The Lich That Stole Christmas

Within are to be writ the tales of daring and adventure of those who have placed themselves on the path of glory. Share your exploits with other Castlers & Crusaders!
Post Reply
User avatar
Posts: 470
Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2007 8:00 am

The Lich That Stole Christmas

Post by Eisenmann »

I opened with a small battle with highwaymen just so that those not familiar with the system could get a feel for the way things are done in C&C before setting out on the actual adventure. That fight didn't take long but one of the PCs did get a little bloodied.

The premise is that the PCs (8th level fighters) are heroic contemporaries of Beowulf. Tyberious and Faylorn have been invited to a friend's manor for the Christmas celebration. Upon arrival they go to the mead hall to engage in merry making but soon discover that something is amiss. The timberwright crew that was to cut this year's yule log has not returned after leaving yesterday morning. Immediately the two warriors leave taking a local friar along for medical and intellectual help.

Silent hours pass as the party's horses pick their way through the dense forest. Finally they find something in the snow. Log chains and an axe. The priest identifies the axe as belonging to one of the woodsmen named Oda. He knows because the axe has been blessed. The hero Faylorn surmises aloud that the crew must have been carried away since there was little blood and no drag marks. And that the search must continue on so that the men can be saved. Friar Garfield suddenly realizes what he has gotten himself into and turns pale white in the orange-yellow flicker of torches.

Saddles creak with each padded hoof step and plumes of breath hang in the moonlit night. The only sound truly out of place is the contant clink-clink of the friar's apothecary supplies kept in two boxes on the man of faith's horse.

Ahead Faylorn sees a shimmering of sorts. Reigning his horse to a stop he points out the vision to both his companion in arms Tyberious and to Friar Garfield. Over head clouds part revealing the full moon. Awash in the silver light the party finds itself inside a pallisaded village of roundhouses. A little girl sees the group and runs into the nearest house. Faylorn follows to the door.

The warrior knocks on the sill and a women answers but in a language that none of them understand. He turns to the fiar and asks if he knows of this town. No, is the single word response. As the moon is dimmed by wispy clouds so are the buildings and houses. The horses whicker and the men are frozen by fright by their shared realization. As they stand there stunned a ghosty village elder approaches, turns and points toward a small ancient looking wooden church.

They approach the church. For them the door is opened by the elder. Again he points. This time to a figure that is praying before the alter. Friar Garfield slides from his saddle and approaches the ghostly priest. Friar Garfield is pleasantly surprised to hear the ghost speak in latin. And they converse. The friar learns of how the village became spirits and why they are still bound to this world.

Hundreds of years ago a liche stole their yule log, cursed and killed the entire village to the man. To break the curse the village requires a new yule log. But not being truly as part of our world they are unable to cut one for themselves. As part of the curse, the village only appears on Christmas Eve night and then only when the moon is full. In addition the village priest warned about men who aren't men.

With the newfound knowledge of what happened to the village, the group presses on after discovering that ghostly houses provide no comfort against the elements.

After what seemed like hours in the saddle, hairs on Tyberious and Faylorn's necks rose but the early warning isn't enough. Invisible clubs strike the warriors nearly driving one out of his saddle.

Two of the three horses are spurred in hopes of avoiding whatever it was that struck them.

Wheeling around using their mounted height as an advantage, Tyberious and Faylorn scan the dark forest while keeping an eye on friar Garfield who amazingly remained unharmed. Then suddenly 8 figures are seen, two groups of four are making their way toward the heroes.

Tyberious rides forward and grabs one by the collar, horse collaring him behind the neck. The foe is amazingly strong and swings an arm up and locks onto Tyberious' arm. Faylorn too tries but misses and finds himself cut off from the friar so he spurs on trying to gain some sort of advantage. As his horse rose forward, the movement caused Faylorn to look into his torch inflicting night blindness which slowed his actions. And even though he can swing his bearded axe over and again he is soon overwhelmed.

A flurry of blows begin to make their mark and Faylorn is barely holding his own. In the meantime Tyberious is still locked in mortal combat both figuratively and literally. He sheaths his sword. Drawing a dagger he plunges the point again and again into the enemy tracing a dotted path from the opponent's clenched hand, neck and face. But yet the man that is yet not a man still held on. Seeing no other way, Tyberious wheels his horse around to swing the foe wide and digs his spurs deep riding past a great tree. With a sickening thud the enemy lets loose and falls to the ground. Three more foes stand in his way. Beyond them it can be seen that Faylorn is fighting for his life - obvious that from the get-go he began the fight on his back foot and has been unable to gather his footing.

So once again the mount is urged forward. Tyberious' sword rang out in the chill winter night singing as it twice found its mark dropping two foes in their tracks.

