Saturday, August 20, 2016

Touch of Evil Hunt Report - Something Wicked Expansion

Game: Solo Rules - Lone Hero - Insanity

Hero: Valeria the Eternal

Villain: The Banshee

Note: I'm interpretting Valeria's use of the "Blood Transfusion" event to bring back a dead Elder in a rather predictable manner.

From the journal of Valeria the Eternal


Night One

I've been tracing the rumors to this lovely little village along the coastline of this rather young new realm. It seems that the most satisfying quarries always turn up in the wildlands. Still, I don't expect much difficulty from this place. The rumors I've been chasing have a flavor of the British Isles. If it were something native with old roots in the ground I'd be much more excited, but this seems to be some silly little specter that has somehow wandered away from home. 

The place is called Shadowbrook, which I admit is very descriptive as the place boasts a fair number of trees and forests to filter out the sun. There is a respectable manor house to the North of the town and I think I shall begin my search there. One can always get a sense for the nature of a demesne by taking a look at its leaders. That and the blood of the nobility is always quite tasty though I shall have to take care to be discreet.

....

I shan't be dining on Hanbrook blood tonight it seems. I was given a room for the night, escorted there by the family's groundskeeper, and it is usually a pleasure to see the old laws of hospitality continue and I humored them by preparing for bed. Unfortunately the bed had other plans for me, it seemed. The wretched and cursed furniture attempted to swallow me whole. It is a dark sort of curse, one that I had not seen in many a decade and has certainly made me more...

There are cries in the night, I must see what is about.

 ...

Foul treachery is afoot it seems. The groundskeeper I mentioned earlier can be heard calling upon his dark mistress from within the town and none it seems are content to challenge him. Beyond that however, there was a swarm of shades also rising out of the night. I could sense them at the north edges of the town and now must ready myself to face them.

Night Two

I have made my appearance at the local shrine, I believe they refer to it as a "chapel", in order to steel my soul for the conflict ahead. Curiously, the normal wards against creatures of the night like myself did not seem present and I was able to conduct my meditations from within the walls of the building, close to the nexus of spirit formed by a place of worship and it allowed me to revive some of the ancient power that ebbs when one such as I wanders rather than settles down.

I have inquired with the town elders about the incident with the bed, but none have given a satisfactory answer. They persist in being more concerned with the spirits and that groundskeeper. Understandable, I suppose, but only if they are unaware of the implications of that cursed bed. I rather suspect that the town leaders are plying lies about the nature of the town's trouble. It doesn't help matters that the local Magistrate has taken it upon himself to confiscate much of the local weaponry and dismissing the sightings of ghosts as tricks of the groundskeeper's collaborators.

Night Three

I have tracked one of the shades unleashed in my first night here and battled it within the walls of the local blacksmith's. My spirit certainly seemed strong enough for the task and devouring the cursed thing revived the wounds the cursed bed had given me. In gratitude, the blacksmith provided me with some sturdy clothing which may serve to help keep the claws of my enemy away from my own dead flesh. Curiously, this town seems to have carried forward some ancient secrets of weaving which allows the garb to even ward off the touch of lost souls.

....

The lies of one of the elders has caught up with them. Unfortunately, this is not a turn for the better. Lady Hanbrook is dead, a martyr. I had found her to be a woman of good intentions but my questioning uncovered a disturbing thread of cowardice woven in with the virtue. Rather than confront my questions, she ran. However, when the banshee appeared to attack her daughter, the woman did not hesitate to sacrifice herself for her child. The banshee fled before I could engage it and the Lady's body was carried off before I could see if there was much I could do. However, I sense the thing is just waiting for a chance to face me directly.

I say let the witch come, I am ready. This may prove an interesting hunt after all.

Night Four

This night I have faced the traitorous groundskeeper, the one who likely carried with him the banshee's anchor when he came to this place. I hoped to wring from him the secret of where his mistress's focus lay but we merely traded blows and he escaped my grasp with a nimbleness that is surprising in a human so old. However, I was able to chat with the Magistrate and compare some plans for how to deal with the man.

...

This night the banshee shrieked on the wind, crying out its eagerness to face me directly and taunting me to rash action. I have not taken the bait. I will be cautious about this until I am well fortified against spirits. Still, I since the witch's power rising. 

This is bizarre. She has been uprooted from her proper haunt and transplanted long distances. The berserk fury I perfectly understand, ghosts do not respond well to being shifted, but she shouldn't have the roots necessary to be building this sort of power. What is happening here?

