As dawn rose over the Bryr, the sounds of the night switched to the sounds of the day as the Villains began their day. Progress was good as they ventured on and the Villains all make incredibly good time and as the late afternoon sun was just considering to wane, the Villains saw the enormous spires that indeed defined the Bryr. These overgrown natural monoliths were hundreds of feet high and yet almost totally identical to each other, begging the question of how would the Villains distinguish their spire to the others. No matter, onward the Villains treked until evening was beginning to approach.
As the Villains began to evaluate a potentially good camp site in a simple clearing, a cloud of spores drifted towards them from a copse of trees to their left. The spores suddenly drifted into the Villain’s midst and all but Xun begin to experience pleasant, calming hallucinations. The forest around them appearing to shift and warp before their senses and this only served to frame the voice which accompanied the spores in a silver light when it drifts towards them.
A radiant, wondrous female voice wafted towards them on the breeze and yet once again only Xun understood the melodic tones for he is the only one who understands Sylvan. Despite not knowing what the woman’s voice was saying, Vaelus began to wander closer as his mind and body relaxed into a glorious tranquillity unbefitting his newly acquired half-fiend traits.
As Vaelus and Leges succumbed to the warming relaxation, Ven decided to cast Comprehend Languages upon himself and after a brief exchange of words, droped his weapons as the voice seemed to suggest. It was now that the predator decided to pounce.
Suddenly rushing towards the edge of the copse, the Hangman Tree launched several vines towards Vaelus and two grip him tightly across the chest and around his throat! The charming effect of the spores shatters within his mind yet so potent are the spores that Ven and Leges merely look on.
But Xun took advantage of his liberty and leapt forward, slashing into the Tree’s bark in such a devilish fashion that he even managed to carve his own name into the Tree as a part of his flourish.
With the Tree distracted, the flow of spores ceased and Ven and Leges broke free from the mind-affect. Revenge is in order! As Vaelus struggled to free his neck, Leges let fly a Scorching Ray and Ven charged, both Villains hit yet it is to Xun that the Hangman Tree turns to, more vines from the willow binding the elf tightly despite his wiring blades. As Vaelus’ called upon his fiendish attributes, his jaw seemed to suddenly buckle and the sound of crunching bone reverberated through the clearing as the half-elf’s jaw mutated and extended into a hideous, dripping maw that he turns to the Tree with. Vaelus gnashed at his attacker in fury for the insult of being grappled. He is the Reaper of Balyntine and no tree will get the best of him!
Suddenly, a great stream of vines lunge outward and this time ensnare Leges and Ven as well! Now each of the Villains are struggling for their lives!
Fortunately, both Ven and Leges managed to free themselves almost immediately and quickly backed away out of the Tree’s reach, Ven preparing for one final, desperate charge, Leges preparing himself for a mighty spell. The wizard extended his arms to his sides and suddenly brought them together hard in an arcane gesture. His hands met and the sound of thunder rolled menacingly across the forest. As his hands parted, a crackling blue bolt of electricity spanned his palms and with his dark voice summoning the final powers from the multi-verse, Leges launched the Lightning Bolt towards the Hangman Tree were it split the creature in half, tearing it open and sending an explosion of shards and splinters to shower the area. Exploration of the copse discovered some of the decayed remnants of the Tree’s victims as well as a jade necklace, a ruby ring and a handful of coins. The party rested well that night.
Upon the third day, the Villain’s knew that they drew near to their prize and it was barely passed the midday when they let out a collective cheer as they found the spire they have been searching for.
As they approached the spire, an enormous tree uprooted itself and began to approach. With the party having quite enough of moving trees, they each prepared to attack yet the tree stood clear of them and ordered the party to turn away. It warned that the Horn of Abbadon was nearby and that it was a source of great evil. It was the guardian of the Horn. After a brief discourse, Vaelus wove an exquisite lie, stating that they were on their way to the Sea of Skies. The tree appeared to buy this falsehood and wandered off.
