The Band of Seven Songs had returned to Chendl triumphant after the attack on the Greater Boneheart Mage Vayne only to find the city under attack. Trumpet blasts and screams could be heard from the outer city, and it appeared that the attack by the forces of Iuz had already begun. Initially uncertain whether to answer the cries for help or hasten to their stations at the wall, the Band appeared to make up their minds when the Velunese Heavy Infantry and a a number of Household Regiment soldiers passed them at double time on their way to the east wall. Cae’s lover Parrais Endulanth was among them and she immediately set off to help, followed by Rendar and Hadush. The rest of the party did their best to catch up, struggling to see in the gloom of Darknight. Even the everburning street torches of Chendl appeared to be somewhat dimmer.
Those party members with keener sight noticed a number of soldiers collapse abruptly further down the street. Cae and Zonkel recognised the effect of a cloudkill spell on the night breeze and shouted a warning to the Velunese soldiers. The Master Illusionist then dispelled the deathly fog on his second attempt and the reinforcements continued on to the north wall. Louis fell behind as he sought assistance from the Temple of Hieroneous but found only one defending priest in residence. The old priest, Eltram said that the rest of the Archpaladin’s clerics were already on the walls, gave Louis a box full of holy water vials and swiftly barred the doors against attack.
As the reinforcements made their way to the east gate they saw the defenders were hard pressed in the gloom. A wave of shadow appeared to be sweeping up the wall and attacking them from behind even as enemies stormed the battlements. While Parrais and his men rushed to their aid, a few of the party members saw an odd sight down a side street. At the edge of the gloom two women dressed in white walked down the centre of the road, apparently escorted by two veterans of the Household Regiment and two militia men. Something was queer about the group, something out of place. One of the women was swathed in diaphanous white and bore a crimson cloak, while the other wore a white robe with a chain hauberk and a dark cloak. As the Band of Seven Songs looked on, the light from the everburning torches along the street seemed to flicker and go out.
Suddenly realizing that danger was near, the Band started to scatter as one of the women cast a fireball spell wreathed in darkness. Most of the party avoided the worst of the blast and took cover behind hedges, bushes and nearby walls. Zonkle was not so lucky. The gnome had stacked his energies heavily towards the surprise attack on Vayne and was ill-prepared with his defensive magics. As the fire engulfed him he recognized the taint of ancient forbidden magic infused with negative energy. The strength drained from his limbs and he fell to the ground as weak as a babe. Too late the party realized that he had been left behind, out in the open.
Cae scored a hit on the woman in the crimson cloak and hid behind a bush. Rendar rushed back to aid the gnome as the other woman cast a wind wall spell across the street. The half-orc’s shots were deflected harmlessly. Avras waited behind the hedge for a foe to come near. The Furyondian’s accompanying the women drew close and their slavering fangs and red eyes revealed that they had fallen prey to a vampire! The mistress of the spawn then revealed herself as the crimson cloaked woman, calling down thousands of bats upon the party.
Seeking to find advantage with a levitation spell, Cae found herself and Avras to be the main target of the bats as Rendar attempted to scoop Zonkle up only to find himself foiled by the gnome’s mirror image spell and the distraction of the buffeting bats. A spiritual weapon in the form of a glowing sword appeared to attack the ranger and the illusionist as the spawn closed in and tore at the two of them. Avras and Cae struggled to fend off the bats and get some distance as the normally ruthless Hadush, perhaps remembering the kindness of the gnome towards him, threw his bow down in frustration, drew his scimitar and rushed to Zonkle’s aid. He struck hard at one of the spawn from behind and was surprised to find the Household guardsman more enraged than hurt.
The source of the darkness coalesced into shadows. The undead were breaking off from the dark cloaked woman and attacking the huddling residents of the great houses of Chendl. The screams and alarms throughout the city were growing as more and more people were slain by the undead and spawned anew to take even more life. The woman in the dark cloak, now close enough to show her holy symbol of Iuz, stood calmly behind the wind wall and summoned two allips among the party. Avras fell prey to their hypnotic whispers, and stood uncertainly as the crimson cloaked vampire approached him. Hadush and Rendar were raked by the vampire spawn several times, and felt their strength ebbing as they desperately fought back in defence of their fallen friend. Zonkle lay all but helpless, his position desperate as his mirror images started disappearing and the vampire spawn scored some lucky hits on him.
