After we slew the zombies once and for all we set out north along the road through the Fields. It was as long trudge, with a cool drizzle coming down and the sky filled with clouds. There were not many sunny days in the Gellesian Fields – perhaps tied to the horrors that had fought there.
We arrived at five hills that made the road swing to the east. I had heard of these – the Bailey Hills. Two still had the massive oaks atop them. After the long days of fighting, when the Black Banner was defeated – with many driven into the Fangs of Kraylor, the surviving leaders were brought here. Taken up the rocky slopes, the war criminals were hung, one at a time. Their bodies, if I remember the story correctly, were carried down and burned in a large pyre at the base of the largest hill. This was a place where the end of the battle was cemented. Evil had been driven away, for the time being.
As the road snaked along the farthest hill, we saw a statue, some forty-feet in height, mounted on a stone pedestal. It was a warrior, bold, daring, in full armor, looking upward at the rain filled clouds. One hand of the old statue rested on the hilt of a giant stone sword, now broken into fragments at the base of the memorial. We cleared away the moss and vines and read the words on the base. “To commemorate the gallant that stood against the plague of darkness to save the world. Rejoice in a victory won of bravery, blood and the power arcane!”
This is how I wish to be remembered! Every swordsman wants to see such a monument to their valor and I am no exception.
We searched the base of the monument and Galinndan found one panel that seemed to conceal a door or opening. I was going to suggest that we try and pry it off, but Althalus unleashed a bolt of his accursed magic, shattering the upper corner of the stone. He lacks the subtlety that I do for such matters. The last thing I wanted was to discrete such a monument. I will have to talk to that warlock…
There was a narrow stone spiral staircase leading down. I could not see anything in the almost pitch dark, though my comrades assured me it was safe. At the bottom, some dozen feet down, there was a seven by seven chamber. In the center was a pedestal holding a stone urn. This was no ordinary urn, I could sense that even if I could barely make it out. The urn was as deep as my arm if not longer, and half that across. Around the outside you could see the markings of weapons – arrows, swords, battle axes, pikes…decorating the urn. Inside the urn was a shimmering film of gold foil and it was filled with a pure liquid.
Arius put his sword in the water and it seemed to throb – vibrating for a few moments. He pulled it out and boasted that it was light, almost as if it had no weight at all. Theren put his quarterstaff in and the water rippled there around it. Clearly some enchantment was happening here, but it was beyond me. Galinndan tried his blade but nothing happened. Disappointed, he dumped out his flask and filled it with the fluid. “We will not give you anything to drink,” Theren warned…but the rogue ignored him. Perhaps he knows something I do not. Then I remembered, it is Gal – this is what he does…if only for the humor. “Rogues are a merry lot, laugh at you while they cut your purse,” as the bard’s song goes.
We started back on the road but found a trail, more recent, leading east. There was something about it that didn’t seem right so we went to investigate. We moved through the brush and Gal at the front of the line stumbled into a snare trap. He was dangling there of the trail, upside down. The others worried about cutting him down. I was concerned that we had alerted whoever had set the trap that we were on the trail. I drew my weapon. A fight was coming – and the others didn’t see it yet. The benefits of my training is to spot it first.
We came to a clearing and there were three tents there. The path led down the middle of them to where a woman stood, her hands bound behind her back, tied to a stake. At her feet was a pile of kindling as if they planned on burning her alive. Her shield lay against the pile as well.
To say she possessed beauty was an understatement. She was lean and strong – I could see that. She wore light armor that pushed her ample bosoms out. I saw that armor and knew it was not decorative. It was designed for a true swordsman.
“Help me,” she said just above a whisper. “They’ll be back any minute.”
“Who?” Arius asked.
“We don’t have time for this,” she beckoned. Help me.”
“This does not feel right,” I offered. Arius agreed. The paladin was not being seduced by her breasts the way the others were. Holy oaths come at a high price indeed.
We moved forward slowly and suddenly four warriors jumped out. Two were a pair of identical barbarians, twins or some sort of illusion. “Very well,” the girl sighed. She stepped out and swung her untied hands out – with two hand-held crossbows.
She fired, not wildly, but with deadly accuracy. One hit Althalus, toppling him instantly. Poison! It had to be. The other hit Galinndan and he dropped.
My head roared like a storm as my blood boiled for battle! Arius and I rushed the barbarians and I lost track of Theren in the chaos of the fight. Arius summed his Searing Smite and his blade burned with a crackling holy fire. He swung at one of the twins, missing him by six inches and hitting me as I hit the other. My cloak caught on fire – in the middle of the battle. I spun and tossed it off as I had trained to do. I was hurt, but managed to dive on the barbarian with the large fine war hammer. I drove my sword through his shoulder hard and deep and he fell hard.
Arius spun and swung again, missing his foe – instead hitting the nearby tent, sending it up in flames.
“It’s not my fault!” the paladin bemoaned as hit finally hit his target, spraying gore in the air.
“It’s not mine either,” I replied, joining him.
The last barbarian battled on against the two of us. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Theren moving behind us, on the other side of the burning tent. The battlefield is burned in my mind even now. We pressed our advantage and slew the last of the barbarians when there was a thunderous explosion behind us.
Theren! The druid had summoned the might of the soil and sky and unleash a thunderwave. The arcane explosion knocked his foe down but also sent out a shockwave right at us. The magic spell tore at the burning tent, tossing it on top of Arius and myself. I spun to get out, half laughing in the process. Arius had set me on fire and the tent, and now was ablaze from his own actions. The gods have a sense of humor!
As he pulled the flaming shard of canvas off of himself, we spun only to see the female standing there, a brilliant curved longsword, the likes of which I have never seen, and a yellow and purple tower shield. “Enough!” she howled, in a voice that sounded almost as if she had been in the military. We looked at her. “Let us end this.” Some sort of brilliant flash went off. I managed to avert my eyes but our druid was blinded, he shaded his eyes and staggered.
“We didn’t start this,” Theren said. I muttered a prayer that he would not try and cast a spell while blinded.
“Let us smite her,” spat Arius, his face covered in his own soot.
“Yes,” I found myself saying through gritted teeth. “We will end this.
She almost looked bored. Putting her fingers to her teeth she whistled and a white horse burst across the camp. With perfect precision she jumped onto its back and charged away.
It was in that last moment I saw it – the Gray Rider’s saddle bag, hanging off of her saddle. It was the very thing we had been sent to recover.
Curse that wench!
I hope you enjoyed this “novelization” of the party thus far. Here are the previous episodes in case you missed them. You can always subscribe to my blog too.