Chapter 10: Getting Out of Here

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Session Number: 111
Date: Monday 17 October 2011
Venue: Densial's
PCs & Players:

Arrian Rog1/Clr9 (Fergus) (kills: none)
Feren Rog10 (Yeran) (kills: none)
Rowaine Pal10 (Craig) (kills: 7 assorted undead)
Tomen Rgr9/Drd1 (Ash) (kills: 5 assorted undead)
Troll Wiz10 (Densial) (kills: 20 assorted undead)

XP Awarded: TBA

Tomen, Troll and Arrian see Harley approaching, riderless. She lands next to Troll.

"The bastards!" Troll exclaims. "They've killed her!"

"The undead?" Arrian says.

"No!" Troll hisses. "The elves! Bloody elves…"

"Her mount is not distressed," Tomen says, reading the stone flyer's mood.

"I'm gonna KILL them!" Troll says, casting Invisibility upon himself.

Feren and Rowaine approach the beleaguered elven line. Feren recognises two of the four: Artigan, the leader, and Salinor, one of the other soldiers.

"Artigan!" Feren says. The elf continues to face the hordes of undead.

"Help us, kill us… Whatever you're going to do, do it now!"

Rowaine speaks up. "Artigan! Step back and talk to Feren. I'll hold the line!"

Artigan steals a glance backwards and recognises Feren. "What the hell are you doing here?"

"We're here to save Elathon," Feren replies.

Artigan appraises Rowaine, then the two awkwardly swap places. The undead advance a step but Rowaine's fresh arms and brutal strikes soon drive them back.

"Feren, how did you get here?" Artigan says, breathing hard. Behind him, a mummy falls to Rowaine's axe.

"We have been searching for Elathon," Feren explains. "We heard that he went underground at the Kanafel garrison and followed his trail."

"Well, you found him," Artigan says, pointing to a crumpled, prone form at the extreme right of the barricade. Feren's heart skips a beat. "Don't worry," Artigan continues. "He's badly wounded, but alive. Do you have a plan to get out?"

"…Yes?" Feren says, looking at Rowaine and the far end of the cavern beyond the undead. "Our group includes a powerful mage, and the paladin who took your place has a remarkable steed. I think you saw it."

"Magic does not serve us here," Artigan says. "We had to resort to torches after our rings of darkvision failed us. Theodric has us trapped here, a closed door at one end and innumerable undead at the other!"

"The paladin's mount might be able to ferry us out," Feren says.

"Leaving fewer and fewer allies against this tide?" Artigan replies. His eyes steel over. "Still, at least our prince might escape…"

As another undead falls to Rowaine's axe she appraises the horde. Never has she heard of so many of the abominations gathered in one place, and never in such variety. Before her are skeletons, ghouls, wights, mummies, plus others she cannot name. It is as if something is gathering all the undead in one place… Evidence supporting Feren's theory.

Troll spots Rowaine on the barricade, supporting the elves. Harley feels someone light climb into her saddle. Troll whispers in her ear.

"Harley, charge!"

Harley does not understand the words and chooses to follow her mistress' prior instructions, launching into the air and heading for the far side of the barricade. Troll slings a Fireball into the undead's midst, becoming visible again. Twenty creatures, roughly half caught within its forty foot wide blast area, char and die. Feren and Artigan take advantage of the temporary respite and retrieve Elathon. He is badly wounded, but the many makeshift bandages seem to be keeping death at bay.

Rowaine seems to be taking great pleasure in her duty to hold the line. She sees Harley fly overhead with Troll in the saddle, touching down behind her.

"Right!" Rowaine says. "Here's what we're gonna do. Artigan, swap with me. Feren, put Elathon in Harley's front saddle. We're getting out of here!"

Tomen hears footsteps behind him. He pulls the others to one side of the doorway. A mummy walks through, ignoring them and lumbering towards the others on the bridge.

Rowaine and Artigan again exchange positions as Feren gently places Elathon in Harley's saddle. "He's ready!" he says. Rowaine paces over, looks at Elathon's condition and Lays Hands on the prince. Nothing happens. Rowaine frowns.

"What's your plan?" Troll asks.

"I think the undead are being drawn to Elathon," Rowaine replies, climbing into the rear saddle and hanging onto the elf's armour. "I'm going to take them on a wild goose chase, down into the crevasse."

Rowaine spurs Harley into the air and leads her over the right edge of the bridge. She turns Harley to the left and begins descending.

"They're not doing anything different!" Troll yells over the side. Again, Rowaine frowns. She directs Harley upwards, back to the cavern entrance. She sees Arrian and lands nearby, quickly dismounting.

"Arrian, help me!" she says. Arrian paces over and together they lift the unconscious prince to the ground.

"My healing boons did not work," Rowaine says. "I am hoping yours will. We are needed at the barricade!" With that, she launches back into Harley's saddle and takes off. Arrian casts a Cure spell on Elathon. His wounds visibly improve.

Feren supports Artigan with quick rapier stabs. "Who is back there?" he asks.

