While combating the skeleton knights, the group discovered there was also a skeleton hiding under a table, but it wasn’t sneaky enough to go unnoticed. Veil was able to turn undead and make the skelerogue and skelehorses flee, but the skeleknights remained steadfast, jumping off their horses to engage. One got in a great shot with a mace that seemed to give Ethrehil a concussion, or at least temporarily dislodge his amygdala, but the tide turned and the skeletons were dispatched. It was however, quite odd that they seemed to behave in a manner consistent with an adventuring party. Even if they were one, skeletons are supposed to be mindless automatons. Among the skeletons possessions they found a (very short) adventuring diary of a beset upon bard. They had been sent to slay the elf necromancer, and he complained that they were sending him outside because they were jealous of his sweet steel drum playing. What happened after that was clear to everyone. But this diary was dated almost fifty years ago.
Moving on they found a room of cowering skeletons in cages, unable to speak, but communicating as best as they could that they would rather not be killed. Seeing light ahead, the party moved on to find a zombified elf of some sort, and more concerningly a zombified green dragon. Ethrehil was sure this wouldn’t be too much of a problem, so they all pressed forward to lay a concentrated assault on the dragon. This dragon was pretty capable of a concentrated assault of its own however, and after a couple dozen seconds had its assailants beating a retreat. He kited them into the dreaded cone formation and took a deep breath to unleash its deadly poison breath weapon. Unfortunately for the dragon, it was a zombie and possessed neither working lungs nor working saliva glands, and this effort was wasted. Its time spent positioning bought the group enough time to hurl one last volley of spells and missiles, which finally brought down the beast. While all this was occurring, the zombie elf began casting spells, to everyone’s shock. Luckily he was not a great shot, and the worst spells didn’t land on our heroes.
With the dragon gone, the party made quick work of this zombie(though after it turned invisible and tried to hide it took a while to find him). They discovered a few things. First, valuable gems inside the dragon’s belly worth hundreds and hundreds of gold. Second, that he possessed gills? And thirdly, the elf’s diary. Strangely enough, this was an aquatic elf. He had left his home, a giant lake protected by the ringed mountains to the north, fifty years ago on what the aquatic elves know as Sprumading. Sprumading is a coming of age ceremony where an aquatic elf leaves the lake to wander the land for a number of years before returning with the knowledge he gained. Some elves become adventurers, some opt to stay in the outside world, but most eventually return. Some elves are huge jerks however, and go around making skeletons and doing whatever the hell they want because Elflantis(not it’s real name) won’t prosecute crimes committed outside of its jurisdiction. This elf, Jarmush, appeared to be one of those.
The diary also mentioned how he regretted his twin brother Naloc couldn’t come on this trip with him because of how he had just developed cleric powers and had to stay home and explore them. Finally, in a notebook on his spell development, Jarmush was having great success creating a new type of undead. This undead remained mindless and under his complete control, but retained the abilities it had in life. This spell was going to make him very powerful. Unfortunately, Jarmush was a fool and while trying to make the spell more powerful so he could ensnare a young dragon into his service in undeath, he failed to make the spell’s caster immune to its effects, and turned himself into a zombie.
The party was pleased with all of this information, since this elf was apparently a twin they could just hand his head over and be done with it. The warlock Xane, however, heard the voice of his mysterious benefactor Zathras commanding him to pocket those spell notes, which he obeyed.
There was a gaping hole in the ceiling which the dragon had presumable come through decades ago, and the party climbed out for some fresh air. From the roof of the facility they could see two bugbears and two orcs lying in wait below. These orcs were a little different, however. They wore no armor and wielded the same kind of short sword as Rin. The group decided to attack from the roof and flip the ambush around. launching missile weapons which quickly took out one bugbear and forced another to retreat into the crypt. The orcs however began running at full speed towards the group. Forty five feet up they didn’t worry about this too much, until Rin noticed their stance and running style was the same as her monastery, the Aaradrythenai temple.
“Those are monks! They can run up walls!” she shouted.
Now, while it is true that monks can run up walls sometimes, that’s a rather advanced technique. Orcs are bloodthirsty and close in on their opponents at lightning fast speeds however. Combined with a monk’s ability to move super fast in their own right, their climbing may very well have seemed like they were running up a wall, especially having just heard the suggestion from a trusted party member. Ethrehil and Rin knew there was only one action called for in this situation. They turned to one another, silently nodded, and threw themselves off the wall. Some say they were trying to stab the orcs or kick them and ride them to the ground. Some say it was suicide. But that day, all anyone knew for sure is that jumping off a four story building will knock an elf the fuck out. In the tall grass the elves natural camouflage kicked in, obscuring them, perhaps forever.
The orcs meanwhile unleashed a furious assault on the party, especially on Veil, who was closest. After one orc was taken out, the other saw how poor his situation was, and grabbed the tiefling in desperation, threatening to jump. The party attacked anyway and he made good on his threat. The warlock acted quickly to catch Veil, and Darvin unleashed a deadeye shot that made the monk lose his grip and then his life.
After a while Ethrehil and Rin finally came to, not too much the worse for wear, but Ethrehil quite possibly now had a double concussion. Rin remembered that there was once an orc at her temple, by the name of Jarrod. He was an orphan that the temple master chose to raise in order to prove that the nature of good and evil was not innate, and that he could be civilised. The master was incorrect, however, and Jarrod slew two of his teachers in anger and was exiled from the temple.
Returning to town the group claimed their reward and lit a signal to let the orc leader know the job was finished. After a short while, the orc known as Gruumsh and a platoon of twenty orcs as well as another ogre arrived at the town’s main entrance to claim their quarry. Rin immediately recognized him as Jarrod but remained out of sight. Jarrod announced the town would now be protected but would render taxes unto him. Veil decided to try and scare him with some minor effects like some rumbling ground and a ghost whisper of “get out”, but Jarrod was not amused. Instead he decided to inflict more punishment for this offense, and commanded his ogre to take the sheriff Alanis.
Ethrehil wasn’t going to stand for it and stepped out of the crowd, with an ogre ear necklace from his previous encounter and with his sword drawn. “Over my dead body”, he promised.
to be continued…