"The Serpent Idol" – Serpents Fall : Session 5 flashback (written summary)

A days travel north of the small village of Wulfricingas our heroes have settled down for the night to sleep; Horesh Komanio their Khemrian death-priest rolls over, fitfully in his sleep and his sleeping mind carries him back down the river of time and memory to an incident that occurred many, many months before.
***
The southern jungles were hot and sticky, forming a natural boundary between the two seperated nations of Khemri and Stygia and acting as a balwark to prevent all out war erupting again between the two kingdom; from within the tomb cities of Khemri however the Sorceror King’s gazed longingly out at the thick expanse of jungle, all that seperated them from forcibly annexing Stygia. The Stygian tribes wanted for nothing more than to cleave to their old ways of being respectful and living with the spirits whereas the Khemrians wished to use the ancient knowledge that their forebears had preserved from the mythical times of the once great Serpent Empire that had ruled the world in the dim and distant past.

A group of six death-priest aspirants hesitantly entered the tomb at the bidding of their master, a senior death-priest called Baufra; they each knew that this test, this trial, would see one of them elevated to the status of a death-priest adept, howeever it would also see those who failed or whose spirits were too weak dead. Horesh ran over the object of the trial in his mind, the group had to enter the Serpent Empire ruin deep within the jungle, only one of them could survive and the victor would emerge bearing the obsidian daggers of a true death priest. Am-Hotep the most headstrong of the group was the first to make it into the ziggurat, running ahead of the others, keen to claim the prize.

Some distance away to the east, on the other side of the jungle expanse, bright, blood red flames danced in the air above a small Stygian village and the crackling of the flames mingled with the screams of the dying; amongst this scene of carnage strode the blood splattered norse warriors of the Timber Wolf clan, their axes and hammers smashing structures and people with little discrimination in their pursuit of plunder. As a large hut collapsed a figure could just be glimpsed dragging a dazed survivor from the ruins, the figure was clad in the same furs as the norse raiders but there was no bloodlust in his eyes only horror and sadness; Ozuchi looked up as he was dragged out of the burning ruins of his village by one of the very same Norsican raiders responsible for destroying it, but he could sense a difference in the barbarian, a dawning realisation or awakening. Pointing at the boundary of the nearby jungle the Norsican shouted “I don’t have time to explain, make for the trees, hopefully they’ll miss you and come after me?”

“May the spirits bless you” mumbled Ozuchi running towards the trees

“Just go!” shouted the Norsican before turning and charging towards the mob of frenzied warriors emerging from the smoke swinging a large hammer into the first of them; forgetting about the fleeing Stygian the norse warriors attacked Ozuchi’s saviour, but the Stygian didn’t have time to think about it as he plunged into the forest, swearing to himself that he would not forget his saviours face. Running at his heels Ozuchi’s guardian komodo spirit whispered “If it is the will of the spirits then you may yet meet again.”

Horesh had been running around inside a ruined jungle ziggurat for what seemed like hours, the words of the death-priest that set him this task seemed to ring in his ears still, “This is one of the ancient tombs, the oldest remnant of the Serpent Empire, if the spirits bless you then you may find your way through this tomb and emerge awakened, if not or your minds are not enlightened enough then you will never emerge from this place.”

Occasionally a scream echoed within the ziggurat, but everytime Horesh got to where the sound was coming from he was too late to see what caused it; the ziggurat was a square shaped pyramid with corridors spiralling towards the centre of it, Horesh remembered the old legends of his people about the dire sorceries and traps that the Serpent Empire used to protect their lands from interlopers, perhaps some influence was yet at work on his mind since it felt as though he had been running for days, but that was surely impossible. Horesh was bought out of his reverie by the sound of a scream and a dull thud from just around the corner, moving like a living shadow towards the sound Horesh was is just in time to see a panel in the wall sliding back to conceal an entrance and a pair of legs clad in death-priest robes being pulled into the concealed corridor. Examining the scene Horesh saw a few splatters of blood, running his hands across the panel he began to examine the carving of a great coiled serpent or dragon that adorned it (possibly a depiction of one of the great mythical dragon creator spirits), until his hand roamed over a gemstone forming the eye of the serpent, there was a click as he exerted pressure on it and the stone panel slid upwards, revealing a concealed corridor clogged in dust and cobwebs. Horesh can see a trail in the dust where the body has been dragged, pulling his cloak closer around him the aspirant death-priest hurried into the corridor.

Ozuchi made his way deeper into the jungle, the sound of the massacre fading behind him, he reflected on his knowledge of the Serpent mythology that his tribe had passed down throughout the years about how the once great empire meddled with blasphemous entities or spirits and bought about their own downfall; he eventually arrives at the foot of a large white sandstone ziggurat and stands there admiring it for a moment. Suddenly his warrior instincts cried out and he threw himself to one side as a body fell from the sky and broke upon the ground in the place where he had just been standing. Looking up Ozuchi could see a shadow on top of the ziggurat retreating from view as though someone had hurled the unfortunate person from the top of the stone pyramid; running over to the broken victim Ozuchi could see that the man was not long for the world and was gasping out his last few breaths. Dropping down onto one knee next to the unfortunate person Ozuchi asked “What did this to you?”

Spasmodically the man grabbed Ozuchi’s shoulder and whispered the word “Am-Hotep”, and then life left his body in a rattling final exhaltation.

Ozuchi’s guardian komodo dragon spirit seemed to be sniffing around one of the large stone blocks at the base of the pyramid and, when Ozuchi looked closer, he could see a razor sharp stone spike carved into the slab, it appeared to be stained with dried blood, a carved channel running from the spike down the slab and spiralling towards a small hole in the stone, there was also traces of blood within the carved track. Realising that blood must be the method to open an entrance to the ziggurat Ozuchi shed a couple of drops of his own blood onto the spike, the slab shuddered for a moment but remained still; thinking that perhaps he had’t offered enough, but unwilling to risk bleeding himself in the jungle, Ozuchi picked up the body of the deceased death-priest and pushed it onto the spike. As the blood of the death-priest turgidly flowed along the carved channel and into the hole at the centre of the slab it opened with a grinding sound to reveal an entrance to the ziggurat.

Horesh continues=d to explore the cobweb filled corridor within the ziggurat, the light in there started to become very dim but the death-priest was able to rely on his excellent night-vision to help him, but eventually he is forced to feel along the walls for guidance as the light leaves completely; he suddenly pulls his hand back as he feels the unmistakable contours of a human face below his hand.

“Hello?” asks Horesh, but there is no reply and so, carefully, he begins to examine the figure but is distracted by a slight hissing/rattling sound from further down the corridor; he eventually identifies one of his fellow aspirants (now deceased) who appears to have been mounted on a sharp stone spike protruding from the wall of the corridor. There is a thump as Horesh’s examination of the body disturb it and a long-extinguished wooden torch falls from the dead fingers of the deceased priest, thinking to protect himself from potential traps Horesh tears some strips of cloth from the deceased priests robes and wraps them around his hand before scooping up the fallen torch, although he lacks the means to light it, behind him the stone slab slides downwards, trapping him in the corridor. Moving the unlit torch infront of him to guide his movements and ward off threats, Horesh begins to slowly move further down the corridor; from up ahead he hears another hissing sound, but this time he believes it sounds more like gas escaping or some sort of mechanism than a serpent fiend, before he had chance to think on it further there was the sound of footsteps and a dark shape bolted down the corridor towards him, colliding with him.

