The party, consisting of two barbaric humans, a civilized human, a gnome, a dwarf, and an avian, started out in the woods, investigating some body thieves. People had been stealing some dead bodies and general grave-robbing, and the people of the town didn’t know who was responsible, so they were all brought together to put an end to this.
It would take them almost two days to get there.
On the first night, at the third watch, the Dwarf guard, Hazu, heard an eerie howling noise. The howling also woke up two of his companions. They were all chilled to a certain degree by the howl. Their barbarian berserker companion decided to wake everyone up, and soon everyone was on their guard. They heard another howl, followed by a loud crack, as if a tree limb had broken off. After deliberating, one of their companions, a barbaric ranger, decided to investigate the noise. They all followed.
Soon, they were greeted by a truly frightening sight: There were three humans defending a little girl and engaged in combat with a gigantic wolf, half as tall as the tallest trees around it, and certainly an unnatural size. They soon saw the gigantic limb that had been broken off, seemingly by the wolf’s sheer mass. They saw the female engaging the wolf, nailing it between the eyes, and the half-naked male tearing great chunks of fur off with his bare hands. The third human, a well-built (though not as well-built as the inhumanly muscular man engaging the wolf) and well-armored man, soon told them to take the girl and run. They complied, more than happy to leave the monstrous wolf behind, as the human that had just told them thus charged at the wolf, wielding his greatsword in one hand.
As they got back to camp, the girl was trying, and two tried to comfort her. As much as the female member of the group succeeded, the gnome failed miserably, telling her, “It could have been worse. It could have killed your parents.” To which she wailed, “I have no parents!” Her crying soon got annoying, and she revealed her name, Nalara. She cried out for those around her to protect her, that the wolf was after her. When they asked her why it wanted to kill her, she just broke out into more sobs, as she had when they asked her what she was. The gnome talked to her a little while about what she thought of the wolf, what she thought of the three protecting her, and what she thought of her companions, and by reading her words, tones, and gestures closely, he could only conclude that she must be evil. When the bat-like Mountain Avian named Ferrus used Detect Magic on her, he read her aura as an off-black color, a clear sign of evil. As the gnome tried to tell everyone that she would be better named Belladonna than Nalara, she turned to the woman holding her, and commanded, “PROTECT ME.” However, the woman’s will was strong, and her response was only, “Hey, get out of my mind, okay?”
As the party’s sentiments slowly started to turn on her, the girl started to back away. It was at that time that the berserker lunged himself at her, but her quick eyesight and unnatural reflexes avoided the attempt. A spell was cast to make her fall, but her aura seemed to be protected from its effects. In addition, an arrow whizzed over her head, shot by the Ranger. It was at this time that she knew she would not win their favor and so started to hover in the air, the air around her growing chill and her eyes glowing pale blue, as frost. “If you will not protect me, then fear me!” She said, and soon the ranger and berserker fled in fear, the berserker far faster and more scared, being closer to the girl. The rest of the party after a second or two of hesitating fled, as well, deciding this girl was best not messed with. The girl fled into the woods after this, and as far as anyone knows, will not be seen or heard from again.
They caught up with the two stray members, as they ran back after 2-3 minutes of running away. They then decided to keep watch where they were, away from camp where the girl had been. In the morning, they made their way back, stopping by the area where they’d seen the wolf. There were scuffled human footprints that seemed to separate around the wolf, perhaps to meet again in another place, or perhaps to be eaten separately, they weren’t sure. But the wolf prints continued forward. It was strange, as the wolf had to have passed through areas too small for its breadth. But never the mind, it was probably a supernatural being, though the girl had asserted that it was not a god.
When they got back to camp, they found no trace of the girl, though wolf-prints continuing in the same direction. Shaken by this event, they decided to pursue it no further and continue on their initial quest. Late in the afternoon, they came to a town. After investigating, they found it entirely deserted. The Avian flew up to the church at the end, with severed hands on poles, a sign recognised as a symbol of Qan, the god of torture, decay, poison, and patience. Ferrus found at the only window in the building a bell, and wanted to ring it, so he tried to land next to it. Unfortunately, the shingles were neither flat nor provided much to hold on to, so the unfortunate Avian fell, catching himself with one hand on the edge of the roof. He then glided to the ground, landing safely, and told his companions of the bell, but that he neither saw nor heard anything else.
