to investigate the issue and put it to rest. Upon gathering information from the people of the town, we learned that the disturbance coincided with the disappearance of a young man named Jasper. A guardsman named Aaron, who was a good friend of Jasper, had gone off into the wilderness alone to find him. This being our only lead, we set off westward into the forest to search for the two and see if there was a connection between them and the goblins. We came upon a large mansion where, to our dismay, skeletons were gathering in large numbers. On the outskirts of the property we came across Aaron alone in a clearing. Aaron joined us in the search for his friend, but in the ensuing chaos he disappeared. We entered the mansion and discovered a trapdoor leading to an underground system of caverns. There we found an elaborate ritual room with demonic symbology etched on every surface. Here we again met Aaron, who we learned was in fact a practitioner of dark magic and necromancy, and in that chamber he wished to kill us. He summoned several skeletons and a battle ensued, where Aaron used a blade that had been bloodied to initiate a ritual where he sacrificed himself in order to summon forth a massive demon. We were near death, and the demon laughed at our weakness and vanished, supposedly teleporting to another place. Barely clinging to life, we slowly made our way back to town, and upon returning we saw that an army of skeletons were about to descend on Wintervale. We organized the defenses of the town to prepare it for invasion, and were able to stave off the attack for a while. However we wouldn’t have made it through the night were it not for mounted reinforcements sent from Esterlin. The town was now safe for a time, and upon searching Aaron’s personal belongings at the barracks we discovered a large chest full of scrolls, tomes and indecipherable arcane writings. Of special interest was a large tome on Necromancy, which was one of the few items written in the Common script. A master of the dark arts was a member of the town guard! Bewildering.
We took a horse-drawn cart northward, where we wished to meet up with the Talon operatives in either in Korsa in Esterlin. The forest on the way to Korsa had since become infested with undead, so we took the road towards Esterlin, and spent a night in Valley Falls, where the plot thickened. We questioned a local expert in the arcane, and from the Book of Necromancy we learned to our great displeasure that there is no way to banish the demon back to his realm. Furthermore, since we discovered so painfully that he is very powerful in combat, we have placed little hope in slaying him outright. But by tricking the demon, we may be able to trap it using a magical or physical prison. We were unable to learn how the demon was related to the skeletons, but we must only assume that it commands them.
That night, right as a heavenly roast goat leg approached my mouth to be devoured and washed down with a cold malty ale, I was abruptly shaken out of the absurd fantasy that I somehow deserve any respite after two days of horrible, soul-shaking battle. There was a commotion near the river, and since the past few “commotions” we had experienced had ended up getting terribly out of hand (just terrible, awful situations), we were not in a positive mindset as we rushed out to see what the “commotion” was. Five dismembered bodies had been seen floating down the river next to the town. And so it goes.
The townsfolk began retrieving them to see who the unlucky souls were. We saw evidence of graft work on the skin of the corpses, and found that one of the bodies belonged to a man who was known to be dead and buried weeks earlier in the the town’s graveyard. Necromancers, by all signs. There must be more like our friend Aaron. And since the bodies came from upriver, the perpetrators must be dwelling in or around the eastern mountains. In addition, when we had spoke with Langdon, the captain of the Town Guard, he told us of reports of skeletons emerging from those same mountains. There must certainly be some sort of stronghold there.
Our guide Whitley and his party have continued on to Esterlin, where that city’s Talon chapter will be informed of our plight. Indeed our plight has become the plight of the entire region, for now all the land is enmeshed in this battle. Once the Talons are briefed by Whitley, they may give us further instructions while we are afield. We should keep our eyes skyward for carrier pigeons.
The next morning, right as we left the inn and walked into the crisp morning air, and felt the low-lying sun on our faces, and heard the gentle cooing of morning doves, we were abruptly shaken out of the absurd fantasy that we somehow deserved to have a single peaceful moment, just one nice moment, while locked in a war with the underworld. Overnight there had been a disturbance in the graveyard, and upon investigating, hordes of skeletons began to dig their way out of the ground and attack anything living. We fought well, but they were simply too numerous. The Town Guard orchestrated a retreat back behind the walls of the town, but we became separated from the Guard by a few hundred angry walking corpses. For a moment we believed we’d be overrun, but thanks to a few extremely useful potions we were able to become invisible to the mindless creatures, and run right past them and through the gates. The town of Valley Falls had a special exploding projectile that they used in their catapults, packed with a particularly incendiary mixture that they called “Valley Fires”. The valley was on fire that night, and air stunk of burning bones.
Our mission takes us eastward towards the mountains. We know of an ancient tower that sits where the river and mountains meet, assumed by townsfolk to have been uninhabited for hundreds of years. We will test that theory, for the town’s historian has told us that it had once been occupied by an archmage. That will be our first destination on this final desperate trek into the eye of the storm.