These Are Dark Times

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Log Info

  • Title: These Are Dark Times
  • Emitter: Sevati
  • Characters: Dubtle (Wtc4)* Malhari (Swb2)* Sora (Ftr4) Kisaiya (Ftr5)* Aznara (Swb4)*
  • Place: Alexandria - Nearby Village
  • Time: Sept 12, 2017
  • Summary: Something has been killing livestock. Something has been stealing children. The members of a nearby village that have been tormented now for a number of weeks has put out a call for aid, claiming that some ancient and wicked legend is at fault for their plight. If what they say is true, things are about to get much, much worse.
  • APL: 4
  • Encounter: 4 Dark Stalkers, 4 Dark Creepers (CR 9)


It's a sunny autumn afternoon; the sun offers that sort of hazy, warm gold that comes about only at this time of year, and bathes fields rich with crop nearly ready for the impending harvest.

But... something is wrong.

As the party nears, whichever way they've managed to travel here, there is a smell in the air that goes well beyond compost or fertilizer in its pungent lingering. No, this is the smell of rot -- of off meat and stale blood mingled with rich dirt and a damp environment, heavy under the influence of the day's remnant heat.

In the distance, in further field than where the group approaches to the last brave workers of the land, there are bloated bodies; sheep, cows, left for the sun and soil, not dare touched by man or beast for reasons yet to be revealed. Nearer now as the heroes are, beyond the first lush rows, the fields have been scorched, lending to the air that charred, smokey taste that turns bitter as ash over time.

"Thank the Gods!" One of the haggard farm-hands calls out as he notices the arrival, one hand sweeping quickly over his brow to sop the sweat that glistens there. He jogs toward them, already out of breath, the dark circles that shadow sunken eyes speaking well of the restlessness of those that remain. "We thought nobody was coming, we did. Thought we'd been forgotten, us... oh... thank the Gods..." His relief is as apparent as his exhaustion, leaning his weight on the support of a hoe's haft as his head dips forward into absent nodding.

"They come in the night, they stole our children, they killed our strong and our brave, and they left us," An arm swings out to the handful of others still tilling and turning the earth. "Nothing but some old men, impotent... crippled, and... and..." He heaves a shuddering breath, his head lifting and eyes turning toward the sky, tears glistening in their welling without falling. He shakes his head ever so slowly back and forth, wetting suddenly dry lips. "We couldn't... do anything."

"The Tilimen," Comes another voice, spoken by a frail and shaking man.

"They'll be back, them. Back by evening, lest something be done. We couldn't stop them, no, but... but, we did follow! Quickly, Jon!" The first speaks, gesturing toward the withering elder that named their threat, now hobbling his way in some facsimile of 'speed', pulling a tattered parchment from his breast pocket with unsteady hand to offer it out.

"Here... here, this is where I lost sight."

The parchment is a crudely sketched map into the thicket northward that serves as broad border between this farm and the next, a giant scratchy 'X' slashed across in blatant accusation.

At first, Chay notices nothing. He walks with his coat flapping at his ankles. His shoulders are tense, naturally and when they see the bodies...he slows. The farmer's upset seems to startle him, and he listens with a mixture of bewilderment and...

"I...I...of coursse we will help," he says, sounding overwhelmed.

The mustache quivers. Malhari sniffs a few times at the smell of rot further influenced by the heat, and his mustache almost wilts at the smell. Key note: almost. It knows better not to fail him in his times of need. He's travelled by foot, his armour giving the soft jingle jangle as the various charms and markings of the various deities tinkles against his armour, his curl-toed shoes keeping his feet remarkably comfortable for the pace that the man keeps.

He turns his head to regard the other arrivals - accepting them for adventurers before anything else, as nobody goes marching towards where help is needed for any other reason - at least in Malhari's mind. He beams a bright, white toothed smile that is then turned towards the farm-hand. "Nobody ever gets truly forgotten, friend. Not when one gives proper praises to the Gods." He quips, before letting the smile go as he describes the troubles. He then raises a hand, waving it towards Chay as his smile returns. "See? You are not alone." The hand drops, if only so that he can peer at the map - taking it himself to show the group if nobody else takes the initative in this regard.

