THE CIRCLE OF LIGHT

Session 17: The Carnival of the Dead

THE CARNIVAL OF THE DEAD

Carnival of the dead

The Writings of Rayven – Human Warrior

I can only say that the group woke up with very mixed feelings this morning as while we were all happy to be alive after our trip into the lost city of Parlainth where we killed a powerful Horror called a Mindtrap, we were also feeling drowsy and tired after another bad night’s sleep filled with more strange and mysterious dreams. I myself dreamt of been in a battalion of other knights like myself that were guarding a great city, however suddenly my brothers around me began screaming and fighting against some unseen enemy that was ripping them limb from limb in what looked to be a horrific and bloody battle.

Drawing my sword proved little help as the enemy was invisible to me like my brothers around me were been slaughtered by some ghost like force, when all of a sudden a glint in the distance caught my eye and looking ahead I could see a large gleaming knight clad in the armour of my people and he was carrying a rather impressive sword and gleaming shield. Standing for just a few seconds the dream seemed clouded to me seeing my mind once again think of the rainy window in the Restless Troll tavern as the dream was like looking through a misty window until suddenly the knight clad in shining armour lifted his sword high into the air and brought it crashing down onto his shield which let out some kind of glorious yellow and gold light as the sword stuck the impressive shield.

Irrupting outwards like a great shock wave the yellow light spread out into a great sphere around the knight and with each second as the light travelled it relived and uncovered horror after horror that had been invisible to me, there were thousands of them in all directions and within moments I had began fighting my way towards the gleaming knight hacking down countless horrors as I ran across the battlefield of the dead until I had finally reached the grand knight who seemed to shield me behind a large gleaming shield where we slowly began to back away towards the gates of the city.

Reaching the large gate the knight once again lifted his magical gleaming sword brining it crashing down onto the gate that instantly began sparking with magical energy seeing a huge portal appear at the door of the gate. Looking at me with countless horrors charging towards us the great knight simply said “Go now Rayven, honourable knight of The Rising Sun and know this, your people are still alive, look towards the western peaks” and with that the knight pushed me through the swirling portal where I began to stir from my sleep with a strange feeling of falling.

It was in those last moments of the dream that I could see hundreds of name givers walking towards me with arms stretched out to greet me, and in turn each one knelt before me shaking my hand and thanking me for releasing them from years caught in the Horrors grasp. Within moments as the lost souls began shaking my hand my mind was once again was taken further into the waking dream and was cast into some ancient vision of the great city of Parlainth many years ago and can remember seeing children running in the streets surrounded by huge buildings of both immense size and craftsmanship that towered high into the skies around us.

The place was breath taking with huge pyramids and fantastic buildings of all shapes and sizes stretching out for miles in each direction, even the gardens were lush and decorated with wonderful statues and highly crafted marble columns that glistened in the light. I remember walking for some time until hearing a soft and light voice whispering to me “The Vaults” and leading me to a large building that seemed to be the a temple to the Passion Astendar where we entered the place known as the Northern Catacombs which was a vast area within the great city.

Walking down a long and seemingly never ending spiral stair case we reached the bottom only to find a huge network of dimly lit corridors that lead off into the distance like some ancient labyrinth that we followed for at least an hour as we passed various doors, rooms and other corridors that lead off into the faded darkness of my dream. It was after walking for about an hour that we came to a huge chamber with statues that represented all 8 of the name giver races, and on the back wall taking centre place was a statue of a huge dragon that held the glimmering Silvered Shield in one hand and in the other it had a strange shimmering sphere that changed colour and swirled with magical energy.

The last thing I remember is the voice of the grand knight saying “The Shield is yours, use it wisely and it shall aid you when you most need it, but heed this warning the shield is made for good” with that the voice began to fade and can remember in those last echoing words it said “a gift has been given, look towards your most treasured items” and with that I woke from my dream only to find the other members of the group also waking after having very similar dreams all of which ended the same and included a large shining shield of some sort and can remember the ghost like figures had spoken in the Theran tongue making us wonder if they were the original habitants of Parlainth.

