Write-up 4th April 2024 – Smersh in the Land of the Dead – Part One

To recap, the Shaman Fetnah and her ally Smersh were frozen in time for 1,500 years, victims of a trap of spirits who refused to pass to the Underworld, a pocket realm of undead slaves serving their undead master and his court.

Rescued by a band of Agents of the Magistrate of Eshtaband, a city in the Rule of Haraxa, they join up as Agents as they adjusted to the modern world. Then, stranger than much that has happened, Smersh found himself presented with a deed of inheritance to an estate granted to a son he never knew he had, still in the family after a millenium and a half.

Obviously there was a catch, the estate is not as extensive as it once was, the power of the position is reduced, oh, and the estate is crawling with the  restless dead, and they were rescued by Smersh IV, the disembodied spirit of a descendant. He took them to the estate Temple, still proof against the undead, and explained the problem. Spirits denied rites and offering could not easily find their way to the Afterlife. The dead can still find their way and he, drowned in the marsh, denied rites, has found a way, and hoped to help others, but a malign entity is blocking the way, and he hopes that the group can defeat it, and reopen the way.

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
  • Jalabu – Noble of Dilmun, Merchant-Adventurer and agent of the Rule, currently wrestling with his inner demon, literally


  • 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

The group checked the Portal opened by Smersh. They could see through it to the other side, they tested going through and coming back. Apart from the other side being colder and that vision between both being blurred and sound muffled, they were able to go through and back, but Smersh IV would need to stay behind to hold the portal open.

Jalabu had been suffering from fever. Fetnah has grafted a Spirit of the Road, Oblat, to him, as protection. Unbeknownst to Fetnah, Oblat was a Spirit of Heat and Dust Devils,  and prolonged exposure was causing Jalabu to burn up. However a crisis point seem to be reached, and Jalabu cooled somewhat, but he does seem somewhat more impulsive.

And so they went through, Jalabu less cautious than was his wont, even discarding his magic buckler, which José Juan snaffled, in case Jalabu wanted it back. The way ahead was along a path of sharp stones under a grey sky of diffuse light, ahead was a forest of dead trees and undergrowth of fallen branches, dead leaves and bones. The group moved on, until Jalabu, seeing winged creatures flying  high up,  not bothering anyone, let fly with an arrow, lightly wounding one (I think the longest range shot in this campaign to date).

The thing dives, a horrific amalgam of bird, bat and mortal forms, it dove onto Jalabu, jinking away from his outthrust sword and bearing him to the ground, trying to rip him apart with its fanged, beak like muzzle. The others tried to wound it without hurting Jalabu, and wounded it enough that it tried to fly off with Jalabu. It did not manage that, but it did escape with its existence. Fetnah did find out something interesting. her connection to the spirit world was stronger here, she found the power came to her easier, but it was also more likely to slip out of her control. Smersh found that, though dropping his mace to draw his knife meant that he could strike more often, of course dropping the mace and drawing his knife was itself time consuming. A conundrum!

Similarly, Farshad found his connection to the crow spirit Aribu, housed in a wooden crow puppet, stronger, that they could communicate clearly.

The group moved on, coming to a fork in the road through the woods, one path going into uphill into denser woods, the other down as the wood thinned. Such tracks as the sharp stones showed indicated the lower path to be the one most travelled, and so they continued down that one, emerging into a canyon, both sides covered in caves in which the lethargic, desiccating forms of spirits. They were slow moving, some could barely raise their heads to  look at the group. An underground river the colour of dark-red dried blood rose from the rocks halfway down the canyon.

One did manage to get to them shaky but standing. Asking for details, the spirit, Eshanna begged for help, explaining that this was as far as many spirits get, those that go on ahead to scout never return, either using the path ahead or the path that goes up the hill to another way ahead. The first news of difficulties was when a party of spirits were following the path, and those behind saw those ahead overcome by horrors.

They do have a name for the entity blocking the way, Marshiyu-shamawpti, “The Final Death”, it consumes spirits and they are gone forever.

The group followed the path by the river as it headed towards a dark cave mouth, the path dipping to the level of the river, the mud slippy but made walkable thanksto embedded bones and shells. Carefully they entered the cave mouth, trying to avoid the lank, stringy, unpleasant moss that fringed it.

The path led into a chamber that stank of the sulphurous emissions from spouts in the walls, that caused some to cough and splutter. The path diverged from the river, which dove under the rock again, and they quickly left by the rising path, taking time to recover their stamina and clear their lungs.

The way ahead was across a rock bridge,  dark, bottomless chasm at either side, Smersh went ahead to scout, and failed to hear in advance of time the crack of a breaking stalagmite above, which bruised him severely and he too had to rest.

Once everyone was rested, they entered the next chamber , which was the bottom of the entrance at the top of the hill, the walls studded by slabs set into it as steps spiralling up. In the middle of the chamber was a desiccated spirit, motionless as any corpse, its body marked as if bound by rope. The group moved on, only for Utana to find that the spirit had got up to grab him from behind. It was unable to drag him back to the chasm, and the spirit found its feet grappled by Jalabu and stretched out like a blanket. When the unlife was beaten out of it, a fibrous, twisted, rope like thing escaped out of the mouth of the spirit, slithering quickly off.

José Juan looked at the body, and wondered if the unquiet dead in the House of Spionem were like this, however he had not examined those creatures closely, and a brief fight in a dimly lit house was not enough to have given him ant detailed view.

The path went through a passage into a chamber covered in more of that sticky, unpleasant moss. Ahead was a chipping sound, not quite bird, not bat, something animal like, but sonmething about the noises hinted at some sort of speech.

Farshad noticed a low sound coming from the wall. Parting the fronds of the moss, and not enjoying it, Farshad saw a lethargic spirit, Lusa, obviously near its last, begging for help. The group sacrificed food and wine feeding it, burning food and spilling a libation. Lusa exam panel on the information on Marshiyu-shamawpti. It captures and enslaves those it does not consume utterly, though even its servants it consumes.

And, on that bombshell, we left it.

This entry was posted in none yet. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.