Tempest Rising

Forking Dragons
Or, a hole full of horror

dragon_battle_by_raymondminnaar-d56nywl.jpgWhere only moments before stood a ghastly bugbear, now there was fiery, scaled winged beast. A brutish voice came out of its freshly fanged mouth, promising not to dismember our heroes — as he had plans for their corpses.

The party pulled back into the cavern scattering, and tried to heal themselves as best they could. The dragon bounded after them and breathed a gout of flame, pushing Celeste to the verge of death. Luix, Saerin and Kallius closed on the creature, and the others circled around to support their attacks. Luix crashed down with his flail but much of the attack was absorbed by the dragon’s armor. Kallius disrupted the undead dragon with his magic.

The embattled dragon lashed out with fangs, claws and wings. Searin dropped and Luix was terribly gouged. Boomah reached and grabbed up the ranger’s trident, and held the enchanted weapon out for the northman. Even Celeste joined in the fight, using her curing powers to harm the undead monstrosity. They all worked to give Luix the best possible opening on the creature, and he stabbed the magical trident into — and through — the dragon.

The creature slumped, and transformed back into its original bugbear form. Searching about, they retrieved scaly hide armor from the ghost barbarian as well as an elf bane morningstar. The dragon shaman carried a necklace with two large rune-engraved fangs, one that was burnt and smoldering. He also had an enchanted hide shirt, a wand of resist fire, and a pearl of power.

cave_of_miracles_by_aomori-d6y6rph.jpgLooking deeper into the cavern, they found a deep pit that was being excavated by the zombies. At the bottom Boomah some kind of disc shape covered with markings. He called the magus over to check it out, and he collapsed at the site. When he awoke, he was unsure of what happened but did know that a series of smaller runic writings were carved into the disc in the shape of the primal rune for dragon.

They retreated back to the shrine of Aerin to treat their many wounds. The next day they returned to the mine, and noted that the chunks of black slime were not coming out at the same pace as before. The followed the trench back in, and noticed that it, too was flowing like before. When they reached the large cavern, they saw that the pool of slime had dripped back into the pit and the disc was now covered by a layer of slime.

Searching the rest of the mine, they came upon a dispatched a lone ghoul. Further on, they found a den filled with furs and choice bits of carrion. They also found two heavy chests, which they decided were trapped. Unfortunately, they were unable to disarm the trap and field the area with noxious smoke.

When the smoke cleared, the found a Darkwood Buckler, Masterwork Chainmail, Masterwork Darkwood Shield, heavy wooden, a Potion of Levitate, a Potion of Enlarge perso, a Climber’s kit, a Potion of Jump, a Potion of Shield of faith a Masterwork Hand Crossbow, 3 Tigereyes, a Freshwater (irregular) pearl, Azurite 7gp, 4 Blue quartz, and 67 pieces carved obsidian, pp: 6, gp: 71, sp: 860, cp: 6600.

They gathered up their loot, and decided to return to Wytchport and ask others what should be done next.

Enter the Dragon
Or, Is that a tail in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?

formofthedragon02.jpgOur story opened in a darkened passage, our heroes fresh for defeating the oily black ooze and its zombified host. Realizing that the goal lay further ahead, they pushed forward.

Boomah scouted in front, following the stream of filth that came from deeper into the cliff. He quickly came upon a large open cave, and saw that the stream widened into a wide, low lake of the horrible slime. He also noted the signs of undeath hiding behind two piles of rubble. He lobbed a bomb and lit up the area, splashing two humanoid figures that were lying in wait.

He scampered back to the group and reported what he saw. They waited for a charge, which did not come. Boomah and Saerin chose to move forward. Saerin reached the chamber, and was attacked by lizardfolk ghast that was hiding around the bend. The other beast had been slithering in the water and rushed out at the ranger. Boomah was standing by, and lobbed a bomb at the foes.

Battle was joined, and the goblin was paralyzed the enemy. Luix and Kallius rushed up, and a herd of slime-covered zombies came shambling in to join the fight. Our heroes were clustered tight, and when the felled zombies exploded in filth allies were harmed.

Slowly the mindless zombies were being overcome, and our heroes were gaining advantage. Another fiery bomb struck four of the foes, and things were looking bright. But then, a blood-curdling howl echoed around the chamber and a fearsome bugbear ghast showed himself on a pile of rubble.

