KinKal War Journals

The first Sessions
Trouble with Goblins

So I had met this weird group of adventurers; a goth Paladin of the Raven Queen and his…friend…partner…I’m not sure, but a Cleric, also of the Raven Queen. The Paladin, a half elf seemed a little weak to be wearing that heavy armor, but the cleric – a hulking dragonborn, also worshiping the Raven Queen – has enough muscles for the whole group! The other member worries me the most – which is saying a lot – is a tiefling wizard with a rather unhealthy attraction to fire. I mean sure he can light enemies on fire but I’m a little afraid that it may spread to more than enemies…

So I was stuck in Loudwater – it was the first place I came across when I came out of the woods for the winter. Yeah, I prefer nature but let’s be real – a roaring fire and cozy bed beats a cold rock any day. So this place is kinda interesting but pretty dull – no orcs to kill, no slavers to fill full of arrows.

So we were hanging out – the Paladin, Cleric, Wizard, and I, doing a little shopping in the market when the freaking wall explodes! Good thing I was behind a building or it might have made me REALLY angry! Goblins rush in, hacking away at the poor human townsfolk and downing several almost before the dust settles.

Well I was having none of that – even if they weren’t raiding for slaves goblins were nasty, smelly, and stupid. So they get standard treatment – fill’em full of arrows! There sure were a lot of them because despite flinging arrows like crazy they were all over me, stabbing me with their crappy weapons.

Then all of a sudden most of them went running past and into this curio shop. Meanwhile, some big nasty goblin had blinded the tiefling and some tough goblins had surrounded the dragonborn. Despite several stab wounds from those annoying goblins I leapt to the aid of the dragonborn with my shortswords, deftly tumbling over a cart of goods on my way.

That dragonborn did something that closed a bunch of my wounds – pretty cool but not that I really needed it. I rushed to the far side of the goblin mage and smacked him with my swords. His armor absorbed most of the damage but I got his attention. He stepped back and did some strange crap – just what I had expected. Some spikes grew from the ground around me and I knew if I moved it would hurt – a LOT. Who needs to move! Away went the big knives and out came ol’faithful. Arrows flew but this guy was tough and kept shrugging them off. Still, soon he fell and I rushed off to help out in the shop.

Inside there was only a single goblin left who immediately moved to take the shop keeper hostage. Stupid goblin…like taking a captive was going to make us stop? I danced around, and he attacked me but suddenly his skin bubbled with a divine energy and he fell dead. The morose Paladin actually almost grinned.

We cleaned up from the battle, finding a couple gems and some note about resurrecting an ogre king. Apparently the goblins were after some dagger in the shop as directed by a goblin shaman named Sancossug. The shaman intended to use the dagger (the Horn Totem) and the Skull Totem that he already possessed to resurrect some Ogre King. The shopkeeper gave us the dagger as it clearly meant trouble and he didn’t want anything of that sort. He told us that he had gotten it from a wizard named Kurvar who hung out in the tavern.

So after a brief explanation to the town guard we went to find Kurvar to see if he could tell us the way to find the goblin lair. He was a self-righteous, cocky jerk who thought that we had to prove that we were worthy. I was ready to walk out and just follow their trail but the others managed to convince him that we were worthy. He not only told us the way but threw in a pair of boots, showed us where a trap was, and said if we prove ourselves by returning with the Skull Totem that he’d tell us the secret of the ogre king.

So off we wandered – without any rest – to the goblin barrows. It turned out it was the location of an old dwarven stronghold named Amarindar. The dwarves had abandoned it during the spell plague.

Underground we came to a dead end, but I knew there must be something there and found a cleverly hidden door. Popping it open revealed a large room with dwarven statues and a swarm of goblins. They charged forward but couldn’t get to me through the door. I drew back a pair of arrows and, after stabbing the first goblin with them, I shot two more. As much as it pained me I figured I should let the others have some fun so I stepped out of the way.

Our fire-loving wizard stepped up and lit a bunch of them up with a big fan of flames. And just for future reference, goblins smell even worse when they burn. The wizard was followed by the dragonborn cleric who not only electrocuted a few with is breath but also then turned and bonked one on the head with his mace! Man that guy can bring it.

Hardly any time had passed and there were only a couple goblins left – though they were tough ones including a shaman of some sort. I stepped up on a rock behind the dragon born, took careful aim and buried a shaft into the flesh of each one. Lo and behold neither fell but both were in pain and bleeding and soon they were crushed, cut, and burned.

