March 13 – The bodies of the 2 undead ogres lay strewn across the floor. Arturas attempts to pull out the battle axe that is stuck in the first ogre’s abdomen. After several tries. He gives up. Alston attempts by wiggling the blade and it finally pops out. (Arturas) “I must have loosened it.” In the gaping maggot filled hole in the front of the ogre. Arturas see something shinny. Finntran uses Mage Hand to reach in and remove the shinny object but whatever it is, is too heavy for the magical hand to lift. Arturas shrugs and reaches in and pulls out a 10" cherry wood chest with gold bands on it. He shakes the maggots off of it. It is locked with a key. (Solaire) “Is anyone able to open the chest?” Everyone looks around at each other. Maab finally holds out her hand. Arturas wipes the last of the maggots off the chest and hands it to her. Maab reaches into a pouch and pulls out a bent piece of metal. In under 10 seconds she has the chest unlocked. She hands it back to Arturas. (Solaire) “Thievery Arts? I should have known.” Atruras opens the lid of the chest. Inside is well over 150, maybe 200 different gems. (Alston) pointing to each type. “These are Rubies, emeralds, opals, diamonds, sapphires, jade and citrine. There is anywhere between 5,000 and 35,000 gold worth of gems in this chest.” Everyone’s eyes go real wide when they see what is inside. Maab closes the lid and locks the chest. They remove a broken spear from the other ogre and cut him open. In the ogres stomach. They find a human head. Maybe 3 days old. They decide to leave the catacombs and continue on their journey. Arturas sprinkles oil on the 2 bodies and lights them on fire. When they get to the surface. It is still cold and cloudy. They saddle up and continue to the West. Just before they get to the barge. They come across a group of 4 hobbits and 4 gnomes. (Finntran) “Group #7 I presume?” They are intensely drawing some sort of contraption with a cage capturing device and have taken no notice of the group looking at them. Alston dismounts, walks over to them and peers over their shoulders to take a closer look at what they are drawing. Soon 1 of the gnomes notices Alston and the rest of the group. After a few minuets of odd discussion with the hobbit / gnome group. The whole group realizes that these guys know nothing of what they are doing or what they will encounter. They even think the Queen is still an alive elf. None of them have ever heard of undead let alone seen 1. Arturas expresses that they should have the other group join with our group. The rest of the group does not like this idea and only thinks it will slow them down. Discussion turns to the gnomes / hobbits making a weapon against the undead for the group. Some sort of grenade with a light spell upon it. Alston contract negotiates with 1 of the gnome engineers in the designing and building of the grenades. They settle on 26-1/2% for the small group. Alston is pleased with 73-1/2% to him. The group then persuade the gnomes and hobbits to do more research in the Hochoch library.
After the gnomes and hobbits leave heading East. (Arturas) “I thought we were going to try to join all the rival groups together for a better defense and maybe a better offence?” (Solaire) “Those boys have no clue what we are up against or how to possibly defend themselves.” Arturas just shakes his head. They continue through the abandoned town to the river. The barge is on the far West side. Arturas looks around. There is a bell hanging from a tree branch. When he points to it. Bertram walks over to it and rings it 3 times. After a few minuets they see the barge making its way across the wide river. 20 minuets later it pulls up to the dock. (Bargeman) “Didn’t yo folks just go yon East a couple days ago?” (Finntran) “And now we are heading West.” (Bargeman) “Suit yo self. 1 silver per person and 1 silver per animal.” He is paid and everyone is loaded onto the barge. It takes another 20 minuets to traverse the river. On the West side, they all disembark and continue around the walled city of New Midwood. Hanging from the wall is the banner “7 days – Prepare” . (Finntran) “Are we stopping here.” (Arturas) “No, We continue on.” With Sai about 10 yards ahead they follow to the crossroad on the Southwest side of the city and then turn North on the North highway. There are refugees all over the sides of the road. All waiting to get into the city. (Alston) “I doubt they will ever get in.” (Finntran) “I doubt they will survive.”
