Last time, on Dungeons and Dragons
When last we met: our daring party of adventurers had gone shopping.
Well, and slaughtered a cave full of goblins. They then strolled around town, engaging in a little capitalism and making small talk with the residents of Phandalin. They picked up tidbits of what to do next: a farmer named Daran Edermath lived on the edge of town, and maybe he needed help with something.
Quoras Swift’s sister, Quelline, offered the suggestion of looking up Reidoth the Druid: he knew pretty much everything about everything as it pertains to local geography. If they wanted to know something — say, the location of the goblins’ Cragmaw Castle — they could bet on Reidoth knowing it. The only problem: he was currently staying somewhere outside the ruins of Thundertree, a town overrun by ash zombies which had currently become the home to a dragon.
But first: mead!
Cally had told us at our last D&D night that she would bring a bottle of mead. And mead she brought: 21 Bean Salute from 810 Mead Works, to be precise, which had a spiciness that mingled with the heat from the alcohol that almost seemed like hot peppers to me.
That title was instead claimed by Justin, who brought Habanero Sculpin. I think the beer tastes exactly how a habanero beer should; the question is, then, whether one actually wants a habanero beer. Justin, never particularly a fan of IPAs, actually liked it: Alex thought that might be because the heat took away some of the IPA-ness of the beer.
Alex brought a grower of A.P.E.S. saison, which — as all A.P.E.S. beers are — tasted delicious in all the right ways. I had intended to bring a mead myself but managed to confuse “M08”, the cap label for my 2008 mead, with “8”, my 8th all-grain batch. Oops. I actually brought a Belgian quad that never carbonated.
But back to the game!
An old man and his apples
In the morning the group walked across town to Edermath Orchards, as it was vaguely on their way to Thundertree. There an old man greeted them, introducing himself as the eponymous Daran Edermath.
They introduced themselves, or at least tried to: he rambled on at the slightest provocation, regaling them with tales of war, of his childhood, of the state of the town. He gave them all apples and launched into a story about the farm in his father’s day.
Eventually they managed to interrupt enough to divert his bloviation onto the subject of Old Owl Well, an ancient well built on ancient magical grounds, which he heard had a bit of an undead problem. Someone was messing around with the well and he suspected dark arts.
Rizzo, the party’s wizard, suddenly perked up. Undead magic, he said? He continued to talk, ignoring their polite attempts to interject, until Rizzo eventually just walked away. They were off for Old Owl Well.
A crumbling tower
After some travel east on the Triboar Trail they created a hill and saw the tower. A colorful tent had been pitched outside but the evening was calm. Dolemite’s wolves, liberated from the Cragmaw goblins, growled but otherwise didn’t strain at their leashes.
Quoras snuck down the hill silently, followed by Clant. They snuck close to the tower but stayed away from the opening. Hearing low moans and shuffling, they motioned to the others to come down quietly. Rizzo glided down the hill, and then Dolemite… tripped and rolled noisily to the bottom.
A horde of zombies shambled out of the tower.
Things go south
Quoras flattened himself against the tower in the hopes that he hadn’t been seen. Dolemite cast turn undead, forcing the group to flee from his holy self. As they reluctantly moved away the tent flap opened and a disheveled man in red robes stumbled out.
“Who t’hell’re you?” he asked. Rizzo, as eager as she had been at the orchard, stepped forward and introduced herself. She tried engaging with the man, but he seemed disinterested, belligerent and possibly a tad drunk.
Eventually she referenced the tattoo on his bald forehead, saying she knew what that meant. “I’m a necromancer too,” she whispered.
But not quietly enough. This was certainly news to the rest of the party, especially the cleric.
The necromancer became more friendly, though not really any less belligerent or drunk. He offered to help her with the “binding her life to a book” quest she had, but first she would have to visit the banshee Agatha and ask-
An arrow appeared in his chest.
Things somehow go even farther south
Clant nocked another arrow as Dolemite threw a handaxe, which embedded itself in the necromancer’s arm.
“What the hell?” Rizzo yelled. “This guy is the best chance I have for-“
“You didn’t tell us you were a necromancer!” Dolemite yelled back, loosing his hounds. Gatekeeper pounced on the man, ripping at his flesh until he was a bloody, motionless lump on the ground.
Keymaster, seeing no prey in the fallen wizard, jumped into the mass of zombies that had begun approaching the party once again.
Rizzo stared at the body. She turned to Dolemite and Clant. “Did you kill him? He was my only hope!”
“Of creating a damn horcrux?” Clant asked. “He was evil. You are a necromancer, which is news to us!”
Rizzo, furious, moved away from the zombies that had closed in on her. She also moved away from the party. She looked at Clant and muttered something in a strange tongue.
An iron crown appeared on his head, and a madness glowed in his eyes.
Things reach the Strait of Magellan and cannot possibly become any more southern
Rizzo had just cast crown of madness on her party mate, her friend. Her friend whose actions she now controlled. Dolemite got the hell away from Clant. As he ran by, Clant mechanically drew his bow and fired, missing his friend. He shook his head, trying to clear Rizzo’s control. He regained enough power over his body to run away, back to the base of the hill surrounding Old Owl Well.
The zombies swarmed over Gatekeeper and Keymaster, devouring the wolves, and then caught up to Dolemite, who had run towards them to get away from Clant. They clawed at his body and he ran as fast as he could to escape their reach. A few got in strikes but he didn’t care. Quoras, who had been exploring the now-empty-of-zombies tower when everything had gone to hell, rushed toward the hill as well. He shot an arrow from his shortbow into the horde to try and keep them at bay.
Rizzo began muttering some more, and the iron crown disappeared from Clant’s head. He immediately reached up and grabbed at his eyes. “I can’t see!” He blindly scrambled up the hill, Rizzo climbing the same 40 feet away. At the top she gave them one last look and ran into the forest. Clant considered shooting after her, but how could he hit what he couldn’t see?
He could still hear, though, and the zombies were a large, loud target. He fired blindly (the phrase had never been truer for him), managing to hit one in front. Dolemite and Quoras joined him at the top of the hill and they began a long, arduous backpedal through the woods, keeping just out of reach of the zombie mass while they loosed arrow and spell. After what seemed like an eternity the last one fell.
They snuck back to Old Owl Well, not entirely convinced that the necromancer was dead. He lay in the same place he had before, and so they searched his tent. There they found gold, treasure and scrolls, which they pilfered immediately. They decided to split the loot up evenly, a feeling of somber camaraderie having drawn them closer.
Two silver pieces remained, and having no way to divide them equally Dolemite placed them on the eyes of the anonymous necromancer. Two electrum were left over as well, which Clant put in his mouth. Two gold were also unaccounted for, and as they uncomfortably considered where they could put those Quoras suggested they play a game of chance, winner gets the extra. They did the same with the platinum, pocketed the rest of the treasure, and left the Well behind.
Back in town they sold their things before stumbling into Quelline’s house. She asked where Rizzo had gone and Quoras took her aside. She slammed a bottle of whiskey on the table, telling them to drink up, and as they did they realized that they had to go to Thundertree, to fight a dragon, and were down a party member. “Well,” Quelline said, her voice only slightly slurred, “Thundertree is right by Neverwinter. Surely you could find an adventurer there?”
So it was decided: they would get some rest and then go about picking up the pieces of this mess tomorrow.
As they drifted off into a drunken sleep they could almost forget there was now a very angry necromancer somewhere in the woods around Phandalin.