Posts Tagged ‘zombies’

Journey to Karnack’s Castle: The Third Day

Saturday, January 16th, 2016

DM note: at last the party arrived at Karnack’s castle, although not without a bit of night-time excitement!


Day #2-27 (Waterday, 7th Dewsnap, 4333 BCCC) By this time, around midnight, Lightstep was getting too tired to stay awake. He decided to wake Flenda to stand his watch. He also said he had been unable to sleep due to worrying about the evil ring they were carrying to Karnack’s castle. In the meantime, Falafela stayed on the hill to keep an eye on the other camp with the campfire. At this time, Vandin was snoring, although not loudly, and it sounded like he was saying “stones stones stones” during his exhalations. When Flenda and Tureg then took over the watch, they were informed about the horse snorting nearby. While Tureg stayed in his party’s camp, Flenda went to the top of the hill to observe the other camp. By this time, even the starlight had winked out as the sky had totally clouded over, and the wind picked up a little as it seemed a weather front was starting to pass through. After Flenda had attuned her eyes to the dark and had watched the campfire from a distance, she silently crawled on her belly like a reptile through the knee-high grass towards that other, mysterious, camp.

Around 3 am, Tureg woke the next watch pair of Gwenette and Jorgio. Tureg informed the duo that Flenda was on the hill watching another camp, and cautioned them to keep their voices low. Gwenette climbed the low hill, but although she moved back and forth on her side of the hillcrest, she could not locate her sister. Finally, Gwenette noticed, even in the almost total darkness, what looked like some bent grass leading towards the other camp. Gwenette also looked towards the campfire, and she thought she saw her sister sitting around that fire with several other people. So, Gwenette did what was reasonable for the daughter of barbarians to do — she too crawled towards the other camp. As Gwenette got close to the other camp, she could hear her sister’s voice, and could recognize the Karzulun language. So, when Gwenette had made it within about 20 feet of the camp without being detected (she was downwind of the horses), she finally stood up and said, “Flenda, you shouldn’t go sneaking off like that! You had us all worried!”

Then the four Karzuluns, led by Jen Jise, all stood up and welcomed Gwenette. They said, “Damn! Your father did a good job teaching you two to move silently. We never heard either of you coming!” So the girls sat and enjoyed the warmth of the fire, while telling their long-lost friends of their recent adventures. The girls mentioned how they had been captured by orcs, and got a ribbing about that from the Karzuluns. The girls mentioned how they had been careless to go berry and herb picking away from their village without taking any weapons. The tale continued with the story of their rescue by their friends on the other side of the hill. The raiders were finally impressed when Flenda displayed the two orc ears she had taken as a trophy from Losnoth! Finally, when it started getting lighter in the east (there would be no sunrise as it was totally overcast), the girls decided they should go back to their own camp, and they invited the Karzuluns to come along. So, the two girls and the four men and the men’s four horses all walked quite casually towards the girls’ camp.

By this time, the entire camp of adventurers was wide awake, and had lookouts posted on the hill, so they saw the others approaching them. They weren’t sure if they were about to be betrayed, so they had their weapons at the ready. But Flenda hailed the party, saying, “You’re not going to believe this, but we found some old friends of our parents! Our father used to ride with these rascals!” So then when the two parties met, introductions were given all around. Jen Jise mentioned (using the common language) that if this group was good enough to rescue Flenda and Gwenette from a nest of orcs, then they were worth keeping company with. After a quick bite of food (the Karzuluns had their own food in their saddlebags), the party departed towards Karnack’s castle to the north. The Karzuluns walked their horses alongside the others, asking questions about the particular quest the group was on. The Karzuluns mentioned they would only accompany the party to the castle, but they would not enter the castle as they (the Karzuluns) were usually not on good terms with other people. Although the main party had traveled many miles in the past two days, they quickened their step with the freshening northeast breeze bringing promise of a spring rain.

Finally, the group arrived at Karnack’s castle around 10 am, passing by fenced gardens and pastures with goats, sheep, and cattle. The Karzuluns then said their farewells, mounted their horses and rode back to the south. Approaching the castle from the south, the group could see a wall made of gray fitted stone that was about 80 yards wide and about 20 feet high, with crenellations atop the walls. There were also two towers, one on either side of the main gate, the towers being about 30 feet high. The main gate itself was made of two heavy wooden doors with iron reinforcement, each of which measured 10 feet tall and eight feet wide. The castle itself was also atop a hill that was about 20 feet taller than the surrounding countryside, and a somewhat steep switchback road led up to the gate. At the castle gate, a guard who was above the gate hailed the party. “Halt! Who goes there?” Lightstep and Opalent did most of the speaking, mentioning they had come to see Karnack, and that they had been sent by Herschel Gobinmyer of the village of Crystal Shores. The guard said, “Hold your places.” There was about a 10 minute delay as another guard took a message to Karnack. Finally, the gates opened, and the guard said, “Enter!”