Night Five

I have been to see the Lady's body in doctor's office and prevented the man from prepping her properly for funeral. I could not get her alone to do more than that, but I should have a better chance later. I could certainly tell that the woman's soul had remained tied within her body. A characteristic of the banshee's curse to keep the dead stuck in their rotting corpse. Given enough time, the corpse would rot away completely and the marginally valiant Lady would simply be another of these lost souls wandering about beyond the village proper. 
 
Of course, I did sample a bit of the doctor's vintage. It was surprisingly bitter, but strong none-the-less. It certainly helped to recover my own injuries received at the groundskeeper's hands. I considered looking more into that, but didn't want to risk breaking the charm I had on his memory.

There was also the storm. It was certainly no natural storm. Not at all. The power this ghost is wielding is great. For more so than most spirits I have faced. I can't believe that she has acquired this power all herself. She lacks the coherent thought necessary for such rituals. There is something at work here. In any case, I fear that I must not linger too long in any one place.

Night Six

I have returned to the blacksmith to consider, once again, the residue left behind by that barrow shade. The blacksmith revealed to me a curious book of secrets and lore which I hope will be of some use to me in the course of this hunt. I thanked him with a little kiss which is unlikely to remember save as an embarrassing dream.
This night is unnaturally dark, even my eyes strain to see and the stars above seem dimmed. I could feel the banshee's lesser haunts pressing toward the center of town from all about the countryside. They were on the offensive indeed and it certainly felt as though I had come on the cusp of her bid for dominion in this place.

Night Seven

I have been to the Hanbrook Manor again and faced another shade. Young miss Lucy tried to thank me by offering the protection of her family Bible. Unfortunately, it had been bound with the typical wards of such religious items and I could not touch it. When she first presented it to me, it forced me to drop my typical veneer and the young girl has realized what I am. Instead of blaming me for the curse, however, she pleaded for me to save her mother. I'm not entirely certain that I can, but had already been considering that course of action anyway. She heroically offered herself up as payment to save her mother so I suppose she has not strayed far from her mother's example.
Save the lack of cowardice, of course. 

That was one quality thankfully lacking in Lucy's countenance. I took her up on the offer of blood, but I declined to take her life. There was no need for such a thing and I did not need to face the issue of having more spawn than necessary to deal with.

The banshee tried again to turn the weather against the town, but I was ready this time and my own sorcery was enough to turn aside the chill weather she had sought to place upon us. The wretch reacted to my interference by murdering some poor traveler upon the covered bridge to the south of town.

Night Eight

I could not progress far this day, Despite the defeat of the witch's charm on the air, it had left the roads in a sorry state and unlike my foe, I remain a corporeal entity for the most part. I do find it annoying to spend so much of my time traversing a simple road from the Manor to the  town. I could feel another shade getting close to the village, one of the remaining set that had arisen the first night, but I couldn't reach it yet. Bitterly, the banshee killed again, this time a hunter in the Marsh and the bulk of her minions moved forward. 

I heard rumors that they planned to cremate the bodies of her victims. This is foolish. Where she of my ilk that would be effective, but all that would do for a banshee's victim would be to hasten the maddening progress of her curse until they arose as a new shade.

Night Nine

I had been right about the shade on the edges of town. I found it in my destination at the town hall where Lady Hanbrook lay in state to be viewed for the funeral on the morrow. This shade put forth a much more vicious battle but failed to do anymore lasting harm than the previous wretch. Happily, this did give me the chance to address Lucy's request. Her mother is once again walking the Earth, though she fled out into the dawn upon awakening and I could not see where she fled to. A fledgling vampire has much more difficulty dealing with the light and I find it likely that she has lost her way. However, many saw her rushing through the town and spirits have risen as a result. I suppose if they were aware of just how Lady Hanbrook had been brought back, there'd be less celebration.
 
This night I was too weakened by raising Lady Hanbrook to beat back the storm set upon us by the banshee and I felt the rise of another of her barrow shades in the chapel just across the square from me. I begin to dislike the fact that this church was not properly secured against such creatures. Rampant predators such as these shades should not be allowed to feed on the collective spirit of the town...even if that means barring less malevolent entities of darkness.

Night Ten

I awoke in the town hall near the luggage that I had secured there. Last night, I had faced the shade in the church and failed to match it. I suspect I should have first recovered from my effort to bring back Lady Hanbrook, it left me too vulnerable to attack and I was forced into mist and had to re-manifest within the "trunk" I had secured in secret. 