We again checked over our bodies looking for marks or unknown symbols and even used magical detection with the Elf Kaerless assuring us we are free from Horror marks and that our patterns in the astral world look clean. However it was upon checking our gear that we each found a strange symbol of a snake forming a figure eight and eating its own tail on one of our items and while we did not know what this strange snake symbol was it did appear to be magical in nature and seemed to have altered the patterns of our items like some magical gift had been bestowed on them.

I think we all felt strange after sharing such similar dreams and all began wondering what this strange mark was and if this "{color:blue} gleaming shield ":http://www.obsidianportal.com/campaigns/the-circle-of-light/items/shield-of-dreams in a room of statues really exists at all, however one thing was for sure we are all still suffering from bad dreams in the accursed town that is now leading us into an area of the lost city known as the Vaults and who knows what lays there waiting for us your guess is as good as mine. The mood did lighten a little as we walked out into the streets of Haven and found a dry pleasant day for a change and walking around the back of the tavern we opened the old rickety shed where we had stored the dead Horrors body over night as we know a Mindtrap will bring a good price on the arcane market and we also had various other items for sale.

MindtrapSelling off the items we did not want we also had chance to speak with Torgak about the magical items we had found as by all accounts Torgak and his staff personally appraise every magical item coming out of the lost city which makes me wonder if the Troll himself is looking for something that’s lost within the huge city ruins. However getting a decent price for our goods we once again set off into the town of Haven seeing Rastin and Elora take the Windling Jace to the temple of Garlen to see if the questors could do anything for his wounds, and sure enough after a sizeable donation of silver the questors of Garlen began to heal Jace who was in a bad way at the time but soon started to recover and come round with use of special healing herbs.

Spending most of the day shopping and getting Jace healed we just had time to pop and see the T’Skrang troubadour Sekra Imindis who we had freed from the Mindtraps taint and found her in a lonely and depressed state as she had no money and had just lost her group who had been killed previously by the Mindtrap Horror when they went into Parlainth. Feeling sorry for her and wanting to do the right thing we gave her 40 silver coins and also went to see Torgak and paid off two months’ rent on the small home that Sekra Imindis had rented hoping that would be enough to get her back on her feet after the loss of her friends and adventuring companions, well for now at least she had a roof over her head and enough silver coin to buy a good few months of meals.

With that we retired to Restless Troll tavern after a hard day’s work as some of the groups number still had wounds and injuries which still required rest, however I think we all felt a quiet sense of closure and victory as we had killed the Horror, sold our loot and even managed to give Sekra Imindis a gift of aid and suggested to the troubadour that she make a story of how her group died in the depths of Parlainth and how The Circle of Light came to save her from the clutches of the evil Mindtrap rescuing hundreds of trapped souls that the Horror had devoured as perhaps putting her story into words would be painful but help give her closure and start her new life, and think with that we all fell to sleep happy knowing we had once again helped those in need.

6th of Riag

Waking the next day our wounds and aches from battle felt a little better and for a simple moment we had a glimmer of hope as none of us had suffered any bad dreams, and for those few seconds at least we smiled until we swung open the curtains in our room to find another stormy day in Haven once again witnessing the rain return to the muddy town which soon wiped the smile off our faces. However it wasn’t until we headed into the bar area downstairs that we heard a commotion from just outside the tavern, so once again slinging open the door we stepped out into the cold muddy streets to see a huge group of people gathered around a notice board at the side of the street.

Making our way over we could hear people gasping and talking under their breath as they read the sign which we soon could see for ourselves. Standing in the crowd with the cold rains falling upon us we stood and read the document which was written upon ancient looking parchment along with runic old style lettering and said.

Cadaver carnival invite

This was very strange to me indeed as from what it seems the queen of the undead and creature named Twiceborn would be holding an undead carnival here in the town of Haven in just two days time which left most of us very confused. However asking the townsfolk they said that the leader of Haven Torgak had made a deal with Twiceborn the queen of the dead saying if the fighting between them stopped Twice Born could hold a carnival of the dead in the town of Haven once per year giving her the chance to show her power and magic’s to the world of the living once more, however for some unknown reason the carnival had not happened for many years meaning this was the first carnival of the dead for at least 8 to 10 years which was aptly timed after a major attack.

