Chaos Rains, Chapter 4: One Big Pig

Chapter 4: One Big Pig

Samp woke up the next day, imbibed with righteous fury and vague recollection of the Oath of Vengeance he made long ago, before amnesia had come upon him: he made a prayer to his god, whose name he could still not recall, reinstating his lawful intent to uphold order at any cost; to fight and destroy the greater evil; to protect the innocent — and with this, he felt holy energy running through his veins once again.

Finch spoke with Toblen, who said that a wood elf from the nearby temple had asked to speak to them; he also passed on a note from Harry, detailing an outstanding contract worth 100 gold involving porc raiders near Wyvern Tor.

They crossed the street to the temple, and met the wood elf who had asked for them — she had strikingly bright green eyes and ash-grey hair, and introduced herself as Sister Hitomi. Her and Makoto seemed acquainted, although they did not speak to each other much. She asked a favour of them — to seek a banshee by the name of Agatha, who resided near an ancient, small town whose name has been lost to time, and ask of her the current location of the Spellbook of Bojarack. She gave them a silver comb to give to the vain banshee, and said that it should act as an offering that might catch the banshee’s attention and encourage her to talk with them. Hitomi promised them healing supplies in return for this. They spoke further on the identity of Bojarack, a good mage from many centuries past known primarily now for his spellbook, which is supposed to contain powerful healing and resurrection magic.

They then elected to speak to Darran Eldermath, the old-aged half-elf who was once a LARP associate, at his home on the edge of town. He was a friendly-seeming man of 150 years of age, who thanked the party for dealing with the Black Emperors — Darran had envisioned himself futilely trying to deal with them himself if they had not been stopped, so he thanked them for likely saving his life, in a roundabout way. He also had something else of interest to them — information: undead beings — supposedly zombies — had been troubling travellers near the Old Owl Well. Darran asked them to investigate, to see what they could discern about the incidents. There were even rumours that people had been going missing. The intrepid heroes decided to investigate this, too — and since the banshee, porc raiders and undead beings were all in a vaguely similar direction, they would strike out to investigate the matters in one journey.

Darran spoke of one last thing: Halia Thornton. He told them not to trust her — and that she might have connections to the Black Mask, a shadowy crime syndicate whose name is often whispered rather than spoken. Finch noted that she had asked them for their political support, and Darran asked them not to ally with her under any circumstances. Finch asked Darran to keep an ear out about anything he might hear about her. They then bid him adieu and went to speak to Barthen.

So these mightiest of heroes purchased horses, to make their journey faster, as well as camping gear and a week’s provisions. Barthen cut them a good deal, and they set off.

They reached the ancient, abandoned town at night time, and Makoto spotted a trail leading into the woods. They followed it, the woods getting darker and darker as they walked. They found a strange, loosely-constructed hut in a dome-like shape, the entrance leading into darkness. They entered; inside, they found elven-crafted furniture many centuries old. Almost immediately, a loose form took shape in the darkness — it had large, staring white eyes framing a spectral elven face, a loose, translucent humanoid shape appearing shortly after.

With disdain, the banshee asked them what they wanted, and why they had disturbed her leisure. Finch said he had an offer to make her, and she replied that it was unlikely that vile mortal creatures such as them could have anything she wanted. Finch then offered the silver comb, and her harshness dissolved slightly; she said that she would accept it, and offer one piece of knowledge in return, an answer to one question.

Finch precisely asked her: “Where is Bojarack’s spellbook?”

She answered: “I once held it in my possession. I traded it to a necromancer named Garrus from Thorn one hundred years ago. Other than that, I do not know.”

She disappeared. They travelled a distance away, and slept the night through, all slightly chilled by the brief, otherworldly encounter.

In the morning, they smashed breakfast, and continued their journey to the Old Owl Well. Eventually, the horizon broke, and they saw the Tonberry Hills, peaked by Wyvern Tor. They could see the ruins of an old watchtower, which they approached on horseback. They could eventually see a colourful tent set up beyond the ruined walls surrounding the watchtower. Leaving their horses tied up nearby, they approached.

A stench became apparent the closer they got to the tent, the stench of death. They headed further on, towards the tent, Finch taking the lead. ’Twas then that the ground did shake, and from it rose twelve rotten, shambling creatures: zombies.

The group readied themselves for a fight; it was then that a man exited the tent, a look of annoyance on his face. He was bald, his head tattooed; he wore grand red robes with an extremely high collar, and held a wooden staff with a crystal at the end.

“Hey. You guys. Get away from my zombies. What’d you want, coming around here, bothering me? Can’t you see I’m busy?” he said.

“What’s your name?” said Finch.

“My name is Kamun Host. And yours? Stand down, zombies.”

“I am Finch,” said Finch.

“And I am Samp,” said Samp.

The man looked puzzled for a second.

“Finch? Don’t I know you?”

“Yeah, maybe,” said Finch. “In the civil war? Down in Aspark?”

“No, no. One of my friends helped you out with something…”

Finch narrowed his eyes, and nodded. “Sure, yeah.”

“How’s it all going with that?”

“Well, I haven’t died. Yet.”

“Good. So, what can I help you with? It’s not to do with that, is it?”

Finch replied in the negative. Samp questioned Kamun about the undead, and the necromancer explained that he was not here for untoward reasons; he was simply investigating the tower, which held magic properties, perhaps linked to the Old Lightning. Any reports of people going missing were nonsense — his zombies were there but to scare away annoying intruders, nothing more. The party believed him to be telling the truth. Our heroes and Kamun spoke of the Spellbook of Bojarack, and the banshee Agatha, but Kamun didn’t have any further information on the subject, although he was interested in hearing that the spellbook had fallen into the hands of another necromancer, saying that he “wished that had been [him].”

Kamun then said that if they were wanting to be of use, they could help him out with a porc problem — raiders, causing him issues, encroaching on his ground. It turned out they were the same porcs the party were searching for anyway, so they said they could help him out, too. Kamun asked them to bring him the porc leader’s head, or else his gold tusk, as proof, and that he might be able to throw some supplies their way in payment.

