Crown of the Dead [D&D v.3.5] – Part 11

This adventure was Friday May 8, 2015. Only E.G., T.F., and K.D. were present.

Outside Sister Janus’s shop, Barbarian Wee Jack and Rogue-Ranger Noomfoodle Gobbliegook Pann breathe deep and clear their wits of vaporized licorice.

Jere Collado stumbles into them, looking like undeath warmed-over. Fever and chills grip him. The Gnomes take him back into the licorice fog, where Sister Janus diagnoses a case of Ghoul Fever. Collado contracted it in his recent encounter with the infection’s namesake. Janus recommends Dredburn’s healing skills. Weakened of Dexterity and Constitution, Jere is helped to the Dwarf’s shop by his friends.

Dredburn is hard at work covering his windows, reinforcing his door, and hammering metal spikes onto the exterior walls of his trading post. Wee Jack compliments him on his fortifications. Focused on his task, the Dwarf extols the wisdom of up-armoring one’s domicile in times of lunar maximum or minimum. The group notices he is carrying five or six extra weapons, in addition to his usual three or four.

Suddenly noticing a stricken patient, Dredburn stops work and hurries Collado into his shop. One corner is set up as an infirmary; a cot and fresh blankets receive the wobbly Cleric. Dredburn will tend to Collado tonight. With luck and effective Heal checks, he will cure the sickening fever that lays the Cleric low.

Noomfoodle Gobbliegook Pann has ideas for Dredburn about defensive modifications. Casually mentioning his skill as a Professional Carpenter, Pann offers to mount brackets for the easy placement and removal of wall-spikes; and to kit out his shop entrance with cutting-edge trapdoor technology. Dredburn is sold. Builder-Rogue-Ranger Pann spends the rest of the day on the project.

Wee Jack, able to read now thanks to Sister Janus’s tutelage, eyes the Jobs Board posted outside Administrator Lumberg’s office. Collecting firewood pays a surprising return. There is time enough before sunset for Wee Jack to make two round-trips out to the farmstead. On each visit he salvages fifty pounds of scrap wood from the derelict structures. Wee Jack manages to avoid zombie encounters, and ends up paid more than Pann was for his side-job.

Wracked with sweats and shivers, Collado cannot find rest. Sister Janus pays him an unexpected visit while Dredburn is outside with his contractor. Afforded privacy, she proposes a confidential deal to the ailing Cleric, regarding an artifact his party may discover in the mysterious church to the east. Hers is a simple request – Collado is lucid enough to ask questions, and is satisfied with her answers. He agrees. The pact struck, Janus leaves Collado to his slow recovery.

The Gnomes take dinner at the main hall after their work-day is ended. Jenny is not her usual self; she is edgy and distracted. When asked, she admits to Wee Jack her anxiety over tomorrow’s full moon. At the full and new moons, the Undead are more numerous and much more active and dangerous, even in daylight. She advises the group not to leave Riddley’s Crown tomorrow. Staying within the enclave walls offers the only chance of survival.

The next morning is rainy and grey. Wee Jack and his Rogue-Ranger associate turn up their collars and step out into the miserable drizzle. They notice the main gate is set with extra barricading. Guard captain Norrick and all of his half-Orc deputies are up on the walls, on full alert. They call sit-reps down to Administrator Lumberg, who muses on Undead dispositions from his covered porch.

At the main hall, Pann and Wee Jack must knock and announce themselves before Jenny will unlock the door and admit them. Jere Collado is already at breakfast; Dredburn’s care has broken the illness and set the Cleric on the road to recovery. Jenny seems relieved to have armed patrons this morning. In a corner the three Emissaries of Retribution hunch silently over their food, ignoring Pann and his friends.

After a quick meal Wee Jack climbs up to the walkway along the stacked stone wall of Riddley’s Crown. The view is surprising. Normally he might locate four or five scattered groups of wandering zombies. Today, however, under the influence of an unseen Full Moon, the grassy plains to the east, north, and south of the enclave are crawling with hundreds of zombies and wights. From the wooden palisade thirty feet from the stone wall, far out into the low grey mists, horrifying crowds of Undead shamble aimlessly. It is an unsettling sight.

At the western watch, a half-Orc guardsmen identifies an urgent new threat. Wee Jack dashes around to see a zombie Ogre, Large-sized and dragging an even larger great-club, shuffling toward the enclave. A smaller, humanoid creature trails close behind it, goading it on. At the moment this undead Ogre is about a hundred yards away. But unlike other zombies, this Ogre is clearly intent on Riddley’s Crown.

