The Stony Lands - Session #9

Or the One with Dreams of Shadow

On the evening of the Fall of Red Port, the group slept fitfully, their dreams disturbed by visions of horror. They dreamed of another place. A place where they awoke, cold to their bones and lying on sand. The silence was only disturbed by the rustle of their armour, as they stirred.

Looking about, they discovered themselves to be in the centre of a circle of blood, soaked into the sand. A larger circle of stone enclosed them in its walls, smooth, as if hewn from a solid piece of rock and stretching high above them to a domed ceiling, illuminated by a mysterious ghostly light emanating from their weapons and armour. In the centre of the circle, the pommel of a sword broke the surface, and after some careful work, it was unburied, revealing a sword of black glass buried to the hilt in the sand. No sooner had the blade been pulled from the sand, than deep chanting filled the air, and strange spirits appeared to encircle the group, moving as if time was sped up for them. Moments later, the visions were gone, and silence returned.

Entrusting the sword to young Iraitz, a hero in the making, who had been brought along with them to this place, the group steeled themselves, and stepped from within the circle, finding no harm to come to them.

Ahead lay a short corridor ending in a cell of sorts, its iron portcullis bent apart as if by a creature of great strength and size, but nothing more was to be found. Instead the group headed up the spiral ramp leading out of the pit, pausing as a cold wind blew down at hem, bringing with it the sensation of invisible people brushing past them.

At the top of the ramp stood a hideous statue. A naked man with the head of a rat bore down on the party, his stone flesh covered in boils and sores, wretched with disease, and in his hand he held a long whip, ridged like the tail of a rat. Beyond, the corridor opened up into a room with chains attached to the walls, and an iron kris knife on a table, which Tom claimed for himself.

The next room held a strange circle of runes engraved into the floor, though the text seemed to evade attempts to read it. As the party examined this oddity, a blood curdling scream echoed down the corridors behind them, causing them to turn back on themselves and explore further.

Taking the third exit from the room with the chains, the group were confronted with a stone door. Pushing it open, a strong, cold wind blew around the seal, bringing with it the sounds of speeded up voices. William, who had taken up position at the back, felt something pass through him, bringing with it wrenching pain. Turning he was faced with a strange shimmering humanoid silhouette, with elongated blade-like fingers, which swooped back in, for another strike, depleting the elf’s strength, and bringing him to the brink of death. Rallying, the group blasted the creature with spell and sword, finding only the blade of black glass to be of any strong effect, and soon it fled away from them back where it had come from.

Returning to the magic circle after a short rest, the group decided to leave it be for now, heading up the stairs exiting the room to find a great stone door, sealed shut and surrounded by glowing, but unreadable runes. Try as they might, the door would not be opened, so they instead headed downwards.

After a steep descent, the group found themselves presented with a large stone hall, pillars holding up a vaulted roof, and more rat-faced statues looking down on them from a barred alcove above. As they passed through, they were beset by the sensation of being watched. Beyond stood a library, filled with unreadable books, though the illustrations suggested tomes on the topics of necromancy and disease and each book had he symbol of a rat encircled by its tail on inside cover. Despite their blurred text, William collected two he decided would be the most valuable, and the group made to move on. As they did, the pages of the discarded books fluttered open, and a ghostly figure appeared, leafing through one volume after another, before disappearing once more.

Heading through a door, the party entered a space colder than the rest, what looked to be the quarters of the librarian, long abandoned to dust and disrepair. As the group paused in the next room, a room once dedicated to study, the sound of muttering from nearby disturbed them, followed by the sound of slamming doors and more of the speeded up speech. Moments later, the ghostly form reappeared, and the party set upon it. Their blessed water and silver weapons had no effect on the creature of shadow. Only items of magic caused it any real harm, and the battle was lead by Iraitz, who turned the spectre once more.

Taking only a moment to pause the rest, the party continued onwards and were presented with a room with a bloody altar and a large mirror of black glass. Looking into the mirror, the unremarked upon newcomer, a rogue of small intelligence, was confronted by a shadowy form, which emerged from its black surface and reached out to strike him. What followed was a battle of blade and wit, as the party struck the creature, while attempting to smash the mirror from whence it had come. At last the creature fell, but at the cost of the life of Iraitz, whose very being had been pulled into that impervious and dark surface.

With the creature vanquished, the party set to the task of their escape from those halls. Having discovered no further exits, they set to attempting to smash the mirror in earnest and discovered that the black blade, when striking its mirrored kin, merged with its surface, only to reform once more, when withdrawn. After much discussion and experimentation, which cost the unremarkable rogue his life, the group came to the realization that perhaps the key to smashing the mirror was to smash the sword that was its kin.

Taking the sword in both hand, William brought it crashing down onto the stone altar, and sure enough, cracks spread through the blade of glass. Touching it to the mirror, the cracks spread out to the mirrored glass, and with a strike of a hammer on the pane, the mirror shattered at last. With a cry, the dreamers awoke as one. All but Iraitz, whose breath had stopped in the night. Amongst their belongings, they found two tomes, their text vanished, but the illustration remaining, a wicked dagger of iron, and a carefully drawn map of a place they had never been to.