Night Terrors

Night Terrors


The inside of the church, though well maintained, had been reconfigured for defence, like a fort. The structure was made up of a small ten-foot square porch or entryway made of stacked logs, sealed with mud. From the coat hooks along the wall left of the door hung a motley collection of miscellaneous weapons and armour. To the right of the door, was a series of shelves stacked with tomes and scrolls. 

An ornate carpet ran the center isle of the thirty-foot wide, ninety-foot long main chamber, where the congregation would normally sit. It was built of hewn stone packed with mortar. Along the North and South walls, there were tall, narrow, stained glass windows containing modest depictions of a Tulani man. Two of the widows depicted him in a forest under a starry sky, two of him with a beautiful woman bearing a mantle and sword of stars. Two more windows depicted the man battling demons, while the last two, those closest to the altar in the east, Showed him leading refugees out of an abyss. Between them, tall pillar candles in ornately carved stands stood 4 feet tall to provide light once the sun was down. About the room, the pews had been pushed together in an alternating back-to-back, front-to-front pattern to create beds. The altar had been lowered from the raised stage at the east end of the church to the floor to be repurposed as a dining table and was currently set with plates of cold food.

"Clear!" A young voice called from above and Bella looked up to see a young Half elven boy, barely twelve years of age peeking through the railings from the balcony. When he saw Bella his eyes widened and his mouth dropped open.  

"Clear!" A female voice called from the front of the church as a tall, regal elven woman in a plain pale blue house dress appeared from a doorway on the stage. Her blond hair was pulled up into a bun and she had a white shawl tied about her shoulders. She was looking up at the boy as if checking on him. Following his eye-line down she rushed to Bella, "Oh my goodness, you poor thing." She said, taking her shawl and tying it around Bella's shoulders to cover her bare breasts. "Are you hurt dear?" She asked, turning Bella to inspect her. 

Bella Donna Essence

"I'm fine," Bella stated to the woman, in a voice just loud enough to reach the two upstairs. She tucked her staff into the crook of her shoulder and quickly but gently took the woman's hands from her cheeks. She pressed their palms together and smiled at her in reassurance. "Just a few cuts and scratches, thank you."

Behind her, the man who had called her in finished barring the door with a long board and passing them stated that he would check the back doors and take watch. 

"Thurston, come eat your dinner." The woman called up. "You too, dear, come and eat." She lead Bella to the set table and gave her a plate of stale bread, cheese and boiled potatoes. A boy with a mop of brown hair on his head descended a spiral staircase in the corner and approached the table, staring at Bella. He wore a plain, though dirty white linen shirt under a brown vest, and slightly darker brown trousers with heavily stained knees. 

"Don't stare, " the boy's mother, nudged him into the pew opposite Bella in front of a half-eaten plate of food. She then approached Bella's bleeding arm with a cloth bandage, to wrap it, but Bella recoiled from her. 

"Thank you, that's very kind," Bella said gently, taking the bandage from her and laying it in her lap. She looked about the room, and, spying a small pile of dirt and soot that had been swept into the corner, she raised her hand to it. A small whirlwind of three inches spun up, collecting a small amount of the dirt and carrying it across the floor to her. Bella lowered her hand and allowed it to climb on as if picking up a pet. Sitting up with the tiny dust devil in her hand, she dipped a finger from her other hand into a cup of water and dropped a few drops of water onto it. The dirt quickly spun down into a tiny pile of mud, which she then mixed with her finger and applied to the wound like a poultice, before wrapping it with the bandage.

 "You're beautiful! Are you a Celestial?" The boy asked staring wide-eyed at Bella, a wad of half-eaten mashed potatoes in his slack jaw. 

"No," Bella giggled.

Natural 20 - Perception Check

"Thurston, " The cleric interrupted, calling down from the balcony, "We compliment a woman on what she does, not what she is." He nodded to the boy, then to Bella and once again disappeared from view.