He and his ghoulish companion charged Saerin. He quickly fell to their combined attacks. At the far end of the passage, a ball of flame burst into existence. Boomah got excited to ‘play’ with it and ran down the passage to get a closer look. When he got there, he noticed a ghoul rushing toward him and another undead figure in the shadows.

The ghoul attacked while the ball rolled forward in an attempt to block the passage. The goblin looked up, and the shadowy figure’s large serpentine eyes staring at him. He shook off the compulsion, and fired a bomb at him, to no affect.

Kallius cast mirror image to confuse his enemies, and engage the massive bugbear. The beast managed to pierce the veil and struck the magus. Kallius danced to the side, but the enemies’ followed on his heels to flank him. Again, the creature’s morningstar bore down, bypassing the illusion and sending the elf crashing to the cave floor.

Dremahl rushed into the cave and stabilized his failed ally. Celeste channeled her divine power to help bring him back to the light.

Boomah decided that this was not a fight for him, and ran back to the group. Luis and Saerin had taken out the remaining enemies and only had the ghastly bugbear to destroy. It fought fiercely, but in the end the northerner’s flail shattered the animated corpse and returned it to the earth.

They turned to Boomah’s threat and Saerin dropped the remaining ghoul. Leaving only the shadowy figure with hypnotic eyes.

Before it could react, Boomah launched an alchemical loogie at the creatures feet, and stuck it in place. Seeing the group beginning to move against it, the undead bugbear clutched a tooth around its neck. While the party stood in surprise, it began to shift and change.

It let out a roar as wings and a tail burst out from its torso, and ghast transformed into a dragon before their eyes.

A River (of Slime) Runs Through It
Or, A new definition of pain and suffering, as you are slowly digested over a thousand years.

Sarlacc-BTM-DB.pngAfter a quick discussion about leaving unchecked paths behind them, our heroes moved down the right-hand passage toward the fleeing figure. Boomah scouted ahead in the darkness and spotted a chasm crossed by a plank bridge. He also found a large basket filled with rotting carcasses.

He went back and gathered his comrades, and then flung a large chunk of meat into the crevasse. Crunching and smacking sounds were then heard from deep in the pit. They decided to rush across the bridge one at a time, after the goblin appeased whatever was below with tossed meat. Kallius quickly stepped across unhindered, but when Celeste tried to follow a tentacle reached up, breached her sanctuary protection, and grabbed her legs.

Saerin rushed forward and jumped down on the creature below, slashing at it with his sword. It tried to bite at him, but slipped and dropped them both deeper into the narrow breach, and Saerin tumbled int the sludge at the bottom. Luix bravely followed, dropping on the beast and sending it to the bottom.

The others had gathered close to the edge, and the foul monster spewed forth a jet of bile, chunks of meat and bone. This proved too much for the stout goblin, who has sickened by the expulsion. Deep in the pit, the undead horror proved no match for the combined attacks of the ranger and the northman— as well as the channeled divinity of Dremahl. They quickly bashed it to pieces, sending bits splashing around the rocky walls.

The two climbed out and they continued their investigation. Again, Boomah scouted in front and spotted a group of huddled creatures behind two upturned wheelbarrows. From his hiding place near the corner, he lobbed a fiery bomb which splashed the group of zombies before he fled back to the group.

Our heroes charged, and Saerin was caught in a volley of crossbow bolts from the creatures beyond. Boomah through another bomb, and was shot at by another zombie. He noted that two of the barricaded enemies were armored and moving more quickly and the shambling zombies. Remembering the explosive demise of previous zombies, our heroes pulled up short and tried to dispatch their foes from range. Kallius repeatedly attempted to disrupt the undead, while the zombies clambered over the barricade. One of the ghouls leaped over the barrow and jumped at Saerin. The other picked up a crossbow and fired into the goblin.

Celeste summoned a small fire elemental that raged through the undead ranks, and allowed the warriors to flank the enemy. One by one the enemies fell, and out heroes were once again victorious. The enemies had no treasure on them, but they noted that their weapons and equipment were modern, and that one of the barrows had been built in the past few years.

