The Fallen Lands: The Ruins of Numinis

5.5

Dogs in the Courtyard

While they discussed what to do next, Malidar, Rhio, Rangrim, and Ginni all smelled a nasty scent of burning blood. The bodies of the dead prostitutes began to writhe and bubble with some arcane presence. One of the bodies burst open and large dog-like paws began reaching out.

The party gathered the remaining girls from Madame Smoothbottom’s and hustled them out of the building. Then they returned and Rhio, Malidar, and Rangrim slew the hounds as they were being born. Far in the distance, they heard a hellish howling on the wind. Ginni shuddered.

When that messy work was done, the party took the girls to a nearby hospital. The hospital was crowded with refugees, so Ginni tucked Rangrim’s cloak under her dress and faked that she was going into labor. They bypassed the refugees, slipping several gold into the hospitaller’s hands when they handed over the real patients— the six Smoothbottom girls. The party also left the girls with enough gold to get by for a week or so, and a contact among the less seedy of the underworld who might take care of them.

As they left the hospital and were working their way through the streets, the party heard howling hounds. Suddenly, a familiar (and very dead) tiefling, two hounds, and two soldiers arrived, tracking them down. Spotting the party, the tiefling nodded with satisfaction and the hounds howled, disorienting Malidar and Rangrim. The fight was on!

Need it be said that, after a very close fight, with Rangrim actually succumbing to his wounds for a brief moment, the party was victorious? Very well: they won the fight.

In the morning, they left town quickly and on horseback, taking the supplies Rangrim identified as necessary to surviving a mountain journey in winter. The plan is to head first to Hesperus to check on Mortimer, then onward to either the dwarven mountsins, or possibly a shortcut through the Shadowfell.

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Wincing as his mind was assailed by pain even as black veins of death crept up both his arms, at firt Rangrim stayed standing, stalwart and trying to hold against the pain. Then he faltered, doubling over as the crippling agony overwhelmed him. Thick, blackened blood trickled from his mouth and into his beard, staining it. Even as he tried to move forward, his knees buckled. He collapsed on the paving stones, still gripping his weapon, a snarl of rage and pain on his craggy face.

Ginni stood in the doorway of the inn, staring at her fallen companion. If I don’t save him, it’s as good as letting him die. Malidar was crowded in by the evil beast, unable to break off to tend to his friend. Rhio was rapidly flinging blades at the monster, each one landing hard in the shadowy form, but with Rangrim out, if Malidar went down, there was no doubt who would be next.

Finally moving out from the doorway for the first time since the monsters appeared, Ginni darted up to where Rangrim lay dying, uncorking a potion for him. She crouched beside him and bunched his cloak up. Pressing against the open wounds where he was bleeding the most, she waited for the bleeding to stop. As soon as she saw the bloodflow slow, she poured the potion into his open, gasping mouth.

He gulped it down quickly, though it was barely a balm against his wounds. Still, he gave her a nod even as he pulled himself to his feet, grabbed his axe in two hands—

and charged the swirling vortex of shadow and hatred that loomed before them.

Ginni stared after him, barely believing her eyes. He was going to get himself killed. Malidar, too, was in bad shape. Even Rhio’s armor was slick with his own blood, though he had a mad, joyful look in his eye. Through the whole fight, she’d stayed back, behind Rhio, taking cover behind the door and letting her companions bear not just the majority of the wounds, but all of them. She was unscathed. She could still escape and survive this fight, though the others would certainly be dead.

She looked back at Rangrim, slashing boldly at the undead creature. Her eyes narrowed.

Ginni stood up. “Blinky, stay there!” she ordered her familiar on the far side of the beast. Taking her staff in both hands, she closed her eyes and tried not to think about what death would feel like. For her, it would almost certainly be swift. And they were fighting undead. There were good odds that it would be temporary, too. In a sense.

Ginni the wizard, con artist, deceiver, and self-confessed coward… charged.

