Write-up 1st May 2024 – Smersh in the Land of the Dead – Part Two

Having entered the start of the path the souls of adherents of the Cold Ones must follow, they have found many souls too scared to follow the path as a demon, Marshiyu-shamawpti, lurks ahead, devouring those that come clear. They have also been attacked by souls upon whom the demon feeds and discards, even as they are enthralled by it. They had just found one such soul, Lusa, dwindling, unable to proceed as long as the demon is there.

Our cast

  • Utana – Noble of the Rule of Haraxa, Agent and Officer of the nation
  • José Juan – Foreigher from the far west, warrior, healer and agent of the Rule
  • Farshad – Merchant of the Rule of Ishtir, musician and agent of the Rule
  • Fetnah – Shaman from a long time ago, and a forgotten and lost land, and agent of the Rule
  • Smersh – Larcenous Priest from long time ago, and a nation long gone, and agent of the Rule


  • Arpaesis – From the far western land of Ta-Khemet, student of Arcane Lore, and agent of the Rule, currently studying books of Lore
  • Dhran the White – of humble origin in Ishtir, warrior, agent of the Rule, currently studying in the capital and trying to unionise
  • Jalabu – Noble of Dilmun, Merchant-Adventurer and agent of the Rule, currently coming to terms with his inner demon, literally

Our start was delayed, our VTT wasn’t admitting two of our players, thanks to Norman (José Juan) for a bit of lateral thinking to get everyone on as level a footing as we could manage.

Persuading the starveling Lusa to accompany them, swearing that that they would deal with the demon Marshiyu-shamawpti, the group proceed, finding themselves in a cave dominated by a huge plant rising out of a pool fed by the river that the dead follow on their journey to judgement, the water, unlike the picture, a dirty, dark red brown. The huge tendrils of the plant sway as if in an unseen and unfelt breeze.

Cave dominated by huge plant

The cave of Marshiyu-shamawpti

The group were suspicious of this, a suspicion confirmed when the flaunt started dropping off soul husks held in thrall. The things were almost totally drained of their being, but they were still a threat, if ignored they would cause damage, but luckily for the group they no longer had much substance so could be felled easily.

Lusa did what he could to tackle the husks

As expected the tendrils started trying to smash or grab the members of the group. Farshad was the first victim, though he was soon let free in an unfortunate manner, dropped to the ground after Fetnah did something remarkable.

Impossible under normal circumstances without great preparation and sacrifice, unlikely in a cave on the outer fringes of the netherworld, Fetnah invoked the Fires of Heaven, wrath of spiritual fury, the wrath of the gods and great spirits manifested! The demon was set ablaze, as was Farshad, on fire and, in the demon’s pain wracked writhing,  dropped on his head.

Note, somewhere over play I communicated the rules on Shamanic Chants incorrectly, and it sort of stuck. Summoning the Fires of Heaven is the most extreme weather magic, impossibly difficult, no character could summon such a display without taking those steps mentioned previously to boost their chances, but I had made a ruling before and stuck with it, it will go back to RAW hereafter.

Their foe was severely wounded and in such pain that it was unable to direct its thralls, who hung about unmoving. Fetnah herself was felled, slumped to the ground with the effort of her summoning, her connection to spirits tenuous, her grasp on reality weak, she fell unconscious briefly.

Whilst all this was going on, Utana and José Juan had been clearing the husks, with spear and arrow, Smersh had been less successful, his attacks going wide, his defences bypassed. He found that he, and José Juan, were snatched up off their feet by their ankles. This shift in tendrils though allowed Utana to see the core, in which was a twisted, sneering, arrogant, ugly face. This became Utana and Farshad’s target as Utana fired arrows and Farshad daggers, after Farshad had sliced off a tendril. When she came to, Fetnah concentrated on patching up Farshad.

Utana and Farshad were not alone in this. Being swung around, having their heads bashed against walls. Jose Juan tried to strike at the tendril holding him with his sword, but Smersh tried to unlimber his bow and shoot. His stomach muscles must be tremendous.

Utana’s luck was with him that day, two of his three strikes were as on the mark as any he had made during practice, and cause as much damage as the Fetnah’s summoning, and between that and the strikes of José Juan and Farshad, and the embarassment Marshiyu-shamawpti felt on Smersh’s behalf did for the demon.

The plant shrivelled, shrinking in on itself, withering and withdrawing as it was banished from this place, not dead, but this form destroyed. The blood red water cleared and became silver and shining. Lusa straightened up, and held themselves more confidently, soon the path was full of spirits, thanking our heroes for freeing them.

The world starts to fade, causing consternation as everything blew away as in smoke, and they were drawn back to the light, passing through, they found themselves back in the crypt of the the Temple in the grounds of Spionem’s House, now Smersh’s.

The ghost of Smersh’s distant descendant, Smersh IV, closed the portal, it cost much to hold it open for mortals. He would not be passing on, he would retain his purpose in helping others to find the start of the road to the afterlife.  This continued haunting excited Farshad and Smersh with commercial possibilities.

It took Utana, José Juan and Smersh some effort to open the door to the temple, for it was blocked by a press of stinking corpses from on the marsh.

And there we left it



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