Inside the castle courtyard, the group could see a stable to their right, and past the stable was a partially enclosed building with much firewood. To the left was a privy, and also a row of two-story wooden buildings nestled up against the inside castle wall on the side. To the far left was a keep with a large square tower on top, with the top of the tower at least 50 feet above the ground. To the far right was another inner wall, with a smaller tower that measured about 40 feet high at the far corner. Directly across the courtyard, about 75 yards away, was another wall, and quite noticeably, atop that wall was a large crossbow that could fire more than one bolt at once, and that crossbow was manned by guards and was aimed right at the party! There were also a number of small carts in various locations in the courtyard, and various civilians going about their tasks. The party, which numbered nine, also noticed that there were nine guards around them in the courtyard. The guards were all clad in scale mail, carrying large gray shields emblazoned with a black diagonal band. The guards were all also armed with sheathed long swords and wore small iron helmets.

A lieutenant of the guard spoke. “Karnack will see two of you at this time. Please follow me.” With that, the guard turned on his heel and Lightstep and Opalent followed him, followed by another guard. The lieutenant led into the base of the eastern tower, then inside the wall towards the east. Then the wall turned north. After more than 50 yards in this new direction, the group passed through a wall into a barracks, then ascended a circular stairway to Karnack’s tower. Karnack, a human of about 60 years, stood about 5’5” tall, weighed probably 150 pounds, sported a fu manchu moustache, and was bald except for a light-gray turban that was secured in its front with a red feather through a gold medallion. He also was wearing a long medium-gray robe with some brocaded decorations woven into it (sort of like a paisley pattern).

After introductions, Karnack bid Lightstep and Opalent be seated on two padded chairs that were of a dark wood with red velvet on the seats, and the two guards retreated to the stairway, where they remained at attention. Karnack then sat down behind his desk. Karnack spoke, “I understand you were sent here by Herschel Gobinmyer?” Lightstep answered, “Yes. He wrote out this letter to you.” With that, Lightstep removed the rolled scroll of gray parchment from his ivory scroll tube and handed it to Karnack. Karnack, after examining Herschel’s seal that had been impressed into the sealing wax, then broke the seal and began to read Karnack’s letter:


Spiritday, the 5th of Dewsnap, 4333 BCCC

The olde village of Crystal Shores

My Dearest Olde Friende Karnack,

A couple of weeks ago, the village of Crystal Shores was beset upon by a strange pestilence. A number of the villagers developed sore throats, then began to cough frequently, then some of them “turned” into a sort of mindless creature who then attacked other villagers, apparently in an attempt to bite those other villagers! Two of the villagers “turned” and had to be killed to prevent them harming others. Others then burned their bodies in an attempt to prevent the spread of the pestilence, although I had wanted to examine the bodies to see if I could detect any reason for the malady.

These strange happenings began about a month ago when a traveling cleric passed through our village, and then shortly thereafter, four more men, three fighters and one magician, passed through Crystal Shores, seemingly in pursuit of the cleric. We never saw any of those individuals again. At about the same time as those individuals passed through, two of our village’s young maidens, Flenda and Gwenette Deathmar (daughters of Vilan and Vilanious) disappeared. At the time, we sort of wondered what had happened, but nobody from the village wanted to go searching for the girls, believing that they would show up of their own accord, as, after all, they both are quite the free spirit.

In any event, about two weeks after they disappeared, the girls came back to the village, escorted by a party of adventurers who had rescued the girls from some orcs who held the girls captive at the old ruins of Losnoth, which is about 15 miles due south of Crystal Shores. The girls related their story of how they had gone off berry picking in the jungle to the southeast of the village and had been surprised and surrounded by the orcs, even though it was in the daytime. As it was, just as the orcs were about to sacrifice Flenda on an altar in the interior of the Losnoth ruins, the party of adventurers who stand before you now were in the vicinity and heard Flenda’s scream. The party then came to her aid, slaying the nine orcs at the interrupted sacrifice without loss to themselves (although one of the dwarves in their party was gravely wounded). Flenda then directed the party to where her sister Gwenette was held captive, and the party slew several more sleeping orcs. As a bonus, the party also freed two gentlemen, names of Fredo and Jorgio, although Fredo has recently been killed at Mont du Plat.

When the party returned the girls to the village, they related all of the above to me. While the sisters returned to their parents home, the other adventurers stayed the night at our local inn, only to find the innkeeper, his wife, and daughter had turned into “zombies” (for want of a better word) overnight. The party managed to capture the folks from the inn rather than killing them, then came to me straightaways to relate what had happened.

Now, I had been developing a theory that something had poisoned the local water supply from the lake and river, and that that something had started poisoning the water shortly after the cleric and his pursuers had passed through Crystal Shores. I state this because I have not developed any of the signs of the illness, but then again I do not drink the local lake water. I collect rainwater, and also make spiced pumpkin ale from my large pumpkin patch, and eat mostly vegetables from my own garden. There are several other villagers who do not as of yet show any signs of sickness either, and they seem to also drink more of other beverages than lake water. For example, we have a local goatherd where he and his family mostly drink goat’s milk and eat the meat from their goats they have slaughtered themselves–none of them are sick. However, several fishermen and others who are routinely near the lake have fallen to the sickness.