Moving onward, the followed the trench of foul runoff deeper into the complex. Many passages opened along the left side, but the group stayed closed to the trench and followed the right-hand wall. Boomah tried to clamber over the rocks and rubble to avoid the path, but it proved to difficult to avoid the patches of black slime that seemed to be crawling about.

245_Trioxin_by_Fetus_Man.jpgIn fact, as they moved deeper in they came upon what looked like a large patch of slime blocking the channel. Peering closer, it lurched up in the form of a humanoid covered in the black ooze. It struck out at the ranger, slamming him hard and sapping his strength. Others soon came to his defense, and they saw that the slime merely covering a zombie beneath. Dremahl channeled divinity and the creature shriveled before it power.

The warriors targeted the body underneath and shattered the zombie, causing the slime to ooze down and spread across the cave floor. Our heroes pulled back— disrupting, channeling and burning the spreading slime as best they could. And soon they were successful, as the mass broke into smaller pieces or dissipated completely before their assault.

Our heroes decided to keep pressing, following the runoff trench back to its origin.

'Rocket' from the Crypt
Or, Rotting Raccoons

Zombeavers1.jpgStepping away from the fallen horse, our heroes move to explore the rest of Omaro out-buildings. They came to the manor house, and noted that first floor had nearly rotted away from summer floods. So the group retreated to the outer wall and lowered Boomah through a hole in the roof.

Inside the rotting building, he saw that it seemed to have been looted on several occasions. When he entered the corner chamber he came upon two heavy rodents wreaking of death. Before they could charge, he lobbed a fiery bomb and set them both ablaze. Then he fled.

He was chased down the hall shouting for his friends to retrieve him. The one remaining rodent shook off the fire, but was destroyed before he could strike a foe. The group quickly searched the building, and discovered that one of the banners hanging on the building radiates abjuration magic.

The next building they checked was once a barracks. This building showed signs of recent repair work, and inside they found rotted bodies of both soldiers and humanoids. Closer inspection revealed that all the bodies had wounds of different ages, suggesting that a battle took place between undead forces.

The building offered no loot, so they moved on to planning how they would investigate the opening behind the waterfall. They noted that the slimy black substance that oozed around the flooded plain seemed to be coming from this aperture. The discussed using the canoes to reach the mouth, but in the end decided to breach the opening on foot.

They sloshed through waist-deep swamp water and through the draining fall, and found the opening beyond. It looked to them like a natural cavern that had been expanded over the years with a flat rock floor and a trench running along the right-side wall. Slow-moving sludge fills the trench and ribbons of the black slim run through it.

Our heroes tried to keep clear of the slimy discharge and moved down the tunnel into the cliff. Saerin and Boomah took the lead, and the ranger saw a shifting shadow just before he turned a corner. This gave him enough warning to react before a quartet of zombies lurking there could attack. His first strike sliced an enemy deep to the bone, and the rotting fiend exploded as it fell — showering him in bones and filth. Kallius and Luix and rushed to aid the elf, and Boomah stepped back and readied bombs.

Napalm_Zombie_close_up_Shangri-La_CoDBO.pngThe magus first attack also felled the shambling foe, and more splintering bones and meat filled the small chamber. Boomah noticed one of the enemies moved with deceptive speed, and fired a bomb at it — catching the northman in the flash. Undaunted, the big warrior brought down his flail and crushed the burning ghast.

The remaining zombies quickly fell before our heroes’ assault, and they soon found themselves alone in the chamber. Closer examination showed the creatures hands had been rubbed to the bone and all the pieces were covered in slime and mud.

They patched themselves up as well as they could, and sought to advance further into the cave. Following the path with the slime channel, they moved down the tunnel. Saerin spotted a dark figure darting across the passage ahead, and we called it a night.

Beating a dead horse
Or, Piñata Full of Spiders

2374955.jpgRevealed by the glowing arrow, the writhing mass of creatures dropped quickly toward the staircase. Boomah drank an infusion and slipped out of the chamber and Luix heaved a javelin at its bulk. It landed on the edge of the stone stair and its heavy mandibles crushed down on Kallius, nearly dropping the elf. The large mass of spiders crawling in, out and and around the creature spread out and menaced all about it.

