Grasp of Orcus
The Corruption of Berensir
At the end of session 1 of Keep on the Shadowfell, Berensir ended up in possession of a necklace inscribed with the symbol of Orcus which, unbeknownst to the other PCs, began telepathically communicating with him. This was accomplished using instant messages. With the exception of the conversation with Sir Keegan in between sessions 3 and 4, all of the below exchanges took place at the table, during gameplay, and unobserved by the other players.
=Session 2 begins=
Steve: You hear a thin, sad voice echoing in your head:
Necklace: Berensir, please keep quiet! There is one in your company who is not what he claims.
Berensir, can you hear me?
Who are you??
Necklace: I am Sir Allius, the captain of the legion that drove back the undead and sealed the rift that lies beneath Shadowfell Keep. My men and I stopped Orcus from devouring the mortal plane, but not before his priests trapped me forever in this necklace.
Berensir: Can you be freed?
Necklace: Only a powerful ancient magic can free me. I’m more concerned with you and your friends. Being trapped inside an artifact of Orcus and spending centuries among his followers has taught me to sense the presence of his foul magic. I cannot tell who, but someone nearby reeks with the stench of Orcus.
Berensir: This news is most troubling.
How can I trust your claims?
Necklace: You must!
Until we find out who it is, you must keep your suspicions to yourself. But keep a careful eye on those with you.
Berensir: How can I discover if one of my companions is an Orcus follower? Would they carry a symbol or artificact of his?
Necklace: There is no surefire way. We must watch and see who behaves suspiciously.
At this point, Stern is reduced to zero HP and is mysteriously revived by a necrotic bolt from the sky.
Necklace: In my day, no elf would fight side by side with a dragonborn. They are descended from dragons! They basically ARE dragons, and you can trust them exactly as much. They are predisposed to evil.
Berensir: What would constitute suspicious behavior?
Necklace: For example using powerful black magic to escape certain death…?
Necklace: But Orcus is deceptive. We cannot be certain yet.
Berensir: I still don’t know if I should trust you.
Necklace: DO NOT REVEAL MY PRESENCE! It is imperative that the traitor among you not find out about me! I am your only chance of uncovering him.
Berensir: Now that you told me about the problem, do I really need you?
Necklace: My life is in your hands, but I may still be able to magically perceive who is drawing on the darkness after enough time in their presence.
Berensir: All right, for now I’ll keep you.
Urn Elrich says something shady
Necklace: Watch him.
The group beds down for the night.
Necklace: There is more evil in the wilderness nearby. The kobolds you took me from have a lair from which they have been raiding travelers near Winterhaven.
I can show you where it is.
Berensir: All right.
Necklace: Convince your companions to follow you without revealing my presence and I will show you.
I have to tell you something else. That book the thief took. I know it! It belonged to a great wizard of Nerath! It contains an incantation that will set me free from this necklace! Berensir, if you can acquire it and bring it to the bottom level of the Keep, you will be able to use it to release me!
Berensir leads the party to the kobold lair.
Necklace: Watch out for that Sacred Circle! They have combat advantage while within it!
Berensir: What happens if I tell someone about you?
You said you weren’t concerned about being free, but now you are?
Necklace: I did not think it possible before. Now I see the book. I never expected it to be close by.
Berensir, you must stay near that book. You must not let them get rid of it. It is the only thing that can free me!
Berensir: What happenss to the book afterwards?
Necklace: It matters not to me, as long as I am free.
Berensir: I want to discuss the amulet with Bree.
Necklace: The smell of Orcus’ magic is powerful. This may mean that Orcus is exerting a lot of strength to dominate the will of someone who resists him, or it may mean that one who commands magic is in league with him. Suspect the wizard and the warlock. Or perhaps it is he who is strongest of will.
Berensir’s shot is mysteriously aided in combat.
Necklace: Yes, that was me. You’re welcome.
Berensir: Was wondering what that was.
Necklace: I will help you as best I can. I am not completely powerless, even in here.
Berensir: Wait a minute, did you help Stern at the burial mound?
Necklace: No. That was dark magic that did not come from me. I am nowhere near that powerful.
Berensir: Well, thank you for the assistance.
Necklace: I hope this earns some trust.
Berensir: Maybe a little.
Berensir: Anything you can tell me about this lair?
Urn Elrich is killed in battle.
Necklace: There is a wizard in town who can revive your warlock… If you think that’s a good idea.
Berensir: Yes, thanks, do you know anything about this spy mentioned in the note we found?
Urn Elrich returns to life in a blaze of necrotic energy and attacks the party.
Berensir: What do you know about Urn’s resurrection?
Necklace: This is Orcus’ magic. But does that mean Urn is the traitor? I don’t know him well enough to judge.
And I know nothing of the spy.