"I'm Bella and I'm Earth Genasi," She explained as they ate. "My ancestors come from the very bedrock of Barasea." Potato fell from the boy's open mouth.

"Thurston!" His mother scolded, sliding into the pew next to Bella. "Please forgive him, we didn't see many Genasi in HiPool." Bella froze, a spoonful of potato raised to her lips.

"HiPool?" Bella asked, a hint of concern in her voice. The mother and son stared at each other in silence for a moment. "You're from HiPool?" She asked again, leaning away from the table.

"Refugees, Yes." The War Cleric started coming down from the upper floor. "Looks like we're all secure down here." He paused to eat some cold potatoes.

"How does it look outside?" Erando asked.

"Movement in the trees to the South, West, and North," he replied.

"Take your food upstairs and keep watch?" The elderly Cleric directed the boy, who sat staring at Bella with doe eyes as he chewed. Thurston picked up his plate and headed up the stairs. The cleric sat in his place with a plate of his own, "I am Janik, and this is The Shrine of Selayar, the Goddess of Safety and Sanctuary." 

As they ate Janik explained that Erando worked as a servant in the palace at Hipool. Janik was to help them get to the city of Manfyll, an independent nation on the coast, but they had become trapped here in the church for a week. 

"Demons terrorize us at night, leaving us too exhausted to leave in the morning," Erando explained, staring into her food.  

"What about the fire, what scorched the forest?" Bella asked, looking at the cleric. 

"The church bell." He responded. Bella cocked her head curiously to one side and he continued, "On the first night we were attacked, Thurston rang the bell in the steeple to chase away the Friends." He and Erando shared a look before he began rolling up his right sleeve to reveal a large burn scar, "Instead it produced a blast of flames that scorched everything within one hundred feet of the church, myself included."

Erando, took over the story there, "Every midnight since, with or without our assistance, the bell rings once and scorches everything outside. It's the only thing that has kept us alive so far" She glanced over her shoulder toward the campfire on the stone floor and the meagre supplies remaining and back to the Cleric. She didn't have to say anything further, Bella knew they could not remain here.


The balcony of the church, like the porchway, was made from logs and housed only a few chairs, and the remains of a few musical instruments. The ceiling was pitched but at the Westernmost end it squared off and a five-foot square opening extended upward ten to fifteen feet to another, smaller pitched ceiling. From it hung a four-foot wide brass bell and a rope that, when pulled, tilted the bell, allowing a brass clapper hanging within to connect with the sides as the bell swung.

Natural 1 - Perception Check

On the North, West and South walls, where the room squared to match the porchway beneath, were circular windows through which Bella could see the scorched ground out to the forest. The clouds and the moons cast roving shadows on the trees and underbrush, making the ground itself look alive with crawling beasts.

Natural 20 - Constitution Save - ErandoNatural 1 - Perception Check - Bella

Thurston! Get upstairs now!" She heard Erando shout from below and Bella rushed to the balcony to see her swinging a sword at a centipede at the far end of the church; She rushed down the stairs and reached the main floor to see the boy running toward her with another centipede trailing him. Rushing forward, she drew her axe and shouted at Thurston to duck. She hurled the axe over his head, splitting the skull of the insect behind him. The centipede writhed in pain, curling itself around the axe in its face before transforming into a small green, horned demon.  Beyond it Bella could see Erando, who had followed after her son, being attacked by another centipede and another coming in from the back room. 

Natural 20 - Handaxe Attack - Bella

 A blinding gold light struck like lightning, narrowly missing the centipede attacking Erando. "Everyone, upstairs!" Janik shouted from behind her. Erando ran down the center of the church to her son, pulling him along with her as she went. Bella rushed past them and tried to pull the Hand Axe out of the demon's face to hit it again but the demon remained fixed on the blade. Instead, she lifted the fiend into the air and slammed it back down to the ground, Crushing its tiny legs and spine.

 Janik ran up next to Bella and fired a crossbow at another tiny green demon that was approaching on their right, but the fiend disappeared before the bolt could land.