Now, although I only briefly spoke with the traveling cleric on his way through our village, he said he was on his way to the ruins at Mont du Plat as he had heard there was a valuable artifact somewhere in the ruins. He planned to retrieve that artifact and return it to his church so they could convert it into money or some such plan. However, it seems that the cleric’s pursuers somehow knew the cleric was going to Mont du Plat to find some valuable relic, so they no doubt had plans to relieve him of that valuable bauble.

So, back to the party who stand before you. They were entreated to travel to Mont du Plat to see what they could find. What they found were several more zombies in the dungeon of the old ruins there, and the party had to slay those zombies, although losing two of their party in the battles. I formerly mentioned Fredo; they also lost the dwarf Persis. The party believes that four of the zombies they killed were the pursuers, as three of those zombies were clad in armor, and the fourth was dressed as a mage. They also found the body of the dead cleric, and that cleric’s backpack and diary. The diary mentions how the cleric found the ring in the ruins; I have enclosed that diary for your perusal.

But the most disturbing thing the party found was that the cleric’s arm had been severed, apparently in a fight with his pursuers, and his arm had fallen down the underground well. The party then recovered the arm from the well, and, on the ring finger of the hand of the dead cleric, was the ring the adventurers will now present to you. I pray you DO NOT TOUCH THE RING! It does appear the ring has the power to convert ordinary persons into zombies, and it seems that while the ring was in the well, its evil was able to be transmitted through the water to our downstream village. It should also be noted that us villagers have noticed the fish were so lethargic that they could easily be caught by hand, and some of the forest animals, such as deer and even wolves, have been seen acting queerly where they would just wander somewhat aimlessly. That ring does radiate a powerful aura of evil, so beware!

I have consulted my books of lore, but could find no reference to such a ring. I pray you can find information about the ring, and of even more importance, I am dearly hoping you can discern a method with which I can restore the sick villagers back to their former health. Please help us! If you can, we will be eternally in your debt.

As always, your most obedient servant,

Herschel Gobinmyer


Karnack mostly read it aloud, relating the party’s story of how they rescued some human captives from orcs at Losnoth, then after returning two young maidens to their village of Crystal Shores discovered that villagers were getting sick from some mysterious malady. The village druid, Herschel, had been unable to determine the cause or to devise a cure. Then the party visited Mont du Plat and found the evil ring that had apparently been polluting the water that flowed downstream to Crystal Shores. Karnack read, “… the ring the adventurers will now present to you. I pray you DO NOT TOUCH THE RING! Hmmm,” Karnack continued, “let me see the ring.” With that, Lightstep very carefully opened the bone scroll tube, and gently dropped the ring in its wrapping onto Karnack’s desk. Karnack then used a couple of wooden picks, much like chopsticks, to open the wrapping. He beheld the ring with its numerous small skulls for the first time, and let out a low whistle. He then finished reading aloud the letter from Herschel.

Charnalite ring

The ring that was found at Mont du Plat.

“It does appear we have a quandary,” said Karnack. “I have learned of such mischievous magics in the past, but do not directly recall such a ring. I must consult my tomes to see if I can discern any information about it. In the mean time, you and your companions are all my guests.” Karnack then spoke to the guards at the stairway. “Lieutenant, return these two guests to their companions, and make sure they are all well fed. Arrange baths for them, if they wish. Also provide them lodging in the west wall.” Just before Lightstep and Opalent left (leaving the ring and the bone scroll tube with Karnack), Karnack mentioned that it would most likely take him at least a day to find the information, even with the help of his scribes.

Lightstep and Opalent then retraced their steps to the courtyard, along with their guards, and then were ushered, along with their companions, to one of the larger wooden buildings inside the west wall of the castle. This building was the castle’s civilian mess hall. It had four eight-foot long wooden tables with wooden benches on two sides of each table. The dinnerware was ceramic, with the flatware being of beaten iron. Just about the time the party entered the building, the skies finally opened, and it began to rain a hard, steady, cold rain. The party was treated to the best meal they had enjoyed in a while, enjoying rabbit stew with carrots, onions, and potatoes, and fresh baked bread. There was plenty of salt and pepper for seasoning, too. Fresh cow’s milk was supplied to wash it all down.

While enjoying his meal, Vandin espied another dwarf sitting at another table. Since the other dwarf appeared to be a fighter, Vandin approached the other dwarf with a friendly greeting. Vandin was taken aback momentarily, however, when the other dwarf responded in a less than cordial manner, saying something that sounded like “go pluck yourself!” After a moment’s hesitation, Vandin asked if the other dwarf would like to join the group, promising an equal share of any treasure gained. With that, the other dwarf revealed his name as Douag (pronounced “doo-agg”), and agreed to join. Vandin then regaled Douag with tales of slaying five orcs in a row at Losnoth as they kept coming through a door one at a time. And then Flenda impressed Douag even more by showing him the two orc ears she had taken as a trophy!

