Tales from Forgotten Europa

The Rains of Dan'Dannock
Friends reunited, and a path barred by madness and storm clouds

It is months after the survivors of the island have gone their own ways. The exiled prince has fallen in with pirates, and their captain travels upriver to play the merchant game, for the prince needs coin to fund his return to nobility. They meet, by chance, with another survivor, the changeling halfling, now a forester. Brought together by the summons of a merchant, August Seebeck, and charged to deliver timely cargo to a sleepy vale town in the heart of the Empire, in the glen of Dan’Dannock. For protection the merchant hires another bolt from the past, the doom-spoken barbarian, plucked from the ether, it seems. The gathering of pirates and past acquaintances draws the eyes of the mad one, the witch-hunter, and he too links his fate again to the group.

Together, they drive hard towards the vale, as rainclouds gather. The forest is strange and dark. They are beset by oddities, by animals run mad, touched by horror, but they make it through. They are met by Seebeck’s brother, the Reverend Jules, who offers them a new, important task (and hefty purse). There is something wrong in the forests of the Glen. They must cleanse the grounds where Seebeck will build his church.

A tempting offer for the barbarian, they all agree and immediately set out and find horror waiting. Sacrifices and madness, creatures from legend, creatures of corruption. The party wins through again, and the grounds are to be reclaimed. The rains themselves come to begin washing the grounds clean once more. They find a map of sorts. Mutilated cattle and smallfolk and a clear indication there will be more. And locations, many locations, picked out in what they hope is merely red ink.

The group splits and rejoins, each attempting to learn more in their own ways. And the rains continue unabated, soaking everything and everyone. Even Jules has no answers, as his simple task has uncovered something far more invasive and mature.

Clues lead the group to a ranch, bereft of life. There they find new horrors, more of the freakish beastmen, and a strange man in strange baroque armor. A desperate fight, close quarters and give-n-take, but the group wins through, a few new puzzle pieces in their possession. Over all the rains wax and wane, but the skies never clear.

They continue trekking through the spacious vale uncovering more and more signs of evil, of chaos overtaking the order of everything. The witch-hunter reports that Dan’Dannock itself is no longer safe, that angry mob rule now presides over sanity, and blood flows freely. Other witchunters have entered the area and seem hell-bent on purifying the only way they have been taught: fire.

Weeks of traveling, uncovering more foul fanes, more beasts and their handlers. The group spies what can only be a flying machine. And worse, the machine, a thing of dwarfish daydreams made real, has spied them. An encounter with another armored man, if man he be, and his compatriots, one stooped, hunched thing bearing a terrifying weapon of flame. The exiled prince scored a lucky hit on this bringer of death and it exploded in flames and gouts of smoke. These beings were transporting a wagon, another item of insanely detailed and baroque colors and designs. The prince was drawn to it, compelled nearly against his will to enter it and ransack it.

There is a sealed cask, filled with some mysterious oily black substance was an arrow. A gleaming white, rune-scribed arrow. With the rains turning into a downpour and the howls of more creatures echoing in the woods, the group gathered up what it could and fled. The captain and the witch-hunter, having sussed out the map and its patterns, have deduced where they must go to at last understand the events occurring here. Surely there must be a reason, which Reverend Jules agrees with, as he joined the party now as suddenly and as mysteriously as his family seems to do everything. He binds their accumulated wounds and grants them wards. He warns them that nature itself fights with them against this evil, that the rains are an attempt to cleanse, and that should the rains cease, it would mean the end of nature’s valiant effort to exist. With this news and the company of Jules, the group is truly no longer pestered by the things running mad in the forests themselves, animals gone berserk and tainted with foulness.

One last desperate race through days of rain and growing populations of beastmen and cultists and the group found itself approaching a great green, from which a tremendous clamor rose. Hordes of beastmen gathered there, along with a huge population of captured Glens-folk! The leaders of the town, merchant, militia, and small-folk alike, all pent up behind pickets surrounded by slavering beastfolk. And far to the North, at the edge of the greensward, a huge back gibbet-altar, with a tremendous beastman presiding over its constructions.