After a bit of discussion, Leges cast Invisibility Sphere and the entire party managed to all promptly walk through the cave entrance with the guardian totally unaware.
Inside the cave, they entered together and saw two frog-like humanoids apparently standing guard. With the invisibility bubble still active, Vaelus and Ven suddenly leapt out and slew both frogmen in one fell swoop each before disappearing back into the bubble. The Villain’s couldnt help but praise their ninja-skills.
As they were the only individuals with Darkvision and fearing more frogmen ahead, Vaelus and Xun began to scout the passages ahead. Soon it split into several paths and each man decided to take a passage each.
Xun’s passage lead to an open chamber where patches of startlingly beautiful luminescent mould clung to the walls and glowed an enchanting light.
Vaelus meanwhile discovered a small chamber which contained a pool of eerily clear blue water. Within the water were tiny blue fish with pale blue scaly fins and with Leges’ help, they discovered that these were in fact Death-Angel fish. They realised together that they could harvest the powerful paralysing toxin therein and possibly even farm these fish for a sustainable supply!
The party then continued on together and the passages begin to narrow significantly as they twisted and wound their way north-east. To their left, a small chamber thick with the bones of both animals and sentient humanoids was discovered —something doubtlessly lurked close by.
Further on, Vaelus found yet another chamber with another pool of water, this one harbouring the Death-Angel fish young. After a quick snack, Vaelus turned and was met with the stoic eyes of a strange tentacled frogman statue. This is identified by Leges as the Demon Lord Daggon, Lord of the Sea, God of the Boggards and Merfolk. The strange figure had the upper body of a humanoid and the lower torso of a green scaled fish.
Close by, the passage opened up again and there appeared to be a small village nestled within, huts and footprints suggesting the occupants were close by. It is now that Vaelus decided on an ambitious plan.
Disguising himself as the god depicted from the statue, Vaelus walked into the village to everyone’s surprise. Immediately, Boggards begin streaming out of huts and side passages and before long, Vaelus was surrounded by at least thirty boggards! Unfortunately, the disguise wasn’t as convincing as Vaelus had preferred and the chieftain demanded answers. Realising that he might have erred, Vaelus droped the disguise and suddenly issued a challenge to the Chieftain for leadership of the village. The Chieftain was rather taken aback by this but accepted, expecting a quick kill; he got one. With each strike the Chieftain made, Vaelus’ Crane Style deflected the blow and delivered another. On and on this went, the Huntsman effortlessly deflecting each attempt on his life and striking the Boggard chieftain until the frogman’s body finally gave out and collapsed in a bloodied heap.
Fortunately for Vaelus who was still hopelessly outnumbered, the village Shaman was far friendlier and chose to honour the Villains for their bold venture, stating that he was eager to see the reawakening of Ventricali Eats-the-Eyes and quickly submitted himself as an ally to the Villain’s intentions.
The Shaman then took the Villains to the location of the Horn, a tiny crevice in the rock at the back of the fungal room Xun first discovered. There was no door and no obvious means of entry yet as the others begin to scratch their heads as to how to confront this problem, Leges merely smiled.
With the crack being too small for any humanoid, it was quite accessible to Leges’ scorpion familiar, Cogito.
Inside the 20ft square room beyond the wall, a beautiful orb stood on a plinth in the back. A lime-encrusted skeleton leant against the wall nearby, the shards of a broken potion bottle at its feet. A book was also nearby the former adventurer, labelled: “Dirges of Apollyon”. Thanks to Cogito’s description of the rooms layout, the party realised that the the man must have used a potion of Gaseous Form to gain entry, yet was unaware such a spell did not allow the manipulation of solid objects whilst in the gaseous state. Once the potion’s effect expired, the poor fool had no means of escape and so died there having gained his prize, yet at the same time gaining nothing but a terrible death from starvation/thirst.
Would Leges meet the same fate? Do unforeseen perils lay in wait for any who would attempt to claim the Horn? The Villains would soon find out.