Crown of the Dead [D&D v.3.5] – Part 26

This adventure was Friday October 16, 2015. B.P., E.G., T.F., and C.H. were present.

Cleric Jere Collado wonders why the half-Orc enclave guards never ask a finder’s-fee for the interesting groups of Undead they bring to his party’s attention. Cleric Jacob Light-Bringer assumes that spotter-duty is part of the guards’ job description.  Half-Orc Ranger Xorn claims it’s a “brotherhood of half-Orcs” thing.  Gnome Barbarian Wee Jack tells his friends to shut up while he’s trying to shoot.

Twenty minutes ago, the party was stepping out of Sister Janus’s storefront when Blentz, a guard on watch, passed down word of a noteworthy group of zombies to the south-west of Riddley’s Crown. “Noteworthy” in that one zombie is wearing a unique-looking helmet; and the rest have quality gear.

Now, the party hangs back as Wee Jack shells that same group with crossbow bolts. The enclave guard wasn’t wrong – the pack of Undead he indicated certainly look an appealing mark.  A richer score than the usual unarmed-and-half-naked wanderers.

The Gnome is a decent shot even at three range-intervals, or about two hundred and fifty feet. His Piercing shots aren’t doing any obvious damage to the shambling zombies; Wee Jack just wants to test for Wights, who might react to injury.  The Barbarian burns through his entire pouch of crossbow bolts without identifying any wights in the group.  He sincerely hopes there aren’t any.

The party waits until their enemy, six zombies in total, gets within thirty feet. Then Ranger Xorn casts Entangle, centered on his own group as a defensive measure.  The grasses and weeds try to ensnare the party and anything else within the spell’s radius.

Jacob Light-Bringer casts Consecrate on his position, and then Bless. Jere Collado casts Divine Vigor on himself, then Protection From Evil on Xorn.  Making a Reflex save, Collado is able to leap out of the entangling area and retain his mobility.

The approaching zombies display too much situational awareness – the three Humans of their lot are, in fact, wights. They direct the Elf zombie and two Dwarf zombies away from the area of entanglement, seeking to engage Wee Jack on one edge of it and Xorn on the other.

Xorn’s spell is almost more a hindrance than a help when the Undead don’t mindlessly march into it. But the party prevails, thanks in part to offensive ray spells from Light-Bringer and Wee Jack’s trusty axe.

The Undead have an assortment of decent quality weapons, a nice leather satchel, a really nice oilskin tricorn hat, and the helmet noticed from afar – a Thieving Helmet. The party examines this helm, with its oversize, ram-horn-like listening tubes that channel sound to its wearer and grant a bonus to Listen checks.  It is the dumbest thing they have seen in a good long time.  Xorn constructs a grim victory-totem using the dead Dwarf’s corpse, and plants this idiotic-looking helmet on its head.

They bundle up weapons and armor worth selling. Wee Jack, again weakened by a Negative Level, swears off taking hunting advice from enclave guards who cannot tell wights from zombies.

The sun is high in the sky, if obscured by low and misty clouds. The Gnome Barbarian is out of crossbow ammunition and there will be little of it for sale in the enclave.  There were, however, piles of bolts and arrows at the goblin’s keep, free for the taking.  And the party can check in and see if any goblins have returned.  There is plenty of time left today and nothing better to do with it.

An hour later, the four adventurers stand at the front door of Eastmarch Tower. Xorn, Collado, and Light-Bringer carefully watch the dark forest for signs of trouble, as Wee Jack effortlessly scales the mossy stone wall to the roof, and enters that way.  The Barbarian descends the tower’s levels with decreasing caution; it is evident no goblins or Undead found their way back in.

At the main floor, Wee Jack disarms the heavy-crossbow trap they left trained on the door, then opens it to admit his friends. The group pokes around the garbage the goblins left behind, as their Gnome fills his belt pouches with the correct size of crossbow ammunition.  There is far more here than he needs but Wee Jack will take all he can reasonably carry.  In the wilderness, one is better off having and not needing, than the reverse.

