Eastern Steam

Sick as a Frog

Arriving at Blue Frog village.

A perpetual mist curls around the troops feet as they progress into the village. The buildings are in good repair. But the streets are empty. Wane and pale faces look back from open doorways as villagers come to see who the visitors are.

A village elder introduces himself to the group as Mako and invites the group in for tea at his dwelling. The house has a central hearth in the center of the floor and a pot rice porridge bubbles in a pot over the fire. Mako describes how the illness came with the fog not more than a month ago. Perfectly healthy individuals woke one morning feeling weak and tired as if they been deprived of sleep for days.

With Mako’s blessing team beings the process of interviewing all the villages. Elders in the village seem un-touched but adults and older children all see falling prey to the illness.

The only exception is the wood cutter and his wife on the far edge of town. They seem pale but otherwise in good health. This leads the troop to believe that somethings up with the family for 4. And this time they are right. They observe the husband and wife sneaking out during the evening into the mists and returning to their hut that evening.

They rush in the woodcutters hut to confront the couple and immediately catch on to what is going on. The couple has undergone a gruesome transformation during the evening.

Both husband and wife appear to to the severed halves of a human. Their left sides are just completely missing or invisible. Everyone passes fear based will checks as bisected brains and organs are clearly visible on the pair. Their children are likewise are perfect little monsters as their joints and head bend the wrong way and they skitter up into the ceiling like spiders.

A fight ensues and as the last blows land the spider goblin children are dispatched to the after world but the parent hopping vampires transform into mist and escape into the floor. Determined smashing of floor boards just reveals a crawl way under the hut but not caskets or graves that might serve as the couples home.

But Gowan remembers that one villager said in passing they saw the mist emanating from the burial mound in the center of the grave yard. So that is the next place the party checks.

The graveyard is about a mile out of town on the old road heading into the forest. As the group approaches decayed corpses of the dead are rising out of the misty ground and mill around aimlessly in the graveyard. The team counts about 50 of them. While a doable battle it would cost them spells and time they don’t want to waste. So they hatch a plan to blast a path through using lightning and run through the group to gap to get to the burrial mound in the center.

The group makes their move and make their mad dash to the entry way. A stout locked wooden door stands in the way but a quick knock spell later they are in and shut the door behind them.

The tunnel under the mound is surprisingly well maintained with what appears to be modern etherium based lighting interspersed between stout wooden beams holding back the black earth of the graveyard.

The steady thrum of heavy machinery can be hear in the distance.

Heading right on a T corridor. The team encounters a mechanical spike trap that Ben Awn easily dodges out of and Gowan and Gershwin having hung back a bit from Ben aren’t exposed to.

A heavy steel door terminates the hallway not too much further beyond the spike trap. Another knock spell to get it open. And the party rushes in on a group of dog faced goblin like creatures playing poker. Cards and goblin heads go flying as the group of goblins is reduced to one living goblin in the first round of combat. At which point the remaining goblin drops his cards and surrenders.

The goblin without much prodding states they work for the big boss and the vampires setup this ghost rock mining operation down here about a month ago. The vampires simply mesmerized anyone who got to nosy to stay away and not ask any questions.

The goblin helpfully offers up his key to the doors in the hopes he gets to live. Which he does as the group decides to let the goblin go.

Through a couple more sealed steel doors which the key opens the group enters an ore processing facility where piles of iridescent ore are piled beside what appear refined ingots of that ore. The ore and ingots have an intense magical glow under detect magic. And it’s easy to determine that ghost rock must be a solidified from of liquid etherium.

The sound of heavy machines is deafening in this room and is coming from a 20 ft wide passage way directly opposite the door. Another 20ft wide passageway also leads to the right that gently slopes upward. Up that passage the team can see fans steadily blowing fresh air into the mine.

A curious machine sits off to one side of the room with ore at one end and ingots at the other and dozen or so mine carts full of ore.

The group proceeds down the main mining tunnel directly ahead. It takes pretty trivial rolls at this point to sneak up to the main mining operation. A huge black skinned ogre with polished white horns and a shock of unrully white hair bellows orders at a team of the dog faced goblins who are operating a tunneling machine and as ore is extracted from the wall it’s being shoveled into carts.

A glowing line of magical staves forms some sort of barrier just in front of the ghost rock mining wall. And strange phantasmal forms dance just behind the barrier. The two vampires are here trying in vane to have a conversation with the ogre.

Empty mine carts are scattered around the room. About 20 goblins toil at the wall loading mining carts. It takes a good long time before the ogre and vampires spot the team summoning creatures and casting buff spells behind some mining carts.

After that however the battle is joined and the ogre proves to be a tough opponent. The death oni (ogre) draws the life force around him in a damaging aura and can vacuum up the life energies of those caught in his breath weapon. The vampires and oni are defeated but not before the magical barrier of staves is knocked down by the oni’s dying trashing.

The staves go flying to the corners of the room as the phantoms contained behind it burst forth possessing the oni’s dying form and the battle is joined again. As the fresh peals way from the oni’s corpse and a skeletal moster is left behind with cold glowing blue eyes.

After one round of fighting this undead monstrosity they realize cracks and damage to the bone fiend are being repaired by the flow of spirits coming out of the wall.

So they take the next few rounds putting staves back and re-establishing the barrier. Then without the influx of spirit energy the bone fiend quickly collapses.

Next session we time jump the team one year into the future at level 9 in the “Eunuch’s Rebellion”.

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