"I'm afraid I don't know these lands very well, but my sword is always at the ready to help those that are being preyed upon - and darkness is soon coming, so, the troubles will begin anew." Sadly, he doesn't sound so upset by this.

Sora cocks her head to the side. Their approach doesn't have her feeling all that well, stomach swaying a bit. Its one thing to experience the blood of battle, another when its just...that. She nodes her head as she looks at the others. She is in her mithril breastplate, her artifice arm plain to see and nods, "We are here to help, appologies for the trip taking so long."

Aznara has her hood up against the sun... and her nose wrinkled at the smell of the area. Reaching to take the roughly-drawn map, she says, "I, too, will do what I can to put end to these horrors you've faced." That said, she looks at the map as she asks, "Can you tell us anything of the things that did this to you and yours?"

Inreality, Dubtle is /totally/ here. He's glad to be here, even. Ready to help, even, though he's been quiet thus far until now. Like something is weighing on the poor fellow. A raven sits on his shoulder, occasionally pecking at him and irritating him enough to when he eventually half-assedly swats at it. It flaps, squawks, resettles, and then whole proccess repeats all over again before long. "It's all right. We'll manage."

Kisaiya holds her nose as they start to grow closer to try and hold herself from the smell as much as possible. The Princess has a little of distaste toward it really, but she refrains from talking about it as she can see the others are equally upset by it. She looks toward the others in the group, listening to each in turn and deciding... yes, this would be a good time not to talk. Well, either she's deciding not to talk for that reason or maybe because she's afraid of what might happen if she opens her mouth. Oh Gods that smell.


"Gods bless you young folk, gods -bless- you..."

The workers don't seem too inclined to stick around to chat for all that long, and those that were not in direct contact with the heroes are edging their way toward their homes with the sort of fear that comes from surviving when no others have. The arrival of the heroes has done little to soothe the growing fear, the knowledge that what they have seen pales in comparison to what they are certain will come next.

Then again, they know the legends.

Our heroes may not.

At the mention of evening coming, the old man darts his cloudy eyes toward the skies in a squinting study, his brows knitting and chin giving a quiver despite his best efforts. This poor man, the guilt etched into his features, the sorrow that is so sublime that songs should be written of its purity, so obvious that it is difficult to ignore. "Please do what we could not. I... must get inside... please, if you've no torches, take ours. Find them, or..." There's a pause in his speech, his head giving a shake as drooping lids close briefly. "... or avenge them, at least."

"...they come with the darkness..." The second old man repeats previous sentiments.

The first pauses a moment to lift their bleary stare toward Aznara, clearly battling with the desire to forget every detail of each horrid night since it began. "They poisoned our waters and spoilt the meat, they razed the grounds and salted the earth where they walked... like black blight walking. They--"

"Jacob." He's interrupted, his head turning toward the man that pokes his head from a doorway.

"... they stole our light..." He shakes his head, backing away toward the door to his home, "There is only..." The door starts to creek shut, "Darkness..."

It's unlikely they will be answering any more questions at this time.

The way is clear, and the map is solid.

Looks like the woods await.

Aznara... turns the map over one way... then the other. "Is... anyone, perhaps, more skilled at reading maps than I am?", she asks openly of the others, holding the map out for someone to take from her.

Chay takes in a breath from a chest that's suddenly too tight. "The Tiliman?" he says. He looks towards the others, and it's a while before he can admit, "I have never heard of them. Are they--" he says. "They come out at night," he says then, echoing Aznara's and the farmer's words.

Brave that Malhari may be, and happy to follow the rest of the adventuring party - after all, some of them even look like they know what they might be doing, and Dubtle obviously knows what he's doing, he got really mad and screamed at a fishman, and while he couldn't hear it, that fishman then later burst into flames - so, obviously Dubtle's reliable in Malhari's eyes.