At their urging, Boomah lobbed a fiery bomb into the group, destroying the mass of spiders and only doing limited damage to our heroes. But the beast survived, and its next blow sent Saerin to the ground. Dremahl used his divine powers to bring him back to consciousness, and Celeste worked to heal the group at large.

Kallius infused his blade with arcane power and stabbed deep with the electrified rapier. This rattled the creature but did not bring it down, and again its bite brought the ranger to the brink of death. But between bomb, blade and flail the undead horror was finally brought low.

The group searched the rest of the crumbling tower and were drawn by the one narrow window that had not been covered by the spiders. Kallius detected evocation magic obscured by some barrier, and Saerin and Boomah climbed up to investigate. They found a concealed cabinet holding four alchemical torches enchanted to burn in different colored flames. They also noted that the unobscured window faced directly toward the guard tower where they had recently rested. But they found no other evidence of whom right have placed these items here, as they were far newer than the Omaro occupation.

The group decided to search the out-bulidings while it was still light. They started at the crumbling stable half-submerged in sludge. Again the ranger and the goblin took the lead, supported by Luix. As they moved toward the stall, they saw a strange rippling in the mud, that burst up into a skeletal warhorse wearing ancient Omaro barding. It bit at Boomah as he tried to flee from the hated thing. The others closed the gap and tried to find gaps in the armored horror’s protection.

Boomah lobbed a bomb over them and again set them ablaze. But it softened it up enough that the northerner’s flail and the elves’ blades could break the skeletal beast and drop it back into the mud. Wearied and wounded by this ordeal, the group retreated back into the shrine of Aerin within the keep to rest another night.

Lady of the House
Or, There's More Than One Way To Bathe A Goblin

Servants-Skeleton_retainer.jpgThe draugr guardsmen closed ranks and our heroes waited tensely to see what would happen next. Boomah dropped to his needs and spread the Omaro surcoat before him.

The undead leader in the rear dropped to his knees and laid his sword and ceremonial keys on the ground. Saerin noted that this a ritual of failure and that he was surrendering his head to Celeste. She told him to stand and explain himself. He answered in the high Pellen language, which no one spoke. They eventually communicated that fact and he told them that he could speak ‘the trade language of the low people’, which they knew as the common tongue.

He told them his name was Vanto ren Omaro, and he was the captain of the guard. His mission was to masquerade as his master to fool the ‘watchers’ and let Fierin Omaro and his young heir to escape the keep. Paro Lento had explained that the ‘line’ must be protected at all costs. He thought he had failed, but in death continued to protect the castle as well as he could. Celeste explained that he had obviously succeeded as she was a continuation of the line.

The asked about the creatures from beyond the waterfall, and he told them that there was an old copper mine there, and he assumed that they were trapped in a mission as well. But there recent expansions and activity had convinced him that was no longer the case. He also told them about the shrine to Aerin beyond their hall and proclaimed ignorance about any noise beyond the tower door.

They checked out the shrine and found a high chamber filled with light channeled from above. The walls were covered with myriad horns and antlers of wild beasts from across the old world. Vanto explained that each of these were stalked and killed by members of House Omaro. Kallius noted the room radiated magic, and they questioned the marshall if there were any rituals that needed to be performed. He told them about a simple prayer of entry required for any Aerin shrine, and Celeste made sure they performed the obeisance before entering. There they found the tomb of Lady Synelle Omaro and several empty tombs — but no danger. Celeste relieved Vanto and his guards of their duty and they melted into mud and ooze, leaving a magic ring and bastard sword behind.

Moving on, they climbed the exterior wall of the keep to reach the unfinished second floor. The found a plastered over entry to the tower, but heard no rushing water. They smashed at the blockage until they had created a goblin-sized hole. Peering in, Boomah saw the tower was choked with thick webs and there were a fair umber of spiders crawling about. The decided they were not prepared for new dangers this day.

They chose to rest in the shrine and continue in the morning. Returning to the roof, they found that the opening had been covered by webs. Boomah soaked the area in oil, but unnerved by the numbers of spiders gathering on the webs, scurried back after lighting the webs aflame.

Immediately a swarm of spiders burst for the opening. Expecting this, Boomah launched a flaming bomb, but stumbled and it hit the ground at his feet — bursting into flame. The spiders turned from the blaze and moved toward the elves along the edge of the roof. Kallius pulled back next to his comrade, and the two were covered with hundreds of tiny vermin.

