Zombies inspire reckless action
It’s around midnight when we finally find a band of zombies towards the outskirts of Issimbaal. There are six of them, five of us. This should be easy.
Although I must remember we need to take some alive for the clerics to study. I’m much better at killing zombies than anything else. In fact, they’re one of my favourite enemies. After the frustrating and fruitless afternoon we’ve had, the others will probably need to hold me back.
Except they don’t.
I charge first into the thick of it and start laying about me with both weapons. Yes. Zombies begin to wobble and fall. But, er… now I’m surrounded by them and… Ow. The bastards! It seems my companions have held back and I’m alone facing ALL THE ZOMBIES.
One explodes to my right. (Thanks, Alix!) Another breaks from the fray, but — ow! Shit. Fuck.
My head is swimming and my limbs feel like water. I’ve got to get out of here.
I edge back from the battle, but I can’t retreat far enough to stop them coming at me again. But then Nightshade is standing right in front of me like a shield, and they’re ignoring her. In fact, they almost stop their attack. Alix is free so I scream at her for some healing.
It’s over soon after that and Blizzard has a zombie under his control. I didn’t know he could do that. Why can he do that? It’s horrifying (but I’m reluctantly impressed). Two of the other zombies aren’t quite “dead” yet, so we take them back to the priests as well, but it turns out the only one that’s useful is the one Blizzard captured.
They give us some gold for the zombie, but I’m far more interested in whether they can use it to study the zombie disease. Find a cure. For Nightshade.
It’s very late and we fall into bed.
Tomorrow we face the beholder guarding the one room in the mage college we haven’t been able to get into yet. We crawled all over the second floor of that college this afternoon and found pretty much nothing. Let’s hope the contents of the workroom prove more rewarding.
Battle with the beholder
The beholder appears to see us immediately Squirrel and I enter the workroom. So much for our elaborate plan involving sneaking and invisibility potions and invisible twine and coded tugs…
But it doesn’t attack us. It looks… curious, with its one enormous eye, and other eyes on stalks sticking out like a tentacled sea creature. Except it swims in air and according to Squirrel each of those eyes will unleash a vicious spell.
I pray to blessed Emrys those other spells and blessings and shields and the deathward cast on us by Alix and Blizzard work.
The beholder abruptly scuttles up high, out of easy reach. Squirrel is visible now — he must have attacked. Our agreed plan was to retreat if the beholder saw us, but Squirrel doesn’t appear to be going anywhere. Blizzard’s in the workroom now, wielding that floating sword he has. I guess we’re staying. I have my bow out by now and I start firing arrows into the creature.
I have no idea whether it’s attacking us back — I can’t see any sign of spells and I don’t think any have hit me. I hope the others are similarly lucky. It’s all very chaotic and messy, but in a surprisingly short time the thing is twitching and dead at our feet.
Nightshade pounces on the corpse and begins, er… eating it? I guess better its blood than ours.
After a search of the workroom we discover the fourth and final part of the key to what we assume is a door leading into the tower. To Squirrel’s delight and relief, we also find ingredients for the ink he needs to transcribe and learn mage spells.
I wouldn’t say this mage college has delivered enough bounty to offset the gold (for lives) we’ve sacrificed here, but the prospect of Squirrel with new spells is at least a positive.
Going one-on-one in the mage arena
Trying not to betray my trepidation, I step across the threshold into the mage arena. Squirrel tells me how to say the command word in the Tuyar language. As soon as I repeat it the air coalesces around me into one of those whirling wind creatures — air elementals — that we’ve confronted here already.
With a swallow, I raise my swords. It’s just me versus this creature in one-on-one combat. If I win the physical challenge, we will hopefully gain entrance to the top floor of this tower. If I lose… I can’t lose. This is a last resort. The other two levels of the tower have yielded precisely nothing except for a magic quill. There must be something here to find. Why else would we have to scavenge so hard for the four pieces of key?
We engage in battle, me with my two strong blades versus… magical air?
I have no idea how I’m going, but I feel strong. Steel flashes in the arena mage light. My companions are cheering me on. (I imagine the stands are packed full of cheering onlookers — how amazing that would feel.) Am I making a dent? There’s no way of knowing. I just have to keep going and try to beat this thing.
Air rushes past me as it flings me through the air. I crash against some sort of frame, but there’s no time to figure out what. I haul myself to my feet, aching now, and re-engage. I hope I’m putting a dent in this thing, because it’s certainly putting a dent in me. But I’m okay for the moment.
I’m hurtling through the air again. It’s almost like flying. The arena surface slams up to meet me.
A third chance at living
I open my eyes and the world rocks and shimmers around me. In my mind, there’s the echo of words, important words, words I can’t quite remember. Words from my god.
My skin prickles. Emrys spoke to me. I strain to recall the words and clutch them to my chest.
I become aware of the others hovering over me, alongside one of the clerics of Phanator. Sitting up, I look around this sacred room, take in their solemn faces, and I know exactly what has just happened. That cursed air creature killed me after all. Fuck.
But I’m alive. The priests have performed their third resurrection for our party in about as many days. And I feel… whole. We’re down a lot more gold (again) but I can continue my sworn quest to retrieve the Right Eye of Varrien.
And get the Left Eye back from that bitch cleric of Elloran, Elliana. (The others look at me in relief when I say this. I cannot quite meet their eyes.)
And find a cure for the zombie disease so we can cure Nightshade.
You may be interested to know this is the second time Zillah has died and been resurrected. The first time was all the way back in August 2014 (In the depths of the barrow there’s a wurm and an eye). She was not the only one that night. Our DM should go back and read that post when he’s feeling sad…
The D&D Chronicles page has some background and all posts listed in order.