The Shadows of Gallowspire I

Ceris Athiri’s journal, 28th Erastus 4711

Sigmund has left us. After the encounter with the anti-paladin he became withdrawn and eventually left Caliphas to return to Lastwall. Though the goal of preventing the Whispering Tyrant is a noble one, we are not noble or heroic and Sigmund feels his values are compromised by us. Maybe that’s the right thing to do, but what would I know about doing the right thing?

Lorinthor decided he could teleport us to Renchurch in the Hungry Mountains, which would save us about two months travel. It is a measure of how much we have come to trust in his wizardry that we all readily agreed. But something went wrong and we got dropped in the middle of a clearing in a forest. Lorinthor was not with us and we have no way of knowing what happened.

There was an arch made of fused skeletons in the middle of the clearing. Silver said it was a wave gate, designed to disrupt teleportation. The clearing was surrounded by six large oaks. They moved more than they should have as the air was still. Rustin tried to get through but was caught by the branches. He managed to use his druid powers to get the trees to drop him. After some debate, we decided our usual tactic of hitting things until they die was our best option and we forced our way out amid the cries of the remaining trees.

For the next twelve hours we followed the path without incident and arrived at the Mesmos River. The smell of rotting ichor was overwhelming. Many things had died here recently. There was a cave where the smell was most strong and Rustin recognised it for the lair of a lizard-like creature. Another of the bone arches was by the river. On the off-chance that there might be some treasure in the lair, we headed in, Silver providing light.

We found the lizard. I was unable to bear the smell of decaying flesh and threw up. The Publican, Dieter and Silver hit the thing and Rustin summoned a triceratops, and then it was dead. There was treasure, even if it was all covered in goo.

Ceris Athiri’s journal, 29th Erastus 4711

Today, we continued on the path which we believe will take us to Renchurch and there is no sign of Lorinthor. I hope he is just separated from us and not anything worse. We came upon a makeshift camp and before the people there saw us I dropped into the trees to the side of the path. There were five; three men in armour with knightly symbols that we didn’t recognise, a young woman, and a withered old crone with smouldering, sulphurous eyes chained up beside them.

We listened to their conversation and learnt that they were headed to Vigil to perform and exorcism on the old woman. Silver approached the young woman and all the knights rose and drew their swords. After some back and forth in which they claimed to be upholding the values of Ustalav and doing good by exorcising the demon from the witch, we piled in. Dieter and the Publican knocked the leader unconscious and restrained the others. Rustin collected a bit of hair from the leader. Something about impersonating him at a later date.

The witch told us she was possessed by a demon, but that she had given herself up willingly in exchange for protecting her caravan from the Ravener. The knights want to exorcise her. What was the right thing to do here? Seems to me it depends who you think is telling the truth. In the end, we just took most of their stuff and left them to it. The demon whispered its thanks as we left, which was creepy.

But after a couple of hours walking we came upon the blackened ruins of a caravan. There were many bodies and much that was still smoking. The site bore the remains of a chaotic battle between humans and some skeletal creatures and the residue of eldritch negative energy. Perhaps this was the caravan of the witch. Perhaps we should have freed her to return to her people. Or perhaps the demon was no match for this Ravener and everyone would have died anyway.

There was another of those arches. And a set of tombs. I was contemplating robbing them when we noticed dark clouds on the horizon and a shrieking, howling wind arose. Dieter, Rustin and I found shelter fast, but the Publican and Silver weren’t as quick and were battered by ghostly faces in the air before they reached cover. The storm raged for an hour.

After another six hours trekking through the Hungry Mountains we finally reached Renchurch Abbey. It is ruined. It was once a monastery with a cathedral, guard towers and many buildings. Now it is crumbling and burned and being reclaimed by the wild. The path led us beside a rancid, sludgy lake that bubbled with noxious fumes.

We checked the first tower. It’s entrance was blocked by magickally enhanced iron bars. Rustin dispelled the magic and Dieter forced them open and then we were attacked by the ghost of an elf. I killed it with my nifty new death attack. It had no treasure.

The next building was a stone house and contained the charred bones of Pharasmin priests. There was the strange smell of burning flesh but we could not see where it came from and believed it to be a magickal effect. We went in and the spirits created an incendiary cloud, burning us. We went in again once the cloud had dispersed and searched for the bones of the burned priests to throw them in the lake and break the spell. I don’t know what happened here, but there are many restless spirits and a great sense of violence.

Throwing the bones in the lake caused more undead to stir and we were attacked by bog mummies. We agreed we didn’t want to waste our strength on the many small fights we thought would be waiting for us in the many out-buildings, especially as we would not profit from them, and then headed straight for the Abbey. We assumed that this was where the Whispering Way would be attempting to raise the Whispering Tyrant.

The Abbey must once have been an impressive and beautiful building but was now ruined and charred like everything else. The work of the Ravener, maybe? The walls were crafted from thousands of broken blades, an amazing effect, but impossible to climb. The blood-stained iron doors were unlocked. They were also formed from blades and beside them were gallows-trees with corpses hanging from them. There was a shuffling noise from the other side of the doors.

