Crown of the Dead [D&D v.3.5] – Part 28

This adventure was Friday October 30, 2015.  B.P., E.G., and C.H. were present.

The party jostles, swats, and smooths every article of clothing and armor.  They are desperate to make sure that none of those nasty centipedes escaped their fiery doom and hitched a ride.  Apart from the charbroiled ones H’ai-ch Q’a is snacking on from a saddlebag, the group is clean.

Thri-Kreen H’ai-ch Q’a and Human Cleric Jere Collado decide to Climb out of the well caverns and return to Riddley’s Crown.  The encounter with centipede swarms left Collado unsettled and H’ai-ch Q’a over-fed.  Gnome Barbarian Wee Jack, half-Orc Ranger Xorn, and Human Cleric of Pelor Jacob Light-Bringer want to keep exploring.  This tunnel they are in continues on past the bug-infested chamber.

The trio keeps precious lamp-oil close at hand as they crunch through the brittle carpet of dead centipedes and into uncharted territory.  The passageway is low and close, its walls smoothed by water that no longer flows here, winding erratically before opening into a large, irregularly-shaped cavern.  The cavern’s ceiling is twenty feet above them; their torchlight does not reach its far walls.

There is gear scattered on the firm sand – weapons, armor, a tempting drift of gold and silver coins.  There are no bodies visible.  That worries Wee Jack a bit.  The Barbarian brings up a cautious rear as the party spreads out into the new-found chamber.

Xorn, and only Xorn, sees his odd female half-Orc friend flittering among the treasures left lying about.  She looks giddy with excitement.  Xorn asks why she is in such a good mood – from what he can see, none of the items really stand out.

Jacob and Wee Jack beg their half-Orc friend’s pardon.  Xorn ignores them, focused on something they cannot see.

Solace, the female half-Orc projected into Xorn’s consciousness by the intelligent adamantine short-sword he possesses, wordlessly turns and points at the blackness further down the cavern.

Almost on cue, a swirling mass of dark rushes the party from that quadrant.  Cleric Jacob identifies the threat immediately –  a Wraith.  He tries to Turn it; the creature easily resists.  Wee Jack attacks, but without a magic weapon he is swinging hopelessly.  Xorn’s blade Solace is the only weapon that can damage this foe, and even then perhaps only half of the time because this evil is incorporeal.

The wraith rages among the three party members, unharmed by the Gnome or Cleric and occasionally stung by the Ranger’s blade.  The malevolent shroud of darkness drains Constitution when it hits, and it hits Jacob Light-Bringer a lot.  It evidently carries a special hate for Clerics of Pelor.

Xorn shouts to his coy half-Orc hallucination for some helpful advice on how best to defeat this evil.  Despite the urgency, Solace won’t give any more than a passing appraisal of the items that lay about waiting to be claimed.  Barbarian Wee Jack and Cleric Light-Bringer have no idea with whom Xorn is carrying on a heated, apparently one-sided, exchange.

With the Cleric as the wraith’s primary target and the Barbarian a secondary distraction, Xorn is able to focus on offense rather than defense.  His successful attacks begin to outnumber his near-misses.  When the shadowy figure finally breaks off and flees toward a wall to seek refuge, lucky Xorn lands a quick thrust of his blade.  The magic shortsword permanently unravels the shadowy tendrils of the wraith.

Now safe to do so, Jacob Light-Bringer satisfies the urgent need to lie down.  He was hit several times by the ghostly claws of the wraith, and finds himself with a single point of Constitution left un-drained.  Another hit and Jacob would have become a Wraith.  The Cleric is exhausted beyond anything he has ever felt.  Wee Jack thinks Jacob looks like he took a few levels of Pale Master.

The treasure in the room is theirs.  Wee Jack and Xorn collect the gold, silver, gems, and valuable items – including a Darkwood shield, full- and half-plate armor, and a masterwork bastard sword.

The able-bodied party members explore the wraith’s domain while Cleric Jacob sprawls on the ground, conserving his energy.  At the far end of the cavern, a slope of rubble suggests a caved-in passageway.  This chamber is a dead-end.

Two more unexplored passages remain in this dry cistern network.  Cleric Jacob reminds his friends that he is in no condition to keep exploring.  This is fine by Xorn – the Ranger plans instead to return to the goblin-keep.  By now, the Quaal’s Feather Token boat should have expired.  Jacob protests, but since the party is in the area, logic dictates they make this side-trip.

*  *  *

What should have been an easy climb out of the well, and a brisk half-hour hike to Eastmarch Tower, instead takes an hour and a half.  Jacob Light-Bringer has his usual strength and agility, but his endurance suffers terribly.  Frequently he must stop and rest.  Wee Jack and Xorn move at his pace, engaging zombies to entertain themselves during the Cleric’s down-times.

As Xorn hoped, the gallant sailing-ship he summoned literally out of thin air, has vanished.  Left behind is a distinct concavity in the clearing.  The flattened corpses of zombies and wights stand out in gruesome color against the dull brown earth.  The Ranger and Wee Jack excavate these remains while Light-Bringer catches his breath against the tower’s outer wall.  They recover coins, two potions, two masterwork weapons, and set of +1 Bracers of Armor.

The group suddenly needs a Listen check.  The Ranger hears something in the forest, quietly advancing on their position – likely Undead.  Not something they want to fight with a frail Cleric to protect.  After a quick final Search of the boat crater, the adventurers leave the forest for Riddley’s Crown.

It is now early evening on the 1st day of April, by the local calendar.


(end of Part 28)




About d20horizons

D&D player.
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