Welcome to the end of week writeup for August. This week we bear witness to the Final Stand of Mugrave the shadow born. An empowered Shadow blessed Oni who went from minor NPC to one that was helping drive the story – but since we are moving on closer to the end of the yearly adventure we have to say goodbye at some point.
Final stand of Mugrave the Shadow born
The irritation was felt from across the darkened copse and even the diluted moonlight did nothing to pierce the mass of shadow that gathered by the roots and trunks. “You have failed in one of your ploys yet again. Revealed your presence to a mortal, lost your night prowlers and the majority of your quaigin. Yet you still think you are able to deliver what you have promised?” The Shadow asked through a mixture of telepathy, images and pain.
Mugrave stood within the shadow, a darkened mass that quivered and shook. Even in her Oni form prolonged exposure to the Shadow was detrimental and she knew that she needed to think of a way out of this predicament and fast. “I tested them. The foreigners. I know what their strengths and skills are. The quaigin and night prowlers were not wasted. I know what they are capable now and just need more time to gather the right strength and I can deal with them myself.”
A chuckle resonated forth. A sound that brought the cold and dark to such a mirth filled expression. “So you think that power is what you need? More power and you can beat these warriors that are touched by the light hmm?” the Shadow mocked. “I can give you more power if that’s what you ask”.
Mugrave hesitated. She had considered asking the shadow for more power yet she had ruled against it as it wasn’t as fair trade. In fact the price that the Shadow demanded from such barters were never fair. She had watched countless mortals waist away at the promise of power form a pact with the Shadow.
“Have faith in me master. I can do it with my own power and my own cunning.” Mugrave said, unable to contain the quiver in her voice. “The power you offer must be conserved for the fight at the wall.” she added. She knew that the Shadow would hesitate on that as the fight at the wall was not going well. However the shadow merely drifted away from her and melded amongst the trees.
“I have given up too much for your plans already Mugrave and each one has resulted in failure. For instance, your meddling with Yukri’s house almost had her killed. In addition the Laelóng of Lanidaye was also killed because of your ambition. I don’t think you have a choice but to accept my gift of power.” The Shadow spat, tendrils of black mist whipping across the distance between them to inflict bleeding wounds across her skin. “With this last blessing you can make your final stand and either return triumphant of dead.”
The tendrils continued to lash out but more violently carving runes into her skin and into the flesh beneath. Mugrave bit down on her tongue to hold back the howls of pain as the shadow stuff that broke her skin. As the shadow tendrils began seep into her wounds her muscles to expanded and her connection with the arcane powers fluctuated like the waves in a sea. The process was excruciating and after the process was done Mugrave knelt on the ground amongst the copse of trees with tendrils of shadow whipping about her form.
“Now go and fulfil your oath to me” the shadow commanded and disappeared.
Mugrave stood slowly. Her body slowly adjusting to the changes she could feel beneath her skin. The power, the raw manifestation of chaos and malice that swirled through her form was killing her. But she could feel that it was far beyond what she could have imagined. Power enough to command respect amongst her kind. Power enough to instil fear in the enemy and power enough to make her final stand.
Nightmares of Shadow
The dulcet sounds of laughter seem to reverberate through her the room and hearing those notes of mirth caused goofy grins. Her laughter, her grins. It had been quite some time since she was able to speak or laugh and it felt like the last days after the attack from the weird cats had opened up something within her. Hana looked from her cousin to their protector, Kuang and to their new allies, the adventurers from across the seas and she couldn’t help but laugh.
In the past hour alone she felt her jaw cramping from over exertions her her talking. “Enough Cousin. We wont be able to get any rest with you talking to use all night.” her cousin laughed as she sipped on a rice wine.
“Why do we need rest? I have rested for years and now that my voice has returned I don’t want to rest it!” she laughed back. “Besides the escort from home will be here tomorrow and we will be on our way home without a fret in the world.”
The laughter and reply from those around her grew quiet as she felt a cold seep in from behind her. Looking over her shoulder she saw nothing except for a shower of dust from a lose plank above them and she returned to her talking. But her voice was quiet and people didn’t appear to be able to hear her.
A creak somewhere down stairs caused her to stand as her body told her to run. “Did anyone hear that?” she asked but her question fell on deaf ears as they kept talking and drinking. Peruve was making noise down stairs as he shuffled through the house. A result from the injury he sustained during the attack from the Night Prowlers. As she descended the stairs she looked towards the front door just as Peruve reached it. The urge to flee, to run, to get as far away from here grew in sudden urgency as he reached for the door – a soft tapping noise now audible over her heart beat. With a shower of splinters and dust the door burst inwards. Spears of a black shadow like energy burst forward and impaled the poor old man in so many places it was surprising that he was held together at all.
