Episode Nineteen - The Bonewalkers
Episode Nineteen – The Bonewalkers (Level 10)
Carmenith asks Tobias to help her get over her fear of psionics, but before she can fully explain what she has in mind, asks him to search her mind for any vulnerability to Mathis. He finds a gaping psionic wound, with a tether in it, a dormant line of power connected back to Mathis. The line was inactive, lying there like a trap, but Tobias realized that at any time, Mathis might use it to locate them, dominate Carmenith, and attack their little group from within. He follows the line back to Mathis, and confronts the psionic ghost in his own mind. Mathis is deadly, even in a weakened state, and is delighted with the opportunity Tobias has presented him with. The two men lash out at each other, each wounding the other, but Tobias quickly finds himself in a fight he can’t possibly win. Seeing the domination set into Tobias’s face, Vash pulls his friend back from the brink of destruction, slapping him, bringing him crashing back into his body. Tobias severs the psionic link behind him, but the violence of his return has driven the poisonous remnant of the severed line like a barb into the wound in Carmenith’s soul. She is dying.
Tobias is able to stabilize her, but the Jhareth woman lies terribly ill, sickened with a psionic wound that will kill her in a manner of weeks if the party cannot get her to a psionic healer. Tension arises between Tobias and Vash when Vash can tell that Tobias isn’t confiding the event in full to him. Tobias warns the Avans that Mathis knows the location of their waystation, and they begin packing everything up immediately, grateful to the psion for the warning.
Things are awkward between Cátzin and Ictaca, meanwhile. She has confessed that her Shadow Lord wishes her to watch Vash, and so she remains with the party, but her attention is often focused on the norlythin barbarian instead of the drow. She speaks very little, simply does what is needed and helps as she can with the tasks at hand.
A prolonged blizzard has settled in over the mountains, and the heroes must now make a treacherous descent. Vash insists on carrying Carmenith most of the way, and the howling winds, bitter cold, and surly moods make the trip both dangerous and unpleasant. Ictaca, however finds himself fully in his element, taking the lead. Chewing herbs to bring on the guidance of the spirits, he guides his companions, leading them away from danger time and again. It takes them nine days to descend the mountains and reach the river-valley of Ithacol. During the descent, the spirits communicate to Ictaca that a spiritual flare has erupted off of the bottom of the worldfire over Ithacol, flooding the valley with raw primal energy. It is fueling the storm, causing people to have visions, waking spirits, and causing other strange effects. Plants are blooming sporadically in the bitter cold, bursting through the snow in bright patches of color.
They find themselves still caught in the howling storm, at a trappers cabin. The owner seems dead, by the amount of blood they find in the cabin, but there is no sign of a body. Tuoch and Cátzin scout in the storm, as Tobias searches the cabin for clues, Vash tends to Carmenith, and Icthaca and Darius search the ground around the cabin. They find nothing, and bunk up for a fitful night’s sleep. In the dead of the night, Darius sees a horrifying creature at the window, a beast made up of small, polished bones like dominoes, in an ever-shifting kaleidoscope of predatory motion. He and Icthaca go out to investigate, and Ictaca finds himself face to face with one of these bonewalkers. He can sense that it is made up of primal life energy and unformed, unborn predatory spirits, pulling bones from the earth and polishing them to form their bodies, then seeking out victims and tearing new bones to feed their ever-growing hunger for a physical form.
Icthaca screams his defiance at the beast, and it attacks. More of these bonewalkers surge up around him, and others surge in from the storm to attack the others, some shifting and twisting in vaguely animalistic forms, some whirling around like storms themselves. As the heroes defeat them, the ones they have slain reform into larger creatures. Visibility is almost zero, and the bones make no noise, eerie and deadly in a white winter landscape now splattered with scarlet blood.
Ictaca feels rising primal energy in his tattoo, humming power all around him, and knows that finally, the culmination of his spirit quest is at hand. He senses a huge bonewalker nearby, locked in battle with the primal hero he has been seeking; The Jhareth warden Uremallach Archal. The spirits of animals and ancestor spirits coursing around him, he charges off into the snow with a mighty battle cry. Cátzin follows him, silently watching his back. The others, reeling from the battle they only barely survived, can now finally see the spirits Ictaca has been talking about for the last week and a half. They stagger after him, having a much harder time navigating the unfamiliar landscape in the blinding storm.
The bonewalker manifests as a huge storm of bones, seizing the barbarian and pulling him into a slicing maelstrom of bones, Cátzin plunges in after him, and their other allies arrive in time to assist. Ictaca explodes out of the beast in a rage, slaying it. Nearby, Uremallach lies dying, at peace with this death and his swiftly arriving passage into the spirit realm. Seeing in Ictaca a spiritual successor, the great hero gives him the whip of Imbakao and several other items charged with primal power. He passes on a few words of wisdom, charges Ictaca to act as Sarnoss wills, and tells him that he is a true child of the black lion.
Battered but impressed with their friend, the heroes return to the cabin to rest. Ictaca will sit vigil outside in the storm, harnessing the wild primal energies all around to calm the spirits in this area, and hopefully prevent any resurgence of bonewalkers in this vicinity.
Intra-party roleplay: 200 xp
Mountaineering in Blizzard skill challenge: 2,500 xp
The abandoned cabin problem solving: 100 xp
Bonewalker encounter one: 2,000 xp
Bonewalker encounter two: 2,000 xp
Following the spirits: 100 xp
Ictaca’s spirit quest completion: 200 xp
Total XP is 7,100, divided by 4 pc’s, is 1,775 each. Previous cumulative individual total was 22,811, and is now 24,586. (Level 11 is at 26,000)
Ictaca received the following gifts from Uremallach Archal: Whip of Imbakao (Razortail, level 12, custom reach 3), Horned Helm (L 16), Thornwalker Slippers (L 12), and Ring of Giants (L 13)
Ictaca’s Glory Quest:
5 “Glory” points earned so far.
*One for being named a champion of Chayrshellech
*One for impressing Spirit Elder Mahua, personal spiritual advisor to Emperor Icarasl. Mahua now believes Ictaca is a “chosen child of Sarnoss”
*One for leading a small army (including 50 norlythins) in the battle of Forteth and being knighted
*One for leading the same small group of Avans to rescue so many innocent lives in the mission in Karfallun
*One for completing his spirit quest and earning the whip of Imbakou from the famed primal hero Uremallach Archal. The Norlythin Avans are whispering his name.