Wee Jack descends from the gangway and tells Noomfoodle Gobbliegook Pann and Jere Collado what he has seen. Just then, two of the half-Orc guards start to loose arrows in the Ogre’s direction. Administrator Lumberg is quite worried. This Ogre, known to them as “Wall-Breaker”, is sighted from time to time at the full or new moon and wreaks havoc with the enclave’s defenses. It has never breached the stone wall – but nothing else has come as close to doing so.

Lumberg offers the party several thousand gold to go kill the zombie Ogre. He ups his offer when they decline. With hundreds of Undead in every direction, the group knows venturing out right now would be foolish beyond compare. Pann and his associates will instead defend from the wall.

Wee Jack, Collado, and Pann ascend to the west outlook. Wall-Breaker is already busting up the wooden palisade-wall with it great-club. Arrows fail to deter or even interest the creature. It is unusually fixated on its destructive task, even for a mindless brute of a zombie. Wee Jack notices its humanoid companion again – a Wight. It seems to be commanding the zombie Ogre.

Collado fires his crossbow at Wall-Breaker. Yelling might be more damaging. The zombie Ogre smashes through the palisade; now it rakes broad blows across the dirt, knocking away dozens of wooden spikes. Rogue-Ranger Pann hustles along the walkway further from the huge Zombie and blows a whistle. This provides a momentary distraction. Wee Jack straddles the wall and clambers down its outer face to ground level. The Wight, sheltered behind some intact wooden fence, does not appear to have noticed.

The zombie Ogre loses interest in Pann’s shrill distraction, and returns its dull attention to the stone wall. The rotted creature hefts its great-club and delivers slow, crashing blows onto the top edge of the wall. Stones shudder; some fall away as the mortar cracks and crumbles. Those defending the wall can do little but watch. Cleric Collado had no restful sleep last night and is without spells. Pann has an ineffective short-bow, and his melee skill about fifteen feet short of useful.

Creeping through the spike forest below the wall, Wee Jack surprises the Wight and deals it hefty damage. The Gnome Barbarian gets his digs in before suffering a pair of Negative Levels with some claw wounds. He retreats and scampers back up the wall to safety. In his place, Noomfoodle Gobbliegook Pann drops ungracefully off the side of the wall, and skirts around the oblivious zombie Ogre to engage the Wight on his own.

Catching his breath on the wall’s walkway, depleted Wee Jack hears his name called from behind and below. He looks down to the smithy, where Lanna Riis wants his attention. She tosses up an item for him. It is the Javelin of Lightning for sale in her shop – a one-shot magical weapon that emulates a Lightning Bolt spell when thrown. It is a donation to the war effort – but Riis suggests (or warns) that the Gnome Barbarian will owe her for it if he wastes the attempt.

Moving clear of Wall-Breaker’s bulk, the Gnome Barbarian gets a clear line on the Wight clawing at Pann. The magical javelin’s aim is true; Wee Jack sends bright, blue-white lightning streaking from his hand. The sizzling bolt blasts the Wight and leaves it teetering, alive only by the barest sliver of undeath. Pann swiftly finishes it off.

The Wight’s influence removed, it is easy for Pann to attract Wall-Breaker’s attention with the whistle. The zombie Ogre turns from the wall, swatting wooden spikes out of its way. The Rogue-Ranger dashes away through the field of spikes, and scampers back up the wall. Unsure of what it was doing, the zombie Ogre lurches back out onto the plains, leaving another hole in the wooden palisade wall as it goes.

A portion of the enclave’s wall is significantly damaged, but not breached. Other zombies took notice of Wall-Breaker’s efforts but none of them take up the siege. The group comes down off the wall, content to shelter out of sight for a while. Wee Jack seeks out Sister Janus for a Restoration.

High alert remains in effect through the afternoon and into the evening. Extra torches are placed on structures and the inside of the wall. All doors are kept locked and windows closed and covered. Wee Jack volunteers for a turn on watch. There remains a frightful lot of Undead out there; and a constant crowd of zombies loiters at the wooden fence, yearning to get in.

It is now evening on the 21st day of March, by the local calendar.

 

(end of Part 11)

 

Jere Collado is now Level 3.

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About d20horizons

D&D player.
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