Campaign Journal #17
A Record of Events by Uriah Orlok
Pelorday, Aprantus 24, 1017 A.G.
The third necromancer…
To say my sleep was troubled is far distant from the point. A dense fog rolled in during the night, obscuring the vision of whoever was on watch at the time. I woke at times, hearing weird sounds that didn’t cease until morning. After a quick morning meal, we heard whispers coming from a bush to the north and, after a time, the whispers turned to the Elven tongue. I understood, but my restless sleep didn’t put me in a mood to communicate with the speaker. Eventually, the speaker came forth and was an Elven woman who said her name in Common was Greenleaf. She introduced us to a young Bastian Kamroth, around the age of fifteen. Bastian bowed to Mari and is said to be her squire, and then Greenleaf hands Mari a letter that is said to be read in private. Bastian takes Mari’s vows under her blade. How the boy will perform is another question though, but one that would take a long time to truly assess his worth. Besides escorting the boy, Greenleaf said she would also help us escort the surviving masons back to Fallcrest to work on the southern walls instead of the tower.
Before we could formally introduce the boy to the whole Company, we heard a voice to the west say, “Come, Deathwatch, we must proceed to the Keep.” It was then I saw a large creature with batlike wings and a terrible maw. I searched my memory and realized that this creature was a veserab: a large flying creature that is of shadow. Riding it was a man with a golden skull mask and I guessed it was Jeras Falck the necromancer. He then pronounced he had a skull of power to help Nynga Murdergrave to unleash the undead hordes upon the Vale from the Keep on the Shadowfell. Jeras look plenty intimidating on his mount, wearing black robes, the mask, holding a red orb in one hand and a golden skull in the other. I knew that we had to bring him down and fast. Jeras sent four skeleton archers to us and two skeletal and decayed-looking mongrels.
Likely better rested than anyone else in our rain-soaked camp, Peli was the first to act. Peli shot at the first mongrel he saw and then I heard Mari shout to Bastian to stay put until needed. Mari then moved up to allow enough space for Tantron to appear on the battlefield. I decided to be consistent and hit a skeleton with magic missile before taking cover in the bush the newcomers had hid behind. Greenleaf also took to cover behind the tent containing Ungus and Nevitash. Jeras and his Deathwatch flew closer and shot some ray of necrotic energy at Ungus, but missed. The mongrels charged in, one at Peli and the other at Mari, but they both missed. The skeleton archers loosed arrows from their bows after moving into more direct firing lines and only Peli was hit with an arrow. Peli then stepped back a few feet and put two arrows into the mongrel that charged at him. Mari got atop Tantron and pulled out her bow; having Tantron knock a skeleton prone in the process. She then hit the vulnerable skeleton with her bow, leaving it opened to be finished off by a blue bolt from my staff. I entered into my furious state and hit the mongrel that charged Mari a blue bolt too.
Jeras shot a ray at Mari this time, but missed again. He then sent Deathwatch in a collision course with Peli and the vesarab had the same luck. The large creature then landed right in front of Peli, and in front of me. The mongrels moved closer, one attacking Greenleaf and it knocked her prone in the process. I feared the same result when the other one attacked me, but it missed. The three skeletons shot their arrows, but all missed their targets. Peli pulled out the most potent of his fire arrows and shot it at Deathwatch, the fire barely touching its rider, and the creature let out a cry of pain. Peli then retreated back towards me. Mari yelled for Bastian to give aid to Greenleaf, but the boy missed his attack on the mongrel snarling over his Elven friend. Tantron bowled over another skeleton and then Mari finished it with an arrow. Having four enemies in my grasp was a rare thing, so I lit up Jeras, Deathwatch, and the two mongrels with fire. I hit the mongrel by Greenleaf with a blue bolt and was surprised that it didn’t fall. Focusing back on Jeras, I force orbed both him and Deathwatch, killing the vesarab. I also hit the mongrel that attacked both Mari and I with a magic missile. Greenleaf stood, struck the mongrel by her with her dagger and it resisted death yet again.
