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Old 07-04-2020, 01:23 PM   #8
Join Date: Jun 2020
Default Story so far, part 7

Nuur-Karif revealed that they could now make spirits materialize by stabbing them. This was a bit of a relief, because otherwise we would only be able to observe them through the ring, but not defend ourselves. The burial ground we were supposed to investigate was in a small forest, a rarity here in Arland. It was some peasants in the the nearby village that had claimed to have seen the ghosts. There were also some human-elf hybrids living in the forest, known as The Elves, that were tasked with guarding the burial ground. An entity known as Gritt was sleeping there and must not be disturbed. The Elves led us to one of their settlements and told us that their Medium, a kind of sorcerer that was supposed to be in contact with the forest and the burial ground, was dead. They had died too early and their apprentice had not learned enough to become a new Medium. As a result, they did not have any way to contact the forest.

The corpse of the Medium was still lying in their cave and showed clear signs of torture. Entering the cave, I felt a shiver from some kind of energy. There were also the corpses of some forest creatures, that appeared to have been sacrificed in some kind of magic ritual. The Medium's blood tasted of pain and terror, consistent with the state of the corpse, but the other creatures seemed to have died peacefully. 4 days earlier, a party of lost spirits had arrived in the forest and the Medium had died sometime around then, but the Medium's corpse appeared fresher than it should. There were also various herbs and a purple incense scattered throughout the cave which showed clear signs of a struggle. In the middle of the cave were footprints that were from a two legged mammal that were a perfect match with the boots of the dead mage in the tower in Guling. Lunari had taken the mage's clothes in order to impress females. The Medium's apprentice was very young and not very useful, but they claimed the spirit of the Medium was in a crypt in the centre of the forest and that most of the spirits had traveled on. Nuur-Karif buried the corpse in the ground, which is the custom among the mammals, and we proceeded towards the burial ground in the centre of the forest.

The burial ground was a square area of about 30 times 30 meters, surrounded by a low, partially collapsed stone wall and the ground was covered with flagstones. Nine crypts were placed in a square formation inside, facing towards the central crypt furthest from the entrance and all of them had been opened recently. Nothing grew inside the burial grounds, but through the ring I could see the flickering of spirits in on of the crypts. Reaching through a whole in the wall, I felt a shiver similar to, but not quite the same as in the cave and a spirit appeared soon after to investigate. When the others arrived, Nuur-Karif and Grogg would try to engage the spirits and possibly capture one. It went well initially and two spirits were materialized and killed, but they were severely outnumbered and had to retreat. We then tried to shoot them with arrows dipped in a poison we had received from an Ashtarite priest. However, we were not able to lure the spirits out again and entered the burial ground to investigate. The crypt the other crypts were facing had been closed while the others all had an empty sarcophagus, a type of chest the mammals puts their dead in. Sitting in one of the sarcophagi, I felt a strong chill and like someone tapped me on the shoulder and said come, but there was nobody there. Soon after, Isa and I felt a surge of power coming from the closed crypt. Isa donned the white clothing, hoping that they would confuse the spirits, while Grogg broke down the door.

Inside the crypt, we first entered a small room with an altar to some unknown deity. Continuing down, we entered a large underground chamber illuminated by a faint purple light coming from incense burners. In the centre was a large sarcophagus and eight human corpses were placed next to columns along the walls. Nuur-Karif rushed forwards, stabbing in the air, and the Medium appeared, but seemed to be about to die and completely panicked. The white clothes worked and the other spirits tried to flee. They were all ended, with the last one being chased down by Nuur-Karif. In the purple light of the incense, it was possible to see the spirits faintly. Nuur-Karif returned, but soon got a horrified expression on their face and sat down to pray loudly and hysterically. It was a bit disturbing and they were asking for forgiveness for having left the realm of the dead without permission. They then claimed it was difficult to contact Ashtar in the chamber and went to the top of the stairs were they passed out. Praying to Ashtar/Ssuxxakan for guidance, I got the impression that Nuur-Karif needed help. When they woke up again, they insisted we had to open the sarcophagus and when Grogg pushed the lid aside, Nuur-Karif snatched up a gold crown from the head of the corpse it contained.

