Once in Woodland, we headed to the guild hall and met with Micah, telling the guild master about the dragons (the one we slayed as well as the likely-cloud one that had flown overhead), goblin king, troll, evil priests, etcetera. Once that task was completed, Ayman and I went to find Batts, the guild's token goblin. Our mage explained to him that we'd picked up Gribble in the mine and wanted Batts to keep an eye on him while he set up a wizard workshop (or something like that, anyway). I stopped by the mosque, dropping off the extra dragon bones I'd acquired and spoke with Armand, then went to the apothecary with Ayman and Ghost. Merton told us about a wizard making potions of disillusion (I have a feeling our black dragon control potion was such) and we left some items there for him to research. Speaking of research, Ayman took a look at the scrolls we'd picked up- two were spells (dig and fireball spells) and one was a scroll with instructions left by the skeletal wizard down in the mine.
The scroll read thus:
"To the finder -- I was naught but a hedge wizard with a
vendetta; all my preparations were for naught. Dear reader,
please carry my torch. You will know what to do with my
possessions. My wand answers to Eko, Eno or Esa.
Beware what lies ahead and avenge me!-- Roderick"
Since we'd done a pretty thorough job of vanquishing the evil in the mine, it's probably safe to say the man was properly avenged.
While in Woodland we came across a human necromancer named Vordb (I hope I'm spelling that correctly) who was excited to meet Ayman. (I suppose tall human wizards flock together?) Linora handed the goblin king's crown over to Thrur and learned that he wanted to come to Rinos with us while Vordb, Ayman and I headed back to the apothecary. After introducing the necromancer, we were told what the items were that we'd dropped off.
We stayed in town for the June Festival; our old friend Cornwallis put on a show and spoke with us for a while. He'd been preforming to the west and told us that tales of our deeds had reached almost as far as the desert (just wonderful...) and that he hadn't seen the man who attacked him when last we met.
The next day we set off to Joven using the Gate, which had been refined and seemed to function better this time, not setting Shocko's pants on fire (alas, that had been amusing), and left Gribble behind with Batts. Before leaving the mosque in Joven, I picked up a copy of the better-functioning Gate plans. We found Dwight and talked about our latest adventures over lunch. He informed us that he'd be coming with us to Rinos, which no one had a problem with. He told us some somber news: the king is gravely ill and his heir is still rather young.
We set off to Rinos that afternoon with two of Dwight's men and Thrur. We stopped for the night in Garrison where I sent a letter west to my brother, informing him that we'd reach the city in about a week. That night Ghost and Dwight caught a pair of men trying to break into the inn; they were apparently repeat offenders who had broken out of jail, as we learned from the sheriff.
The next day while on the road we came across a group of hooded figures heading our way, garbed in rough brown robes. When they didn't answer our greeting, they pulled back their hoods and we saw that they were in fact skeletons. I quickly Blessed the group as Ayman threw fire and our group attacked. I decided to try out that Ring of the Ram, and after some problems (who knew a ring of strength required... well, strength?), I hit two. Dwight exploded one with his sword and they turned to flee- Vordb was able to stop this by summoning bats and sending them at the skeletons. Eventually we killed (rekilled? Unkilled?) them all and piled them off on the side of the road, then continued on our way.
Around midnight we reached the town of Purewell. Dwight told us we were nearing Waterford, the town next to the river, and the next morning we set off again. Around noon we met with a group of fishermen and their wagon of fish (obviously). Most of us bought some and the men informed us that they'd heard about creepy monsters coming out of the trees at night. We thanked them for the fish and made camp that evening. While on watch, Shocko heard sounds to the north and Linora flew ahead in bat-form. She discovered a few stinking hunched figures in the bushes and flew back to awaken the rest of us. We started to attack and saw that they were a group of misshapen humanoids- ghouls. We dispatched the lot of them and when one ended up smelling worse than the others, Vordb explained that that one was actually a ghast (but was not particularly aghast by this news).
The rest of the night passed without event and we traveled on, eventually reaching the town of Waterford. In the Old Kettle Inn, the innkeeper was excited to see Dwight and sent a boy off to get the mayor and constable. He told us of a terrible problem: young townspeople (three children and two young women) had been kidnapped in the late evening recently. The constable had caught a glimpse of the kidnapper and told us that it had been man-height and had headed north. After forgetting just who my companions were and digging myself into enough trouble to need a shovel, Ghost left to use her tracking abilities. I asked to be shown the houses where the kidnappings had occurred to see if that would help, and discovered that two had been near the north wall, two at the inn just north of center, and one was to the northeast. The children had been taken from outside their homes and the two from the inn had actually been upstairs.
Ghost found that the tracks were clawmarks rather than human, and proceeded to lead us north into the hilly barrow downs where warriors from the orc wars were buried. The smaller barrows seemed undisturbed, so we headed to the large one in the center. The strongest members of our party got the door open and we entered to find the expected alcoves and slabs and the like, as well as piles of bones, scraps of armor and old weapons. We made our way through a few chambers to a larger one with a dim light, all the while hearing a thumping sound. Inside were about nine ghouls and a figure in a grey dress with long hair, holding something on its lap. The battle began, our fighters charging into the fray while Vordb and I summoned a tag-team assortment of rats and stinging insects. At this time the figure rose and charged at Shocko, shrieking and trying to claw at him. Vordb then greased the floor (it appears he's been learning from our mage) while Ayman instead created a large web. Dwight chanted and sent the remaining ghouls and that shrieking thing straight into the webbing. Everyone continued to attack and the paladin swung at the loud thing with light and the smell of brimstone, snuffing it out of existence (and leaving the room much quieter). He informed us that it was a wight, something that sucks the lifeforce out of you.
Still hearing the hammering sound, we followed the noise to find a cage in the chamber containing the missing, frightened children as well as a skeleton in full armor. This skeleton was banging on the cage, hence the sound. Ghost cut the cage open to free the captives and we gave food and water to the humans while the skeleton walked over to the door, obviously the guardian of the barrow. The wight had been sitting on a pile of bones, but the thing it had been holding was a black pearl necklace wrapped in a piece of silk. Unraveling this, we found that it was a tapestry of a young lady in a grey dress and a young noble clad in armor identical to that which the skeleton was now wearing. Dwight, being versed in this kind of subject, told us that this was Sir Maynard, one of the famous heroes of the orc wars, who'd kept the orcs out of Waterford while he and his men held the river. Maynard's name was not on any of the crypts, however, so we were unsure what to do with the tapestry and the necklace; Ghost tried giving it to the skeleton, but it did not respond, so she placed it on one of the crypts. As we left, Ayman put some sort of magic lock on the barrow.
Back in town we returned the unfortunate children to their parents who were obviously pleased to have them back. We explained that they had been taken by ghouls to the barrow downs and Ghost asked about Sir Maynard. She was told that after he died defending the town, his lady went crazy and fled town- we think that strange shrieking monster was likely her.
Tomorrow we continue on our journey to Rinos, hopefully meeting with less undead along the way.
~Cyneric Conroy, Order of the Fleet Fox
June 17th, 5th day of Bleakmoon