Perhaps enraged by the death of his mount, Jeras unleash a powerful burst meant to affect the mind. All those around him were affected by it, killing a mongrel and knocking Greenleaf unconscious. The remaining two skeletons shot at Mari, but only one hit. Peli moved into the cover of my bush and shot two arrows at the same time, one hitting the last mongrel and the other hit Jeras. Mari turned Tantron around to charge the mongrel, knocking it prone, and then she told Bastian to hide before shooting Jeras. Jeras turned transparent and walked through the walls of Vanamere’s Tower to disappear from sight. The skeletons missed Mari again and, this time, the mongrel got up and knocked me prone. Its teeth sinking in and I could feel the vile nature of its bite. Peli moved closer to the Tower to see if he could locate Jeras, but shot a skeleton instead. Tantron finished off the mongrel and moved around the tower so Mari could also shoot a skeleton. I could still feel the unusual sensation from the mongrel’s bite as I stood up, but had no target to hit, so I moved towards where I thought Jeras would reappear. I heard the strum of Peli’s new great bow he acquired and the collapse of a skeleton. The massive bow made its music once again and I could tell it hit the last boney archer. Both my active allies on the other side of the tower from me, I could only hear as Tantron crushed the last skeleton.
The three of us could then see as Jeras reappeared before us, having walked through the tower in a spectral state. Mari tried to hit the fleeing Jeras, but missed. I could still feel the pains from the bite I suffered and hit Jeras with two blue bolts. Seeing the threat of my wizardry, and maybe still angry that I killed his mount, Jeras hit me with crimson claws from his crimson orb and I couldn’t move forward anymore. The additional wounds conferred that the ongoing pains I felt were from necrotic energies. Peli got atop Tantron and shot Jeras and this arrow finally brought the necromancer to his knees, then to his face—looking at me with lifeless eyes. Based on our previous experiences with necromancers and their followers, Mari had Tantron charge over Jeras’ corpse, shattering the orb. We were surprised as the gold skull Jeras’ held shrieked at the same time fire issued from the jaws. A rune-spiral lightning-elemental demon came forth from the skull next. I told my companions this information just as the ongoing torture from my wounds rendered me unconscious.
My eyes opened for a moment and I could see Mari standing over me, Tantron behind her, but I could still feel the vile nature of my wounds and I felt that my end was near. The surviving dwarf cleric among the masons and Peli came over too, the latter holding a potion bottle. My world faded away yet again. I awoke from near-death a second time and I could feel that my body had finally purged the necrotic energies from my wounds. I saw that Peli held an empty potion bottle over my face and I could barely taste the potion at the back of my mouth. I was alive, still High Septarch, and knew that Nynga Murdergrave needed to be stopped before I could step down. Of course, there was still the dire matter of the Iron Circle plaguing the Harkenwold to consider. The battle over, the demon and the third necromancer defeated, Mari had Bastian retrieve the damaged skull.
Two near-death experiences in the same morning prompted me to relieve Jeras’ body of its head and then I stuck it on a pole near the tower. I then plucked out his eyes and put shards of the crimson orb in their place. Unbeknownst to my allies, I wrote a quick note and pinned the folded parchment to Jeras’ cheek with another piece of the shattered orb. The note read:
Attention all Yellow Skulls: Your end is at hand. Once I deal with larger threats than your cowardly lot could only dream of posing, I will travel to your precious temple and not stop until all your members are slain. Sleep, eat, and drink while you can. Know that your reckoning is near.
We retrieved the gold-plated skull and Jeras’ gold-skull mask, along with the mundane weapons, and had the intent to go back inside the tower to see what Mari’s death was worth. I took the mask for myself, knowing that I could enchant it later and imbue with a feature that would aid me in my fight against necromancers and their ilk. Seeing the once taut and secure rope ladder purposely frayed, I employed my mage hand to secure a rope at the top and bottom of the gap. I climbed down first, testing my hand’s work for myself. Bastian went down next, then Mari, and, after some hesitation, Peli. We got to the cauldron room and they let me pull the white chain; the massive iron doors opening by retracting to the walls. The cavernous room was lit by braziers, had two statues, and had a stage at the far end of it with two stone sarcophagi. Jeras left us a surprise in the room though, twelve zombies. I gave four of these a taste of the fire that worked so well on their master, three of them fell in blacked heaps and one turned to ash. Mari charged into the room, rekilling one of the zombies. Peli shot one and it fell to the floor, and then he shot another one—pinning its lifeless frame to the far wall. The remaining zombies closed in around Mari and I kill four more with a well-placed force orb. Mari turned around and split the last one in two, down the middle.
