The end, and all that comes after

Gathering Darkness
Ave Dominus Nox

the group continued down the path to the location of Karl Stormberg’s castle. the group was surprised by the desolation on this side of the mountain. their were no animals to speak of and the plants were twisted and dyed a horrific greyish red. Black Betty roared down the tattered cobble stone road and into the tunnel at the foot of the mountain, the foutress was built under the cliff to protect three sides. The tunnel narrowed until it came to a large wooden door with the icon of the stormberg clan hammered in silver into the door. A symbol resmbaling a skull with oversized canines had been burned over the elaborate deckoration. as the unlikly squad approched a group of shadows appered from the surrounding trees and blocked the path. Vulkas stoped as quickly as possaable and waited for the newcomers to make the first move, and with a single syllabe “Yogh” a burst of fire struck the vehicle with enogh force to knock it backwards several feet. understanding they were not welcome Black Betty took off like a bat out of hell down the road out of the mountains. after several terse hours they arrived in the town of Delesi, and immediate it was aperent that something was wrong.

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A Fateful Encounter
Come together, right now, over me

Vulkas Forsetiwas minding his business, tending the gardens at the Orders edges, just musing on how badly this radiation tainted plants tasted. Of course he was not allowed to eat the food, it was supposed to be rationed, but it was his Order and he could do what ever he wanted and no one seemed to mind too much. All of a sudden he overheard the gate guard arguing with a visitor who clearly did not know the password. They thought he was one of the entombed, so Forseti assumed that the newcomer must have been made really hideous by the Radiation when the bombs fell. In a fit of boredom Vulkas ordered the door open with the password hoopla (he had thought of it himself0 and met the newcomer to see just how awful this one was, it was sad when some poor mutant well beyond humanity came gibbering up to the gate and he had to put it out of its misery, but he didn’t form this survivors colony by being spineless and if he had to he would kill what or who ever was behind that door, it would be the third time today after all, entombed accounted for. “My god this one is ugly, can you speak?” Vulkas exclaimed, as he glanced upon the reptilian creature stooped before him “do you seek redemption, I will make it painless”, “no” responded draconian figure “I am of sound mind and body and wish nothing more then shelter for a while”. “your well spoken response and ability to ride that motorcycle you’re leaning on tells me you are close enough to human but to enter the walls of my cathedral you must join the Order of the Brazen Flame, see the skulls hanging from these fetid walls, to join you must bring me the skulls of 5 redeemed dead, to add to our gallery of the saved… In fact it looks like your chance has come scaled one”

Just then six of the afflicted shambled out of the forest, drawn by the sounds. The six were fresh dead and still very weak quickly defeated, Forseti used turn undead and just about vaporized three of the offenders with the words of god, a talent taught to him by his mentor who referred to it as turning undead. Our Draconian friend took the more direct route and literally run down/over the two more with his motor bike as he was getting off the final entombed leaped at him he spun around just in time to see the attacker liquefy mid air as a shotgun burst ripped through it, the dragonkin looked around and saw that his companion had produces a massive golden shotgun from the folds of his scrap reinforced trench coat but something was different about this shotgun it was carved from a crucifix. The dragonkin now took a closer look at this cleric who had helped him; the man had a mad look about him, visible in his eyes, his mind made fractal by a hard life in the World after the end. His gaunt face showed experience even under the show of minor madness, in addition to a heavy mustache and long mane like hair. As far as equipment he had a metal reinforced trench coat, his shotgun, a silver staff, and little to nothing else, clearly illustrating his priorities as combat. He was re-slinging his silver staff/club onto his back which was also in the shape of a cross, and had a letter d carved mysteriously carved into it. in fact his gun bore the letter I “Dies Irae” interrupted the cleric, “what” “the letters stand for Dies Irae…what you don’t speak Latin?…fine it translates closely to Day of Wrath.” the dragonkin walked over in near disbelief that this man thought their was something wrong with HIM, he grudgingly walked over and collected the heads from the carnage, and one from the fender of his bike “that will take forever to wash out” he growled. And went to hand the six to the cleric “here holy man, the heads you requested” “Can you not count, lizard man! I said five heads that’s six” “Sorry holy man is this better?” he added sarcastically as he cast one over his shoulder. “Much, come on in my Roland friend. What is your name any way” “tell me yours holy man and I will tell you mine” replied the dragonkin, “fare enough” answered Vulkas and walked into the gate without answering with the mutant in tow.

