Sunday, Abadius 31, 4713 evening
Caravan, Necropolis, Path of Spirits
Much has happened since we first arrived in the necropolis several hours ago, some good, but mostly bad. It says much about our circumstances when the most positive thing anyone has said about the day thus far was, “It could have been worse.”
Easily said. Things can always be worse, and might yet be.
It had started out well enough. The caravan had traveled about fifteen miles before halting in front of a chasm, over which spanned a stone bridge. Towers on either side of the path seemed to guard the way, but we kept the wagons well shy of them until the my companions and I investigated the area.
Sparna, Olmas and I approached the bridge, and using Detect Undead I scanned the area. But there was no need for such precautions. The doors to the towers on either side of us sprang open and half a dozen headless mummies came forward.
Ivan reacted quickly, erecting a wall of fire before the western door. Sparna set himself before the eastern door and greeted a mummy with his urgosh. Kali then put a wall of fire in front of this door. At the western door a mummy passed through the flame and lumbered towards Olmas.
We then began a slow battle of attrition: we would slay the mummies on our side of the flames only to have another one or two run through to replace their fallen brethren.
As with our previous encounter the mummies had an unwholesome affect, and Sparna, Olmas and Kali at some point in time succumbed to the fear and froze in place momentarily. This extended what would have been a relatively short skirmish into a prolonged engagement. I helped by frying two of the undead with a pair of Searing Light rays — an action enthusiastically endorsed by Star and Beorn.
Presently the walls of fire died down and we entered the eastern tower. Rubble filled the northern quarter of the hexagonal chamber, but did not completely block an opening in the wall. We could see arrow slits facing out, and a steep stone stair leading up and around the outer wall to a balcony, which provided access to more arrow slits higher up.
The room to the north housed a number of alcoves, each with a funerary bier that had been ransacked. A door in the far wall led to a semi-circular room with three additional funerary biers, but of more elaborate design. Like the others, these too had been disturbed. The walls here had been painted with pictographs of bucolic scenes which had been defaced to show the dead rising from their graves and attacking the living. Prints in the dust on the floor indicated relatively recent passing of feet.
The western tower was much the same as its eastern cousin, but without the rubble.
Obviously this place had been used to bury the wealthy devout of Desna who perhaps wished to start their journey northward a little further along the Path of the Spirits. But followers of Fumioshi had discovered this place and made it their own. We estimated that there were probably two dozen humans that had been buried here and turned into undead. We had only accounted for ten at that point.
It seemed wise to move out from here as quickly as possible, and so we went toward the bridge to continue scouting the way ahead.
Only I could not walk onto the bridge. It was like a giant invisible balloon was blocking the way, and no matter how hard I tried to push through, I remained on the near side.
We then saw the pictographs on the abutment that proclaimed, “Here the dead walk. Trouble them not nor bar their path.”
Detect magic revealed a strong aura of Abjuration, and when Ivan threw a rock and it passed over the bridge without any resistance, Kali suggested it was protected by an Anti Life field.
Ivan and I tried to dispel the effect, but with no luck.
This would make moving the wagons across a challenge, but we quickly came up with ways we could use to (at least temporarily) create our own span to get them over safely.
In the meantime it was easy enough to use Airwalk (Olmas and Ivan) and Fly (the rest of us) to get to the other side and continue scouting.
There was a glow of dim indigo light from the south, toward which the path rose gently. Following it we entered a vast chamber that opened up to nearly a hundred feet wide as it bent westward, and more than twice that high. In the center of the cavern was a lake, and it was out from here that the deep blue light radiated. Far above we could barley make out a deep blue ceiling with glittering points of reflected light, making it look like a clear night sky.
A closer look at the water and we saw that the indigo light came from something deep down below and not the water itself. A large pillar, shaped like a large twisted dead tree, poked up above the surface from the center of the pool.
The main road continued through an opening to the west, but a smaller passage led up and to the northwest. Across the lake to the south a closed door beckoned.
We cautiously moved around the water, with Radella and Sparna leading the way, where we found an ancient desicated corpse lying on the floor at the western tip of the pond. It had a a magical sword, cloak and goggles, and the flesh on its fingers had pulled back such that the bones stuck out like claws.
Ivan called out, “Undead,” as we gathered around.
Undead? It seemed inert. I reached down to take the sword, and the thing stood up and glared at us with glowing red eyes.
At that moment a large white harry creature stepped into the cavern from the northwest. Fortunately Sparna and Kali had stopped there to watch for anything surprising us from that direction, and we heard Sparna call out, “Yeti!” as we sprang into battle.
I cast Blessing of Fervor to help my companions.
The revenant (for that is what we guessed the undead creature to be) struck out at Avia. Ivan shot it with a pair of arrows, and Avia struck back. Olmas then moved in and cut it down.
Meanwhile over at the Yeti Sparna had hacked at it and Kali had summoned a dire ape. Avia had moved over to help, and Ivan began to pepper it with arrows.
The yeti seemed well taken care of (I almost felt sorry for it), and Olmas and I stood looking down at the corpse.
“We could really use those magical items,” Star stated as a matter of fact. “I don’t know…” Pookie began, but her little voice was soon drowned out by Beorn screeching, “Yes, yes. We must have it! Take it! Take it!”
Hmm, sure. We had just defeated it. I reached down for the sword again, and again the thing stood up. This time it struck at me and then grabbed me, squeezing tightly. “I said that this was a bad idea,” Pookie snorted.