Centipedes and Demons

A centipede that had crept up on Bella bit her leg. The wound burned with poison and Bella retaliated with her sickle, carving the insect's face off. It too transformed into a tiny green demon that flopped to the floor its shorn head rolling across the floor. Bella then retreated toward the balcony, following after the mother and son.

The cleric followed suit, splashing a handful of water from a vile into his hand, he curled it into a fist which he held to his mouth. He whispered a blessing to it and, looking up, blew through the closed fist, spraying a fine mist into the air. As the mist descended on her, Bella's vision gained a golden hue, and her surroundings became a little bit sharper and more clear. 

 The last remaining Centipede was nowhere to be seen,  but Janik, expecting it to continue to advance down the center aisle of the church toward them, fired his crossbow in that direction, striking only the wood of a church pew. An arrow from the balcony struck the same pew a moment later and Bella looked up to see Thurston Passing his mother another projectile to launch. 

Natural 1 - Stealth Check - Quasit

Unable to see the creature, Bella raised an open hand, as she had to create the tiny whirlwind;  the dirt once again swirled to life, growing bigger until the front of half of the church was engulfed in a cloud of dust. She closed her fist, to end the druidic effect allowing the dust to settle on the creature, identifying its location. It lunged forward, biting at Janik, and slammed its head into the Cleric's shield.

Natural 1 - Unarmed Strike - Janik

With the creature in Melee range, Janik seized the opportunity, Bringing his heavy mace down toward the fiend, only to glance harmlessly off the insect's exoskeleton. Another arrow from the balcony sunk into the creature's face and it too changed back into a tiny green demon writhing on the floor with the arrow stuck through it's open mouth and out the back of it's head. Bella tried to finish the thing off with a Sickle strike but it was flailing too violently for her to hit and Janik stepped up and tried to stomp on the fiend but it again moved and he scraped his leg on one of the Quasit's horns.

"Stand Back!" Bella commanded, She grabbed her oak staff by the end and took a running swing, driving the tiny demon through the air to slam against the Eastern wall with dull slap, before flopping to the floor. 

"Is that all of them?" Bella called up to the balcony.

Natural 1 - Perception Check - Erando

"I think so, don't see anymore!" Erando called back. With Thurston keeping watch they spent the next hour securing the breached back door, and resting up for the next attack. They did not have to wait long.

"Mom?" Thurston shouted down from the balcony. Before she could respond there was a howl from outside, like the braying of a donkey being molested by a bear. It was soon joined by another, and another, and another. When the last howl finally trailed off, it was followed by a haunting silence. Eranda had almost reached the staircase when Thurston called down for her again, with more urgency, "MOM?!"

BOOM! There was a loud bang on the front door of the church that startled Erando enough to scream.  BOOM! Another loud bang; this time Bella watched the double doors shudder under the impact.

"They're ramming the door!" Thurston called down. Janik commanded Erando to join her son on the balcony before joining Bella where the porchway met the main chamber.

"If they breach this door ..." Janik started.

"We're Fucked." Bella finished. "How many are they?" She called up to Thurston and he informed her that there were five and they appeared to be coordinating their attacks. " Have an idea, but I need to get outside."

Bella heard Janik lock and bar the back door behind her. Keeping an eye out for predators, she followed the south wall of the church toward the front entrance. When she reached the southwest corner of the building she pressed a hand to her breast "Wildmother, give me strength." She whispered, calming herself. 

BOOM! She watched as the same pig-beasts that had chased her here charged headlong into the doors of the Church. After each impact, the Beast would shake off the impact and clear the steps to allow the next to charge while it returned to the cluster of them to try again. BOOM!