Over dinner the dragonkin explained that he was searching for another like him, Roland that is, and would reveal little else other then that his name was really Roland Varras, Vulkas was very much intrigued by the prospect of a quest, the years of peace had not been kind to him, had in fact worn his nerves to the very edge, he decided quite totally that he must leave at once to make a difference in the world, or at the very least do something other then gardening. “so where do you plan to go next Roland”, “well I’ve heard rumors of the one I search for just down the road so that’s where I’m going next”. The meager dinner that could be summoned, even for an induction feast, was soon exhausted and everyone thought it was a good idea to go on to bed after the interesting day. As his guest was preparing to depart Vulkas watched the wanderer deciding whether or not to travel with him. He had heavy green scales over most of his body and a prominent jaw not dissimilar to a crocodilian. Other then these features he was rather regular, wearing standard military grade armor, two pistol, a particularly grand long sword (a family heirloom according to the visitor), and rode a mildly ramshackle motorcycle. He still boar a striking regal air despite his infirmity, something about his eyes was not rights though, a gleam of crushed idealism maybe, a dark secret possibly. Either way the cleric had made up his mind that this was the quest for him (though at this point any quest would do). “hey, Roland you wont need that little bike, I’m coming with you” “first of all why on Earth would you do that, second of all why should I let you, and third of all why wouldn’t I need my bike.” concluded the exasperated mutant. “Because, my uninformed friend we are riding Black Betty” a confused rebuttal and quite possibly a few expletives would have followed had they not been drowned out by the roar of an engine as a Order member drove up in a matte black military H1 Humvee heavily modified to bear a plow like blade on the front and machine gun on the passenger side. “That’s Black Betty” concluded Vulkas as he swung himself into the recently vacated driver seat and motioned to the traveler to put his bike in the back and get in. He then informed the servant, a deacon by the name of Fredric, that he was now in charge of the Order and that he should feed the cat. the dragon kin finally exclaimed “the death of me, that’s it, you’re going to be the death of me you madman” “that is entirely my plan but not at all my intent” the man said before bursting into laughter at his companions confusion but once again any response was drowned in sound as he gunned the engine and flew down the road.

it took them little more then an hour to reach the ocean and the only settlement they found was at the end of the body strewn road on a dock, it was the remnants of the five hundred and first strike team who had arrives fourteen years earlier at the beginning of the fourth war against the dead, and been abandoned here after the bombs fell, in fact there had been no communications from any government since that fateful day. Vulkas ran to the sealed gate and gave the password…for the Order’s gate, no matter how loudly he yelled hoopla they would not let him in. Upon learning that it was not the password everywhere we immediately broke into hysterics and almost got both of them shoot, however when he fainted they were both escorted into the facility for medical help. When Vulkas came to he apologized to the dragonkin for his moment of weakness and asked a guard to be taken to their highest ranking official. “you want to see Sergeant-Major Johnson?” the guard stammered incredulously before taking one more glance at his Roland friend and decided that obeying would be better for everyone’s health. “Fine but as we walk I need to tell you that Johnson is tough, I mean heartless. You will not speak to Sergeant-Major Johnson unless spoken to, you will not look Johnson in the eyes at any point in time, and you will not at any point disagree with the Sergeant-Major,” Then they came to the door of the only above ground structure in the complex and knocked thrice the door opened slowly Vulkas and the Roland one glanced in expecting a monster. Before them sat a woman of average height, maybe five foot six, with dirty blond hair and a scar running the length of the lower right edge of her chin. She wore full regalia for her rank and had an assault rifle and katana. Both of the visitors glanced at the Sergeant-Major then at each other then at the Sergeant-Major and then at each other, and began to laugh. “First mistake” Keiara Johnson whispered as she leaped across the room with almost preternatural grace and seized the heads of the offenders and smashed there heads together before casting them to the floor, they were no longer laughing.