The short battle over, we disposed of the bodies in the large fire pits by the iron doors. The doors closed and we found a level that opened them inside the burial chamber. I went up to the stone tombs, one had a Corellon symbols on it and the other had those of Kord. I saw the fist-hilt of a sword holding a lightning bolt on the lid and realized that these were the tombs of Vanamere and Goldenhawk. I remembered a prayer, with Mari’s help, and put both hands on the lid as I said the words. A lock was released and Mari pushed the heavy stone lid aside with ease. Inside, as to be expected, was the decayed armored corpse, but then an actual goldenhawk of arcane or religious means flew out and said that we would be rewarded for cleansing the tower. However, only one of us would receive the reward, given by Kord himself. We decided that Mari, a knight, should receive the gift from the god of battle and it was bestowed on her.
We left Vanamere’s Tower for what we hoped was the final time and we prepared the group to head back to Fallcrest. Mari summoned Tantron again and instead of a platform a type of hut was atop the elephant. We only had five horses and a total of eleven people to transport. It took some convincing from Ungus, but the dwarves eventually climbed aboard Tantron and went into the new hut after Mari. Only Greenleaf and myself stayed outside of Tantron to ride and lead the rest of the horses after Tantron. Fallcrest was in view by the late afternoon and Mari returned Tantron to figurine form. Greenleaf and the masons went their own way once we entered the city. I had the mind to purchase a large quantity of residuum under Faren’s new edict, so I did so before meeting back up with the Company at the Septarch’s Tower. When I did, I saw that Mari had a new maul with her. Having seen it effectively used by the Yellow Skull berserker, I couldn’t blame her.
Serago had a plan to stop Nynga’s plan at the Keep on the Shadowfell, but he needed Nimozaran to help in some manner. Ungus was able to get Nimozaran into a communicative state. Serago then explained that he wished to be finished with the skull state of being and to permanently seal the barrier at the Keep. Because we have defeated three necromancers, either in possession of or searching for the enchanted skulls, we had the upper-hand. Serago had me use my magic to disguise him as the golden skull so that he can use a ritual that would perform the seal instead of what Nynga intends. As for the ritual, Nimozaran knew it was in his library somewhere, so Peli, Mari and myself were tasked to find it. We did so and Nimozaran confirmed we found the correct ritual and helped Serago commit it to memory. Serago, also realizing that this final act would end his short tenure as my master, decided to pass on the knowledge of three rituals as well as all the sigil sequences he knows, or…well…knew.
Most of the company took to an early rest, but I knew that wasn’t an option for me. I helped prepare a room next to Mari’s for Bastian, even setting up a bell system where Mari can ring for Bastian’s service. I asked Mari if I could borrow her new maul and her full-plate armor and she did so. I still had a night’s work ahead of me. I took some other books from the library with me to my room. Finding the enchantments I thought were appropriate, I began with Mari’s custom-made armor and, after an hour, it took on a blackened sheen. And, according to the enchantment’s type, it would glow red when violence flares. I then spent an hour enchanting her maul. I could barely lift the thing onto a table for the process. My continual near death experiences—not to mention a few blackened soul spells from Ungus—have left me weaker and stiffer in the joints, but they have also left me with greater knowledge, wisdom, and willingness to communicate the future ruin of my enemies. Ungus’ shadow magic might also be the reason I have the greater propensity to remove the heads of defeated magic users, but I couldn’t know for sure. Two hours of ritual-casting sapped my physical strength, so I had Selbin go with me to carry the newly enchanted armor and maul in Mari’s room. When Selbin first grasped the maul he said, “Just touching this weapon makes me want to find someone’s chest to cave in.” I told him that was the point and he reluctantly handed the items over to Mari and I told her to get acquainted with them when she could. I returned to my room and pulled out the gold-skull mask I had turned silver and put on for the return trip, but took off once inside the town. The mask to its natural color at my will and then spent another hour enchanting the mask that would make me more intimidating to my enemies and allow me to better resist the dark energy of necromancy that has nearly killed me on numerous occasions.
After that, I took to writing the day’s journal in Draconic to keep it from prying eyes. I did this because I noticed a few pages obscured from previous days and had an idea of who the culprit was. Perhaps, with time, I’ll do the same to the others and burn the originals. Sure, Mari would still be able to read them, but she is a knight and can keep my secrets to herself.