As we approached the clearing of the shrine and tower, our ranger Taleth, held up his hand and motioned for us to halt and take cover. He sensed something was amiss and crept up to the edge of the woods to have a look. It was dusk and rapidly approaching evening, but in the clearing he saw a disturbing site. There were eighteen Thugee warriors (basically Vikings) camped out in front of the shrine and the doors of the temple had been bashed in and were lying on either side of the temple entrance. He also saw, far above in the sky, two Thugee airships (dirigibles) moored above the site as well. He crept back to the group to report the surprising discovery and we debated our next course of action.
So things went fairly smoothly, at least initially. She slipped into their camp undetected and managed to assassinate their shaman (actually a wizard) without being detected, despite now being visible because of her attack. She also managed to grab his backpack and then made her way to the one that appeared to be the leader as he slept. She attempted the next assassination roll on him while he dozed but failed, and he awoke screaming in pain and alerted the camp. She wounded him badly but also managed to poison him so he wasn’t going to live long anyway. The leader and one of his sergeants attacked his would be killer, and managed to wound her, but she wisely disengaged from the melee and withdrew from the fray once she realized the jig was up. The two elves who were waiting at the tree line, took the alarm as their signal and lit the camp up with a pair of fireballs. The leader was dead anyway before this from the poison, though he didn’t know it at the time, but the fireballs finished him off along with all of the rest of the Thugee war band.
So we loaded up the horses and mules with the remaining silver and gold and made a forced march in the darkness to avoid any possible pursuit from the Thugee in the ships above. Evelyn had found a spell book and a pair of scrolls in the backpack that she took from the camp’s wizard and we considered ourselves lucky to have retrieved it before the camp went up in flames. We also found a magical broadsword and some magical Elven arrows on the leader’s body which survived the fireballs, so we ended up with quite a haul of loot from the encounter. We then set off through the woods with our baggage train and Gradwin brought the six zombies along controlling them with his control undead ability as extra protection, even though this was a bit disturbing for the rest of the group.
So once we made it a good distance away, we stopped at a suitable campsite and rested up for the early part of the day before resuming our march. In the afternoon, once we were fully rested and had re-learned spells, we set off through the woods again. We encountered a large group of about twenty gnomes who looked at us and our undead companions with disdain. We said hello to them but they didn’t reply as they eyed us suspiciously, and we heard one of them mutter under his breath to another in Gnomish “I wonder what evil necromancer these guys work for?” It was only then that we realized how bad having undead human zombies amongst our number made us look to others.
At first, the Elves were quite happy to have not only toasted their Thugee rivals (Elves hold a deep racial animosity towards Thugee and view them as murderous slavers in the World of Averlorn), but also to have seen Gradwin animate them as zombies and perhaps condemn their souls to purgatory rather than allowing them to ascend to Valhalla. But once they realized how we looked to the gnomes, and even perhaps to the rest of the outside world, they were deeply embarrassed and felt ashamed for being a part of that whole affair. Lucias and the rest of the group also felt embarrassed and deeply ashamed to be seen as working for or with a necromancer as well, and Lucias resolved to have a talk with Gradwin about the use of that spell later once we returned to town. Despite, Gradwin’s assertions that he was not using zombies and skeletons to commit chaotic or evil acts which was generally true, he was in fact committing a chaotic act by animating them in the first place. For a neutral character committing a chaotic act now and again is no big deal, but for the lawful characters in the group, and especially the two other lawful clerics, this particular chaotic act was deeply troubling and extremely problematic.
So we resumed our journey and eventually made camp for the night. The following day, we resumed our march, and our toasted zombie friends were starting to smell really bad and attract flies, and we were really starting to wonder if using corpses like this was really necessary since they were so unpleasant to be around. That’s when the two Chimera attacked, obviously drawn to the group by the stench of rotting cooked zombie flesh. They surprised the group and attacked the two characters in the back of the line – both Lucias and Cyrcla. They both breathed fire on the two characters from their dragon heads and killed the two horses that they were riding. Cyrcla was also burned badly but Lucias wasn’t hurt so much in part because of his Ring of Fire Resistance. They attacked again and pounced on the two characters before they could act. With five attacks each (three bites and two claws) the first one only managed to land a few blows on Lucias due to his heavy field plate armor and wounded him lightly, but the other one seriously mauled Cyrcla due to her lighter armor. To make matters worse, the dragon head also breathed fire on her again. She was nearly dead and withdrew from the combat into the woods to get out of the trajectory of any future fiery breath attacks.
So the next day, we sold all of the remaining horses and pack animals and divvied up the loot and prepared for a much needed rest. Lucias also had several heated discussions with Gradwin about his use of the spell Animate dead and Gradwin reluctantly agreed that it was probably not such a great idea to use that spell with regularity lest he be branded as an evil necromancer and give the group a bad reputation. Having such a reputation could not only have ended badly for him (he could have been thrown in prison or even executed for practicing necromancy), but it could have had bad consequences for the reputation and well being of the group as well. This was an image and trouble that we didn’t need especially with several characters approaching named level.
TO BE CONTINUED…