So rideth’d on the fine champions of the lande, towards Wyvern Tor. They reached a large flat plain, and founde upon the plaine a carriage that was ransacked; four dead men lay nearby, slain in cruelty, the horses shot by arrows. Telltale signs of porcine brigands. The slain were likely to have been travelling merchants, before the porc raiders got to them.

The heroes rode on, as night began encroaching. They made their way up into th’ hills, and began searching for signs of porcs. Three hours passed, but no progress was made; there was not a sign of the pig-men.

They rested, and kept searching. Eventually, Samp stumbled across a small cavemouth; they investigated. Samp entered. He saw a chest at the back of this small cavern, and began moving towards it, when three mid-sized giant spiders came into view; they blocked his way, and showed their mandibles, promising danger if he continued. Samp struck forth with his sword, seeking to prove their abject destruction. In the struggle, Samp, Finch and Makoto were all poisoned, and badly hurt; two of the spiders were exterminated, and the last one crawled away into the cracks of the cavern. Found inside the chest was Samp’s glorious bounty: a book titled As I Lay Dying, and a magical scroll.

They made camp in the cave. In the evening, Makoto spotted two porc scouts wandering the area; Finch lunged straight for them, and Samp followed shortly behind. Finch took both of them on for a while, but was still poisoned, struggling through the fight and once dropping his sword. Ultimately, though, they were able to quell the surprised porcine True Humanoids before they could escape to warn the others. Our avenging heroes hid their mutilated bodies in the undergrowth and went back to their cave, eventually getting a full night’s sleep with no further interruptions.

They set off again in the morning, Finch leading. As they crossed through a wooded patch near a stream, they heard a voice: male, possibly porc, it muttered out loud about how unfairly it was being treated. Following the sound, they came across a porc named Gary, who claimed he was just a good old porc gathering water. Eventually they ascertained, through Gary’s own stupidity, that he was in fact one of the porc raiders, and that he knew where the others were hiding. Feeling threatened, Gary said:

“I don’t want no trouble. I don’t like the others — they force me to get water, and spit on me in my sleep. Every time I wake up, I’m covered in spit. They say they don’t do it, but I know they do, because I don’t spit on myself.”

Samp asked him politely and under threat of death to lead the party to these other porcs, and Gary duly obliged. He mentioned that they also had a pogre with them, a hybrid of both traditional giant pig and a standard ogre, that was named Cunt. Finch asked him how intelligent this pogre was; Gary was unsure, but he did know that it tended to only really say its own name, and quite frequently. Cunt defended the porc leader, Brock, with fervour.

Outside the cave that the porcs supposedly made home, a guard stood on watch some fifty feet from them. They pelted the lookout with javelins, but not enough hit true enough to take him out, and their target squealed and ran into the den. Finch led the charge into the cavern. Inside, it was dimly lit, a cavernous corridor leading down. They followed it down, and around, more cautiously now. Finch turned the corner, to see what would come next…

“CUNT.”

The pig, seven feet tall on four legs, a huge metal ring in its nose and the hair on top of its body forming a natural mohawk, was already hurtling towards him. Finch moved just in time, but as the giant pig crashed against the wall, it shook him and the rest to their bones, unsteadying them for the battle ahead.

Thus began what was, genuinely, one of the hardest fights they would ever face.

Brock and three of his porc warriors strode forward, anger in their eyes.

“Gary, what the fuck are you doing?” he said.

“Oh, hi, Brock,” said Gary, sheepishly.

“You listen here, little prick, I’ll ’ave you first. I’ll cut you.”

Before he could, Finch rushed forward, using a burst of energy to strike the porc leader twice, dealing massive damage to the mighty warrior. Brock, bleeding, enraged, struck back instantly with his greataxe, giving as good as he got and then some, tearing links from Finch’s chainmail and almost knocking him unconscious in one blow. Samp, reacting with refined expertise, struck forth with his longsword, calling out — “DIVINE SMITE,” — bringing the blade, glowing with radiance, through Brock’s head, splitting his skull asunder longways, blood spilling out onto both Finch and Makoto.

Gary felt great; he felt a lot safer seeing big Brock in pieces. Cunt charged at Samp, enraged at the death of its master, but Samp dodged with ease. From here, the heroes struck forth against the remaining porc warriors, hoping to push them back into submission whilst they floundered, leaderless. But it was not to be so; they stood resolute, although shaken. Gary, unsure of his position in life now, tried staying out of the fight for a while, to gauge the situation, whilst the porcs and our valiant heroes clashed blades and axes.

“CUNT,” said Cunt.

The giant pig raged towards Samp, crushing him against the wall. Cunt thought he had this one settled. He went for another ramming attack. But the giant pig had made a fatal mistake; its focus was on the wrong target. In another moment, Finch had used the blood on the floor to slide under Cunt, and spilt its guts all over the floor. It cried out its name one last torturous time, and then fell.

Even Gary was getting into it now, striking down one of his erstwhile comrades. He grinned. Victory seemed close at hand. But, alas, things never quite work out as simply as they should; two further porcs, a returning hunting duo, entered, unsure of what they were seeing but knowing that the only correct approach was to go in swinging. One of the two, a porc by the name of Kronk — notably, the only porc who didn’t spit on Gary as he slept, a fact unknown to everyone but him — saw the waterboy, standing over the body of one of his friends. He spun his greataxe and roared: “Traitor!” — and then advanced.

Our heroes, surrounded and running low on health, kept striking out, raging against the dying of the light. It was looking hopeless. Gary’s head was struck from his shoulders by Kronk. Kronk stifled a wave of emotion and kept attacking. Only one group was getting out of this cavern alive, and it was looking almost likely to be the porcs.

Finch, on his last legs, delivered a killing blow to one of the porcs, who fell to the ground, his throat hanging open. Makoto kept Finch standing with one of his last health potions. Samp was overwhelmed, unable to get any hits in — he was almost knocked to the ground by the swinging axes. Likewise, Makoto suffered a devastating blow, just about keeping himself on his feet. Finch, again, turned a porc’s throat into a void. Makoto swung his morningstar and the penultimate porc’s brain met the musty cave air.