Plans were quickly laid and an ambush was launched. The barbarian, as ever, in the van, quickly challenging the host and gathering their attentions, as the others moved to support him or circumvent the mass entirely, their focus being the huge shadow with its back to the hangman’s fane. Against his own better judgment, the pirate captain charged shoulder to shoulder with the barbarian, as the forester and witch-hunter preyed from the shadows. Even with their matchless skills, they were too few against far, far too many.

Until the outlaw prince gave in to the voice in his mind and drew the white arrow.

Whenever he fired, another white shaft would somehow be close to hand, and wherever he fired, he slew. The horde reacted immediately, sensing that some power greater than them had arrived, and it fueled the barbarian onwards to further slaughter, for his foes grew fearful. But alas, even his prowess was not enough to slay them all. The others attempted to protect the outlaw as best they could, knowing his survival was their own, while the forester crept off to free the folk of the Glen. But the thing at the far side of the clearing knew this too, and strove to cease the hail of white arrows at its source.

It was this point that the captain, lost in the tumult made his move. He had sidled his way near to the hangman’s fane and strove to grapple and kill the beast priestling. Gruesome were the wounds he inflicted, and gruesome where the wounds he received, but his blood bought the group precious moments to cleave the ranks and close on the darkling pirest. As the pirate fell to the dirt, his life’s blood splattering against the edge of the altar stone, the priestling found itself staring down the flight of the final white arrow. The prince did not miss.

The forester had managed to hew through the beasts guarding the townsfolk and they quickly turned on their captors and the rout became a slaughter. Even Reverend Jules made good, as he was able to heal the barbarian and aid the pirate enough so that he WOULD indeed live to walk from the field of battle. The witch-hunter quickly assumed command of the folk and they worked diligently to slaughter all foes, and purify the very grounds with Sigmar’s flame. Their work would last long, long into the night, and into the weeks and months ahead, but they would do so in favorable weather.

When the hangman’s fane burned, the rains finally, at long last, ceased falling.

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The Island
The boat went down, and they woke... somewhere

The initial meeting and adventure. Disimilar folk bound together by fate onto a ship sailing west to France. Home for some. Adventure for some. Death for some. A priest on a pilgrimage. A bounty hunter and his outlaw captive. A thief sentenced to hang. A young wizard running away from something. Two sullen dwarfs sentenced to conscript duty at Deau Vere. But the ship never berthed. Attacked by some mysterious forces, every soul onboard, even sworn enemies, united to fight for their very survival as the ship was torn to pieces beneath their feet.

They awoke, some 8-10 souls, the only members of the ship’s register left, on the sandy shingle of a deserted island. Wreckage and storm clouds the only company. They quickly realized they were not alone, though, as the sun set and things began to happen.

Each survivor struggled to survive on this bleak island, and each struggled also against their own minds, reliving the past, dwelling on the twists of fate, the bounds of love, the cruelty of despair. Each survivor crawled from the sea a marked man for one reason or another, and as they progressed inland, they began to realize that perhaps there was less random chance at play then any could guess at. Thieves were once princes, healers were once killers, and killers were once innocent.

Things progressed as the island was explored. Abandoned villages, freakish denizens, desperate battles all lay before the intrepid band of cast-offs. Voices from the immediate and long-forgotten pasts. Hordes of creatures, seemingly without end. And the wings of dark things filling the night air every evening. The way out was made clear at length. A ziggarat stands in a shallow valley on the island. Ancient and more than ancient. Peopled by ghosts and the foul creatures an old race devolved into. Gods moved on the island, toyed with it, watched the playthings struggle, and danced on their black altars. The ziggarat held the key, the escape, the exit.

Not all the survivors made it. Some fell so that others might go on. One rejected all revelations, all understandings, and persevered to the point of insanity. And one chose to stay. But after harrowing battles and frightening confrontations… some returned to the world, to Europa and all the rest. They lived to see tomorrow and to perhaps make sense of what they’ve learned and lived through. A pity that is not all that returned.

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