Session 59 Expanded
25th Day of Planting CY 623
Location: Critwall – World Map
Map Tab Color: Brown
As we rejoin our heroes, they have been recently sent to the defense of a village under attack by dark forces. Despite their immediate deployment and arriving quickly, borne upon transdimensional wings, they found themselves too late for the poor villagers. The village was ablaze and scattered corpses, their skulls ripped open, brains half eaten, lay strewn about. As the party breached the torn wooden walls and began to spread into the village they began to notice shambling figures moving through the remains of the village…
Mandalorus Brightwing began firing blazing bolts of arrows upon a hapless zombie which was torn to shreds in a hail of arrows splashing goo and viscera. Allister Tain called for a a skirmish line and led Natal and Will Kaden forward into the village to brace for the zombies approach. Lyzander Blaine took up a firing position from a nearby building’s corner, pulled back his bow and dropped an unfortunate zombified villager with a single well-placed arrow to the chest. Draghkar eagerly moved forward to join the skirmish line, growling ferociously in anticipation of gory combat.
Mandalorus Brightwing swooped overhead, Lyzander Blaine on the ground, the archers picking off targets as they came into view. With the restlessness of a chained beast, Draghkar, moved ahead of the skirmish line fighting the urge to dash forward in his eagerness to slay. As the Heironean line braced for the upcoming onslaught, they called upon their god for glory and honor against the foul foe. Will Kaden downed an elixir and grew to giant proportions, his now massive shield like a wall of holiness. Natal summoned a glowing shield which began to orbit him and Allister Tain hurled his will forward as a glowing hammer of faith, which smacked a shuffling figure into the ground. And then, the moaning began… As the nearby zombies caught notice of the heroes, their moan was echoed, repeated, amplified by hordes and hordes, uncountable, at the far end of the village.
As the horde became visible, extending beyond sight far into the village, Mandalorus Brightwing called upon Sehanine, elven goddess of the Moon, to imbue his bow with holy flame and pronouncing judgement upon the foul undead below. Lyzander Blaine shifted position to the another corner, picking off another zombie smartly. Master Gilnaeus, all the while, floated above the village, surveying the scene with the patience of an Archmage waiting to unleash his arcane destruction. Draghkar, unable to resist the urge to slay, rushed forward around the corner to engage a straggler zombie, splattering it with his massive axe. The walking corpse, as if completely putrefied, exploded with gore splashing him with vile ichor. The horde began to shamble towards the brave heroes, first slowly then faster and faster.
As the first zombies hit the skirmish line, the braced Heironeans met the assault dropping the hustling zombies one by one. Beyond the first crest, an endless wave of undead of begin streaming into the village. Mandalorus Brightwing began firing blazing white arrows down into the horde, dropping zombies left and right. Natal’s hands blazed and called forth a field of force down one village lane, blocking off the party’s left flank against the mindless flood of corpses. As zombies rushed the skirmish line, Allister Tain and Will Kaden smote them down and Master Gilnaeus conjured a wall of liquid magma in front of the horde, catching the undead in its tremendous heat. Lyzander Blaine flitted back and forth from his firing positions, picking off zombie after zombie down the lane.
As the shuffling horde of zombies, herded by the wall of force, began pressing in towards the wall of lava they began immolating themselves against its great heat. Then, above the mindless crowd, eight howling corpses swooped through the air towards the party with hideously elongated legs and bows of bone. These Baykoks, began firing unholy missiles upon the party. As a missile streaked towards the Archmage Master Gilnaeus, his image flickered and split into a multitude of images.
On the battlefield below, Draghkar hacked a zombie into gory chunks and sauntered back to the skirmish line grinning. Just in time too, as a lone zombie rushed the gore covered barbarian, and was hacked apart as it came within his reach. Another rushed past Draghkar only to be splattered by Will Kaden blade, enchanted against the undead. As the hordes of zombies continued to press into the wall of lava, puffs of smoke and flashes of burning undead flesh indicated that a tremendous undead host were being forced against it.
Suddenly, riding the wind upon a white steed with frosty mist pouring from its hooves, a warrior appeared in the sky, riding behind the horde. He brought his steed to rein in mid-air, calling out to the heroes. He announced himself as CONQUEST, “first of the four”, and offered the party the chance to surrender. Allister Tain spoke bravely, calling for the new opponent to fight him, and received a frost rimed arrow for his efforts.