After the meal, the party rested and was shown to where they would be quartered for the night inside the western wall of the castle (to get there they had to enter the ground level of the western tower beside the main gate, then travel inside the wall). Wooden walls had been erected to create separate rooms along the inside wall, with wooden doors for each room. On the floor in the rooms were mattresses stuffed with hay or moss, and there were plenty of woolen blankets. Some civilian servants asked if anyone wanted to bathe, and also offered to wash clothes for anyone who desired such. Plain gray robes were offered for anyone who decided to partake of bathing or clothes-washing. Lightstep wanted to find out what was in the vial of clear fluid he had procured from Mont du Plat, so he decided to take a small sip. He decided it tasted like plain, ordinary water, although he still wasn’t sure was it was. Eventually, the party all retired for the night in the rooms assigned to them.

— The Dungeon Master

Zombie Encounter at Mont du Plat

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2015

After our party of intrepid adventurers escorted Flenda and Gwenette back to their home in the village of Crystal Shores, they discovered unexpected adventure awaited them early the next day!


Day #2-24 (Fireday, 4th Dewsnap, 4333 BCCC): Fortunately for our intrepid party of adventurers staying the night at the Inn of the Blushing Trout in Crystal Shores, the night passed uneventfully. However, upon arising the next morning and heading downstairs from their bedrooms to the main room of the inn, the party found that the innkeeper Sathe Lidorn, his wife Beefa and daughter Lido had all turned into living dead “zombies.” A pair of the zombies attempted to attack the party, but since the zombies were rather slow, the party was able to herd them, holding chairs like lion tamers, to get all three zombies behind the bar in the main dining room area. Then the party corralled the zombies by stacking a couple of tables across the bar opening into the main room. They then quickly repaired to tell Herschel and Wider about what had transpired. Herschel convinced the party they should make haste to go to Mont du Plat. Herschel also said he would get some other villagers to try to more properly restrain the innkeeper’s family.

The party did stop at Vilan’s to see if Flenda and Gwenette wanted to go along to Mont du Plat, and they did, after speaking to the druid Herschel, who mentioned to them they could do a good deed by helping to find the pestilence that was affecting their fellow townsfolk. The party did stop by Mylene’s to obtain a 5-gallon wooden keg, and then Herschel cast a spell to Create (pure) Water in the keg, so at least the party knew they would be starting off with some clean water to drink, as Herschel once again reiterated he thought there was something wrong with the water in the village. The party then lashed a couple of long poles to the keg to make it easier to carry, and especially enlisted the help of Jorgio and Fredo to help carry the water jug as they were unencumbered with any heavy armor.

Then, after a hasty breakfast of jerky and hardtack, although most of the morning was gone, the party departed for Mont du Plat to the east. They followed a trail along the south bank of the south branch of the River Bushkill. There was a jungle to the south that approached very near to the river, so the party kept an eye out for any marauding orcs or other troublesome creatures that might be hidden in the foliage.

Finally, the party arrived at Mont du Plat after a journey of about 10 miles that took about four hours, also drinking a bit more than half of their water supply. They noticed a bridge over the river to their left with a line of what looked to be several houses on the other side of the river. They also saw that the river seemed to come out of a cave higher up on the hill in front of them, and then there was a waterfall with another wooden bridge crossing the river about 50 feet higher than the party’s current elevation. Instead of crossing the river, the party took the road to the right, which started uphill at a healthy angle. They first passed a ramshackle farmhouse on their left. That structure had a severe lean or tilt to it, and looked like it would fall over at any minute. Next was a house of stone walls with a wooden shingled-roof. It had a corral but no animals in it. Next was a sod house with a thatched roof, and then finally a fairly well maintained wood frame house with its front door barely hanging on by its top hinge. Most of the old village looked like it was very run-down, with buildings that hadn’t been cared for in some time.

After another 20 yards or so, the party reached another fork in the road. They stayed to the left, heading back towards the river, still gaining elevation, but not so steep as before. After a left-right chicane-type bend in the road, eventually the road took a sharp right turn, with an old blacksmith shop on the inside of the bend. Behind the smithy were some medium-density woods. If the party had gone straight ahead on the road, it would have crossed the river on that higher wooden bridge that they had seen when they were 50 feet lower. The group could also see an old miller’s residence across the river, and its water-wheel was still being turned by the river, and the water wheel was still turning its grinding wheel, although nothing was being ground between the millstones. The waterfall in the river began just past the miller’s water wheel, to the right of that high bridge. From this position the party could see the road continued higher on the near bank of the river, and there was another wooden footbridge just above where the river debouched from the rocky hill.

The party took the right fork in the road from the smithy’s place, gaining another 10 feet of elevation. The road paralleled the river, and the adventurers saw a stone arch with a large opening in it off to their right. They left the road to investigate that arch, and saw it had stairs leading down into the dark underground. Behind that stone portal the party could see trees, and scattered amongst the trees were broken rocks that looked to have once been the foundation or walls of a building, although there were no standing walls any more. Without any further ado, the party got out some torches, lit them, and proceeded to head down those stairs, although they left their water keg outside the entrance to the stairs.