At the top of the ramp in the room (after the Dragonborn had found the pit in the middle of the room) we found some rune covered altar device. Apparently it was some sort of teleport that the dwarves had used to escape during the spell plague.

My compatriots tried to listen down the next hall but were like two stooges bumping into stuff. I heard some scraping and moaning sounds – sounded like zombies and of course it was. Unfortunately I was too worried about the big oafs and set off an alarm.

A portcullis opened, releasing the zombies and as we made quick work of them a pair of rather skilled goblins stepped out of a door on the opposite side of the hallway. With some clever tactical maneuvering the Paladin pulled the rogue-looking goblin away from the blinded cleric while I repeatedly stabbed the large goblin.

Eventually our combined efforts resulted in many dead zombies and two dead goblins. I swear that big guy had 20 holes in him from my shortswords. Would have been a lot easier with my bow but sometimes stabbing stuff with big knives is fun too.

We decided we had found a good spot to rest and recover. There were some stairs down but we were in a good spot to cover ourselves and venture down when our energy was restored.

Second Session
Finish the Goblins

Before we got to resting I figured that any remaining goblins from below might try to sneak up on us during the night. So I rigged up a little surprise using their own tripwire and various bits of metal to make noise. Not surprisingly we heard it go off in the middle of our rest, followed by the sound of a rapid retreat. I couldn’t help but chuckle – goblins are soooooo dumb!

After resting we headed out, confident in our fully refreshed arsenal. At the bottom of the steps there was a hallway that ended in a strong locked double door. There was no sound on the other side so I tried to pick the lock. Silly me to expect a well crafted dwarven lock in this former dwarven stronghold – it threw me off completely that it was crappy goblin manufacture! I even broke off a damn tool making all sorts of noise. If goblins had a clue about craftsmanship…but no, it actually took me two tries to get the damn thing open.

Unfortunately something on the other side must have heard me with the lock and we opened the doors to an arrow! Inside a large room were three hobgoblins and two goblins – including one of those damn shaman. He threw a cloud at the door and the two big hobgoblins came to meet us. One hobgoblin stayed back to shoot arrows and the one goblin stayed back to protect the shaman.

The cloud obscured our vision and the hobgoblins were well armored so the battle was tough and we were taking a beating. I dodged through the front line and out of the cloud to get a shot at the hobgoblin archer and the shaman. Though I hit them hard with my arrows they responded in kind and soon I was bleeding from several wounds. Fortunately the cleric and paladin with the support of the wizard had finally cracked the hobgoblin phalanx and gotten into the room. The paladin managed to get over to me and despite being blinded gave some divine healing. Somehow we finally managed to wear them down and finish off the goblin shaman.

There was blood, spent arrows, and scorch marks all over the room – slightly too much of the blood being from us! The goblins had a disgusting bedroom with some valuables…but I guess indicating that a goblin bedroom is disgusting goes without saying.

In the main room was a long staircase that curved around the outside of a cylindrical chasm that fell away several hundred feet into the ground. When we got to the bottom there was a long hallway that seemed to lead to some sort of burial chamber. Standing vigil over the sarcophagus was an ornamented goblin shaman who wanted to chat for a bit. He seemed a bit insecure in his devotion to his “god” so we tried to sow some doubt. I figured this goblin was crazier than normal and was right – he held to his beliefs and then did some transformation that turned him into the ogre king!

The battle was on and we waded in. The ogre king/shaman had all sorts of horrid tricks up its sleeve and seemed to be almost unkillable! Of course at an inopportune time my bow cracked and was useless. So I charged in with my knives stabbing for all I was worth. The wizard tossed out this huge ball of flame that flailed at the ogre repeatedly burning him. Meanwhile the cleric and paladin seemed to be pulling out every divine trick their gods provided them.

The paladin was taking a beating and actually seemed to back off for a moment and what happened next was really…weird? Disgusting? Strange? The paladin’s blood seemed to boil out of his armor and leap out at the ogre burning it wherever it touched him. I’ve seen a lot of pretty strange and disgusting things in my time but that made the bile rise in my throat.

Finally, between the cutting, stabbing, divine powers, and flame the ogre king visage fell away from the goblin shaman and he fell dead.

We all kind of looked at the Paladin, but no one said anything.

In the sarcophagus was a creature that looked like an ogre but wasn’t quite the same. We cleaned up and grabbed a few odd items that were in the room then started our long trek home.

