Fallen Empire

Malvo's Diary
Undeath and the Unfathomable

Diary,

The last few days have been most interesting. Libero discovered that the pretty simpleton whom had been serving us our meals at the Crossroads was actually a shapeshifter! I had seen it’s like before during my schooling at Tanzerward Hall, but never a live specimen. I must say, the transformation was uncanny—It had everyone fooled. I later heard mention that Libero found the body of the real girl hidden downstairs in her room, drained dry of blood. Poor thing. No doubt Libero had been trying to get into her knickers for weeks. Perhaps it was better in the end that her body was twisted into a pretzel and shoved into a box.

The following morning, we were evicted from the premises by some lout. I noticed Libero and the fellow engaged in discussion (by the looks of which, was rather heated), but I didn’t catch any of what was said. Truthfully, I care not. It is likely the local constabulary declaring the place condemned, in shambles such as it is. The lout certainly had the air of buffoonery about him that I’ve typically found amongst bureaucrats.

Speaking of which, no sooner had we vacated the inn than we found ourselves once again in the company of the mayor. This time he had us meet with some peasant farmer who was going on about illegal digging in his fields or some such drivel. Truth be told, I feel my eyes develop a heavy glaze whenever we’re in the proximity of the mayor. At any rate, as there’s no competent force of men-at-arms in these parts, we were contracted to go out and resolve the matter.

And that Diary, is when things began to look up. Once we reached the farmer’s land it wasn’t long before we ran into the trespassers he was complaining about. What the wearisome half-wit failed to realize (or at least certainly failed to mention) was that his trespassers were undead minions! No less than 4 hulking brutes of indeterminate origin, standing in-line adjacent a large pit.

At the sight of them, a giddy thought overtook me that I can’t be sure was mine own. I suddenly felt compelled to close the distance between us, and release a spell into their midst. Before I even knew what incantation I was casting—what fell utterances passed my lips—a tear in the fabric of reality opened in their midst, and I witnessed the unholy birthing of what I can only describe as my waking nightmare. It was beautiful.

I’ve never felt so elated. Not even when I forced that tortuous whelp to grapple with some flying nuisance which only resulted in both of them being vaporized by a bolt of druid lightning. I couldn’t help but laugh when I saw the outline of his frame illuminate in the blast for split second, and hear his squeak of anguish echo through the back of my mind.

Not even discovering an undead legion workforce, toiling within the pit with pick and spade was as glorious as the comprehension-defying abomination I spewed forth into this plane. I marveled at their digging. Uncoordinated as they were, it still must have required much discipline to control a collective so large as what we saw that day. Someone after all had to have reanimated them. Rarely do the rotting undead rouse by themselves, and never en masse. I wish I had spent more time in academy studying necromancy, but Al’Set always dismissed that particular school as “an inefficient and belabored party-trick unbecoming of those who would seek true power.” I bet the mad old bastard wished he wasn’t so dismissive of necromancy now!

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Libero's Chronicles

There is something very wrong in this town. Something more than goblin attacks and magic. It’s not the first time that I’ve guessed that everything might be linked but I’ve rarely been so frustrated by it.

A look inside a trunk in the barmaid’s confirmed everything and I do not know whether to be relieved or troubled. Bree had not tried to kill us. A shapeshifter had taken her place, and it had taken her place recently. In the morning it was discovered that the late Innkeeper, Tak, shared the same brutal fate as Bree. That’s two more lives lost due to our pursuits. Despite the good we’ve done, it makes me wonder if we should have ever come here, or if we should continue to stay.

The guards were alerted before I could intervene, another brilliant idea by my one of my companions. They’re really on a roll in their decision making as of late. The guard’s reaction was far better than I could have hoped. We were evicted and left without a warm place to stay, but remain free from arrest.