Mandalorus Brightwing muttered a swift prayer, charging his bow with resolve against the unnatural undead and called upon his goddess to smite this rider, clearly the leader of the foul undead. Below, Natal summoned forth a wall of fire on the party’s right flanks tactically blocking off the zombies approach from around the edge of the lava wall. Allister Tain hit the dirt, reducing his target profile, and called upon his faith to heal the wound CONQUEST had dealt him. Will Kaden cleared the remaining zombies around them, affording the heroes a brief respite. At this, Master Gilnaeus focused his gaze upon the mass of corpses and began enchanting a powerful incantation. Then a blazing sun, a globe of searing radiance, appeared amidst the zombie horde, vaporizing them and wiping the land clean of the undead menace in a huge 80’ radius. The explosion of light and heat swept over the flying Baykoks nearly melting them into ash.
As the afterimage faded from the brilliant ball of light, Lyzander Blaine stepped out from behind the building and nocked two arrows at once, drawing the string back to his ear. With a smooth release, the twin arrows streaked forward, slamming into the white rider with lethal force, penetrating the rider’s attempts at obfuscation with an enchantment that displaced and shifted his image. The Baykoks, still steaming with the afterglow of Master Gilnaeus mighty spell turned and fled from the fray, howling in pain. Beneath them, the huge mass of shuffling zombies rapidly poured into the clearing made by the radiant blast. As the press of undead bodies began mounting up against the shimmering force guarding the party’s left flank, they began to crawl over one another forming a ramp of bodies that threatened to soon crest over the wall. CONQUEST set his aim upon Lyzander Blaine, returning the favor against him, firing deadly twin arrows into the archer, nearly bringing the hero to his end.
Mandalorus Brightwing flies down to cover, praying for guidance and aim against the rider’s ever flickering form. Allister Tain holy magic washed over Lyzander Blaine, healing his wounds and renewing the archer’s fighting spirit. Natal then threw up enchantments to protect the warriors from CONQUEST’s freezing arrows. Will Kaden stood beside his master, shielding him from attack like a wall of metal. Now feeling better, Lyzander Blaine returned fire upon the air-striding opponent again finding him with his first split arrow shot. Behind the party, the rear flank was covered by another wall of shimmering force from Arch Mage Master Gilnaeus. Draghkar, now separated from the foe, paced restlessly and moved behind cover of a building waiting for something to kill. To his delight, the pile of zombies began pouring over the wall of force to rush the party.
Mandalorus Brightwing stepped out to fire a blaze of arrows narrowly missing the strange rider, CONQUEST, as Allister Tain summoned forth a column of holy flame down upon the foe and his mount. The flame washed off him harmlessly, leaving him touched by the fire. As Will Kaden stood firm as a human shield wall, Lyzander Blaine fired again and again upon the flying rider. And then the zombies began tumbling over the wall . Roaring happily, Draghkar moved to intercept the hordes spilling over, splashing one into paste before it could regain its feet. The zombies managed to pull themselves upright and began to swarm the defenders within
Ripping away from a zombie’s grasping hands, Mandalorus Brightwing put down five zombies in as many seconds, causing the barbarian Draghkar to grunt in frustration. Finally, Allister Tain bent his head in prayer and blasted CONQUEST, calling up another column of holy flame. This time, the divine fire melted through the white rider’s resistance, evaporating him into nothingness. As the blaze vanished, only an impressive white bow and glittery white armor remained to fall from the sky where he once stood. With the main threat gone, Lyzander Blaine tried to take to the rooftops and Draghkar moved to the center of the lanes eagerly swinging his great axe.
Leaving Draghkar to his glee, Mandalorus Brightwing flew up onto a nearby building to watch and pick off any zombies making it over the wall. Will Kaden proceeded to clear out zombies below in the lanes, all the while standing faithfully by his master’s side. Draghkar was so gore splashed that he began to look truly ghoulish. In a burst of speed, he ran around the corner to find more targets. Lyzander Blaine and Mandalorus Brightwing fired a constant stream of arrows, dropping zombies like popcorn popping.
Then, as Allister Tain called upon one of his most powerful magics, a rushing roar filled the air as a sweeping wave of holy fire swept across the field, burning it clean of the remaining mass of corpses. As the winged Mandalorus Brightwing flew over the village, picking off any last stragglers, the party healed and gathered together.
