Crown of the Dead [D&D v.3.5] – Part 14

This adventure was Friday June 19, 2015. B.P., E.G., C.H., and K.D. were present.

The party does not linger outside the church. Whatever those grotesque Undead were, they are more a challenge than Xorn and his friends can handle. Wee Jack supports Noomfoodle Gobbliegook Pann as the Ranger-Rogue struggles to walk. Just brought back from comatose, Pann has also suffered temporary Constitution loss.

The group has carefully picked their way through the weedy ruins at the edge of town when they come upon their friend Jacob Light-Bringer. The Cleric of Pelor bestows healing spells on his associates, though he cannot cure Pann’s temporary attribute damage. That will fall to Sister Janus back at the enclave.

Fortunately, the journey back to Riddley’s Crown is uneventful; the afternoon of the second day past the Full Moon is slipping towards evening. Soon the Undead will return to haunt the plains.

Sister Janus has few spells to offer when the party comes knocking; other visitors have already begged their share. Noomfoodle retires to a comfortable bedroll in the safety of his rented storefront-dwelling. Half-Orc Ranger Xorn takes a watch on the walls. Jacob visits Sister Janus. He politely listens to her ramblings while tidying up her wall of religious icons – of course shifting all the discs of Pelor to more prominent spots in the center of the collection.

Gnome Barbarian Wee Jack wanders into the main hall, instantly regretting the idea. Not only is overbearing Ranger Carson Readey there, but so too are all six Corinthians; and they are deep into their cups. Improbable supplies of red wine bottles arrive at the table from Jenny’s stores, to be hauled away empty minutes later. The Corinthians are half-drunk, boisterous and singing, hailing each other and tipping libations and drinking stiff draughts at even the mere mention of one another’s’ names – TIBIALIS ANTERIOR (NPC), PERONEUS BREVIS and his brother DIGITORUM (NPCs), LATERAL MALLEOUS (NPC), HALLUCIS LONGUS (NPC), and their leader, FLEXOR RETINACULUM (NPC). They misunderstand Wee Jack’s name as WEAJAX (still Wee Jack, played by E.G.) and pull him into their midst, pouring him drinks and refusing the Gnome’s attempts to pay his share.

Two hours later, much to Jenny’s envy, Wee Jack manages to excuse himself and escape the roaring party. His head spins a bit in the cold night air; more from the company than the wine. Jacob, Xorn, and Noomfoodle are asleep in the shop when Wee Jack lets himself in; the Gnome adds a log to the fireplace and pulls up a patch of floor.

Comes late morning the next day when the party stirs from sleep. Pann and his friends visit Sister Janus before even considering breakfast. She dutifully heals their afflictions. Xorn asks about the creatures in the church. Based on the collected descriptions provided by the Ranger and his fellows, Janus is confident they were Plague Blights – nasty, powerful, dangerous Undead. She advises the party not resume that fight until they are better equipped and more experienced. The party won’t try any time soon; maybe in two weeks, after the next lunar event.

The group is headed to breakfast when they are hailed from the gate watch. Temsz, this morning’s gate guard, reports an inbound group of civilians under attack by Undead south of the Riddley’s Crown, where the plain slopes down toward the bog. They need help.

No hesitation from the party. Wee Jack, Xorn, Jacob Light-Bringer, and Noomfoodle Gobbliegook Pann dash out the gate and sprint for the scene of conflict. They cover the distance quickly, Spotting a lopsided fight in progress. Nine humans, men and women in peasant outfits and carrying sacks and satchels, huddle in a terrified clump, clubs and pitchforks their only means of defense. A predatory pack of six zombies closes in, driven by insatiable hunger.

Xorn’s rescue party smashes into the Undead’s line, swift and unexpected. It turns out there are Wights disguised among the zombies, and Wee Jack is again their preferred target for Level Drain attacks. The Gnome Barbarian replies with steel. Xorn kills a Wight. Jacob and Noomfoodle position between the civilians and Undead; four civilians are down and the rest are close. Wee Jack corrals the survivors and urges them away from the fight.

Jacob’s friends gain the upper hand. Then, two of the slain civilians rise again as Wights, weak but dangerous in their own right. These are put to permanent rest, and the fight is done.

Wee Jack comes back as his friends search the Undead for valuables. Following behind, the peasants start digging graves for their two companions who remain dead. Xorn stops them from wasting their time.

The peasants are shaken from the experience, and from their losses. Their leader, JIM LANSKY (NPC), introduces himself and his surviving fellows – his sister CAROL (NPC), and fellow villagers STEVE (NPC), SUMMER (NPC), and BARRY (NPC). Summer and Barry were wounded by zombies. It is best they all get somewhere safe and seek medical attention.

Wee Jack believes the newcomers to be seasonal help, perhaps here to tend the garden. As they hike back to the enclave, Jim tells the party that he and his friends hail from a small village called Redmond. As the self-named REDMOND BRIGADE, they have come to hunt zombies.

This fact makes Wee Jack stop and stare.

Last year’s mediocre harvest and miserable winter tapped out Redmond’s insignificant funds. So, Lansky recruited neighbours to pool their resources and follow him to Riddley’s Crown. Here they hope to strike it rich fighting undead for their rumoured treasures. He says this while using his mundane pitchfork as a walking-stick, rough burlap clothes not even keeping out the chilly March breeze, let alone Wight claws or Ghoul teeth.

Jacob Light-Bringer is too polite to say what he thinks of their idea, though Noomfoodle isn’t. Xorn shakes his head with disbelief, words lost. Wee Jack is assembling a succinct condemnation of this scheme when they reach the enclave gate.

The group waits within the designated cone of the Detect Undead scan as the guard casts the spell from a ring. The experienced party checks their surroundings for ambush or threat; the newcomers marvel at the walls and defenses, oblivious to everything else.

Something is wrong. Half-Orc Temsz suddenly has a bow ready. He calls back to the other guards. The gate remains closed. Its keeper seems determined to keep it that way.

Pann’s group looks at each other, then at the villagers. The civilians’ confusion turns anxious. Jacob calls to the guard and asks the problem. Temsz points at the two injured arrivals, Summer and Barry. They are infected with the zombie plague. Enclave policy forbids their entrance.

Instinctively, everyone steps back from them. The two villagers are terrified; apart from superficial injuries, they appear completely normal. Jim, Carol, and Steve create a ruckus, demanding answers and talking all at once.

Only the two infected arrivals are banned from the enclave; the guards on the wall make that clear. The others may enter, warned that they may not bring the two infected persons with them on penalty of death. The peasants face a terrible dilemma, one with no good options.

Jacob and his friends trade looks – they have no idea what to do here.

It is now late morning on the 24th day of March, by the local calendar.

 

(end of Part 14)

 

 

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About d20horizons

D&D player.
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