We arrived at the entrance of the Gellisian Fields and it seemed smaller to me than whey I saw it as a child. The great stone arch bore the names of the gallant warriors that had fought there, with marker stones every mile along the border of the lands where the War Against the Black Banner ended. We paused for a moment to drink in their names and remember the stories we had been told of this great battlefield. It stretched for leagues in every direction and the road cut through the heart of it. Penetrating the battlefield was not likely to be an easy trip.
There was an eerie calm over the rolling hills and copses of trees that dotted the landscape. It was as if nature itself were attempting to suppress the horrors and atrocities that took place on that soil. That was something I understood all too well as a druid. Nature abhors pain and anguish and will always soothe such suffering. It is the way of the loam of the world, to heal. Even as we passed under the arch I could smell the torment of the land in the air. It was almost a coppery taste in the back of my mouth.
We were now beyond the lands any of us have explored in our youth. All of us had talked of adventure, of seeing the world, and now we were thrust in it. I could not help but wonder what we could do against someone daring and defiant enough to attack a Gray Rider? Having heard the stories of the tormented ghosts that still are chained to these lands, I wondered what kind of thief would use the Fields as a home or base? This is not a foe to take lightly. How would we ever find them?
We sent our rogue Galinndan to take point as we moved north on the road. With the trees growing along both sides of the path and the rise and fall of the land, our concern was the same kind of ambush that had led to the Gray Rider’s demise. Near the end of the first day’s march we were stunned to see Galinndan running south on the road, right at us.
Lumbering behind him was a mountain of flesh and death. I had never seen an ogre before but this one fit the image my nightmares had of such creatures. It carried a shield that was made of four other shields, no doubt scavenged battle relics – a hodge-podge of hide, wood, brass and iron, cobbled together crudely.
Its armor was the same – bits of chainmail, leather, doeskin, ork-hide, all haphazardly draped over its thick tree-like muscles. We could not see the creature’s face, it was adorned with an old iron cooking pot that had been made into a disfigured helmet – with lop-sided eye-holes bore through the iron. “Pot head,” that was what I thought when I saw him.
It swung a massive club of crude oak, adorned with a gnarled white skull with glowing crimson eyes. The skull of a demon, no doubt dug up from some grave. It nearly clipped Galinndan as he scampered towards us, fear filling his eyes. The glowing eye sockets made one think of death and doom.
We attacked…what else could we do? Though things went wrong almost immediately. Arius summoned his searing smite and his blade burst into crimson holy fire. “Face the wrath of the one god!” he spat as he swung the blade with all of his might. The Ogre actually grinned as the blade missed by a good four inches, impaling itself into Bor Boskin’s chest. Our gallant fighter burst into flames – intended for the ogre, flying back two feet before collapsing unconscious form Arius’s fumbled assault. Galinndan swung to the flank of the creature and stabbed at it as I poured on arrows and curses at the creature. Arius’s second stab did draw blood from the beast, but also drew its attention. Althalus’s eldrich magic sent emerald bolts of energy into the chest of the ogre. While the smoking holes in its cobbled armor were testimony of the hits, it only grinned at the warlock, as if taunting him.
I lowered my bow and did summoned the powers of the earth and plants around me to stop the flames on Bor and save him before he passed the veil of death. The flames went out and he stirred. I distinctly heard him ask, “Is that bacon I smell…or chicken?” not realizing that it was his own flesh, broiled by our paladin’s holy fire. He staggered to his feet, realizing the ogre was still a deadly threat, feebly stabbing at the creature but only serving to irritate it further.
The ogre drew back its massive skull-encrusted club and swung it at Arius, crushing his chest and sending his body flying back, shimmering a most unholy crimson from the creature’s weapon. Althalus moved to tend to the paladin’s injuries – something that would have been ironic if they were not such close friends – a warlock helping a holy warrior.
The pot-headed ogre saw the warlock and wanted a bit of revenge for the eldritch blast, so it swung the skull-club, doing a devastating amount of damage. For a moment, if only a moment, it appeared we were doomed. Most of our party was either unconscious, smoldering, or wetting itself from fear (just a little – I admit it. I’m not proud of it, but you would have peed a little too at the sight of this creature.)
Galinndan stabbed him from behind – it was his way. Finally, the massive creature, riddled with arrows, staggered and dropped, coming just shy of crushing some of my fallen comrades. We were so badly mauled by the melee we got off of the trail and did what we could to heal and recover.
Arius, when he awoke, went to the body and found a large green and red gem of considerable value. Althalus became obsessed with the club. “Perhaps we could strap it to Phillipe’, our last pony. But the club was too large for the pony to haul. Althalus, always looking for some scrap or bit of magic, used his dagger to pry off the demon skull that was ebbed on the club. He stuffed it in his pack, despite the fact we all gave him a wary look. Bor cocked his eyebrow at what the warlock was doing. “Are you sure that is wise?”
Althalus grinned. “I am sure this is worth something…” He seemed to be ignoring the fact that the eye sockets still had a bit of crimson glow to them.
This was not going to end well – I was sure of it.