As we take a short rest in these underground chambers, it seems like a fine time to jot down a few notes here.
This morning we assembled bright and early for our foray into the ruins. Vandigan told us of his vision at the shrine – he means to quest to some sort of cave in the northeast. Much as we would like to address this, we are rather in the middle of a job. Druss was willing to speak to our employer of the hour [“Of the hour, yes!” – Ming the Merciless], but without more to go on than “A cave, somewhere that way” there is little we can do right now. We cannot simply commence to traipse across the northeast quadrant of Khorvaire looking for a cave.
We approached the “dig” site and spotted what appeared to be an unauthorised tomb-robber. The more fleet-of-foot gave chase (our bladeling monk has an astonishing turn of speed), while those of us weighed down by armour remained to guard our employer in case this was a diversion. This thief turned out to be some sort of ghost – although we did not exactly know that at the time – and vanished in a puff of vapour leaving behind some sort of odd spherical device.
(I wonder why a ghost would be stealing its own artifacts, and where it might have thought to fence them. Perhaps it was the ghost of one who in life was a thief, and who even in death continues to steal. Unlikely. A mystery, then.)
A scout of the area for more bandits revealed that the ground toward which the ghost was fleeing was “blighted” by some sort of unholiness. Our clerics informed us that it was likely that we were dealing with some sort of undead infestation. At this our charge turned quite queer, and his face went an interesting shade of pale green (I did not know that soft-skins did that). News of fantastic and deadly machinery would have sent him to investigate, but house Cannith does not truck with undeath. He ordered us to escort him back to the safety of the monastery, and then to clean out the area.
A difficult ask, with one of our clerics under some sort of ban, but we proceeded. At the epicentre of the blighted area was some sort of collapsed cave into which we descended. The floor of the area was strewn with bones. Some of us went to investigate a disturbance, and provoked – something. At this, the bones knitted together into skeletons, which became animate and attacked.
The battle was short and not difficult. As there was no rush, we rested and then pressed further into the underground area. There we faced dead with rather more flesh than simple skeletons – zombies rather like the cursed corpses of those silver flame guards. Easily dealt with if you concentrate on their weakness, which is that they are slow. Again we rested. There was a door leading to an inner set of chambers. One of us listened at them, and was overcome with a strange compulsion to attack his companions. I tackled him and after a moment he regained his senses – although not before taking a beating from Druss.
DND4 has no rules for grappling. You can make a grab attack, which immobilises a target, but there are no rules for converting that into a pin or anything like it. The best you can do, mechanically, is “immobilised”. Really useless.
With this little warning, we opened the door and faced what was within. There were a pair of undead in priestly regalia, a pair of “wraiths” – insubstantial spirit things, and a half-dozen or so zombies.
It proved a difficult and dangerous fight, and we were lucky to prevail. The wraiths drained away our life by their mere presence, their cold and deadly aura leaving us stumbling and confused – prey to the zombies. We keenly felt our lack of ranged attack specialists who could have dealt with them better – we have only Verdant Mossytoes. We also do not really fight together as a group. The priestly undead faded away into the walls, emerging at intervals to blast us with their power which repeatedly knocked us to the floor, forcing us to waste valuable seconds simply standing up in the debilitating aura of the wraiths.
I remember nothing especially notable. At least three of us were knocked unconscious at one stage or another – roused from near-death by our clerics and other healers. We dealt with one wraith, then another, all the while fighting the zombies, and eventually took down one of the priests. One remains, but it seems to have learned the better part of valour and is content to remain beyond our reach – insubstantially haunting the very walls.
And so it stands. I think it would be reasonable to retire for the day, lick our wounds, and return. On the other hand, the battles beyond are not going to get easier. It depends on how badly beaten up everybody is. We have not yet decided.