The Crimson Blonde
Tired from our battle with the chain devil, and with Morgul in his weakened condition we decided that it would be best to hold up in the office. The Swordsmen moved a bookcase in front of the door and we began to set up for a night of very little rest. The sound of the undead horde would keep us awake for most of the night. The Cleric used his time to continue searching for clues in the office, and he managed to find a list of human names. Morgul said that those must be the names of the people being transformed into soldiers for this undead army. I must have eventually fallen asleep, for when I awoke the beams of sunlight were coming in through the windows. The light, however, was not the cause of our arousal. In the distance, we could all hear a rhythmic chanting. The Swordsmen were the first to investigate the sound. He climbed atop of the bookshelf that was blocking the door, and he called out to us.
“I hope you elves have some spells ready because things are about to get ugly.”
With the only entrance blocked by a bookshelf and a mass of undead outside, we had to think fast. With a quick glance around the room, I noticed that the chains of the demon we encountered yesterday were still around. I grabbed them and headed towards the balcony of the office. Once I looked over I could see that it was the lookout we spent our first night on. I then handed the chains to the Swordsmen and he tied them to the railing and then repelled down towards the lookout. The Cleric did the same only he seemed to fly down the chains with effortless grace. Just then the zombie hoard burst through our fortifications. They slowly shambled towards us, but before they were even halfway through the room Morgul vaporized most of them. I stood at the balcony waiting for everyone to repel to safety before I joined them. Morgul wasn’t very fond of my choice to be the last one in the office, but after the Bard was to safety he shortly followed. Faced with a countless amount of undead inching their way towards me I repelled to safety after I heard a loud thud. Once I had made it down I found Morgul slumped against the wall, his wounds had made it too difficult to hold onto the chains and had fallen about halfway down. I used my Lay on Hands to heal him the best I could and then he took care of most of the rest. Before he could heal all of his injuries we were met with a splat of gore as one of the undead had fallen in an attempt to chase us. We then knew we were not safe, I lifted Morgul to his feet and we headed back towards where we came back to life. With little time to spare, we unlocked the door to the courtyard and we head out towards the area I could only guess served as a way to sort the races for their twisted new purposes. Knowing that the exit of the crypt was back by the office and that we were now in the bottom of the ravine our fate seemed sealed.
“How are we going to get out of here?” I asked
But Morgul was more worried about seeing the fate his Elven brothers and sisters had befallen. Having few other choices we hurried towards the Elf processing area, as we ran I noticed that there was a section of wooden buildings that wove haphazardly up the side of the ravine. Worst comes to worst we could use them as a ladder to make our escape. Hopefully, the Elven section of the crypt would have a back door that we could use. Upon reaching the Elven section, we had no such luck. It was completely empty. I was prepared to scour the place for clues but Morgul said we didn’t have the time, insisting “That if they didn’t have them here, there is nowhere they could be.” Upon exiting the crypt a very large undead covered in filth, stood menacingly, blocking our path. Over the past few days, the five of us had learned how to work with each other’s weaknesses and play off of our strengths. Before the battle began it was over for this brute. The Swordsmen must have shared my mindset for he rushed towards it and after a quick stab from his rapier the beast brought down both of its hands on top of him and he was forced into the ground up to his waist. Seeing the beast’s great strength I decided to keep my distance and as I charged at it, I could hear the Bard’s song giving me courage. My lance wasn’t as effective as the Clerics turning abilities. For he made the beast flee before we could defeat it. The Cleric then also noticed that there were wires and explosive charges set along the sides of the ravine. They must have been made visible by the sun, that was now setting, the charges shown brightly reflecting the new orientation of light. After he pointed it out to us we also saw that on the edge of one of the wooden buildings so we made our way to the building at the base of the ravine and entered. Low and behold the undead scourge ever-present in this hellish crypt littered the interconnecting housing structures. We drew our weapons and began our ascent.
Against every logical thought, I continued to use my lance even in the cramped interior of this favela built into the wall of the crypt. And much to my surprise, I found it a rather disappointing challenge. All I had to do was angle myself the right way and I could attack anything that came near me. Combined with Morgul and the Cleric blasting away most of the undead with their magic the Swordsmen’s quick flurries of blades and the Bard’s use of song and sickle we made short work of the undead rabble. Once back above the crypt, standing in the last few glimmers of sunlight we set the charges and the fuse brunt quickly, and before we knew it the wall of the ravine came crashing down on itself self taking the platform we were on and favela which we came from with it. Once the smoke and dust cleared we were standing on a beach of a large inland lake lit by the moonlight. Then a deafening caw came from somewhere, its volume sounded as though it came from all directions at once. Then we saw a large silhouette of a crow flying towards us. It landed on the beach and I knew that it was the creature that the Bard described that took Greavth’s form back in the office. I could see why it had unnerved her. It had a cloak of bloody matted together feathers that looked as though it was sewn together with live maggots. It had the body of a man with a quiver of arrows at its side. Its head was an enlarged crow’s skull, covered in fissures and missing its lower jaw, sitting on a plume of dark shifting energy. This creature had a foul pestilence to it.
