With the night spent in the town of Ethren, the adventurers who wished to search for clues to their innocence (accompanied by a few of their other allied guild members who were nearby) departed for the destroyed village of Ember.
Upon arrival, the group searched the town for any clues out of the ordinary. Tharivol tried searching, though found the contents of his spell book to be far more inticing. The half-orc barbarian searched with all his focus, though only discovered badly dried grass around each of the burnt frames of house. As Sam took a closer look at the bodies and found that key organs were missing.
With a second attempt, Tharivol searched the body of the shop keeper. Finding the log book next to him, Tharivol discovered that the trade in the village had been suddenly halted about 2 weeks before. As Sam searched a body, he noticed a trace of green powdery residue. There was too little left among the bodies to identify.
[close enough visual]
Hearing a dripping sound coming from the well, the Elven Ranger called to the others, “I hear something in the well!”
The human mage cast light on a rock, tossing it down the well and into the water. The Ranger grabbed onto the rope and tried to climb down. The wet fibers slipped through his fingers as he plummeted and belly-flopped on the pool below. He struggled for the surface, soon realizing the water was only hip-high. As he looked around, he found a young boy standing behind a nearby rock formation. He called up to the others, informing them about the boy [in the bottom of the well.. no reference to Timmy from the Lassie series.. what a wasted joke].
Sam effortlessly repelled down the rope, at the end of which, performing a backflip, landing flawlessly at the bottom. Recognizing the blind boy, he approached and asked what he was doing down there. Erik climbed down the rope, as Tharivol and the half-orc remained at the top. Upon seeing a familiar face, the boy said “Now I understand what I saw in my vision! They were like you in appearance, but they weren’t you!”
Sam asked if the rope would be alright or if an enemy was nearby to destroy it. The boy assured them that nothing would happen to the rope. The mage turned around, trying to ignite the rope. The wet fibers were barely scorched, though the rope remained. Frustrated, the mage cast Ray of Frost at the top, freezing the fibers and some of the stones at the top.
Sam asked what the boy was doing down there. The boy responded, “I had a vision of me hiding in the well, so I followed the vision and learned what my other visions meant!”
“Could you tell us what you saw?”
“I could tell you, but it would make more sense if I showed you.”
The boy leans forward and touches the water with his clenched hands. The chasm goes dark, then gradually everything around you becomes illuminated; you are all standing around the well in the village; the boy grasping onto the edge, peeking out above its stone platform. As you look at each other you notice that you are all transparent; the buildings beyond each of you look only slightly blurred through your presence. The last of your group is walking up the bear trail into the forest and the villagers are hastily finishing their errands before retreating into their homes.
Several minutes after your group is out of sight, you return; walking into the village at a quick pace. The straggling villagers stop what they are doing and some even approach your likenesses. As the villagers draw nearer, the human mage casts Magic Missile, dropping three of them instantly to the ground where they stand. Tharivol’s likeness walks up to the closest one, draws a dagger, and attacks the closest villager. The monks race for the nearest house, bashing in the door and racing in; the screams of those inside crying out in pain, and then silence from the household. Sam’s likeness draws forth a silver great sword, attacking another nearby villager; the silver lettering “The Fist of Fate” glimmering in the sunlight.
The witness from the village races out of her home; charging right at you and the well. Before you can react, she has passed eerily through you as if nothing were there. The likenesses move from house to house and person to person, felling every villager where they stand. One of the villagers races toward the Sam’s likeness, driving a spear through the likeness’s right knee. The likeness looks down at his impaled leg and drops the Fist of Fate down through the man. With a loud crack, the back of the blade splinters, revealing a twisted, gnarled core.
A clapping sound starts coming from behind the abandoned house as a black robed figure walks into view. “Marvelous, just marvelous.”
Sam instantly recognized the menacing voice from years ago; floating backward, away from the hooded form.
The man who led your group to his village emerges from the first house on the right near the entrance of town. He stumbles out into the line of sight of the hooded figure saying “Wait! You were the being in my dream! You showed me where to go to find the saviors of our village!”
“Why yes, indeed I was!”
You feel another being pass through you as the elven mage races past the well, stopping in front of the man. He raises his arms, casting Burning Hands; igniting the man and the house behind him. The likeness of Sam breaks the spear off just to the inside of his knee; dropping the remainder from his hand onto the ground next to its wielder. The hooded figure approaches, putting a hand on the False Sam’s shoulder, saying “Marvelous work!”
The false group grabs torches and begins passing flames from building to building and collecting key organs from the fallen villagers. A small shudder from the well breaks the action around it. The cloaked figure turns ordering, “There’s one more in the well. We only need one survivor and this one knows too much! You there, AFTER IT!”
