|The Journey Begins!|
|Season 1, Episode 1|
|Date of Events|
|Jul 30, 2016|
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It is early in the Season of Fire. The sounds of birds rise over a vast jungle and the glittering river winding through it. Slow, soft waves lap against the docks and stitled houses of the fishing village. The temple, the only stone building, bears the scars of many floods, but the waters are quiescent. The boats lie empty. The streets, undisturbed. All is still, placid, quiet...
The Magistrates are on their way.
Down the road to the fishing village come Zephyra Awen, Baern Hillstern and Velimir Cetrovic, agents of the Court of Swords, charged with investigating the disappearance of a fellow Magistrate. The missing official had been dispatched to the nameless village to rectify their careless tax situation, but months have passed and no word has come from either the man or the village.
A mile out from the village, the bickering group see a dark mass on the edge of the jungle, surrounded by an industrious flock of carrion birds. Distracted by an incessantly chattering Velimir, Zephyra is unable to discern what the mass is; they must get closer. Velimir approaches, causing the birds to scatter - before them is a terrible omen, the long-rotting corpse of an elephant, creatures sacred to the people of the Riverlands.
The Magistrates leave the road, approaching the Fishing Village through the cover of the jungle. Something is clearly amiss - where there should be busy fisherfolk and playing children, there is nothing, just the sounds of the jungle. There are no signs of calamity. It seems every living thing has simply disappeared.
Zephyra's air-genasi heritage allows her to levitate. From her vantage point she surveys the seemingly abandoned village. At the docks she sees boats overturned, while smoke pours from the village temple. A dirty white sheet has been staked down over the middle of the market square at the centre of the village. Most troublingly, the river by the village has taken on a murky grey hue with froth building upon the banks.
Plans to approach the village by water are abandoned. Instead, the Magistrates approach on foot, with the goal of reaching the white tent at the centre of the village. Crossing a bridge into the village they hear a disturbance in a nearby hut. Zephyra and Baern peek inside while Velimir skirts the building, looking for a back entrance. The hut has been ransacked. Crouched in the rear of the building, a villager is eating something. Another stands nearby.
The crouching villager spots Velimir. When he stands he leaves his arm behind. The second villager turns, revealing it has great lumps gouged from its chest and a missing jaw. The villagers have been turned into zombies. Combat ensues. Baern and Zephyra trade blows with the dead villagers while Velimir lobs fire into the hut. The zombies are resilient, shrugging off what would otherwise be mortal blows. Baern's Guiding Bolt disentegrates one of the zombies, while an acrobatic leap from Zephyra decapitates the other. Both Baern and Zephyra are wounded in the fight, and the party decides to barricade the hut and rest within. Velimir burns the bodies of the villagers outside.
An hour passes. Towards the end of their rest Zephyra hears a noise outside the hut. A pair of scavanging jungle wolves are fighting over a bloody piece of meat. Going downstairs, Zephyra investigates the kitchen, finding the same grey, frothy liquid in the water jug as in the polluted river. The Magistrates suspect that this is the cause of the villager's corruption, though the exact relationship is unclear. They explore other buildings in the village. Any water they find, either lying stagnant or stored, is the same dirty, filmy liquid. The river itself is unmoving, the banks clogged with debris. A heavy smell of chlorine wafts onto shore. There are no signs of life and no corpses on the water's edge.
The Magistrates approach an ancient stone bridge. There is movement on the far side - human forms, but unlike the dead they have fought before, these figures are completely dessicated, their skin tight and dry, their bodies so thin their spine and ribs are visible. They carry short bows used exclusively by the army of the Court of Swords. These arms are well-maintained, in sharp contrast to the decrepit things that wield them. The dead are on guard against intruders.
Zephyra charges across the bridge. At that moment two disembodied hands scramble out of the bushes near the Magistrates. Baern dispatches one with a Sacred Flame then moves to intercept the remaining hand. It leaps at him, closing around his throat. Velimir moves to follow Zephyra across the bridge towards the undead archers. The skeletons begin firing with military precision, falling back as they loose arrows. Zephyra tells the other Magistrate to retreat for cover, chopping the disembodied hand away from Baern as she ducks behind the structure of the bridge. Velimir is injured in a hail of arrows as Zephyra attempts to stealthily close with the archers. Although she is in cover, she too is struck. Velimir, hiding between the buildings away from the bridge, advocates leaving the combat altogether. Baern and Zaphyra cross the bridge. In the houses beyond they find more mutilated corpses but lose sight of both the archers and Velimir, who is slowly, cautiously following them across the bridge. He is in time to see a skeleton emerge and down Baern with an arrow. Zephyra stabilises the dying dwarf, while Velimir, caught on the bridge and with skeletons advancing, must make a decision...
Velimir joins Baern and Zephyra. Eyes flickering, stinking of brimstone, the fire-genasi tells his fellow Magistrates that they must flee. At that moment a skeleton advances on Zephyra and one swing of a sword is enough to put her down.
An hour later Zephyra comes to. Her is skin is hot, sweaty. She is lying on something bumpy, uneven. The first thing she sees is a strange white brilliance above - turning her head she realises she is lying on top of a huge pile of bodies, draped in white cloth. She is caked in congealed blood, but hardened by war she is undeterred. She begins to dig through the bodies to escape - grabbing a handful of hair, she frees a face. it is Baern, barely alive. Bodies have covered him and he struggles to breathe. Zephyra breathes air into his lungs. Together they crawl to the edge of the pile of corpses, never once encountering a whole body - all have necrotised and fallen apart. Looking out from the edge of the tent realise they have been dragged to the market square at the centre of the village. On the sides of the temple nearby they see bloody, blasphemous graffiti, while the golden statues of the Sun, Moon and World that should stand atop it are missing. Zephyra and Baern venture into the village as stealthily as they can.
They are spotted by Velimir, who sees them stumbling in broad daylight. He had stayed hidden, moving from building to building as skeletons patroled the village for intruders. From his hiding place Velimir conjures a tiny blue flame to attract the attention of his fellow Magistrates. They recognise it as belonging to the fire-genasi and the party meet again in the shadow of one of the stilted houses. Velimir tells the others with he has seen while alone - there are two groups of undead, the feral zombie-like dead, and the emaciated dead who seem to be controlled by a higher power. Velimir witnessed one of the feral dead trying to get into a building; a patrol of armed skeletons came, shot the zombie and dragged it away.
They begin to plan their escape from the village, debating whether to rest beforehand or making straight for the jungle. They decide on the latter. Before they can move however, Baern hears a voice coming from the hut above. It is a child, age and gender uncertain. It beckons them to climb the ladder and come into the hut. Velimir clambers up first. Inside, he sees the child, filthy, encrusted with blood. There is another child next to them. They have a crossbow, and it is pointed right at Velimir's head.
gained 33xp each
gained 7xp each from the two disembodied hands.
Before heading out on this mission the Magistrates have a Tarot Reading
Zephyra receives inspiration for choosing to remain in combat - the honourable decision, according to Adam.
Geoff 'Incontrol' Robinson will join the cast with episode 3
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