This is kind of a long one.
I decided not to post session 18 by itself because first, life got in the way a bit and second, I wanted a little more for the post. I thought session 18 was a bit short. So, we had session 19. I also wanted to organize some thoughts and details to help understand the situation the group is in and what it might take next in their search for the secrets held in the hidden Welandar library. So, the post grew a bit… well… a lot. I hope you enjoy anyway.
Lysandra, Bran, Fang and Theren make their way to the fort on the north end of the town of Braiton. The weary travelers consider themselves fortunate that they are in their hometown. While this is not Lysandra’s hometown, she appreciates the comfort of being someplace that is considered safe. They pass through town without challenge from the night watch since they are recognized. At the fort’s guard post they present themselves and the Krell, Urd, whom they rescued, interrogated and took into their custody.
Fortunately, Lord Perry Braiton, noble, sheriff, town leader and commander of the local garrison hoped they would return this way. So, he had left standing orders to keep watch for the group’s return and have them report to him or one of his lieutenants immediately. They are quickly escorted to the night lieutenant’s office.
The lieutenant takes Urd off their hands and, despite the late hour, sends word to Lord Braiton of the group’s arrival. With a quick response from Lord Braiton, the group is given rooms at the nearby inn with a request that they join Lord Braiton in the morning for breakfast at his place to debrief. The idea of a bed and shelter is agreeable, and off they go to rest at the inn until the next morning. Theren decides he wants to see his family and chooses to go to his family’s home with plans to meet them at Lord Braiton’s for breakfast.
The next morning finds the group in the dining room of a nice, but not lavish, home. Breakfast is served and Lord Braiton establishes that this meeting is to be informal, but productive. He wants to know about the group’s journey to Mert and any other events that happened to them since their departure about a month ago.
Fang takes point on relaying their story to Lord Braiton with the rest of the group adding details where needed. Lysandra is, of course, introduced and Lord Braiton is informed that she is another chosen of Mentari’s Secret. The group’s story unfolds for the noble and he begins to gain some insight into the danger that this Dark Tide is to the kingdom.
In turn, Lord Braiton lets the group know about the status of Welandar City. He tells them that they made a good decision by coming to Braiton first since The City is in virtual lock-down. Since the murder of the king a little over a month ago, the investigation of the murder has only raised suspicion that the murderer is still within the walls of The City. So, the city officials have locked down the entrances. Now traffic in and out of the city is subject to detailed scrutiny before being allowed to pass. This has caused inconvenience at best and near disaster for some – merchants and the like. The tension in The City is elevated and increasing as the difficulty for people to conduct business in and out of The City has become more and more difficult. He tells the group that he will take on the task of working on a means to get them into Welandar City quickly and quietly despite the overall situation. It is obvious they need to find the secret library and the Welandar family journal that is supposedly there.
With all the information on the table, it is now understood that Theren, Bran, Fang and Lysandra must be very careful about revealing who they are (part of Mentari’s Secret) and broadcasting their intentions. By example, Lord Braiton informs them that the dining room they are sitting in has been both physically and magically enhanced to prevent spying or scrying of any kind. They now fully realize that The Dark Tide is looking for them and trying to, at the very least, track them. The group acknowledges that while they have been in mortal danger at times, there is uncertainty if their deaths have been the true intention of The Dark Tide. This Erebus character, after all, wrote a note specifically wanting the group “tested”, not killed. They consider the possibility that The Dark Tide is interested in discovering the Welandar family secrets as well.
Lord Braiton gives each of them a modest reward for their efforts to date. He puts some gold in their pockets and offers to handle whatever expenses they incur for shelter and supplies while in his town. Then he asks for their help while he begins working on a way to get the group into Welandar City quickly and quietly. It seems that just recently, a farming family on the outskirts was attacked and killed by what appear to be undead. There have also been rumors of movement in the woods at the edges of other farms to the east, near where this family was killed. He asks them to investigate for him and, if possible, eliminate the apparent threat. He says there will be additional reward for their help along with his gratitude.
After some discussion of the details Lord Braiton has about the situation, the group agrees to head out to the farm where the family was killed and begin an investigation. They make a request for a few soldiers to come along as reinforcements. Lord Braiton agrees but explains the reason he has asked for their help is that he has already spread his garrison a little thin by increasing patrols in the area and night watch in the town. He also admits concern that his soldiers might not handle undead very well. After all, undead aren’t common, to say the least.