Eventually, the walls of flame and force started dropping and the party swept through the village gathering up any remaining corpses to burn. Mandalorus Brightwing found Master Gilnaeus pondering a white rider’s suit of armor and bow. As he picked them up and called for Master Gilnaeus to rejoin the group by the corpse pyres, a horrid voice began screaming “Release Me” and a cold, oppressive pall fell over him. Gritting his teeth, he bore the bow and armor back to the group, hurling it upon the ground and proclaiming the need to destroy these objects. This feeling was only heightened by Master Gilnaeus revelation that the armor was made of angel skin. Searching through the rest of the village, the heroes soon found the bodies of the village women, clearly where the men sent them as a last stand. Before burning the corpses, the party found the women’s bodies clearly showed weapon wounds and not merely zombie bites. Additionally, no corpses of children could be found and the party realized they had the opportunity to discover what was happening to the abducted children of such attacked towns.
Searching around the village for clues, the party uncovered tracks leading to the northeast; tracks of many wagons that pulled up and then pulled away from the village. Following the tracks straight away, the heroes began following the wagon tracks for about an hour, only running across the occasional stray zombie, which they swiftly destroyed. It was agreed that Master Gilnaeus would most speedily follow the tracks and be able to report back so the party stopped by the side of the road to await his return.
After but a short while, Master Gilnaeus appeared with news. Ten miles hither, three wagons have stopped and although Master Gilnaeus was unable to see more clearly, he saw many shapes moving. After a brief teleportation mishap, the party rejoined a half-mile away from their destination, where they could see a plume of smoke, as if from a bonfire. After discussing strategy, Mandalorus Brightwing took off flying towards the camp, with the understanding the rest of the party would teleport in. As the paladin winged his way forward, he was nearly at the abductors camp when the party appeared beside the camp’s bonfire.
(Scene: Huge bonfire in the center of the camp. At its side, a wooden framework dangles three children – throats slit, their blood pouring down over three spriggans kneeling ritualistically below them, bathed in the kids’ dying fluids. Two more spriggans stood by the framework waiting their turn. A single brown robed figure presides over the ceremony, chanting and partaking in the ritual. Far to the north, the faint traces of the black line of Dark Fog can be seen on the horizon.)
As the party teleported into the dead center of the camp, the ritual participants were caught completely by surprise.
Lyzander Blaine, immediately let loose an arrow at the central Spriggan, piercing its shoulder without response, so caught up in the ritual was the creature. Allister Tain and Natal, in concert, pointed their fingers at the robed figure as twin searing beams flashed out towards it. Draghkar roared with bloodlust and began to gibber and drool with rage. Raising his greataxe and bellowing mightily, he brought the deadly chopper down heavily upon a spriggan, unfortunate enough to be caught within his reach. Master Gilnaeus spat words of power, enchanting the party with great speed, and concealed from sight, invisible, flew up and behind the robed figure, preparing to confront him in an epic magical duel.
Lyzander Blaine began pelting the robed figure with arrow after arrow and turning, with his last shot, caught the central ritualistic-bathing spriggan in the back of the head. The arrow pierced his skull, erupting from his eye socket, and dropping his now lifeless corpse forward as blood continued to drizzle it from the draining child above. The brown robed figure hurled words of evil magic towards Lyzander Blaine, who began to stiffen as if becoming lifeless granite. With a massive effort of will, Lyzander Blaine resisted the evil magic and broke free of the spell. Seeing his efforts wasted and his spriggan forces being decimated, the brown robed figure turned to run, strewing a trail of insects behind him. Will Kaden began laying into the spriggan beside him, dealing a vicious blow across his chest and felling him swiftly. With catlike grace, he wheeled to strike a second spriggan slashing him across an unguarded shoulder. Draghkar, rage blinded and desperate for a massive strike slammed his greataxe down upon a spriggan, but missed, burying his axe deep within the ground rather than his target.
As one, the spriggans grew and grew, becoming large, hulking foes that moved forward to close with the warriors. Twin black and purple beams of lancing destruction sprang forth from Master Gilnaeus invisible hands, striking the brown robed figure without visible effect, much to the Arch Mage’s chagrin. Lyzander Blaine began firing death from his bow, dropping two spriggans and wounding a third. The robed figure, still running, turned only momentarily in his retreat to hurl vituperative words of black magic towards the heroes. As his evil spell hit home, they were beset by a force that sapped from them every trace of moisture, as if being tossed into a blast furnace stoked at the heart of a desert.
Allister Tain called upon Heironeous to heal his allies and smite the enemy with bitter ice while his cohort, Will Kaden, stepped forward bravely and dodging under a clumsy spriggan thrust, brought his sword up beneath its ribs, disemboweling the evil creature. Draghkar savagely bound forward, placing himself amidst two spriggans in his mindless fury. He wound up and swung with all his might, seeking to add spriggan blood to his zombie gore coating. His massive blow crushed down the spriggan whose place was immediately replaced by another, but for the moment, at least the barbarian’s bloodlust was being appeased. Allister Tain called out to take one alive for questioning so Mandalorus Brightwing called upon Sehanine to be merciful, and fired upon two spriggans surrounding Draghkar, dropping them to unconsciousness.
