The Dragonslayers II Pt. 17: A Black Moon Rising

Our trio of heroes found their selves gathered around a table in the Harbor Tavern in Asternor two days after the battle on the delta their weary faces masked in yellow candlelight. The army had left earlier in the day, earlier than they had told Bers and Vorwulf due to Lord Vorahd wounds not healing. Grom the shaman had diagnosed that the satyr’s ghost was at work against Vorahd and realized that it would fade into the astral plane every sunrise and emerge each dusk to prevent his wounds from healing. Grom had also run into the faunic bard Canohk accompanied by a rather large arborean and the druid from fertum Vorahd mourning the loss of marshal Bullom Rock-Puncher. It was then he realized that they meant to bury the dead under stone cairns and then he went on a rant trying to convince them to burn the bodies as “Blackbrow was on the move”. It was at this time that a tired looking warrior pushed a jack full of wine into his chest which he gulped down and then promptly passed out from exhaustion rather than the wine. The next thing he knew, he told the other two slayers, was that he was being carried on a litter through the woods. He ended up having to guide the army to Asternor as they had decided to travel overland back to Merdna but had become lost.
While collapsed by the treasure chests Bers and Vorwulf had suffered another nightmare from the fighter lich (see the Dragonslayers II Pt. 5) and saw in the nightmare the black disc high in the sky which they now recognized as a black moon with a vast army of undead marching even in the day before Dead-Eye, their former companion now presumably undead, loosed his arrows on them which prompted them to suddenly awake. They let the shaman know that their chests were intact but they had to leave them in the lair. The pair had flown during the night using Bers’ Cape of Bat Flight along the river in search of the ships eventually finding them safely moored in Asternor. They rented rooms and went to Vorwulf’s to make plans for the recovery of their treasure. Bers & Vor revealed to the shaman that they had taken the Gate Stones and a manual that the trolls had been using when they interrupted them. When Bers and Vor had arrived at the Harbor Tavern they found the shaman drinking and eating with Zancor the one-armed. Vor dusted himself off as he entered in an effort to appear “all tough” and began bluffing Zancor telling him that the “troll-guy” had taken their stuff. Zancor had easily seen through the ruse and excused himself after shooting a glare at the ranger/dragonslayer. After they had decided on a plan of action they all retired to their respective beds.
The slayers’ sleep was fitful plagued again by the fighter-lich and the visions of the black moon and an undead army.
Come morning after finding there were no mounts or even beasts of burden available for rent or purchase and after buying 1,500 gold pieces worth of rope and tackle they had decided to jump on the wagons contracted by Lord Vorahd to take him, his jarl and housecarls back to Merdna. By late afternoon they were back in Merdna and had already paid the wagoneers 1 gold talon apiece to take them to the top of Hirok the following morning before they went back to their tavern the Hopping Rat. As soon as they stepped in the door they found a messenger waiting for them from the Blackwings Guild. They went to the cellar to meet with him and received word and a warrant for the apprehension of Xanto the Wasp as the Tome of Dragonslaying that was recovered from him turned out to be a fake. The price on his head was 10,000 gold pieces and they would have exclusive rights for 1 year, if he wasn’t apprehended (or killed) before then the guild (with the blessings of the mage guild of Chago, the Pillars of Vision) will issue an open bounty throughout the land. They agreed and went upstairs to sleep.
Bers (Played by Jen): “C’mon let’s get to the lair. I want my treasure!”
It took them a full day to travel from Merdna to the top of Hirok along the North road losing 1 wagon to a mishap with a boulder and a broken axel, the driver and the oxen were fine however. They set up the rig above the gaping hole which opened into the high chamber of the former dragon’s lair and through that floor down into a massive water-cavern. It was after the rig was all set around noon that they noticed the black moon low on the western horizon. Basically they all shrugged. Grom cast a spell on himself enabling him to fly for a brief time (Nature’s Ability) and took the end of the rope and flew down into the passage into the treasure room where the chests rested. He landed on the precipice of the passage, a 20 ft. drop to the dark water behind him, and lit a torch. He saw something step from the darkness about 20 ft. in front of him.
It: “I’m gonna skin you alive and laugh in your face while you scream!”
The creature stank of rotting flesh steeped in brimstone and appeared as a winged, horned emaciated creature whose blackened flesh appeared to drip from its partially exposed bones. He recognized a demon when he saw one. Its claws slashed at him narrowly missing and he stepped to the side and let loose his Primal Scream which alerted the other two who waited above for a tug on the rope but which did not have as much of an effect on the demon as the shaman had hoped. Vorwulf immediately went to grap the rope and rappel down but fumbled (a Natural 1) and fell straight into the water taking no damage from the 100 ft. (but probably more) fall arcing his body into a perfect dive (Cris rolled a Natural 20 to save). Bers successfully grabbed the rope but as Grom was still only holding the other end she found herself falling into the black water below and sinking quickly in its depths. The shaman got a severe rope burn across the palm. Vorwulf activated his boots of water walking and grabbed Bers on his way to the surface.
Grom tried to push the demon over the cliff and into the drink using a Windrush spell twice, unsuccessfully before Bers and Vorwulf were able to make it to his side. The demon had unleashed a couple of blasts of black lightning at him hitting him causing his flesh to whither where it touched him passing through his armor proving it useless. The demon backed away using its leathery wings and cast a death spell which Grom and Vor were able to withstand easily, Bers however rolled a Natural 1 and dropped dead. Vorwulf shot the creature but did little damage even with a magic frost arrow and quickly switched to his swords. Grom kept dodging the monsters’ attacks as it kept flying in and focusing its attacks on him. Bers’ corpse sprung to unlife before the end of the first round and swung its axe at Vorwulf but missing and Grom blasted the demon with another wind-rush but he failed to take into account that it had gotten in between him and Vorwulf. The ranger was slammed into the wall opposite Grom and then slammed by Bers’ corpse before he and the newly undead Bers fell into the water. The corpse went under but Vorwulf landed on the surface due to his magic boots. He used his cutlass to dimension door back to the shaman’s side.
It took another 2 rounds to take out the death demon with the shaman sticking to a strategy of dodge-everything and Vorwulf getting the deathblow which caused the monster to explode in a storm of purplish bolts of negative energy. The surviving pair of dragon-slayers were somewhat hurt and in shock at the loss of their companion.
Gill (Grom’s Player): “Aww man, our heavy-hitters’ gone!”
They spent the next 3 days recovering the chests and another to make it back safely to Merdna. They set the chests in the cellar and contemplated hiring guards and getting security installed. Over the next few days Grom crafted a Totem of Spirit Protection for Lord Vorahd solving the satyr-ghost dilemma and the pair prepared for winter. The surviving slayers took note, kind of, of black moon as it inched painfully but steadily along its path in the sky day and night from west to east nearing its zenith just before the first winter storm.
Sometime later long after the first snowstorm of the season and on the eve of another in the dead of freezing night a messenger beating on the door of the Hopping Rat roused the duo from a dead and strangely un-haunted sleep delivering to them a message.
Messenger: “Lord Vorahd demands your presence at his manor now! Achoran has fallen and Asternor is under siege. A sizeable force is on the move north along the road and they have a DRAGON with them!”

The End of the Second Dragon-Slayers Campaign (played between January and July 2014).

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