“I can understand your anger ma’am, but was that really necessary” began Vulkas “we are all friends here and we meant no offense”. “Shut up monk, I have spies in your so called ‘cathedral’ and am well informed of you, you are a silver tongued devil at the best of times and a madman at the worst.” The dragonkin shrunk back and made himself scarce to let Vulkas bear the brunt of her wrath, Vulkas on the other hand was deeply hurt by the accusations made by the livid Sergeant even if they were true. “Well, I’m flattered that you find me so interesting Ma’am but my flaws are my own, and I’m sure you are not flawless.” This accusation took the air from Keiara will to argue, clearly reminding her of thought which hunted her. It appeared that she was not use to being talked back to and assumed a more civil tone; however the conversation was abruptly cut off when a guard walked in and hurriedly said “P.F.C. Gordan reporting Ma’am, there is a frenzied guest at the gate asking for the cleric, he looks wounded.” Vulkas burst through the door and hurdled the closed gate to see the wounded man. Fredric leaned against the wall of the barricade blood rolling from wounds in his gut and on his shoulder down the wall into the gravel. “Sir, their are….marauders in the…in the Order.” “Come Fredric, you are bleeding, I can heal you” “no master you can’t, this wound on my shoulder is a bite… I am amongst the dead today” Vulkas glanced into the ground wearied by the weight of this news, Wearied at the loss of another second in command, wearied at the loss of friend. “Sleep well and know you die a hero” the monk declared as he ended his friend’s pain. Wiping the blood from his hands and slinging the head of the newest redeemed into Black Betty as Keiara, Goldman, and Roland came through the door. “We leave, now

As they roared down the road the enraged Vulkas ran down dozens of zombies, more then slightly unnerving his passengers who where reluctant to speak so as not to evoke his rage, however Roland must have been braver for he asked what is happening. “raiders my friend, Murderers and scum who are too pathetic, cruel, or ignorant, to survive on their own and live as parasites killing worthy people” he explained as running over a particularly large and decayed zombie spraying ichors, thick and black, all over the windshield. “they must have beat the password out of someone and broke in to steal food and ammo.” then the car pulled up to the opened gate and everyone ran out to the guards, “sir” he began “quickly come this way, they are hiding in the vaults, it’s pitch black”. He ran down into the dark screaming like, well, a madman. after a minute he managed to light the great beacon in the treasure vault and just as the light shown around the room a crack rung out and an assault rifle round buried it self into the back of Vulkas. The light showed that there were three gunmen and one sadistic looking barbarian dressed head to toe in war paint wielding a rebar slice as a mace. Roland burst into action with speed unexpected from one so far mutated. Clashing into the barbarian in a shower of sparks as rebar met broadsword, he issued a challenge and a battle of martial excellence ensued. One particular blow drove through the thigh of the warrior, a wound that would hobble most but the monstrous warrior just laughed and fought harder. Both Keiara and the private opened fire with their firearms on the distant gunman scoring two kills in a long gun fight. The well matched fight between the dragonkin and the marauder had moved onto the large pile of treasures and blood ran red over the gold. The two were stuck in combat until Vulkas ran into combat and used his shotgun to blast of the hand, and rebar club, off the enemy. In the flurry Roland beheaded the foe and ending the im passe. Kiera, Roland, and the private charged the last gunman’s position and finished him off, when they returned to the main anti-chamber they found the monk sitting on the torso of the barbarian, riffling through the pack the warrior carried on his belt for valuables, and eating a sandwich he must have found in the pack “man had taste, I haven’t hade real mustard in years!”