 The moment the beast cleared the steps Bella lifted her staff and slammed it back into the soot and dirt. "Tangle" she whispered and watched as a thicket of vines grew out of the ground in a twenty-foot square patch that extended out from the bottom step of the church entrance. The next pig beast ran through, and though the vines were not enough to stop it in it's tracks, They slowed it enough to lessen the damage on the, now heavily fractured door. The beast became trapped in the vines as it withdrew from the door, and Bella took the opportunity. She spat into her palm and, closing the fist, formed it into an ice knife that she threw into the beast's side. It drove deep into the beast's hide, promptly melting away after impact.

Natural 20 - Strength Check - Dretch

 The more the pig beast struggled to get free of the vines, the more securely they tried to pin it down. The next beast charged, trampling the first on the way in and on the way out as it slammed into the door with a BOOM! Suddenly a bolt of golden light descended from the heavens blasting the Fiend tangled in the vines; turning its desperate honks into a yelp as thrashed to get free. The Bolt caught Bella off guard and she realized that the damage to the doors must now be large enough for Janik to see out. The bolt was followed quickly by an arrow from the upper window, and the beast continued to yelp.

Natural 20 - Strength Check - Dretch

 BOOM! Just like the previous, the third dretch trampled its counterpart to gain purchase on the door, but it stumbled returning and it too was bound to the dirt. The fourth and fifth were also bound down with vines before they could even begin to run. 

Natural 1 - Strength Check - Dretch 5

"You poor thing, let the hand of decay take your pain," Bella Whispered, taking advantage of the pinned-down fiend she made a fist in front of herself. A whirlwind of soot spin up from the grounds and, taking the form of a large skeletal hand, it grasped the 5th dretch about the throat and settled on it like a black mould, draining the life from the monster. 

 BOOM! The first Dretch to have become entangled, having recklessly thrashed itself loose, turned right around and charged the door again, cracking the cross beam, only to tumble backward and become entangled once again. BOOM! Again a golden light rained down on one of the beasts, slamming it into the ground. Again it was swiftly followed by an arrow from the upper window. 

When the last unbound Dretch became bound in this strangling garden of vines and weeds, Bella, Janik and Erando continued to assail the thrashing fiends without mercy until two of the last three beasts got free and were able to breach the door and enter the church. Bella rushed to the door, avoiding her own trap even as she strangled its one remaining living prisoner with a skeletal soot hand. She reached the front of the porch to find both doors smashed in. Within the church, a single, badly wounded dretch stood over the body of another. Beyond them Janik knelt, holding his shield aloft in defence. He swung his mace up, catching the beast under the jaw. It crumpled to the floor in a shower of shattered teeth and blood. 



 With the doors smashed beyond repair they threw the pieces onto the front steps to make them difficult to navigate. Bella & Janik tossed the pews into the yard outside of the porchway to create hurdles to the entrance. Erando cut long strips from the carpet and dipped them in grease Thurston had found in the kitchen. She tied three strips to each handle of a pair of spears which she then planted, like pillars on either side of the entrance. She lit the fluttering strands, which flapped gently, like flaming ribbons, in the breeze, lighting up the front yard. Thurston tied smaller strips of carpet around forty arrows and dipped them in the leftover grease. He nocked a greased arrow, lit the greased cloth with a candle and fired it out the balcony window. It embedded into one of the pews about sixty feet from the steps, the grease splattering onto the wooden pew and setting it ablaze. 

 "They're here!" Thurston shouted from the balcony. The glow from the distant flaming arrow lit up the area, revealing a skeleton making its way through the pews toward the church. Erando took a position in the open porchway, using the altar for cover. From here she could see three skeletons making their way toward the barricades. She lit a candle next to a bucket of arrows and nocked one into her Shortbow and sent it sailing past the Skeleton directly in front. The Skeleton retaliated in kind, an arrow sinking into the wooden altar before her with a heavy thunk! 

  Janik said a quick blessing as he and Bella slipped past her; once outside, he moved to the right side of the entrance, narrowly avoiding the arrow from another skeleton opposite him in the yard. Bella moved to the other side of the steps and was not as lucky as an arrow glanced off her shoulder. Her hand shot to the wound and she drew it back covered in blood. "Decay!" She answered back, closing the bloody fist. A black mould formed around the lurching skeleton in the shape of a giant skeletal hand, drying and decaying the bones and armour. 