Finch struck Kronk, who collapsed to his knees; he saw his years of raiding and pillaging flash before his eyes.

“That’s it. That’s all I can take. Either kill me or let me live. It doesn’t matter anymore,” he said. The wounded trio, in a moment of clemency, spared him. Samp questioned him on his intentions, but there wasn’t much to it; it was easy work, and worth the pay.

“Crime doesn’t pay,” said Samp.

“It did until you arrived,” said Kronk.

“Is there any reason that we shouldn’t kill you? Have you got any advice, or information about the area?”

“Yeah. There’s lots of hills.”

“That’s not information, that’s just stating a fact,” said Finch.

“That’s all I’ve got,” said Kronk. “You could take me back with you. Throw me in jail.”

Finch and Samp looked at each other.

“I don’t want to be dragging him around for ages,” said Samp.

There was a flicker of recognition in Kronk’s eyes before Finch cut him to the ground. The porc didn’t even have a chance to scream.

The trio had survived to fight another day. They took their rest in the porcs’ cavern, amongst the corpses.

 

Chaos Rains, Chapter 3: Godspeed You, Black Emperors

Chapter 3: Godspeed You, Black Emperors

Our heroes awoke refreshed, feeling stronger than before. They headed downstairs and made acquaintance with Toblen, proprietor of the Stonehill Inn, a well-built and honest man who seemed interested in the party and their dress, identifying them as adventuring folk. He told them of a trouble that had swept the town of late: that of a street gang, known as the Black Emperors. He asked them for their help in ridding the town of the scum. Toblen’s wife, Trilena, chimed in that the thugs had recently killed Thel Dendrar, the fishmonger, for standing up to them, and that shortly after, Thel’s family (wife, daughter and son) went missing. Samp and Finch said that they’d think on it. Toblen thanked them, and told them not to worry about payment for their last night’s stay.

Harry convened with the party in the inn and talked to them on the topic of Trout Rockefeller. He said that another of the Rockefeller brothers should also be there, but he hadn’t arrived; Harry said that he feared the worst. They also spoke of the Black Emperors, Harry again mentioning his ally Spyro Herzog, and his disappearance; LARP officials often helped towns by governing them until they develop enough to hold their own elections, and this was Herzog’s role until his disappearance. Harry believed this gang may have kidnapped or killed Herzog. The party resolved to face the Black Emperors, and uncover what they could. Harry offered what information he knew: that their leader was named Happyslap, and that the gang was rumoured to have a high turnover rate; however, there could still have been over a score of them in total. Harry then mentioned that he would be speaking to the temporary acting townmaster, Harbin Wester, soon, if the group wanted to join him.

The party informed Toblen that they were going to put a halt to the Black Emperors’ illegal activities, and Toblen said he’d happily give them free lodging any time at his inn as thanks. Finch smashed a good old morning pint of ale, on the house.

They walked through the quiet town, and other than them, only children seemed to feel brave enough to wander around and play their games. They saw market stalls in the town square standing unattended, some with rotting fruit and vegetables upon them. Also canon is the fact that there were great amounts of animal excrement on the ground, and that sometimes it was necessary to trudge through it to reach a given destination.

So the party entered the townmaster’s hall, one of the few double-story buildings in the town. There, Harry confronted Harbin Wester, an unusually short, entirely bald man. Wester seemed confused, and incompetent; Finch chastised the acting townmaster for ignoring the problems that the Black Emperors were causing, but Wester remained aloof. Harry then grabbed the small man by the collar and informed him that he was no longer acting townmaster, and that he, Harry, would be taking over. The terrified Wester claimed to just be a simple banker, unable to deal with blade-wielding thugs, and happily renounced his brief townmastership.

Harry offered the party a sum of 200gp to deal with the gang issue. The party spoke of future plans to perhaps kidnap a puruk to discover the location of Cragmaw Castle. They then adjourned their meeting, the party setting off to deal with the Black Emperors, with two leads to follow: Darran Eldermath, a half-elf and ex-LARP associate that Harry knew some years back, and Halia Thornton, overseer of the local FARM (Farmer’s Association of Regional Mercantile), who Harry said not to entirely trust for reasons ambiguous.

The heroic band set off to the FARM building. On the way, they noticed an old, crumbling manor on a small hill at the north end of the town. They reached the FARM headquarters, and were introduced to Halia Thornton, a well-dressed and well-mannered woman with dark hair and dressed in finer clothes than many of the other townsfolk. She was pleased to hear of their decision to take down the Black Emperors, and offered them a further 100gp to kill the leader of the gang and return with proof.

She informed them that the gang hung around at the Sleeping Giant tavern, drinking and likely swearing; they had also been seen hanging around at the abandoned house, Tresendar Manor. Samp seemed worried that but three men could take on the whole gang, but Halia assured them that the heroes seemed much better prepared for combat than the ragtag ruffians that comprised the gang.

Halia spoke of one last thing — that of a political alliance. If the LARP-aligned townmaster, Herzog, had indeed been killed, then there could be possibility of the first town election, if the people requested it; she asked for the party’s support, and said they could speak of this matter at length later.

Our heroes left Halia at the FARM. Finch concluded that the best course of action would be to go to the gang’s drinking hole, capture one of them, and “torture the shit out of them until they speak.” The grand hero band made their way to the ramshackle Sleeping Giant; outside, stood four human ruffians, wearing grimly black hooded cloaks. As the party approached, one of the thugs hawked a lug of spit onto the ground.

“What the fuck do you want, eh?” said the ruffian.

“We’re looking for Happyslap,” said Samp.

“Why in hell would you want to be doing that, then?”

Finch speaks: “We’re thinking of joining up.”

The ruffian looked amused, looking to his friends with a snort, and another lug of spit

“You bunch of weirdos? Are you for real?”