Luck had fled the Band of Seven Songs! The beautiful vampire’s eyes bored into Avras, and she whispered, “Come to me, darling”. His will overcome the warrior dropped his sword and allowed himself to be enfolded in her arms. Too late he felt the sting of her fangs but was powerless to resist. Cae finally got some distance from the bats, and elected to get even more distance still so she could bring her bow and spells to bear. Hadush slipped in Zonkle’s blood and lost footing and his scimitar, struck hard on the way down by the vampire spawn that he was fighting. Rendar too fared poorly and could only look on as his old friend Zonkle was struck again by the unclean spiritual sword of the Old One and the life draining rakes of the undead. The Master Illusionist died right there in hopelessness and agony under the life draining claws of the vampires.
Realising that the fight was lost, Rendar and Hadush withdrew and ran for their lives. Cae blasted some of the bats and destroyed one of the militiamen spawn and one of the allips with a fireball. Avras began to succumb to the bite of the vampire, who paused in her feeding only to hiss a warning at several shadows that had drawn in for a taste as well. Louis finally caught up to the fight and too stock of the situation. He attempted to use his amulet of emergency healing on Zonkel, little realising that it was too late, and sought to regain the advantage by casting a briar thorn spell at the undead. The spell took effect and the vampires were caught, tearing at the briars and themselves in frustration. The remaining allip seemed unconcerned, and continued its awful whispering. The last spawn looked for fresh meat and took chase after Rendar and Hadush.
Louis continued his assault with a dragon breath spell and incinerated the entrapped vampire spawn and the last remaining allip as Avras broke free from the domination of his vampire. The two wrestled and the Bastard managed to gain the advantage as Cae struck her with a magic missile spell. Hadush and Rendar ran into four Houshold Regiment guards, one of whom gave his sword to the half-orc as another desperately blew three sharp blasts of alarm with his horn. Suddenly the party seemed in control of the fight. Unwilling to yield the field, the priestess of Iuz summoned a giant skeleton with a massive club and ordered it to smash the priest. Louis trusted to his ring of blinking and stood his ground as the first brutal swings from the giant’s club passed harmlessly through him.
Cae launched another magic missile at the vampire in red. She whispered “remember me, lover!” to Avras and then collapsed into mist, leaving the warrior empty handed. The Bastard briefly considered rushing the priestess, then thought better of running a gauntlet of shadows and withdrew as the undead surged forward at the command of their mistress. Hadush and the Household guards hacked the last remaining vampire spawn, one of their own comrades, to pieces. Rendar, as if remembering a dream, activated some heretofore unknown property of his axe and a great, hollow sigh seemed to erupt from the weapon as the wind whistled and runes began to glow on the axe and from his ritual scars. The shadows appeared to recoil from the ranger, giving the party time to withdraw.
Louis elected to remain for a few moments more but this time the giant club found its mark. The brave priest of Rao was crushed, pulverized into the wall of a mansion. Even the priest’s trusty amulet was unequal to the task of snatching him from death’s embrace. The rest of the Band fled the fight with Rendar well in the lead and the guards behind. First one, then another guard fell behind and were consumed by the shadows. Not three hundred yards to the north they ran into a band coming back the other way.
None other than Lord Priest Garaeth Heldenster of Hieroneous had answered the call of the horns. The breathless high priest, accompanied by his bodyguard of priests, temple guards and a number of Household Regiment veterans had sprinted halfway across the city from the north wall, strangely quiet from the battle. The exhausted Band of Seven Songs fell into step behind the warrior priests of the Archpaladin as the Lord Priest and his men turned the shadows back, their faith obliterating many. In the distance the party saw the vampire and the priestess falling back as their shadows were destroyed. Finally they withdrew altogether, using a dimension door spell to flee the city.
The streets are far from quiet as pockets of the undead remain to harry the living and battle rages on the east and west walls as the forces of Xenvelen and Galfaellin assail the capital. Exhausted, drained, bloodied and less of two of their number, The Band of Seven Songs are left to their own devices as Garaeth and his men continue into the gloom. The Darknight Assault continues. Does the party have anything left to contribute to the defence of faltering Chendl? What fate worse than death awaits the poor departed Zonkle Knacklesack, Master Illusionist? Will Louis earn his just rewards for service or suffer despair in the afterlife? Can the Band of Seven Songs endure this Darknight Disaster?!? Find out next week!