Calling for help, Boomah launched another bomb at the swarm, catching the tow elves but scattering the creatures.

There was some quick healing, and they returned to the now open passage into the tower. They expanded the hole to allow humans and crawled inside. Boomah crept down toward the sound of rushing water, but saw nothing. Looking closer, he found a pile of human bones along the wall. When he touched them, the floor filled with a rushing torrent and he was swept down the hall — crashing with the wave into the wall at the far end. He rand back to the group, who could already hear the sound of rushing water begin to build. Celeste summoned a dolphin to collect the bones, but since the wave did not reappear it was quickly dispatched.

Then they rushed down and collected the bones, depositing them in one of the empty crypts in the spring to Aerin. Immediately the sound ceased, and the tower was eerily quiet.

chalandria_by_artpox-d3bywt9.jpgSaerin took the lead climbing up. Above the second floor landing, he could see something large moving in the broken beams above. Kallius cast light on an arrow, and the ranger shot it up toward the motion. it stuck fast in a crossbeam, illuminating a huge arachnid shaped descending toward them, covered with hundreds of other spiders crawling in and out gaps and cracks in the monstrous spiders exoskeleton.

Warm welcome
Or, Stop bleeding on the mat

inferno_by_odobenus-d4we43a.jpgAtop the wall, the new threat was immediately engaged by our heroes, and suffered the same fate as their comrades. But when they turned to look across the gatehouse, they saw another draugr working over a bubbling cauldron and two more in small courtyard below. Boomah launched a bomb into the cauldron, sending up a gout of flaming oil from the pot and spreading flames through the tower. Too much for even the foul water drenching the draugr, and it crumbled in the flames.

The warriors charged down the gatehouse stairs to face the two in the courtyard. The enemies fired their crossbows once and fled into keep itself, where they were joined by two more defenders. Luix ran at them, but was felled by the great axes of the defenders. He regained consciousness as Dremahl healed him, but he had to withdraw to avoid being chopped down again. The levels filled the gap and fought bravely, and Boomah fired sling bullets to add what he could.

Luis returned to the fray and the two groups trading, with Celeste and Dremahl taxing their divine powers to keep the warriors standing. Saerin took an axe blow and succumbed to the nauseating drowning feeling that seemed to follow each blow. He fell back from the fray, but the defenders could not withstand the consistent rain of blows and soon fell. The strange drowning passed when the creature dropped, and our heroes found themselves bloodied but unbowed inside the keep.

Boomah and Saerin did a quick search of the corridor and found no enemies, but a number of closed doorways. One in particular fascinated Boomah, as he could hear rushing water beyond its bolted door. But ‘goblin self-preservation’ prevailed, and he returned too the group without exploring further.

They went through the keep methodically, checking all the other doors first. They found an ancient, looted pantry, a bunkhouse that seemed strangely maintained and yet unused, and three small bed chambers filled only with rotten collapsed furniture. The last door Saerin checked opened into a small feasting hall with two long tables and a raised platform at the end. Four more sodden corpses in Omaro livery sat at the far end of the tables, and an imposing figure in cloth-of-gold surcoat and crown sat on the dais.

Mummy.jpgThe corpse-like leader rose, lifted his sword in one hand and gestured at the ranger with the other. The other warriors leaped up, so Saerin slammed the door and bolted for the group. Kallius jumped into one of the small chambers across from the hall, and the others sought what cover they could from the impending attack.

The first one out raced across and smashed open the door in front of the magus. The others moved in to engage Luix and the others, while the leader stood a few paces back. Kallius struck his foemen and when it returned the blow it was apparent that his was a more elite guard than the ones manning the outer defenses. Luix and Saerin drew up defenses were soon facing mighty blows from the guards greataxes. Things were looking dire for our heroes, when Celeste moved out from cover brandishing the Omaro shield retrieved from ettercaps.

Asserting her claim as an heir to House Omaro, she demanded the guardsmen stop their attack on her comrades. Surprisingly enough, they did.