Tyberious' sword again sang out taking down all those who pressed his friend in arms. "Look out!" yelled Faylorn as he threw his axe. The whirling blade found its mark dropping the last foe, melting the snow with yet more spilt blood. And the battle in the snow ended. Luckily for one of the heroes.

As friar Garfield tended to Faylorn's wounds Tyberious rode a wide circle to make sure that they would not again be caught unawares. In doing so it is discovered that a giant log is beside an entrance into the hillside partially obscuring the opening. Though the opening seems large enough there is debate whether a fully armoured man could fit through.

First goes Tyberious since he is the most heavily armoured. If he gets stuck there would be two people to help extract him. Next went Faylorn who easily fit with his boiled leather and wolf hide armor. The friar alone stays outside to tend to the horses.

Once inside they find that they can stand in what looks like a natural cave. Slowly they work themselves deeper till they can see a point of light up ahead. "What do you think it is?" each asks of the other. Their thoughts are interrupted by a strange vibration in the hill itself. Tyberious stands awestruck. He is put back on task by his friend who, nothing more than anything, wants to get the job done and the heck out of here.

Crouching, they make their way to the light and peer over a steep 30+ foot drop. From their vantage they are partially obscured by a waterfall. Below they can see two men bound on their knees. One each beside what looks like an ancient corpse. Worse yet a figure in a deep purple cloak gesticulates about and speaks in a language that neither of them understands.

"The man in purple is going down." they nod in silent agreement to one another. Then the two heroes assess their tactical options.

The room below is semi-circular. Very brightly lit with a waterfall plunging into a pool straight below the warriors. On the opposite side of the pool are the gesticulating man in purple and the others as part of some strange ritual. Behind the ritual is a massive library with perhaps 10 thousand books. On the warrior's side of the chasm, a small ledge meanders behind the waterfall and descends to the room below. Though the path descends it will be an interesting trek since natural stalactites and stalagmites hinder any notion of easy going.

Using the roar of the waterfall, the two warriors make their final plans. Faylorn will jump into the water as a distraction as Tyberious dashes from behind the large stalagmite and grabs the two men. A fighting retreat will be made back out of the cave entrance.

Almost immediately the plan goes awry. As Faylorn leaps, his footing gives way and he belly flops into the water slightly stunned. Tyberious tries to seize the moment and puts everything he has into getting to the timberwrights. But...

The purple cloaked figure raises his arms and the shroud rises in a gust of wind and falls to the ground. A naked ancient figure shrieks, turns and runs up the wall like a spider across the ceiling and lands behind Tyberious. Frozen in fear, the warrior hears in his mind, "You shouldn't have come here." Now more than fear holds him in place. His muscles frozen. Pain sears through his entire being.

Faylorn drags himself out of the water to find everyone gone except for Tyberious who stands frozen like a statue. Immediately the leather clad warrior screams for the friar to quickly come inside. And to bring his supplies.

Faylorn hoists his friend onto his shoulder and slowly climbs the slope back toward the entrance. He is soon met behind the waterfall by the friar who has all of his supplies of both potion and faith at the ready.

Now the trilling sound that was heard before fills the room and the ground shakes. A giant frost worm extrudes itself through the only path out. As the worm draws closer Faylorn can feel the hideous coldness of the beast. His breath rises in a plume of sheer anger. He strides forth with his axe raised high. The coldness claws at his flesh and stiffens his armor and clothing. The axe is brought down onto the living icy coldness but the worm pays it little mind. The beast coils itself like a serpent and lunges forward spraying Faylorn with an unnatural icy blast blinding him. The warrior stumbles backward yelling for help and direction as the beast bellows it innards readying to regurgitate another storm.

The friar digs in his supplies and finds 3 vials of greek fire. With trembling hands he lights one and hands it to Faylorn who at the moment seems to have a better chance striking the target even though he is blind. The friar's directions are not enough and the vessel of oil sails wide and ignites the limestone wall.

In desperation the friar steps up and throws one himself, amazingly finding the mark.

Instead of an arctic blizzard, an almost equatorial puff of mist rolls from the worm's mouth as it writhes and bays in pain. Turning 180 degrees the thing tries to burrow into the mountain side. As the beast meets the stone it bounces back, the shock of the impact bulges back through the length of the worm. Unknown to the party, the frost worm can only burrow through ice and snow.

Upon hearing what has just happened, Faylorn orders the last vial poured onto his weapon and ignited. He sallies forth in seething anger and gashes the worm again and again with the inextinguishable steel edge all the while being counter-attacked by the unseen cold. The last stroke of the melee opens a monstrous gash along a vein line and Faylorn finds himself ankle deep in gelatinous worm innards. The last flicker of fire leaps from the axe into the air.

