Sir Arius The Seeker…
We finished the last of the cockatrice and were winded from the fight. Althalus was walking with a limp and I saw why. The cockatrice had bitten him and he had a patch of flesh that had become petrified on his thigh – nearly twice the size of my sword hand. He kept asking if it was permanent, as if any of us knew. We’ve never faced these creatures before. Looking at the statues around the base of what we came to call Cockatrice Hill, my assumption was that his condition was likely permanent.
I carefully cleaned the creature’s blood from my blade and we turned our attention to the den. I do not know the properties of cockatrice blood – and have no desire to learn it firsthand. Their den was nothing but a dank little hole in the ground at the base of the hill, carved out of the bones and stones. White-gray cockatrice crap, baked in the sun, was like a foul concrete that killed everything it landed on all around the den. And the stench! There was little there that I would want to check. “If you want to look for treasure in such a hell-hole, you are welcome to it.”
Our thief Galinndan, no stranger to foul stench (his cooking skills leave much to be desired), crawled in the musty hole and emerged with some booty. Good and silver have allure to him. With me it is only honor I seek.
He found a silver flask, encrusted with dung and filled with God only knows what. There was a silver dagger with a ruby still in its pommel. Eight silver pieces were all that the beasts had in their filthy little hole. I do not care for the treasure from such evil creatures. Killing them only provided me with a trifling of honor.
We made camp – though I must admit, while that tall hill covered in the bones of the dead creatures of the Gellesian Fields provided us some cover on one flank, I could not sleep well that night. The bones of the dead tend to stir men of my Order. It was only my prayers that finally allowed me to get some sleep.
Althalus did surprise us all. He said that he was leaving that accursed demon skull in the den of these creatures. He muttered something about “…consulting with the skull…” then told us he intended to hide it there to recover at a later date. As holy warrior it took all of my restraint not to smash it when he wasn’t looking. He had not slept since prying that skull out of the ogre’s club. Nothing good was going to come from that skull – the glowing crimson eyes were a warning – one up to now he had ignored. Little did I realize the role that skull was destined to play in the days to come.
We proceeded onward, north along the road. Traversing the Fields was unnerving. It is hard to walk those lands and not think of the battles that tore up that ground so many years ago. They say that not all of the Black Banner were driven into the gash – that there are places where the dead walk the fields. I heard the stories in my youth from my mother but laughed them off as I got older. Now though, I can tell you, the stories are true!
In a cool drizzling rain we found ourselves assailed by four dead creatures. Men and elves from what I could tell, adorned in rusted fragments of chainmail, I heard them at the same time I smelled the stench of rotting flesh. They carried weapons and looked more dead than alive, but moved as if there was still fragment of life in their skulls.
I closed my eyes and summoned my holy energy – I could feel it flowing through my hand and into my sword. My blade burned with holy power and I slashed, hitting one of the creatures. Bor and I waded into these reeking dead men, sending bits of rotting flesh and rusted mail flying as we waded into them.
The battle raged all around us. We would take these abominations down, only to have them rise again. These lost souls were clearly soldiers that had fought here and had refused to die – even in death. Galinndan was bit on the lower neck and let go a howl that made my skin crawl. Bor flailed off the arm of one of the elven monstrosities, sending it flailing in the air. Althalus unleashed a blast of his accursed magic, missing the creatures but hitting poor Bor in the process – knocking him out of the fray. I must admit, there are times I wonder about this warlock. He keeps muttering about his need to fulfill a greater vision. At what point will he turn against us to pursue his geas? Is he doing that already? Some of his misses make me wonder…
We would smite these walking corpses, only to have them rise back to their feet and come at us again. It took us several minutes to hack them apart to the point where no ungodly power could hope to rise them against us.
I knelt at my sword and uttered a short prayer for Bor. He had been hit by us more than these rotting horrors. I came to realize that this was the least of the horrors we were destined to face in the Fields.
I hope you enjoyed this “novelization” of the party thus far. Here are the previous episodes in case you missed them.