Untangling himself from the other figure, Horesh looked on the pale face of his fellow aspirant Am-Hotep who looked fearful and panicked; Horesh asked Am-Hotep what he was doing there and whether he’d seen the bodies, “Yes I was with Ra when they took him” replied Am-Hotep

“When who took him?”

“Strange hissing creatures who emerged from the wall and took him like the ancient serpent people of myth” babled Am-Hotep showing Horesh his arm, that bore twin puncture wounds, marring his otherwise white flesh. Horesh explains about the secret door that he had discovered and Am-Hotep relays how he had encountered a number of doors with stone spikes where blood has to be spilt on them in order to open them. The hissing sounds again, getting louder and louder, Am-Hotep starts to panic, shouting about it the serpent people coming for him.

Unexpectedly Am-Hotep suddenly pushes Horesh in the direction of the hissing and runs in the opposite direction screaming “No! Take him! You promised you’d let me live if I gave you the others!” Picking himself up Horesh dashes in pursuit of him and, drawing level, strikes Am-Hotep on the back of the head with his unlit torch, driving the other death-priest to his knees; pulling Am-Hotep up into a head-lock Horesh points his fellow death-priest towards the hissing, walking backwards with him. As they draw close to the closed concealed door that Horesh used to enter this passageway, a shadowed mess rounds the corner and slithers closer towards them, twin points of red light staring out of the darkness; Horesh pulls on his knowledge of the ancient legends and shouts out “Hear me serpent of the ruins, I have with me the pretender who would dare to go against his teachings and make a deal with you.”

Am-Hotep screams out “No! You don’t want me, you want him!”

“One must die so the other may live” comes a hissing voice from the darkness

“Why must it be this way? asks horesh

“It is the balance, wherever there is life there is death” replies the sibilant voice

“Is there a way that we could resolve this in a fair manner?” asks Horesh

“There is no fair, there is no right or wrong, there is only the choice” comes the response.

A short distance away, Ozuchi has crafted himself a flaming torch and has been exploring the ziggurat for some time; he suspects that some form of sorcery is at work that confuses the mind and makes the dimensions of the pyramid seem far more vast than they actually are. Continuing to move down the passageway Ozuchi’s sharp sense suddenly pick up muffling voices and a hissing noice from behind a wall to his left, thinking that there must be a concealed entrance he begins to check the wall carvings until his hand moves across a gemstone studded into the wall, they is a loud scraping sound as the gemstone presses in and a secret door opens.

Light bursts out from behind Horesh as the door creaks upwards and he turns his face away so that the sudden influx of light doesn’t ruin his vision, Am-Hotep takes advantage of the distraction and wriggles free of Horesh’s grasp; peering into the corridor Ozuchi see the two death-priests struggling as one of them breaks free from the other. Too late Am-hotep skids to a halt just before a patch of darkness, a large reptilian claw reaches out, taking hold of Am-Hotep and pulls him into the shadows, there is a muffled scream that rapidly fades into nothingness; the red-eyed shaped begins to advance on Horesh and Ozuchi, quickly grabbing hold of Horesh, Ozuchi pulls him back through the door as the cowled reptilian creature moves forward. Ozuchi spins around and hurls his torch at the creature that emits a high pitched screaming and retreats backwards into the corridor, the secret door slamming shut behind it. There is no sign of Am-Hotep.

Now out of danger Horesh thanks Ozuchi for saving him from the creature, Ozuchi nods and the two of them enter a brief discussion about whether the creature was some sort of snake spirit or if it was some previously unknown remnant of the Serpent Empire before they continue to explore the pyramid, travelling together since it would appear that the ziggurat is more dangerous than otherwise expected; as Horesh mentions the name Am-Hotep, Ozuchi confirms that Am-Hotep had already slain at least one of the other aspirants.

“He obviously had a weak heart and gave into the darkness of the spirit world” said Ozuchi when Horesh explained a little about the trial that he was undergoing and how Am-Hotep had tried to offer him to the serpent creature. Eventually they enter a small chamber containing the dead body of one of the death-priest aspirants, a pool of blood congealing on the floor around him, Horesh moves to examine the body when one of the flagstones moves under his weight with a clicking sound, he hurls himself backwards just in time to avoid a series of small darts that whizz across the chamber from hidden boltholes, they embed themselves in the wall and, a few moments later, crumble into dust. Picking up a crumbling chunk of masonry Horesh drops it on the rooms flagstones, occasionally triggering the trap, until they establish that there is only a single line of trigger stones stretching across the width of the chamber, both himself and Ozuchi leap over the trigger stones and continue their exploration.

The two south-landers emerge into a huge, tall chamber decorated with crumbling friezes and peeling gold leaf, the central feature of the chamber (lit by a shaft of sunlight bursting through the crumbling roof) is a large clear pool of water, a huge stone serpent statue taking up centre place; littered around and in the pool are the bodies of the remaining death-priests. Cautiously heading over to them Horesh sees that each deceased aspirant bears a set of twin puncture wounds on their bodies, Ozuchi realises that, although only recently dead, the muscles of the dead bodies have seized and locked into strange positions as though they had died spasming in agony; as he counts the bodies, realisation dawns on Horesh that he is the last death-priest aspirant remaining alive and he begins to search the chamber for the item that heralds success in this trial.
Hesitantly Horesh enters the pool and begins to peer at the statue, his eyes widen when he realises that both the snake statues fangs are made of the obsidian blades that he seeks, checking that his hand-wraps are still secure Horesh reaches up for the fangs.

Bursting into life the stone serpent sinks it’s fangs into Horesh’s arms, he feels a strange, numbness creeping through him from the puncture wounds, with the last of his strength the Khemrian grasps the two obsidian fangs and pulls them from the statue; ignoring the potential peril from the animated statue Ozuchi turns his back on it to minister to his injured companion, pulling some medicinal herbs from his small travelling bag and pushing them into the Khemrian’s mouth. Unfortunately with his attention elsewhere, Ozuchi is unable to prevent the huge serpent from wrapping it’s coils around him and pulling him away, the Stygian feels his ribs begin to creak and crack, however his medicine has done it’s work and Horesh begins to feel some of his strength returning; snatching up the obsidian blades from where they had fallen from his numbed fingers Horesh slices out at the animate statue, severing it’s head, the statue reverting to normal stone as it ceases to be animated. Gently, his strength continuing to return, Horesh eases Ozuchi free of the statues, sheathing the two blades and the two of them begin to make their way towards the exit of the ziggurat.

As they leave the ziggurat Ozuchi notices that someone appears to have removed the body that he placed on the spike and there is no sign of it as they emerge into the humid jungle air; the two of them are preparing to make camp when, amidst a rustle of foliage, the blood-soaked figure of the nordic warrior who saved Ozuchi’s life staggers out of the trees; the warrior grins lop-sidedly and gasps “I’m glad to see you made it” before collapsing face-forwards infront of them, half a spear sticking out of his back.

