Light. It’s not that I’m afraid of the dark, I’ve splent plenty of time in the caverns of the Worldwound. But I can’t keep our enemies at bay if I can’t see them until they are almost on top of us. Can I hold my own toe-to-toe? You bet, but I can overwhelm an opponent a hundred feet away – even the odds so my companions can make quick work of those who get through my barrage. Like those trolls and their pet drake. These blasted ghouls keep shambling out of the darkness, and while we’re holding our own right now a little more light would make this easier…
Amidst the combat I could hear Renli – our short, well-armored friend – calling out to Iomadae. And there it was – Light. The next room was illuminated – dimly but enough for me to see in from my position covering both doors. More ghouls, but looking a little heftier, the evil cleric, and something that appeared to be demonic in origin. I let loose a volley at the beast as my companions jumped to the new threat. Renli stood in the door, attempting to hold the line.
And then there was chanting coming from the evil cleric. Next thing I know hands burst from the ground grabbing at my legs. I try to shake them off but they are relentless. I get pulled to the ground and I notice Lathandar is struggling as I am – and I know he is not very strong so he must be in even more peril than I am. Some ghouls had tried to enter the room behind us but the hands grabbed them too. Blast this magical mayhem…
I can hear the combat – Aldrick chanting, Renli battling, Lucius bellowing – but I can’t help them. I feel like I’m starting to be pulled into the ground. Damn these hands, I need to break out of this. More chanting and then a large zombie appears near my feet, tearing at Renli. But the little man stands like a giant, holding his ground against attackers from both sides. Lucius deals a solid blow to the creature while I struggle to free myself. I am definitely being pulled into the ground now…
And suddenly I’m free. Aldrick gives me a cursory nod as I stand up, and I take quick advantage and let loose a few arrows. Lathander has been lobbing holy water at the ghouls – how he managed not to hit any of us I’m not sure. Renli has entered the next room, still battling when he gets blasted by a dark ray of energy. He staggers for a second, then seems to catch a second wind and deals the final blow, ending any immediate threat.
We pause for a moment, to take stock and recover slightly. Renli in particular is in rough shape, and we use some of the magical healing items we purchased to get everyone back into fighting shape. Man that guy can take a beating. We start digging through the smaller room, looking for anything of use. We find a couple of keys, one opens a nearby strongbox with an ornate key. The evil cleric had a dagger in her chest with a bony hand as a handle – likely what corrupted her. There are a few other odds and ends that Aldrick looks over, and we decide to get moving again.
In the courtyard there are two other buildings – the stable and the crypt. Even with my familiarity with the Worldwound this is still an eerie place, the way the… vegetation… is out here. Since we’re looking for a bunch of soldiers our first stop is the stables. We approach on guard, not knowing how many more ghouls might be out there. The barn is also in rough shape, there is a collapsed wall on the far side, and as we approach we can see some glinting from a pile of metal in the center. Aldrick steps closer to bring more light to bear and out of the shadows charges a demon-horse, kicking and biting. We quickly swarm and dispatch it, then examine the pile of… armor? With the Queen’s coat of arms. So the men are around somewhere, but they aren’t here…
The crypt is next. I hate this feeling I get out here. It’s always too quiet, the stars change much too fast, almost as if they aren’t our stars. But back to this crypt. Very ornate stairway – Pharasma’s people wasted no expense – so we grab the ornate key and open the door… to blackness. Aldrick begins chanting, delivering a spell this time to clear the darkness, and we can see another door in a short way. All the tombs in this short hallway have been defiled. While I’m not surprised, it is still a shame to see. We move in and Lathander opens the next door, and as he does another dark energy ray strikes him. We hesitate for a moment, but nothing else happens so we move into the crypt.
As the light enters the room with us, we see people – soldiers – chained to the wall. They are recoiling from the light having been kept here in the darkness. We press into the room around the corner to see how many there are. Renli gives a rousing speech, trying to lift the spirits of the men, letting them know we are here to free them. But as he finishes another voice – clearly demonic – rises from the far dark corner of the crypt. “How lucky I am that the Knights of Kenabres would find me in my home. Imagine the look on my Lord Vang’s face when I bring you to him!” Our quarry is revealed in the dim light, a winged demon. Aldrick quickly identifies it as a Nabassu Demon.
I move up to a firing position, realizing this would be no easy fight. Cayden give me the strength to help my companions. Let them share in my hatred for this evil. Lucius bellows for us to advance into the fight, and I suddenly find myself wanting to move. Aldrick takes advantage, approaching and retreating quickly. Renli cries out to Iomadae and rushes the beast, landing a solid blow. Lathander hurls an explosive at it. But it appears unfazed.
Using it’s wings it quickly moves across the room, and glances at all of us except Renli. “You stay out of this!” I feel something coming over me but I shake it off. “Like hell I will!” He had moved to a point where I had a clear shot, so I let loose a volley on the beast. He looked… surprised… that I was shooting at him. Lucius takes advantage of this and charges into the fray, his sword landing another blow. Aldrick begins yet another infernal chant, and Renli finally runs the demon through.
We pause to take stock, and begin to unchain the prisoners. But Lucius wasn’t quite done. He noticed something was off with one of the prisoners – how I don’t know – but he did. He quickly challenged the prisoner, who first look terrified but quickly became angry. Lucius didn’t waste any time and plunged his sword into the prisoner… but it was no prisoner at all. It was a demon spawn… a Thoxel Aldrick tells us as he studies it. A spawn of insubordinate armies or deserters.
With no other threats imminent we free the soldiers, give them food and water, return their armor and get them ready to travel back to the army. In deference to Milo we consecrate the crypt, to try and remove some of the taint of evil on the site. Seems like a decent enough thing to do. Time to head back to the army and continue on this march to Drezen. Hopefully some of these men will be strong enough to be helpful soon.