Shadows: Part 1

Session 33

The old monastery stood in a clearing of the forest, the smell of wood-smoke in the air. They approached, knocked at the gate to the courtyard and getting no response they entered a well-maintained garden, next to a couple of doors into the monastery itself and a smithy. This close they could smell the smoke more strongly, and could hear what sounded like heavy pounding or knocking against a door, or maybe doors, from inside.

Carefully looking through the windows into a kitchen, they saw corpses of ogres and rat-goblins, pounding at a door, trying to break in. One of the rat-goblin corpses moved towards the window, and Alf tried to stab it, but missed. The corpse promptly closed the shutters, proving to be more intelligent than expected.

Feeling indignant, they party decided to move in and deal with these walking corpses and kicked the door open, entering the kitchen. Alf and Willow charged in, spears jabbing at the goblin and ogre. The goblin went down straight away, its decayed corpse falling apart; leaving a Shadow in its place, which moved of its own accord! The ogre turned from its pounding, steps-stepped the spear jab from Willow and backhanded him. Alf was having none of that and jabbed it, sending it crashing to the floor; but it merely stood back up again.

Another goblin came into view from a doorway into a smokey corridor lit by flickering flames that came from a bonfire in the corridor. Willow took it down, but from its corpse another Shadow stood out, and suddenly latched onto Willow’s own shadow, strangling it: Willow felt cold and weaker as the Shadow drained his life-force.

Magnus, Jacob and Callum entered the fray (Ratkin wisely stayed outside with the donkey, keeping an eye out): the wizard cast Evade the Dead, but found out the hard way that the corpses weren’t undead, as one moved to attack him. The first Shadow attached itself to Alf, sending cold spreading through his limbs. Jacob got clobbered by the ogre. One of the goblin corpses reached past the battle and slammed shut one of the doors to the courtyard, throwing the bolt down and locking it.

Callum, thinking that fire might work better, after seeing their non-magical weapons were having no effect on the monstrous Shadows, lit a couple of torches and waved them at the enemy, but it had no effect.

Magnus, finding himself cornered, unleashed a Burning Hands on the corpses, incinerating one (which released another Shadow), scorching another ogre corpse. Jacob slashed at the ogre, which whacked him back. The attached Shadows continued to drain Alf’s and Willow’s life.

Magnus, at this point, noticed that each of the corpses had a tendril of blackness, like a shadow made more solid, attached to it. The tendrils snaked away down the corridor, where smoke and bonfires made the shadows flicker and dance, thicker and more dark than they had any right to be. Powerful magic could be felt all around.

Alf managed to harm the Shadow attached to him, his Raven King Spear shredding some of its shadowy substance. Jacob hacked the ogre to the floor, but it rose again moments later, although looking like it was barely holding together now. Magnus blasted a Shadow with Magic Missiles, which took the brunt of the blow but managed to push through the barrage and attach itself to the wizard! Cold, felt deep down in his bones, afflicted the wizard. The ogres, both holding together by mere scraps of skin and rotting flesh, bashed both Magnus and Jacob. Ratikin entered the fray now, helping Callum take down an ogre: it too released a Shadow. Willow, finding himself attacked by a fresh goblin corpse easily took it down, but yet another Shadow emerged from the rotten body. Jacob, wielding his magic sword, harms one of the Shadows too.

Then Magnus had a great idea and, using the Ring of Many Colours, conjured a globe of darkness over them, removing the threat of the Shadows (which cannot exist without the light), allowing Callum to douse the bonfire in the kitchen, and everyone managed to retreat, freed from the life-draining Shadows.

They retreated back to the courtyard, where there was little more than soft shadows due to the cloudy day. They nipped back in, going to the door the ogre was pounding against, and had a short conversation with a monk holding up in the hall beyond: they are guardians of the monastery, and had been looking after one of the raven statuettes, but some fir darrig attacked and unwittingly awakened the Shadow of the Raven King from its slumber. They’ve lost several of their kin, and are unable to harm their attackers. The heroes agreed to help, and headed back out again, quickly formulating a plan of attack. They decided darkness was their friend, and that they needed to remove the fires from all those bonfires inside. So they filled their water-skins, and entered the monastery again by the front door, into a welcoming room/hallway, Magnus with his mage light illuminating the place.

They opened the door to the corridor and Alf jumped out, got attacked and latched onto by a Shadow, which he dragged inside the room, as another corpse stepped up and was blasted down by a flurry of magic missiles from Magnus. Ratkin climbed across the wall and ceiling, out of reach of the enemy below, and scampered above the nearest bonfire, water-skin at the ready. As he doused the fire, Callum slammed the door shut as Alf struggled into the room with the Shadow attached to him and the other following close behind: Magnus extinguished his light, plunging the windowless room into darkness and thus destroying the Shadows.

They flung the door open and moved into the corridor, much to Ratkin’s relief. Willow headed straight towards the next bonfire, using his water-skin to douse the flames, while Alf attacked one of the ogre corpses now cloaked in the darkness: he took it down, the Shadow inside having no light to allow it to form, and that one too shrieked as it was destroyed. Ratkin doused another fire, creating pools of darkness between the other corpses, Shadows, and the party. They advanced slowly down the corridor, those with magic weapons cutting away at the Shadows, while Magnus blasted more with what remained of his spells. Willow rushed off to refill the spent water-skins, and Jacob spotted a fire darrig corpse who had set itself on fire (to provide more light), but the fighter took it down before it got close to the others, but its released Shadow then attached itself to Jacob and the cold seeped into his bones…

End of Session