***
Horesh groaned as he opened his eyes, he looked out across the campfire at where Gunnar Kron and Ozuchi were sleeping, their bedrolls next to Lord Wulfric, he remembered well the trial and how he had met Ozuchi and how the medicine man had later healed the injured Kron, he smiled before settling back down to sleep.

Serpents Fall: Death in the Forest – Session 3

Thinking about recent events Ozuchi calls on the knowledge of his ancestral spirits and asks them “Where will the dark corsairs target next?” A whispered voice on the wind speaks to Ozuchi as a flock of seagulls take to the air and spiral around the stygian medicine man, the spirits of the air tell him that the dark corsairs will strike next on the western coast of Saxony; as Ozuchi relays the information and Horesh points out that it’s a very long journey, Gunnar rankles at the fact they can’t even take a boat due to Benito’s curse.
Meanwhile their captive, Captain Hannibal Hawkins, observes them from where he is confined, Benito says that he’s going to interrogate him and asks for aid from the rest of the party; feeling unsettled with the notion of interrogation and possible torture of an enemy who cannot fight back, Gunnar sits in to make sure that no dishonourable methods will be used to extract information from their captive. Hannibal Hawkins, is a bald, weather-beaten man who obviously mucks in with his crew and is used to feeling the lash of the elements as he works on deck, he breathes in sharply as he is ungagged since the gag restricted him breathing through his mouth and his nose was still bloody from the fight, he spits on the ground at Benito’s feet.
“It is good to see you” says Benito, attempting to remain conversational
“The feeling is not mutual, how do you come to be here? I was told you were dead – better for you if you were” spits Hawkins
“I’m Captain Benito, you can’t kill me, how do you think I came to become pirate king?” asked Benito glibly
“I don’t know, i’m more an expert on how easy it was to depose you” replies Hawkins with a spluttering cackle
“Cutting, but you’re not really in a position to make insults are you, bound as you are on your own ship that we’ve taken from under your feet?” says Benito
“How do you think the real pirate king will respond when he realises you’re alive?”
“He’ll prob piss his pants and get someone else to deal with it, like he normally does” said Benito with bravado
“Things have changed, there’s a new order in the Sword Isles Benito”
“Who?” asked Benito
“Captain Blythe, he has promised to return the Sword Isles to a position of rulership over the world, as it was before Atlantis sank”
“He’s taking his time”
“Only a fool rushes his plans, as you should know”
Benito asks Hawkins where they were taking the slaves to be sold and Hawkins says that they weren’t selling them to anyone and that he was buying, not selling; they were providing herbs & spices to the Picts in return for the slaves since some of the ingredients are hard to get on the mainline, but the more tropical environment on the Sword Isles are ideal for growing them. Hawkins says that he doesn’t know why the pirate king wants the slaves since he doesn’t reveal his plans to Hawkins.
“So he’s not revealed his plans to you, that is a quite intelligent move on his behalf, for once” says Benito, his opinion of the usurper Pirate King Horningold Blythe obvious in his expression
Hawkins refuses to say anything further, Kron picks him up and carries the beaten pirate lord to the brig of his own ship, securing him soundly in the brig; Gunnar says that, before they deal with any thoughts of what is going on in the Sword Isles, they need to get the survivors back to their village, but before they depart Benito renders the ship unsailable without a few hours work re-tying all of the ropes and supports that he has undone.
Moving back through the tunnels, Horesh becomes aware of his spirit companion as he moves within range and that the villagers are still okay; they enter the cavern leading the survivors from the ship and the young girl Keira is re-united with her mother Kayla, both breaking down in tears of happiness. Gunnar says that they should escort the people back to the remnants of their village and make sure there’s enough for them to survive.
The party begins leading the group of malnourished villagers through the darkness of the Great Forest, Horesh and Gunnar moving carefully whilst Ozuchi and Benito moving ahead quickly, scouting out the way ahead of the group. Ozuchi becomes aware of dark shapes moving just behind the treeline, quietly seeking to surround the party and briefly sees crouched human figures with dimly glowing eyes; he holds his hand up to indicate to the rest of the party that he has seen something and then leaps into the thick foliage of the treeline.
Benito draws his weapon, Kron does likewise whilst moving up to take a defensive position besides the villagers, Horesh draws his daggers; Ozuchi dives towards what he thought was the light glinting off one of the pictish blades, but he finds that it is actually a decoy, a blade deliberately stuck into the tree so as to reflect the light, before he can retreat the stygian feels a jagged flint blade stabbed into him. Captain Benito hears Ozuchi crying a pained oath in stygian, he attempts to assess the situation but can only see silhouettes running through the trees a short distance off; yo Benito the enemies move so silently that they seem less like people and more like spirits of the woods, he has heard tales of the Picts and how they worship strange unclean spirits and perform ceremonies seeking to make them like unto spirits themselves.
Horesh sends his familiar raven spirit into the air so that, via his spiritual link with it, he can get a birds-eye view of the situation; the picts are skillfully blending into the forest (almost supernaturally so) but, sharing the senses of his familiar Horesh can see a pict fighting with Ozuchi, two are closing on himself and Kron whilst a third is drawing near to Benito. Horesh relays what he has seen to Kron; using this information Gunnar strides across the clearing and attacks as a pict rushes out of the undergrowth, the warrior is clearly taken aback that the norsican has seen through his camouflage and Kron swings his hammer at his opponent. The warrior manages to throw itself to one side, avoiding the blow although it drops its knife in the process.
As the warrior fighting Ozuchi prepares to attack, the stygian shaman sees that his opponent seems to be in the grip of the hallucinogenic woad, almost as though looking through him, the look is similar to someone viewing the spirit world; the stygian summons his komodo dragon spirit to join with him, his skin briefly becoming scaley and rough, and easily able to turn aside the knife attack of the pictish warrior. Sparks spray into the air as the pictish knife glances harmlessly off Ozuchi’s skin. Benito runs forwards to help out Ozuchi as he sees the shower of sparks shortly ahead of him, he is taken by surprise when from the undergrowth besides him another warriors bursts out of the foliage, slamming Benito down to the floor and jabbing a thin flint knife into his ribs.
Horesh thinks about running to help Benito but realises that he would be leaving Kron and the villagers at the mercy of two warriors, so he holds his position as another warrior emerges into the clearing; seeing the spirit-stare of the approaching warrior, Horesh briefly wonders if the effects of the hallucinogenic woad goes far deeper then they had previously thought, but he doesn’t have much time to think about it as the pict moves to attack.
Looking for a weakness in his enemy, Horesh takes advantage of his opponents drugged state as he ducks under the blow of the warrior and jabs his twin sacrifical knives into the underside of the pict’s skull who gurgles and topples to the floor dead. Kron leaps to the side of the remaining crouching warrior, as the warrior glances over at his companion meeting an end on the sharp blades of Horesh’s knives, the norsican swings his hammer down, impacting squarely with the pict and slaying him. Further up ahead Ozuchi, still engaged in combat, strikes his opponent in the chest and then, in an impressive display of stygian martial arts, flips the pictish warrior so that his body falls onto his own decoy-weapon, killing him.
Benito pushes off the warrior rolling around with him and, grabbing some of the hanging vines, attempts to swing clear but the pict grabs him and stabs the ex-pirate king in the neck; the warrior leaps clear of Benito’s return blow, scuttling halfway up a tree with it’s flint knife gripping between it’s teeth. Hearing the noises and cries from up ahead Horesh concentrates on the spirit world, summoning a lesser spirit of the forest to aid his companion whilst, being reluctant to leave the villagers, Kron lets out a loud norsican battle-cry in an attempt to distract whatever picts are still fighting; he feels a bestial presence briefly enter his body, making his cry reverberate around the forest as the spirits summoned by Horesh re-inforce his action.
