Team Phantom – Enter Stage Right
Communing with Sewrag
Sewrag is dead. It is the work of but a moment for the group to ascertain that much. Philip lowered his eyes from Thaddeus’ bright ones as they came to terms with what they knew they had feared to be the truth since they felt her power come to rest within them. As Sewrag had said when she gave her life, her power still sat within them despite the fact that she was no longer.
A moment of quiet contemplation for Silvana and Philip gave them a moment of clarity amongst the tumbling emotion. This had been the last act of her life; one taken to spite the hateful man who had tried so hard to force her hand for centuries upon centuries. She would not give up, would not die, and would not let her power pass on… At least until there were people before her who could frustrate his plans still further. They had finally arrived, and she had been able to go to her rest, but they had seemed so small and young in their power, so she would have to leave them with some of hers.
A brief minute of mourning, no more. This was not the time to dwell. Thaddeus intoned a short prayer, a humble collection of words praising persistence in the face of unimaginable evil. As they try to interrogate the power within them, however, they do feel – if not an answer to their questions – a certain pull towards Zemahra. They had used the power within them to try and reach The Moment, but the path they had chosen was too much for them and they had been thrown off-course. The power would still attempt to guide them towards that place, but it could not take them there instantly. They would need to follow the path that it could lay out for them and then they would reach their destination.
Each felt that pull slightly differently. To Thaddeus, it was a guiding hand on the shoulder, a ‘come along’ from an eager companion. Philip felt a warmth in his mind, turning his attention to the way. Silvana’s a push in the centre of her back, more a ‘get the job done’ than anything else.
And it seemed that right now, the power indicated that Zemahra was indeed the correct way for them to be heading.
Scouting the Forest & Reaching Zemahra
The forest curls around towards Zemahra like a snake wraps around its prey. The comparison only grows more apt as the group venture through it. The trees in the North are ever made of sturdy, hardy stock, and these are no different. They grow together in thick clumps, blotting out the sky above with layer upon layer of overlapping branches and thick limbs. They strangle each other to reach the weak grey light, casting long fingered shadows over the group. Thorns caught at them, catching at their robes and hair.
Thaddeus kept his fists clenched, eyes darting from tree to tree looking for ambush. Silvana slowed her breath, the sounds of the forest fading to the inhale, muting the cacophony of creaking life.
Philip glanced to the only person who does not seem to be concerned as they journey further into the forest. The Ondrask steps lightly through the undergrowth, guiding his two fellows with him.
Pressing further into the wilderness, no direct threats lunge from the darkness to take them; but they stick determinedly to the path cut through the trees and do not stray from it.
As they travel further under the canopy, the sensation that they are being watched grows stronger. The very forest seems alive to their presence, their magics announcing the trespass to the landscape as surely as a flare in the wine-dark sky.
A flicker of motion through the trees, and a hulking shape that was too solid to be shadow was caught in the corner of Silvana’s vision as she stepped onto a fallen log. She grabbed Thaddeus’ arm and pointed, but nothing could be seen. Still, the ominous feeling that they weren’t alone did not leave them. Only the Ondrask remained unconcerned, striding forth with resolution. His presence alone was calming, his advice straightforward.
“Stay to the path. Do not stray. Zemahra has paid the proper sacrifice. This path will be safe.”
And indeed, it is.
Even without straying from the path, a number of concerning things catch the attention of the group as they search out the path.
They catch a glimpse of the watery pool from which the sound of sobbing cries echoe continuously, pleading for help that never comes. Silvana and Philip both put their hands on Thaddeus’ shoulders to hold him back from running to the source of the distress. They shook their heads at him, and together they clambered on towards the scent of old ashes and fresh grave-dirt lingering in the forest to the east.
The smell becomes stronger the longer they walk, and as their eyes adjust to the quiet darkening of their surroundings, they see the half-chewed corpse which seems almost to project from the ground as though the earth itself had risen up to swallow the man whole. A hush fell upon the group, and they came to a stop before the body.
However, at the Ondrask’s insistent urging, and their common sense threatening them with all manner of horrors should they not heed his warnings, they walk on. Refocusing their efforts on reaching Zemahra and the mysteries which await them within.
The trees around them, whilst no less thick, the vines and thorns no less intent on tripping the group, the light seems to warm as they strive for the open sky. Slowly, the larger trees give way to younger saplings, still curiously gnarled and twisted, as though born ancient in preparation to menace all those who wander without cause.
