Farewell to Beremethias

Standing Choices
With Warder Cotes back in action, the group was, once more, back together, with only the strange Fatespinner still in a comatose state of recovery. They stepped out as local heroes, seemingly boosted into semi-regional fame by the escapades in the burning Alchemist’s house. After a near framing attempt by a failed public ‘Steeling’ – a morbid, public execution of sorts, chaining the imprisoned to a golem for some decades -
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The Nightmare child (session 2.5)

It was past noon by the time Warder Cotes realised something was amiss.
Leaving with his companions from the refugee area had proceeded normally with, perhaps, a little less input than he usually gave. They walked through the city without a quiver of danger, arriving at the marketplace, with Elizabeth showing an interest in some pottery wares – a side he hadn’t seen of her before. He thought to comment. Nothing came out.
It felt… Tiring. Laboured, and as he tried again to speak, time seemed to speed up. He drifted from place to place with Elizabeth, Liam and Judith, with a curious, out-of-body sensation, looking down at his own form from slightly above and behind, not able or particularly inclined to deliberately say or choose anything. A sense of unease began to tingle through his uncooperative bones.
The day sped past, coming up to the blur that was dinner. He became aware of seeing a… figure. Featureless, black, and largely transparent, but growing increasingly clearer, just seen out of the corner of his eye. Only he seemed able to see it, until they were seated at the table, eating.
It was much clearer, gazing through the window, a black shadow in the dark night. Liam’s head whipped around, all of a sudden, and he stared at the window, a frown growing on his brow as his bracelet whipped into the familiar bow. Judith was quicker, rising swiftly from the table and striding towards the window. Then the creature drifted in.
It was terrifying; a massive black ghost, as thick as fog but as real as an ogre. As it raised its arms, its gaze lifted and met Warder’s; burning blue eyes seared a path to a forgotten, primal part of him, as a chaotic fear burst into flames and ran like wildfire through his mind. All else faded from his sight but the creature; nothing else mattered, at that moment. It burned; it burned with a cold the like of which he had never felt before, and, for the first time in his adult life, he let out a whimper; a futile plea.
As he turned and ran through endless corridors and shattered battlefields, the thing gave chase, hunting him down with the terror of the inevitable fate of all things.
He knew he was going to die.
He would be consumed by the Nightmare Child.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Warder fell without a sound at the dinner table. As his fork froze, halfway to his mouth, the slightest flicker of darkness – a peripheral shadow – flitted near the window, and Warder’s petrified eyes shone with a look of growing, nightmarish terror. Just the previous day, he and the group had hacked a path to safety for the Teranthian crown prince, gaining both his favour and a lift to citizenship – the yellow Tier 1 of Sanctum Agregas. They’d wandered parts of the city and found their current accommodation; a small apartment above the local blacksmith. A market trip later, they sat down for their fateful meal, full of wary hope for the days ahead. All first attempts to shake Warder out of his condition failed – he remained unresponsive, his eyes showing a growing, tangible fear. The panicked scene was soon broken, however, by a pounding on a door.

To be continued… (If anyone is inspired, they may add in chunks of the story)

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The Adventure Log
A blog for your campaign

The Story so far:

After a hasty sea battle while fleeing Teranth, you fell asleep for what later turned out to be a week or two. You woke up to be introduced to the caste system of Sanctum Agregas, a previously unknown city in an unheard of country. The city is run on a tier=society, with magical runes of eight colours (from white, through the spectrum, to black) both indicating and determining with whom one can talk to or associate. Beginning in the temporary slave caste (white), it quickly became clear that, for some reason, you have been identified as privileged individuals – certainly, influential people appear to be arranging some portion of events so as to make your rise in the society be speedier. When you first arrived, in your short time in the jail, you found, seemingly by massive chance, the weapons that were clearly custom designed for you. The Captain of the Guard, a prominent figure with hidden, personal agendas, took quite an interest in you. When you and the other refugees were sent to work, yours was work for the house of Barnabas, one of the most important mages in the city, causing you to meet a fungal-humanoid society that settled decades ago, deep within the sewers. Blah Blah Refugee/Viscount meeting with attacking undead and enchanted people/saving your prince etc. You became Tier level 1! Yellow runes now.