How many times had she watched Malidar drive at their foes with his wingspear? She thrust the staff forward almost like a spear, driving the brunt of it into the creature’s midsection. It was already half-unformed from the numerous wounds it had taken, swirling masses of shadowy tendrils lashing out with every strike.

The screams of the townsfolk seemed distant to Malidar, Rangrim, and Rhio, whose ears all still rang with the echoes and shouts of battle. Rhio and Rangrim were staring at Ginni like she’d grown a second head. Malidar had a curious half smile on his face.

The staff hit true. Ginni felt the reverberation of the strike through the staff and in her arms, rattling her. Black flames licked from the shadowy form as the monster completely dissipated, shadows flinging outward like a burst of hate. The dark flames raced along her staff, over her arms, covering her with dark fire.

Ginni screamed, raising an arm to shield her eyes. Then she went deathly silent, standing in the courtyard, immobilized.

When she didn’t move after a full minute, Malidar came up and touched her shoulder. She turned further away, then took a deep shuddering breath. “Give me a moment,” she said, her voice choked. She was shaking all over, but he resisted the urge to touch her again.

“You did good, Ginni,” he said quietly, trying to reassure her. “It’s all right— your first kill. It was a good kill.”

She nodded, her arm still over her face. “Just.. give me a minute,” she murmured.

They gave her several. Malidar checked over Rangrim and Rhio’s wounds, bolstering their healing before they led Ginni, still stunned in the aftermath of the violence, away from the courtyard and off towards greater relative safety.

5.5
 

After facing the shadow beast and barely surviving, we find ourselves back at the inn to tend to our physical and mental wounds. Ginni has demonstrated a remarkable amount of courage tonight. She faced down and finished off a most powerful and otherworldly creature. This beast was even able to nearly kill Rangrim, perhaps the toughest person, dwarf or otherwise, I’ve ever encountered in my life. She has also revealed to me the details of what occured during her time at the ritual in Farmington. I will hold onto this information until it becomes relevant.
p. After acheiving a level of intoxication which I’m now so familiar with, one which fades the scars of this life long enough to tolerate the pain, yet to not abandon all sense completely, I am off to rest. And in my rest I dream of my father. He stands at the threshold of my door, and although I recognize it is the room I am currently in, it somehow feels like our childhood home. My father is adorned in shining armor the color of polished gold, and it gleams in the half-light like a vison of power. Draped across his back is a fresh, deeply scarlet cloak. I
somehow recognize, though never possible from personal experience, the regalia of the fallen Numinis elite. And in his hand is my blessed weapon, Kvarkesh. My father speaks. “You have done me proud to have made it this far, and yet your road is longer than you know. The forces you face are now openly moving on this world, and you have done much to set their plans back. You and your friends represent the Light, the last hope that these lands have to stave off the Enemy. Do everything you can to stop them. This may mean resorting to things you never thought
possible, or that you were capable of. For a warrior as reknown as yourself, a weapon which never knows it’s true face will not do.” The tratnyr is no longer in his hand. “I love you son, yet I hope it is many years before we meet again…”
p. The rest of my night is peaceful, and when I awake refreshed, I am not surprised to find my
beloved weapon is gone. In it’s place is a heafty sword, one which we would call a bastard or hand-and-a-half, due to the two ways it can be used. It is beautiful and it’s craftsmanship is hard to believe. The crossguard is of a sun rising above the horizon, inlain gold shining
out to brighten the whole. The blade has a slight wave to it, as if to continue the idea of the sun’s warmth spearing out to penetrate the darkness. This sword would be a prize to have by itself, but it is not alone. My trusty wingspear is also there, and although I can tell it will never again change forms, it is still impressive nonetheless. These are the arms that
have been gifted to me, by a power I have yet to see or understand, and their use will allow me to best whatever our enemies throw our way. I am blessed to have them.

5.5
mortaine

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