I sought the mayor for answers, both to where we might find room and board as well as details about the ledger. Unfortunately, he was also seeking us for help with another matter. When it rains, it pours. Orin, a farmer, had just arrived with his family, driven from his land by the sight of some beasts working his land. When my companions heard the tale, they reacted as should be expected, with an eager hunger for adventure and heroics. Alas, a simple chronicler can do little more than follow and document yet I cannot help but think that rushing from one threat to the next is doing little more than treating the symptoms rather than the underlying cause. At least it makes for a good tale and a more exciting epic, and exciting it was.

The beasts that Orin described were still there. As I suspected from the information he gave me, they were giant heaps of flesh that we had previously encountered. This time, though, they weren’t alone and they weren’t after us. Accompanied by two winged creatures that acted as look outs, they were working a pit that we later discovered to be filled with undead.

The response by companions was swift and effective, as it often is in these situations. They seem to have grown over these past few days, unleashing amazing feats from calling down lightning to summoning some otherworldly beast. It was like some nightmare made real, with countless pale tentacles that that writhed and clung to all within reach, and the sounds they made… It was all awesome but terrifying and makes me all the more wary of what Malvo is capable of.

Not to be outdone, Kriv on his newly summoned stead was glorious in combat and rode down the vile, spiked creature as it tried to hurl fire from afar. MacPhearson’s unbound wrath continues to surprise me as he cleaved through our foes, carving through the monstrosities with little effort. When the dust settled, we were left with even more questions as we discovered that it wasn’t the flesh beasts working the pits, but milling undead armed with shovels and pick axes. As I said before, it’s not the first time that I’ve guessed that everything might be linked.

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Malvo's Diary 3-19-16
Spire of Madness pt. 1

Diary,

I find myself writing to you in the failing light of one of MacPherson’s torches. Although I no longer require any such illumination to scribe this missive (thanks to our “benefactor”), I feel it puts my compatriots more at ease to act “normally,” when in their company. In any case, there’s naught much else to do at the moment, save wait for Libero to regain consciousness, but I get ahead of myself.

Since my last entry, our party thought it best to make for the south. A map that was discovered at the farmstead lead us to yet another dig site (this time entirely unpopulated) and then further south, to a tower near a lake. Imagine my annoyance to learn that the existence of the tower was well known to my party and they had never thought to mention it to me. When pressed for further information, Libero recited for me the local legend of the area. Apparently the tower was created by a wizard in the midst of a civil war aeons ago.

At a glance, the tower seemed unremarkable in and of itself, but upon closer inspection one comes to realize its construction is a little too perfect. There’s no doubt to my mind that the structure, while made to look like it was crafted by skilled hands, was brought into being entirely without them. Intrigued as I was to delve into the mysteries of the spire, I was plagued the entire time by an unshakable sense of unease. My companions made mention of feeling the same, as if some aura permeated the grounds. At any rate, we thought it best
to set camp beyond the tower’s wall, away from its influence.

It was that evening that whomever was on watch (was it me? Everything has been such a haze lately) noticed lights not unlike lanterns, moving about the grounds before the tower. When we moved in to investigate, they shot up like ember beetles into the tower’s grand doorway. Perhaps foolishly, we followed them inside. While completely secure during our daylight visit, the tower seemed all too welcoming now, eager to invite us inside. Such was my feeling that I made the quick decision to jam the door open using some nearby deadwood.

Within the antechamber, I no longer had any doubt that the tower’s origin was magical in nature, so ornate and complex was the scrollwork upon the walls and floors. It seemed to shift along the corners of my vision, and more than once I had to touch it to reassure myself it was incapable of movement.

It was in the hallway beyond the antechamber that we were finally greeted. Perhaps more accurately, we were beset upon by four armed, uniformed figures. Before any of us could broach a word, they advanced upon us, arms drawn. During the scrimmage we realized that our attackers were unliving wights. They moved with an unnerving grace, and were silent but for the clang of their weapons when they moved to strike against us. They kept reaching out with their hands in the midst of combat and managed to touch Bark, our druid. We managed to dispatch three of them, and the fourth, displaying a level of intelligence I didn’t think existed in undead creatures such as these, fled into the darkened hallways.