Backstory:
You were born, raised, and trained in the most magically advanced country in the known world: Teranth; a peacekeeping nation that, in its heyday, would spread out forces to act as diplomats, advisors and, when the occasion called for it, elite agents trained in nipping war in the bud before any crisis escalated out of control. The vast continent of Beremithias, of which Teranth is only a small corner, maintained a shaky but consistent state of peace for several centuries, in this way.
Eighty years prior to the present day, there were rumours of some sort of magical experimentation going on in some nameless city state in the centre of the continent. Naturally, a large contingent of arcane casters were sent to investigate; a routine enough affair, as rogue casters were the most prevalent threat to the peace in those days.
They were never heard of again.
Wild reports came flooding in: the magicians had turned and joined a lich; The magicians were all liches; an undead horde was spreading; all the magicians had died in an earthquake; the earthquake tore a gate to the Abyss. All fanciful; almost hopeful, given the reality.
What became all too clear was that the situation was something that none had ever even imagined. The few survivors who had fled their homes in the region brought word of the actual news: A rift – like a thin, black rope – had opened above the tower of a local, relatively unimportant magician in the grey before dawn one day, and what seemed like a mass of shadow slipped through the crack before it closed up again. The huge shadows broke into three, separate figures, twisting and contorting into all manner of shapes, gliding through the air into the tower. The magician was heard to have met his end quickly and the shadow creatures did not appear from the tower that day.
Similar, smaller rifts began to appear the surrounding region during the day; groups of local magicians, clerics and fighters went out to them, aided by the swift arrival of the Teranthian mages. While the clerics and fighters had some small success against the emerging, smaller creatures (dubbed ‘Void Vermin’), even pushing some of them back into the rifts before they closed, due to their apparent aversion to both sunlight and steel, each and every group with a magician was completely wiped out and the area was eventually abandoned by most.
Creatures of Shadow, assassins of arcane casters, and seemingly undefeatable, they slowly began to push the nations of Beremithias back from the centre of the land. While some were pushed back on occasion, disliking sunlight, steel, base metals and, it was discovered, crossing salt water, most of the defenders were gripped by what was known as the Madness of the Void; a condition that was only intensified from multiple encounters with the shrieking language of the creatures, eventuating in losing all semblance of civilised behaviour in lieu of an unpredictable and chaotically bestial nature. Their numbers did not seem to grow particularly much, but it was quickly observed that their power and size grew with each life they claimed.
Having lost the vast portion of its magicians in the initial fight, Teranth, in its positioning in the furthest location from the Void lands, found itself to have gained the unwanted attention of a huge goblinoid horde, led by a powerful clan of ogres and ogre magi. War was waged over the next eighty years as the forces of Teranth were slowly pushed back towards their coastal capitol, feebly attempting to aid the rest of the Beremithias by finding a weakness of the Void creatures, while staving off the slowly encroaching horde.
In the present day, the horde is currently camped surrounding the last defence of the capitol: the Wall of Melchiades; a magically imbued fortification – 300ft high and almost as thick, it stretches for miles from coast to coast, protecting the corner of land on which lies the coastal capitol (the namesake of the country).
Chosen for your exceptional talents and rough devotion to the ideals of your country, you are young citizens of Teranth, likely, but not necessarily, involved in the defence of your nation – you have never encountered, seen, or even been near the Void lands and have probably not spent much time outside the country. Each of you has a certain, undefinable quality to you that, perhaps, inspires those around you or at least causes them to look up to you. You were gathered, after some scanty briefing on the importance of this relatively undisclosed task, in a secret, magical facility, positioned near the Wall. The soldier who escorted you to the place gestures you into a room with several other people of similar age, all standing around looking slightly apprehensive, but with a determined cast to their eyes.
The soldier smiles, a little grimly, “For King and Country, my friends.”
He departs as a old-looking, silver haired elf enters the room. Then, with only the barest nod to you all, he gestures to you and leads you through another door into a spotless, white-walled facility. Ten bed-like structures are arranged in the middle of the room, surrounded by an elaborate metal edifice of sorts – pipes and and cogs and glowing crystals dominate the creation, with a huge focusing gemstone hovering above them, glowing a deep purple and bathing the room in a slowly shimmering light.
The elf turns to you all. “Some of you”, he begins, in a conversational tone, “May understand more of what is going on here than others. Simply put, this is the leading facility in Beremithias on the Void creatures – creatures that we have failed to drive back from out lands, and creatures that are likely to soon dominate this world, should something not be done about it.” He walks over to the machine that hangs over the beds.
"I… Have a plan. The king was loath, at first, to support me on this, but, as the years went by and no end was seen to this disaster, he allowed me to construct this facility. The Void, as we understand it, come, not from another Plane, as we first thought, but from somewhere else – somewhere… In between. They consume even negative energy and, thus, we have called them the Void Walkers – those who are come from somewhere that is but a single step from oblivion.
“And now”, he gestures towards the beds, indicating that each should take one, “We take the first step in sending them back there.”
As you lie down, attendants hurry up and strap you in until you are firmly secured to the beds. The elf walks into the middle of the circle of beds, directly under the purple gemstone, and looks deeply into the eyes of each of you, in turn.
“Your weaknesses; we will make them strengths. Your strengths; they will be without limit, and there will be little that you cannot achieve when you apply yourself. And then we will add something more. Something… Of my own devising.”
He signals to the attendants, who quickly move around the circles, flicking switches and pulling levers, then beginning to chant and weave magic – as they do this, all of the jewels in the machine begin to glow brighter and hum. The elf continues to speak, his eyes glowing in time with the pulse of the purple gemstone. As he speaks, the humming begins to pulse with the purple stone, making it so you only catch small amounts of what he says. Something about travel, about needing to survive above everything – a mention of lacking time and avoiding… something. Then, after several minutes of the humming slowly getting louder, there is a sudden, deafening silence and the elf is heard clearly.
“Remember this. I am Melchiades, and we will meet again. Remember. My. Name.” He pauses. “And with this, you become my Children, and I send you forth.”
He then utters a word – more of a tortured shriek than anything – something that pierces you to the core of your being and that sends itself spinning and tumbling through your mind. As you desperately attempt to maintain consciousness, you remember something you heard onetime. That word was of the language of the Void.
Then your mind finally succumbs and everything goes black.

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