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  1. - Top - End - #661
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    "Isn't it enough if you believe me?" Aswin asked. "Don't you think I would have noticed if one of them was robbed of their life and forced into unlife while I fought side by side with them? Just minutes ago this Kuni of the Komori name used her healing magic on all of us, and it mended our wounds instead of destroying our bodies. I saw them bleed, I saw them sweat, I saw them hiss in pain and sigh in relief. They are as alive as you."
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  2. - Top - End - #662
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    Arya's disgust at the man's demand is evident, and she stares at him balefully, moving to stand united beside Aswin.
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  3. - Top - End - #663
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    Kobold

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    The professor gazes at the spot August once stood, and then back up to the window, shaking his head in silence. Aswin seemed to have a handle on the situation; Isaac was more concerned with what had riled this suspicion. He looks over the immediate surroundings, then back to the inn.

    The professor hobbles forward on his cane, confident that he'd be able to stop a stray bolt. Aim is the bodies piled before the inn door; an attempt to discern if they were the same walking undead that had threatened them since they'd come to this place.

  4. - Top - End - #664
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    The man hesitates again, until someone else calls out from behind the door. "Oh, just let them in," the voice, which you can now identify as Ismark, says. "If one of them is alive they all are." You hear furniture moving, keys turning in locks, and crowbars removing nails from the door, and eventually the door swings open. Ismark greets you with an apologetic smile. "Welcome back, friends," he says. "I apologize for Konrad's stubbornness; it's probably an entirely understandable reaction given what's happened here while you were gone. Though, if I can venture a guess, I'd say your foray was successful."

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    In their inanimate state it's difficult to tell whether these bodies are all the same as the undead you've faced so far, but some of them have clearly been dead for many years. A few have obvious incapacitating wounds—a crossbow bolt through the eye, or a severed head—but the majority are have no injuries that they necessarily received post-mortem. Of course, such wounds might not be visible with the degree of decay present in many of the corpses.
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  5. - Top - End - #665
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    With a rustle of leaves, August shrinks back into his normal shape, striding indoors with a shrug. "It could be called that. We lost one companion, but gained a new, and traded one path to the truth for another. What passed while we were away?"
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  6. - Top - End - #666
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    Ismark blinks and looks at the group. "Oh, Master Arthros," he says with a note of sadness in his voice. "I spoke with him last night. He didn't succumb to the plague, did he?"
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  7. - Top - End - #667
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    Professor Pellivander pushes himself to his knees with a creaky groan, and makes his way into the inn, carrying a somber demeanor, leaving Ismark's question unanswered.

    His path leads quickly to any table available, to sit down, and remove the phial with the captured parasite. Now was the time to inspect the little critter more closely.

  8. - Top - End - #668
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    Komori glances at the corpses on the way in, and murmurs quietly to Aswin, "Why do they not burn the corpses? Do they not know it is the only way to prevent the dead from rising?"
    All of this has happened before...
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  9. - Top - End - #669
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    "A body once risen won't rise again after you destroy it, but still they can bring rot and decay, so burning is indeed a good measure... If though you mean why they don't burn the bodies at burial, it must be the rites commanded by their gods. My people know both ways, passing into fire and earth, and many a man found a watery grave as well."
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  10. - Top - End - #670
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    T'riss wipes the blood from her hand and follows the others in. She still wants a bath and a change of clothes but a meal also seems necessary if they are going to keep up their stregnth for the unending battles.

    Stopping beside Ismark, she shakes her head sadly, Arthros is no more. His loss is gravely felt.

    Looking around the room, she notices the extra furniture piled beside the door. "What happened to the barricade? Here?" she asks.

  11. - Top - End - #671
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    Ismark calls for some water and cloths, which are brought by a pretty young woman in a white smock. "Until you have a chance to wash properly," he explains.

    "Some quarter of an hour after you departed, the lookout we had posted to watch the northern barricade—Bogomil, Konrad's brother—reported a figure coming through the mist. It was still quite foggy at that point, so it wasn't until I had joined Bogomil that it was possible to tell that it was Lady T'rissaste, limping and badly injured." He raises a hand to forestall any objections. "She was covered in blood and she called up to us that she was being pursued by the undead that had slain the rest of you, and begged us to throw down a rope. We did, of course, and she thanked us when she reached the top.

    "We began to lead her back here when she started to change. She grew taller, her skin grew tight and leathery, and her fingernails elongated into claws. She—it—killed Bogomil with a single swipe across his belly, and then turned to the barricade. Some sort of spell hammered into it and sent it toppling; it wasn't particularly well built to begin with, and we hadn't thought to brace it against attacks from within.