Scavenging on his own on an upper floor, Xorn is startled by his mysterious female half-Orc admirer. She is perched halfway down the curved staircase from the upper floor, watching the Ranger pick through a goblin’s discarded rucksack.  Xorn was alone just moments ago when he re-checked his surroundings.  The half-Orc Ranger is beginning to suspect that this strange woman is not what she appears to be.

The half-Orc woman looks bored, and admits as much. She wants to have fun.  With eager energy she tells the Ranger there are a half-dozen wights and more than fifteen zombies converging on the tower, at this very moment, from the deep dark woods.  Xorn would really make her day shine if he’d charge outside and kill them.  But Ranger Xorn is already headed downstairs, for the sake of his party’s safety rather than her lust for violence.

Clerics Light-Bringer and Collado are just about to step outside to wait for Xorn in the fresh air. Wee Jack plans to lock up behind them and exit the tower the way he came in.  Their Ranger friend arrives in time to warn of an ambush in progress.

Sure enough, on opening the door a crack the party sees about two dozen zombies. The gruesome horde is just emerging from the treeline and has their dead eyes set on the front entrance.

Offense is the best defense; no-one wants to be holed up a the tower surrounded by zombies and wights. Xorn drains a Potion of Hide From Undead and dashes out the entrance into the clearing.  Nothing out here can see him.

Jere Collado follows, casting Consecrate on a circle of bare dirt in the middle of the horde, and following up with Holy Storm on the same spot. Jacob Light-Bringer makes a bold Turning attempt, which drives off a couple zombies.  As the lowest-level party member, Jacob retreats back into the watchtower after casting Protection From Evil on Wee Jack.

The Undead advance on the party. Xorn’s intuition differentiates wight from zombie; this he relates to his friends.  Then, waiting on just the right moment and precise positioning of Undead as they converge, Xorn makes his move.

From his pocket the Ranger draws forth the Quaal’s Feather Token he found a week ago. With one swift motion he throws it into the air above the horde while triggering its effect.  At the peak of its arc, the tiny metal figurine transforms into a forty-foot-long, swan-like boat.

The massive boat crashes down with earth-shaking force, instantly crushing a third of the Undead under it. It’s exactly what Xorn wanted to happen, and he finds it hilarious.  Even his friends, in melee with zombies and wights at the tower door, can’t help but have a moment.

The Ranger’s strange half-Orc friend pokes her head up from the stern of the listing, landlocked ship. She wears a purple eye-patch and matching purple admiral’s bicorne.  Amused by Xorn’s ingenuity, the half-Orc piratess half-sternly reprimands him for a lack of tried-and-true stab ‘n slash.  She motions him at remaining zombies and wights, then ducks back down out of sight.

Xorn breaks his Hide From Undead when he attacks the nearest wight. Wee Jack is half-covered in gore, still holding his own against the press of zombies.  Collado aids the Gnome in keeping the Undead back of the tower’s door, which may be their only escape route if things go poorly.  Able to help if only from the rear, Jacob Light-Bringer contributes spells; a Cure Light Wounds and Magic Vestment for Wee Jack, and Shield of Faith on Xorn.

Having the swan-boat drop in on the fight was the true turning point. With so many Undead flattened to pancakes, the rest of the horde could be driven back against the graceful white hull and cut down.

Wee Jack is again hurt by Negative Level damage; Collado and Xorn are not in much better shape. What treasure they can collect, they do.  Ranger Xorn makes a point of hacking off all the wight hands he can find, tossing these in a sack.

An unknown quantity of loot was pounded into the dirt under the ship’s keel. The party can return and claim whatever is left behind after the single-use token’s effect expires tomorrow.  Now, they must make for Riddley’s Crown for Restorations and to stay ahead of sunset.

It is now late afternoon on the 31st day of March, by the local calendar.


(end of Part 26)




About d20horizons

D&D player.
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