Hitting the Wall. Hard.
Or, Playing for Keeps

skeleton_warrior_by_kingkostas-d64i78k.jpgFresh from their victory on the outer wall, our heroes wnet through a trap door in the watch tower and descended into the outer court of the castle. Before they leave, however, they hear the grinding of chains and see a portcullis descending over they inner gate. They move out of range of the forces on the gate house wall and check out the crumbling buildings on the far edge of the court. The first is a half-flood stable that they avoid. The second is a workshop that proved too tempting for Boomah. He and Luix crept in, while the others covered them from the outside.

The shop seems to have been picked clean by previous looters, and Boomah left with nothing more than a handful of rusting nails. While keeping watch, Saerin noted that a pile of rubble along the cliff face covered an opening. Sending the goblin up to investigate, he saw that there was a passage running uphill into the cliff. They spent an hour clearing a gap, and in the mean time noted that a trail of smoke was coming up from the gate house.

The squeezed through the gap and found themselves in a natural cavern that seems to occasionally flood but is otherwise unused. They follow it up, noting occasional worked spots connecting natural passages up the cliff. The tunnel ended in a round cave with a vertical shaft up. Celeste summoned an eagle who delivered a grappling hook to a passage atop the shaft. They climbed and followed the new passage to nearly the top of the cliff. It ended on a roughly worked shelf cut into the cliff face. It may have once been some kind of nest, but was currently unoccupied. They chose to keep a watch here and spend a day resting.

They watched the undead warriors protect the inner wall without cease. In the dead of night, Boomah also noted a handful of other figures (also undead) coming out from behind the waterfall and entering the forest.

In the morning they descended and planned to take the inner wall. Boomah reduced himself and was carried toward the wall by another of Celeste’s eagles. They rocketed toward the wall, but two crossbowmen from a watchtower brought down the bird and sent Boomah tumbling. A second eagle was summoned and this one carried the goblin to the top of the wall. He dropped a rope and quickly hid himself between the crenels.

The others moved toward the rope, with Saerin first up. Dermal followed, with Luix steadying the rope. One of the draugr rushed out and tried to remove the grapnel, but Saerin was there to fight him off. By the time the trio had reached the top, all three tower guards had closed, and two more were coming from toward the gatehouse. The two warriors held their own against the sodden corpses, and none fell victim to the drowning feeling that followed each blow of their axes. Calls soon joined the group, leaving only Celeste at the base.

The two charging draugr caught Dremahl and he went down. he rallied himself briefly but was dropped again. Kallius channeled arcane power through his blade and electrified the enemies, although his thin blade left little mark on the water-logged foemen. Blows were traded and Celeste channeled healing while hanging from the rope, being pulled up by the mighty strength of the tiny goblin.

The five undead guards fell one-by-one, and just as victory seemed inevitable another trio of crossbowmen appeared in the watch tower and fired on our gathered heroes.

Sturm und Draugr
Or, Have fun storming the castle!

latest.jpgAfter spending a night recovering from the battle with the ghouls, our heroes returned to the Omaro keep. As the rowed to the edge of the canopy, they could see figures patrolling the wall, and the lens showed that they were not among the living. They first chose to move closer to the waterfall on the eastern cliff face but then they noticed that foul belches of a sticky black substance was periodically released from the stream.

Moving back toward the west gate, they came under fire from the crossbowmen on the wall. One of the guards went for a large horn hanging in the tower, but his undead lungs could not make it sound. Our heroes fell back, and decided to split up to make a move on the far wall. Calls, Saeren and Celeste rowed forward, while Boomah, Dermal and Luix stayed under cover and moved to the west.

Several volleys passed back and forth between the elves and the defenders, but limited damage was cause on either side. Then Saeren noticed two eyes rising from an inky patch of slime moving toward them. These glassy, lifeless eyes appeared to be attacked to a zombie crocodile lumbering at them through the shallow flood plain. Kallius raised his defenses and struck the beast with a shocking grasp as it brought its sizable jaws down on him. Saurian leaped from the canoe and fought the creature from the water, while Celeste summoned a celestial eagle to aid them. The slow-moving monster could not stand against their combine force, and it was brought down by the eagle, while crossbow bolts continued to rain down on them.