On the way back to Loudwater the Paladin, who had been rather quiet suddenly spoke up. He explained that the whole “blood” ordeal was something to do with his destiny or some crap. I don’t know – it was some kind of divine magic mumbo-jumbo. He said it just “happens” some times which is some cause for worry as I hope it doesn’t happen to one of us! I thought I saw the cleric Rong making some notes about it but I’m not sure. The wizard looked a little disgusted but coming from a guy that likes to burn and blow things up, that isn’t necessarily meaningful.

When we finally returned to Loudwater Kurvar told us that the ogre king was actually an “Oni”. Apparently that is some sort of magical ogre-like creature not native to this area but the goblins worshipped it. As I mentioned before, goblins is sooooo dumb.

So now we’re looking to take some of our gains and buy some nice gear from Garwan’s shop.

Third Session
Secrets Revealed

We gathered our gains together and looked at what we could buy. The various stores – especially Garwan’s shop – had all sorts of tempting weapons, armor, and other items. Though I felt that the money should go to a wand for Colibri or armor for Arjan, they all were more than willing to pitch in for this fancy bow. Though it was hard to part with my current bow, it had been damaged and was getting old and worn out.

The new bow was made of a dark wood that seemed to shift and waver when an arrow was drawn. This affect even affects the user apparently! Though it is not noticeable at more than a few feet away, it does help when I am shooting at close range. I have to admit I was quite happy with the purchase and was itching to put it to good use.

We also found that the “Horn Totem” could be connected to the mace (Skull Totem) that Rong used. The magic twisted to Rong’s “vibe” (or some magical crap like that) and it now crackled with electrical energy. He was quite a sight – a huge dragonborn with a sparking skull weapon!

One thing we found as we traveled around to various stores in town is that there seemed to be an issue with paying someone protection money. A little investigation allowed us to determine that the prime culprit was Naros who ran a gang in town. They apparently required protection money from all businesses. We heard that Brasha, the Apothecary, refused to pay but was very worried about the situation. We also learned that the rough tavern down by the docks – the Fisher’s Friend Pub – was the hang out of this Naros character.

Clearly the town guard wasn’t doing much to solve the problem and perhaps helping out would get us in good with the local merchants.

We entered the Fisher’s Friend pub and the patrons all stopped to look at us. The place was a dump and the previously mentioned patrons were as expected; ugly, rough, and sloppy.

The bartender ignored us for a while, until I stood up on a bar stool and made it clear we were not to be trifled with. No sooner had we gotten his attention when a big ugly dwarf walked over with his toady and started giving us some lip. When we stood up to him he quickly backed down. Before he left though I relieved him of a sack of gold he had casually hung from his belt – pretty much begging me to take it!

I could see he still wasn’t about to give up and soon he realized that his money was gone and came over with two friends to try to get it back. The oaf thought he could knock me down by kicking out the barstool I was standing on. I saw it coming a mile away and executed a perfect, balanced landing, grinning the whole time.

Of course this just made him angrier but I was apparently too small for him to prove himself against. Heh, he shouldn’t have judged me by my size. He went after the dragonborn with a ham-sized fist and suddenly we had a full out bar brawl!

Arjan scuffled with the two toadies, giving them all they could handle, while Rong wanted nothing to do with fisticuffs and clocked the ugly dwarf with his skull mace. The blow left the thug reeling and struggling to clear the cobwebs. I dodged behind him to get better position while I saw the wizard start waving his hands. I landed a beautiful two-handed strike on either side of the dwarf’s head that caused his ears to bleed and he howled in pain.

He must have realized he was in trouble as he struggled to get his axe out just as Colibri launched his spell. I was really hoping that in this dusty, wooden structure full of flammable alcohol that he wasn’t going use a big fire blast. Fortunately it was a non-burning explosion that sent the dwarf flying into the far wall, leaving a dwarf-shaped impression where he hit!

The two toadies took one look at what had happened to their “leader” and took off like scared kobolds.

After that display it didn’t take us long to “convince” the bartender to direct us to where Naros and his boss – some “Lady of Shadows” – were located.

So off we went to a small corner of town that was run down and filled with the poor and homeless. There was a larger building with all of the windows boarded up. Two thugs hung out in front of it, trying to look casual. We told them we wanted in but couldn’t initially convince them. Still, after a little work they opened the door and rang some bell. These guys weren’t all that bright.