Fortunately the yeti was quickly slain, and the others joined in to make short work of the revenant (again).
Kali frowned, as she sometimes does when trying to remember something, and finally said, “I think you can only stop a revenant by finding whatever was troubling the spirit and resolving it.”
“Well, it seems obvious that it was killed here,” Ivan offered, “and so maybe we just need to find whatever killed him and kill that.”
While he was talking I saw something translucent shifting about about the tree shaped pillar in the center of the pond. “Hey, did you see that? There’s something over on that tree thing!”
Moving with surprising swiftness it flew over next to me and sliced at me with its incorporeal claws. A wave of weakness washed over me, and my friends joined together in a chorus of, “No! Stand strong!” With that to fortify me I managed to fight off the attack, but still felt less capable, and realized I could no longer cast my more advanced spells. I still knew them, but simply lacked the energy required to invoke them.
This was bad. But it could be worse. It soon was.
I yelled out, “It’s a spectre — beware its touch!” and the others bravely moved in to engage it. We quickly discovered that weapons — even magical ones, and spells only had a limited affect on the undead creature.
It reached out and struck at Olmas, who shivered and nearly collapsed from the drain of energy. “Oh, no.” Takoda cried out.
I then saw two more specters appear around the tree and make their way towards us. Oh shit.
I then noticed that these creatures had only moved over the water. “Get away from the water!” I called out, “I don’t think they can leave it. Use ranged attacks.”
I stepped back and reviewed my list of prepared spells. Spiritual Weapon was a relatively low level spell, but it would be effective against incorporeal creatures and I could still cast it. Moments later a glimmering heavy flail appeared next to the first spectre and bashed it.
The others stepped away from the water, and it looked like we had the situation under control when a pair of yetis entered from the western portal. Ivan grinned and placed a wall of fire between us and then. That seemed to do the trick, and we did not see them again.
Then Sparna said, “Well crap, I forgot I still had this.” and he held up a terracotta statuette of a warrior as a Spiritual Ally formed next to one of the spectres.
With two force weapons beating upon them, plus the rain of normal ranged attacks, the spectres were doomed, and slowly but surely they fell one by one.
We had turned our attention to the wall of fire and were deciding what to do next when the Status spell I cast each morning on Shalelu and Ameiko indicated that they were being injured. Things got even worse.
“The caravan is under attack!” I shouted. Kali used her wand of Haste and we raced back to the chasm. Airwalk was still active for Olmas and Ivan and so they continued on toward the caravan, while the rest of us crowded next to the edge.
I pulled out the wand of Fly and soon Sparna, Radella, Kali and I were able to cross and fly to across.
Four more headless mummies had come up from behind and attacked the caravan. Ameiko and Shalelu led the defense, but it was not going well. Ivan quickly got things under control by creating a wall of flame between the mummies and the caravan crew, and as the others arrived they attacked the mummies remotely, slowly wearing them down.
It looked like they had the situation well in hand, and so I flew back to the chasm and stood watch. We did not need any more surprises.
A short time later Olmas joined me. We didn’t say anything. We didn’t need to. We had both been crippled by the spectres, but while I was already beginning to feel a little better, Olmas still looked weak and shaken.
I had my friends to thank. Their effort to protect me had drained them, and they were a sombre and unusually quiet lot, although I could hear Pookie, McLovin and Takoda discussing what needed to be done next.
Sandru showed up and began to move the wagons forward as far as possible, and some time after the rest of my companions, except for Ivan (he insisted on staying at the back of the caravan and concentrating on keeping the wall of fire up until he fell asleep), joined Olmas and I.
“One of the drivers was killed,” Kali began, and my mice became quiet. “I asked Sandru if we should preserve his body so he can be raised, and he thought it a good idea.”
“So, add Gentle Repose to that list,” Takoda said softly.
“Okay,” I replied to Kali. “I’ll be able to cast that tomorrow morning. I think that by tomorrow afternoon I’ll be able to cast higher level spells again, like Restoration.”
Here we all looked at Olmas, who nodded grimly. If we were lucky the Restoration would bring him back to his full capabilities. If not… then we were looking at another week before he could receive another Restoration, and then another week after that, and so on.
“It looks like a lot of tomorrow’s energies will be spent recovering from today. But if we knew more of what was beyond the lake chamber we could perhaps prepare to do some additional exploration as well.”
Kali smiled. “I have just the thing.”
A few minutes later and Kali had drawn up a simple chart of what her Arcane Eye had found. The northwest passage, from where the first yeti had come, led into a twisty tangle of natural caverns in which more yetis lived. This warren connected to a worked stone complex of catacombs, which led back to the main path.
The main path continued west into another large chamber. An exit to the left continued up, while in the center a wooden platform had been erected on which a throne sat. Sitting on the throne was the largest yeti Kali had yet seen, and he was surrounded by a dozen more.
We’ll need to be as close to full strength as possible before taking on the entire yeti population of the caverns, not to mention the oversized yeti-king.
We briefly discussed tactics and strategy, and agreed that sealing off the main force of yetis from the “throne room” was a good strategy. Stone Shape could probably be used to our advantage, but really this called out for Wall of Stone, which none of us can cast just yet.
Perhaps tomorrow we can return to the lake chamber and explore what was behind the southern door. To this thought Takoda added, “But first we should restore Olmas.”