    "I'm not proud to admit it, but I screamed while I ran back here to the tavern. It's a good thing I didn't try to fight, though, because we were only barely able to get the door blocked off before the undead began pouring through the breach in the barricade. Konrad and a few others tried to take them down with arrows, slings, and bolts, but it became clear quite quickly that we didn't stand a chance. We all prayed to the Light, but no one actually thought to be delivered.

    "Our prayers were answered, it seems. Not ten minutes later, the creatures as one just dropped. No noise, no groans, no flashes of light or magic. Just collapsed."

    As he finishes the story you realize that Ismark's hands are shaking. Apparently noticing the same thing, he pours himself a mug of wine. He takes a drink and immediately pulls a face. "More like vinegar, this is.

    "Anyway, I hope you can understand now why Konrad was being paranoid. It's probably a more productive reaction than I would have to losing Ireena."

    Isaac:
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    The parasite is quite unusual. It has the general shape of a nematode, and at approximately fifteen centimeters long it is well within the size range of parasitic nematode species, but its feeding apparatus is entirely inappropriate for that phylum. Rather than the usual teeth or stylet, it possesses two shining black jaws like those of a termite or ant. It appears to be a bright red color, but whether that is its own coloration or the result of ingesting or being covered in gore you cannot tell.

    It seems to object to its imprisonment and is dashing its jaws against the glass of the phial; to your dismay it has already scratched the phial and it may be capable of breaking through the glass given enough time.
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  12. - Top - End - #672
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    Isaac frowns, looking at the vial. It didn't seem very friendly, and the last thing he wanted was a parasitic infection to be plaguing the town alongside their current trouble. Even with his preoccupation, though, it seems he can address Ismark.

    "Your observations confirm that this disease is magical in nature, methinks. We slew the supposed purveyor of the plague, and his death coincides with the deanimation of the undead. It would do you well to incinerate the bodies, as the newest member of our cadre has suggested. However, before that I require a few tools."

    He looks up, holding the vial aloft. "I need from you the sharpest knife you possess, and a dose of strong alcohol in a sturdy bottle. In addition, if microscopes have been invented, I should like to know where to find one. Otherwise, a magnifying glass will do."

    The professor takes another look at the creature, thinking for a few moments.

    "August! We'd do well to peruse the documents recovered from that chap's basement, after I have finished my dissection of this creature. I should like to know his motives and means."
    Last edited by Mahrke; 2012-11-15 at 03:58 AM.

  13. - Top - End - #673
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    T'riss frowns. "I like it not that some of these creatures can take the shape of those we know."

    She glances around. "It seems that the undead take more forms than just the risen ally."

    She takes the opportunity to use the water and clothes and clean as much of the goo and blood from her hands and face as she can. Digging into her satchel, she pulls out a tie, and with a swift movement pulls the myriad of briads back into a single one tied close to her neck. She frowns down at her leathers but while dirty, they still seem in good shape so she simply wipes them down with the rags.

    With a smile of thanks, she returns everything to the young woman.

  14. - Top - End - #674
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    August accepts a cloth gratefully, wiping away what he can of the grime. "Well, that was a fortuitous connection. I wonder how many of the shades have been banished? But yes, we shall continue our investigation nonetheless. Even were every shade gone, 'twould do us well to know whence they arose." Setting the papers on an empty square of table, August takes the journal for himself, finding a spot in which to read. "Have you any knowledge of written magic, Komori? Perhaps you could aid Isaac in deciphering these papers."
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  15. - Top - End - #675
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    Komori purses her lips at the new man's accounting of the battle, but holds her tongue...

    These people swear fealty to a lord that doesn't protect his vassals, and run screaming from battle. It is one thing to retreat when you see the defenses breached... Another still to run from Fear. Does no-one in this accursed place know the meaning of Bravery, or Duty?

    So intently does she focus on the new people, that she almost misses August's question. "Humblest apologies... August. I must admit I was not expecting your question. I know some of magic, though I am not as well versed as many within my lands. If my insight can assist in discovering where we must strike these wretched mockeries of life next, then I will try.

    Though, if our enemies can masquerade as allies, perhaps it would be wise to adopt a better method of proof than wounding ourselves. Perhaps a pass-phrase?
    "
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  16. - Top - End - #676
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    "Aarik, I'm sure, can provide for you a knife and spirits," Ismark responds to Isaac. "I have never heard of a microscope, but I'm not very familiar with artifice. Bildrath may have such a device or know where to obtain one, and he will certainly have a lens or two in his shop." The young man rises from his seat and walks to the bar where he confers with Arik. The burly bartender disappears into the back room before returning with a fileting knife and a small clay jug.

    "I hope applejack will do, Master Isaac," he says placing the knife and jug on the table. "I don't keep much liquor here in the tavern and we used up most of the whiskey treating nerves and cuts."

