Session #5: A Shot in the Dark
Having decided on an investigation of the road northward, the party decided to take a little time to themselves before setting out. Lena retreated with her books to Danglar's house, on the porch of which she set up Egg-spiker's tent for the night. Egg-spiker, on the other hand, investigated the missing tent and bumbled around an unwelcoming town square looking for service to no avail. Sklooh decided to bed down, making his resting place atop The Lazy Horse. Igan decided that he would settle his restless mind with a stroll around the perimeter of the city.
After making his way toward the north side of the walls, and with Sklooh facing towards the distant sunrise, both noticed that the forest had displaced itself and loomed menacingly over the small town far nearer than the day before. Igan went to investigate the woods and discovered a cacophony of whispers eminating from the dark, fog-covered forest floor. Nothing but a small lantern light was visible in the distance--and a thicker layer of fog. Thinking it prudent to assemble the company, Igan returned to the town where Gruff met him and relayed that the forest was, indeed, encroaching.
One by one the party fell to either their own hand or the enemies, and in a fit of desperation, Gruff ended the nightmare for Lena so that she would not suffer the unimaginable tortures of these gruesome foes. In exchange, he himself was trapped in a dream from which he could not wake... until a slow and painful death took him.
All present made their way into the wood, and the fog became unnavigable. However, there was a lone light in the distance--presumably the same light described by Igan earlier. The party made their way in that direction only to narrowly avoid the near-certain death of the lizardman Sklooh when a large trap was sprung. After regaining their composure, they remained on guard for more traps. Indeed, more were discovered and deactivated, all surrounding a broken down wagon on which the lantern was hung, extinguished by Lena's magic. More frightening than the traps and wagon, though, was the corpse of one Mr. Thomas, a volunteer for the town's militia who had been dispatched the previous week.
An improvised autopsy revealed that the dead man's heart had stopped seemingly without cause. As the group speculated the cause, another light was seen in the distance, and so they all set off into the fog once more. Arriving at this new source of light, they found only the scene which they had just abandoned, duplicated perfectly, corpse and all. After some investigation, Lena and Eggsy determined that not only was there a strong magical illusions and conjurations afoot, but also the charisma of the undead bearing down on them.
A GRIPPING TITLE GOES HERE
Suddenly, a man called from the mist. Another guard burst forth and in a delirious panic caused by unknown horrors, he was restrained by Igan and subsequently knocked unconscious due to his lack of cooperation. Very well, they would set out into the fog once more. The whispers stopped. A slithering, sliding noise alerted the adventurers to a foreign entity. The fog withdrew and revealed a large amalgamation of rotting forest vegetation moving with malicious hunger. Those conscious made battle with the foe, but Jacopo suffered a gruesome death followed swiftly by Egg-spiker. Igan lost his Warhammer. Many were wounded. And then... (Session #5.5: Riddle Me This occurs here)
They woke up. The whispers resumed. It was a dream. No ordinary dream, however, as their life-forces had seemingly been depleted in the scrap. They were forced to tarry on. Once more they came to the wagon with yet another corpse. They heard a voice calling from the forest once more, and this time managed to calm the violently fearful man who came stumbling into their company. He had been assaulted by deranged and painful visions of his own death and the death of many loved ones for an indeterminate amount of time. The party convinced the man to travel with them and that they would all get out of this nightmare together... but soon after, they were besieged by another horrific encounter. Large amphibious and sadistic warriors who grinned forebodingly.
The rescued man swiftly took his own life by means of a dagger through his throat. The battle began, but the party seemed hopelessly outmatched. Egg-spiker, taking a leap of faith in the silence of the fog, followed his terrified compatriots lead and shoved the blade of his rapier deep into his neck. After gargling and relentless pain, he died only to wake up back at the wrecked wagon and the trembling man next to him. Egg-spiker attempted to rouse his sleeping friends, but to little avail. The delusion would only end by sacrifice of suicide, or in battle.
Sklooh had had enough. He set the wagon ablaze, lifted it onto its single working axle, and strained to push the entire locomotive out of the cursed fog. The remainder of the group followed his leave, and soon came to realize that they were being attacked. This time, however, it was real. This time, it was Will-o-Wisps, just as Igan had predicted. The specters attempted to drop the rage-filled reptilian as he slowly made his way toward the edge of the forest. Meanwhile, his unoccupied friends made a powerful defense force and attempted to defeat the hostile Wisps. After many blows, the beings vanished and dissipated just as our heroes emerged from the forest, flaming-wagon first.
They met with Busoni and Caderousse who made curious inquiries...
Gruff went to summon Sklooh, and Igan went to find Lena and Egg-spiker (who had sense congregated outside of Danglar's place), while two militia-men, Busoni and Caderousse kept their attention focused on the trees. Once the group was assembled, Igan made known his suspicion: Will-o-Wisps. Gruff was invited along for his experience in forest navigation, and just before setting out, Jacopo called from the allies and urged a brief hesitance as he bounded forward to meet the adventurers. A bit of trickery by Lena sent the exuberant young man falling face first into the rubble of the road, and only then did they all realize that his wife, Loretta, was in tow.
Loretta pleaded for Jacopo to remain behind, and it seemed clear that both were speaking in desperation--the former for the mundane life she craved, the latter for perilous odysseys. In the end, Loretta was disregarded, and the troupe of six made for the forest and the whispering, beckoning fog.