The warrior fighting Benito is scared by the unholy sound, a fearful look entering his eyes; Ozuchi meanwhile runs back into the clearing to where Horesh and Kron are protecting the villagers. The pict leaps from the trees at Benito, his knife held high but Benito neatly sidesteps the attack, avoiding it, spins around and stabs his sword into the chest of the warrior, bringing him a quick death. The forest once again fall quiet, the echo of Kron’s mighty roar still fading slowly, Benito searches the body of the fallen warrior and takes his flint blade from him.
Thinking about the stares of the picts, Ozuchi summons up his ancestral spirits and asks them to reveal to him, what sort of spirit power the pictish warriors are using; all of the birds filling the trees turn to look at Ozuchi, and amongst their cawing, a voice says “The warriors call upon blasphemous creatures of the Outer Darkness, they are not of the spirit world.”
Ozuchi explains to the others that the anient almost mythical empire of Atlantis trafficked with spirits from the Outer Darkness and it destroyed their empire, Benito wondered whether that was what Horiningold Blythe was up to. Benito explains to the others about how the Inner Sea used to be Atlantis, and that the landmass sank after they meddled in forbidden magic creating the Inner Sea and the Sword Isles; most of the atlanteans and their slaves the lemurians were killed but some of their bloodline continued in the modern world, Benito himself has lemurian blood. Benito says that he needs to go home to stop whatever Blythe is up to, but that he can’t do so with the curse still hanging over him; Kron asks Ozuchi and Horesh if they can break the curse and Ozuchi, thinking for a moment, says that the curse is permanent must be extremely powerful and that someone of equal or greater power would be required to remove it.
Ozuchi tells his companions that the more information he has about how the curse was cast, the better; Benito suggests that, one they have made the villagers safe, they return to Hannibal Hawkins and see if he knows anything about it.
Arriving at the burnt out remnants of the village, a number of the survivors break down weeping when they see the dead bodies and the ruins of their former home; both Ozuchi and Gunnar find the experience quite moving, Ozuchi because his home village was destroyed, and Gunnar because he destroyed many such villages before he saw a way to a more honourable life. Feeling a little uncomfortable Benito removes himself from the situation and begins wandering through the wreckage; in the treeline he spots a large flat leafed plant called Arrowleaf that he remembers being used as a ships spice by one of his cooks, he tries a bit and finds it has a peppery taste and has a little heat to it. Benito picks some, planning to dry and grind it and put it in a pouch so it can be thrown in an opponents face to distract them.
Ozuchi goes to begin preparing graves but Kron stops him and suggests it may be better to make a funeral pyre; Ozuchi sells the villagers on the idea of the pyre and they agree to help build it whilst Horesh begins to delicately broach the subject of last rites. Ozuchi suggests to the villagers that they use the ashes of their dead to fertilise the land, blessing it, and keeping the spirits of the dead with them; Horesh leads them in a simple khemrian death prayer as Ozuchi and Kron place the bodies on the pyre, the villagers seem more at peace and have a renewed determination to rebuild their lives and their village. The villagers make some temporary lean to shelters and sit around a fire telling stories about those they have lost, saying that the group will always be welcome in their village.
Calling on his experience of the norsican tradition of oral storytelling, Kron tells a tale of a saxon settlement of the northern edge of Saxony, which was one of the first to be raided by the northern tribes before the horse people existed as a buffer between the two nations. In the story, there were many norsicans who gave into their anger and bestial sides, becoming something more and less than human, becoming berserkers who could shift their shapes into monstrous creatures. Despite their strength these individuals were cast out when their comrades saw the depravities that had been wreaked on this village by the deviants, for the deviants could not stand up against the pure of heart. Kron tells the villagers that they are pure of heart and no evil, no setbacks, can prevent them from rebuilding their village and story, the only thing that can is their own fear.
Horesh leaves his familiar on lookout whilst they all go to sleep. Gunnar Kron awakes first and is helping the villagers move the larger pieces of rubble ready for the rebuilding project; Ozuchi looks around to make sure there is no danger but, given that the picts seem to prefer attacking under cover of darkness, there is little sign of any trouble. Benito approaches Ozuchi as he awakes and says that, noble as helping the villagers is, there is a much larger issue and they should perhaps press on with their efforts to halt whatever nefarious scheme Blythe has afoot; Ozuchi agrees and rounds up the rest of the party, they make their way back to the burial mound and through the tunnels to the small bay where Captain Hawkins is still confined on his ship.
Benito asks Horesh to conjure some spirits to lend support to their attempts to intimidate information out of Captain Hawkins; as they move down the scree slope towards the waters edge, above the sound of tumbling rocks, Horesh hears a human scream coming from inside the boat, he shouts to the others and they break into a run towards the boat. Benito and Kron get to the boat first and jump aboard, drawing weapons and running towards the brig; Kron leaps through the trapdoor drawing his hammer whilst Benito grabs some hanging rigging and swings down after him pulling out his sword.
Hannibal Hawkins is being held up by his throat by a figure of living shadow that is throttling the life out of him; without pause Kron hurls his hammer at the strange, dark elongated figure, it strikes home causing it to drop Hawkins onto the deck. Benito draws his sword and attempts to begin negotiating saying “Now we have your attention”; as it turns towards Kron, part of the oily surface peals back to reveal a skull like head/face. It raises a skeletal hand towards Kron and begins to slowly close it’s fist, the norsican feels an increasing pressure on his heart and cries out in pain as he clasps his chest; Benito’s sword flashes out, aiming for the creatures outstretched arm, it screams and the skull collapses back into the oiley mass of it’s body, although it continues moving.
Horesh drops into the chamber and instantly recognises it as a manifested death spirit that has been summoned and empowered by someone to act as their assassin, he slices out with his daggers, striking the creature, the skeletal hands collapse back into the mass leaving just an amorphous black, thrashing blob that lashes out at Horesh; the khemrian death priest nimbly sidesteps the attack. Bereft of his hammer, Kron glances around and then grabs a barrel before smashing it down on the huge blob, it screams and lies still, before it slowly begins to fade away.
Kron rushes over to Hawkins and sits him up as Ozuchi arrives in the brig, the stygian medicine man examines Hawkins crushed throat; Benito tells Hawkins that, since they’ve saved his life and if he cooperates, they’ll help him, Hawkins nods in response. They give him water and Ozuchi applies some medicinal herbs to help sooth the inflammation of his throat; on a suggestion from Benito they take Hawkins upstairs so that he can take in some of the healthy sea air, this seems to revive him somewhat.
“That thing would seem to have been sent by Blythe since he must have realised that you’ve not been successful” says Benito to the bedraggled pirate as he once again becomes capable of talking, his throat soothed somewhat
“The pirate king does not tolerate failure” splutters Hawkins. Meanwhile Horesh tells them that a lot of power must have been used to allow the spirit to manifest at such a distance, but that the spirit itself was only a lesser spirit; Benito tells Hawkins he needs all the information he has on the curse.
Hawkins tells him that a short time before Benito was deposed that Blythe recovered something from the shores of the Inner Sea, and it was afer that he first started talking about his new world order and making arrangements to overthrow Benito, shortly after this he began to negotiate with the pictish tribes; all Hawkins knows is that the slaves are apparently essential to usher in Blythe’s new age of atlantean supremacy. He tells Benito that somehow Blythe used the blood of lemurians to lay the curse and that the solution might also lie within that blood, Ozuchi nods and says that they need to find some more lemurian and that their best chance for this is to head for a larger settlement to see if they can find an other people with lemurian blood.
To prove he is a better king than Blythe, Benito returns Hawkin’s ship to him on the understanding that he no longer traffic in human lives or have dealings with those who use black magic; Benito threatens to hunt him down if he breaks this bargain and tells him to let people know that the true pirate king still lives, Hawkins agrees. After a short discussion the group decide to head to one of the larger cities of Saxony, and begin heading towards the capitol city of Winchester.