Beside the wagons, Master Gilnaeus pursued the robed figure and muttered an incantation as he swooped in. His form began to warp and shift, growing claws, and fangs, and scales, be morphed into a mighty red dragon. Sadly, as he remained invisible through previous enchantments, the majesty was lost on the combatants still fighting around the bonfire.
Back in the center of camp, Lyzander Blaine drew back his deadly bow and fired a mortal shot, piercing a spriggan’s femoral artery spraying its foul blood across the ground. Then, turning on a heel, Lyzander Blaine picked off another wounded spriggan, its body pitching to the ground beside the bonfire. Will rushed at another, dodging a horizontal slice at his head and stepped in to finish the last creature. Then, to the group’s dismay, Dragkar turned upon the unconscious spriggans lying helpless at his feet. Still caught up in bloody, mindless rage, he began hacking and hacking at the spriggan before him, expending all his rage, all his pent-up fury upon the carcass. Finally, his eyes cleared and panting ferociously, he stumbled off to regain his breath. The looks shot between the various warriors of Heironeus and the paladin Mandalorus Brightwing spoke volumes of what would need to be done.
Suddenly on the far side of the wagons, a tremendous din was heard and pieces of metal and wood began flying. As the party ran to investigate, calling out for Master Gilnaeus whom they had lost sight of during the combat, the sounds subsided. Master Gilnaeus calmly spoke from the empty air – “Don’t worry, it is just me” as dismissing his draconic form and the veil of invisibility, he stepped forward to join the others. However his curiosity was piqued for when he was tearing into the wagon, the Arch Mage had noticed ritualistic magical bindings upon it. He bent his focus to investigating the remains of the magic as the party freed the children from the wagons and gathered them up. Only six children remained in the wagon so heavily bound by spells, and so they were set aside from the others for further examination. This proved most wise, as while each of the heroes focused on their duties, suddenly those six children began keening!
A blaze of immense light exploded from them burning out the retinas of all but Will Kaden, who managed to stare down the radiance with grit and resolve. Unseen by all but Will, the six children appear in their true form – emaciated children, throats slit, shining searing light from their eyes and their mouths, as the heroes clutched at their eyes, trying to regain their sight, the children stepped forward to attack. They reached out with burning, grasping hands and focused rays of burning light upon the party.
Mandalorus Brightwing laid a blessing hand upon himself, Sehanine wiping away wounds and blindness all at once. He quickly rushed over to Lyzander Blaine to return his sight as well. Allister Tain and Natal chanted a prayer of healing upon themselves and their eyes, regaining vision swiftly. Will Kaden, eyes stinging but still clear, stepped forward to attack the unholy creatures. With sight now restored, Lyzander Blaine began concentrating his fire into one of the glowing children. He poured arrow after arrow into the small creature’s body until it finally vaporized in a burst of radiance. Thinking quickly, Master Gilnaeus used his magic to transform into a bat-like creature with no need for his damaged eyes and flapped his way to hover beside Allister Tain. Mandalorus Brightwing imbued his weapon with a righteous fury towards the abhorrent undead and began firing into one of the radiant children. Allister Tain and Will Kaden channeled the might of their God, showering the undead creatures with the power of Heironeous.
Finally, as Natal did similar, one of the shining children evaporated in light before the holy power put upon it! Once again, Lyzander Blaine fired again and again into an undead child until it flashed into annihilation. The remaining children focused their efforts, blasting Mandalorus Brightwing with flaming rays dropping him to unconsciousness until with an act of heroic defiance, he struggled back from the brink. His companions lent their healing aid to him, keeping him alive against a possible next blast. Allister Tain and Natal blasted the remaining children with holy might and Lyzander Blaine finished two of them off in twin flashes of radiance. Finally, only one was left – who vanished in a flash of light as if teleporting away.
After surviving the unholy product of the ritual and having learned much about what role the children played in the enemy’s foul plot, the Party went through the campsite for any further clues and found treasure. Before returning to Critwall, Allister Tain tricked Draghkar into lowering his defenses and placed a binding spell upon him. It was agreed that the party would return and the barbarian would be turned over to the Heironean command to face trial for killing a helpless, unconscious foe. It was hoped that the council would show leniency and that, if Draghkar would be capable of restraint in the future, that he continue to be assigned to the heroes squad. After contacting the Heironean base for extraction, the party returned via teleportation to Critwall.