Down some stairs was a large room filled with thugs. Three leaders stood in the back – one was clearly Naros, a second was an elven archer, and the final one must have been the “Lady of Shadows” as her form wavered and was hard to see.

We had a quick discussion but they weren’t really interested in talking. I told them what the result of resisting us would be and apparently that just made them think they had a chance. Wonder if these guys were related to goblins?

So the fight was on and that damn elf was pretty good with that bow. The shadow lady did some fancy crap and moved through the shadows to get next to me and hit me hard. I responded with a pair of arrows; one for Naros and one for the shadow lady.

Meanwhile the dragonborn was throwing down lightning and dropping thugs while a flash of fire from the wizard did the same. Arjan had some weird black stuff launch out at the shadow lady and though it didn’t seem to have any significant affect I could see…maybe feel an aura around us. When I drew back my bow to fire and she attacked me I swear I saw a dark raven form appear above her and scratches appeared from where the claws would have been.

Unfortunately the lady’s blade struck and drew lots of blood. I was getting a little worried about all of the attention I was getting but the Rong did something that caused many of the wounds to heal and Arjan gave a little prayer that stemmed the bleeding! While all that was going on I could have sworn I saw that dang dark raven form again. Maybe it was just the shadows in that room…

Despite the fact that we had cut down most of the thugs the leaders were still on us. The shadow lady disappeared again and suddenly attacked Colibri. Well that was no good so I moved over to help the pyrologist. My new bow helped the arrows fly true and the lady screamed as her form dissipated.

Rong and Arjan had taken this time to teach Naros the error of his ways but also half the group was blinded by the various evil powers of our enemy. That didn’t slow down the wizard as he created a ball of flame and slid it around the room to burn whatever it was near.

The elf archer was clearly not as good as he thought he was as his arrows often failed to find their mark. Mine, however, continued to fly true.

When Colibri’s vision cleared he chased the archer around with his sphere of flame and slowly burned him to death. The room was full of dead bodies and I couldn’t help but consider that we gave them a chance to surrender.

Arjan started to arrange them in some funeral format for the Raven Queen – kinda weird but I guess I should learn to expect that from him. We relieved them of their ill-gotten gains as well as a few nice magical items.

Meanwhile I heard some whimpering around the corner and snuck around to investigate. There were three rather dirty and malnourished children in a cage. I released them and asked how they had gotten here. They indicated that they, along with several other children, had been taken from their homes and moved down the river to Loudwater (in casks that smelled of apple cider).

These three had been held behind for some ritual (that I am glad we had prevented) but others had been sold into slavery! Apparently this was a stop for slavers to transport kids through to get them to some gang called the Zelbrass Bandits. Clearly this called for further investigation as a slave operation had to be shut down, no matter what the costs.

I brought the kids out and relieved myself on Naros dead face. Slavers don’t deserve funeral rights.

Across the room was another area that was protected by some sort of runes on the floor. Colibri took a few minutes and made this strange disk that moved me over the runes to where I could remove the chest they were guarding. It contained a few more items of value that the thugs had collected from their sick profession.

We took the kids out and decided that the town government should take care of them. The Mayor (Lady Moonfire) had no clue that her city was rife with crime and slavers. I was pretty disgusted by her high class, no clue attitude. She was “sure” that her captain of the guard was investigating things but we all knew he is overworked and can’t possibly have a clue what is going on.

I wanted to go after the Zelbrass bandits right away, but figured that upgrading our gear was a good idea first. We also need to do some investigating to find out where we might find these slavers.

Session 4 and 5
Moving on...?

Journal of KinKal Issue 4/5

[Session 4 did not get proper attention in the Journals – I had to prepare for a 1-shot adventure – but I did write a brief email that went over the basics so I’ll include that. Sorry for the short entry.]

The heroes were at a standstill, trying to gather information about the whereabouts of the evil slavers. Much evidence pointed to the neighboring town of Zelbrass. Just as our intrepid adventurers thought the trail was getting cold (it is winter after all…) they were ambushed by men in purple robes!

After the harrowing combat that included a nasty “ghoul-in-a-box” dropped from a roof, we found a few items, but no further clues.

After some discussion we realized that the apothecary was the only business in town that was not being hit up for money by the thugs so we went to have a little “chat”. Though we were far too nice to the nasty half-elf, it did allow enough distraction for KinKal to deftly steal the map to the cultists’ base.