Serpents Fall: The Darkness Beneath – Session 2

Horesh leads the group through the darkness of Celtia’s Great Forest, following the strands of death energy ahead of him, Ozuchi follows behind, his eyes darting over the varied vegetation of the Great Forest, occasionally he pauses to pluck some herbs and roots that he thinks might help with his healing arts. The trees they pass are huge and ancient, having been there for many years before they were born and will no doubt be there long after their deaths; the ground, covered in moss, rises into a burial mound or Tor infront of them. Horesh snaps out of his spirit-trance as they reach the burial mound seen in his vision, he is momentarily disorientated but is re-assured when Gunnar and Ozuchi tell him that he’s bought them to the place where the savage warriors may have come from.
Kron and Ozuchi begin searching the area for tracks and, a few moments later, Ozuchi gives a shout as he spots a concealed wooden entrance to the burial mound covered with moss, Kron congratulates him on a job well done as he pulls the concealing wooden slats aside; the wood covers a tunnel entrance heading down underground at a roughly 45-degree angle, Kron steps forward, hefting his hammer and saying “I’ll lead.”
Inside, the tunnel is narrow, only allowing them to move in single file but they make there way forwards with Kron leading, followed by Ozuchi, Horesh and with Benito bringing up the rear; the peat laden soil is damp and it is dark and cold within the tunnel. Kron keeps a hand on the wall to steady himself and maintain his position, he has them all place a hand on each other’s shoulder to keep the party together should anything unexpected occur. 
Eventually the tunnel widens out into a cavern lined with glowing moss that casts a dim blue light; despite their attempts to remain quiet as they move further into the barrow mound the group are a little bit noisey due to not being able to really see where they are putting their feet. Entering the cavern they can hear a faint sobbing and Kron sees a large cage built of vines and local wood, inside he can just see a number of huddled figures; the norsican warrior peers closer hoping that these are the captives from the small village, unable to see the people clearly Captain Benito hacks a small sheet of the glowing moss from the wall, it dims slightly but still casts light. Benito throws the glowing moss into the cage and, in the increased light, the party can see that there are three women and a couple of children (one male, one female) in the cage, all are malnourished and emaciated.
With the light from the moss fading quickly, Ozuchi looks around and spots a second tunnel leading out of the cavern in an eastern direction; Kron approaches the cage, planning to share his rations with the prisoners, recognising that Kron has the look of a norsican raider the feeble people panic and try to scramble away from him despite his attempts to speak softly with them; realising that he isn’t helping the situation, Kron steps back away. Benito suggests releasing them, thinking that they’ll be able to survive on their own, however Kron points out that, in their weakened states, they may be easy prey for the creatures of the forest; the norsican throws some of his bread ration towards the people and slowly, hunger overwhelming their fear, they move forward and start eating the bread.
Ozuchi asks Benito to keep an eye on the eastern exit from the cage, whilst he slices some moss from the wall and begins to wring moisture from it to quench the thirst of the captives, having eaten and drank a little they begin to regain a little of their colour. Captain Benito smells something strange, an odd, smokey, herblike odour drifting down the eastern tunnel that he stands next to, he moves to stand beside the tunnel entrance so that he can be hidden from view should anyone emerge from the eastern tunnel, there is a loud crunch from beneath his feet, and he looks down to see he’s standing in a shallow recess full of human bones. Benito examines the bones and sees they are recent and appear to have be scored by flint tools that stripped the flesh from them; he shouts to the others that the savages may be cannibals.
Horesh removes his hood and steps forward to speak to the bedraggled villagers, they begin screaming and attempting to scramble to the far side of the cave from Horesh with even more violence than their reaction to Kron; Kron and Benito recognise the look of absolute fear on the eyes of the panicked villagers as Horesh backs off. Benito steps forward and, comforted by Ozuchi’s medicinal skills, the villagers engage him in conversation; one of the children (a blue eyed, young girl with red hair & dry tear tracks down her cheeks) runs towards Benito and accepts some food from him, she asks him whether or not he has seen her mother (describing her as tall with red hair). Benito trys to comfort the child, who explains that her mother was taken by “the men” down the eastern tunnel and that the men have been taking villagers down the tunnel at intervals, they have heard horrible noises, screaming and laughter from down the tunnel.
Trying to establish why the people panicked at Horesh’s presence Ozuchi mentions the word Khemri but they don’t appear to respond, Benito asks the young girl why they were scared of Horesh, she apologises and says that they thought he was one of the dark men who have been taking them away; Kron feels anger growing inside him at the thought of these warriors preying on innocent women and children who cannot fight back, he says that there might still be survivors and that, if they were taken down the tunnel, then that’s where the party needs to go.
Kron opens the cage whilst Benito advises the villagers that it might be in their best interest to wait until they return so that they can guide them back in safety; the young girl appears to have taken a bit of a shine to Benito and the villagers agree to wait. Horesh leaves his familiar raven behind, relying on his spiritual link with it to inform him should the villagers face any future peril, and they begin to continue their exploration with Horesh now in the lead.
The herby, smokey smell begins to grow stronger and more pungent as they move further down the darkening tunnel, Kron speculates that perhaps the savages are sacrificing the villagers in some sort of religious ceremony; as the smoke thickens the party pull strips of cloth over their noses, unfortunately the fumes catch Ozuchi by surprise and his pupils dilate as he begins to feel the effects of the strange narcotic fumes come over him, causing the shadows and drips of water to form into dancing, geometric shapes. Benito wraps a piece of cloth around the dazed Ozuchi’s face to prevent him inhaling further fumes as the sound of distant drumming reaches their ears from further down the tunnel.
Benito looks at the others, saying “Should we get ready for a fight boys?”
“I’m always ready, I was born ready,” responds Kron gruffly.
The tunnel splits in two with the smell of the fumes far stronger from one of the tunnels, travelling down it (with Horesh moving a bit ahead) the tunnel opens into a side chamber, there is a flickering fire in the chamber and sat around it are are three savage black, woaded tribesmen; two of them are muscley warriors whilst the third is a scrawny, wiry figure wearing a rams skull atop his head. The thin figure is tattooing one of the warriors with a strange oily black substance being melted in the fire, the design is a strange intricate geometric one.
Horesh heads back to the group and explains what is occurring, he then peers into the spirit world and perceives the spirits of maddening fury that populate the tunnels, he summons a spirit that resembles a skeletal man but with an animals skeletal head and persuades it to aid them in their fight agaist the savages. Kron charges forwards into the cavern, hefting his hammer and growling a savage norse war-cry; in response the shaman reaches a hand into the embers of the fire and blows a handful of ash and dust into the charging vikings face. Briefly Kron feels like someone is exerting pressure on his skull and mind, but he shrugs it off the sorcerors mental attack, leaps the fire, grabs the shaman and crushes his head against the wall with his hammer.
Still under the effect of the fumes Ozuchi engages the warrior who easily evades his inebriated attack but is unable to land a blow on him, Benito swaggers across to the same warrior and, as the warrior swings at Ozuchi, lops his arm off and then slices his throat, the warrior topples dead into the fire. The remaining warrior leaps at Captain Benito but the pirate manages to avoid his attack, Ozuchi attempts to take out the warrior with his stygian martial arts but the influence of the fumes has slowed him and the warrior avoids his attack, pulling a burning log from the fire and swinging at him.
Ozuchi’s komodo dragon spirit and the skeletal figure that Horesh negotiated with earlier grab hold of the warrior as he swings, pulling him backwards and meaning that only a slight blow lands on Ozuchi; Horesh pulls out his twin ceremonial daggers and, being skilled with the ceremonial death knives, delivers a vicious slash to the warriors midriff. As the warrior steps sideays to avoid further cuts from Horesh, Gunnar Kron steps inside his guard and smashes his hammer into the savage’s ribcage, throwing him across the cavern where he slides to the floor dead.