Finch got right up in his face, grabbing him by the collar and almost lifting him off the ground. “You try me and see if I’m for real, boy,” the icy-eyed mercenary hissed.

The man coughed, and laughed, as Finch loosened his grip on the man. “Hah. Yeah, you’re alright, you are. Not bad. Sure. How about we take you down to the basement there at the manor, and get you some of these nice black cloaks?”

 

 

Thus they set off with this amicable cur — name of Dunjonbhoi — and one other recruit, a young man, to the supposed secret base of operations of the Black Emperors.

“Can we call you ‘Dunj’?” said Finch.

“Yeah, ‘Dunj’ is fine, people call me ‘Dunj’ ” said Dunj.

“How about just ‘Dun’?” said Samp.

“I mean… that’s less common,” said Dun.

Before long they were sharing a good old laugh, getting acquainted with Dunj. After some walking, they entered a dark passageway that led into the hill under the manor. They entered into a large cavern with a deep crevasse in the middle, and two bridges that led over it. Dunj pointed at the first bridge and told them not to use it, as it was ‘fucked’. As they neared the second bridge, they heard a strange sound coming from the crevasse; an alien sound. Dunj said not to worry, it was just the ‘Nothic.’ An ’orrible thing — really fuckin’ weird — that Happyslap kept around.

“Meat… meat…” crowed the nothic, from down in the crevasse.

“How far away is Happyslap now, then? If I’m joining, then I want to speak to the leader,” said Finch, as they started to cross the bridge.

“You can’t just speak to ’appyslap. He’s busy. But, thinking on it, some cunt’s come into town, some lord, or knight fellow. Probably going to cause issues. How about, you take care of him, and then maybe you can talk to Happyslap.”

“I’ve met this ‘cunt’ you’re on about,” said Finch.

Meat… give me meat…” crowed the nothic.

“Meat? I’ll give you some fucking meat,” said Finch, and with that, he grabbed Dunj, who barely had time to utter, “What the f—” before he was pushed into the crevasse, his bones breaking on the rocks, being left at the mercy of the nothic.

The other Black Emperor, a green recruit with little combat experience, took a step back in horror, and he, too, fell into the pit, breaking his legs, and his jaw, and again, being left to the quick hands and mandibles of the unseen creature that stalked the crevasse.

Meat… thanks for the meat.”

They looked around them, and saw four ways they could go. They set off to where Dunj had said the common room was. They took the left hand path after reaching an intersection, and stood by the following door.

Behind said door, they heard thus wordes being spake:

“No! Please, don’t do this to me, I can’t take it anymore.”

The voice seemed familiar, somehow. Another voice uttered:

Do a backflip, you little runt.”

“Just kill me, I don’t want to do another backflip!”

I said, do a fucking backflip!

They decided not to enter, and instead turned from the door for time being, and approached the opposite door down the corridor. Samp kicked it in. Inside, was a common room, and four drunken men, all wearing the black cloaks of their gang, were sitting at a table, gambling. One man, seemingly the leader, stood up and questioned them.

“Where the fuck is Happyslap?” said Samp.

Thus began the battle. It was a quick battle, the Black Emperors drunk, sloppy with their attacks. Makoto defended himself with quick ease, parrying blows and striking out with his morningstar — he possessed a speed and finesse with the bulky weapon previously unseen by either of our heroes. Finch utilised his quick reactions to help Makoto block the strikes heading for him, then returned focus upon the young, drunk men, who the heroes otherwise quickly dispatched, and without mercy. They kept the leader alive, but only just — the man coughed blood onto the ground, clearly close to death.

They found out that this was the second-in-command of the Black Emperors — “for what it was worth.” He shewed light upon the ‘backflip room,’ which apparently contained ‘pigs.’ They asked him where Happyslap was, but he told them, mockingly, that he was probably gone by now, what with all the noise. Finch mocked him back, telling him that his friend Dunj was nothing but meat for the nothic now, and soon he would be too. The man didn’t have much else to say. Then he coughed one last time, and passed away.

They crossed back to the so-called ‘backflip room.’ Inside, they heard further protests and angry coercions relating to backflips:

“My shins! They can’t take no more backflips!”

DO ANOTHER BACKFLIP.”

They busted down the door, and in front of them, stood three puruks, all laughing at the misery of the poglin they had performing backflips. The poglin — none other than Blinky — saw the heroes and fainted with both fear and joy. Each puruk had a tiny flat cap upon its head; one of the puruks was taller than the rest, and looked to be incredibly rindy, and the one in the middle had upon its face a ruby-encrusted eyepatch. The party started discussing which one to capture, incensing the suspicious pigs and initiating the battle of the century.

The merry heroic band crossed blades with the greatsword-wielding pigs. The one with the thick rind proved difficult to take down, due to its thick skin, and the eyepatch-adorned leader-apparent of the trio dealt massive damage to all of our plucky protagonists, almost knocking Makoto unconscious. Finch eventually pierced the rind of the thick pig, spilling its guts all over the cold hard ground; Makoto dispatched the third one into unconsciousness with a blow to the pig-head; Samp then stood forward and unleashed a strike infused with divine energy, calling out:

“Divine smite!”

It tore the leader pig directly in twain, the two halves falling to the floor, bacon sizzling in the air. Thus the battle was over, and Blinky was saved.

Blinky seemed happy to see them once he awoke. He told them of his recapture by the puruks, who punished him for his desertion by the method of enforced backflipping; he had been backflipping now for almost a full day. Finch was interested in seeing one of these famous backflips, but Blinky refused. Finch thus intimidated him into it through threat of force: and so Blinky performed a backflip for their amusement, spinning in place through the air, and landing squarely on his coccyx; and thus he was happy to see the party no more.

The poglin said he could go with the party to Cragmaw Castle, and although he didn’t know the way as per se, he could help them capture a poglin patrol who might. The heroes decided to keep Blinky with them for the time being.

They woke up the unconscious puruk and questioned it about Happyslap and the location of Cragmaw Castle, but the puruk stood fast, knowing it would be dead soon anyway, and refused to give up even a hint of useful information, other than that everything linked back to this “Harrier Jet”. Samp then let the blood out of his throat and released him from this world.

