Welcome to The Northern Menace: RPG adventure- Letters from Trilith! Join us as we adventure through the Northern Reach, through the eyes of our Wizard, Trilith, as we continue our adventure! Click here to read the backstories of the party!
Report to the High Magus
Wealday, 11th of Rainmoot, Part III
After we poured the holy water into the cursed skull and lodged it in a corner, we prepared to move on. Our brave Paladin led the way. He felt malevolence emanating from the next room.
I have to say, these holy powers intrigue me. To wield power that is not at all your own is strange and frightening. If that power resides in their gods and they are only conduits, their faith must indeed be complete to plunge into situations trusting their god to come through for them. After all, what is given can be taken away. And I imagine even a god can get distracted. How many other paladins and clerics are making those same requests at the same time? Or is the god’s magic just there for them to tap into and faith is the spigot, so to speak? And why do the gods set limits on their clerics’ spells? Or is it the cleric’s faith that is limited? In which case, perfect faith would mean perfect power. I must learn more.
The idea of relying on someone else for my magic makes me shudder. And my faith is in Boccob’s complete disinterest in anything I might be doing. But I am eternally grateful for Robi and Geldion’s faith and their gods’ attention.
Robi pressed on despite his misgivings. As he passes the doorway, he saw an undead body look up toward him. It had hollow eye sockets with glowing eyes, rotting flesh, and broken teeth. And it had two companions. They charged forward.
Here I made my first of many mistakes of the day. I should have examined the creatures more closely and ascertained precisely what sort of undead they were. But in the heat of the moment, and after an extremely long day, I did not. That mistake would come back to bite me and my companions – or try to. It is a mistake I won’t make again.
Robi immediately backed out of the doorway so we could all help with the battle. Their foul breath and the reek of their decaying bodies reached us before the creatures did. Antinua readied an attack, raising her sword. The first creature emerged and Antinua cut into it, but her sword didn’t do much damage. She dropped the sword and pulled out her morningstar.
One slashed at Robi, but with the blessings that Geldion gave him, the creature missed. Robi attacked but was too busy defending for a clean hit. Another creature pushed through the door and attacked Geldion, clawing him.
As the last one came up, I cast Burning Hands on all three of them. I can’t even begin to describe the stench of their rotting flesh and burning bone. Suffice it to say, we fought with watering eyes and choked throats.
Geldion hit one, smashing ribs. Antinua hit with her morningstar, knocking one to the ground dead. Again.
Robi hit the one in front of Geldion but his blow went wide. One of the creatures clawed Geldion on the arm and he cried out in pain.
The last one charged through the doorway at Robi, but Robi fended it off. I cracked him with my staff, but it didn’t do much. (Is it possible to add some iron spikes to a magical staff? I will have to look into that.)
Geldion’s hit did some damage, but the things were tough. Antinua struck with her Morningstar and the creature wobbled, broken, but still up. Robi attacked the one in front of Geldion, bravely defending his friend at risk to himself, but couldn’t connect.
The ravening creature attacked Geldion again, but this time Geldion defended. The other one, horribly wounded couldn’t hit either. Then again, neither could I. Or Geldion. At least Antinua was on her game. She struck the one attacking Robi hard in the back of the neck and it crumpled.
Robi got a good hit in on the one in front of Geldion, breaking ribs, but it was still standing. Geldion got scratched again, the thing tearing his thigh. I bashed it with my staff, but couldn’t do much. Geldion swung and finally connected killing the last of the things.
We caught our breath, and I at least was thankful we could finally get away from the smell.
Robi moved into the next room quickly while he still had the blessings of Pelor. We found a very impressive sarcophagus with a carving marking the inhabitant as the Archduke Rainor Landorsson. A historic figure indeed! The appellation read: “Last Ruler of Oppland. May we all find peace in his rest.” How’s that for your people being happy to get rid of you! Now there is the mark of a truly bad ruler. Still, I was a little awed by the historic significance of our find.
The Archduke’s remains were wrapped in silk, but disturbed and manhandled. Something had been cut from his neck, probably long ago.
We didn’t immediately see any way to move on, and I worried we had failed in our quest.
Perhaps our trip was for naught, and we had failed, just as the elf and his crew had failed. Then Antinua found footprints around a large slab of rock that leaned against one wall. She spotted scraping on the floor. The stone seemed to have been moved into place.
Moving the rock proved difficult. Eventually, we tied a rope around it and all hauled together. In a cloud of ancient dust, we moved it out of the way.
