A cold, wet, thunder stricken night met the adventurers as they entered the sleepy town of Evening star on the eve of their first day of journey to Cyrodil. They found refuge in the inn close to the center of town, and they met a few folks having lively times, drinking and eating and taking in the local flavor. After they had their fill the five, Garrack, his companion, and the three who had been wrapped up with the dark events in Sandstone, the hunter, sorceress, and rogue, retired to their two rooms upstairs for a night of sleep and respite.
During the long night the wind howled and lightning shimmered across the rain soaked skies, interrupted occasionally by the boom and crack of thunder. Garrack and his companion slept well enough, tired from their long journey and the events in the prior village. So too did the hunter, as he was used to stormy weather, and in far worse ways from the wilderness than the comfort of a bed. But the sorceress and the rogue tossed and turned the night away, tormented by visions of things seeming yet to come.
The sorceress was troubled by a vision of gaining knowledge just out of her grasp she so longed for at the cost of one of her own companion’s lives:
Your vision begins overlooking the rolling hills and fields below that lead to a grand city nestled by the endless sea. The day is a clear one with the sun high overhead and few clouds in the sky. And from above, a mass of rock and soil that dwarfs the city below hovers overhead and casts a shadow on the land. It is shrouded in a thin black mist that softens its features, but as the floating slab is approached the surface resolves to a metropolis of grand towers and ornate buildings. To the far edge of the slab sits a rocky outcrop on which a white citadel of fantastical architecture and form is perched. The interior of the citadel is approached and through twists and turns under archways and through corridors the high throne room is reached. On a throne constructed of flat faceted spires that form a structure of similar appearance to a pipe organ there sits a man of colossal height. He carries a longsword with a blade made of a white metal and a black iron handle and is clad in a cold black suit of armor and helm. To his right stands a young woman of fair skin and long black hair who is wearing a modern yet elegant white evening dress, like that of the 1920s. She has a menace about her gaze that makes you both shiver and cower at once. Across from the throne the six members of your group kneel in respect. The Dark Lord stands and motions to a table that sits slightly off to his left on which there are several small scroll cases. The woman walks over to them and picks two of them up while saying something that for some reason is muffled and confused to you, though obviously should be understandable. She then looks your kneeling self in the eye and gets a look of pure evil in hers as she commands something. At this, you promptly stand and turn to your left, brandish your weapon and strike down your own group member in cold blood, to which the woman bows and the Dark Lord raises his sword which has begun to swirl with a black essence high above his head. The woman walks over to you as the Dark Lord’s sword lowers and settles pointed at your torso and she hands you the two scrolls. And then a blast of black shroud covers your view and the vision fades away.
The rogue had a vision of seeking out power at the cost of obedience to a truly malevolent power:
Your vision focuses to see a large hall before you in which a tall man clad in black armor and helm stands above another kneeling man with head bowed to the floor. He holds a sword with a white blade and black handle that swirls with a black smoke high above him as he chants some incomprehensible statement. Across the hall stands a tall window out of which the black of night is interrupted by the crackle of lightning across the sky followed by the roar of thunder. The rain that pours down looks like sheets of water on the briefly illuminated patch of sky the window gives you glimpse of. The Dark Lord drops down his sword, first to the right blade of his shoulder, followed by the left, after which he motions for the man to rise and bows before him, at which you realize the knelt man is none other than yourself. Once Dark Lord has completed his ritual he turns and walks to the back of the hall where a cold throne sits waiting for him. You follow in turn and take a seat to his left in an iron chair dwarfed next to his throne, yet impressive none the less. Before you have settled in your new throne the doors to the south fly open and a woman comes staggering in. She wears a torn white dress, one of uncommon origin, like that of the 1920s, and has fair skin contrasted by long waves of black silky hair. She stammers before crying out in desperation to you, making sure not to make eye contact with the Dark Lord. “You must, you must help! You must not trust in the Far! Their logic is not one you can comprehend! There is nothing they will give unto you, even though they promise you the world! I say, do not trust them, drive them back!” To her stammering the Dark Lord vaults quickly from his throne wielding his shadow strewn blade and rapidly approaches her, driving her into a corner, making every word she mutters more desperate than the last. “Anak Shouldokaln Norstraddm Kellenoshk Ukltreadnst!” he roars in a low and fear driving voice, and he raises his sword once more high over his head, this time to strike her down in cold blood. He slashes violently across her arms and chest as she tries to defend her unarmed self. Blood splatters across the cold polished marble floor and in an arc along the nearby wall. He raises his sword once more and she whispers out on her last breath, “Make haste, for the Far have been given passage. Forgive me my actio…” And the Dark Lord swiftly drives his sword through her gut, impaling her in mid speech. He stands, and you follow his gesture by standing yourself. He bows at you and you to him in turn and following the formalities he gestures toward her blood drenched corpse and he swiftly leaves the room. You see yourself stand there a moment, unable to wipe a slight grin off your face, and then you approach the dead woman as you begin to chuckle under your breath and you shake your head in disapproval. And with that your vision begins to cloud with black smoke and you awake in a cold sweat.