The darkness fell quickly again. The hooded figure’s voice outside still echoing through the well, “The rest of you, come with me; they should be returning shortly from their adventure. Best not leave a trail to follow.”
The quick sound of cutting on a reed suddenly stops. With several loud splashes, three of the adventurers land with a splash in the water. As they step into the shadows, they begin to glow with a strange demonic aura. Their forms change as the magic in the shadows reveal their true form; white glazed over eyes, skin rotting and falling off their bones. They search around for a few moments and continue down the channel and through a tunnel at the far wall.
Slowly, your group returns to normal; the boy still standing where he was, still dripping wet, drawing the dagger and reed back out of the water. With eyes wide and jaw dropped, Sam dropped the “F Bomb.”
As the group members turned to each other, saying how they would get the chance to face undead warriors, Sam turned to them saying uncharacteristically, “The villagers of Ember are dead; there is nothing more we can do for them. We need to LEAVE NOW!”
“But we haven’t proven our innocence!”
“That doesn’t matter anymore! WE NEED TO LEAVE!”
The boy turned to the group saying, “I do not sense the beings from yesterday anymore. The loud boom that you heard last night while you were sleeping wasn’t thunder; it originated from that cavern.”
Excited at the promise of adventure, the half-orc broke enough of the ice away to get through to the aquifer. Tharivol tied a new rope and they both joined the others. Reluctantly, Sam followed the rest of the group hesitantly through the cavern. Tharivol sent his familiar ahead to see what was before them, coming back with word of goblins speaking common.
The group approached as one of the goblins asked, “What are you doing down here?”
Sam asked, “Did you see any deformed beings pass through here?”
“The one we killed was sure deformed when the ceiling collapsed on him! Here, we’ll let you speak to the king!”
The goblins led the group to a nearby cavern filled with goblins. The king approached saying “Ah, finally freaks of the surface that wish to talk, rather than kill us on sight! What is it you wish?”
“What happened to the strange beings that passed through here?”
“One is over there” he said, pointing at three boiled human skulls on a rack. “It didn’t look like that originally; it was deformed and became human when we used a boom ball to collapse that cavern on it!”
The ranger asked, “What are Boom Balls?”
Pointing at gunpowder jars, the goblin king responded, “Boom Balls! They lie to us! They give us great glowstone and tell us they’ll kill the spiders in the adjacent cave. One week later, and the spiders still infest our cave!”
“Could you show us this glowstone?”
“If you promise to kill the spiders, we will show you our relic!”
The group accepted, and the goblin led them to a nearby chamber. Several goblins were kneeling, worshiping the glowstone. Tharivol could sense an evil aura about it; this was what was making the animals in the area [especially the bears] hostile.
Though most of the adventurers graciously spoke to the goblin king, the mage spoke of taking the stone outright. This offended the goblin king, and the attack began.
The goblins were quickly killed. The adventurers took the boom balls. One of the skulls trickled with the same green powder. Tharivol caught as much as he could and identified it as a transfiguration powder; used to make one being look like another, though in doing so, left too little to prove their innocence.
Sam walked up to the spot where the deadite had been killed, drawing the Fist of Fate from the rocks; the back of the sword still splintered, yet revealing the silver lettering on the side of the blade. As Sam drew the Fist of Fury to compare the two, he sensed the swords’ uncontrollable will to attack each other. Sam quickly stuck the Fist of Fate into his Bag of Holding.
The mage wanted to continue to the spider cave as Sam told them “NO!”
He explained about the evil wizard; Tim, and told them of the deadites. The mage ignored Sam and walked boldly to the spider cave. Upon seeing three giant spiders, he turned and fled for the aquifer, and the entrance.
They left for the town of Ethren with Thaven and the other evidence. They provided what evidence they had. Though there were a few missing pieces of evidence, the group was exonerated of the crimes of arson and genocide. They left the green glowstone in the possession of a high level Druid to dispose of. The mage tried to take on Thaven as an apprentice, though the boy wished to see his parents’ bodies laid safely to rest and learn magic through a less evil means.
Sam went quickly to a temple to try to seal the power of the Fist of Fate. The cleric worked as hard as he could. Though mostly sealed away, the powers of the enchantment were far too great to completely contain, though still manageable for the time being. The cleric also managed to enchant the Fist of Fury with a +1 bonus.
The adventurers left Ethren, knowing that though innocent of the crimes, there are now forces from the past coming back to disrupt their future; for reasons yet unknown…