In the ensuing respite, Bark seemed drained from the ordeal. No doubt caused by the foul magic of the wight’s touch upon him. My group moved to explore the hallway opposite of where the wight ran to, but I decided to break from the group and give chase. At any rate, be it by some means of magic, or just architectural craftsmanship that defies normal conventions of thought, we ended up in the same place with only one doorway left unopened. Moving into the room, we discovered the last wight, standing in the corner. He made no move to attack or flee, and simply watched us as we entered. So foolish we were! Too confident in our greater numbers, we never saw the trap until it too late.

We plummeted through darkness for what felt an eternity. Despite plunging into a depth I’m sure would have been fatal, we landed within something gentle, almost welcoming. At first I thought we had fallen into a pool as I could no longer breathe and my vision became distorted, but when I made out the figures of my companions floating in space beside me, I quickly realized we had not fallen into water, but a thick gel. It was when Bark began screaming that I felt the pain. Whatever we had landed in was burning my skin and compressing down upon me from all sides.

I truly have lost all track of time Diary, as we struggled in agony for another eternity. Macpherson was the first to break free, and the rage of his howl brought to my ears the first moment of hope I’d sensed since we crossed beneath the tower wall. Pulling me free of the ooze, the great barbarian went into a frenzy of motion, securing a torch and assaulting the great, slimy mass. Sputtering for air, I was nearly reabsorbed into the effluence and had to quickly retreat. I stood in horror, watching my companions struggle, too scared to assist them.

Macpherson managed to wrest Vix from the grasp of the vile mass and was working on pull Libero free. Gazing through the murk of slime, I saw Bark give one final violent jerk, then go limp. When it was determined that the slime was “dead,” (it no longer retained it’s more rigid form, and was flowing slowly, into the gutter) Vix, Macpherson and I were barely standing, Libero was unconscious, and Bark was dead.

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Letter to Toynbee 4-9-16

Toynbee,

Commit the contents of this missive to your memory and then burn it. I’ve sent Penningbrandt on ahead to secure my wardrobe and other necessities for at least a fortnight’s travel. Be sure to include my “evening wear.” Also, we need to adjust some of the snaps and buckles along the right shoulder where the rope loops through. I made to jump down upon a street tough from a rooftop perch and quite nearly hanged myself. This simply will not do.

As I alluded to before, I’ll be taking “holiday,” in the country with some mercenaries in order to secure the interests of Ollister Greyfield. I don’t have to tell you that a wound to Master Greyfield’s reputation is a wound to my father’s, and that simply will not do. Also, it’s getting quite chilly. Do pack my winter coats. The sable, not the ermine.

-D

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Hello World...

It is with great surprise (and a spritzing of disappointment) that I, Malvo Grimly, find myself alive and whole, and not (as my memory recalls) Eldritch Blasted into the cold and sticky embrace of my many tentacled master. Have I been dreaming master? It is not the first time I have dreamt of the depth or your aweful power. But the recollections run too far back. The faces of those I traveled and fought with were not just a blur of hazy familiarity. They stay with me still, I cannot forget the beaten trail that was Macpherson’s face as I stole his last breath; the weak flick of Kriev’s tongue when it once flicked so merrily. And as I dwell on the memory of Kriev’s tongue, the word “Remember” echoes unspoken from the deep and vertiginous space above my own tongue. Why hast thou saved this miserable wretch Master?