Exhausted and in pain he stumbles backward and yells for help. Friar Garfield helps him to the bottom of the slope to where he will make a prayer to give them strength to carry on. The request is answered and the heroes are again battle-worthy.

The only interior exit to this room is a tunnel that goes yet deeper into the mountain. As the two warriors prepare for battle, the friar begins reading the ancient tomes. It is written in an obscure language that today is only understood by academics. A dead language for a dead man.

The friar discovers that the library is actually the personal diary of the lich! In the books he discovers that thousands, perhaps a hundred thousand years ago the man's wife was murdered by a neanderthal hill tribe and he has been trying to resurrect her ever since. And has been using both dead and alive tribesmen as his personal guard and labor.

The friar also discovers that the yule logs outside were stolen - their blessed goodness used to cover both the cave entrance and unnatural goings on within, as a means of camouflage from the good senses of druids and priests alike.

Tyberious tells Friar Garfield to keep reading. To find a way to destroy the lich while they go on to find Oda, Ackley and Winfred the Yule time timberwrights.

Turning a corner they find two of the men bound and being drug toward a larger chamber. Only two neanderthals are part of the detail.

Feeling that they must make their own momentum, Tyberious and Faylorn dash down the hall striking their targets as they pass. It is enough and the tribesmen slump where they stood.

As Tyberious continues on Faylorn stop and cuts the men free and tells them to get out of the cave. He then himself turns and runs toward the chamber.

As Faylorn arrives he sees the lich open his arms wide and the floor warps and opens beneath Tyberious' feet. The lich looks up to see the man clad in wolf skins at the door. With a shriek all of the torches are extinguished including the one held by Faylorn. Silently the torches spontaneously reignite filling the room again with an orange flicker.

Tyberious has crawled from the crater in the floor only to find a large rune inscribed in salt in the middle of the room. A sense of dread and hopelessness fills both men's hearts.

The lich turns toward his long dead wife and the remains of Ackley and pores through an ancient tome trying to discover what went wrong.

The heroes are met in the passage way by the breathless friar. He tells the heroes them that if the lich does not find a way to resurrect his wife this night then he will destroy the world. Upon hearing those words the shadow of hopelessness lifts from their souls and they steel themselves to go back.

"Have you found a way to kill him?" is asked. "No. But I'll keep reading."

Faylorn unwraps the log chain from his shoulders and sneaks to the bed chamber entrance and swings it wildly whisking away the rune of dread.

Tyberious again dashes into the room hoping to buy some time. Directly behind is Faylorn. Each making their own path to certain death.

Back at the library, as friar Garfield continues to read, the text begins to fade from the pages of the books. Frantically one book after another is grabbed from the shelves and as each is opened the words fade before the friar's very eyes leaving nothing but ancient blank parchment.

In the bedchamber the battle rages on - the lich trying to rework the ritual and zombie hillmen trying to stop Faylorn and Tyberious. As the last zombie falls the friar emerges at the entrance, his voice exploding into the room. "The locket!"

Enraged, the lich bellows an evil groan that would freeze into place lesser men. He takes flight, glides before the friar and unleashes a hellstorm of lightning instantly evaporating the man of the cloth leaving nothing more than footprints of ash and dust. "Now they must all die", the undead menace thinks to himself.

Tyberious places himself between the lich and the bed as Faylorn leaps atop and slams his axe into the locket around the dead woman's neck. He found the mark but it is not enough.

Raised from smoke and ashes, the friar is reformed as a zombie and his now undead body is tossed like a rag doll across the room and into Faylorn knocking him from the bed and away from the locket.

Tyberious raises his sword and prepares to die.

Faylorn ignores the rending claws of the zombie friar knowing that he has just one swing left before their doom will be writ.

As if in slow motion the axe penetrates the locket opening it into two halves. Inside are seen the painted portraits of two long gone happy people.

The room fills with a dreadful light. Bit of dust by bit of dust the lich is drawn into the locket. As if wrapped in a mad embrace the he wails as his unhallow voice is swallowed by his own destruction.

Faylorn's axe plows through the animated body of his friend as if it were nothing more than a rotted sack of sawdust.

Surprised that they still live, the warriors run to the cave exit as fast as their feet can carry them. There they find the survivors wondering what to do. Command is jointly taken.

The most recent yule log is hitched to the party's horses and their way is made back out of the dark forest.

On their way they stop and cut a Yule log for the village in the forest. As the tree is felled with the blessed axe the moon shines brightly and the village appears for the faintest of moments. And rejoicement is seen. A silent thanks is given. And they are gone and at peace.

Some of the men sink to their knees in exhaustion. Tyberious and Faylorn pull them to their feet and without further words continue the trek home.

Thus explaining the legend of Tyberious and Faylorn - the closing chapter of the Lich That Stole Christmas.

Post Reply