At the bottom of the winding stairs in the dungeon, the hallway turned abruptly to the left. About 60 feet further on, the hall turned to the right, and immediately after that turn another hallway went to the left (as well as straight ahead). The party took that left corridor at that first intersection. They soon came to a rectangular chamber whose ceiling had partially collapsed in its center, making an hourglass-shaped room. The room had a very foul odor, and many rats were scurrying about. There was also a whistling noise coming from the other side of the room. The party could also occasionally hear some shuffling sorts of noises, but could not determine their direction of origin. The floor was covered with slippery green moss, and party members Falafela, Opalent, and Tureg lost their footing and fell on their backsides, getting covered with the slimy moss, while trying to cross the room. Eventually the entire party made it through the partial collapse in the middle of the room to the far side of the room and discovered another passageway at the diagonally opposite corner, which they continued down. This hallway also quickly turned right, with another branch hallway to the left just after the turn. The passage straight ahead was blocked by a cave-in after 20 feet or so, so the group decided to investigate the passage to the left.

The passage opened into a room that was about 30 feet by 60 feet in size, and one corner opened into a larger, semi-circular area, although that additional area had seen a cave-in and so its size could not readily be determined. This chamber was also dry, including the floor, so the party didn’t have to worry about slipping and falling like in the previous room they had traversed, although this room did also have an unpleasant odor. The whistling noise that had heard in the previous room was louder now and was determined to be coming from somewhere in the caved-in area in this chamber. There were some scraps of timber on the floor, but nothing else to discover, so the party retraced their steps. On their way back through the hourglass-shaped room, Lightstep, Persis and Gwenette managed to fall on the slippery moss on the floor, and Falafela fell a second time, thus getting more thoroughly covered with the stinky slime.

After exiting the mossy-floored room, the party went to their left, down what had previously been the “straight ahead” hallway. They eschewed taking either of two hallways on their right that they passed, instead bearing straight ahead where they finally entered a large chamber after traveling about 100 feet. Their two torches could not light the entire chamber, but they could see that the room must have been elegant, once. The walls still had some remnants of carvings, although they had been eroded by years of water dripping down them. The floor was rather muddy with some standing water, except for some large piles of rubble that had collapsed from parts of the ceiling. As the party noted there were some wide steps on the opposite side of the room from whence the party had entered that led up a raised dais. While the party was engaged in looking at the walls and the dais, they suddenly became aware that they were about to be attacked by four zombies!

The 11 members of the party quickly fanned out to meet the zombie attack, with Lightstep, Persis, Tureg, Vox, and Vandin meeting the attack head-on, and with Falafela, Flenda, Fredo, Gwenette, and Jorgio maneuvering to get behind the zombies for attacks from the rear. Magic-user Opalent wisely stayed out of the fray, and was ready to render first aid to anyone who may have needed it. As it was, the party quickly dispatched the zombies. Vandin first felled one with a mighty blow from his hammer. Falafela backstabbed one zombie out of existence while Jorgio proved his worth by dispatching two zombies with well placed backstabs with his short sword. Vox was the only member of the party who received any battle damage from the zombies, but it was merely a flesh wound.

The party then left that chamber through the opposite passageway, which was at the far end of the room, about 90 feet away, along the same wall they entered by. That corridor ended quickly in the straight-ahead direction, due to a cave-in, thus the party took its right turn and went down that hallway instead. After close to 100 feet, the corridor turned to the right, then after another 40 feet or so it made another right turn. After another few feet, the corridor opened into another chamber. Falafela ventured into the room by herself, without a torch, and managed to not fall down even though the floor in this room was also covered by slimy moss. She heard some footsteps in the dark, then quickly retreated to join the rest of the party in the hallway.

The party waited for the zombies in the room to come to them at the corridor’s mouth. While one zombie slipped and fell down in the middle of the room, two zombies made their way to where Vox and Vandin were waiting to receive them. Vox took some damage from a zombie, then fell back, his place in the front rank quickly taken by Tureg. Then Vandin took some serious damage from the other zombie and fell back; Flenda took his place in front.

While Lightstep cast two Cure Light Wounds spells on Vandin and Vox (the spells were not very effective), Flenda cut down one of the zombies. The other zombie got knocked off its feet and Flenda, Tureg, Fredo, and then eventually Lightstep entered the room. Tureg slipped and fell on the slimy floor, but the others stayed upright. Flenda quickly dispatched the fallen zombie, but the other zombie that had earlier fallen had got up and made its way to the party, killing Fredo with its first attack. Flenda then worked her way around behind that zombie and backstabbed it down, never to rise again. Naturally, Fredo’s brother, Jorgio, was heartbroken at the loss of his brother. He did not want to go on. Some of the party also thought it would be wise to make their way out of the dungeon at this time to lick their wounds, but the sisters from Crystal Shores, Flenda and Gwenette, reminded everyone that their fellow villagers were falling sick and becoming zombies, and they wanted to try to find the source of that mysterious malady as quickly as they could. So, the party, minus Jorgio who stayed behind with a torch to watch his brother’s body and keep the rats away from it, pressed on.