Fang, Lysandra, Theren and Bran depart from Lord Braiton’s home and head east from town to find the farm that was attacked. A squad of 4 soldiers will be made available to them as soon as possible. The horse patrol will catch them en route.
The group arrives at the farmhouse along with the horse patrol. The soldiers are reluctant to even enter the farmhouse. One of the soldiers was with the squad that came and found the bodies of the family the week prior. They offer to ride a short patrol to the nearby farms to see if there have been any other attacks. Bran and Fang request that two stay nearby while two perform the patrol… just in case.
Bran and Lysandra decide to enter the house while Fang and Theren start taking a look around outside. Evidence of the attack in the house is easily found due to blood stains on the floor and obvious signs of a struggle. The rear door of the house is also damaged showing evidence of a forced entry. It appears that the undead beat down the door. All signs point to a surprise attack. It did not look like the family had time to prepare for a fight or escape.
Outside, under the covered stable that is attached to the side and back of the house, a severed arm is found. Closer investigation gets a startle as the arm twitches with some residual energy of undeath. The arm is likely human but appears changed. The ends of the finger bones are elongated to claw-like appendages and the “bone” in those areas is darkened. Theren senses some of the energy he has felt when near the presence of Slythis or Kogan. The corrupted energy that resides with them seems to be part of what animated this body. Did Kogan raise the dead body that this arm belonged to?
Theren decides to make use of Tolthas (his altered pseudo-dragon familiar). He commands Tolthas to fly out and scout the woods from the air. A short time into Tolthas’ flight, the familiar contacts Theren telepathically and relays what it’s seeing. Tolthas has flown over a small clearing in the woods a few miles east of the farms. There appears to be some grave markers and a slightly bigger structure there. Theren relays this to the group.
As the investigation continues, Theren realizes that he must return to his family’s home in town because he is lacking his weapons (forgotten when he departed for breakfast at Lord Braiton’s home). He borrows a horse from one of the soldiers to go retrieve his gear. Fang decides that it would be best if he performed a patrol at the back end of the farm near the woods. He wants to see if there are any signs of where the undead came from. He is suspicious of the possibility that they came from that clearing Theren mentioned.
Bran and Lysandra realize they are going to be there for a bit. They begin looking around the house and the immediate property for the things they need to prepare a meal and possibly spend the night. Bran decides he wants to fix the rear door to the house while Lysandra begins cleaning up and gathering ingredients to create a meal for the group and the soldiers. Bran heads out the back door and finds a shop building. Inside he finds a nicely constructed forge and workshop but with minimal tools and materials. It appears that the family was just beginning to set up the shop. Lysandra finds everything she needs and more to begin creating a good meal. They are both separately realizing that this place is actually very nice and potentially useful. Bran, especially, begins to wonder if it would be a nice base of operations for the group and a start to that mercenary company he’s been dreaming about for a while now. With the addition of some tools in the shop and refurbishment of the loft area for sleeping quarters, it could house the group easily. It would not take a lot of resources to create another outbuilding or two to handle additional personnel.
Fang heads toward the treeline looking for some sign of where the undead came from. He decides stealth and speed will be his allies and taps his druidic power to shape-shift into a black panther. It is not long before he spots a sign. He finds a zombie that’s missing an arm. It’s milling about a short distance from the treeline, and he decides to engage it.
As he predicted the abilities of the panther form pay off. Fang dispatches the one-armed zombie with minimal damage to himself. He resumes his search for signs of passage left by the undead.
It’s not long before Fang spots tracks coming from and heading back to the woods. It’s an obvious sign that the undead had come from the woods east of the farm house. In fact, it now makes good sense to Fang that the zombies appear to have come from the clearing that Theren’s familiar, Tolthas spied earlier. Fang decides to go down the treeline a little further until he is behind the nearest neighboring farm.
As Fang makes his way down the treeline, he spots two “people” moving from the woods toward a neighboring farmhouse. Based on the way they’re moving, he’s sure it’s a pair of zombies. Fang begins to move to intercept them as quickly as possible with as much stealth as possible. He hopes to surprise them.