With the fight over Benito searches the shaman and finds that he is holding a long antler/bone needle with a reservoir carved into it that contains some of the thick black substance; near the fire is a carved wooden bowl also containing some of the black ichor, the scent they have been smelling emanates from it; Benito takes the needle and looks at Ozuchi who is slowly starting to recover himself, he asks him to examine the substance in the bowl. Ozuchi believes it to be a narcotic mixture of poisonous berries, herbs and snake venom – it’s a dilute poison that, in the correct dose, causes hallucination and makes the taker immune to pain.
Kron looks over the bodies of the warriors, thinking that perhaps they are from the village and were mind-controlled, one of them does look similar to the locals whilst the other looks vaguely norsican; Gunnar lays them to rest and whispers an apology to their gods since he was forced to kill them and that they didn’t know what they were doing. Horesh uses his spiritual connection with his familiar and finds that the villagers left back in the initial cave still seem to be fine; the group returns to the other passageway and begin exploring it, the wall of the cave begins to become more damp with thin rivulets of water dripping down the walls as they move further down it. The khemrian death-priest realises that they must be travelling underneath the Spiritwood river that rivers eastwards through the Great Forest of Celtia.
As they continue moving Captain Benito gets a strange stomach churning feeling as they draw closer to the Inland Sea and recognises the effects of his curse; the feeling grows as they move down the tunnel, as he mentions his feeling Ozuchi urges them to press on and reluctantly Benito agrees. Kron grunts and says “We have to press on, there may be survivors,” Benito agrees but urges caution, worried about the stability of the tunnel given the weight of water on top of them. As he starts feeling progressively works Benito pulls out the tattoo needle and asks Ozuchi whether or not the stygian medicine man believes that he could safely dose him with a small dose of the hallucinogen in order to counteract (temporarily) his curse.
Ozuchi administers the poison and Benito feels slightly fatigued from the effects, but there is at least some relief from the feeling of nauseous bought on by his curse. The group emerge from a cave mouth into a small, sheltered bay partway up a scree slope on the southeast shore of Celtia where it meets the Inner Sea; a storm is raging out at sea, but the weather in the bay itself is curiously calm, a small ship bobs up and down on the waters of the bay.
Horesh hears the sound of movement from within the bay and peers out of the cave mouth, he sees a couple of the savage warriors herding some ragged villagers towards the gangplank up onto the ship; a black robed corsair beckons for them to be bought onboard. As he emerges Benito notices that the flag on the ship flies the flag of the Black Eye, emblem of Captain Hannibal Hawkins – an atlantean descended pirate who was one of the first to flock to Blythe’s banner and call for Benito’s overthrow. With his knowledge of ships Benito estimates that the pinnace could be crewed by up to 60 men and has a compliment of ten cannons – Benito shouts this to them as they scramble down the slope towards the ship.
The crew of the ship spot the group, the five cannons facing them are craned upwards and fire at them, a cannonball impacts near Benito and Ozuchi spraying them with razor shards of rock that slice their flesh whilst another glances Horesh’s arm causing it to fall limply by his side with a sickening crunch; Gunnar Kron is struck a glancing blow by one of the cannonballs tearing the beach to shreds around him and lets out an irritated howl as he hefts his hammer and continues running towards the boat. The crew on the boat begin to reload the cannons as the group run towards them; Ozuchi sprints across the beach, dodging the two warriors, running into the surf to the bottom of the gangplank, Benito follows after him shouting “Get inside the range of the cannons, they won’t be able to shoot us!”
Kron runs towards the warriors but his anger at the recent cannonball strike causes him to over-extend himself and the savage lashes out, slicing into Kron with a razor-sharp flint knife, whilst Horesh begins to summon one of the spirits of the water, offering it a future favour in return for it’s aid. The two warriors turn on Gunnar Kron, drawing their flint knives, but Kron easily avoids their blows. On the ship Ozuchi knocks a load of barrels over, the cannoneers let out a cry and begin to stumble over the rolling barrels; capitalising on this Benito leaps up onto the railing, cuts a rope and swings across the deck, slicing a mans throat before landing on a barrel and pedalling it across the deck. Stabbing out with his sword, Benito makes short work of the ten cannoneers on this side of the deck, the ten on the other side begin reaching for their weapons.
Distracted by the pain of his arm, Horesh is unable to land a blow on the warrior attacking Kron; as the warrior leaps forward, knife raised, to attack Horesh, Kron leans forward and swings his hammer, catching the warrior in the stomach and killing him. The remaining savage moves to attack Kron but the seaweed and water seems to bubble and come alive around him, pulling the savage back and causing his blow to miss Kron as the spirit of the water makes it’s presence felt. Ozuchi leaps up and swings one of the ships sails towards the remaining cannoneers, as they duck to avoid it Benito snags one of the ropes from the sails and swings past them, slaying four of the cannoneers; the remaining warrior fighting in the surf deftly avoids the blows aimed at him by Horesh and Kron.
The surviving six cannoneers attempt to pull Benito down from the rope he is holding and stab him, but the flamboyant Captain pushes off, swinging the sail back over to the other side of the deck and carrying him away from his assailants; dropping into a martial arts stance, Ozuchi manages to hold his own as the cannoneers surround him, their weight of numbers begin to show however and they slowing start dragging down the stygian medicine man.
As the weight of his injuries are starting to show on Kron, Horesh leaps on the remaining warrior and stabs his knife into the man’s skull, killing him; Kron nods and begins limping up the gangplank.
Benito grabs one of the torches from a now abandoned cannon as he swings back onto the deck and hurls it at one of the robed cannoneers, catching his clothing on fire; capitalising on this distraction Ozuchi dispatches the remaining cannoneers using his knowledge of Stygia martial arts, flipping them into the water. Captain Benito begins looking for the captain of the boat, meanwhile Horesh leads the surviving villagers out from where they have been hiding under the gangplank, he spots a woman with green eyes and red hair and explains that they have freed her daughter; the woman almost faints with happiness and relief.
Suddenly the trapdoor to the lower decks bursts open and a barrel chested man with a peg leg and tattoos across his arms, head and back strides through; Benito doesn’t recognise him personally but, due to the way that the man is carrying himself, he believes him to be the captain of the ship, the muscley figure bellows “You dare to trespass on my ship!”
Ever ready with a witty report Benito snaps back “Well i’m the king of the Scarlet Brotherhood so that makes it my ship,” before attempting to punch the muscular figure, it barely seems to phase him, and in response the man pulls out a belaying pin and smashes Benito in the face, bruising beginning to rise almost instantly on the injured pirate’s face. Ozuchi ducks under the Captain’s arm and jabs the poisoned needle into it, causing him to stagger slightly. Benito uses the pommel of his sword to push the needle further into the muscular Captain’s body, he remains standing, although he appears to be struggling; the Captain swings his belaying pin, it connects with Benito’s head and there is a sickening crunching of bone. Suddenly, from nowhere, Kron launches his hammer towards the mighty figure of the Captain, it strikes his shoulder and drives him down onto one knee; seizing the advantage Ozuchi leaps forward attempting to deliver an incapacitating blow but the Captain manages to roll out of the way.
Staggering, Benito drives his sword through the Captain’s shoulder, piercing flesh and pinning the hulking figure to the deck, knocking him out with a final elbow to the face; Benito nods, satisfied, before pausing to relieve him of a ruby signet ring with a dark imperfection in it (as well as the finger it was worn on).
With the threat removed Ozuchi begins trying to patch up his companions injuries; as he finishes the only injuries remaining are Benito’s patched up skull, Ozuchi’s cut arm and Kron’s bandaged skull. With their pain somewhat relieved the group search the ship and find numerous slaves of various extractions below deck, when freed they all tell the same tale of being taken captive by the Dark Corsairs (as they call them); as a final act of defiance Benito replaces the flag on the ship with his own pirate emblem.