Meanwhile, the other canoe had approached the far cliff edge beyond the gate. Boomah lobbed a grappling hook over the wall and the bog northerner began to climb up. One of the crossbowmen lurched up, and moved toward the new attack.

crossbowman_concept.jpgLuis reached the top, and pulled Boomah up in time to see a dripping wet corpse in rotting scale mail and surcoat fire a crossbow at him from along the wall. Boom ran forward to meet the attacker, while Luix aided the priest in reaching the battlement. Getting a lear shot, Boomah tossed his fiery bomb at the enemy, and was disappointed as the sopping enemy did not catch ablaze. Luis and Dremahl quickly joined him, and the trio moved to the attack.

Dremahl channeled the divine power of Nox at the creature, which he recognized as a draugr. Boomah turned to his sling and Luix charged with his mighty flail. The guard pulled a broadsword to defend itself, but a powerful blow from Luix sent it cracking in two — with the upper half tumbling down into the flooded oat below.

The elves and the oracle had turned toward the dangling grapnel, and traded fire with the two remaining guardians. The closer range brought more success, but neither side was gaining the upper hand. Until Luix and the others reached the bowmen and joined in hand-to-hand combat. The two defender fell under their onslaught, and our heroes had captured the outer wall.

While Luix and Dremahl helped the others climb up, Boomah looked into complex below with the lens. There were four buildings in various stages of collapse, and an inner wall with castle within. The lower floor of the main keep was stone, and only support beams for an unfinished upper story remain. A tower with only narrow slits rose up above the keep. He could see no activity below, beyond the gurgling of the waterfall and the strange, blobs of shifting black slide in the mire.


The Wading Dead
Or, Zombie Pinatas

thomas_orc-zombie_wip3-1.jpgWith the lizards destroyed, our heroes spent a few minutes surveying the keep through the forest to the south. It was flooded and in serious disrepair, but they could see figures on the walls — and those figures were undead.

They decided to return to the canoes and make their way directly there. They kept the small boats close together and in a couple hours Dremahl heard splashing in the stream ahead. Through the vegetation he quickly saw a number of zombies pulling some kind of raft loaded with carcasses.

They pulled the boats to shore and hoped the mindless shambles would pass. But as the first group pulled their canoe into the brush, a trio of ghouls lurched out of hiding and attacked. Boomah was quickly paralyzed, while Dremahl and Kallius fought off the others. The priest turned one of the ghouls, whole fled into the jungle. Luix, Saerin and Dremahl leaped out of their canoe and joined the fray.

Claws and swords clashed, and nearly everyone had filthy wounds in short order. The zombies closed on the group and joined the fray. Luix’ mighty flail crashed into the sodden bodies with less than its normal efficiency, but Saerin was at his side to finish off what he started. Unfortunately, when his blade dug deep into the zombie’s heart, the monster exploded in a rain of filth and bone, cutting them and coating them with diseased meat.

Kallius was one the far end of the fight and suddenly was nearly overcome by a stench. A ragged bugbear ghoul in a rotting chain shirt lunged out of the brush and sunk his teeth into the elf. Unlike the lesser ghouls, this creature’s disease could affect the elder races, but Kallius did not succumb. He channeld what remained of his arcane power into his blade and faced off against the foe.

Time and again, Luix and Saerin teamed up to destroy a zombie only to be showered in its filth. Boomah shook off the paralyzing effect of the bite in time to see the fleeing ghoul lurking on the edge of the forest clearing. Drinking his mutagen, he taunted the monster in its native orcish to come out and fight. The creature took the bait and charged back into the fray.

Celeste was the first in its path and took the blow, but did not fall to its paralyzing bite. Having finally dispatched the zombie, the warriors came to her aid. Boomah came to his Kallius’ defense and it was not long before the shoreline was free from enemies.

Looking closer, they noted that some of the shambling dead were much older than the others, perhaps interred for decades. Even one of the ghouls looked as if it had been buried for a very long time, although the ghost looked of a much more recent visage (although his mail was clearly quite aged). The raft was heavily laden with several carcasses, some of which were days old. Even Boomah questioned whether it was all edible. They also realized the straps the zombies were using were magical, and could be used to enhance one’s carrying strength. They also found potions of inflict wounds on the ghost.

Concerned about what lay ahead in the keep, our heroes chose to return to the guard tower to rest, recover and craft a plot for returning.


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