To add some utility to his dashing smile and rapier, the Veyshan man opens the pouch that hangs at his side, probing around in it while they speak with the locals before they begin to depart - looking up towards them as he produces an everburning torch. "We'll do what we can to ensure that things are returned to how they should be. Please, lock your doors, stay safe." He offers, as he activates the torch - raising it above his head with his left hand to provide a beacon of light, and it doesn't hurt that the light reflects rather nicely off his armour and all those little helpful charms and deity icons, too. See, Gods above? Malhari doesn't forget you, so don't forget him. He even lifts up an icon of Tarien, pressing it to his lips after the rather harrowing last message from Jacob - and then he also lifts up the icon of Daeus, and gives that a kiss too. Luck and protection.

... You can't be too careful, can you?

Sora cocks her head to the side, "I think I remember a song, something about this, sung to children to try and help them go to sleep. He comes to get those that can't sleep, comes in the night." she blinks a little, lots of little songs like that out there, never expect something real, unless someone is just using the tale to cover thier tracks."

"How is dat sub-osed to helb someone sleeb?" Kisa says, still holding her nose as she shakes her head. There's a furrow to her brows to add to that, "Hey, you be'er sleeb or someone will take you!" A roll of her eyes and she lets out a sigh to accent it, "Silly." She offers a hand out toward Aznara to take the map if she'll let her. A bit of a smile pulling along her lips.

"I'll try. I've read more than a few."

"We may have luck in ssome of the housess, perhapss. Pretending not to ssleep." Chay suggests. He examines the piece of paper with the X printed on it. Frowns, turns it this way, then that. "And he losst hiss ssight, here. Worth checking out." His tail moves flick-flick from beneath the edge of his coat.

"I believe he said that they were following, and he lost sight of their quarry at that location", Aznara says to Chay.


It takes no more than half an hour to walk into the wooded region that had been so clearly indicated by the remaining farmfolk; the sun is still lingering in the sky, but the haze has turned from soft orange to deep vermillion, as though the heavens bled in the wake of the legends that lurk within the gnarled copse. The canopy has begun to grow more sparse, leaving more space for the light to filter through into what would have been shadows nigh impenetrable earlier on in the year.

It does, however, cast harrowing red-silhouette spectres whenever the wind blows.

The shadows dutifully bend to the everburning torch, keeping well away from wherever the Veyshanti man walks. There's the rattling skitter of dried leaves across the ground, like the thicket snickered at the plight of those that dared brave their way within -- likely just nerves, fueled by superstition, ignited by the shame-soaked warnings of the farmers left behind.

The map is easy to read, even if the woods themselves are slightly more difficult to navigate than one may have thought -- it's no wonder the old man lost sight on them from this final vantage. Even still, the group is able to make their way to the last known location of those that were reportedly taken. And there, the wind deadens, and the leaves go to sleep.

It's sudden and silent, the slender blades that sink through armour and into flesh seemingly from nowhere; and now, in the light, two slender figures in ratty, reeking black rags set about the first prey to meet their hungry... gaze? A pale nose is all that can be seen betwixt the wrappings, suggesting that perhaps the light was not what drew them.

Despite the negligible damage done by their weapons, Malhari first will begin to feel the unwellness work its way into feeble meat. Kisaiya is clearly made of sturdier stuff, but it certainly doesn't go without a flash of notice, a weakening at the knees, a faltering in a step before it is worked clean.

Beyond their sight, a third flees further into the deep places.

"What the hell are these things?!" Kisaiya shakes her head, trying to clear whatever that feeling was. That poison that she luckily shook off, she was (thankfully) holding her scythe at the time too. As the creature steps away from her and moves on Malhari, she gave it a swipe with that scythe and followed it up by moving after it. She slides quickly, her scythe arcing, she sweeps it up -- using her hip to help push the haft -- and it arcs right on through... whatever it is, cutting it down.

