We opened the evening with the town guard of Wolfsangel looking south toward a forest fire that was smudging the low gray overcast with black. Trees on fire spreading quickly to ward the river under a leaden sky. And trudging toward the town, beaten and tired, the party. When asked about the creature — if they’d seen it, if they’d killed it, if they seen the missing children — we had short flashbacks to remind the players what happened.
Then we jumped back to the fight with “the Dark Man”, a creature used by the locals to control their bratty kids…except this one was real and kidnapping/murdering them. The creature is black-skinned, black-eyed, and apparently can stretch itself out like a shadow. It hides in the dark and seems to use the water to move about. It also uses the dead children as a weapon, having the wee zombies lure the Dark Man’s victims.
They were setting fire to the trees to light the area, especially after it looked like the creature was sensitive to light. While doing this, the creature rose up and pushed the bard, Calvinus, and the cleric, Augustinian, into the water of the pond it seems to be inhabiting — a pool of black, still water that doesn’t even reflect the lights around it. Once in the water, the two were grabbed by the dead children that were taken here, and they tried to drag them deep to drown them.
Meanwhile, Carrus the Dwarf — a relatively local person, got an excellent roll on his Arcana — the legends of the Drak Man say it’s a person either evil and executed, or wrongly-accused and executed; ether way the spirit remains to seek vengeance. They are supposedly susceptible to silver. He warned the monk, Icio, who filled his fists with coins and fired up his radiant soul feat, flaring with holy light, wings and all…and actually seemed to do real damage. The creature slunk back into another puddle and disappeared.
Meanwhile, the light from radiant soul caused the dread children to release the others, who swan to shore and the party retreated to regroup and rethink their actions.
Back in the town, Carrus got to work in the blacksmith’s shop (the family having decamped) adding silver filigree to their weapons with the help of Steven, the Down’s Syndrome animal handler, and Carona, their satyress.
Marcellus, their nominal leader, met with the town elder and questioned him about the notion the creature might have been one of them, or someone they executed. A drifter came through a few months back — a rapist and murderer. They hung him, then dumped him in the refuse out near the barrows.
Icio, Calvinus, and Augustinian went to see Valdo, the old man who was once allegedly a wizard, and were surprised when he and his female caretaker were waiting for them. Screwed up, didn’t they — going in unprepared and not knowing what they were up against. The creature is stuck between life and death, the body dead, but the soul unable to go to its rest…and those souls are his, Valdo told them. The adversary of Icio’s god — and his — somehow trapped the spirit here, and it has been collecting them, denying him his rightful prize. With some prising, they realize they are talking to Pluto, who is not happy about the Dark Man situation.
The creature is, indeed, susceptible to silver, but that will only stop it for a while. To end it’s reign of terror, they must release the spirit. In the mountains of papers hoarded by Valdo is the answer, a spell to release the soul. Pluto gives them the ability to read the Nordic runes, so they can translate the spells into Greek. Instead of the spell disolving off of the page as D&D rules say, these simple become unintelligable again, once the INT check has been made (successfully or no) and the words transcribed. He also tells them that the demon, Aiton, that Icio is seeking may be the Adversary himself!
Pluto simply disappears, but the old caretaker gives Icio some suggestions for how to work together with his party to be more effective and reduce the chance anyone is hit by the creature. He realizes the kindly imposter — for Valdo and his caretaker are fast asleep in their beds — may have been Minerva!
After four hours of searching, they find the banishment spell, as well as one to detect good and evil, speak to the dead, and detect magic — all were successfully transcribed. Returning to the smithy, they started to work out their plan of attack. But everything was thrown into turmoil when in the midst of their dinner, the creature rises out of their water barrel to take one of their men! Suddenly, they are in a fight with the creature in the smithy.
This time, they kick ass — the silvered weapons do damage, use of radiant and fire-based spells wore it down and apparently destroyed it. Quickly, they formed up and raced out to put an end to the creature. They found the rope he was hung with, a necessary part of the spell, and Augustinian started the exorcism. The creature, once again, cmae for them, but they were easily able to fend it off. The spell completed, the creature disappeared.
Having ended the wave of murders, they were feted by the town and allowed to stay in the blacksmith’s shop while they recuperated and prepared to press on to Locoritum.
Overall, I was pretty happy with this one: the characters all got to do some of their schticks — Marcellus got to do stealthy stuff, Carrus used his family-learned blacksmith skills, Icio had a crisis of faith after meeting the gods which was reflected in shitty rolls for a while, Augustinian got to read a bunch of Norse stories of their gods. The atmosphere and story were appropriately horror-tinged and seemed to go over well with the players. Lastly, the idea that the fallen angels are not in Hell (Hades), but on Earth, and that they are playing around in the old gods’ affairs has started to flesh out the world.