Still, the convalescence ended up being useful. I watched through Lady Hanbrook's eyes as masked figures tried to turn her to their service. I know this cult that they represent, it had been present even in the days I still breathed. And now much of this town's problems began to make sense. My presence in the back of Hanbrook's mind enabled her to beat down her cowardice and let her heroic nature take for and she pushed back the cult, but I begin to worry.

If the Crimson Hand are here, this is much less a thrilling hunt and much more of a general cause for concern.

Night Eleven

I was still sore from my last battle, but my resolve had been firmed and it was time to face the shade again. This time, I was able to eke out a victory and bolster my own spiritual powers off the font of the town's faith within the building. Unfortunately, I had barely gotten finished devouring the first shade when another ambushed me from the shadows and nearly vanquished me a second time. However, this one also ended up feeding my hunger and sealing my wounds. The banshee's cry was heard yet again, to the east and rumors of a murder in the monastery out that way came to our knowledge. This tide is working against us. Terribly so.

Night Twelve

Revelations aplenty have come this night. The banshee may be the power, but the will behind it is the Reverend Harding with the services of Doctor Manning as well. The hypocritical false priest sits behind his walls of wards and sneering smugly at me as I watch him even now. I would target the good doctor, but he is similarly protected from my wrath by virtue of running to the banshee's side. Thankfully, this has led me to the banshee's hideout in a small island in the middle of Echo Lake, an island the locals refuse to speak about. I asked Lucy about it and she was generally perplexed and seemed to simply not know what I was talking about. Her mother has taken to lingering there since I raised her and this does not bode well. I sought out the groundskeeper again, but he escaped me after another brief battle. The man refuses to stand and f...

...I live, or rather, I have not been left as mist yet again. However, it had been a close matter. The witch appeared before me and pressed me back into a corner in the midst of my journal writing. The banshee is indeed very powerful. Overwhelmingly powerful. It is not natural. She has been bolstered by the foul magicks of the Crimson Hand and guided by a mind that lacked frenzy. The Good Doctor appeared but not where I could reach him. Fortunately, they seemed unwilling to remain any longer than the groundskeeper had and vanished into the night.

Night Thirteen

I had thought to face the creature in its lair, but I need greater power first. I am not prepared for this fight. My spirit had only been just bolstered enough to prevent it from taking further advantage against me, but still it overwhelmed me. There are woods here, mystical in nature, and I sought to look for weaponry that could be turned against the ghost hidden in those trees. Unfortunately, I only found a barrow shade lying in wait for me and given the beating its mistress had given me I soon awakened within my portable tomb. In the meantime, Reverend Harding had taken advantage of my indisposed status to encourage his puppet to marshal her forces and choke the roads with ghosts.

Night Fourteen

I tried to explore the abandoned keep to the southwest this night, but once again I was disappointed and found only one of those foul, subhuman monstrosities the Crimson Hand enjoys making out of its enemies. They're a sort of stalker, ghastly in appearance, with sharpened teeth and very little left of the mind they once hand. I was barely able to put down the miserable wretch and the foul blood didn't serve much purpose in revitalizing me after the battle. While I was chasing such fatal geese, the banshee struck Magistrate Kroft in the midst of another heavy darkness. I suppose he now believes that ghosts walk the Earth.
 
Night Fifteen

There has been a new addition to the ranks of corporeal undead. After again bolstering my spirit, I was able to revive Kroft in the chapel before the Reverend and the doctor could have his body cremated and hasten his transformation into a creature of the banshee's. Unfortunately, this second spawn proved a bit too eager to feed and drove me to mist by stealing far more blood than I had available. Still, the town is once again relieved to find the rumors of one of their elder's deaths to be a bit overstated. 

The night is once again f ar too heavy to be natural and I begin to fear that the populace of the village are wrapping up their faith in its leaders and myself. I worry that any crack in our image may be disastrous for the morale of the town. I have already become concerned that the Crimson Hand has been influencing many of them.

Night Sixteen

There was another clash with the groundskeeper and he got the better of our encounter this time. It easily set me up for ambush by another of the many barrow shades rising about the countryside and I only barely survived the episode intact while the groundskeeper fled again to the old woods. In the meantime, Reverend Harding conducted a book burning behind a wall of his loyal minions that the good townsfolk and myself could not get past. I fear he may have destroyed some secret we needed to vanquish our enemies.
 
