In the Hands of a Mad Man and a Daemon

After cleansing the catacombs the party returns to the surface and joins Father Gunthar in his study. With shaking hands the dwarf pours himself a libral glass of spirits from a decanter labeled “Hrthogur Torgar Krunk” (Torgar’s Passion). It fills the room with borderline flammable fumes. After a several healthy gulps the Priest expresses his supreme respect for the mercenaries. He clearly had not believed their self-advertised expertise in handling the undead and his mannerisms have turned from cold employer to highly respectful admiration.

The dwarf unlocks a large chest and pulls from it a smaller one. Despite his sudden admiration for the heroes Gunthar is clearly reluctant to hand over the treasure. Dwarf’s will be Dwarfs after all. Maven patients waits for Gunthar to release the small container, and when the dwarf does is surprised by its weight (over 200lbs). It is filled with platinum pieces stamped with Torag’s Hammer on one side, and The Clan’s Seal on the other. An absolute fortune, this tiny box could retire any man to a lifetime of luxury.

Father Gunthar downs the remainder of his glass and enthusiastically promises his church’s full support in aiding the citizens of Irontown in the wake of this plague.

The party is happy to hear this, but knowing the plague is merely contained for the moment they make plans to venture out to find aid. If their suspicions are correct then this plague may be the precursor to a much more virulent and deadly strain. Armed with the information Cletus and Davos have gathered they decide to try and track down a man they have heard might be able to help. He is known as the Mad Hermit and he lives in the wilderness by himself.

After gathering supplies, crafting materials, purchasing some new pets, and picking up Stain’s sick slave, the party heads west down the King’s road a weeks ride, until turning north into the wilderness. After 5 days of trekking through the wilds they reach a small cabin in the woods where they are told the Mad Hermit resides.

There the party is met with a strange and terrible sight. A large horned daemon, its red skin ablaze with tongues of fire, is seen dragging a large oak effortlessly towards a cabin in the center of a clearing. Equal parts bizarre and terrifying the creature is clad in a formal tux, butler style, which seems several centuries out of date. Cletus recognizes the daemon immediately as a Balor – and the normally brave to the point of stupidity warrior turns even paler than his normal egg white complexion. He quickly warns the party of its might.

Seeing that they have little other option to party decides to approach the cabin. Surprisingly the Baylor gives them a curt greeting, which actually sounds a lot like a death threats, but reluctantly shows them inside at the request of a voice from inside the cabin (Identifying the Balor as “Jeebs”).

Inside the cabin the party is in for more strange sights. Not only is the cabin filled all manner of potions, poisons, and other Academical devices, but it is larger on the inside than it is on the outside.

The Mad Hermit is a very old man named Tobias. Gnarled and knotted like an old swamp tree the hermit hunches over one of his many tables pouring a foul liquid into another, which promptly spews noxious smelling fumes. He advises anyone in the party who isn’t immune to poison to stop breathing while inside his cabin… unless of course they wish to be a part of his experiment!

The party quickly describes they they have come and shows him the sick slave that Stain had purchased. Tobias begins to examine the slave, but starts to complain about his eye sight. Stain offer the old man the use of his Eyes of the Eagle, but the old man just waves this off and calls in the Daemon. He hobbles to one of the few open areas of the massive room… a cleared corner stained with what disturbingly looks like old blood. He dropps to his knees and makes an impatient motion to Jeebs obviously giving him a command. Before the party knows whats happening the Daemon lops the head off the old man, smiling as it does.

The party stares shocked at the corpse, and then up at the menacing monster who grins wickedly as his flaming sword sizzles with blood stains. Much to the surprise and relief of the party a few moments later a young Tobias comes up a set of stairs, whipping what looks like afterbirth from his nude form. He strides confidently over to the slave and begins his exam a new.

Speaking to the slack jawed group without looking up he explains that he keeps several clones at hand. Not only an excellent way to ensure that an unfortunate accident does not complete his contract with Jeebs, it also “cures old age” as he describes it.

Tobias and the Daemon are bound by a powerful magic contract he continues. Unfortunately both seem to have attempted to trick the other with careful wording. Tobias has offered his soul to the the Daemon in exchange for the creature reuniting him with his family (which he does not expand upon) and the creature serving him so long as he lives. While the daemon has arranged it so that Tobias can only be taken to his family once his soul is in the abyss, Tobias has seen to it that he shall never stop living… evidenced by the clone. This cycle has apparently continued for nearly 6 millenia.