The chamber they were in was L-shaped, and after they turned into the left leg of the “ell,” there was another passage leading out of it. However, there was an irregularly shaped pit about 10 feet deep across the mouth of that passage. Flenda and Opalent jumped across the pit first, then tied a rope to Opalent’s 10-foot long pole and braced it against the floor of the passage as an aid to others who would cross. One-by-one, the party crossed at the narrowest part of the pit where it was only three feet wide. The only casualty was Vandin who fell into the pit and took some minor damage. He would have been injured more severely except he had a grip on the rope and so didn’t fall too hard. The party then fished him out of the pit with the rope. After they all got across the pit, they then traveled about 70 more feet and then turned left into another chamber that was about 30 feet by 40 feet in size. Part of the left-hand sidewall was collapsed, making a pile of rocks about 3 feet high and about 5 feet in hemispherical diameter.

This chamber contained four more zombies, and while all of the previous zombies the party had encountered in this dungeon were dressed as simple villagers, three of these newly encountered zombies were clad in chainmail and were carrying swords, and a fourth zombie was wearing a robe fit for a wizard. During the initial melee, the dwarf Persis was killed by one of the fighter zombies. While other fighters were battling the zombies, Opalent took off her backpack and got out her only flask of oil. She then grabbed Falafela’s cloak, doused it with the oil, and put it on the end of her 10-foot pole. She then lit it with a torch, and dropped the flaming cloak on the head of the nearest zombie. While that zombie was burning to its extinction, another zombie took some minor damage from the blaze. The party also recognized that the flames were holding the other zombies at bay, seemingly fearing the fire. Opalent and Falafela then boldly led the way into the room with their torches and forced the three remaining zombies back. The other party members all scrambled into the room, staying close behind the two torch-bearers except for Vandin who scrambled up and over the rock pile along the wall. Eventually, the party members changed places with the zombies and then Falafela and Opalent used the burning torches to push the zombies back down the hallway the adventurers had used to enter the room.

After a couple of minutes, the zombies were maneuvered to the edge of the pit the adventurers had crossed. The torch bearers, Falafela and Opalent, then maneuvered the zombies so they fell into the pit. The party then formed a sort of “bucket brigade,” passing larger rocks from the rock pile in the room down the hall to Vandin and Vox, who threw the rocks at the zombies in the pit until those zombies were no longer moving. The party then took a short break in the hallway to eat some jerky and hardtack, and to drink from their waterskins, as the recent battles had temporarily exhausted them all. They also lit new torches, as their old torches were just about burned out.

Falafela examined the burnt zombie back in the room, and found 25 GP in its belt pouch, and passed two turquoises and a clear rock crystal she also found to Opalent. Someone also observed that the dead wizard-zombie in the pit had a bone scroll case looped over its neck and shoulder with a leather strap. Opalent tried to fish the strap with her 10-foot pole, but was unsuccessful as the strap was too firmly wedged under the dead zombie’s body, so someone lowered Falafela into the pit with the rope to retrieve that scroll case. Falafela declined to check any other belt pouches on the other zombies for fear of catching a zombie disease. Falafela said she figured the belt pouch on the burnt zombie had been purified by fire, hence was not dangerous, so she didn’t mind pinching its contents.

The party then left the room with the rock pile through a different passageway than which they had entered. After about 40 feet there was a hallway on their right, but they eschewed traveling in that direction at this time. After another 60 feet or so, there was a side passage to their right. They checked that right-hand passage, thinking it would lead them back to the formerly elegant chamber in which they had battled four zombies earlier, but after about 80 feet or so that corridor was blocked by a cave-in. So, they retreated down the hallway and went the direction they were headed before investigating that side passage. After a quick left-and-right turn it went straight for about 60 feet, then turned right. After another 30 feet, it turned right again and opened into a round chamber, about 30 feet in diameter, with a well with a raised stone wall in the middle of the chamber. Leaning against the well was the dead body of a cleric, missing its right arm. There was also much dried blood splashed around the chamber as if a great battle had taken place there.

When the party looked down the well, using a torch for illumination, they could see the surface of the water about 20 feet below. There was also a large sausage-shaped object bobbing on the water. That object was the size of a human arm, most likely the missing arm of the dead cleric who was leaning against the wall of the well. There was also a rusty chain with a bucket suspended from the ceiling on a pulley, so the party tried lowering the bucket to capture that floating arm. But try as they might, nobody could get the arm into the bucket. Lightstep then used his last spell, Detect Evil, and there was much evil radiated from the direction of the arm in the well. Therefore, it was decided to lower Falafela into the well to retrieve the arm. Falafela was tied to a belaying rope, and due to her not wanting to touch the ghastly arm lest she be turned into a zombie, she held another rope with a lasso loop in it. When she was lowered to near the water level, she was able to slip the lasso loop around the arm and tighten it, all without actually having to touch the arm. Then, after Falafela was raised out of the well, the party raised the arm, exceedingly carefully, it may be said! The party noticed there was a large, unusual ring on the ring finger of the hand on the arm. The ring had numerous skulls carved into it, and gave everyone the creeps. Nobody wanted to come close to touching the ring, so it was decided to wrap it in Opalent’s black cloak, then tie it to the center of Opalent’s 10-foot pole. Flenda and Gwenette volunteered to carry the ghastly thing on the pole.