Some of the townsfolk gasped and said they were leaving town that day before the carnival arrived while others who had seen the carnival before assured us it was both freaky but safe, and said that a large number of Cadaver Men and other undead creatures lead by Twiceborn are allowed into Haven where they perform various funny acts and scenes from the realms of the dead, by all accounts it’s a scary but safe experience that has silently bought the town years of peace with the queen of the undead who controls a large percent of the undead forces in the lost city but not all of them, in fact one could say a carnival once a year is a small price to pay to stem the war between the living and the dead, but for now at least we were all shocked and in wonder at what to expect.

It was not long after reading the message that a towns guard approached us and said that Torgak the leader of the town wanted to see us regarding a private matter, perhaps he wanted to see the archer Elora again as he seemed quite fond of her. However going to see the large Troll leader he asked us nicely for a change if we would once again act as towns guards during this festival of the dead where our job was to stop anyone from lashing out at the Cadaver Men as if they did it could perhaps escalate into an entire war breaking the deal between Torgak and Twice Born. It was not only a change to be spoken to nicely by Torgak but nice to know our efforts for the town had not gone unnoticed so we decided to help Torgak who once again drooled over Elora and can only assume there is some romance in the air between the two or at least some special favours.

However agreeing to help Torgak we were once again given our simple guards shirts and logos and were told to attend this carnival of the dead in two days time. From there we decided to find out all we could about the strange snake mark that had appeared on our items and the group went about researching this subject with their various contacts in the town of Haven, and from what it seems the mark is some kind of magical blessing or gift that bestows powers to the item marked, and while this is still strange and unknown to us we were happy at least to hear it was not a Horror mark.

It was around that time that we were approached by the thin Elf "{color:blue} Dyntheri ":http://www.obsidianportal.com/campaigns/the-circle-of-light/characters/circle-path-company-guards who said that the high Nethermancer Nemiroph of The Circle Path Company wanted to see us regarding the bone necklace that Kaerless had found within the lost city, as by all accounts this magical and dark necklace is some big deal in the arcane world, to me however it just looks like a bunch of bones with strange runes on that seem to make no sense. Heading to see the high ranking Nethermancer of the Circle Path Company Kaerless held a discussion with him that turned out to be rather painful in the fact that the Nethermancer told Kaerless that the necklace was called the Chain of Skulls and belonged to the order of Nethermance’s known as the “Fellowship of the Night” and that he must return the long lost item to them.

I have to admit this was a little below the belt as we had been brought here by The Circle Path Company to undertake a mission we had yet to hear anything about, and then to add insult to injury the first decent magical item Kaerless finds they take straight off him without any real offer of reward, by all accounts however they did make Kaerless a member of this group named the “Fellowship of the Night” which could perhaps hold some benefits for him. I must however teach Kaerless the concept of trade as I’d have walked out with a bag of gold and a night with said Elves of my choosing but Kaerless seemed happy to hand over the item for free which I guess could further expand our legend and names within the The Circle Path Company and Throal.

Luckily for us the rain once again stopped around mid afternoon which helped lift the mood in the town a little as we had half expected several more weeks of rain followed by another huge Horror attack so the rain stopping seemed a good omen at least. For the rest of that day we researched things further trying to find out more information about this strange snake mark and dreams we had been having, for now however we needed to stay local for our duties as guards for the upcoming event which in itself sounds mystical and strange, and have to admit walking back to the tavern late that night we all ran our fingers across the towns guards logo on our shirts as one thing is for sure each time we wear these something dangerous happens.

8th of Riag – The Day of the Cadaver Carnival

Spending those last few days preparing for the Carnival of the Dead was an exciting and nervous time for us all as we not only looked forward to seeing the carnival later that night but also it was a little nervous considering it was our job to guard the undead making sure no drunk adepts hacked them apart in the streets. Before long the evening approached and not long after sun set we noticed the townsfolk gathering near the gates to the great lost city accompanied my various guards who stud watching the crowds. It did feel good walking into the crowd and acting as official guards as slowly the people of the town and other guards had began to recognise us seeing the large Trolls nod at us as they walked past, even Gron managed to let out a forced smile which lasted perhaps a second as the Troll guards walked past.