A figure stood in the door and a realisation sank into Hana’s chest when she felt the sensation of cold and darkness grow. In fact it was the same cold and darkness as the last person she spoke to at the Toshio family keep – one of Lady Yurki’s retainers or aides. Turning she fled up the stairs screaming out for help but to also run but no one answered her calls.
As she reached the top of the stairs she could see the party, Kuang and Kyoko were laughing and merry with alcohol. Her screams and cries for help unable to reach them as she was tripped by a tendril that was shadow born. As she pushed and strove upwards she called out again, her voice failing and disappearing as darkness wrapped around her.
Starting awake with a scream Hana sat upright shuddering with tears coming down her face.
“Whats wrong!” called Kyoko who sprang awake with a sword in her hand. A moment later Kuang and the party appeared in the door all dressed for battle. “Hana tell us. What’s the matter”
Hana sobbed. Between her sobs she looked up as she felt her kins arms wrap around her shoulders. “She comes for us. The one that is blessed by The Shadow. A shadow born now hunts us and there is no place we can run.” she managed to get out between the sudden inhales of breath.
Shadow Lands – A place where light fears to tread.
The skitter of feet across stone was a common sounds amongst the shadow and murky light in the Shadow lands. The thick cloud of dark mist that drifted up from the ground created a perpetual shadow that hung to the sky and the rocks below. The creatures that ran, shuffled, slithered or skulked below the clouds were a reflection of their environment. Dark, twisted and devoid of what traditionally defines life for humans.
The Shadow smiled down at its creation. The entire north west of Ryokughan was its domain. A place that no creature wanted to dwell in, unless serving their shadowy overlord, and it was a place that light fears to tread.
Extending its conscience outwards the overlord of the shadow lands checked in with one of its pets, the Oni called Mugrave. Watching as the power it lent rip through her body and power her attacks to beat, rip and tear into those around her was satisfying. But something wasn’t quite right.
The closer it watched the more it became apparent. Something in the combatants that she engaged was dampening her power and she was sustaining damage, significant damage. As the Shadow felt its power being lost with each blow – its shadow stuff dissipating into the air to be burnt out as it left the dying form of its minion enough was enough. Ripping the power out from Mugrave wasn’t an issue, it had done it many times before with many different minions over the years. The issue was the weapons that the creatures used appeared to be made of light itself, blinding, radiant and powerful.
Wonderment and fear touched the Shadow, it had been some time since it had felt the later but as it focused on the blazing weapons and wondrous items adorning the adventurers a powerful presence rushed forth and slammed the Shadow backwards. The power from the items was so intense that it knocked the Shadows physical form backwards to collide with the rocky outcrop it was surrounding. That was when The Shadow felt true fear for the first time in a millennia – not since the war with the warriors of light and the ancestral dragons.
Kyoko spends most of her time concerned about her cousins health. The sudden return of her voice and the nightmares she has been having that foretell a darkness coming leaves her rattled.
During the confrontation she and Hana are quickly whisked away to safety by Kuang but not before giving each of the party members a potion that was delivered to her in secret.
Captain Kuang Ping
After the deal with Mugrave Kuang always positions himself between the party and the Harimasu family. Subtle at first but as the time after the attack from the Night prowlers turns from hours to a day it becomes more obvious.
Sasha (Hana Toshio-Harimasu)
Hana is plagued with visions when ever she can find time to sleep or nap. A shadow-cloaked woman appearing in their midst before attacking them relentlessly with such dark power is the centre of it. She discussed and revealed her suspicions of who it is to Kyoko who sent a hawk to her family for help. The help that arrived a few moments before they were attacked again.
Mugrave – Human shadow-born form
Being ripped apart by shadow magic isn’t fun for anyone let alone someone who was born to the shadow. Using her slowly draining power she launches a final assault at the party who is responsible for thwarting her plans yet again.
Environment and running the adventure
A vision of the Shadowlands.
Encounter – Final Stand
Shadow Born template
The encounter this week see’s the party fighting Mugrave at an enhanced level. She fights ferociously and voraciously with heightened physical prowess but no real access to her previous spells that kept her alive last time.
The real difference is that when she gets below 50 hp I would impose disadvantage on her attacks and checks – the reason is that the Shadow is trying to take back his power when he can see that she will lose. This should be described as Mugrave begging the Shadow to restore her power as she is fighting and perhaps fighting more erratically and viciously.
But in the end it doesn’t matter.
Now I have mentioned potions up above and in this weeks encounter Final stand of Mugrave the Shadow born I want to dive into the potions this coming week. But they enable the drinker to fight as if all their attacks and abilities were radiant (or blessed).
It’s temporary (a few hours) but there is a plot reason for them – but more on that this week.
Well we are at another the end of the week write-up. Thanks for joining tonight and this week as we wait in a little village within the Ryokughan continent for safe passage out of dangerous lands. So don’t forget to come back for the next week for more information on this months adventure and as always, don’t forget to roll with advantage,
The Brazen Wolfe