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    Applejack is a freeze distilled spirit made from apple cider. Also don't forget that it's not hard to build a primitive microscope, and Isaac would certainly have the knowhow to rig one up.
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  17. - Top - End - #677
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    "A passphrase would be useful, but words are easier to mimick than appearances. There is one true test the unliving can not shirk; some of us can channel positive energy, and while it heals the living, the unliving shie away from it for it disrupts the unholy power animating their bodies. Use this energy and you'll know whether the face of your friend is true."

    After the massive white wolf forced herself through the door, she lay down at the side of the room and Aswin removed the two corpses from her back, gently placing them on the ground, hands resting on their chests grasping the handle of their weapons. He thankfully accepted the cloth and water. "Forgive me for wearing the filth of battle a bit longer, but I have to attend to Drifa first. The poor girl had to tear at the rotting flesh with bare claws and fangs." He knelt down and the wolf opened her jaws, allowing him to clean out the traces of the many bodies she had bit into and wash the darkened hair around her muzzle.
    Last edited by TheFallenOne; 2012-11-16 at 02:23 PM.
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  18. - Top - End - #678
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    Kobold

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    Isaac has little time to tarry; there would be time enough for a wash after he had completed his research.

    The professor unstoppers the bottle of applejack, tipping it back to take a taste. If the proof is high, he unstoppers the vial with the parasite, quickly turning it over to drop the creepy crawly into a jug, quickly corking it thereafter. He leaves knife on the table, picking up the jug, as he pushes himself to his feet, meandering over to the pile of papers August had set down.

    "Aswin, when you are ready enough, I would like to pay a visit to Bildrath. Perhaps we can barter with the objects we've recovered from around town."

    He takes a seat at the other table, pushing the papers apart, and beginning to read, seeing how much sense he could make of it, only briefly looking up now and then to ensure the little jug was still intact.

  19. - Top - End - #679
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    "Sure. I wanted to look if he has a blade of decent size in store anyway. Even if the plague is banished, all those zombies showed me well enough sometimes a weapon other than a hammer is preferable."
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  20. - Top - End - #680
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    T'riss looks between the two groups and frowns. "I'm not going to be much help deciphering the notes." She says, "Would you like me to come with you or would you rather me stay here and help watch?"

  21. - Top - End - #681
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    Arya frowned. It seemed much of the danger was passed with the leader dead and his magic failing. But it would be prudent to investigate. "We should scout the area further to discover if all of the undead have fallen. I will accompany you Isaac, any see what we see."
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  22. - Top - End - #682
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    Outside nothing has changed; the bodies are still piled up around the doors to the tavern and Bildrath's shop, and the fog is still thick, cold, and clinging. Bildrath happily removes the barricade from his door and welcomes you in. "Whatever you've done, I thank you. My door was near breaking when the corpses collapsed, and now it seems they will stay down."

    In the tavern, meanwhile, Ashlyn tends to her fallen comrades. She shucks the armor off of them and begins cleaning them with water and towels. Her face is passive, but every so often a tear drips onto the bodies stretched out before her. Once they are clean, she claspes her hands in front of her and prays in the same foreign language she spoke with Isaac. Finally she stands up, traces a pentagram on her chest, and sits down at the bar.
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  23. - Top - End - #683
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    "The plague was banished when we slayed its source. Just like a tree dies and withers if you sever the roots. But still, we need to be prepared for further endeavors. If you have it I'd like to acquire a blade or axe. Onehanded, but somewhat larger than the ones usually forged." He showed his huge hand to illustrate the need for a larger scaled weapon. "And if you have a huge, sturdy piece of white cloth and know someone skilled in tailoring, sewing or embroidery that would be useful as well."
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  24. - Top - End - #684
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    As they file in to the little shop, Isaac pipes up. "I need a few things, truth be told. If you have a scalpel, forceps, and magnifying glass, I would be appreciative. Indeed, ecstatic, if you also possess a few well-made lenses." His fingers slide down, searching around in his pocket. Cred-chip, pen, old candy wrapper...and the bone raven. He fishes it out, examining it, before looking up.

    "And if you have any more of these, I'd be interested. Looks like there might be something to the superstition after all..."

  25. - Top - End - #685
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    "The magic of life will be a fair test. It reminds the shades that they are dead, I think; the soil seeks still to embrace them, and thus they can bloom only through surrender to its desires."

    Opening the journal, August leaves the others to go about their varied business, and begins to unravel the old man's tale.
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  26. - Top - End - #686
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    Bildrath considers for a moment before calling to Parriwimple and sending him to the back room. The muscular youth disappears for a moment carrying a rather beat-up sword wrapped in white canvas. "I haven't the foggiest idea why I bought this from that Vistani, but I suppose now it's a good thing I did. Said he got it off a hag, which I suppose ought to mean it's cursed, but Danovich looked at it and said it doesn't even have the faintest magic aura to it.