Serpents Fall: Fires in Celtia – Session 1

As part of my effort to move the information on my Fate Accelerated fantasy S&S game Serpents Fall onto a tiddlywiki for ease of reference i’ve finally started typing up the session videos into a written form, presented below for people who are interested but don’t have time to watch the videos (or who just prefer written descriptions).
The original video of the session is split into three part.

As the sun begins to raise of the land of Serpents Fall, Ozuchi Komodo, shaman of a stygian tribe that had fallen to attack by norsican warriors, travelled through the lands of Celtia, at his side walked the muscular figure of Gunnar Kron, one of the very same warriors that had attacked his tribe; but something about the attack had not sat well with Gunnar and at the last minute he had changed his mind and now accompanied Ozuchi who, as a medicine-man could sense the huge norsican’s sincerity and desire to change. Ozuchi knew that Gunnar wanted to make amends for his past in the same way that he knew the khemrian death-priest Horesh Komani who accompanied them and was bent on mastering the mysteries of the bleak lands was estined to help him re-unite the fractured people of both their nations. Rounding off the group was the flamboyant figure of Captain Benito, a once Pirate King from the Sword Isles who had travelled to Stygia seeking respite from a curse that forever denied him the ability to sail upon the seas, although he had not found what he had sought, the pirate had found companionship in the three people he walked besides,
On the southern edge of celtia, just before the land was swallowed up by the Great Forest, Horesh (who had been feeling distinctly uncomfortable away from the dry, death saturated wastes of his home) sensed a familiar energy nearby, calling to his companions to alert them to the presence of death nearby somewhere he suggested that they investigate; Ozuchi summoned his familiar to him, a spirit in the shape of a komodo dragon and directed it to seek out the nearby death. As the spirit slithered away both Horesh and Ozuchi eagerly followed it whilst Gunnar and Benito, a little more skeptical regarding the ways of the spirits, followed along behind them, Benito hacking thin boughs out of the way with his sword. Suddenly Gunna paused as he smelt a familiar odour up ahead, the burning of wood, charred flesh and scorched straw and for a moment his mind flashed back to the many burning villages and homes that he had left in ruin behind him during his past as a bloody handed reaver; darting forward the viking warrior put out a hand to stop Ozuchi and Horesh, warning them that someone was sacking a village nearby and that they should go no further without a plan.
Horesh dispatches his own familiar, an imp in bird form, to fly ahead and investigate, it returns and informs it’s master that there are a number of burning buildings up ahead of them; hearing the news Ozuchi leads the party through the trees towards the increasing smell of smoke. As they enter a large clearing the the smell of blood and scorched flesh hangs heavy in the air, they can see a village of about eight roundhouses, it appears to have been burnt some times ago and now little more than embers remain. Benito hears a groan from one of the burning buildings, he indicates for the others to be quiet before carefully making his way towards the sound, he finds a young, muscular man lying on the floor surrounded by corpses, a flint headed spear impales him through the chest and a whistling of air from the injured man attests to a punctured lung. The man clutches the spear as though trying to pull it free but he has not got the strength and appears to not be long for this world, Benito gives the man a sip of water out of his flask and asks him what happened. Gasping through ruined lungs the man manages to them that they were attacked by some raiders from out of the trees and that they took the women and children before murdering everyone else; barely conscious the man tells them that the attackers were savages from the wood wearing strange black woad and that they fought like demons but that they were not the local celts.
Using his skills as a medicine man and, realising that the man is beyond saving, Ozuchi makes him as comfortable as he can whilst Horesh performs a funery rite over him, siphoning some of the death power into himself to strengthen him for the trials ahead; meanwhile Kron examines the other bodies and finds that the villagers are farmers and migrants from other nations rather than warriors. Benito examines the spear used to kill the man, he remembers legends from his time as king of the scarlet brotherhood (an organisation that has raised bragging and tall tales to an artform) when a drunken sailor told him about the dark corsairs, a terrifying spectral force of raiders clad in black cloth & covered in black tattoos. the mention of the tattoos in the tale seemed similar to the description of the savage attackers who razed the village; the spear is carved with runes rubbed with berry juice to stain them black, Benito takes a copy of them on a piece of parchment.
Kron explores the ruins of the village, reflecting on his past and how before he never had to see the aftermath of his bloody doings; he notices there are no woman and children amongst the dead, but some of the bodies have strange symbols carved into them, looking more closely he can see the bodies appear to have been laid out specifically after death for some reason he can’t divine, he returns to the others & reports his findings. Horesh sends his familiar flying up into the air to get a birdseye view of the bodies whilst the, ever financially motivated Benito, begins searching around for the village supply store; he eventually locates a burnt out hut containing bags of grains and seeds, all apparently untouched by the raiders.
As it begins getting dark, Ozuchi begins checking the perimeter of the village looking for footprints or any sign of the raiders, through his spirit companion he senses fear and trepidation and he glimpses shapes moving amongst the trees; suddenly a spear is hurled out of the darkness, slicing his arm and he lets out a cry in his native language; hearing the cry, Horesh signals to his familiar to find out what is wrong with Ozuchi and a few moments later it returns, flying into him, knocking Horesh off his feet, it looks terrified, the creature tells Horesh that they need to get out quickly. Horesh tells the others something evil occurring and, as he does so, Ozuchi runs back towards the rest of the party, his arm still leaking blood; Benito draws his saber, his eyes scanning the treeline, he can just glimpse pinpoints of red light amongst the trees, attempting to intimidate the people lurking in the trees, he neatly side-steps another thrown spear, chopping it in two with his saber.
Horesh and Kron are cut by spears thrown at them whilst Ozuchi narrowly ducks under the one thrown at him and dives into cover amongst the ruins, the khemrian death-priest Horesh calls on his knowledge of the spirit world and summons up a spectral flock of birds; as he begins to bargain for their aid, Gunnar Kron pulls himself up to his full height, drawing his two hammers and preparing for combat. Shadowy, savage figures begin stalking out of the trees, primitives clad in rough furs and their skin stained with black tattooing and woad, a dull red glow seems to emanate from their eyes; attuned to the spirit world Horesh & Ozuchi can perceive the dim red outline of a strange bat-like entity superimposed over the tribesmen. Benito flamboyantly steps out, his saber flashing, the primitives seem unimpressed and one of them lashes out with a flint dagger, slicing into Captain Benito’s flesh.
Horesh begins to negotiate with the flock spirit, he offers to owe it a favour if it will it will aid him in this battle; Horesh agrees and the flock spirit flutters into the combat area, filling it with flapping wings and distracting the savage primitives, seizing on this Kron seeks a morale advantage by targeting the lead tribesman (currently attacking Benito) and hurling one of his hammers at the savage, it strikes home, shattering the skull of the leader who collapses to the ground dead. Seeing their leader slain the other savages lose heart and begin fleeing back into the trees with the party in pursuit. Kron and Ozuchi catch up with a couple of the savages, Kron attempts to shoulder barge one into a tree but the primitive is too fast and escapes, leaving Kron holding a scrap of symbol inscribed fur. Ozuchi brings down his quarry with his stygian martial arts and, with the help of Kron, is able to restrain the freakishly strong savage.
With the savage tribesman restrained Horesh attempts to examine the red spirit lingering over him whilst the rest of the group attempt to interrogate the cursing savage, after Kron uses his hammer to shatter the kneecaps of the savage, Horesh senses that the red spirit is something strange and cold like nothing he’s ever felt before; breaking the connection Horesh warns the others that the savage is possessed by some kind of old, strange dark spirit. Ozuchi attempts to communicate with the savage, threatening that if he doesn’t take them to where the villagers are, Horesh will tear the spirit from him, sundering his soul; in halting common-tongue the warrior spits at Ozuchi saying that he lies, claiming that only Fidach can summon the spirits and give them their strength. Kron asks if fidach was the (now slain) leader, at which the warrior laughs and says that Fidach would not be slain by a mere hammer, frowning at this description of his mighty weapon, Kron smashes the man’s other kneecap. With a grim sense of resolve Horesh says “someone end his life and I will take the information we need from his escaping soul.”
Nodding, Kron tells the others to release their broken prisoner, who collapses on his broken legs; they watch in mounting horror as there is a series of crunching sounds and the warriors legs begin to snap back into their previous positions, not wanting to risk facing whatever devilry is at work here Kron slays the warrior brutally, upper-cutting him with his hammer. As the savage’s soul escapes to the afterlife, Horesh inhales the essence of the death and sees a series of images showing the rough location of their camp, inside a dark burial mound or tor in a dim part of the forest; he starts following the directions from his vision with the rest of the party behind him.