The next morning the adventurers woke to find the storm lifted, but too the air of kindness and joviality of the townsfolk. Instead fear and darkness loomed over the town like the dark clouds of the night before. The innkeeper was curt and rude to the guests of his establishment, though the hunter did notice claw marks on the banister to the second story, and small splotches of blood on the outer wall of the inn which were not there before, he assured. Outside the townsfolk stood in huddled hushed groups, whispering their fears to one another, glaring anxiously as the new arrivals walked the street. While wondering about the oddities that had cropped up overnight, the three ran into Constable Shamus Greggors, who oddly enough is happy to take a moment with the visitors and ask them for help in uncovering the source of a string of murders starting the night before. Reluctantly, and with a bit of swaying by much needed coin, the three agreed to look into the matter, and learned of the missing shoemaker, a vicious animal attack in the alley next to the inn, and a gruesome murder at the Bovary Estate.
The party put on their detective hats and searched for clues. As far as could be determined, two young lads were torn limb from limb by a most dangerous monster that had claws, fangs of sorts, and left behind a grey jelly-like goo of toxic, acidic nature. They spoke to the shoemaker’s wife, who insisted something happened to her husband, even though they had fought and he had likely gone to a local place of a particularly seedy nature by the name of the Tavern of Forgotten Souls. She also showed them his boot, left behind on their doorstep seeped in a grey jelly-like goo. She said she had for them a magical rod of high value should they find him or learn of his fate. The three then ventured to the Tavern of Forgotten Souls to find an odd fellow looking for a woman named Liz Sterling. He wore a black suit and a fedora, both very uncommon garb for anywhere in the known world, and spouted odd tales of another realm. After learning that he was in search of this woman, they heard from the barkeep that such a woman of her description was staying in the woods outside of town at an abandoned mansion of sorts, the Culvert Mansion. Dr. Culvert, as he called himself, had a sick wife and odd ways, studying fringe magic most of the community dissaproved of in a an odd home of sorts out in the woods. When he was offered professorship in the Nine Kingdoms of Ner at the Univarsidat Teknaus Magikanus Proveknat nu Zorich, he happily accepted and moved, leaving behind his odd mansion undisturbed. The barkeep also let slip that folks claimed they saw a strange shadowy monstrosity lumbering toward the Culvert Estate the night before. The three committed these newly uncovered details about the woman and Dr. Culvert’s strange mansion to memory with intent to follow up on them, after searching the Bovary Estate for further clues first, that is.
They crept through the dimly lit estate room by room, finding odd scratches and drops of grey goo here and there, and hearing odd noises deep within the back of the estate. They came upon a false wall in the library which led to a long narrow low ceiling-ed room with a fire pit running its length, a dirt floor, ceremonial robes strung around its exterior, and an altar at the far end with a black book, a gauntlet, and a small black magical wand. This room radiated of occult dealings, and adorned on each robe and the book was a symbol matching the one on the cursed stone. This chamber fit exactly where the servant’s quarters would be, raising questions about the house servants while making it an opportune place for hiding such a room. They twisted toward the front of the estate and forced open the doors to the master bedroom to find it reeking of blood and death, with the remains of the poor inhabitants strewn everywhere. Off to the side the master bath with a large luxurious sunken pool stood out readily as it was full of black and red murk, and possibly pieces of the deceased Bovary inhabitants. After examining the bodies, or what was left intact of them, and the surrounding room, the hunter noticed an oddity about one of the night stands, and after a bit of fiddling by the rogue, the three found their way to a short sword of dark magical power, two wands, and some gems. In the private gardens off of the master bath they also stumbled on a seeing crystal, which they carefully wrapped and took for examination later. In all the party determined conclusively, the Bovaries were into some very dark sorcery, and appeared linked to the cursed stone from Sandstone.
As they made their way back to the front of the estate, they felt a presence in the house that sent shivers through them. And as they stepped into the great room on the way to the foyer, the shadows came alive. Small contorted bat-like creatures made of the same grey jelly-like goo with gnarled clawed legs, stubby wings, and hooked umbrella-ed maws crept from every corner floor to ceiling, and began to envelop the three. But, they had mastered many skills to get to this point in their adventure, and after fighting the small monstrosities off in a perilous struggle, they bested them and were free to escape the clutches of the estate. In doing so, the sorceress found that fire accelerated and empowered them, whereas ice froze and neutralized their grey goo essence. And with this new found knowledge and their clues leading them to the Culvert Mansion, they set off to find more answers in the woods to the north.