Jezebel and I took first watch and stayed downstairs in the haunted cabin.
(Spooks had a dream about being a young woman, writing in a mysterious language who drew runes on the floor, and then casts an incredible spell. This spell freezes the world around her, sending her quickly through time. Spooks (embodying the young woman) looks up the mountain. Three figures come down from the mountain and into the cabin. The principle figure is Mara, the god of death, and the other two humanoids (horned/tailed creatures) a male and female, the male is the fiend that Spooks serves. Mara spoke to Spooks “I’m here to collect someone, but not you…” The demon that Spooks serves then approaches and hands her a book.. and he speaks: “You tried to reject me, but you cannot”)
Spooks awoke me with a sudden jerk, it was apparent their demonic powers were growing. I asked what was the concern, and they proceeded to explain the dream, or perhaps vision. I tried to follow what they were saying, but then they came to the part explaining their demonic council
“He looked human-ish, and then *transformed into demon* well he looked like this!”
I tried to maintain my sanity looking at the twisted form Spooks seemingly casually changed into. This creature escapes the knowledge passed down to me from my monastic order and appeared nowhere in the texts I brought with me. I drew a quick sketch and said a quick prayer to absolve me of preserving this demon’s form in writing.
Later, we convened together downstairs to continue our investigation. I pulled out the Mara’s gem to investigate and cast Detect Magic to divine a clue…
I was blown backward, every inch of this cabin is bristling with magic, it was as if the world around me was thrown from the material plane! I screamed and fled the cabin. As I gained some distance, the auras bending time and space around me dissolved into the aether. I turned around to find Spooks. They reassured me and beckoned my back inside.
The first hotspot appeared under the table, another up the stairs, and yet another on the door. I can barely see the other objects in the material plane as I struggled to maintain my composure. My companions, unaware of the barrage to my senses, proceeded into a classic quibble about the particulars of what to do next.
Unable to properly communicate myself, I promptly flipped over the dining room table and felt around for engravings. Jeph was able to identify the markings as a food and water spell, indicating someone has been here for a long time. Next, I scuffled over to the door, fiendishly feeling around for another set of runes. Ava identified them as protection spells, far more powerful than anything we’ve encountered so far. Finally, I made my way up the stairs and into the bedroom accompanied by Spooks and Ava. The bed itself was glowing, bristling with magical auras. We dispatched the mattress, and beneath it lay another rune carving unlike any we’d seen before. Spooks and Ava identified it as a time stopping spell. This must have been related to the strange dream Spooks had the night before!
After discussing our options, I requested that Ava and I perform a prayer over the runes with the two gems of Mara. During our prayer, Spooks set about destroying the rune, undoing its magical properties without our knowledge. As they did this, there was a flash, a woman’s body appeared and rapidly decayed infant of our eyes. Burned remains of books appears over the runes, and several new texts appeared on the bookshelf. All sorts of smaller changes appeared all of the house. As this happened, and as the woman died before us, I was overwhelmed with the sense of gratification from Mara as we had inadvertently served her will and brought about an irreversible change to the state of the world. This would not be the last time we served the god of death, not by a long shot.
Ava and I collected the books, some written in celestial, and we made our way downstairs. We discussed the events that took place prior to this and agreed to remove the table’s food spell rune, and carry it with us on Horsey, perhaps to sell it at Ester’s Rest should we ever return.
I handed the book remains from the runes to Jeph as a show of good faith. Jeph gave me a look that I had just offended him with my paltry offerings. I thought wizards made use of such arcane objects. Curious. Ah well.
Before we set about leaving, Filber requested we help him retrieve a snakes tongue with a plan only he would come up with. He turned into a snake (1HP) and requested someone cut his tongue off. Before anyone had a chance to react, Jezebel brandished her blade and delivered a blow so powerful and with such deadly force she the head clean off. Unbeknown to her and perhaps Filber himself, any excessive force used to destroy his animal forms are transferred beyond the animal form and directly to his dwarf form, causing massive damage to Filber. I rushed to his side and cast a healing spell to stop him from succumbing to his wounds.
After we left, we came upon the cliff’s edge and set up a lean-to for Horsey, and operated a few apples for him to eat before we head down. As we did, we came upon a troop of bandits guarding the entrance. I noted a statue of Mara in the distance with some kind of tunnel behind it.
Steph offered to sneak past the bandits to see if there was another way in, or if there was any additional danger beyond what we had seem. He masterfully snuck past the entrance guards, and as we discussed what to do next,\\ Spooks transformed into one of the bandits we killed previously and tried to initiate conversation. After some awkward hand gestures and confused expressions, Spook’s hands formed the beginnings of one of their terrible spells and combat ensued. Clearly their unknown identity wasn’t fooling anyone.