Slowly the guards began to light torches that had been position to make a lane way leading out of the great city ruins and think it was around that time we began hearing a faint noise on the wind, listening closer we heard what could only be described a dusty old pipes playing some kind of arcane and hypnotic tune of the dead like the pipe player himself was calling out to the dead when suddenly we heard several deep sounding drum beats that echoed behind the sounds of the pipes like some great horde of the dead was approaching the town gates.

Gradually the noise got louder and louder until we could hear various pipes and instruments playing this lost tune of the dead that flowed almost magically with both sorrow and mysticism in our ears until suddenly the deep echoing drums went into a huge drum roll as the huge new gates of Haven slowly began creaking open to reveal an entire parade of the dead shambling towards the town with all manner of undead creatures. Some of the townsfolk gasped and even some of the guards looked at each other in wonder as before us were several hundred undead that walked with exposed rib cages and dusty old cloths that had been eaten away by years of time, they even had undead horses pulling strange carnival like caravans which were decorated in bones and skulls.

Suddenly we heard a voice form the head of the parade shouting…

“Welcome one and all to Twice Born’s Carnival of the Dead, come and enjoy the games”

With that the darkened figure let out a dry cackling laugh seeing the skeletal figures behind him once again began playing their instruments in a rather epic symphony of the dead while the countless creatures began setting up their musty canvas tents and old creaky tables ready to perform for the people of Haven. The town was very quiet at first full of gasps and hushed voices but after a while the music seemed to calm the town and slowly the games and festivities got under way.

The strange archaic tunes played throughout as we watched undead cadaver men beginning to juggle with blades occasionally chopping off their own fingers and seeing the crowd laugh and cheer at the clumsy undead, we also noticed various undead acrobats who were doing various tricks such as carts wheels leaving bits of them falling off as they shambled over the carnival area, there were even several betting games not to mention an undead fortune teller and various other stalls, several of the undead were even dressed up as ancient clowns of some sort and had faded red paint around their rotting faces seeing dust plume off their cloths as they danced around in the night.

Huge dusty banners of the dead rose high into the sky as the carnival continued and everywhere you could hear the dark mystical tune playing in the wind, dusty pipes and worn drums flowed over the sound of the crackling fires which were only broken occasionally by the laughing of the townsfolk as the cadaver men fell over each other whilst preforming their games and tricks. I remember even seeing Torgak stood a discreet distance away with two large Troll guards stood on each side of him, and while he watched on quietly it wasn’t long before he slung his cloak over his shoulder and turned his back marching off into Haven making me once again wonder what this strange deal between him and the queen of the undead is all about, what issue have these two shared in the past, what caused the wars between the two all those years ago, one thing is for certain Twiceborn the queen of the undead is a being of great power, but Torgak himself can be just as dangerous.

Standing there trying to imagine what this strange deal was all about I heard Jace letting out a quick whistle and turning around noticed Kaerless who gave me a quick nod towards the map wall area where we could see at least five Cadaver Men had wondered out of the carnival area and headed over to the map wall of Parlainth where they seemed to be talking. Not wanting them to wonder off into the town and get hurt we decided to approach them and ask what they was doing and try and direct the shambling corpses back towards the carnival and on approaching them one of them spoke in a strange raspy voice and said they would move along seeing them shuffle towards one of the private caravans they had brought with them, so giving Jace the nod he flew over sitting on top of the caravan where he could overhear the mumblings of the dead inside.

I was half way through trying to convince the group that it was a dirty Theran undead plot when one of the townsfolk ran up to us frantically and said “Quick, quick Sekra is in trouble” we instantly followed the anxious person through the crowd when we came to a simple betting table where townsfolk were trying to find a ball hidden under one of three cups and by all accounts Sekra Imindis the T’Skrang Troubadour who we had helped in Parlainth had run up a massive debt she could not afford to pay and with that the Cadaver Men planned to take her where she would be ritualistically killed before been turned into the undead for the rest of eternity.