His stealthy approach as a panther is a success, and Fang pounces on one of the zombies. A ferocious battle begins… a battle that Fang quickly finds out is going to be tougher than he thought.
Quickly reverting to his half-Faye form, Fang engages in melee as the zombies press their attacks. These zombies are more powerful and resilient than others that Fang has faced. He is suddenly concerned that he might not survive this melee.
Then a thought occurs to him, and Fang calls upon his goddess and evokes a thunderclap that blasts the zombies back out of reach. Fang takes advantage of this to put some distance between him and them…
…From the farmhouse, Bran and Lysandra here a peal of thunder. Knowing that it is not bad weather outside, they assume that Fang or Theren have unleashed a spell. As they run outside to find the source of the thunder, another clap of thunder is released a short distance away…
Fang quickly realizes that these corrupted zombies move faster than their “normal” cousins. He also knows that he needs help. Hoping that his goddess is watching and is willing to help, Fang calls forth another clap of thunder. The wave again blows the zombies back before they can attack with sword and claw.
By this time, Lysandra and Bran are sprinting toward Fang with weapons at the ready. Theren, who is just returning from town after retrieving his weapons, also hears the thunder on an otherwise sunny day. He sees Fang a short distance behind the neighboring farmhouse that he is passing on the road back and sets the horse to a gallop toward Fang and the pursuing zombies.
The group converges on Fang and the pursuing Dark Zombies. The tide is quickly turned. The only friendly casualty ends up being whatever ego Theren might have had. As he attempted to unleash a blast of his eldritch magic on the corrupted zombies, he quickly discovered that casting from horseback has its own set of issues. The battle is ended with the group giving Theren a hand out from under a very stunned horse.
They also realize that the Dark Zombies are much more trouble than “normal” zombies. Two of these corrupted undead were essentially too much for one member of their group. There is legitimate concern as they consider taking a walk toward the clearing Tolthas spotted for Theren. It only makes sense that is where there are enough bodies to animate like this. It appears to be some sort of cemetery. They also begin to wander how many bodies might be there, and how many of those could become Dark Zombies.
But they need to know what’s in that clearing and if they can stop it or need to get help.
The group heads into the woods to find the clearing. Between Theren and his familiar they successfully navigate to the edge of the clearing. At first glance, it looks peaceful. There is a mist hanging low on the grasses in the clearing. They see some grave markers scattered around and a mausoleum opposite them near the opposite edge of the clearing. It looks like a peaceful spring morning in a nice old wilderness cemetery. The problem, though, is that it is no longer morning. It’s early afternoon, and there is a noticeable breeze. There should be no morning fog or mist low on the ground like this.
Steeling nerves, they step into the clearing… and wish the hadn’t. Instantly, chills and goose bumps course through and over their bodies. There is a sickening feeling of dread. And the mist looks like it’s trying to cling to their feet. The breeze and noise of nature in the woods is nearly silenced. There is something very wrong about this battlefield turned cemetery.
Yes, they recall history lessons that explain that this place was a battlefield some 700 years ago. It was one of the final battles between the humans of Welandar and the Faye during a time when they did not get along like they do now. The Faye had been concerned when the humans moved into the area and started settling what is now Welandar City. This concern led to a decision to try and push the humans out of the area. A few battles took place and this place was the last of them. The humans essentially won the very short war and a truce was achieved in this clearing. The cost to the humans was significant in this battle. They decided to create a memorial cemetery to bury the brave soldiers and officers who heroically fought here and mark the place where a truce had been achieved.
A memorial this place is no more. There is evil magic in the area and the source appears to be the mausoleum. The group cautiously crosses the ancient battlefield letting courage and determination shield them from the sensations of dread and evil that hang at the edge of their senses. They approach the mausoleum and easily see that the door has been ripped off its hinges. The source of the mist also appears to be the mausoleum. They stare at a set of steps leading down into darkness. The mist is somehow flowing up those steps from the darkness below. They need to know what’s going on…
We’ll see what happens in Session 20.
As always, if you like what you’ve read here, let me know by clicking the like button. If you have something to say or a question, please, leave a comment. I’ll be happy to get back to you. A conversation is always better than a monologue.
Type to you later…