The party split up the remainder of the warriors valuables as they caught their breath. “Hey guys” Vulkas grumbled in between bites “this might be important”, he then pulled out a wrinkled envelope opened it and began to read “jeez this is the simplest code I’ve ever seen. You just insert the next letter to the one written and… Attention all thieves, robbers, murders, and assorted scum, I have a request and it pays well. Word is that a bunch of crackpots in the Valley about 12 miles from the sea have oil, the first group that captures this point for me will live comfortable forever. Signed ”/campaigns/the-end-and-all-that-comes-after/characters/karl-stormberg" class=“wiki-content-link”>Karl Stormberg" the party was sobered by the news and ran to assist in repairing the wall to stop any further raids, after Vulkas ordered the guard doubled, then Kiera suggested we go pack to her camp to protect their oil reserves. Everyone agreed that the Order was well defended and got into Black Betty. During the ride Kiera explained everything she new about the elusive Karl Stormburg, he lived up in the swamp riddled highlands to the West and runs his smuggling/mercenary business out of an ancient castle their “sounds like our next step is to pay him a visit” interrupted Roland “creepy individual, living in a castle in a swamp, sounds like a necromancer to me” Vulkas added. “Shut up fool” Gordan spat back at the rambling monk “there is no such thing as a necromancer, it’s a myth and you should not spread fear you freak.” the party visibly recoiled at this outburst and was silent until they departed that night to go West up to the highland basin. about half way up the hill they came across a graveyard that was gated in, “looks like we will need everyone to move this gate, everyone out of the car”, as they got down from the massive vehicle a scream rung across the plain. Vulkas spun as if a man possessed and whispered “a damsel in distress” before darting in too the depths of the graveyard with calls of wait behind him. the rest of the group tried to catch up with him but were soon distracted by a turret like device, they quickly reactivated it with nearby parts and found it had two components, a mobile combat droid (common before the collapse, and a powerful transponder that started up as soon as they plugged in the removed battery. having revived the machine with ease they and it went on to find the monk, who came into view just above the source of the noise. a demielf with long hair was tied to a sacrificial alter in the middle of the catacomb walls. “Excuse me Ma’am, but do you require assistance” Vulkas asked, “of course I need help” screamed the dismayed individual. Then he began to cut the rope and when done she leaped to her feet and began to laugh, as she laughed her voice gradually lowered to a cruel growl and then degraded into a horrified gurgle full of decay and malice. As the approached they saw that not only her voice had transformed but also her appearance, her flesh and hair boiled and festered before their very eyes and left her a twisted silhouette in the fading light, with bent spine and moon light showing from the holes in her skin and between her ribs. “You Deceived me foul hag” Vulkas managed to blurt past his surprise. She spoke but one word after that one word in a language long dead, one word that rattled the souls of the dead and drew the bodies out from the surrounding catacombs. The closest catacomb, labeled Rob, contained a particularly savage, clawed and hungry zombie of over six foot. Suddenly in a burst of action Vulkas leveled his shotgun, pulled the lever on the right side and pulled the trigger, revealing the purpose of the tube attached to the bottom of the gun. A burst of fire engulfed the she-daemon who let out a piercing howl of agony. The zombies started to close in on the party who just managed to reunite before the hoard struck. The droid dropped Rob with a masterfully well placed round and Roland, Kiear, and Gordan managed to finish quite a few zombies who collapsed into a mix of shattered bone and tattered cloth as they where shredded by countless rounds. In the meantime the exceeding angry cleric decided to finish of the creature that had deceived them he grabbed the head of the still flaming beast and spoke as she flailed to break his grip “Pax in Morte” and with that command she became silent forever. Despite this immense show of will things were still looking rather grim as the ancient dead still poured from the open catacombs. The gunfight continued for what seemed like hours, but was most likely little more then ten minuets. then like lightning from heaven grenades dropped from the above tree into each of the three open tombs, the plasma burst shattered the gate ways and collapsed them on the zombies still waking to the world, and a shadowy figure dropped from the tree into their midst. The now calm Vulkas turned to Gordan and snidely concluded “Well, Well, Well Private First Class Moron, do you still think Necromancers are a myth”, “nor Miracles” The Shadow added as he approached.

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