We examined the stone wall behind and Antinua found a square like the one outside that had opened the entrance. Robi gave it a heave and it moved pretty easily. The stone in front of us ground downward and a musty smell emanated. The opening door revealed a statue across a room with a sarcophagus. Sitting on the steps before the statue was a skeletal figure.
The figure looked up at us with glowing red eyes and said in a dusty voice, “You will leave!”
Suddenly my world went black and I was disoriented. I felt a rush of cool air on my face and the sudden sensation of falling.
I and my companions were twenty feet above the waterfall and falling through the air!
I believe I screamed. Not at all a useful reaction, but understandable. Quenya shot off into the air.
That bastard had Teleported us into space!
Antinua hit the bank and landed heavily. Robi, Geldion, and I hit the river above the four-story waterfall. I, at least, hit the water before I hit the rocks underneath. I don’t think Geldion was so lucky. The three of us were swept downstream, sputtering, trying to keep our heads above water and grab onto anything that might stop us from going over the falls.
Geldion climbed onto a rock and Robi grabbed a wedged tree trunk. Robi, bless his Heironeous loving soul, grabbed me as I washed past. We hung onto the fallen log, the wind knocked out of us by the fall and the freezing cold. Antinua used a downed branch to pull Geldion to safety on land.
Robi and I were freezing and going rapidly numb as we assessed our options. They were few. My rope was still around the rock in the catacomb, and we were out of reach of Antinua and Geldion.
Luckily, Robi remembered an Enlarge Person potion in his pack. He held on to me as I dug it out, teeth chattering and shivering uncontrollably.
Robi swallowed the potion, and from the look on his face, it must have tasted like a giant’s balls. He fought the pull of the fast-flowing current until he reached his full 12-foot height. Once he was completely enlarged, he scooped me up and carried me to land. What a relief! I don’t think any of us would have survived going over the falls.
We met up with the others. Geldion did some healing on Antinua and we decided we needed shelter and warmth as quickly as possible. I was feeling weak and sick with hypothermia as we made our way back toward the catacomb. All I wanted was to curl up in a ball and go to sleep. It took us an interminable 45 minutes and I wasn’t sure I was going to make it. We said the code word as we enter again. Antinua gathered wood and made a fire in one of the sarcophagi to warm us up.
As we stripped off our armor and huddled over the fire, we discussed what that creature might have been. We were pretty sure it was a Crypt Thing – an undead guardian put in place to guard something important. Which made me think we were very close to our goal. Blunt weapons should work on it – if we can get close enough to use them without ending up back in the river again. But Geldion’s turns probably won’t do too much against it.
It was at that point, when we were damp, cold, unarmored, and just plain exhausted, that my earlier mistake came back to bite us. Quite literally.
The three burnt cadavers we had “killed” earlier, lumbered from the hallway, coming toward us! Unfair! We already killed them once. And they were dead to begin with.
I should have determined when we first saw them that they were not simple zombies, but cadavers. The glowing eyes should have made it obvious to me, had I remembered my research. It was a mistake that could have cost us our lives. If I had paid attention, we could have at least removed the creatures’ heads or put them in the sarcophagi with rocks on them or something. As it was, we had another fight ahead of us that I doubted we could win in our current shape.
Feeling guilty, I stepped forward and sprayed them again with burning hands. I have to say, the heat from the spell felt good and I didn’t mind the smell quite so much this time. Antinua attacked with her morningstar, but couldn’t connect. Neither could Robi. We were just all too exhausted. Geldion came to our rescue. He prayed to Pelor for yet another turn and Pelor came through. The creatures turned and ran away. We all sighed with relief, though Antinua was sore-pressed not to take a swing at one of their backs.
We’d had enough of the cursed place for the time being. We got our damp clothes back on, took a few fiery branches, and worked our way back to the horses, who are happy to have us back. We made camp and prepared for the night.
We talked about the cadavers. From the tomes, I had learned that they cannot heal damage from magical weapons or spells. If injured by mundane weapons they remain dormant until healed. They carry filth fever which they transmit with claws or bite. The victim stiffens up and is less dexterous. I hope for all our sakes Geldion hasn’t caught it.
Geldion does some healing on us as we lick our wounds. We set our watches and hope for the best on the morrow. If the bow and the mace are there, one way or another, we’ll find them – or end up as cadavers ourselves.
Your faithful student,
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