“Do you have any idea what you’ve just done? My army is ruined!” Said the crow.
“Army? What army? There were only corpses.” The Swordsmen asked.
“You have no idea what you’ve set into motion!” Said the crow as it lunged towards Morgul. Before it could reach him a second crow attacked the first. It was hard to make out what he looked like but it was clear they had subtle differences between them. They tussled briefly and then they flew off. A cloud of feathers and sand formed in their wake. Morgul had gotten involved at some point for when the sand settled he appeared to have stolen a pouch from one of the crows. It contained a few scrolls one of which was in the ancient dialect of draconic. That Morgul himself couldn’t read, maybe he isn’t as old as I first guessed.? Thinking back to the visions we had we came back to life, I wondered aloud “I hope that there aren’t five of these things”
Morgul quickly shot down my suspicions by saying “Those were two of four”. Why he didn’t tell us that early I could only guess, but I was hoping that he just didn’t feel we needed to know then. After looking at the scrolls I noticed that Swordsmen had wadded out into the water and was just standing there.
“Is now the best time for a swim?” I called out to him. But he didn’t respond. After a few minutes he rejoined us and we headed to the nearby woods to make camp for the night. The outside world was beautiful, even with only the pale moonlight to go off of. The grass and mosses that layered the ground of the woods were much better than the cool sand that we had to trudge through to reach our resting place. The sounds of the forest were calm and lively. Owls hooting, insects buzzing around, and the frogs croaking as if they were singing to one another. Compared to the cold and death that surrounded us in the crypt we were in paradise. I fell asleep quickly to the peaceful serenade of the wilderness. The next morning we awoke to find that Morgul was no longer with us, he had given the Cleric a map and told him we needed to find the merchant village of Skrayhorn, where we are to head to the Crimson Blonde and find Ylloh. The beauty of the forest I had witnessed last night was infinitely greater now that the sun was up. Never could I have imagined such a sight could exist after the bleakness of the crypt being my first memory. The fact that I could have forgotten any of this made me hunger for what else could be locked away inside my head. All of these thoughts sparked my curiosity to the point of bursting, I couldn’t contain my endless stream of inquires. I could tell that it quickly got on the nerves of my companions after an hour or so my curiosity subsided. It was almost midday when we came to a small outcropping of rocks. And as we passed were heard a terrible shriek followed by a black spectral being heading towards us. The shriek seemed to overwhelm the Cleric for his attempt to rebuke the creature failed, We quickly fell into our normal battle pattern, the Bard sang her inspiring tune as the Swordsmen and I charged valiantly both of our attacks fell short of their mark, the Cleric and Bard both landed hits with their morning star and sickle respectfully. Outnumbered by the four of us the specter fell quickly with the Bard landing the finishing blow. She then told us that she knew that it was called an Allip, someone who was driven into madness that had committed suicide as a way of getting revenge.
With the encounter with the Allip behind, we continued towards Skrayhorn, using the cleric’s compass that he had when we were resurrected. The town was still about a day or two away and with nothing else stopping us we continued until dark and made camp. Traveling with these people since our rebirth has brought me very close to them, and even though we remember very little about who we were, we at least have each other. This bond we have developed is all we have and I wonder if and when we regain our memories if we will still travel together. These thoughts have been what I would pounder before falling asleep. Once morning came we set out again. Most of the day we spent walking through a rather hilly plain. Its peaks and gentle valleys slowed our march by only slightly, as we headed to our destination with stalwart wills. A few hours past midday we heard the howl of two canines as they charged at us. The Swordsmen ran up on the hill they were on and attack the first one. They quickly flanked him and both managed to sink their teeth into his flesh. I lined up a charge and headed to assist him, the Cleric and Bard close behind. The bard singing her inspiring tune with the added percussion beats of the Clerics morning star smashing the rib cage of one of the dogs. Then without warning, they teleported around the Cleric mauled him viciously. Swordsmen took this opportunity to flank one of the dogs and struck through one of the dogs killing it. The other dog teleported next to him and returned with another bite to his leg. The Bard carved a gash in its flesh with her sickle to which I used as an opening and came from behind her taking the dog by surprise as my lance went through its back behind its shoulder and out through its chest. We ate like kings of their freshly killed corpses, for it was the first food we have had since we left the crypt. We then made camp and when morning came we headed for our destination. Shortly before noon, we came upon a small wooded area, and as we approached it a deafening roar and the sound of trees being knocked over meet by a young brass dragon charging out of the woods. The dragon stood about 6 feet tall with electricity sparking around its mouth.