Serpents Fall – Cast of characters

We’re now on the run up to our third G+ hangout session for our Serpents Fall Fate Accelerated game so thought i’d post up a little about the characters that are taking part in the game:
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Captain Benito, deposed Pirate King

Captain Benito was once the chosen King of the Sword Isles, ruling over the Scarlet Brotherhood, however the treachery of his black-hearted colleague Horningold Blythe laid the flashy pirate low; a great and powerful curse was laid upon Benito, it was intended to kill him but the strength of his Lemurian heritage allowed the Captain to avoid this fate, but the sea would forever afterwards shun him, visiting disaster and misfortune on any ship should Benito try to use it to voyage across the waves. Spat out by the seas of the mainline, Benito quickly discovered his curse and immediately set about trying to find a way to have it removed, even seeking out help from the renowned spirit shaman of southern Stygia, it was here he encountered the wandering outcast Ozuchi Komodo and the death priest Horesh Komani, each also seeking their own destinies.
Benito has recently encountered an old enemy of his in the shape of Captain Hannibal Hawkins, a lieutenant of Blythe’s and one of the first people to call for his disposal; Hawkin’s black corsairs seem to be in league with the savage Picts, kidnapping people for some nefarious purpose. With the aid of his friends Benito has captured Hawkins, taken his ship and freed the prisoners, although he sustained a severe skull injury in the process.
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Gunnar Kron, norsican warrior seeking to atone for his past

As part of the Timber Wolf raiding fleet that ravaged Stygia, Kron spent many years as a terror to the more civilised people of Serpents Fall, proving himself worth the murderous and savage reputation that grew up around him; however when he was commanded to butcher those who could not fight back Kron refused and found himself forever outcast by the fleet. Ozuchi Komodo, the person who Kron had refused to kill, saw that the warrior had some part to play in the destinies unfolding and suggested that the forceful warrior join them. Kron now fights within his own code of honour, but the red spectre of his past constantly plagues him.
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Horesh Komani, khemrian death priest

Born amongst the death-worshipping tribes of Khemri, Horesh showed an early aptitude for the death magics and spiritual workings of the country’s priesthood, attracting the services of a death-raven spirit companion during his younger years; his rise to prominence however was watched with jealous eyes from certain quarters and, during his initiation exploring an ancient tomb, Horesh found himself forced into a position where he had to choose between the life of a fellow or advancing his own knowledge of death. Horesh found this decision easy to make and channeling death energy through his body slew his fellow priest.
As Horesh continues to expand his knowledge of the spirit world he finds himself increasingly drawn into situations where he must rely on the power of the spirits, but ever so slowly he finds himself owing a tangled web of favours that must someday be paid.
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Ozuchi Komodo, last survivor of the komodo tribe

From the moment he was born Ozuchi knew that he had a destiny, the spirit world revealed it’s secrets to him, that one day he was destined to help re-unite the fractured kingdoms of Stygia; however it appeared that his dreams would come to naught when the Timber Wolf raiding fleet were sighted on the southern coast and norsican raiders began to pillage and burn their way across the country. As his tribe fell, Ozuchi prepared to sell his own life dearly when again fate played it’s hand and one of the warriors (a norsican by the name of Gunnar Kron), disgusted by the brutality of the slaughter, turned against his fellows and helped Ozuchi to escape.
Some time later whilst exploring a ruined temple in the jungles of Khemri, Ozuchi witnessed two death-priests battling and, as one fell, he recognised the survivor Horesh Komani as his khemrian counterpart, he knew that together the two of them could re-unite their splintered homeland.
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