"Just Theodric," Artigan replies. "I think he has gone mad. He has killed his own people and barricaded himself beyond the far door."

"Maybe the undead are after Theodric," Feren says.

"Let's find out!" Troll says. "Let a weak one through and see what it does!"

Artigan gives Troll a questioning look, then allows a skeleton to breach the barricade. Troll stands just beside its path. The creature ignores the living and wanders mindlessly forwards. Feren lights a sunrod and follows it. Troll walks up to the line. The undead in the front ranks reach out, trying to claw him.

"Kill your current enemy, then break off!" Troll yells. "They pose no threat if you leave them alone!"

The elves obey. New undead shamble past, their eyes tracking the living but leaving them alone.

Feren follows the lone skeleton along the bridge. The chamber is indeed oval, the bridge running its length and terminating at a sturdy, closed double door with large iron pullrings on each side. The skeleton stops at the door and begins ineffectually banging its bony fists upon the timbers. Feren keeps clear of the skeleton and inspects the door. It looks like it pushes open. He briefly covers his sunrod. Darkness; his ring of darkvision is not working. He presses an ear to the door, his eyes never leaving the animated bones only a handful of feet away. He hears nothing from the other side, but notes with dread the sound of many approaching feet behind. He turns around. Something like fifty undead are closing, spanning the bridge's width.

Harley and Rowaine land at the barricade. Rowaine does a quick head count.

"Where's Feren?" she asks.

"He went that way," Troll says, pointing his thumb at the far door. Through many undead, Rowaine sees the steady light of a sunrod illuminating the door. She urges Harley in its direction.

Feren pushes on the door; it won't budge. He shoulder-barges it to no effect.

"Rowaine!" Feren calls, moving to the edge of the bridge. It is a long way down…

Troll pushes past the meandering undead, back to where Arrian tends Elathon. The prince is awake. Troll looses an exploratory Fiery Burst overhead. A satisfying blossom of fire confirms his magic works here.

"C'mon, let's go," Troll urges.

"Where?" Elathon replies, somewhat groggily.

"That way, up those stairs."

"Shouldn't we wait for the others?"

"They'll follow. Let's go!"

Elathon gets to his feet and follows Troll up the stairs. Arrian and Tomen guard their rear.

Rowaine lands Harley at speed against the door, her mount's weight smashing the skeleton. "Get on!" Rowaine shouts. Feren gladly complies. Rowaine pulls the reins and Harley dives off the edge of the bridge in response. Moments later, the wave of undead hit the door.

"Theodric is on the other side of that door!" Feren tells Rowaine.

"We can't leave him there," Rowaine says. "No one deserves that fate, no matter how bad they are or what they've done." She sees the others disappearing up the stairwell.

"Troll!" Rowaine yells.

"Don't worry!" Troll yells back, out of sight. "I've got him safe! I'll be right back!"

Troll turns to Elathon. "I thought I'd teleport you somewhere safe, then come back to do some killing. Choose two others to go with you." Elathon indicates his two most wounded soldiers - Salinor being one of them.

The troop arrive at the upper room, immediately hearing something scrabbling up the wall outside the breach. Troll begins an incantation, touches Elathon and his two soldiers, then all four disappear. Moments later, Harley bounds into the room bearing Rowaine. Arrian and Tomen take up station either side of the breach while Feren talks to Artigan.

"Were you chasing after Theodric?" Feren asks. "I thought he was chasing after you!"

We started by fleeing from him," Artigan begins. "He caught up and got the jump on us. He took Elathon and went ahead. We gave chase, but lost contact. I don't know if you saw the dead elves upstairs? I think Theodric went mad or something, and started killing his own men. We caught up with him at the bridge. By that time, he was alone with Elathon, dragging him towards the door. He hadn't killed him! We engaged him and he fled, leaving our wounded prince behind. He seemed completely mad… Gleeful, even. I have never seen him like that. He also looked… sick."

"It sounds like he was not in his right mind," Rowaine offers.

"Was he mad when he caught and attacked you?" Feren asks.

"Hard to say," Artigan says. "It all happened so fast. He was definitely acting strangely at the bridge."

A skeleton drags itself into the breach. Tomen kicks it squarely in the ribcage, dislodging it. He watches as it cartwheels down into darkness. A long while later he hears something like kindling being dropped on rocks.

"How much time had passed between when Theodric attacked you and when you caught up to him?" Rowaine asks.

"Three, maybe four hours," Artigan replies.

"That's a short time to go mad," Rowaine says. "We have to get down there and save him. Take out the undead."

"I think we need to see what is attracting them," Feren argues.

"By the looks of it," Rowaine says, "I think they are after Theodric, in the same way as those demons were drawn to you, Feren."

"Demons?" Artigan says. "Attracted to Feren? One of our mages found something on Prince Elathon that he removed. He said it acted like a beacon."

"It stands to reason that the undead are drawn to either him, or something else in that area," Rowaine says. "How many men did Theodric have with him?"

"Twenty originally," Artigan replies, "but it was just him that went through the door at the end of that chamber. As far as I know, no one is with him now."

