[This is a dramatization of the ongoing Descent 2ed: Journeys in the Dark campaign being run with some friends.]
The band of heroes had recently upset the plans of the Overlord – getting to the village outside Castle Daerion in time to save the innocent villages. The party was lead by the pious cleric Avric Albright, who was armoured and commanded the ability to heal the rest of his party. The wizard Leoric of the Book had mastery of the arcane arts. The halfing rogue Tomble Burrowell was small, nimble and carried with him a short-bow. And finally the Elven knight Syndreal who had taken the loss of the beloved village baker, Bob the Baker, very hard. She had spent the rest of the night drowning her sorrows in mead.
The group had been following Tomble, who had tracked the path of the monsters who had attacked the village back to where they had come. “We have tracked the vile Overlord and his minions down to this castle.” Tomble Burrowell said. He paused and pointed up. The trail he had been tracking made it’s way to the ominous black walls of Castle Daerion.
“It is a shame we could not save all of the villagers… Bob the Baker… ” Avric Albright said – the pious man troubled that the party could not save all of the villagers.
“Yes…” added Syndrael strangely distraught about loss of the village baker, “He made good bread.”. The Elven knight was still recovering from the sorrowful drinking the night before.
The group paused to look at the knight, and then continued.
“Wait, before we strive forward – I’ve heard that Sir Palamon from the local town had run on ahead. We should gather the town’s militia before we storm the castle.” Avric bravely noted.
“Good idea, Avric!” answered Leoric, looking up at the ominous castle.
“Don’t call me Avric. I told you – I want my name to be Leroygal Pulpweed, the fourth of Biblogan.”
The group paused to stare at the cleric.
With an exaggerated sigh, the cleric capitulated, “FINE! Avric then. It’s a stupid name.”
The gathering militia shuffled nervously in their makeshift leather armour. Torches burnt yellow against the gloom of the night. From inside the dark keep, snarls and muffled roars could be heard.
“Sir Palamon has run ahead. He never could get over the loss of Bob.” Winfred, one of the leaders of the militia noted.
“Yes – it is time.” Avric looked over the small group of heroes and footmen, before bellowing out, “CHARGE!”
There was no moat protecting the black stone walls of Castle Daerion, and the old rotting doors barely could hold themselves up against their own weight. Avric and Syndreal could easily pull open the heavy wood doors. From inside came the smell of wet fur and growls filled the darkness. Torches flared showing the pack of large wolf-like creatures with rotting gaunt bodies.
“Barghests!” Avric noted. The pack of animals blocked the entry hallway.
“Syndrael – Avric – take the right side. Winfred – take your men to the left.” Leoric directed as he held back with the rogue. Tomble had already drawn his bow and was shooting into the lead barghest.
The Elven knight strode forward, however she had not fully recovered from the night’s drinking before, and her attacks failed to connect. Avric was slightly more successful, however even he could not kill a beast with the initial attacks.
“Do I have to do everything myself?” Leoric shouted, charging in. The wizard raised his hands to throw fireballs to turn the lead barghest’s growls into yelps of pain. The charge of the militia was the final straw, and the first four-legged beast fell to the wooden pike held by Winfred.
With a cheer, another of the militia stabbed its pike into the flanking beast, wounding it.
From deeper in the keep, the rally horn of Sir Palamon sounded out. “The call to arms! We must hurry!” shouted Winfred.
Syndrael’s staggering knocked his attack off balance, Avric was there to attack back. The beasts howled wounded with their numbers reduced. The air filled with an evil presence, and responding to the unspoken orders of the Overlord, the remaining Barghests then turned, running through the shattered remains of a doorway retreating deeper into the castle.
Behind the beasts in the dark corner of the entry hall was a chest. The group noted it, but the calls from the courtyard continued. Avric took a look at the chest, and then glanced to the side. Tomble was also eyeing the chest. “Go ahead,” Avric commented to Tomble, “catch up with us later.”
As the rest of the group strode into the hall, Tomble crouched – his little halfling fingers tapping together – eager to see what treasures awaited inside the chest.
Sir Palamon stood at the side of the trashed inner gathering hall. Several of the columns had collapsed, forming blockades. But to the party’s horror, the most surprising thing was the slain villager, Bob – his flesh torn and hanging from his now zombified body, was standing next to the knight. Bob snarled and reached his claw-like fingers to scrape ineffectual against Sir Palamon’s armour.
At the same time as the heroes entered, another door to the right side door burst open, revealing a pair of ettins. The creatures were ten feet tall, two-headed and carrying torn tree-trunks for clubs. The pair of heads looked at the heroes, and then Sir Palamon and roared. The remaining barghests took up defensive positions between the rescue party and Sir Palamon.
“Quickly – protect the Sir Palamon!!” Avric shouted at the militia as he charged headlong into the barghests, taking on the largest alpha creature. Syndrael charged with him, cutting a wide curve to try to flank the incoming ettins.
From behind Leoric sent arcane bolts crackling into the group. Flesh sizzled, but it wasn’t until the pikes of the militia closed in that the barghests fell.
Sir Palamon had made his way to the far side of the hall, pursued by the zombified Bob the Baker. As the last barghest fell, Sir Palamon let his guard down and Bob’s claws found a hole in his armour and connected. “Tis but a scratch – battle on!” Sir Palamon said. The militia, no longer busy with the barghest, formed a protective circle around the knight leaving the heroes free to battle the minions of the Overlord.
