Shattered Star #85: Death from the Shadows

At the end of last session, we left our heroes under attack from hill giants hurling bit of building at the party as they advanced upon the ruin of Windsong Abbey.

 

Quickly realising that to press the advance was foolish, the party retreated to the safety afforded by a range of wooden hills about a half-mile from the abbey.

Here, they quickly concocted a new plan. They would skirt the abbey, reach the cliffs and deploy a swan boat. This—they hoped—would enable them to reach the abbey without being seen. As dusk blended into the full dark of night, they put the plan into motion.

Reaching the cliffs without further incident Vesleng commanded his roc companion to transport everyone to the bottom of the cliffs where he summoned the party’s only swan boat. Quickly everyone climbed aboard, and began their short moonlit voyage.

While the bulk of the party made their way round the abbey on the boat, Karelia and Vesleng assumed elemental forms and scouted out the cliffs. They found several features of interest: a stainless window about half-way up the cliffs and a cave mouth leading away from a narrow shingle beach.

This last discovery was made after they had also scouted parts of the abbey and alerted more of the inhabitant to their presence. They discovered high-up in the water tower, a luxurious bath chamber. Reclining in the heated waters was a beautiful women with snake-hair—a medusa. Surprisingly alert, the medusa spotted them, but the pair fled quickly before it could bring its gaze to bear.

As it turned out, this was a wise move as just before be fled Vesleng overheard the medusa spellcasting! Minutes later, Zainnis observed several large winged creatures flying over the ruins. Their screeches reached the party even out on the water—the creatures were vrocks!

These twin discoveries, made the cave mouth at the bottom of the cliffs seem rather inviting. Although, they had scouted the stained glass window earlier and determined that possibly some kind of sanctuary lay in the chamber beyond, they decided to investigate the cave.

Karelia’s keen magical powers detected that part of the chamber wall had been manipulated by magic to appear natural. Extensive investigations revealed a chamber some distance beyond the blockage and Vesleng in earth elemental form (after cajoling from Cortana) investigated. He found several chambers and a stairway leading upwards.

Unfortunately, he also discovered some kind of crypt; lurking within four greater shadows immediately noticed the sneaking druid. Vesleng fled and the creatures gave chase. They actually discovered the main body of the group before the fleeing druid and fell upon them.

The battle was brief and harsh. Both Shardaine and Zainnis were slain by the shadows and rose shortly thereafter as lesser creatures of darkness. Both were quickly destroyed, but the party was now seriously weakened. Almost everyone had suffered strength damage from the shadows and two of the companions were dead.

As the realisation set in that the heroes now needed powerful resurrection magics, gloom as dense as any shadow settled over the survivors…

Creighton is the publisher at Raging Swan Press and the designer of the award winning adventure Madness at Gardmore Abbey. He has designed many critically acclaimed modules such as Retribution and Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands and worked with Wizards of the Coast, Paizo, Expeditious Retreat Press, Rite Publishing and Kobold Press.

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