“He’s gone to the great sty in the sky,” said Samp, poking the corpse with his sword.

 

 

They made their way back down the corridor, through the common room full of dead ruffians, through another door, until they found themselves at the door they suspected Happyslap to be hiding behind. Inside this room was what looked like a wizard’s workshop, which Makoto was able to rifle through to find some potion-making ingredients. Through another door, and they found a small bedroom/study, since vacated. Upon the writing desk, a quill lay, with fresh ink seeping from it, but they did not find what may have been written with it. They scoured a series of older letters, finding this one:

 

Happyslap, you fool:

I heard that there were going to be some new boys in town soon — probably Rockefeller contacts. Capture them, slay them if you have to, but get their maps to me post-haste. Make it so, Herzog.

From, Harrier Jet.

 

Our heroes mused on the revelation that Happyslag and Spyro Herzog were one and the same, Finch being concerned for Harry’s reaction when they had to tell him this. They raided Herzog’s treasure stash and found a secret passageway that led down, back into the main chamber. They continued to search the hideout, finding an armoury, where Finch procured a light crossbow. The crossbow was engraved with the name ‘Chekhov.’ Finch strapped Chekhov’s crossbow to his back, and they continued on their way.

They found a chamber that within contained a partitioned set of cells; in one of the cells were two women, and in the other, a young boy, all of them fitted with iron collars. Two men in black cloaks stood in there also, who moved forward with their hands on the hilts of their shortswords.

“Fuck are you lot doing here?” said one of them.

Sir Samp Sampington thus spake: “Look, you may not know this, but we’ve slaughtered every last one of your comrades, and your best bet right now would be to surrender, and keep your mouths shut.”

The Black Emperors eyed the party, whose weapons were clearly wet with blood.

“What happened to Happyslap?” said one of them.

“We slaughtered him like a dog,” lied the paladin, his voice deathly serious.

The two men took their hands from their hilts.

“Well, when you put it like that… erm, mind if we leave? You don’t mind, do ya? Great. Here’s the key, and er, farewell, and thank you very much.”

So our heroes freed the captured townsfolk, the family of the slain Thel Dendrar: mother Mernar Dendrar, son Lars Dendrar, and daughter Nilsa Dendrar. Nilsa, fair-haired and in her mid-to-late teens, was quiet, brooding; she didn’t say a word. Mernar thanked them, and after their collars were removed, they stayed in the cell area and awaited further instructions.

After making their way past a floor trap, Samp sent Makoto back to gather the Dendrar family, and they made their way forward. As they entered the next room, another door burst open, and three Black Emperors approached with their swords drawn, and asked the party who they were and what they wanted. Finch, taking no shit, leapt straight into combat.

The thugs put up a surprisingly good fight, with Finch almost being knocked unconscious in the fray. Nilsa, who had been keeping back, suddenly moved forward, revealing to have picked up a shortsword earlier — although still silent, her face boiled with rage over her dead father. She fought surprisingly well and was swift, parrying a strike from the ruffian she had engaged in combat, landing a good strike in to boot. However, she took a nasty hit to the leg, almost incapacitated from the pain; her mother screamed in fear.

Samp stepped between Nilsa and her attacker, knocking back the Black Emperor with an almost-fateful blow. Nilsa, uncowed but bleeding, moved forth again with her shortsword, and managed to skewer her attacker, slaying him, before falling to the floor with exhaustion. Finch slayed another foe, who fell to the ground, dead as a bastard. The final miscreant almost struck Makoto to the ground, but Samp, ever the protector of the endangered, stepped forward again and — “dodge this,” said Samp — knocked him to the ground with the pommel of his sword.

“Where’s Happyslap?” demanded the paladin. But the final surviving rogue had no idea; all he knew was that his friends were dead, and that he likely would be soon, too. He had never even met Happyslap; in fact, he’d been with the Black Emperor company but two weeks. His estimation of his own survival had been correct; Samp’s pommel came down again, ending his short life.

Nilsa’s mother chastised the young girl as Makoto tended to her wounds. The gathered heroes then spoke of what to do next; they debated interacting with the nothic again. Makoto explained what he knew of the nothics — that they were once mortals, magic users, who had been swayed by dark powers, and thus doomed to new, aberrant forms, driven to single-minded obsession. This tended to be reflective of their vices in life: greed, lust, pride, and the like. A wizard hungry for knowledge may become hungry for flesh in its new life.

They debated Happyslap — Samp believed him to perhaps be invisible, somewhere in the complex. They confirmed the location of the exit, which led up to the abandoned Tresendar manor, and then considered their options. Nilsa stood up, and spoke for the first time: she asked them to, if possible, find her father’s body, or what was left of it, which she had heard was still in the dungeon somewhere. Samp said they would try, and then ushered the surviving Dendrar family back home.

The heroes searched the room, finding a piece of parchment by the exit. It thus read:

 

Harrier Jet:

I must speak to you soon. Rockefeller has brought the Finch boy with him. You must help me — I told you of this, and have served you well, so when you receive this, send pigs to Sheoville with haste, or I may be doomed. Perh—

(It ended there.)

 

The party assumed it to have been written by Happyslap, and that this lost note was a sign of his flight from the hideout. They resolved to speak to the nothic, and took the long way around to the room with the dead puruks inside — they dragged one of the almost-humanoid pigs to the nothic in the cavern, and then they heard:

“You got meat?”

The nothic moved out of hiding, showing its bizarre, hideous form, its single eye glowing a sickly green in the darkness. It crawled up to see them better, its almost humanoid form hideous to our heroes’ eyes — it had notched, grey skin, and a wide, bloody smile.

“Oh, we’ve got meat,” said Finch, “a whole lot of pork.”

He bargained with the nothic — one item per puruk. He retrieved Thel Dendrar’s wedding ring, and then was invited to select two further items from a chest brought up by the creature, who was already salivating at the idea of so much meat. Finch perused the chest, his eye lingering on a sword within; a shining longsword of unique, bronze-hilted design, Dwarven runes on the blade. The nothic smiled an offensive smile.