So off we went (the Dragonborn deciding to take a dip in the river on the way across) and followed the map to a location right outside of the Dire Wood. Not surprisingly we found an encampment of purple robed cultists, who started marching off into the woods, chanting.

Though we are currently not noticed by the robed figures, the overconfident, impatient, and impulsive halfling is about to do something rash.

Finally we had tracked the nasty slavers to their lair on the outskirts of the Dire Wood, only to see them march into the wood.

I feared that we would lose their trail so was itching to go in after them when we heard a sound from behind us. More cultists? Reinforcements come to warn them that their attempt on our lives had failed? No, it was that hick sheriff from Loudwater, Captain Harrowleaf along with his band called Riley’s Rangers (he is apparently Captain Riley Harrowleaf). They claimed to be here to “arrest” us but I think that they knew better than to even try. Plus they noticed the purple cloaked figures heading into the woods as well and decided to help us stop that menace first, then question us a bit more.

Yeah, bright idea Captain.

So we split up and moved into the forest. Harrowleaf assigned each one of us a band of men to lead through the wood – I guess he figured they’d get lost if he tried to keep track of them all. His lieutenant seemed to be a competent sort – a big hulking fighter with a flail.

So into the Dire Wood we marched. There seemed to be several hazards to overcome but none were all that difficult for me. Some of the others lost a couple men but most of them came through fine.

Some pixies that had followed me finally spoke up and gave us 2 options – direct up to the hill-top or through a series of caves to the hill-top. The former was faster, but we would be noticed. The later was more dangerous (dark and we could be eaten by a Grue) but we could come upon them unnoticed.

The captain and his men took the direct route while we went through the caves. The lieutenant came with us to “keep an eye on us”.

As we went through the tunnels it was extremely dark and everyone lit up what light they had. Even then, the light seemed to pierce the darkness less than it should. I tried scouting ahead, without my light and was somehow mentally attacked at the very edge of the light.

Ok, important safety tip, stay in the light.

We saw another light up ahead and, as we peeked around the edge of an opening, saw several purple robed figures. We quickly leapt to the attack and started cutting down the evil cultists.

A few of them were a bit tough but we worked together and cut them down. One made a break for it, but he got the “fill’em full of arrows” treatment. He was running toward a ladder up and no sooner had we gathered the worthwhile gear from the fallen foes than we heard the sound of battle from up the ladder. With no time to rest, up the ladder we went.

On the top of the hill there was a large flat area with an ancient stone circle surrounding a central altar. The captain and his men were engaged with a group of purple robed warriors on the far side of the circle, but were not making much progress. On each of the stones defining the circle was a purple-robed cultist and chained to the stone was a slave. Additionally 4 crystal globes in metal holders stood at each of the cardinal points away from the center. In the center another cultist was manipulating a sphere of magical energy that was fed by the crystal globes.

The only other items of note were 2 ghouls locked in small cages off to the side. Clearly the cages were old and rusted, and certainly did not look like they would hold agitated ghouls for long.

Seeing slaves chained to the stones was bad enough, but to force them to be part of some nasty ritual…well, suffice to say it was time to act!

We all charged forward, and I fired at the main cultist in the center. The arrow bit deep but the wound seemed to immediately heal. The cultists seemed to be in some sort of trance as when my second arrow struck one by a stone he “awoke” and moved to the attack.

In moments a brutal battle broke out as the cultists fired evil magics at us. Suddenly the guy in the middle did something and a beam of energy fired at one of the robed figures by a stone. That figure shaped the energy and directed it into the slave chained to the stone, turning him into a ghoul!

We continued to press the attack – my focus being the breaking of the cultists’ trance so that they could not turn anymore slaves into ghouls. Every wound we did to the ritual leader seemed to heal immediately so we concentrated on the evil warlock assistants. Though they wielded foul magic, they were not very strong and fell beneath blade and shaft.

As we moved forward several people smashed down the crystal globes that fed the ritual energy. This seemed to make the sphere in the middle spin out of control. Just as we finished the last of the purple robed cultists the globe of energy seemed to fly out of control. The ritual leader screamed as energy leapt out of the sphere and transformed him into a twisted being of flesh and tentacles!

The strange beast attacked, grabbing at us with tentacles to draw us into its disgusting maw. We gave it everything we had left and our combined might finally seemed to kill it.

As the aberration fell and was absorbed by the now out of control energy there was a flash as the energy broke free. Suddenly all was strange – we could still hear the battle of the captain and his men…but it sounded distant. There was a deep fog surrounding the area, too thick to penetrate and our footsteps echoed strangely.

