Viriconium

Andy 3-0: Trick or Treat in Viriconium

It is the Night of the Raven Queen’s Harvest. The people of Viriconium dress in carnival clothes and make merry. They make noise and open up all the dark corners of their houses, to allow any lost and troubled spirits trapped there to come out and be gathered to The Raven Queen. It is said on this night the Undead retreat to the lower reaches of the UnderCity to avoid the same fate. It is a time for games, feasts and story telling, which might also lead to deadly adventure…

The LOLS (Nalkyr, Artemys, Rommie and Maze) are out whooping it up with the best of them, looking for a party. They find an inn with good food, free silage and a huge fire to sit by and tell stories. A story teller runs off a few standards and then tells this one.

The Lords of the House of Shaws always had a reputation of being their own men, bowing to neither Gods nor Kings. The Young Earl was seduced and trapped by a succubus. However, she admired his independence and deemed it would serve her cause more to leave him in the world rather than dominate him. She released him. Nine months to the day, at midnight, there was a mighty knocking on the gate of the great hall. The earl strode out with his greatsword and found there on the step, a basket, within which was a new born babe, with a monstrous face and a diabolic features. The earl took him in and raised him as his own son. The creature grew at a speed and within two years was fully adult. The earl named it as his heir. The creature travelled widely across other realms, particularly to the shadowfell, where it learned the shadow magic. It also learned mastery of Teeth of the Dark.

Eventually the earl sickened and was near to death, his brothers and nephews drew about and demanded to know who would inherit. The earl said, his true born son and he cursed any of his blood who would spill slay the creature for profit. And with that he died. The brothers named the eldest as heir. That night, at midnight, the doors flew open and the monstrous offspring returned, wreathed in shadows, to claim his inheritance. The earl’s human kin fled. They spent many years consulting with temples and wizards and worked a magic to entrap, defeat and contain the creature. The spell was split into five parts, contained in a ring, a locket, an amulet, a bracer and a belt.

They faced down the creature and fought with it. It was subdued but they feared the curse and so it was entombed within a hidden room within the great hall. It is said that the entrance was somewhere in the Chapel. The eldest survivor took up the title of the Lord of Shaw. The magical items that held the creature in place were divided between the brothers and they held them to ensure the magic remained strong. The story passed into legend.

Some short years ago, one evening such as this, there was a great feast at the Hall. As a drunken game, the revellers went to every window and hung a lantern out on a silken scarf. They went outside and saw every window had a light, except one. But search as they might, they could not locate the room the darkened window was in.

Now, the story turns to the present day. The defiance that marked the house lead to its downfall. It had few enough friends, ran out of allies but amassed enemies at a steady rate. The line is extinct and the Great House a ruin. The name is forgotten, save as a Harvest Night story.

The party decide this has to be followed up. The story teller says, there is no mention afterwards of each of the items of the spell. Artemys figures they must be on the bodies and proposes a spot of grave robbing.

They make their way to the ruined House of Shaws. The house is falling down but in the undercroft they find an entrance down to the crypt. Above the door is a carved warning; a gentle friend lets us sleep alone, a curse on those who disturb our bones. Inside the crypt, arranged in date order, are the tombs of the lairds. There is a gap and then five more. They open the later five and take a ring, amulet, belt, bracer and locket. Then the wind howls and skeletal warriors step out of the wall. There are two tomb guardians, with scimitars and two shattergloom skeletons with claws and immobilisation. Now the LOLs grieve for the lack of a cleric and radiant damage. Maze goes down but this triggers his self-recovery routines and they eventually prevail.

Upstairs, they enter the chapel. The centre aisle is lit by the moon but the side aisles are gloomy with an unnatural shadow. As they enter, they hear a sound of stone sliding on stone. There is also the sound of a deep humourless laugh. A cambion with a flaming sword steps out of the shadows. He’s instantly walloped with their best dailies and tied in knots but he’s a top villain and responds by dominating Rommie to whack Maze and then sending her into the far, darkest corner, where the teeth of the dark bites hard. (Lots of damage for being in the shadows, which alarms the sneaky drow). Also, shadow wretches leap out of the dark and their attacks push the party backwards into the gloom. Then the lit portion starts to shrink. Rommie is pushed into the gloom again and falls over. Artemys gets confused and crits the drow whilst Maze takes a terrible battering from the fiery sword. However, they kept their concentration and focus fire. With two tanks down and the strikers looking very vulnerable, the cambion drops and then it’s just a matter of cleaning up. The five items of jewellery were the lock that secured the beast and once reunited in the chapel, let him out. In an oubliette, hidden behind a sliding door, they find pieces of shadowfell jewellery worth 2000gp.

Google ‘The Monster of Glamis’ to see the inspiration. This soundtrack to this adventure includes Prokofiev’s Dance of the Knights, Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyrie, Verdi’s Deus Irae, Mozart’s Toccata and Fuge, Allegri’s Miserere, Barber’s Adagio and Saint-Saen’s Danse Macabre. Incidental music from Blue Oyster Cut (Don’t Fear the Reaper), Space (The Female of the Species), Muse (Knights of Cydonia) and various bits from The Flaming Lips. And some inaudible tinniness from a phone which shows there’s a limit to what you can cram into a slimline case.

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