The first ettin roared, ignoring Avric’s attack and grabbing his body, tossed the cleric over its shoulder to the dark hallway behind. Syndrael came in from the flank and stabbed into the ettin, drawing its attention away from the tossed cleric to the Elven hero. Avric was not free – for behind the ettin in the hallway was an even taller two headed giant – the ettin chief. Avric raised his shield in time to defend against an attack – now separated him from the rest of the adventuring party.
“Avric!!!” Leoric called out as the cleric left his sight.
Tomble heard a click and instantly knew there was something wrong. From a hidden compartment a dart shot out of the chest, catching the little halfling in the chest. Knocked down, Tomble instantly felt nauseous and drained.
“Poison!” he exclaimed, and somewhere the deep laugh of the Overlord could be heard echoing throughout the castle.
Pulling himself to his feet, he returned to the chest. “Well – this had better’n been worth it!” he exclaimed, pushing the large lid of the chest open.
The chest was empty. The echoing laughter increased.
“Well that just figures.” Tomble bitterly sighed.
Holding his side, he pressed forward to rejoin his companions.
Alone in the hallway, Avric gripped his mace. The second ettin facing him roared, but then stepped back. The sound of metal filled the hallway.
The empty suit of armour, resplendent with red velvet trim and a tattered flowing black cape strode into view. A large oversized sword in its hand, and glowing red eyes deep inside the empty steel helmet. This was the evil fallen knight – Sir Alric Farrow. The fallen knight was now one of the lieutenants of the Overlord.
Avric braced himself as Sir Alric charged, the vile black sword cutting deep. Avric swung back in retaliation, but his mace clanged off the side of the hollow armour. The large suit changed its tactics. Feigning an attack, the large metal gauntlet grabbed Avric, and twisting its body, turned, trading places and shoved the cleric even further deeper down the hallway – towards the waiting ettin chieftain.
Avric swung around in time to see the large club of the ettin chieftain bearing down on him. Blow after blow landed, and it seemed that somehow the ettin was getting luckier in its strikes. A deep resounding echo of laughter filled the corridors as the Overlord used its vile ability to allow his creatures to strike true.
Nearly unconscious and battered, Avric was helpless to resist as the ettin grabbed his body, and threw him down to the far end of the corridor. Avric Albright, cleric of the cloth, fell in a crumpled pile.
“I’ve been poisoned.” Tomble whined, finally rejoining the group in the main hall. The militia continued to protect Sir Palamon while the Leoric and Syndrael had moved on from the Barghests to the large two headed ettin which had created a bottleneck to prevent the team from getting to their lost colleague.
Out of the corner of his eye, Syndrael spied a chest in the far corner of the chamber. Seeing that Leoric was about to fell the wounded ettin, Syndrael took the opportunity to dash towards the chest.
The sound of ancient mechanisms proceeded the floor suddenly opening up. With a howl, Syndrael fell into a pit, landing hard on the ground below. The Overlord’s hand was clearly seen in this dastardly deed.
Above, Leoric called out. “We’re going to need more help here.”
The large red velvet trimmed armour, lieutenant of the Overlord, had entered the room. Rushing forward with a hollow echoing roar, it swung its black sword towards Leoric who ducked aside. Undaunted, the black knight turned, grabbing the wizard’s body with his free hand to toss him to the side – moving ever closer to Sir Palamon.
Tomble jumped forward, taking out his short-bow to launch several arrows towards the evil lieutenant of the Overlord. The arrows pierced through the empty armour – not hindering the progress of the dark knight.
Leoric raised his mighty book, reading incantations to send bright blue bolts towards the back of the dark knight. These magic bolts hit true, and the knight halted in its progress. Ignoring the jabs from the militia pikes, the evil Sir Alric lashed out towards the mage with his black sword.
With a cry, the mage crumpled to the dirty flagstones, defeated. Syndrael could barely cry out “Nooooo!” as the injured ettin then connected on Tomble, sending his little body flying several feet. Tomble body crumbled at the foot of the ettin, also defeated.
The fallen heroes spurred on a second breath in the militia, who charged forward. The evil Sir Alric met the charge head on; the black sword swinging and cutting through the militia.
With the ettin and the dark knight distracted by the militia, Syndrael shifted her focus to her fallen comrades. She pulled Leoric to his feet, looking over as the militia pulled down the wounded ettin. She then moved on to Tomble when she looked up to see Winfred, leader of the militia fall to his knees before the evil Sir Alric Farrow. With a hollow laugh, echoed by the Overlord, the brave Winfred couldn’t make a sound as he was run-through by the black sword.
Syntrael turned, the Elven hero lunging at the back of the black-knight and drove her sword true. The evil lieutenant was caught off guard by the attack from behind, and with an moan of escaping vapours, the empty armour of the evil knight clattered to the floor. Its evil had been dispelled. The heroes had paid a high cost; the cost counted in the bodies of the fallen militia. However, the minions of the Overlord had been defeated.
As the howling echoes of the Overlord’s influence left the castle, the heroes collected their fallen members and returned to the kingdom of Arhynn to determine their next course of action.