===Session 2 ends= =Session 3 begins===
Honest Bob receives a letter asking him to deliver the book to Ninaran in Winterhaven quickly for an increased payment.
Berensir: Ally, u there?
Berensir: Sir Allius any more feelings on who might be in Orcus’ employ?
Necklace: I need that book in order to escape from this eternal prison. Kalarel knows this. He also knows that I will kill him the instant I am released. He will be after the book, both for his own purposes, and to keep me from getting it.
Mark my words, Berensir. The traitor in your party will try to deliver the book to Kalarel.
Berensir: It’s true I trust not Honest Bob with the book — should an opportunity arise, I will try to steal it.
On the way back to Winterhaven, Urn Elrich and Stern are frozen together in a dream state induced by Kalarel in a necrotic duel.
Berensir: Ally any advice on how to free our companions?
Necklace: I can help you save your friend, if friend he is. My knowledge of Arcana is at your disposal.
Steve:(If you use Arcana, I will secretly add 3 to your result)
Necklace: You take the book in secret tonight, or I will forever lose the opportunity to be free.
Steve:(Roll thievery and tell me your number if you want to steal it.)
Honest Bob catches Berensir trying to steal the book.
Berensir: Maybe tonight
When everyone is sleeping and there’s a minus 5 to everyone’s perception.
The party discusses making a copy of the book to sell to Ninaran.
Necklace: I need the REAL book to be free.
Berensir: You know, you’re kinda of prejudiced.
Necklace: What do you want from me? I’m 2000 years old.
Why didn’t you steal the book overnight?
Berensir: After the deal is made, we will be in possession of the book/
It will be easy to convince my companions to let me to hold it.
Necklace: Mark my words, Berensir. The traitor in your party will try to deliver the book to Kalarel.
Berensir: Words are marked.
Do you feel Orcus’s power on Ninaran?
I did not think to check before, but she is definitely in league with Kalarel.
Berensir: I have the book.
Necklace: I know.
If Kalarel gets that book, I’m doomed and so is the entire Vale.
And now we know Ninaran is Kalarel’s spy in town.
Remind them of the note that mentioned the spy. Don’t let them give her the original.
Tracker offers Ninaran the book.
Necklace: I told you nobody who works with a tiefling could be trusted!
He’s trying to give it to her for free!
If that book reaches Kalarel, with or without those pages, I’m doomed!
Goblins attack the party as they enter the dungeons.
Berensir steals the book back from Honest Bob.
Necklace: Great work! Tell no one you have it.
Berensir: Sir Allius, what can you tell me about the keep? Is there any significance to Bahamut?
Necklace: Bahamut was one of the gods known to the Empire of Nerath.
Berensir: Will his power be needed to seal the rift?
Necklace: Bahamut is a benevolent deity who would certainly be willing to help.
But I need to point out something else.
Remember what I told you? Kalarel fears my release. I told you that whoever was the traitor would try to get him the book. Honest Bob tried to get it to him through Ninaran. Then when he was forced to hand it over to the desert man, he stole it back. Since you took it, he has spent every waking moment looking for it.
Plus, it was the person closest to him who was most heavily affects by necrotic magic.
Bob saved him, but that was for show. I gaurantee, if Bob regains the book, he will give it to Kalarel. Probably for money.
And these two desert dwellers are not trustworthy either. They said they need to get to Kalarel, but they didn’t say why.
You must be on guard constantly. Honest Bob is definitely the traitor, but nobody in your party has proven to be above suspicion.
Berensir: You bring up some very good points. Honest Bob has never been very trustworthy from the beginning.
I do not trust the desert folk for that very reason.
Stern’s encounter with dark forces has also been troublesome.
However, I would like to discuss this with him and Bree. They must be on guard against treachery.
The party meets a shade in the dungeons.
Necklace: This is Keegan. I remember him. Poor soul.
Berensir: What can you tell me about him?
=Session 3 ends=
Yurri: I want to be the last one out and ask Keegan about the amulet and Allius.
I rolled a 22 insight. Is Allius lying to me?
Steve: No. He is 100% trustworthy.
Yurri:: 100 percent? I am amazed.
Steve: Ok, you hang back to talk to Keegan secretly. What do you ask him?
Berensir: Do u remember a Sir Allius?
Keegan: Sir Allius’ time was long before my own. He was the hero of the Empire who led the armies to drive back the hordes and seal the rift. It cost him his life.
The sorcerers of Orcus attacked him and he was never seen again.
Berensir: Do you recognize this amulet?
Keegan: That amulet is a powerful talisman of Orcus. Such devices can be used for any number of foul magics.
I do not know that amulet specifically, though.
Berensir: Can you tell me anything about this book?
Berensir: An entity calling himself Sir Allius is entrapped in the amulet. He believes one of my companions is in league with Kalarel.
