When we set out the next morning the sky was grey and a thick mist rose from the river. Bradley prepared a traveller’s breakfast while Thorodr polished his new blade. The multitude of curses seemed to have worn off during my fitful and painful sleep. By the time we had broken our fasts and journeyed onwards the fog had still not lifted.
We took a careful pace along the road, the gurgling river to our left and the gloomy silence of the Kingswood to our right. A few hours along the road we heard a groaning coming from the northern side of the path. The fog made it difficult to see what was up ahead and the previous night’s chaos had put us all on edge so we readied our weapons and advanced.
Coming closer to the origin of the noise we spied a figure propped up against a mossy tree surrounded by a patch of grave stools, a fungi known for its anaesthetic spores making it an ideal resting place for a mortally wounded warrior.
The figure in question was both a warrior and mortally wounded. He was dressed in beaten chainmail and a bloody burgundy surcoat. He clasped a broadsword to his chest and beside him lay a bucket great helm with a torn black feather. Many crossbow bolts had pierced his chest and I was quite sure these were to be the last moments of his life.
I soaked a cloth in water from the river and brought it over to wipe his brow. As I knelt next to him he caught my wrist and spoke with a fevered and strained voice. He told me to tell “her” that he couldn’t complete his task. That he was sorry. I questioned him as to who exactly “she” was but he just shook his head and pointed up an overgrown path leading into the trees. He then breathed his last laboured breath and his eyes glassed over. I closed his eyes and stepped away, deep in thought. Thorodr looted the body.
As Thorodr began his immoral crusade for the noble corpse’s riches I heard Bradley sniffle. I turned to him and was shocked to see tears streaming down his face. I was beginning to tell him to pull himself together but the look in his eyes convinced me to take a gentler approach. I told Bradley that we would fulfil the man’s last wish. We would take the path into the forest no matter the danger or the delay.
Thorodr disagreed with me on the instant. The burly paragon would not lift a finger for an already expired client without promise of reward. I argued to him that clearly he had already been rewarded with the dead man’s trappings and to consider them as an advance payment. Thorodr agreed, albeit not without complaint, and handed me a dagger that glowed with silver light that he had lifted from the slain warrior. I tried to give it back but Thorodr refused to take it, replying that I would need it.
We set out down the path into the forest, leaving Benjamin to guard Thorodr’s treasure. The sparse trees and brush swiftly became densely packed black trees with roots woven together. Fungeyes on the bottom of the canopy followed us as we clambered our way through the trees. Even though the path was barely visible I felt led along by a strange compulsion, a sense of belonging.
Some time into our quest the tree line sharply dropped. We were gazing out over a tall cliff, completely overgrown with thick, black roots. For a moment it seemed as though our path was blocked, but I was able to discern a wide, flat root winding downwards that I hoped would lead us to the bottom.
We climbed down the root with great care, trying to keep away from the edges. It struck out wide to the edge of the wooden wall over the edge of a terrible drop, and then wound back into a tunnel woven into the roots. It led inwards and downwards with streams of water running along rivets in the wood. Bradley struck up a lantern and a swarm of bats buffeted us.
Ahead lay an opening to a cave, a rushing waterfall split by a thick root above it. We stepped inside. The cave was tall, wide and round and seemed to be lit by a pale silver glow coming from an empty pedestal in the centre. As we stepped inside an apparition formed on the pedestal, taking the form of a polished silver grail. A beautiful yet ghostly voice emanated from the walls, welcoming us as heroes and beseeching us to take up a perilous quest in the name of good.
A curious thought crossed my mind. I was quite certain that I recognised this voice. I called out the name of what I thought to be the voices owner and my suspicions were confirmed. An ethereal figure appeared dressed in a white funeral gown with a belt of spun sliver. It was Lucinda, an individual from my past that still haunted my sleep.
Lucinda Forhaft was the only daughter of a noble family that lived in the manse next to my house as a child. We grew up together; pretending we were great adventurers and planning for the day we could escape the monotony of noble life and take up the mantles of the great explorers from the books we stole from my father’s library. The day came when I came of age and we planned to escape into the night, but a servant found her packed belongings and told her father. Her father forbade her from seeing me and would not let her out of her room until she forgot her dreams of fame and adventure. To my great sorrow she couldn’t stand her future of solitude and stagnation and took her own life.
Her apparition spoke to me and bade me to complete her quest so her spirit could be at rest. I eagerly accepted but Thorodr spoke up. He warned me that my beloved Lucinda had become what seasoned adventurers call a Grail Wraith. A spirit that inhabits the wildest places of the world and sends noble heroes on perilous and impossible quest that will ultimately lead to their doom.
At this point Lucinda’s expression changed from calm and regal to a horrible, possessed snarl. Her hair spread out into the air and her silver glow turned to a ghastly green. Her eyes flashed and an overwhelming sense of fear took me. I fell to my knees and Thorodr rushed in to attack. His way was blocked by Bradley, whose eyes had taken a terrible blazing light.
As Bradley and Thorodr fought I tried to compose myself. Summoning up all my willpower, I drew the magical dagger from my belt and flung myself at Lucinda, plunging the blade into her heart. A bright light flared and there was a great sighing sound. When my eyesight returned she was gone. Bradley was wandering around with a confused look and Thorodr was sitting and panting on the ground.
After a moments rest we made our way back to the road with the light failing. We did not speak; Bradley was still recovering from the enchantment, Thorodr was worn out from Bradley’s blows and I was trying to come to terms with what had happened. We reached the road and Thorodr spoke of a tavern not far from our location. When we reached our destination it was well into the night. I payed for a room and we collapsed without eating dinner.
This creature looks like the ghostly image of a noble and beautiful person. It speaks with a regal and sad voice. Grail Wraiths are the spirits of people that take their own lives because they are unable to sate their own sense of wanderlust and adventure. They attract adventurers to their lairs with Charm magic and send them on perilous and impossible quests. If they are recognised for what they are they take the form of a horrible wraith. They will use their Charm magic to enslave the strongest character in the party and weaken others.
Ethereal – The creature cannot interact with the physical world and cannot be harmed unless by magic. The creature can also move and see through walls and floors and flies at up to running speed in any direction.
Willful – The creature gains a 10 bonus to Spell Checks and Will Checks and has 10 bonus mana.
Dispel – The creature can spend the same amount of mana of a spell cast by an opponent to dispel the effect on an opposed Will Check.
Magic Resistance – The creature gains a 10 bonus to resist spell effects.
Reflect – The creature reflects offensive spell effects back on the caster with a critical success on a Dispel attempt. The creature gains a 5 bonus to the critical chance on Dispel attempts.
Sleep, Charming Visage, Scrye, Blind, Gag
Mind Worm, False Prophet, Metronome, Fragrant Garden