We passed through the doors to be attacked by a four-armed man who we killed without much effort. He had some keys which we thought we might need. Silver threw light into the half-collapsed chamber ahead of us. There were hundreds of scrolls in this room and a fresh bloody smear leading to a chamber off to the west.

As always, we followed the blood. A rickety stair led up to the belfry and we could hear something eating. Blood was spattered everywhere in this room and thickly covered an altar at the other end. There were creatures eating the eviscerated remains of people and it seemed like a good idea to kill them.

We went into a smaller room beyond the altar, which held a font with water and a torn tapestry but nothing more. There was a way out into a covered garden but the roof had fallen in and the rubble was unstable. Something was lurking in the shadows. The Publican threw a lighted rock to reveal it and Dieter killed it.

In the next chamber there were steaming, bloody skulls on sticks. The air was hard to breathe and the heads were still moving. It felt like the air was being sucked out of the room. We burned the heads and the air was fine again. More of the restless, angry dead sent to a final rest.

The room beyond was less damaged than the rest. There were fine curtains and heavy, gilded chairs. An iron grate in the floor admitted a cool, fresh breeze. Four ghosts and a vampire woman faced us. They told us we must leave. We don’t like being told what to do, so we killed them, except for the vampire who gave us money and escaped by turning into smoke.

The grate led to some catacombs underneath the Abbey and, as we had seen no sign of the Whispering Way up until this point, we surmised they must be in the tunnels below. In the first chamber a candle illuminated a sarcophagus. A giant sword hung from the ceiling and the sound of crashing blades rang in the air. The mutilated body of a soldier attacked us. Assuming this was some ghostly magic we took the sword from the ceiling and used that to destroy the spectre.

The caverns were roughly hewn from cold stone and the walls were pitted with alcoves full of the dead. The sound of clashing swords had ceased. We followed the path into a room full of pools of fetid water and stacks of funerary urns. Silver said she detected something in the middle of the room so Rustin lowered the water and revealed a sheepish-looking demon. I killed it. It had diamonds.

The next cavern was full of fog and cultists. They didn’t seem to be Whispering Way. They wore leather robes and masks with no eyes. We have a zero-tolerance policy towards suspicious-looking religious types which doesn’t involve asking questions, or even hesitating much before slaughtering them. Mostly, I think they would try to kill us if we didn’t act first, but I suppose we will never know. Rustin took a part of a cultist for his weird collection.

We followed the tunnels round until we came to a room of smoothly polished skulls. There were specimens from all the races of Golarrion and they all had their jawbones removed. We could hear the jawbones clapping in the distance. Phrases of languages we couldn’t recognise were scrawled on the wall. In the corridor beyond there were foul stacks of rotting corpses buzzing with insects. Something had chewed its way through the stacks and we made our way past the horrid piles of bodies until we found ourselves in a room. In the middle was a spider-like creature, still eating and oblivious to our presence. We did what we do.

Marble stairs took us up to the next room. There was a fire pit and an iron statue of a fly. At the back of the room was a large iron door. Facing us were three Renchurch cenobites sacrificing a man. They summoned many burning skeletons. We all hid in the corridor and Silver and I fired the two remaining sunrods into the room to even the odds a little. Rustin turned into a bear and destroyed the fly statue (which was an iron golem). The rest of us killed the cenobites.

Up the stairs and through the iron door we found ourselves in a corridor leading to a room with a two foot deep pool of blood and guts. The revolting goo was dripping from the murder holes in the ceiling. A narrow path led around the foul pool and we carefully made our way around. As we did, the pool began to bubble. The bubbles became a humanoid form but it could not withstand the Publican’s flurry of blows.

Finally, we found what we were looking for. The next room was a ceremonial chamber, full of statues of the fly-goddess of the undead, Urgathoa. At the far end, a human man was chained over a dark pit of necrotic energy. A cleric led a procession of fifteen cultists towards the pit. The man looked like Count Lucinean Galdana of Amaans and so did all the cultists. They saw us and didn’t look pleased that we had interrupted their ritual.

The cultists lined up in front of the Grey Friar to protect him. It didn’t help. Silver and Dieter cleared a path so that I could get through, and the Publican dimension doored across. Rustin destroyed a cultist with a sunbeam, the Publican killed the Grey Friar and Dieter accounted for most of the rest. Silver broke the chains holding the man above the pit as she had noticed that he was wearing a mask of the face of the Count and dropped him into the pit. As I killed the last cultist he turned into the Count and told us it was too late. The Whispering Way had perfected their potion and had sent a back-up patsy to Gallowspire.

So, we go to Gallowspire. Either we arrive before the Tyrant is risen and we prevent it or we arrive afterwards and kill the Tyrant. Maybe it would be best if it were the latter so we could kill him proper dead and not able to rise again. It would help if we could find Lorinthor first.


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