“You want Talon?” it said. “I can tell you want it. It could bring you the revenge you seek. Two pigs for Talon.”

Finch made a deal with the hungry nothic: he would leave the nothic to reside in this place, and not speak of its foul existence to anyone, leaving all the meat of the slain Black Emperors, in exchange for Talon, and one item for each of the other party members. Makoto took a magical scroll, and Samp took several malachite stones.

The heroes left the way they came, into the cold, harsh light of day, Talon now strapped to Finch’s waist. They returned to the man Harry Lyndon, who asked them of what they’d found out about the Black Emperors; Finch informed him that their headquarters had been cleansed, but that Happyslap had escaped. Harry asked about the fate of his friend Spyro Herzog — Finch explained that he was not dead, but worse: that Herzog and Happyslap were the same person. Harry sighed, and said he had worried about that possibility; Herzog had always seemed slightly edgy, that there had always been something indefinable about him. But, he couldn’t think of why Herzog would do such cruel, unlawful acts. Finch expounded upon the link between the puruks and Happyslap, with Harrier Jet being the link; and that Happyslap had known of Finch and perhaps had some kind of agreement with Harrier Jet involving him, showing Harry the letter.

Harry asked Finch if he had any family; “not anymore,” replied Finch. Harry seemed troubled by all of this. He paid them their 200gp bounty, and thanked them for their service to the town. They then revealed Blinky was travelling with them, who Harry found disgusting, but agreed that he could be useful in finding Trout. Harry allowed for Blinky to stay in the cells on the ground floor. They then spoke of Halia Thornton, and her desire to have Happyslap killed: Harry, again, reiterated a mistrust of her, and her involvement in the running of the town. They adjourned, and the party left.

The trio of heroes went over to the Dendrar family home, and dropped off the ring to Mernar, who said that Nilsa was currently resting off her wounds. She thanked them for their great service to her family, and gave them all she had to give in exchange: information. She and Thel used to live in the town of Pylon, which was overrun by strange natural forces, forcing them to flee whilst Nilsa was but a babe. She says that if they were to travel there, they might be able to find one of her old family heirlooms, an emerald pendant worth a decent amount of money. If they were willing to find it, they could keep it for their own, or sell it, whichever they wanted. She thanked them again, and they bid her farewell.

They returned to the Stonehill Inn and Toblen hailed them with a pie and a pint, heralding them as true town heroes, with many of the other townsfolk coming in to pay their respects. They eventually made their way to their beds, enjoying a deserved rest after the day’s bloodshed.

 

 

Dungeon Master’s Postscript

From this session on, all but one of the sessions have been recorded in full. Whilst I won’t include every conversation and encounter in extreme detail (the sessions only get longer and longer from here), all details will be mostly true, and not reliant on memory alone (although I do make edits for clarity and consistency, from time to time). This is a longer session than the previous ones, and future installments will likely be roughly the same length (about the length of an average chapter in a book).

 

 

Chaos Rains, Chapter 2: The Road to Sheoville

Chapter 2: The Road to Sheoville

By the time our heroes arrived at Joi See, they had parted ways with Barb. The brutal beastly bald bearded barbarian had decided that he preferred life out in the woods, fending for himself and eating raw meat, and so he left in the night, and was never heard from again.

Joi See City, known as the Red City due to the red-brown architecture of many of its oldest buildings, was supposedly built upon ruined structures of the Old World.

They entered from the south, and made their way through Shallowtown, a beaten-down slum area that Samp found distasteful. They spent a night in Grubby Joe’s Drinkin’ Stable, but afterwards Samp demanded that they find somewhere better. They rented rooms at the Chubby Fish, a lively lakeside inn run by Julius Gezer, a man from Lindus with many tall tales to tell. They stayed here for around a month, and engaged in work to earn their keep. Samp tutored a noble boy in the Draconic language; Finch did low-level mercenary work, guarding visiting Dwarven merchants and filling emergency guard duty spots for the Lord’s Alliance of Regal Protection.

They spoke to many patrons in this time, and some passed on the tale of them saving the Breadmaker’s son to other people; this, along with Finch’s connections to Dwarven merchants, caught the attention of one Trout Rockefeller, a Dwarf businessman with big ideas. He sent them a letter, offering them a sum of 100gp to provide protection to a supply wagon heading east from Joi See to Barthen’s Provisions in the frontier town of Sheoville. The letter also stated that if they did this, he also had something “much bigger” to tell them about when they arrived. He stated that he would be setting off beforehand, along with a Lord’s Alliance of Regal Protection emissary, Harry Lyndon, who had his own business to attend to in the town.

The duo of Samp and Finch decided to take the offer, and found the supply wagon waiting for them outside the city the next morning. The wagon driver, Ted, a friendly man with a flat cap, greeted them, and they got on the back of the wagon. There was another person on board: a wood elf of Lunare, pale and dark-haired, dressed in a fine green tunic, a green top hat on his head. A quiet individual, he introduced himself as Makoto: a simple potion salesman, who was to meet Trout to arrange terms of employ under him. With little more said, the trio set off.

Thus spake Ted: “Onwards to Sheoville!”

The journey passed with quiet ease for the first day and half of the second. Some while down the road after their turn-off to Sheoville, they spotted something lying in the road. A dead horse — two dead horses. Killed by arrows, the saddlebags ravaged. Samp and Finch alighted the wagon, to move the corpses out of the way. As they moved towards them, arrows flew from the thickets either side of the path; poglins jumped from the bushes, scimitars in hand.

Makoto leapt from the carriage, a morningstar in his hand; the heroic duo quickly discovered that the simple potion salesman was also an adept combatant. Suffering minimal damage, they killed three of the poglins, but kept one alive.

Name of Blinky, the terrified pog gave up everything he had: that Paps, a ruthless puruk, had captured Trout and Lyndon a day ago and had them taken up the forested hillside trail to the north to their hideout. The party took mercy on the simple creature and spared its life, saying that they never wanted to see it again. Blinky ran away.