 From inside the church, an arrow stuck the skeleton furthest from Bella, Sheering its clavicle off the bow arm and dropping it to the ground.  The undead creature quickly drew its sword and continued working its way through the pews toward Janik and Bella noticed that it was on fire, having brushed against the flaming arrow. An arrow from the balcony window glanced off the second skeleton as it was aiming at Janik. 

Maw Demon

That's when Bella saw it, a shadow moving forward, like the darkness itself had eyes, and claws, and teeth, so many teeth. It moved into the light of the fire arrow and Bella could see the fiend for the evil that it was.

"Maw Demon!" Janik shouted across the yard, as he bashed a skeleton to pieces with his mace. "That thing will devour us all to feed Yeenoghu’s hunger!" An Arrow clipped his leg and Janik cried out. Bella, looking over to check on him, was also clipped in the side, near the bottom of the ribcage as the arrow tore through her shawl. 

 "Fall back!" Bella shouted to Erando to avoid being shot, and she backed her way up the steps as the two remaining skeletons closed in on her.  

"Quickly!" Erando called back, the moment Bella was in sight she loosed a flaming arrow. It sailed like a flare through the yard and into the Maw Demon with a yelp. It was quickly followed by another from the balcony window. Still, the demon continued to crawl over the pews toward them.

"Coming in!" Janik shouted as a beam of light struck the Demon where it was perched atop an upside-down wooden pew. The cleric slipped inside the entryway and backed out of Erando's range as the two skeletons stepped into the entrance. One of the skeletons was on fire and launched an arrow that struck the wooden altar. The other struck Janik in the shield arm. 

"Entangle!" Bella stomped her staff on the floor to set another vine trap outside of the door to slow the advance of the dead & demon. One of the skeletons dropped into a pile immediately. The other Erando put an arrow in, tearing its draw arm off at the elbow. Through the open entrance, Bella could see the gaping maw continue to advance as a fiery arrow and radiant light rained from above. 

The remaining skeleton before them tore free of the vines and weeds that bound it and breached the threshold of the church, struggling to draw its sword with the wrong hand. 

  "Decay," Bella commanded, holding out her hand as if to hold back the skeletal figure and a black mould grew on its armour and bones, desiccating it into a pile of dust and spores.  

Outside the Maw Demon continued to advance through a hail of arrows and radiant light until it collapsed at the foot of the steps.

BONG! The church shuddered as the bell in the tower rang. A wave of fire swept out through the forest, following the echo of the bell and scorching everything for a hundred yards. BONG! The church shuddered as the bell rang a second time, and another wave of fire swept across the yard. Janik and Erando looked at each other in confusion. BONG! The church shuddered as the bell rang again, louder this time, and a larger wave of fire outside.

"Three?!?" The Elven woman asked, "Has that ever …" BONG! The church shuddered as the bell rang again, louder this time, and a larger wave of fire outside. The noise began to hurt Bella's ears and her head pounded. BONG! Clutching her head Bella stumbled and fell to the stone floor. BONG! The church shuddered as the bell rang again, and everything went dark. 


Shrine of Selayar

Bella woke to the sound of a lonely church bell among the singing of the birds in the trees. She sat up and wiped the sleep from her eyes to find herself in the tall grass that grew up between the hewn stone of an old church foundation. The crumbling bell tower and two walls were all that remained of the structure, and about the church, the forest was rich with tall trees and dense underbrush. As she collected her things, she found a small, badly eroded marble statue of Selayar hidden among the remains of an old altar. She took a few moments to stand the statue upright and meditate with her before leaving. 

She descended a set of steps and wove her way through small mounds of burnt furniture withered under the moss. As she left the vaguely familiar area, a slight morning breeze brought goosebumps to her arms and Bella fixed the shawl about her shoulders as she walked into the forest..



Back to blog