The party then decided it was well nigh time to depart the dungeon. On their way back, Falafela ventured into the side passage they skipped on their way to the well (this time carrying a torch). It was a sort of library, although dilapidated, mostly by water that had dripped down from the ceiling. Some mice were eating some old food in one corner. Shelves of books and scrolls lined two walls, and in one corner was a small desk with a small stool, with a small backpack under the desk. On top of the desk was some writing parchment, and while most of the inked words were illegible due to water damage, Falafela could clearly read two words, “I’m sorry,” written in the common language of the realm. The inkwell had been toppled over, and all of the ink had dripped onto the floor and had dried there. Falafela quickly perused the spines of the books on the shelves, but most were either incomprehensible, or else were too damaged to be of use. So Falafela grabbed the backpack from under the desk, and after sliding the backpack out from under the desk, noticed there was a bone scroll case that had been under the backpack, so she also retrieved that scroll case.

When Falafela rejoined the party in the hall, she mentioned what she had seen in the room. Vox volunteered to carry the newly found backpack. Some now-anonymous person in the party suggested using the desk as a bridge over the pit they would have to pass on their way out, so they carried the desk with them (it was neither large nor heavy). Just as the party was finally on their way out, they heard a large booming sound with an echo, as if another part of the ceiling somewhere in the dungeon had collapsed. They quickly got to the room where Persis’s body lay, and took a few minutes to cover it with a cairn made of the rocks from the rock pile. Vandin also took Persis’ sword with him. Next, the party placed the desk across the pit leading into the next chamber, so they were able to cross the pit and the dead zombies in the pit without further incident. They found Jorgio in the chamber where they had left him, sitting alone in the dark with his brother’s body. Jorgio expressed how he was very happy to have the party rejoin him, as his torch had burned out probably 30 minutes ago, and he realized he should have asked for one or two spare torches to be left with him!

Jorgio gathered up his brother’s body, and carried it over his shoulder in a fireman’s carry. The party then retraced their way through the formerly elegant chamber, then down the long hallway to the left turn, then another right turn, then up the steps to fresh air. The adventurers were all happy to be out of the dark, damp, dank Mont du Plat dungeon. Jorgio realized they would have trouble carrying Fredo’s body all the way back to Crystal Shores, so they quickly improvised a grave, burying Fredo under another cairn of rocks made from the waste rocks laying around the woods that had formerly been part of the Mont du Plat castle. While Fredo was being buried, Vandin impaled Persis’ sword in the ground, and said a short prayer to his fallen comrade. The party also freely drank pure, fresh water from the water cask they had left outside the entrance to the dungeon.

The party then spent the next several hours trudging back to the west to Crystal Shores, lugging their now almost empty water keg with them. About halfway back, they saw a lone wolf, which appeared to be a normal, and not a zombie, wolf. When the party reached Crystal Shores, although it was already dark, they went to visit Herschel the druid straightaway, although Flenda and Gwenette went off to their parents’ home, taking Jorgio with them. Herschel, being informed that the arm and/or ring radiated evil, first cast a Dispel Magic spell upon them, followed by a Detect Magic spell. The Dispel Magic spell evidently failed, as the arm/ring still radiated magic. Herschel then went through the backpack that Falafela had fetched, and found several items: a silver holy symbol, a small flask with a clear fluid in it, presumably water, a book about the dead cleric’s faith of Gairel, two days worth of iron rations (that nobody present wanted to eat!), and, hidden in a fold inside the backpack was a small coin purse that contained 18 GP and 40 SP. The best of the items, though, was a small diary. Herschel started to read the diary, noting that the cleric’s name had been Austius. The diary noted Austius’s career in the clergy. Most of it was rather boring, but near the end, Austius noted how he had found the ring in the dungeon at Mont du Plat. He also noted how he had detected an evil aura about the ring, but was unable to let it go, instead being seduced by its power. But there were no entries that tied the ring to any sort of zombie curse. Falafela mentioned the pages on the desk with the words “I’m sorry,” and Herschel surmised those pages may have been Austius’ next diary entry, or part of a new diary.