They were debating burning down the evil church, but ultimately decided to investigate first. Upon opening the double doors at the entrance, they found two passageways, guarded by skeletons. The gnome detected magic from both skeletons, and from the greataxe on the skeleton to the right. They fought both skeletons, taking them down. Hazu’s bear took down the one on the left single-handedly. The gnome identified the greataxe as extremely powerful, then used his knowledge of history and legends to remember that its name was Krull, the greataxe of Blood, the weakest of four crafted by a famous magical smith who had mysteriously disappeared after making the last and strongest of the four.
They continued down the left door, investigating the rooms and fighting off undead parts, though not full zombies. When they found a second room with an undead wolf body, the barbarian quickly took it down with one stroke of Krull, the greataxe he’d so eagerly claimed after the skeleton fell.
When they found little of interest besides a book on common poisons used to kill people slowly, they took a path away from the many disturbing rooms, and soon found themselves in the place of worship at this church. There was a skeleton on the altar, but it didn’t seem magical in any way. There were pews, no more really than benches, and three elaborate chairs behind the altar. Uninterested, they continued on, fighting zombies in the next room, though leaving behind everything but the rotting leather armor which the gnome cleaned into normal leather, taking the pieces with him.
After more exploring, and analyzing more wooden statues that seemed to decorate this place eerily, they found a skeleton that though animated, seemed to be coming apart. The dwarf charged at it, but fumbled his axe, falling on top of it and all but castrating himself. He writhed in agony for four seconds before the pain was unbearable and he passed out. He was in a critical state, bleeding to death, but the skeleton had to be taken care of first. Three quick blows and it fell apart, leaving the party to take care of the dwarf.
They set up shifts, since they had to stand there for nine hours. The ranger was the first to sleep, and as soon as he fell asleep, his dreams were disturbing, and soon an attacker made a pass at his mind, trying to enslave him. It took six seconds for the combat to end, and after both beings were tied at 1 willforce each, the attacker ultimately succumbed to the ranger’s superior mind, and it became enslaved to him. He woke up immediately, before the attacker’s friends could get to him, and told everyone else in the party not to fall asleep. He then mentally contacted his slave and asked what it was. It revealed, “I am but a pawn, a piece of the massmind.” It had friends that were mentally linked to it and would have surely attacked the ranger had he not woken immediately. The party was in dread when he told them this, and then he revealed the location of the entity: There was a secret door behind the thrones that they’d not found, due to its hidden nature.
Eleven hours later, none tired due to the gnome’s magic, they went back into the big room and Ferrus quickly found behind the three chairs a section of wall darker than the rest. The ranger asked the entity how to get through, and it revealed the secret words, and to push on the panel and slide it to the side. The party continued crawling forward, the dwarf in agony, and soon found themselves getting warmer and warmer, almost uncomfortably so in their current manner of dress. They were in a room with windows in the ceiling, and four rows of four plants, vine-like, with watermelon-like fruits hanging from their vines. Most had two, but some had only one: and one was larger than the others. The gnome identified these as Changeling Pods, recognising that the larger one would form a copy of their ranger if they didn’t dispose of it immediately. These Changeling Pods posed a great danger to everyone, so the party decided to burn them all.
As the plants were burning, a man in a dark blue robe came running through the church, through the secret passageway, yelling, “What are you doing?!” They had not time to converse with him, as they made for their exit, the berserker striking him with Krull at the neck, invoking its name and special power. It didn’t matter though, as the Greataxe cleaved his head from his shoulders. A party member grabbed the rod that dropped from his hand, and the dwarf helped the gnome pick up the boots, robe, and helm he was wearing, as the gnome had detected that they were magical. From his neck did not burst blood, but instead oozed a green, sap-like substance. If there were more of the Pod Changelings, they surely knew now what had happened to their cultivator and were surely incensed at the loss of so many of their own.
Once outside, the party made sure the building burned to the ground, hearing a cry, and seeing a white drake fly from the ashes, on fire, before falling dead into the forest. The evil successfully disposed of, the party rested for now in one of the deserted houses until they could decide what to do next.