Chay backs the hell up, feet moving fast from one behind the next. He drops his bow to hand, and draws back. The Hunter guides him truly, a howl to the wind. It lands, twinging in the creature's fetid flesh, a flash of feather against rot.

Breathing harshly, he lowers it. He grips the bow fiercely. Looks around. Wha--?

Aznara pulls her whip from its hanger on her right hip as the action starts. Seeing that Kisaiya's dealing with one, she turns to see Chay putting an arrow into another. Unfurling her whip with a flicking motion of her arm, she then, with twirl of her arm over her head, sends the length of it past the archer... and with a *CRACK*, the thing's neck is torn open by the whip's working end, sending it sprawling to the ground holding its neck as its lifeblood spills.


There is a shrill, piercing cry that echoes out from the first of the creatures to be brought down; it is answered in the distance, not by one, but several 'voices' that chitter and whine, creeping up the spine like a bitter breeze, or spiders through your veins, and abruptly ceases. As the second creature falls, muscles twitching, fingers twisting in the dirt and wetted leaves, still the silence persists. It's as though the darkness of this place had swallowed their dying cry.

Suddenly, the corpses explode into light, hot and bright, and then are gone.

A thick, hissing fog rolls from the very brink of the forest's inner edge, denying what light remained of the evening sun; even the bloodshed spectres have disappeared now, and the dance has ended. What is left when all of this has gone is ... a feeling. Like being watched, or being truly -seen- by the nothing that surrounds them.

Whatever was calling back to those pitiful things... it's in the fog.

Being stabbed? Not great. Being stabbed with poisoned daggers? Double-not-good. Whats that, Malhari? Poisoned and still suffering from its effects? Feeling the immense weakness flowing through your muscles? Pish posh. That's just the burn of adrenaline, the rush to fight in comb-- And then they explode into bright white, and a pile of filthy something is left in tis wake. Oh, great.

Blinking the spots from his eyes, and giving an appropriate bow of his head in thank you towards Aznara - or the blur that looks like that one the most - he then promptly goes on after the fleeing little monstrosity, stepping into the fog - rapier raised in a combat posture. He doesn't charge on too far ahead, oh no, he's angry and brave, not angry and stupid and brave, so he lingers near the entrance to the fog, or what he thinks it is.

Sora watches as the creatures and other fight. She was already pulling her belt off the artifical arm grasping one end tightly and then the belt shifts and changes forming into a greatsword, which the smallish young woman holds comfortably. She was getting ready to charge but then the creatures go down and the fog rises. She for the moment just watches that fog, waiting for something to jump them. Running into the fog is never a good idea.

"Stay together, everyone!" Dubtle yells it at as he goes chasing into the mist after Malhari. He's not about to hang there. "Hey! Shark Bait! Come back!"

When he finally catches up with Malhari, he's grabbing at him. His wounds will heal, his pain eased, "You shouldn't do thatr!"

"...where did they go?" Chay moves in a slow arc, his vision trained on the shadows ahead, the bow at the ready. "WHERE ARE YOU?" he calls out. Marco! Marco!


When there's no immediate response, no immediate call, he lets go a low, warning howl. A hound's song. The Hunter's eye is called to the field. Weapons sharpen, eyes become keen.

Aznara holds up her free hand and, with a fingertip, 'sketches' a dimly-glowing rune in the air in front of her self. She then 'stabs' the four fingers of that hand into the rune, 'shattering' it apart... but some of the rune's glow seems to adhere to each of her fingertips. She then sweeps that hand up into the air, as if tossing something high... and the four motes of light separate from her fingertips, splitting apart as they grow into four balls of bluish light, each as bright as a torch, and arch out and to four equi-distant points around the party... and simply vanish into the fog. Aznara's eyes widen as the effect for which she'd hoped doesn't actually happen...

