Our heroes were in the town of New Dragonshire, gazing at the intricately engraved box that Sabella had given us just prior to the fall of the Punishing Star.
Having just rested up after the last whirlwind adventure, we were assessing next steps, and wondering what was inside this undoubtedly valuable box. We noticed that there were doors on both sides of the box, yet only one seemed to be able to be opened at a time.
Inside a compartment on one side of the box was a map of Sweetwater Swamp, and two protruding magical rods that had the powers to enhance any scrolls cast when connected. Zefir quickly identified the rods as capable of adding 50% damage, and creating an effect of a bouncing spell, respectively.
There were also two wands inside, one that had seven ancient looking unfamiliar runes up the side of it, and another one that had the inscription, “Break in case of emergency”.
At the bottom of the compartment were two round metal plates with a hole in the center. If we were to place two wands into the holes for five days, we could transfer ten charges between them per week. It seemed that it may be possible to also use the box to transfer magical energy into gems in order to save or preserve the energy.
On the other side of the box, the opposing compartment appeared to hold a portable black hole that would allow the storage and retrieval of up to ten items at approximately 100 pounds each, but the box had a magical limit set which would only allow us to pull one item out each day.
We turned our focus to the wand bearing the unfamiliar runes, understanding that the seven runes were essentially spells the wand could cast, but they could only be cast in a specific order, and with the effects unknown to us. With more than a dash of naïve curiosity, our party agreed it may be a foolhardy endeavor, but without guts, there would surely be no glory.
Rune 1: As the first rune glowed and disappeared after being traced by Raven’s deft fingers, some dust and commotion at the edges of the town alerted us that ten skeletons had been conjured. As they ambled closer, finally surrounding us, we realized they were not foes, but could be controlled and would be compelled to do our bidding. The one closest to Raven whispered in a raspy rotten voice, “Beware the final rune.”
Rune 2: When the second rune was traced, we heard a scream from down the street, and found a woman kneeling over a man, wailing, “My father! He just dropped dead!” We watched in horror as a ghostly spectre raised from his body, grabbed the woman and sapped her life away before our very eyes. Another spectre then raised from her corpse, and headed into a nearby building. We attempted to track each spectre down before it could take more lives and create another spectre in the process, and Raven even sent the conjured skeletons in pursuit. The chase eventually led us into a darkened building, into a room that had five beds, three of which already held dead bodies in them. A screaming woman ran from one of the beds as we busted into the room, and the last bed had a deaf man inside it that seemed unaware of what was happening. We motioned that he should run for his life, and he seemed to understand, as he left the room too, where we destroyed two spectres. During the fray, at least one of the undead creatures had escaped by flight, but we figured there was no way we could catch it.
Rune 3: Tracing the third rune had no discernible effect.
Rune 4: As the fourth rune was traced, another scream on the street nearby us drew us to a scene where a woman lay dead with a small crowd forming around her. We looked closer and noticed it was the same woman who had fled the bedroom from the spectres earlier. She hadn’t gotten far, and now her body had two fang marks in the neck signaling she had fallen victim to a vampire. The evil creature was nowhere to be found however.
Rune 5: The fifth rune summoned a large rotting Goldako, an undead giant that breathed toxic gas and seemed intent on destroying us for bothering him. After a furious and bloody battle, we stood victorious over the huge stinking mound of flesh.
Rune 6: When the sixth rune was traced, we heard another commotion as suddenly a crowd of people rushed out of a nearby house, running from a horrific hooded being that we quickly recognized as a Lich. Withstanding the creature’s fear spells, through some trial and effort we were able to grapple the powerful creature, and tie it up before we decided to decapitate it.
Rune 7: We looked at each other warily and braced ourselves for something terrible, as Raven traced the final rune on the wand. Upon completion, the ground began to shake, as if the earth itself was displeased. The wand crumbled and revealed its true form, a more refined and even older looking wand with a skull perched atop it. Legend told us this was likely the wand of Orcas that we had just triggered. But we had no time to digest this information, as darkness enveloped us and we each died, right where we stood.
We next woke up in a damp room, which felt as if it was underground. We didn’t have our belongings with us, and had no knowledge of how we had gotten there. A man approached, and we recognized him as the deaf man we had saved from the spectres. He no longer appeared to be deaf, as he told us his name was Kaptra Dorethain. He said we had been dead for a year, and were now vampires, like him. He had been watching as we traced the last rune, and when we had fallen, gathered us and sealed our gear in a room underground, caring for us as we transformed into vampires.
Before we had fallen, Kaptra Dorethain related a horrific tale about how he had killed and fed on his own sister just prior to when we traced the final rune, but we were interrupted from this tale as a group of adventurers were intruding into the caves that we now found ourselves, and Kaptra said we should go scare them off. After diplomacy failed, we flexed our new vampiric skills and mentally Dominated three of the group, controlling them to do as we wished instead of fighting us. We put them on guard for us at the entrance to the underground caves. One member of the party, the cleric, had been able to escape, and fled.
We found and donned our gear and returned to Kaptra, where we discussed the fact that he was sensing some subtle differences between himself and us. He couldn’t seem to pin point what it was however, but we began to realize that none of us seemed to have a craving for blood, nor feel particularly evil.
Kaptra told us we were in the mountains, about ten miles south of the town of New Dragonshire. It was approximately one year after the Punishing Star had fallen on Spartak and shattered the landscape.
We had barely begun to accept our new abilities and what it meant to find ourselves members of the undead, yet Kaptra looked towards us expectantly, wondering what our next steps would be.