Crown of the Dead [D&D v.3.5] – Part 35, part II.

This adventure was Friday February 5, 2016. C.H., T.F., E.G., K.D., B.P., and A.T. were present.  C.H. ran NPC character SY Green in this adventure.  This is the continuation of the same Part 35 adventure.

Wizard Aziz al-Azhar, Cleric Jere Collado, and Cleric Jacob Light-Bringer wake from unconsciousness. They are not in the catacombs under the ruined temple of Pelor.  Above and around them is a low, white canvas tent.  Its walls billow gently in a breeze, and its roof glows with unexpectedly high sun for what should be late afternoon.  Green grass, flattened by foot traffic, is the floor.

The three adventurers have been laid out on beds; specifically, two Small-sized cots for each of them. Halflings Tim Threefoot and Drew are nearby, on their own single cots.  The Cleric of Yondalla and the Suicide Blonde have not awoken, but it is clear they are alive and comfortably asleep.

The party members are stiff from slumber, and nurse headaches from the massive burst of subdual energy released when the evil crystal was destroyed. They have all been healed back to full health.  Armor, weapons, and packs, are at their bedsides.  In a corner of the tent, all the treasures plundered from the temple are stacked on a table for them.

Jere and his friends count their numbers. It is only the five of them.  Jacob remembers half-Orcs Krusch and Bombast, and Human Cleric Amber Renn, were near Sy Green when the Elf dropped the Portable Hole into the Bag of Holding.  Collado assumes all four died in the explosion.  That flash of white light is the last thing any of them remembers.

The tent-flap pulls aside. A Gnome enters.  He is middle-aged, and wears dark clothes marked in places with a curious white insignia, that of a fist holding a dagger.  This Gnome is startled to see his charges awake, but startled in a pleasant way.  He introduces himself as TORVIN (NPC), their medic.  Torvin implores the party to wait a moment while he fetches his commander, then he ducks back outside.

When Torvin returns with his leader, some of the party immediately recognize him – Myles Broadbow, the suspicious Gnome that Cleric Jacob tailed through Riddley’s Crown late one night last week. Jere Collado met Broadbow at Jenny’s dining hall the next evening.

Myles wears the same uniform as Torvin. He re-introduces himself by his real name, MYLES FERNTREE (NPC) – lead agent of a local SMALL WHITE HAND operational cell.  The Small White Hand is a secret Gnome cult, a special detail that gathers intelligence and researches technology for use in their peoples’ centuries-old conflict with Goblins.  Myles and his team have a hidden underground bunker not far from Riddley’s Crown, a remote outpost to monitor Goblin activity and to test new, experimental weapons on plentiful Undead targets.

Three days ago, their research mage ‘GENIR ZOMACK (NPC) was shaken by an unusual, massive magic-energy burst – more powerful than anything she’d felt before. Zomack narrowed the source of the pulse to the ruined temple of Pelor.  The Small White Hand were aware of Valiant Light and its coalition on quest there, and this magic anomaly warranted investigation.

Ferntree’s team cautiously raided the temple and its subterranean levels. Contrary to reliable intelligence, they found no active Undead anywhere within.  Only uncountable numbers of rotted corpses, and evidence of others slain in recent combat.  Anything that was Undead is now simply dead.

The Small White Hand found and evacuated survivors to this medical tent, set up in a camp outside the temple’s ruined village. They expected zombies to attack when night came, but none did.  In fact, since the energy burst was detected, their scouts have not seen any Undead on the plains.

As they waited for the Humans and Halflings to wake from their comatose state, the Gnomes searched the ruined temple, recovering the coalition’s haul of treasure for safekeeping. They also found and respectfully interred those adventurers who lost their lives down there.  Torvin’s count of the dead does not include their four friends lost in the explosion.

Jere, Aziz, and Jacob relate the events as they remember them, up to the explosion. They are grateful to Commander Ferntree and his team for the rescue and healing, offering compensation from their haul of treasure.  Myles will accept none of it.  The Gnome only asks for their promise of secrecy concerning the Small White Hand’s presence here.  Torvin expects the Halflings should awaken before long.  When the party is able to return to their enclave, the Small White Hand will quickly fold up camp and drop out of sight.

With hour, Drew and Tim Threefoot wake up. Aziz al-Azhar fills them in on the details as Jere Collado and Jacob Light-Bringer catalog and bundle up the treasure.  Soon the coalition veterans are ready to depart for Riddley’s Crown.  They bid Myles Ferntree and his team farewell.  Their paths will not cross again.

The march back to the enclave is slow, burdened as the survivors are with valuables and with heavy hearts at the loss of so many friends. There is optimism, however – Cleric Threefoot is certain that the half-Orcs, Sy Green, and his friend Amber were not killed in the white flash of light.

The specific action of the Portable Hole dropped into the Bag of Holding tore a rift between their Prime Material Plane and the Astral Plane. The temporary portal sucked in everything that was close by.  The evil crystal in the Bag of Holding would have been destroyed, and the Angel of Decay that was linked to it.  But their friends likely survived the experience, and are lost somewhere on the Astral Plane.