Keegan: That is the Book of Nerath! It was only legend in my time. It was supposedly written by powerful wizards at the height of Nerath’s power. It is a chronicle of the Empire’s secrets, arcane and otherwise, created to guard against the loss of knowledge.
Berensir: Do you know how it may free Sir Allius?
Keegan: It may hold knowledge that could enlighten the world, but it may also hold dark and terrible secrets best forgotten.
If Sir Allius is truly trapped in that amulet by Orcus, then the Book of Nerath may well be the only tome with the power to free him. If he can communicate with you from in there, he must trust you implicitly to tell you so. He would never risk his freedom by revealing that secret to someone who might not be pure of heart.
Necklace: That is why you must not tell the others! Stern was touched by necrotic magic too! Even if he is not evil at heart, he may be corrupted.
And Bree is a schemer. She tries to be too clever for her own good. I do not trust her discretion. The ritual required to free me can be performed by you alone, but it must be done beside the rift.
Berensir: Too Keegan Besides the mad warlock could you sense any evil from my other companions?
Keegan: Your entire party was practically humming with enchantments of every sort, including necrotic. That amulet is powered by Orcus himself. That alone echoes through these halls endlessly. I cannot provide you with more precise information.
Berensir: To the necklace My skills at Arcana are poor. Which ritual would I use and how do you know that I can wield it?
Necklace: You forget, I am as old as the book. It is in my native langauge. As long as I am with you, you will be able to read it.
Berensir: Aye, its origin gives me much pause.
Necklace: And I have had centuries in here to learn magic from goblins and kobolds. I can tell you everything you need.
What Keegan says is true. The Book was intended as a repository of Imperial learning. There were originally several other volumes, but they were all lost to time.
Steve: When Allius said the ritual could be performed by “you alone,” he didn’t mean only you could do it. He just meant you could do it without help from the others.
Yurri:: Got it.
Berensir: Allius perhaps you should start teaching me this ritual, in case something goes awry.
Necklace: It is far too complicated to memorize. Even master wizards have to read from books while performing rituals. We simply must have the book.
And we must have the ORIGINAL book. It is itself enchanted, and is a required component of the ritual.
Berensir: But why must it be the original? If we will be reading from it, will not the copy suffice?
Never mind, question answered.
Keegan: Berensir, if you do not want your companions to grow suspiscious, you must rejoin them now. But I tell you this: Sir Allius was one of the most legendary noble heroes of the Empire. Even after his demise, his family maintained his legacy of love and friendship with humans. He had married an elf, you see. He unified our two peoples, and his legacy is the reason elves and humans in the Nintir Vale live in peace to this day.
Driving the hordes of Orcus back was only one of his many mighty deeds. If he can be restored to life, it is the duty of any good soul to help him.
Berensir: I thank thee for thy counsel… may you one day find peace.
Keegan: You are most welcome, and I accept your blessing, for whatever good it may do.
=Session 4 begins=
Necklace: Berensir! I know this woman! It’s Ramassule, one of my companions from my time. How she is here now I have no idea.
Berensir: Can she help release you?
Should I give her your amulet?
Necklace: She will not know how to release me but she may be able confirm my identity if you stil doubt.
But tell no one else.
Berensir: You really like secrets, doncha?
Necklace: I have been trapped in here for 2000 years and I have one chance to get out. Forgive me for being cautious.
Berensir: Just let me know when the opportune moment is to free you.
Necklace: It must be done in the lowest chamber, near the rift. The power from the Shadowfell will be necessary to the casting.
Bree shows the book to Ramassule, who identifies it as her own writing. Stern ends up in possession of it.
=Session 4 ends=
=Session 5 begins=
Necklace: You must recover the book quickly. Steal it, ask for it, I don’t care. We need it to perform the casting.
Yurri: I rolled a 10 for thievery—did that fail?
Necklace: Great work! Now once we get to the ritual chamber you can release me!
Berensir: I think he would have given it to me, if I just asked about it, but in the heat of combat, I just took it.
How does that work?
Necklace: I’ll explain when we get there.
The party arrives in the final chamber and is set upon by the powerful Kalarel and his minions.
Necklace: Berensir, my magic is strong! If you release me, I will stand with you and help you save your friends from Kalarel!
Berensir: What do I do?
Necklace: You must speak the words exactly. There’s no time for me to teach you them! I can read them through you, but I need your permission. May I take control?
Berensir: Go for it.
The necklace, proving to have been a conduit for Orcus’ own voice the entire time, now has permission to take control of Berensir’s body. He possess the book, the necklace and is standing in the ritual chamber. Berensir is possessed and Orcus is released. Berensir is released from Orcus’ control once the spell is cast, and helps the party defeat Orcus, banishing him back to the Abyss once more.