The previous combats were a series of blazing victories but it was not a reason to get complacent or to sleep on it. Everybody in the group was nervous, wary of some unknown evil that could be awaiting at the corner of a corridor, or crawling in the impenetrable darkness on the levels below.

Arian, still sporting her majestic, fearsome wolven form, was sniffing the air around. Smelling the tiles on the floor, she tried to capture some intelligence about any impending threat and who could be our next enemies.

Because two pairs of nostrils are better than one, I decided to do the same with my own modest talents: I reached the eastern staircase and stared along the steps until they disappeared into the darkness.
I took a deep breath and muttered a prayer to let the divine open my senses for any emanation of an evil nature: Nothing… I never know if it’s reassuring news or if I should be more alarmed. 

Trying again on the north stairs, this time I sensed the foul spiritual stench of undead entities, exactly where Tiffany the fairy conducted her reconnaissance and promptly returned, frightened.

Meanwhile, Arian had caught a smell from where she was and was trying to tell us about her findings. All we could make of it was that “something” was there.

Something not undead is often better news than something undead, so Greeba and I opened the way and marched down the eastern stairs.

A square room presented itself to us, with a dry font at its center and a beautiful ancient lance hung on the opposite wall. At regular intervals, frescoes depicted vulture demons savaging men in furry hats. Always curious and keen to discover new scriptures, Wisteria studied the artworks and thought out loud: “Looks like Narish… from the era when the Demon Empire of Narfell… often warred with Raumathar.” Her eyes turned towards us, regaining their focus and she said in a steadier voice:

  • “These demons may yet sleep here, we should be careful…”

As she was uttering these words, everybody froze: emerging from a dark corridor in the room behind me, an owlbear suddenly lunged towards Arian. Most of the party froze in surprise, and the wolf, who was faster than anyone, even missed the creature and her jaw clenched the air instead of the arm of the owlbear. Luckily, the monster’s beak and claws also failed to harm Arian, wasting the tactical advantage of its surprise attack.

But that was not the end of it: I suddenly felt a chilling cold grabbing me. An evil presence was in the lance room... a presence that we couldn’t see and which could attack at any moment. With a battle-front just being opened in the other room, I didn’t like the unfolding of this situation one bit…

To make sure I was ready to counterattack as soon as the threat would materialise, I prepared a ritual to repel the Evil. I planted my feet firmly into the ground, raised my sword and shouted defiantly at the darkness: “I am not afraid!”

The darkness responded in kind: out of nowhere, a shadow demon suddenly took form and was immediately confronted with the divine glow of my ritual. Unfortunately, the glow didn’t seem to be powerful enough and the demon passed through it as if my ritual was as meaningful as a faint cloud of smoke and swung its claws towards me. Fortunately, the power of my faith was protecting me and the claws ripped on my armour before vanishing as it came, in the dark.

I immediately regretted not having invoked my sword to become a divine instrument of my faith. I am now certain that its holy brightness would have kept that demon in the realm of the visible. I am still a humble student and never should forget it, especially in the heat of battle.

Once the stupor of the first assault subsided, the party was all hands on deck and from the next room, noises of a fierce animalistic brawl could be heard: A wolf barking and growling, Greeba shouting like she was hurling something across the room (I later found out it was a javelin that found its way in the owlbear). 

Still without an enemy to fight me, I positioned myself so I would block the exit of the room. I certainly didn’t want to bring another enemy to my companions who were already well entertained with the owlbear.

As expected, the Shadow-demon materialised again from the darkness and reached me… Unfortunately, he was much more successful than the first time. Its spectral hands went through my armour... I felt the fear penetrating my very soul when its fingers passed through my ribs and invaded my chest. My heart suddenly constricted, I lost my breath and a veil of despair and darkness obstructed my vision, my hopes and will to live.

A faint light in the middle of a deep night sky devoid of stars is the last thing I could remember seeing… an evil cackle, the last noise I remember hearing…

The first thing I remember feeling was an enchanting tingling on my lips. Tiffany the Fairy was right in front of me, her eyes closed and bright golden sparkles were passing from her mouth to mine. I still couldn’t move yet, but I knew it was not my time yet. The sparkles stopped and I felt Wisteria holding my hand and warmth invaded my body and filled my chest with fresh air and a renewed life-force. I felt truly alive then.

Once the owlbear got defeated, my companions were now available to take care of the demon.
Eamon the monk slashed the shadow and did hurt it (albeit not as much as it should, due to its immaterial nature). The demon lashed back at him and, in turn, he also fell under the spectral claws, but was soon helped by Gorlock and the ever helpful Wisteria who then proceeded to shoot at it with her longbow (no luck).

That shadow demon proved to be a very resilient enemy: the magic arrows of Eamon were effective, and Greeba’s warhammer did something to it, if not much. Little by little, my companions were nibbling at it.

The shadow retreated behind the font and I was unable to reach it and hit it at the same time, so I decided to jump atop that font and unleash a spectacular attack on it. Unfortunately, today was not a day to be basked in glory for me: my foot missed the edge of the font when I jumped and I slid into it on my back like a soap in a bucket instead of gracefully landing upright as planned.

And yet, I was not feeling like giving up making a fool of myself and decided to take a swing at the demon while sitting down in that font… and unsurprisingly, I missed!

In turn, the demon turned towards me and, seeing me lying in the font helplessly, he clutched my chest one more time, and once again, extinguished the flame of life in me. 

I never learn, do I?

Meanwhile, Gorlock and Xarius were hurting the creature pretty effectively with their spells.

Again, a very weary Wisteria brought me back from the antechamber of the realm of the dead.

  • “This is my last spell, paladin, and your last chance before Myrkul welcomes you!”

Now, Xarius, Gorlock, Wisteria, Elia and Arian were taking turns at chipping away at the monster. But it was Greeba who had the last word with one her famous Greeba-smashes, when her warhammer shattered the shadow and it evaporated into darkness.

We seemed out of danger for now and decided to heal our wounds, explore the safe parts of our surroundings and find some loot.

That’s when Greeba stepped between two pools from which 6 grotesque creatures emerged...