The plains are calling me home. We’ve found the sacred vessel those cursed goblins stole from our village. We’ve avenged the deaths of our loved ones — never have I enjoyed a battle as much as when we slaughtered the humanoids. My sword sang in my hands. For once, that paladin and I were in perfect accord.
Now it is time to leave these awful mountains… They block out whole sections of the sky and many of the creatures are unfamiliar to me. I yearn for the wide open plains, where you can see ahead for miles, and there’s no snow or mist and hardly any rain. Where the deer are plentiful and I know how to avoid the snakes in the grass. Besides, we need to return the sacred vessel to our village. They have been far too long without it.
These adventurers Alix and I are travelling with have agreed to accompany us. Indeed, it would seem foolhardy to split up our group at this point. We are just five and I cannot count how many times I have stared death straight in the eye. Alix and I were truly lucky to meet up with them, for I fear we would have been food for snow wolves otherwise.
But, to my great frustration, we continue to linger in the mountains. For one thing, that paladin (curse his clanking armour) has been completely obsessed with a burial mound a little to the north of the goblin village (the site of our great triumph). He swears it is evil — and I believe him. The glorious dead should not be entombed in the earth, but burned and the ashes scattered to release the soul to the sky. Of course it is evil.
Besides, I saw those fearsome wights the second time Intan ventured to confront the barrow. It makes my skin crawl and I would give it a wide berth. Yet he says his god demands he smite the evil. He will not leave this place until he has vanquished the other wights.
I daresay he will get himself vanquished instead. I will not venture inside the mound, for I have no weapons than can halt the undead. Too well do I remember my encounter with the wraith. I believe Alix will assist him with her magic, though. She is a brave and noble soul, and does our village proud.
If Intan is killed we will sorely miss his sword arm, although I confess I would be quite happy to never hear the cursed name of Phanator again…
There are evil things in this world. They lurk in the dark reaches below ground where the cleansing rays of the sun don’t penetrate. Places like the barrow. I knew as soon as I laid eyes on it that it was a site of such pestilence, that it was pustulent sore upon this earth. It oozed evil. I knew what Phanator would have me do.
I must scourge the barrow of its filth, lay open its doors and let in the sunlight.
We had already tried once: gone in and faced the barrow wights with almost disastrous results, destroying but one of the three undead. And here we were again, knowing two of the monstrosities remained. I wanted nothing more than to go in and hack away, but my more cautious companions counselled me against recklessness.
The ever-wise Cal formulated a plan. I would rush in, sword drawn, open the inner door and rush back out, to see whether we could draw them out and whether the ward against evil would do its job. First, clever Alix cast a protective spell upon me so the wights could not touch me until I attacked. It cost me three silver. What care I? Material possessions are for fools! Far more important to survive long enough to cast those creatures out and redeem myself in Phanator’s eyes.
The plan worked. The ward stopped the wights, and we were able to get in an attack. But then they fled. Using Cal’s plan, I rushed in again, but this time they wouldn’t be drawn. We would have to venture into the dark.
We had already decided that Ash and Saf would not accompany us. This was not cowardice on their part — I am sure their hearts yearned for the adventure — but a practicality. They could do little against such creatures. Instead, they had our backs.
Cal, resourceful as ever, cast Dancing Lights into the darkness, and with some trepidation we entered, my heart battering my ribs. We had to succeed. If we did not – no, it is too terrible to contemplate…
Beyond the second door, the barrow opened out into a small room. We couldn’t see the wights, but in front of us, on a great earthen bier, lay a skeleton of giant proportions. The smell of evil hung heavy in that dank place. My skin crawled with it.
The wights had split up. They attacked. There is nothing I love better than to smite evil, and so I did. I destroyed the first wight with one almighty blow, scattered his bones in that tomb. In the meantime, Alix gave a heart-wrenching, agonised cry, and I knew what must have happened: the other had attacked her, draining her of energy. I’m certain Cal was working his own magic, and Alix fighting bravely on, attempting to turn undead. They must have had some success because the last remaining wight tried to flee. An attack of opportunity for me, only I missed. Damn it. Try again. I lunged forward and smote that wight as hard as I could. This one, already weakened by Cal’s attack, was an easy kill.Victory was ours.
With the wights gone we were able to take stock of our surrounds, and the three urns behind the bier. First we examined the skeleton and the tower shield covering it. Cal’s Detect Magic spell showed one urn was magic. My Detect Evil spell showed a taint in another. In the meantime, Saf and Ash joined us.
We opened the urns. One had three potions, which Cal snaffled. Another had some coin, and the third a scroll, which told us of a fire giant who might have been in search of a second eye.
The best part was getting out of that place, back into the sunshine and Phanator’s favour. The next few days we met with other dangers, but none had the same thrill for me, so I will let others tell those stories. I will say only that the bruises that Ash gave me were far more enjoyable than the battering I took from both the snow leopards and the croc, even if Ash’s bruises hurt my pride!
Will Ash get home to her village, or will this band of motley adventurers lead her astray in pursuit of treasure? Hear from the other members of the party — Calwyn the mage, Alix the cleric and Saffir the rogue — and discover how Ash came to inflict bruises on the mighty Intan in the next installment of D&D Chronicles: Of gods, monsters and travelling …
Thanks to Tracey Rolfe for the contribution from Intan.