I have to admit things were going fairly well up until this point even the large Obsidimen Gron had managed not to kill anything which must be some kind of record, however suddenly a friend of ours who was in a unstable state after losing her group and been touched by a Horror had gambled away her life leaving us helpless to protect her as we could not start a war in the middle of town with so many civilians around, my mind went blank wondering what the hell we could do to save her and only wish I’d have thought quicker and offered myself in her place as at least that way I could have slaughtered the undead queen and escaped later, sadly however Sekra Imindis had already been dragged off screaming by a large group of undead.

We asked some of the Troll guards what this was all about and they not only confirmed that Sekra Imindis had ran up a huge debt that she could not pay, but they also explained that each year the carnival ends once a soul has been taken. I think with this we all looked at each other in amazement and once again wondered what strange and evil past Twiceborn and Torgak must share as by all accounts he is willing to sacrifice one of the townsfolk at every carnival to cease the war that raged between the undead and name givers when Haven was founded all those years ago, in our reckoning at least Torgak could be mad because who knows what strange effect this could be having on the town, for all we know the queen of the dead could be using such vile sacrifices to gain power and raise up and army to once and for all conquer Haven and perhaps even the world.

We had little chance to act as within moments of Sekra Imindis being taken the Carnival of the Dead began to pack away seeing the undead loading up the musty hide tents into the caravans before shambling towards the great entrance to the lost city. Dashing through the crowd to find the other group members we met in the middle where Jace reported over hearing the cadaver men in the caravan discussing some kind of dark and secret plot.
What the hell was happening within moments one of our friends had been dragged away into the ruined city and we had also found out about some secret plot that the cadaver men were launching in private, we stud silently our hearts beating in our chests as the townsfolk cheered around us as the great carnival of the dead left.

Grabbing several of the guards we told them what had happened with the cadaver men in the caravan and turning around noticed the huge gates of Haven slowly beginning to creak shut and could still see the large undead parade way into the distance and could just see their flickering lights on the night sky above. With only moments to spare we looked at each other silently before we all headed off running at full speed towards the gate seeing the people in the town gasp and point saying The Circle of Light seeing them let out an epic cheer as we crashed through the gates only moments before they slammed shut locking us inside the great lost city in the dead of night, it was around that moment as the gates slammed shut that we could still hear the cheers from the townsfolk on the other side of the wall when suddenly we once again heard the sound of drums followed by various other instruments starting to play.

Confused for just a second we suddenly realised that the drums and instruments being played were not coming from the undead but from the townsfolk and troubadours of Haven who seemed to be playing for us as we once again charged into the darkness. The sounds swirled in our ears with violin and flute been played in a energetic way reaching colossal highs that suggested action and motion while the deep beating drums brought both bravery and courage into our hearts. It was around that moment that Elora knelt on the ground before us turned around with her eyes almost glistening pure silver like she had somehow captured the magic from the moon light above, and with that she said “Tracks, hundreds of them, easy to follow” and with that we took one last deep breath before us six lone souls ran into the night.

The breath before us turns to white mist as we run in the cold night air and with each step we are heading deeper into the darkness, deeper into the unknown. Turning my head to the side I can hear Rastin mumbling prayers to the Passions under his breath, Kaerless clings to his magical Grimoire ready to cast spells within only seconds, Jace’s head flicks from side to side watching every corner like the very night around us is alive, Elora has her bow aimed at every doorway as she runs in the night, even Gron clings to his large axe Night Havester that glistens under the moonlight of the Parlainth sky, for now at least we are lost, we are lost to the mercy of the night and with each step we run closer to the largest undead parade in the world, with each step we run deeper into the most Horror corrupted city known to man, and to save our friend we once again run further into the night, further into the undead queens lair.

May the passions help us, may the Passions help us all.
The Writings of Rayven Astar – Knight of the Rising Sun

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