They followed the trail north, until they came upon the hideout. Ambushing the two poglin sentries and slaying them swiftly, the heroes moved on into the cavern. Inside, they were spotted by archers from atop a bridge, and a great wave of water was unleashed upon them; Finch and Makoto were able to climb to safety upon the cave walls and keep their grip, but Samp was dragged back to the opening of the cave. The poglins moved in to the defend their lair, but the trio regrouped and fought them off, slaying every last one of them with little in the way of remorse.

After Makoto utilised his potions to heal some of their minor wounds, the intrepid group moved further in, and confronted the puruk, Paps. Dressed in ragged hide armour, he appeared just as puruks do in folklore: much like a normal pig, but standing upon two strangely humanoid legs, holding a mighty greatsword in his oddly human-like hands and arms, his chin stained with phlegm below those strangely human eyes, and with a tiny hat upon his porcine head, a flat cap. However, not much more is known about Paps, or his fate; other than the three fellows-in-arms were able to dispatch him, and his poglin allies, and thus free the gentleman Harry Lyndon. Harry had been tied to a wooden board, being interrogated by the Papa Porc himself.

They got Harry back on his feet and dressed in his armour, and set to leave the hideout; however, the remaining poglins had regrouped, and attacked the weakened party as they made their way out. Again the party showed their might, this time with the good knight Harry by their side, and wet their swords and the ground with porcine blood. They left not a pog alive.

On their journey back to the road, Harry Lyndon spaketh the situation: he and Trout were kidnapped by poglins, but only he, Harry, was taken to the hillside hideout; Trout had been taken to ‘Cragmaw Castle,’ apparently under the orders of a puruk warlord, King Klarg.

“I have doubts that he has a claim to any real royal lineage — just a pig with a crown,” said Harry disparagingly.

He also explained that he, Harry, the man Harry Lyndon, was also travelling to Sheoville to investigate the alleged disappearance of the town’s townmaster, Spyro Herzog, another LARP official. Finally, he told them what he knew of Trout’s intentions in Sheoville — that he sought a strange, mythical location in the area, an ancient complex of wonders that he claimed to know the whereabouts of: Echo Chamber Deluxe. Trout claimed that it was a grand, labyrinthine underground structure that crackled with the Old Lightning.

The map leading to the location was with Trout, so whoever had kidnapped him could have already been able to make their way to Echo Chamber Deluxe and use it for their own purposes. The only lead he had was a name: “Harrier Jet.” This name was spoken by the poglins around their strange grunts and squeals; and, too, when he was being tortured, the big pig Paps kept asking him what he knew of Harrier Jet. He had no idea what it could mean.

They reached Ted and the wagon. Ted seemed unfased by the events, and welcomed them all back.

Thus spake Ted: “Onwards to Sheoville!”

They reached the town at the onset of night and delivered the supplies from the cart safely to Barthen in his store; Barthen was a well-mannered man of deep voice and friendly understanding. Barthen paid them on behalf of Trout for the service, and told them to come back any time they needed supplies. Makoto found out that the supplies that he had sent there had not arrived, leaving him at a loose end, and without much in the way of gold.

They reached the Stonehill Inn and rented rooms. Harry told them that they could speak more at length the following morn, once he had rested his wounds off.

Thus did the heroic, stalwart trio of allies stay their first night in the wilderness-bordering town of Sheoville.

Chaos Rains, Chapter 1: A Grand Day Out

CHAOS RAINS, PART I: ECHOES UNDERGROUND

Chapter 1: A Grand Day Out

As all stories do, it started in a tavern. This tavern, the Lime House, located in the Wandering Woods of the northwestern county of Joi See, was not known for its sense of intrigue or unusualness, but that day was different: three strangers had entered, separately, each of them unique in their own way, and altogether unlike the rest of the simple folk who frequented the roadside locale.

Although strangers, the three of them got to talking, sharing their stories.

There was the young mercenary fighter: he was garbed in sturdy chainmail, with dark red hair, pale skin and bright blue eyes. Name of Andrew Finch, he had been recently discharged from five years of hired service with the Aspark military, fighting in the Aspark—Candlemass civil war; he had travelled up from Aspark weeks earlier, and was making his way up to the capital city of Joi See County — Joi See City — to find further employment. A fine bastard sword was strapped to his back, marked with the symbol of his old clan.

Then, there was the amnesiac paladin: standing at a great height and also clad in chainmail, his hair and eyes were dark, his skin lightly dusky, perhaps showing Skellein County lineage. He knew himself only to be Sir Samp Sampington IX, and nothing more. His memory had slipped so acutely that he knew not how he had found himself in the woods, or even the tavern. His shield bore his family crest — a rising sun — and his dress indicated him to be of high nobility.

Finally, the unstable greatsword-wielding barbarian: known distinctly as Barb, the bald, bearded warrior made an imposing sight, and had a penchant for raw meat. He had spent many years away from society, this being his first human contact in some time.

This meeting of minds was interrupted quite suddenly by another break of the status quo: a man crashed through the door, speaking loudly, incoherently. Barb quietened him with a swift slap, and then helped him into a seat and provided him with a beer. The man told the trio that he was Roy, the baker, and that small hooded figures had kidnapped his son, Tim, by the roadside not far away.

The three newly-met heroes knew exactly what to do: deliberate. After a great deal of this, they agreed to go and search for the missing boy, upon payment of twelve loaves of bread between them and five silver pieces each, with the loaves being given to them then as a down payment.

At that moment, something struck Samp: this man could be an impostor; a fiend or other-like wicked being intending on tricking them. He used his holy divine sense, to seek the grim truth: it transpired that, in fact, Samp had been wrong, and no evil lurked in the walls of the establishment. With his holy duty complete, Samp and the others set off.