"Shouldn't we reason with Theodric and bring him out of his madness?" Feren says. "I would rather do that than waste time killing undead."

"I will go and get him," Rowaine says, turning to Harley. At that moment, Troll reappears in the room.

"Ah, there you are," he says. "Right, Elathon is safe back at Trina. I took him there via the underdark branch. Let's go kill some stuff!"

"Troll!" Rowaine says. "Just in time. How many undead will one of your fireballs take out?"

"Maybe lots," Troll begins, "but once I fireball them, any that survive become sentient, turn around and kill us. Besides, it's academic. They are inside the antimagic field."

"…and they will keep coming anyway," Tomen adds.

"That's it, then," Rowaine says. "I am his only hope. I am going to have to go and get him. I can't leave him there. The undead are only going to grow in number; they'll get through eventually. We can't take them all on…" she stops her train of thought. "Maybe one at a time?"

"There are about eighty left, Rowaine…" Troll says.

"We have to do something!" Rowaine shouts. She stalks back down the stairs, Harley in her wake. The others follow.

Rowaine walks along the bridge, far enough so she can see the far door. A couple of larger undead have made it to the front of the pack and are making headway in battering it down.

"Does magic work here, Troll?" Rowaine asks. Troll tries a Fiery Burst. Nothing. He shakes his head.

"What about arrows?" Rowaine suggests. She and Troll target a small mummy with their bows and fire in unison. Thu..Thud! Both arrows strike home. The creature wakes from its reverie and turns around. Rowaine's next arrow drops it. Tomen joins in; his two arrows drop another small creature.

"Is this a workable tactic?" Rowaine asks. "I guess it all boils down to how many arrows we have…"

Rowaine and Tomen are nominated as archers. Troll offers Rowaine his longbow for the job. They set up a hundred feet away from the mass of undead. The party pool arrows before them; a pile of seven score.

After felling ten smaller undead, it becomes evident that there are not enough arrows to kill them all. Their supply will run out with only forty or so of the smaller ones dispatched. One of the large undead smashes a skeletal fist on the door, splintering timber.

"Take him down!" Troll yells. The archers target the creature; Feren joins in. Four arrows lodge in the creature's upper back; it turns and faces its assailants. It then hunches over and launches itself at the door, which gives way. The creature vanishes through the gap and other smaller ones follow.

"No time!" Rowaine yells. "Gotta go!" She drops the bow, readies her axe and climbs on Harley. She fumbles for a sunrod as she talks to her mount in terran. Harley starts sinking into the stone bridge.

"I'm going after Theodric," Rowaine quickly says. "I'll be back in ten minutes, or I won't be back at all!"

Rowaine and Harley Earth Glide for a couple of minutes before Rowaine senses a change in Harley's mood. They emerge into a small, unlit space. Rowaine activates her sunrod.

"NO! Noooooo," wails a hoarse voice to their right, made by a disshevelled, huddling, shivering male humanoid. He holds an arm over his head and eyes, to shield himself from a blow or the light, Rowaine cannot tell. He is armoured and a sword is in a scabbard at his side. He doesn't look visibly wounded. Rowaine recognises the figure as Theodric.

The chamber is circular, a mere ten feet wide - Harley nearly fills it. To Rowaine's left is a closed, barred door.

"Come with me if you want to live," Rowaine says. Theodric continues wailing incoherently.

"They are coming!" Rowaine yells. "I am your only way out!" The elf merely curls himself into a more foetal position.

"How am I going to get through to him in time?" Rowaine thinks to herself. A mighty bang on the door underlines her sense of urgency. "No time for talk!" Rowaine thinks, spinning the haft of her axe in her hand. The axehead was heavy; being struck by the flat of the blade could quickly render a man unconscious.

Rowaine's first two blows are absorbed by the elf's helmet. Theodric tries to run away but there is nowhere to go. BANG! Another blow rocks the chamber door. Exasperated, Rowaine puts all her strength into her next strike. The axe connects, snapping Theodric's head to one side, but he remains conscious and ever more panicked. It takes two more solid blows before Theodric finally buckles. The door is splintering; Harley stands between it and her mistress, growling. Rowaine drags Theodric's unconscious form atop Harley and dives on herself.

"Harley, get us out of here!"

Thirty seconds later Harley emerges from the stone bridge, beside the barricade.

"Got him!" Rowaine calls to the others.

"We guessed!" Arrian calls back. "Look!"

The undead at the door have stopped trying to clamber through the splintered door and are turning around to face the other way.

"Let's go!" Rowaine says. "Can anyone dispel magic?"

"Yes," Arrian replies. "Hang on…" Arrian casts a spell. "Strange… I'm not seeing the same sort of magic on Theodric as we saw on Feren. His armour is magical though. That, and his sword and ring."

"First things first, then," Rowaine says. "We have to get out of here. The branch?" The others agree.

"You could take Theodric on Harley, straight to Trina's branch," Feren suggests.

"I could, but I need a Roielle or Roulae to use it," Rowaine says. "Let's put some distance between us and the dead things. Then, we can talk about how we are going to get out!"

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