The fog slowly faded leaving the 5 of us – myself, Colibri, Ahrjan, Rong, and the Lieutenant from Riley’s Rangers – standing on a dark, dusty, crossroads. The signpost read in one direction: Town of Barovia, in the other direction, Castle Ravenloft…

/cue dramatic music /fade to black

Session R1
Into the dark

There was a chill in the air as we got our bearings in this new place. It was dusk and a thick fog hung about the forest the bordered the road. The land we had left was snow-covered but here there was none.

We started off in the direction of the town – perhaps someone there could explain where we were. As we moved down the road the fog seemed to get even thicker and a misty rain began to fall. Though I believe the actual temperature was warmer than where we left, the wet air chilled me. And I had a feeling in my gut…something here was just not right.

We eventually reached a gate in the road flanked by two large statues whose heads had been removed. There was no wall beyond the gate or any other reason for it to be there. The thick forest was as it had been on either side of the road.

The gate creaked open – probably a bit of breeze…though it seemed pretty calm. It just seemed creepy but I wasn’t about to let a creaking gate scare me and strode forward. As the rest of the group followed through the gate slammed shut behind us. The hair stood up on the back of my neck and the feeling of dread increased – that was clearly not natural.

I shook off my doubts and we continued forward but there was still that nagging feeling in the back of my mind that something wasn’t right.

We broke from the woods as the rain increased from heavy mist to a constant drizzle – not enough to soak you, but enough to be cold and annoying. A town lay in a low spot thick with the ever-present mist. However, we did not see any signs of life – no fires, no light, no smoke from chimneys. As we got closer we could see that the doors and windows of all of the buildings were boarded up.

The muddy road showed signs of recent foot travel from many sets of boots, and with the puddles on the ground and rainy weather they couldn’t have been very old. So someone had to be here, somewhere.

A noise up ahead grabbed our attention – there seemed to be an overturned cart of some sort with humanoid figures around it. It was hard to tell what exactly they were doing though the thick fog…but as we got closer it became clear – they were some sort of sick undead creatures feasting on dead humans!

I felt the bile rise in my throat; these were no simple mindless zombies but were instead actively feasting on the dead bodies! Our new addition – I had learned his name was Wil Blackburn – charged forward but the sickly creatures were faster than they appeared and after deftly dodging his blows started swarming around him.

As the paladin marched forward and launched into his attack, he was assaulted from the flank down another street. Fortunately he avoided the attack as the rune-covered creature caused the ground beneath him to open and attempt to swallow him.

The fast zombies gave out a high-pitched scream which was answered from distant rooftops. As we cut down the zombie hoard more of them poured in from the rooftops, surrounding Wil and Ahrjan, while the rune-covered enemy pressed forward. Wil managed to get tangled up with a zombie during an attack and dropped to the ground, managing to get a face full of muddy water which momentarily blinded him.

We were looking a bit pressed and I still felt the horror in my gut. Still I pressed forward a bit as the rune-covered evil sent a wave arcane fear over our front rank. Meanwhile Wil had gotten up and cleared his eyes, but in his drive to strike his foes got his flail tangled and tossed it across the road.

The cart we had seen was now an inferno as Colibri’s bursts had caught that as well as the enemies. I saw a cold determination rise in Rong as he stepped forward and called on the power of the Raven Queen. A shadowy burst of divine energy radiated out from him and several of the creatures screamed as they turned to dust! Ahrjan pressed forward but was trapped by the earth attack and could not reach the runed enemy.

My arrows finally started flying true and I felled a pair of the disgusting creatures that were coming over the rooftops. We had now turned the tide, but the leader was still standing. Rong stepped forward, again invoking his god, and smote the thing. There was a terrible scream as the runes glowed and the creature seemed to collapse in on itself.

Ahrjan yelled some nonsense about that being “his” enemy to defeat but most of us figured it was just more of his “life is pain” morose crap and just nodded until he stopped. Rong seemed a bit surprised at the reaction but little seems to shake the huge Dragonborn. But then again he could have had a look of complete fear for all I knew – his face never seems to change no matter what the situation.

All was quiet…for a moment. Then we heard the scream of another of these wild zombies. The fire – it was clearly visible from most of the town and we pressed on to get away from it before we had more visitors.