Not far away, they found the spot where the boy had been captured, and discerned a trail through the woods. This they followed, until the saw the trees break into a clearing: a distance further, and a stone entrance could be seen built into a small hillside. Three figures stood outside, squat and black-hooded. The heroes attacked from range with their javelins, scoring a few hits, but one of the figures made their way into the dark passageway beyond, whilst the other two rushed forward to engage our plucky protagonists.

Not long after, the hooded figures were slain; one of them was lifted into the air by the brutal Barb, his eyes pulverised by the barbarian’s strong hands. The heroes unmasked the figures, and found exactly what they had expected: poglins. These nasty, chaotic porcine creatures were a blight upon common people all across the continent of Ambion.

They looked through the entrance: the walls were red brick, much like the architecture of Joi See City itself, but past that, it trailed down into darkness. Not a sound echoed beyond the shadows.

So the gang of three lit some torches and entered the poglin hideout, Barb tripping down the first set of downward-leading stairs for no reason. They heard noises, and called out for whoever was down there to surrender.

“Go away! Leave us alone!” came a shrill, frightened voice.

The heroes continued on regardless. As they entered a small room, lit up by torches and with a large bowl of disgusting-smelling (and looking) broth in the middle, three poglins ambushed the party; although these crafty creatures had the advantage, their scimitars just weren’t enough to stop the wave of destruction wrought by our fledgling adventurers; one poglin was cut apart from shoulder to shoulder by Barb, becoming almost like a bust, a statue of death. Nonetheless, the battle took a toll on the party; in particular an incident involving Samp falling and striking his head on the soup bowl after a mistimed strike with his longsword.

They inspected the room: the walls were adorned with bas-reliefs of an ancient hero, one who slayed porcs and poglins with his bare hands. It seemed that these poglins had found an ironic use for what could have been that great man’s tomb. Nobody tasted the soup.

They went on, further into the structure. Barb’s impatience led to him struck by a bolt from a trapped crossbow, but he swiftly tore it from his flesh and ran on, greatsword in hand. They came to the next room: a decorated shrine to the porcicidal champion depicted in the other small chamber.

At the altar, there stood three more poglins, one dressed in strange, seemingly ceremonial robes. In the corner was a cage, a scared young boy contained within. The poglins, readied for the attack, unleashed all they had; but yet the hardied heroes prevailed, with the leader struck to the floor, an enraged Barb crushing his head into chunks with his bare feet, and whatever bizarre ritual had been planned was put on indefinite hiatus. So the boy was saved, but the brave heroes felt something amiss with the room; upon the walls were these words emblazoned: “WHAT IS PINK AND RED AND DEAD ALL OVER?”

They looked around them, at the dispatched poglins. Then, Finch looked back at the words, and said:

“A dead pig.”

With those true words spoken, a secret passageway was revealed. They followed it through, and found four sarcophagi in a small room, and a small plinth at the back with a box upon it. Finch made his way over to the box swiftly and opened it.

The sarcophagi opened. From inside crawled four creatures, each one as sickening and aberrant as the last: they were of humanoid shape, but constructed entirely of tongues. These foul monsters lunged for Finch.

The child, Tim, fled at the sight. Samp, concerned for the boy’s safety, immediately followed, leaving Barb and Finch to fend for themselves. Outnumbered and almost overpowered, the two warriors fought back with the fervour of ones faced with almost certain death. Barb fell, knocked unconscious, but only after he used his greatsword to carve one of the tongueflesh’s form to pieces with his expertise in raw meat preparation.

Finch seemed doomed, but he fought on. Just as it seemed hopeless, Samp returned, carving a path with his longsword. Victory was pulled from the jaws, or tongues, of defeat, and the last monstrosity was slain. They helped the injured Barb to his feet.

Finch went back to the box to claim his treasure, and found an ancient tome, dusty but well-preserved. Finding no interest in such matters, he passed it to Samp. It was an elven text titled Eternal Mirth. Samp seemed happy with this result, and they left, but not before the hungry barbarian Barb collected a number of the tongues — which he correctly identified as pigs’ tongues — to consume later. They wandered out to meet Tim. Samp offered young Tim some bread to cheer him up, but Tim replied that he “ate enough of it at home.” Thus, the victorious heroes returned to the Lime House, and collected their bounty: five silver pieces each.

So this new band of adventurers struck out, heading north, towards Joi See City. Three heroes, never to be parted: Finch, Samp, Barb.

Dungeon Master’s Postscript

This was the first session of Dungeons & Dragons I ran, back in September, 2017. It was directly influenced by good old Matt Colville and his Running the Game series on YouTube. Of course, like many, I was also inspired to DM from watching Matt Mercer on Critical Role, as well as my own DM, who I thank for introducing me to the fantastical world of D&D. But this first session is all Colville.

Unlike session 3 onwards, I don’t have an audio recording of this one, so it has been constructed from my memory and notes taken at the time. The session was run in September 2017, so there are a few moments of necessary mythologisation, to fill in the gaps. Also, I wasn’t really sure what I was going for yet, so the tone is kind of all over the place (including one questionable cultural reference), but those issues soon sorted themselves out in future sessions.

Much of the following section, Echoes Underground, is directly based on the official 5e starter adventure, The Lost Mine of Phandelver, but some names and situations were changed to suit my own purposes. From the second section onwards, it’s almost entirely homebrew.

For general reference, we play 5e, and from the second section of the campaign onwards, started using maps and miniatures, so this first section of the campaign was all theatre of the imagination (which I think has its own benefits, at the occasional loss of a sense of coherence).

Due to the time-consuming process of transcribing the audio of these sessions (I seem to frequently run sessions of up to nine hours in length), this will be a project I work on slowly. Furthermore, due to the length of certain sessions, I will have to separate them into individual chapters. With all of this said, I hope you enjoy future installments of this campaign diary, as our plucky heroes slowly delve further and further into the mouth of madness and horror.

[This is the first installment in a campaign diary series, Chaos Rains, transcribed from the Dungeons and Dragons sessions that I run for my friends. Further information will occasionally be found at the end as a Dungeon Master’s Postscript, but otherwise, I hope for the story to tell itself.]