Initiative Roll - 9 (last)
Spooks cast some sort of magic that caused several copies of themselves to appear. The bandits fell upon them and destroyed two of them with a flurry of strikes, but as best we can tell the real Spooks remained alive.
Steph came out from the shadows, seemingly attempting to abandon Spooks upon the field of battle and enter the caves alone himself but was readily noticed by the patrols standing right infant of the cave entrance. I’m still not sure what exactly he was planning to do there. He shot one of them clear in the chest and masterfully dodged a counterattack.
Filber charged in and cast a classic thunder wave that removed half of them from this world in an instant and left the remaining minions of evil wounded. Jezebel took the initiative next and cleaved one of the bandits heads clean off
Ava and myself found no luck in our assaults, Ava missing with her Javalin and I missed with my Sacred flame.
The bandits were quick to retaliate and the dual wielding bandit made successive blows upon Steph, who appears to have weathered the blows without mortal peril.
Another cultist emerged from the cave and attempted to heal their cultist comrade, but he and his cultist’s counter attack both missed their mark. Filber approached from behind and let loose another thunder wave and killed the cultist.
Jeph let loose some new spell which struck out at the remaining bandits, killing the healer.
Jezebel fell upon the remaining bandit and manage to connect with one of her prolific marital art strikes. In a flight of panic I ran up upon him and struck him with my mace, but it was of no use. After a few more blows from ourselves and our foe, the battle was over.
The Cave Entrance
We stood amongst the corpses, and Ava and I made our way over to the statue of Mara nearby. I pointed out that this statue has some kind of passageway behind it, but it’s not quite clear to where. Jeph and Spooks came by and suggested our Mara gems might fit into this statue’s eyes. Ava and Spooks placed the first eye into its socket. A writing cold searched forward from the statue and sent them flying. Convinced this was a vengeful act of the gods for their hubris, I took my incense out and prepared a small prayer ceremony to commune with Mara. Unfortunately, the god proved hard to read, and I learned little else aside from her self centered and unfamiliar nature.
Filber turned himself into a large and repugnant spider and skittered off into the tunnels. I yelled after the horrid thing but he was off and determined. We ran after it, but before we could round the next corner, he doubled back and began waving his horrible legs at us, to warning. Spooks, through their demonic means, managed to communicate with Filber, even in his current, gross form. He warned us of a room full of guards ahead. Some asleep, and others awake. I searched around for tunnels we could use to bypass this obstacle. As we quibbled and niggled about the most optimal means to deal with this situation (some more bloodthirsty than others) Filber became annoyed with our planning and multi-syllabled vocabulary and latched his grotesque limbs to the ceiling and skittered into the room. This was predictably followed with a shriek “SPIDER!!!”
Steph, Jezebel, Ava, and Jeph burst through the tunnel entrance ahead of me. All manner of light and painful yells followed. It was clear Filber was telling the truth. I kicked through the secret entrance. We were completely surrounded, and Jezebel’s sword was still stuck in the shoulder. In a panic I cast Bless on her, Ava, and the horrible spider.
The humans in the room made their way to the writing horror of legs that Filber turned himself into and hacked and slashed him back into his normal form. Before they could become too satisfied with themselves, Jezebel assaulted them with a unbelievable flurry of slashes and strikes, ending his time on this world.
After a series of unsuccessful attacks on our part, the dwarves began their reprisal. One dwarf enlarged himself to become twice the size of their human companions. The rouge among them used their double daggers to stab Spooks, and they went down, crumpling in the corner.
Ava ran to Spook’s side, raising her back to the plain of the living. I took out my mace and drove it into the enlarged dwarf’s shoulder. He tried to reply in kind but I dodged his clumsy strikes one after the other, remembering my monastic training in the field with Jezebel as I do. Her masterful strikes and deadly speed were tenfold the capacity of this brute. I made a note to continue another round of training with her after this was said and done.
An arrow came over my shoulder and ended his life. Leaping over the corpse, Jezebel continued her assault and laid down the other enlarged dwarf with series of strikes too fast to observe with the mortal eye.
Jeph, using his earthbound hand, grabbed and crushed the invisible rouge, and I spotted the final invisible holdout.
I sat behind the invisible foe, and beseech him to end this attempt at resistance, but before my reply could be answered, Spooks let loose a chaotic blast, revealing the now enormous dwarf. He charged, but after a failed attempt to end Spook's life, he was dispatched, and the room fell silent.
Beaten, we decided to retreat into the secret passage for a night's rest, but not before attempting to disguise the room as best we could to hide our tracks.