The party also surmised (as did Herschel) that the cleric had found the ring, but had then been surprised by the four adventurers who had pursued him to Mont du Plat. In the ensuing battle, it seems that the cleric had managed to turn his slayers into zombies, but not before losing his arm and bleeding to death near the well. Herschel was now convinced that it was the ring in the well that was poisoning the water downstream towards Crystal Shores, but as a precaution he was still going to cast a spell to create pure water for a week or so, and tell the remaining villagers to not drink the lake or river water for at least that period of time. Herschel also mentioned that one more villager had turned into a zombie during the long day in which the party had been away, that being Simius Soderman, the wife of Baduk Soderman, the carpenter. She had been confined to her home. There were also zombies confined in the Inn of the Blushing Trout and the Tavern of the Cracked Mug. Herschel had also found that the tinker, Melchar Furrowbrow and his wife Vinar and his young son Loftus (all gnomes) had been found to be zombies, but must have been so for a few days already.

Herschel expressed that he still hopes to find a cure that will turn the zombified villagers back into their former selves. He spent the rest of the evening consulting his personal library, but could not find any mention of a ring such as was found at Mont du Plat. He mentioned a wise sage friend of his, Karnack, who has a castle to the northeast of Ganzir-Galad. He suggested that the party venture there after they rest for a day or so. Herschel also cast two Cure Light Wounds and one Cure Serious Wounds spells on Vandin and Vox so they were fully cured of their wounds from their battles at Mont du Plat.

Experience points: Monsters killed at Mont du Plat: 11 zombies (20 XP each, plus 2 XP per HP) = 11 * 20 + 141 HP * 2 = 220 + 282 = 502 XP. The party captured three villager zombies at Crystal Lake; they will receive their XP for that (because it was good to capture the villagers instead of killing them as the villagers may be able to be cured): 3 zombies (20 XP each, plus 2 XP per hit point) = 3 * 20 + 2 * 33 HP = 60 + 66 = 126 XP. (Total of 628 XP for capturing/killing monsters.) Treasure: 43 GP, 40 SP, 1 bone and 1 ivory scroll case (worth 5 GP each, or 10 GP total), = 55 GP equivalent. The party also found two magic-user scrolls, Continual Light and Nystul’s Magic Aura, and a cleric scroll, Create Water, in the found scroll tubes, but will not receive XP for them unless they are sold. Also, 1 backpack, a silver holy symbol, a vial of clear fluid, 2 days worth of iron rations (which were discarded due to health concerns), two turquoises, and a clear rock crystal, which were all together worth the equivalent of 149 GP. So, the total money (and equivalent) XP value is 55 +149 = 204 GP equivalent.

Total experience points: 502 + 126 + 204 = 832 XP total. This needs to be divided by five regular characters (each gets a full share) and four non-player characters (each gets a half-share). Fredo and Persis, NPCs who were killed, do not get any shares. This makes 14 half-shares to be divided, so 832 / 14 = 59 XP per half-share (Flenda, Gwenette, Jorgio, Tureg), or 119 XP per full share (Falafela, Lightstep, Opalent, Vandin, Vox). The fighter Vox gets a 10% XP bonus due to his Strength of 16, so he actually earned 131 XP.

Before the party retired for the night, they divided the treasure thusly: Falafela: 9 GP, small coin purse; Flenda: 1 small turquoise; Gwenette: 1 small turquoise; Jorgio: 7 GP, 40 SP, leather backpack (from Austius); Lightstep: 9 GP, ivory scroll tube, clerical scroll with Create Water, glass vial with a clear liquid, silver holy symbol of the god Gairel (from Austius’ backpack); Opalent: 1 clear rock crystal, 2 magic scrolls with Continual Light and Nystul’s Magic Aura; Vandin: 9 GP; Vox: 9 GP. Tureg said he did not need any of the treasure as he had just inherited 21 PP and 135 EP from his fallen comrade Persis. Herschel kept the book about Gairel as well as Austius’ diary.

It was decided that the bone scroll tube they found would be used to carry the evil skull-head ring to Karnack’s castle. Lightstep agreed to carry it himself, just before the party were about to cast lots to see who would carry the evil thing.

Also, before the party retired for the night, Flenda and Gwenette’s parents, Vilan and Vilanious Deathmar saw that their daughters were each equipped with leather backpacks, wineskins, and wool blankets. The parents also ensured their offspring each had 7 days worth of jerky, dried fruit, and hardtack to take with them, as well as four torches each. The girls also scrounged up a wineskin for their friend Jorgio, and made sure he also had 7 days worth of food and 4 torches. Tureg searched through the village and found another 4 torches for him to take along, also.

Then Flenda, Gwenette, and Jorgio retired for the night at the Deathmar’s house, with the other party members sleeping in the loft of Mylene Ackmard’s barn. It was decided that two party members should stand watch at all times throughout the night, just in case one of them turned into a zombie in the middle of the night. Lightstep and Vandin took the first watch, with Vandin relating the story of how he received his “Lakesplitter” surname from a distant relative who was said to have cleaved a lake in two. The rest of the night passed without incident.

Total accumulated experience points: Lightstep 605; Vandin Lakesplitter 576; Falafela 566; Opalent 566; Vox the Just 309; Tureg 271; Flenda 74; Gwenette 61; Jorgio 61.

— The Dungeon Master

Will the party ever find a cure for the zombie villagers? Keep reading future posts and find out!