Threefoot clearly holds Cleric Renn in high regard; with confidence and certainty, the Cleric of Yondalla vows to use Valiant Light’s share of the coalition’s spoils to mount a Planar rescue expedition and find her.  And, hopefully, the others.

Halfling Drew is the only one left of the Suicide Blondes. What she plans to do with the considerable wealth she inherits, remains her business.  She is very quiet on the hike to Riddley’s Crown.

A few hour after leaving the Gnomes’ camp, the enclave of Riddley’s Crown comes into view. Even at this distance, it is clear a lot has changed in a short time.  The main gates are open.  Unfamiliar people work in the garden, repairing the fences and tilling the soil.  Others have set up tents outside the enclave’s defenses.

Jenny is the first to see the returning adventurers. The energetic half-Elf has been outside the walls, safely foraging for the first time since she settled here.  She abandons her baskets and runs to greet Collado and his friends.  She has much to ask, and much to tell.

Evidently, Valiant Light’s coalition accomplished something historic on their quest. Norrick’s enclave guards, and scouts of the Lanil Tribe, have not seen any Undead on the plains since after  Lanna Riis and Administrator Lumberg each reported a distant but strong magic-related disturbance a few days ago.  From the bog to the forest edge, and past the abandoned hamlets east of here, the Undead are now completely absent.  Only inside the forest, and west at the border to Necromancer territories, have scouts spotted zombies or the like.

Enclave residents sought Sister Janus’s insight, but the old Cleric has gone missing. No one has seen her since the enclave’s spellcasters sensed the strange magic event.  Her cabin is vacant.  For some reason, she must have left that night, taking only a few items, including certain religious icons from her walls and shelves – those of Nerull and Wee Jas.

Clerics Light-Bringer and Collado exchange glances. They know Sister Janus wanted the evil crystal artifact, and must have known it was destroyed.  The old woman was not what she appeared to be.  What consequence this brings, and to where she fled, is anyone’s guess.

Jenny is excited. This all feels like a new beginning.  The annual crew of Springtime laborers are here to plant and tend to crops until harvest.  A company of brewers and tavern staff arrived just the other day – a cadre of entrepreneurs re-opening the Old Oak Tavern.  Far from concerned by competition, Jenny is delighted to have them here.  And many more adventurers have showed up to kick off the enclave’s usual busy season, though they will be disappointed to find the immediate vicinity free of Undead.

There is no longer the formality of a Detect Undead scan as Jacob, Drew, Tim, Aziz, and Jere receive a heroes’ welcome at the open gates of Riddley’s Crown. Norrick and his men, Riis, Dredburn, Administrator Lumberg and others give their congratulations and thanks.  There is another, off to the side, timid and quiet, not seen before.  It is GNORM (NPC), the resident of the parked caravan in the corner of Riddley’s Crown, an old Gnome Paladin, the only survivor of the Undead castle north of the forest.  He watches, nodding his approval when he is noticed by the party members.

The enclave has a new energy to it, an openness that goes beyond the wide welcoming entrance, the new and unfamiliar arrivals with their look of brave optimism, the sunny afternoon skies, the care and attention bringing the tavern to life.

When finally alone in the comfort of their rented cabin, the party divides up the treasures according to the agreements of the coalition. Lanna Riis will have a lot of Identify spells to cast. For now the values can be safely approximated.  Drew leaves with her share the next morning. She says little to anyone in the way of good-byes.

Tim Threefoot plans to leave soon. He not only has the share for Valiant Light, but also the share owed those lost on the Astral Plane.  The party trusts him to do right with it.

The Cleric of Yondalla offers Clerics Collado and Light-Bringer the opportunity to join him as members of Valiant Light, starting a new three-member chapter. Four members, when they find Amber Renn.  Collado declines the offer, but Jacob thinks he’ll take Tim up on it, and help find those who are missing.

As to Aziz al-Azhar, there are still Undead in the forest, and to the west, and the intrigue of the Necromancer lands. His belt pouches and packs overflow with riches, same as his associates, but there is more arcane research he would do.  The Wizard will stay here a while longer.

Two days later, Jere Collado sees off Tim Threefoot and Jacob Light-Bringer, who are headed back to the cities of the east. Jacob Light-Bringer has the adamantine short-sword owned first by Xorn and then by Thri-Kreen H’ai-ch Q’a.  Merely holding it stung Jacob for temporary negative levels, and it’s not his style of weapon anyways, but the Cleric is sure someone will buy it.  For whatever chaotic effect it holds, it is a nice weapon.  Jacob and Jere will see each other again; they part ways looking forward to that day.

With a wave, the two Clerics disappear below the hill toward the bog. Collado watches a minute longer, amazed by the profound change in the land.  As he turns to go back to his cabin, he Spots something off to the southwest, meandering in the grasses.  It is a donkey – specifically, his donkey, the same one Jere brought here almost a month ago.  The beast of burden swishes its tail and grazes the tall green grass, without a care in the world.  Collado has to laugh.

It is the 11th day of April, by the local calendar.


(end of the campaign)


About d20horizons

D&D player.
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