After completing his exam the party is disappointed to hear that Tobias is unable to provide them with an immediate cure or with much more information than they already know. He is able to provide them with the following at least:

  • The “virus” (as he calls it) is magical in nature, making it difficult to cure. It almost seems a blending of curse and disease. Whatever it is it is either new or recently uncovered… otherwise the infectious nature of the virus would have been discovered much sooner.
  • It shows signs of intelligent design, in the way it kills, spread, and incubates. He attempts to explain how he is able to “read” the virus but it is beyond the knowledge of the party. Dumbing it down he explains that the building blocks of this virus is a juxtaposition of highly complex and elegant design combined with inefficient and random adaptation.
  • It also bears the signature of what Tobias calls “The Ancients”. His research into Abyrinth’s Forefather’s has suggested a remarkably advanced and curious civilization who he theorizes has tampered with nature in similar ways before – although everything else of theirs he has seen has been peaceful. It was this research of Dawn’s Hope that brought him to The Shadow Isles, as clues indicate they had a strong presence here.
    *He suggests to the party to “backtrack” the virus if they wish to help him find more answers. The origin of this would be of great use to him and his research. You know that the plague is most prominent in the Soot District of Irontown, although whether this is due to close contact with the source, resources at the disposal of the wealthier populace, or their more confined conditions there you are unsure.

Tobias, fascinated by the new discovery, asks if he can keep the slave to continue research. He promises to keep him comfortable and safe. He suspects with a couple of weeks he can come up with a cure for the virus, although judging from what he has heard and seen he suspects mutations may arise.

Cletus offers Tobias a shot of fairy moonshine as thanks for his help. Tobias turns the one shot into two and order the daemon to drink with them. Cletus turns into a female for a short period of time and Tobias’s eyes begin to glow. The Baylor however switches bodies with Davos. The Daemon is not pleased with this and promptly shits its self in protest.

The party decides that since the first of the sick seemed to be Miners the mine is a good enough place as any to start looking for the source of the disease. The optimistic party decides to turn lemons into a Balor Chariot and Davos in the Baylor’s body flies the party half way to the Mine, cutting four days of trekking through the wilderness to The King’s Road down to 11 hours.

With Davos back in his now thoroughly soiled body (Wash yourself Davos damn you stink), the party begins its 4 day journey down The King’s Road to the mines. It is on their 2nd evening while resting that the party is rudely interrupted.

During the second quarter of the night on Cletus’s watch he notices something invisible slipping into the tent. Raising the alarm all but Maven wake-up. A brain-creature appears and quickly flees the tent, but not before Stain puts a hole in it. As the tent flap closes the party hears a roar from outside. Cletus chases the brain thing out the tent and grabs it. Stain runs out as well putting another bullet into the brain. Davos comes out of the tent and sees a large Naga approaching. He uses a Ball Lighting spell on it before teleporting behind a tree. Cadmeil comes out and attacks the brain as well dazing it. Maven dreams he is in a field on a summers day playing with bunnies. “ZZZZZZZZZZ!”

Outside the tent the Naga lines up Cletus, Cadmeil, and Stain for a Lighting Bolt. Davos is safe behind his tree. Or his he? Davos has the misfortune of teleporting right next to a invisible Grey Render. The Grey Render begins tearing into him! Caught completely off guard Davos is soon unconscious. Cadmeil runs to help Davos. Stain unloads a volley into the now pinned brain. Cletus feels the life drain from the creature, and turns his attention to the Naga.

Cadmeil does his best against the Grey Render, but his great speed is out matched by the raw power of the creature. Cadmeil falls very gracefully to the ground unconscious. Cletus grabs the Naga as Stain attacks the Render. Stain thanks Cadmeil for softening it up for him as the thing falls to the ground. But a new fear hits Stain as one of the brain creatures crawls out of the Render’s body.

Cletus continues to grapple and bite the Naga. While Stain unloads on the brain thing hoping to keep it off his helpless friends. When the brain blinks out of sight Stain runs to Davos and forces a healing potion down his throat. Davos awakens and castes Infernal Healing on Cadmeil. A sharp snap is heard as Cletus breaks the neck of the Naga.

The party returns to the tent to find Maven still sleeping. The bear and two vultures still standing guard over him. “ZZZZZZZZZZ… Dear Diary… My friend is a suicidal idiot…”

In the Hands of a Mad Man and a Daemon

Echoes of the Rising JosephZ GauntsGoose