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Previously on IVDnD 5e:

Winter has fallen over the land.

The cold has proven to be a mighty adversary to our heroes and the community of Hope Landing. With food stocks depleting and colonists falling prey to hypothermia, The Council begins to search for solutions.

They remember hearing talk of an ever-burning forest to the North. It is the land of Nori’s people. She confirms that these tales are true, and the council decides to send a scavenger team to bring back this special timber in hopes that they can use it to create ever-burning bonfires for heat for the community.

As they prepare to set off, Nori rejects the idea of her heading back to her people. She reminds them of the dagger they would most certainly place in her back upon return. As our heroes prepare to embark on a 4 day trek to the North, the sky is suddenly set ablaze in a crimson red. Nori recognizes this as a beacon of her people, a signal that calls her people home. She decides she shall come with, and our 4 heroes set off for the flaming forest.

Making great time on their trusty dire wolf team, they come across a steaming river and follow it downstream to an Eldrin village on its banks. The entire village has a steamy mist engulfing it, to the delight of the townsfolk living there. There, near the docks, they come across a ship captain, who explains that the river itself isn’t steaming, but rather the fish dwelling within. After the captain explains the fishes heating properties and how the wood from the northern forest is the only way to transport said fish safely, our heroes buy several of the fish and decide they will create a crate capable of transporting these fish back with them to Hope Landing. Then they set forth to the North.

Upon arriving at this seemingly surreal forest, they come across an Eldrin camp just on its outskirts. It is a group of outcast tribesmen of Nori’s people, who instantly recognize her. They explain that they had arrived a day or two earlier and that the city, fittingly named Pyre, was not responding to any attempts made to contact those inside. After a little pep talk, the four decide that they need to enter the city and make contact with its inhabitants. If the situation inside has gone belly up, then they would shut down the beacon and, if possible save the Dire Mother, the matriarch dire wolf that gives birth to all other dire wolves.

As our heroes approached the city, they notice it is sealed up and quite. After an effort to break into the cities gates, Oli gets, among other things, covered in boiling water and a crude, thick liquid. After closer analysis of both the liquid and a shoe that came with it, they determine it is blood and human remains and quickly realize the situation is dire.

Our heroes, now inside the city walls, see very little signs of battle and no people or bodies anywhere. They hear a scream and notice a light in the window of one of the buildings. As they enter it, they see fresh blood and a man who has very recently been stabbed. After providing medical attention to the man, and then a quick convincing as to their intentions in the city, the man explains that the villagers just suddenly turned on each other. He hid, but they must have found him and ran him through with a dagger right before they had shown up. That’s when they heard it.

After putting out the light, they sneak over to the window and peer out into the darkness. To their shock, they see a group of villagers, arms linked, guarding the gates and quietly chanting something strange. They notice red markings on the bodies and loose papers scattered around the streets, bringing back an unsettling sense of deja vu. Suddenly, a lanky terrifying creature lunges from the shadows into their views, and quickly lunges out. With a sudden terror, they begin to realize the horror they have walked into. Blood Poetry. Could this be…? No. Surely this isn’t…Her.

As the others try to determine if the creature is lured by any specific conditions, Oli sneaks out and, upon doing so, the creature lands on the roof, attracted by something. He shoots it off the roof and it flees. The group then sets off down the road. As they get to a fork in the road, they suddenly notice the sides of the streets are lined with the cultists, only their backs are turned to them and they are chanting some terrible nonsense. They decide to take a left, which leads to the Dire Stables. As they venture down the road, they are suddenly aware that the creature is back and is following them, although seemingly without urgency. It seems to move rather sporadically and without any particular rhythm. It seems to be listening for them, sensing some form sound or movement. They pick up the pace and make it to the stables. They find 2 survivors and the dire wolf mother, and tell them to make their escape with Nori through a secret entrance. The creature pins them in the building and, after a narrow escape, they make their way toward the Common Building.

They notice the streets are clear of cultists, as they have now climbed onto the rooftops and are chanting louder, much more deliberately at them. As they trek further into the city, the streets become more and more cluttered with blood poetry; up to their waists in some parts. They enter the Common Building and, after passing mountains of parchment and cultists printing out the vile poetry, come across the shard that is projecting the beacon into the heavens. Guarding the shard are 6 of those horrifying creatures, just standing there motionless. As Oli shoots the magical fragment, the creatures begin to attack. As Oli fends off one of the creatures, Greenbottle and Arvinmal make an executive decision and light the pages on fire. As the flames spread rapidly across the mountains of paper, our heroes begin sprinting out of the building, a wall of fire and shrieking creatures in pursuit. As they enter the streets again, they are in shock to see the cultists, hands joined, creating a barricade that cuts our heroes off from freedom. Thinking quickly, the two magic users blast their way through the wall of foes and manage to escape in the nick of time as the fire consumes the city in flames. Cultists, creatures, buildings. On that night, the city of Pyre was sacrificed for the greater good.

But, up on the rooftops watching vigilantly, she stood there. Her eyes never gazed away from the party as they fled. As our heroes took one final look back over their shoulders, they saw her there, her crimson dress blowing gently in the wind. IT WAS HER! The group suddenly realized the gravity of the situation.

The Lady in Red has arrived.

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