Knowing a dragon of even this age would be a great challenge we began trying to negotiate with it, we managed to talk it down by offering it a few of our gems we found in the crypt, but when the Swordsmen offered it the gems it said it did not trust the salty one. Confused by this the bard, who was acting as our translator asked what he meant by salty one. The brass dragon said that Swordsmen smelt of salt and jorgun and that he could not trust him. I then took the gems from the Swordsmen and offered to give them to him instead. The dragon, however, wanted more than we were willing to part with. So the Swordsmen told him
“We aren’t looking for a fight and neither are you, so you will take what we are offering or leave.” The courage of the Swordsmen surprised the dragon who shot a bolt of lightning into the air and took the gems from me and retreated into the woods. With the dragon gone we headed to Skrayhorn and arrived a few hours later. The village of Skrayhorn was mostly a mass of shantytown slums surrounding what looked like a few stores and a tavern. For the first time since we’ve been brought back to life, we saw other living beings. The first person we saw asked if we were in the right place and he confirmed that we were in Skrayhorn. He told us how to get to The Crimson Blonde offering us the advice of trying their Amber ale. Once we arrived in the tavern, we could see that it was mostly males inside, except for the bartender and one server, both of which had scared faces and shaved heads. We made our way to the bar and sat down. And when the bartender approached us the Swordsmen called out to her.
“Good lord! What happened to your face?”
She replied with an unenthusiastic “you’re not from around here are you?”
“Our friend Morgul told us we should check this place out.” I said.
Shocked by me dropping Morgul’s name she told us to meet her in the corner booth. Once we sat down she asked us who we were, I told her I would like to be called Cenredi, the Swordsmen and Cleric said they didn’t remember their names and the Bard said she is Alessia. She told us she was Ylloh and then asked us about where we came from and why Morgul told us to come here. We told her of the crypt, Morgul bringing us back to life, and of our escape. She said she’d help us because Morgul was the reason the village was still around and they allowed him a great debt. She then introduced us to her sister Rebma, who was the woman working in the Crimson Blonde. She told us they had a special room for people Morgul send them. They worked as part of an Underground Railroad. She told us that the island nation of Sovereign was where we were, and it was ruled by a tyrannical Queen. She has taken all of the women in the kingdom hostage. She then told us to go talk to Evets the chef for some food. When we walked into the kitchen our noses were assaulted by the fresh aroma of butter, onions, and seared meat. Immediately after we noticed a rather obese Orc. He was sitting on a mechanical chair that circled around the kitchen on a track. Upon noticing us he drew a wakashi and yelled.
“Who let the stinking lot of you in my kitchen?” To which we said Ylloh. He pointed the sword at a table in the corner of the kitchen and began furiously making a large amount of food. When it was finished he set the table and we feasted on the best food I have ever tasted. As we ate we told him our story and we expected to hear his story as well. He then asked us to take his blade to the blacksmith to be sharpened. I was happy to hear this because I really wanted to spend some of our loot on some actual equipment not mistreated aged garbage we used to escape the crypt. Once at the blacksmith, we gave him Evets wakashi and asked him if we could buy some new equipment. I let the others go first for I had a large order to fill. When the blacksmith finally got to me I asked for a new lance, long sword, and a suit of full plate mail. To which he turned to his son and said it would be his master test to become his own blacksmith to craft me my suit of armor. We both hurried into the back of the store where he took my measurements. Once it was all done he told me it would be about a week before it was done. I have a feeling the father-son duo of Hoarst and Caston would be getting a great deal of business from us in the future.
We then headed back to the Crimson Blonde and were lead into a secret basement where we would be staying until Morgul came and got us. The next few days we all wandered around the village. We sold the various gems and other treasures we had to the general store owner, a halfling named Holgar. He didn’t really give us a good deal but his wife Ethel managed to persuade him otherwise. As the Swordsmen put our coin away Holgar noticed his whistle. He said it was made of whalebone and the first whalers that came to Sovereign used to have these. Then something began to stir in the Swordsman’s mind. He asked Holgar if the name Jorgun meant anything to him. To which he said no, but if he wanted to sell the whistle he would pay a small fortune for it. Could he be one of the whalers I thought? What about me? Maybe there are some Paladins around here, maybe they could know me. So I told the Swordsman I’d meet him back at the inn. And started looking for some guardsmen. Once I found them I asked if they knew where any Paladins were. They said they all worked for the Queen to the north, but I had to go through the garrison to get there. I wondered to myself what kind of person could call themselves a Paladin and work for a tyrannical Queen?
“Thank you, that makes things easier for me” The guards gave me a queer look as I walked away. I didn’t care though. I had too much on my mind. I had to get back to the others.