The forest seems intent on overrunning the small settlement. Trees encroach on the few houses scattered seemingly at random around the banks of a winding river. A scrubby field scrapes vegetables from the bare and unforgiving ground. It is no wonder that the village appears, from first glance, to rely on the lumber from the camp which bites into the forest. Piles of lumber are stacked around the boundaries of the camp as if by showing the trees what could become of them, it will encourage them to grow elsewhere. A group of woodcutters, hefting axes, work some distance from the path through the woodland, and do not turn to pay attention to the travellers as they venture forth.
As the group emerge, sweating, and covered in thorns from the forest, they take stock of what they can see. No one immediately rushes out to greet the strangers in this remote place, although there doesn’t really seem to be anyone around. Ahead of them there sits a larger headman’s building, the land meticulously cleared around it. A blacksmith’s forge belches black smoke into the sky, the wind trailing tendrils away and over the trees.
A bright, well maintained wooden structure, the largest in the settlement, sits on the bank of the river. A tavern, maybe, or a town hall? It is somewhat difficult to tell.
As they had earlier seen, there is a discussion going on between the village’s Ondrask and some of the younger, hardier-looking men. There is now, however, also another individual engaged in the discussion…
Life had not been kind to Twinhorn after the end of the War, but that was not so different to life the rest of the time. The Seekers had disbanded; Charlie had gone to try and assist the MCTH as it collapsed, and Gods only knew where he had wound up in that clusterfuck. Groth had returned to the Church. Chaturanga was embroiled in the chaos now sweeping across Egaria, and Twinhorn? Well, he’d fallen in to the usual routine. Travel. Never stop moving. And hope that he could find coin to keep himself in violin strings and security.
The former was easier, these days. He doubted he’d ever really had the latter.
He’d met the stranger in a bar, which was where he met most people, and after his performance they had spoken long into the night, about tale and story and what it meant to seek out these things. Seekers of Tales Once Lost and Ever-New. It was a grand title, wasn’t it? And perhaps the drink had flowed more freely than normal because Twinhorn hadn’t noticed, at that time, that it was strange the man had known the name of the group given that Twinhorn never used it and the number of people who had cause to remember them could probably be counted on one hand.
It was hard to remember the stranger’s face. He’d been a short man, Twinhorn was sure of that, and he had a pair of tiny spectacles. A rather fine hat, though, and a grand doublet – high fashion Twinhorn recognised. It was his business to know these things after all. Perhaps a patron?
But the way he spoke was not as a man who merely patronised the arts, but as one who practiced them. As the night wore on, the man finished his drink – a beautiful amber liquid which Twinhorn was faintly surprised this two-horse town could even provide – and set the glass down with an air of finality.
“I don’t think you quite understand, my friend.” He said, and beneath the brim of the hat, his eyes pierced Twinhorn’s own, sharp as a dagger’s point. “You are the only one left who is still Seeking. Looking for all those Lost Tales. And that’s important. Some tales are hidden. Some are forgotten. But some, Twinhorn, are Lost. And we’re losing our grandest one right now. So I’m afraid you’re going to need to do some work, because they need someone who can Seek out those Tales, and our list of competence is rather running out.”
Before Twinhorn could really ask what he meant by that, there was a terrible golden light which swallowed him whole; one moment he was talking in the tavern, and in the next the light was everywhere, simultaneously, engulfing everything in its brilliance. He felt something wrap around him, heard the fluttering of wings…
And whatever he had been drinking must have been very strong indeed, because he was quite suddenly in the Frozen North; the slender orc embroiled in discussion with a pair of stern-looking Northmen. One, tall, broad, and obviously a man who worked hard for a living – the other older, more wizened, but clad in finer clothes. Some sort of community leader?
“—tell you for the thousandth time.” The leader said, harshly, to the no-doubt-befuddled Twinhorn. “I do not have time to tell you the story of Zemahra. There are monsters abroad. We cannot waste breath on pointless words.”
|Commune with the Power of Sewrag||Interact||5|
|Travel back through the forest||Move||2 +1 per person|
|Explore the village||Interact||5|
|Question the Ondrask||Interact||4 per question|
|Question the Lumberjacks||Interact||4 per question|
|Question Zemahra’s Ondrask||Interact||4 per question|
|Question Zemahra’s Ondrask’s Lumberjack||Interact||4 per question|
|Enter the Ondrask’s Home||Move||2 +1 per person|
|Enter the Town Hall/Tavern||Move||2 +1 per person|
|Enter a random home||Move||2 +1 per person|
|Use Magical Sights||Interact||4 per realm – please specify what you are looking for.|