    "And I hope this canvas will work. I have a number of bedsheets if you'd prefer, but they're not very sturdy. Most of the womenfolk should be able to sew and embroider it for you, but I don't know who does better or worse work.

    "As to your request," he says to Isaac. "I have a few lenses, but I've never heard of scalpels or forceps. And I sold the last of my ravens to your companion, the gentle-looking one."

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    That'd be a longsword, non-masterwork.
    Last edited by Jeff the Green; 2012-11-20 at 03:10 AM.
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  27. - Top - End - #687
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    "It's rare you see someone advertise his merchandise as cursed", Aswin said with a laugh. "I take such things seriously, so I will consult August about the blade before wielding it in battle."
    He took the sword and entered the ox guard, first testing a thrust, then a slow diagonal cut, then a short series of attacks and blocks. "The balance is decent enough", he said, running his finger over the beaten flat of the blade. "It will do. The canvas as well."
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  28. - Top - End - #688
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    (only because I wanted some rping time...it was a long quiet weekend)

    Back at the inn, T'riss alternates between watching out the window, pacing the room and looking back outside. It is clear that she is uncomfortable.

    Finally, she stops and turns to the newest addition...

    "Komori,"
    she says, "If I may ask, your manner of dress is similar to those I have seen who travel the Golden Way from Kara- Tur, is it that you are from the Eastern Lands?"

  29. - Top - End - #689
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    Isaac turns to his compatriots when the price of his purchase is given.

    "One hundred and fifty gold pieces...outrageous. It appears we'll need to raise some capital..." His voice becomes more hushed now. "The things we've scavenged, perhaps one of you lot can barter with this man to exchange them for coins? I'm afraid I have no sense of the worth of things in this world, and even if I did, I'm not quite the expert negotiator I'd like to be. I can offer Vesper's information on each of our treasures, of course."

    His gaze slips over Aswin and Arya expectantly.
    Last edited by Mahrke; 2012-11-30 at 12:11 AM.

  30. - Top - End - #690
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    Re: From Across the Multiverse to Barovia: Expedition to Castle Ravenloft (IC)

    Sallera:
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    The diary is ordinary, even boring, for more than the first three quarters. That space covers more than thirty years, something you could not glean were not seven Holy days marked for each year. Most of the entries in this time record births, deaths, and marriages, but there are a few notes that mention names you've heard before.

    Some twenty-two years ago, the Bugomaster Kolyan Indirovich found a child, maybe two years of age, crying on the edge of Svalich Woods. He took her in and raised her as his own, giving her the name Ireena.

    Ten years before that, a girl from the village, named Amalie, was pursued by Count Strahd. She spurned him and became engaged to a boy from the village, but on their wedding night the boy was found dead—his throat torn out by wolves—and she disappeared. Some months later her corpse was found on the grounds of Castle Ravenloft, her back broken and her skull smashed from a fall from the parapet.

    From this point the priest mentions Strahd often nearly every year, frequently expressing the desire to overthrow the "monster." A few years ago he apparently learned of a book—which he calls the tome of Strahd—containing notes written by the count over a period of generations. Hoping it might contain information about his weaknesses, the priest sought it out, and traced it to the library at the castle. He crept into the library but couldn't find the Tome before being forced to flee. He later sought the advice of a Madam Eva, but was frustrated by her vague prophesy.

    The tenor of the diary changes abruptly one year ago. At this point he records the death of Doru, his son. After this he wrote daily, and daily his handwriting—and his sanity—quickly erode. He begins by grossly misspelling simple words, and then trailing off mid sentence or mid word. He replaces words with scribblings, and occasionally a single word will fill an entire page.

    In a rare moment of lucidity, he describes finding in the library of Castle Ravenloft the Liber Blastheme, a book of unholy rites. Among others, one rite offers the chance to return a fallen loved one to life. The priest spent months acquiring the required unguents and ritual instruments. Some he acquired from traders, while others he created himself, melting down holy statues and symbols to provide the raw materials.

    He performed the ritual at midnight a week before the fall equinox, and it functioned as expected, but appears to have weakened the priest's sanity further. He describes visions of demons—in particular, a gaunt one smelling of blood and gravedirt—and of spirits of the land alternately causing and blessing him and his son, and of dead rising from their graves and performing perverse sexual acts with each other and him. (Since the corpses you've seen have only been interested in killing and eating flesh, you feel fairly certain these visions were in fact merely visions.)

    The last entry describes the appearance of a demon who approached him during his nightly prayers in the chapel. It pronounced a doom on him before he was able to flee, and once it left he snuck out tof the church to seek help from the burgomaster and his daughter to protect the church from the demon.
    Greenman by Bradakhan/Autumn Greenman by Sgt. Pepper/Winter Greenman by gurgleflep/Spring Greenman by Comissar

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