My past life it seems has not strayed too far, in spite of my reawakening. I have found myself once more in an inn of the poorest variety. If I wasn’t busy coping with the fact that seemingly moments ago I witnessed the gruesome deaths of my former fellow travelers, I might have gladly spent a few hours collecting the finer specimens of bedbug from the underside of what I presume the proprietor of the inn would call the bed. Anyhow, I have discovered that the two prisoners we discovered in the wizard’s dungeons also appear to have paid off the right people. Last I saw, they were both thoroughly bled and dead. Yet here they are, sipping drinks at the bar, oblivious to the many tentacled masses of gleaming black slime that undulate and gyre past. I am somewhat puzzled by the presence of these creatures of spectacular specular beauty. However, there are more important matters presently at t̶e̶n̶t̶a̶c̶l̶e̶… um hand.

When I approach the two, they show no recognition, no joy for life, or anger at the manner in which they were sacrificed by yours truly. They look a miserable pair, of the sort you might find in every half lit hovel in the last Millenium. I begin to try and flesh out whether they are of a similar experience to my own, but quickly ascertain that they are not. No memory of me, of wizards, of prisons, of death.. What a cruel gift they have been given. A second chance at life without a glint of memory of there ever having been another one. Well, I must admit that whatever has occurred here is over my head. The Old One works in mysterious ways. I will not treat this gift lightly Master. All will know that you are the One to whom all gods kneel.

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A Hero's Journey
Another day, another adventure

The road to Ferrand was a long and solitary one, especially with Master Garrek’s pleas echoing in the back of my mind. As grateful as I am, and as much as I’ve learned from the old man, this is the path I have chosen. The path that picks up where he left off. It didn’t take long for me to realize I had made the right choice.

When I arrived in Ferrand, much to my surprise, most of the inns had closed for the evening and I was forced to take shelter in a wagon in the warehouse district. I awoke to the sounds of a man being threatened with robbery and murder. A disagreement between men isn’t something I normally get involved in but I could hardly sit idle after seeing that it was five on one.

I sprung in to action ready to help even the odds, but I wasn’t alone. Others joined me, and together we defeated the cowards. Unfortunately, two of them managed to escape including the wererat among them. I hope that one day we might meet again to settle our score. After speaking with the would be victim, he told us that he was not the only one in need and that several of his westbound caravans had encountered trouble on the road.

I could hardly let such cowardly actions continue after hearing his tale. My new companions agreed and tomorrow, we will set off to escort one of Mister Allister’s companions and get to the bottom of this dastardly plot.

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Sinclair: Letter to Greyfield

Master Greyfield,

It is with some measure of concern that I send this memorandum. Matters in the west have grown dire and as a result, have drawn and require my attention and direct involvement. The situation has descended to such a state that I made to hazard a separate route to make all best possible speed to surpass the convoy you dispatched some fortnights ago.

Upon arriving in Felstead, Mr. Shaw dutifully reported to me the existence of several perils upon the highway. Not the least of which is a family of cyclopes eager to crush with impunity any weary traveler unfortunate enough to venture too close to the savages’ herd of monstrous chattel. Certainly, I don’t need to impress upon you the significance of a major trade route being blockaded by senseless abominations.

I encourage you and those of the greater merchant league to pool resources together to fund an expeditionary force to deal with this menace. Employ the seal of my house upon this letter as leverage if necessary, to sway the cooperation of the other league members. Mr. Shaw assures me that a peaceful solution can be reached, provided there is ample patience and diplomacy. For mine own part, I care not a whit with how the matter is dealt, so long as it is settled conclusively.

With any luck, this will be my only correspondence while in country. I am not at all pleased to have been brought into this issue so directly. It is unbecoming to so visibly become involved in matters such as these. I am taking great risk to my character and more importantly to my house to personally oversee this expedition of yours. I expect our future enterprises will conduct themselves much more appropriately, and indeed much more profitably.

Good day sir,

-S

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Sinclair: Letter to Mother
Left within the Ashbridge tomb.

Goodness upon you, Mother.