Night Seventeen

Once again I am writing from the place where I placed my secret tomb. I had sought to face the banshee directly, hoping to at least siphon off its power. By the magic of the Hanbrook Manor I was able to travel to Forgotten Island and reconnect with my erstwhile spawn, Lady Hanbrook. With some coaxing, I was able to get her to follow me into the fight. I should have taken the effort to investigate the other elders or perhaps taken the Magistrate with me, though he would be useless for this fight, for the woman bolted and ran at the first sign of battle. Still, I was able to wound the witch but I doubt the injuries will linger long enough for me to capitalize upon them and, as feared, my defeat at the hands of the banshee has dashed morale.

After finishing with me, the banshee tried to pursue Lady Hanbrook to her Manor, but once again with family in danger, Lady Hanbrook was able to swallow her cowardice and fight the banshee off until its limits forced it to retreat. The witch responded by setting more of its former victims upon us, certainly at the Reverend's urgings.

Night Eighteen

I was able to limp my way to the chapel and rouse the remaining good-hearted peasants with a speech as well as setting the local militia properly armed to deal with shades out to the windmill and the chapel to expand the search for the banshee's new lair which was soon located in the marshes.

My efforts were rewarded upon finding that Magistrate Kroft had killed the midwife, Sophie, striking another blow at the town's morale after her body was found bloody and neck torn. When I confronted him  about the matter he insisted that she was a traitor. I eventually gathered that she had realized what he had become and tried to kill him and was only just unable to finish the task. The tales of her valiant attempt make me wish bitterly that I had turned to her for aide rather than this coward and this peeping tom of a worthless Magistrate.

Night Nineteen

At least the Magistrate continues to be useful for directing the militia as we were able to set a third formation of troops out to the marsh right upon the doorstep of the banshee. The time is growing short. Those of the locals who aren't already fled or turned to the darkness of the cult are wavering in their resolve as the shades march ever closer to the town center and the night was filled with dark omens no doubt concocted by the trickery and illusions of the Crimson Hand as they were certainly not the work of the feral banshee.

Night Twenty

Another night of battle. I faced and destroyed one of the shades approaching town only to then be assaulted by that accursed groundskeeper. The man persists in refusing to stand still and die though I was able to press him mightily this time around. It was only after I had defeated him that I realized another shade had formed on the bridge just before me and he had been driven forward in fanatical zeal by its sudden appearance.
 
Night Twenty-One

I am drowning in these shades. I defeat one and another is quickly on its non-existent heels. The last chance is coming. I am weak from battle but I shall have to face the banshee again. There is no other choice. I am amazed that we were not defeated this night already. Tomorrow will be the turning point, I hope. I will face it at daybreak. I can handle the sun well enough, but the maddened wretch shouldn't have the ability to compensate as well. Lord Hanbrook has offered to face the beast with me as I have not yet been able to awaken Sophie. The village knows what I am and what I have made of the Magistrate and the Lady Hanbrook. The Reverend has convinced nearly all of them that I am the mastermind and deflected all the suspicion that I had directed at him. If we don't defeat his plan now, the village will be his and the Crimson Hand will have open reign to do as they please.

Night Twenty-Two

I write this now on the road traveling away from Shadowbrook. Lucy is driving the carriage as I her mother and the magistrate sit in the back. Sophie's body is leaning against the inner wall, but I expect she'll be waking up from death soon to join us in our flight. 

The Reverend has won. I could not defeat the banshee. Not with the tools I had.

Another terrible storm, which I now realize had been set by the rituals of the Crimson Hand and the Reverend rather than the banshee, blotted out the sun that would be of minimal annoyance to me but which I had hoped to cripple the banshee. We marched into death, the soldiers, Lord Hanbrook and myself. I only escaped by virtue of my nature as an undead being myself. But all those who went with me died to banshee scream, the shades grip, the cursed groundskeeper's traps or Crimson Hand knives, cut down with barely any of us even touching an enemy.

Even now, I can hear the faint whispers of Reverend Harding weaving a tale of how he and his sacred order had driven out the foul demons in their midst and I begin to see now that I had been lured here as a scapegoat all along. 

This cannot be left standing. The Crimson Hand have put forth great effort in this and there must be some reason for it. Their goals are not conducive to a good future for anybody in the world and someone will have try to put whatever plot they have brewing.

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