Clear of the fire we came upon an open crossroads. In the middle there was a man lying face down. We all suspected…well something. Colibri poked the body with some magical force to see if it would arise as a zombie but it was truly dead…for now. Still, I’d seen enough ambush situations to go marching into this. No, always change the rules when you suspect an ambush. So I quietly climbed to the roof of one of the buildings to our right. Moving stealthily I noted a figure on a roof opposite, seemingly watching the corpse. It was hard to see through the fog but it seemed to be crouched in a pose suggesting a zombie, not a human. I took careful aim and fired – the arrow neatly pierced the creature’s neck and it pitched forward onto the street with little more than a thump.

The group approached the man and he seemed to have some sort of amulet on him – an old symbol of a sun god of some sort. I stayed on the roof, watching for more enemies while the group searched the body. Suddenly they looked up at the building he appeared to be fleeing when he died. I could see in their eyes that something inside was not right. Colibri gave out some sort of scream and started looking around as if he were surrounded by enemies. Before we could act he had launched a spell at Ahrjan. A moment later the madness seemed to clear from his eyes and he looked confused. Ahrjan slapped Colibri to try to clear his senses but it was obvious he now knew he had been affected by some sort of delusion.

Meanwhile Rong and Wil had gone in and taken care of the floating apparition practically before I could get into the building.

We sat to rest a moment but heard the sound of combat farther along the street. It appeared we were not the only ones fighting zombies in this dread place! So off we raced toward the sound. I checked my supply of arrows on the way; a little more than a single quiver. Hopefully there was someone in this forsaken place that could make a straight shaft and put steel to its tip [after all, in 4e I can’t craft anything…].

We came upon what appeared to be the city center. There were barriers constructed across the roads entering the square but one was broken and zombies flooded through the breach. In the middle a single armored female struck down zombies with gusto, but was hard pressed and wounded.

The barriers were high – clearly made to slow the advance of the quick zombies. It took some of my teammates a bit of effort to clear the obstacle, but it hardly slowed me down. Two arrows took care of two zombies currently attacking the armored lady. She looked up a bit surprised at the sudden aid and I simply smiled; “Yes ma’am, the heroes have arrived.”

With our help the zombies were quickly dispatched – even those foul things that hurled globs of putrescence at us. Without hesitation the lady – who we later learned was Ashlan and a Paladin – started directing people to rebuild the barrier. But before we could get very far with that the ground shook with giant footfalls. I could help but wonder what this place was? Where had we ended up? Was this some sort of slow death set upon us by some evil god? Perhaps there was no end to the flow of living dead and it was simply an inevitability for us to join this army? The thought shook me – slaving was my most hated issue but eternal servitude with the torture of the cold pain of death lingering forever?

A barrier burst open, shaking me out of my thoughts. A zombie the size of a house stood in the newly made breach. I hesitated, wondering how something this foul could even exist. Well, that didn’t matter now, let them come and keep coming. I will fill them with arrows until I have no more, then I will cut them with my swords until I create a pile of bodies so high they can no longer reach me! And somewhere, somehow a bard will sing songs of the crazy Halfling that slew an army of zombies!

I let fly with arrows but the shaking of the ground threw off my aim. Wil strode bravely forward but the creature swung its massive hand at him. Though it struck Wil with the force of a battering ram its back swing had hit a building, knocking lose a tall tower. The tower collapsed on the giant zombie causing massive damage!

The group pressed hard, seeing even more, smaller zombies following the giant beast. Apparently the falling tower had done a lot of damage as the big zombie fell under our assault. Still I had a feeling – something was not right. And correct I was, as moments later the thing got back up! I launched arrows burring several deep it its rotting flesh. Rong, Arjan, Colibri, and Wil smashed, burned, and cut not only the giant zombie but all that followed and soon all of the dead had been returned to their rightful state.

Ashlan thanked us and introduced herself. She indicated that the attack seemed to be over for now and we should retire to the tavern to rest and recover.

Even in the warm tavern I could feel the chill inside me. This was not the normal chill of wet, cold weather but a chill that touched something deeper. Should I fall from this evil and rise as one of these foul creatures I truly hope that my companions will destroy me and ensure that I do not rise again. I most certainly will not hesitate to do the same to them.

Maybe this is some test from the Raven Queen for Rong and Ahrjan? Perhaps I was just unlucky enough to be caught up in the “test”? Whatever the case, perhaps I should at least learn a bit about this Queen and what it is I can do to keep her satisfied.


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