What has two thumbs and isn't having a good day?! .. Nopt Malhari! He's having an awesome day. At least in his opinion it is, I mean, sure, he might have been stabbed, and that venom is surely burning its way through hiss veins at an awfully fast pace - but Dubtle is here, and he just got healed, and he's feeling much better.. And look, there's someone else charging in to fight the evil. Straightening up firmly, he checks himself with a palm, hissing in pain as he prods at the seeping wound where the poisonous blade caught him with a bare nick. It's then that he raises his rapier, giving it a deft flick if only to make sure that he's still capable of being in the fight.

"I wouldn't be running ahead if we were all keeping up together! We can't just abandon the quest inwards - that'd be leaving those farmers and farm-hands to a terrible fate!" It's then that he calls back. "We're in here!" He shouts, if only so they know that at least Malhari's alive.


There are shapes in the fog. "GET OVER HERE," yells Dubtle.

Then he opens his mouth. He's /screaming/. Only, he would be if anyone could hear it but the creature that just flung itself at Malhari. He's trying to do something.

"BE USEFUL, DUBTLE," squawks the raven on his shoulder, its wings flapping.

"I'm TRYING," answers Dubtle thereafter.

Kisaiya charged off after the other two, she didn't want to leave party members completely alone and especially one that was looking a little worse for wear. A heavy sigh, as she then watched more of them come out of the trees, a wince as she glances back toward where she left the rest of the party. "Damn it!" She hisses under her breath.

One of the creatures then careens out of the fog and she lets out a shriek of surprise as it takes swings at her. A dodge to one side, and her eyes wide before she steps back and pushes with her hip to slice at the one in front of her once more. "By the Gods, seriously! What /are/ these things?"

Aznara sees Chay go down... and that she's the only one of the party left who hasn't moved out of her sight into the fog. With -three- of these things in her area, she hasn't a choice but to back off even as Chay's hitting the ground. Ducking low, then leaping up and back into a flipping cartwheel sort of motion, she acrobatically maneuvers away from where Chay fell... and when she reaches where she wants to be, sends the end of her whip back out to *CRACK* right in the face of the one that's nearest her -- 15' away from her, now, after her maneuvering to keep distance.

Perhaps charging into the fog wasn't the greatest of ideas, but, to be honest, it wasn't the worst idea in the world either. The enemy is here, now! And sure, while he might have been stabbed a bit, and suffering a bit, and probably bleeding and poisoned and now feeling quite awfully unwell, Malhari's still standing. Faced with two targets, he turns his body just slightly towards the one facing off against Kisaiya, and scores a good flanking hit, stabbing into the side but sadly missing anything vital. As he withdraws, he barely manages a decent parry against the attack made against him, but this leaves him open for the second blade, and his riposte goes wide.


It is a flurry of steel in the mist; wailing and screeching, babbling in the dark -- the fog swallows all light, all hope, the visions of friends and comrades, and the only ways out of here. From the depths comes the pleas of an all-too-human voice:

"Help! Help! I'm in here! I have others!"


The strange creatures do their best to drown out the calls of the man in the deeper dark. A cacophony of the damned joins in some demented chorus to their cause.

They are whipped into a frenzy and explode in a variety of attacks that leave one down and others severely wounded, the hissing mist growing red with the viscous damp that's been spilled.

"Stay close a moment. Brace yourself. You're about to get... large."

The raven pecks at Dubtle's beard. "About time you did something useful," it complains.

"I helped already! You shut up!"

Still, Dubtle begisn the magical incantation, looking somewhat pained even as it continmues.

Kisaiya steps to one side as the thing attacks, still moving and shifting right along with that scythe's haft turning one way and the other. The but end of it whipping about to keep it back and hopefully keep it off balance as there's a duck under the next attack from the creature. She swept the bladed end low, bringing it up for the metal to slice into Tili Tili Bom.

Aznara cracks her whip at the one she'd earlier so touched... and it dies in a flash of light. She instinctively shields her eyes with her free hand, then turns in place to try to find a new target.