Father has been encouraging me with increasing regularity to go forth and make my own fortune in the unlikely event that he finds his ruin in business. His sonorous rasp echoes betwixt my ears, beseeching my wits to make good my hands. It would seem that the “contingent of the unsavory” which slowly molders in our fair city has turned its gaze upon our family. Plunder and disruption caused by the local thieves’ guild have turned the Farren underlords sheepish. Now they are looking to Father with increasingly more and more desperate eyes. I fear he is a fox encircled by starvèd hounds. By day he busies himself attending to the carping of the lesser baronets and investors; by night, drink and game.

I’ve decided to remedy these affronts to our house in mine own way. The days and nights of a complacent libertine have embittered upon my tongue and now I seek new diversion. Tapping our coffers, I’ve set Toynbee to task adjusting the ledgers and allocating funds so that Father will never become the wiser of the labor that consumes me in the hours between daylights. Of procuring the necessary materials, I’ve pressed Penningbrandt into service. His contacts have proven valuable beyond measure and I have no doubt that his loyalty is absolute. Many would think it folly to place any quantity of trust in such a lowborn man, but I hold no reservations that the kindnesses our house has shown him will be repaid thousandfold. He is an Ashbridge man to the core.

I’ve entered into the company of a disparate band of glory-seekers; five individuals whose circumstances could not be more diverse. It mystifies the mind to think how the fates have aligned our paths toward a single purpose. Three of my new companions seem to have some history together, though I know not yet the details.

The Emberkeeper is haughty as only a highborn elf can be, and he bristles plainly when I converse with him in his own tongue. He seems to carry a bond with the Fencer, whom by the by, displays a deftness with the rapier I believe surpasses even mine own. Several times I witnessed her discern an opening in her opponent’s guard and then proceed to rebuke them mercilessly for it. The third of their band seems quite detached and truthfully, he unsettles me when I catch his amber gaze. When first I met the fellow, I took him for a half-starved beggar disoriented from the plight of his occupation. I am certain that he is quite mad. He oft takes to levitating from the ground and at random times conjures a spectral claw to replace the absence ending at the stump of his wrist. I can only ponder with terrifying thought as to how he suffered the loss. Thankfully, save for the odd outburst, he tends to keep to himself, often lost in a tome or his own musings.

For all of his frenzied, inane prattling, the little one shows great focus in times of peril. Never have I seen a gnome of his ilk before, though I’ve read mention of their breed—raised underneath the soil, toiling away in the dark places of the earth. He is most unfamiliar to me in his customs and motivations, though I believe there is a depth to his character only matched by that of his homeland.

The last of our company is without question the most enigmatic. A rare dragonkin, hermitic in his studies—of what I can only conjecture upon. I believe him to be a practitioner of magic, though as yet Penningbrandt has failed to ascertain any information regarding the drake.

I’ll discover the conspiracy against our house, Mother. I’ll draw those out whom would do us pain and display for them their whole world—all they see dear—and rip it from them.

I must away now, Mother. May you find peace.

-Darby

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Almost There ...

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Lured in by a house on fire the party was jumped by a half-boar riding a triceratops.

As the pair burst out of the barn the rider suddenly grew to twice his size. The triceratops then charged forward into Hoenheim who deftfully dodged the attack with the help of a well placed shield spell.

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Once the attack was underway four flying creates took to the skies raining spikes down upon the party. Malvo caught two of them in The Hunger and they quickly left the area of effect.

These creatures took positions around the battlefield and were a continuous thorn in the side of our heroes.

Learning from past experiences the party decided to concentrate their attacks on the rider and mount. The adventures were able to take down the triceratops only after Steph, Quinn and Mr. Shaw had fallen. The rider of the triceratops was able to revive his mount and then both of them departed to the West. The aerial monsters stayed around for another couple of rounds before heading West.

Mr. Shaw was alive but unconscious. Steph and Quinn lay near death. With the fate of their comrades uncertain the remaining party members made haste to Falsted where the townsfolk were happy to receive some supplies. With the help of Amia and Elba, the mayor’s twin daughters, both Steph and Quinn were able to recover.

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