The corpse started to disintegrate, while Isa, Grogg and Lunari fled while I stayed with Nuur-Karif and we left the crypt together. At the entrance, Grogg tried to ambush Nuur-Karif, but instead they stung themselves with the needle and fell asleep. Nuur-Karif had cast a spell on them, which Nuur-Karif had not been able to do before. Another demonstration of new powers happened when we reached Isa. Nuur-Karif reached out to Isa, but Isa threw some kind of protective spell that Nuur-Karif had no trouble penetrating. Lunari had fled, apparently after trying and failing to use some kind of mind control on Isa. The rest of us took the wagon back to The Evening Fortress and reached it in time to cross the causeway. I wanted to take Nuur-Karif to the Ashtarite chapel, but they said they could no longer enter. I got the impression that Nuur-Karif was dead to Ashtar/Ssuxxakan. When looking at Nuur-Karif's aura, I saw a bright light around their head and the crown. I also experimented a bit, using magic on the crown, and it was clear that it was enchanted, but whatever the enchantment was doing, it seemed to be containing Nuur-Karif's aura. Lunari ran away whenever I approached them, but Pakk was willing to examine Nuur-Karif. They said the crown was a powerful item and had to discuss with Gromann. I did not trust Nuur-Karif to sleep alone, so I stayed with them through the night.

The next day, I went down to talk with Krull. They were not very coherent, rambling on about how Gritt and Tivito was coming to get them, but they explained that Tivito had captured Gritt by placing the crown on one of their own and putting them in a permanent sleep in the crypt. Apparently it was not possible to kill Gritt and Krull because they were somehow outside Ashtar's powers and Krull should travel north to the Night Mirror. Krull also claimed they could smell the jar from the tower in Guling and seemed to know whatever was inside. Pakk and Gromann wanted to investigate Nuur-Karif and the crown, but Nuur-Karif wanted to meet Mir instead. Probably an early sign that they were not rational any more. Lunari and Grogg had been doing drugs all they and were quite useless, especially after even more wine. Ebsalon, a human mage Mir had brought to teach Isa to control their power was there, as well as an elf called Nulius that Mir had brought from the west. Nulius claimed Mir was a reborn prophet of war called Zeta that would restore the empire or something, because it went so well the first three times. Eventually, I informed Mir of Nuur-Karif's affliction and unlike the other mammals, they had the sense to fetch Gromann and Pakk. They confirmed what Krull had told me and elaborated. A long time ago, there had been seven warlords known as The Immortals. Somehow, they obtained supernatural powers and it was not possible to kill them but Tivito had captured some of them in crypts like Krull told me. These crypts were close to star circles and at least five had been constructed. Gritt was said to be very charming and able to control other mammals easily.

At night, I brought Pakk and Grogg with me to the Ashtar chapel. I stayed a bit longer than them, and when I left, I found the tracks of Pakk ascending the stairs further up. Following the tracks, I reached the top of a tower and a sealed door in the ceiling. There seemed to be some kind of star magic keeping the door closed, so I prodded it carefully. The next thing I remember is waking up on the floor with Nujan and Lunari there. They had followed a burst of star light to the tower that I must have triggered. I wonder if it was supposed to be a seal or a trap, but either way, it was shoddy work that did not perform as it was supposed to and the door was now wide open. Ebsalon and Isa also showed up the latter claimed that the spell was completely gone. The mammals in Arland can not use star magic. The chamber above looked like a star observatory and, according to Ebsalon, it was a Tivito observatory. There were a large number of books there and some strange contraptions there that would be interesting to study, but Isa announced, after a reminder from Ebsalon, that the tower was closed until further notice. Lunari stole a book on the way out though, claiming they wanted to study it.

Last edited by Stomoxys; 10-10-2020 at 02:10 PM.
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