And then Kisa... grows!

MORE KISA! Somewhere, Serra is THRILLED.

In any case, Dubtle stumbles forward after Malhari. "Shark bait! Hold up!" And then he's channeling that healing from Navos again directly into the wounded friend. Chay, he'll get to as soon as he can. Hopefully, he can hold. "Please hold on," he says to the fallen adventurer over his shoulder. Desperately.


When the first of the larger shadow men runs into the fog, there is a hesitation in the others that mirror it in appearance. When it begins to scream, they all begin to flee into the mists just like the first -- all but for the smaller, white-nosed figures that linger behind to so viciously assailing those within the fog. It is their poisons that are to be feared, as their blades, sharp as they are, seem to do barely anything at all to the stout and thick-skinned adventurers.

"Who... who's out there?! Jacob?! Jacob, you old fool, you shouldn't have c--" A young man, just barely beyond his teenaged years, comes meandering into the visible circle within the fog, only to see the final Tiliman staring toward him, issuing forth a seething hiss. It jams its knife into Dubtle's shoulder before trying to sidestep to charge toward the sandy-haired fellow with the confused and horrified expression. Even as the thing is charging toward him, several children emerge from the mists and their stifled, sniffling sobs can be heard.

With a gasp, the young man turns and gathers the nearest children to him, leaving his back open, but the heroes between them.



In addendum: as the strikes of the heroes fail to bring the creature down, it flies toward the fellow in a blind fury -- but, the mist and the distance between them causes him to fail, and the thrusted knife goes wide as it misjudges the reach required. As a result, it merely falls flailing onto the sandy-haired man's back, wafting its reek toward the frightened children whom now begin their frantic, ear-piercing screaming. From behind, it looks as though the ragged wraith of a thing dry-humps the gentleman.


Get it off, ey? Ey? Looks like he's tryin', thank th'missus.

Kisaiya takes a swing at the creature as it flees, but it's a bit of a shock because suddenly... VERDAMN IT! The swing wiffs over the creatures head as she increases in size. The whole thing threw her off and she looks over at Dubtle and feels a disturbance. Somewhere, somehow, Serra must have felt that. She just knows it.

"Thank Gods she's not here." A growled response before she starts charging after the thing. That, whatever it is, she still has no idea what to call these things. "Hey! Get off him!" She cries out as the enlarged (and in charged?) Kisa takes a vicious sweeping stroke with that large scythe, the blade of it whipping out and cutting into it. The movement a lot more forceful than she meant, carrying her around with it so that the flash of light illuminates her back.


The children thankfully had their eyes squeezed shut when the explosion of light occurs, and though the sandy-haired man yelps at the sudden and unexpected feeling of a man bursting into heatless flames against his body, they all seem remarkably unharmed. They're dirty, they're skinny, they're streaked with tears and blood that doesn't seem to be theirs, but it looks like the heroes have saved the day. With the final remaining Tiliman dead, and the others lost to the mists yet still screaming, the mystery persists.

The day is saved, but is the battle won?

Are the villagers safe? Will they attack again?

To know the answers to that, our heroes would have to find a way to make the locals talk, or find someone in the city that might know more of these 'Tilimen' and the shadowy lords they serve.

Still, upon their return to the farm, Jacob is overjoyed to see those that survived make it back. The explaination of what happened to the others is short and brutal -- these are all that survived, so far as the young man can tell. They heard the tortured screams of their brothers and sisters for several nights, each time more distant than the last, and then they were left in silence once more. But, the children... they didn't touch the children.

That's all he'll say. The shock is beginning to set in, the hunger, the exhaustion, it's all too much. The old man insists they stay for dinner, what paltry rations he can scrape together.

It'll have to do.

With those returning to the city he sends a note for the Adventurer's Guild requesting reinforcements, knowing that they will need all that they can get in the nights to come.

~ Fin