Phantasmagoria - Interlude

Author: Steve



The Days of Perdition began on the darkest and most sweltering night of the summer of 407. Out of the woodlands poured throngs of blood-red beasts. They swarmed over the tented abodes on the outskirts of town first. The WoodsWarder nearly lost her arm to a chimera-like creature. The thing, part fox, part badger, as well as something insectoid, was nearly twice her size and so fleet she never saw it until it was upon her. Her enchanted cloaked proved her salvation, allowing her to vanish among the trees. Exardesco found the twisted beings would fall to his axe but he too was forced to call on magics to retreat when faced with the vast multitude of rage-filled predators. Dark red briars nearly engulfed Auri Lee but Navlys was able somehow to carry him with her as she forestwalked her way to safety.

The horde swept through the town killing any in their path unable to escape. Not one who stayed to hold their ground survived. Spells of calming created small pockets of safety but were unable to evict the crimson throng. The only true place of refuge was the Glade of Peace. In ones and twos the survivors made their way to Melcynda’s Peace. Those that ran for the Woodland Altar found no haven for the great table had been toppled and the God’s blessing revoked.
The heroes of FallenStar worked deep into the night. Raith and the highlander guarded Kelloran as he drew the spirits of the fallen back to their bodies. Chells’ belief in Melcynda enabled him to form small zones of peace in which the heroes could regroup. The most effective resistance came from the druids. They seemed bathed by the powers of Vine and found that their magic could be shaped to exorcise the taint from the beasts and brambles.

By the time the sun rose, all but a small few of the towns denizens were gathered in the sanctuary of the Glade. For three days they remained trapped within the glen. The sprit-hunter led a band to retrieve enough food and water to sustain them while the templars exhausted themselves healing the wounded. The druids too pushed themselves to their limits purging the ruddy fungus.

It was who Thomas explained to all what he and a few others had learned of the red mold that coated the woodland beings. Troth the God of Truth and Oaths was furious with the enigmatic TellTaler. He had given a stay of his wrath for a time but the elemental battle against the Bane of War had consumed the attention of FallenStar's heroes and so that reprieve had elapsed. Now the sum total of the God’s ire was manifesting itself. No longer was the deity’s anger directed solely at the time-meddling spirit either. The God now considered the whole town to be treasonist.

Worse news came when Stone returned from one of his forays into the besieged village. He had swept the Temple of Thorns clear and sought the guidance of the Gods. He turned first to Troth to offer his apologies for failing to obtain the Jack O’Lantern’s judgment in time. Instead he saw the rune of the Oath God fragmented and burning with spectral flames. He looked about the temple to find the remaining icons of the Divine Ones arrayed against the smoldering symbol of Troth. His heart dropped as he realized that war had come not just to FallenStar but to the heavens themselves.

Only one stood apart from either side of the conflict. The idol of the Jack O’Lantern hung alone. Stone knew that the Deity would only interfere if Troth or Those that sought to curb His retribution stepped too far beyond across the lines that divided Light from Dark. Considering how badly the God of Truth had savaged the town, it was a frightening thought to contemplate how far The Jack O’Lantern would let things go before invoking judgment.

Summer turned to fall and battle raged on. The druids had driven the red plague back enough for the people of FallenStar to return to their homes. The Town-guard’s number swelled as the wards were ineffective to halt the RageBound creatures. The forests though became far more treacherous. The RageBound would attack any human who came near enough for them to sense. One they began chase their pursuit was difficult to throw off too. They ignored the other races of the woodlands entirely. This was good in that the fairies had no cause to take umbrage with their human neighbors. Unfortunately it also made the goblins bolder. They started developing all sorts of tricks to lure a RageBound creature to a traveler and then helping to carve up the man or woman who was under attack.

Winter saw a reprieve in the fighting. The cold drove most to the animals to their dens while the flora drew within itself to weather the season in dormancy. The RageBound attacks slowed and soon the only encounters with them were from those who ventured too close to a where one of the infected slumbered.

Throughout the cold months the druids continued their cleansing, hoping that by spring the infection could be banished for good. It seemed though that Troth was not willing to let his anger go. The first case of a RageBound human was discovered during the middle of LongNight. A farmer charged into the town center and began laying into the villagers with axe. Unlike the creatures of the forest the druidic spells had no affect on a man. Nor did they help against the infected bands of goblins that began to crop up on the roadways just outside the town wards.

With spring fast approaching there is a great deal of trepidation about whether or not the town would survive both the wars of the Banes and the strife of the Gods.