After another couple of hours of riding. (Solaire) “Sai how far is it to our next stop?” (Sai) “It is almost sundown. If we push we can make Hochovle sometime before midnight. Whether they let us in that late. It is anybodies guess.” (Arturas) “Then we make for Hocholve.” (Finntran) “My stomach is growling. Can we at least stop to eat?” (Arturas) “We eat while riding.” Bill rides up next to Finntran and hands him a smoked chicken leg. (Finntran) “Thank you Bill. This will hold me for an hour.” As the sun goes down over the edge of the Western mountains. The group rearranges the riding order. Those that cant see in the dark are moved towards the middle. Ted lights 2 lanterns. He hangs 1 off Finntran’s pony and another off the pack horse. This helps to see but not past 20 feet in any direction. Just after 10 bells they reach the Southern gate of Hocholve. They alert the guard and he comes out the small door in the gate. (Guard) “Yo bunch just left last week an yo back again.” (Solaire) “Please Constable. We require some rest before we head to Mount Slera.” (Guard) “Mount Slera? Yo gonna need rest ta go there.” As they open the gate. Dozens of people get up and rush the open gate. By the time the gates are closed behind the group. About 20 more people have gotten into the city. They traverse the streets to the Frying Pan Inn. The barn in the back is full but there is room in the corral. The inn is also full. Arturas and Bertram stay with all the horses at the corral. They pitch the tent off the fencing as a lean to. (Solaire) “There must be temples in this city we can stay at.” They come across the Church of Azuth. (Carter) “Isn’t Azuth the god of Wizards?” As they enter there is a blond haired elf priestess upon the alter. She is scrying in a large crystal ball. Solaire and Alston move closer to her. They can see the images in the ball. She is scanning across wide swaths of countryside. (Solaire) “Pardon our intrusion, but can we ask a question?” This breaks her concentration and the image in the ball fades. She turns to the 2 with a slight scowl on her face. (Kora) “What is it that you want?” (Alston) “Our group is spearheading the future destruction of the arrival of the evil elf queen Elori. We have been traversing the countryside and are now forwarding towards Mount Slera where we believe she will arrive in thust 6 days. We require some place to rest for the night so we can continue onward with our quest.” The priestess looks from Alston to Solaire and then back to Alston. Solaire, out of the corner of his eye notices someone standing at a side doorway. He is mid 30s, Human and dressed in robes with many pockets all over it. (Kora) “If I let you stay. Will you promise me that you will be quiet and let me work?” (Solaire) “Of course madam Priestess.” (Kora) “You all can stay in that alcove in the back corner.” She points. Alston and Solaire back up and walk towards the robed figure. (Moricai) “Good evening gentlemen. I am Moricai. And you are the Heros of Saltmarsh?” (Alston) “Yes. And this is our Priest of Pelor, Solaire.” The exchange of information tells them that Moricai is 1 of the 4 wizards in the Wonder 4 Group. They will be heading towards Mount Slera in another day or 2. Their plan involves trapping Elori in a Magic Jar. Solaire relays to Moricai about Ulfgar’s plan to Polymorh Elori. Moricai is intrigued by the idea. (Moricai) “There is maybe a 50-50 chance it will work. It is very difficult to polymorph someone that does not want it.” (Solaire) “I think Ulfgar was planning on persuading her.” (Moricai) “Intriguing”
High Priestess Kora is staring into the crystal ball and snapping her fingers to get the 3 mens attention. They walk to her at the crystal ball. In the ball they see a sprawling city. The dead city of Mithrond. Atop the walls hovers Nasgil Oslea. In the city behind him they can see shadowy movement. Allot of shadowy movement. There is a large pyramid in the center of the city. Oslea turns his head and the blank face looks right at the us through the ball. Like he knows he is being scryed upon. Kora breaks concentration and the image fades. (Alston) “Did he just look right at us?” (Kora) “Some entities can detect a presence.” Alston shivers from that vision. Being that it is late. They all bid each other a goodnight. The alcove is not the most comfortable but it is warm and dry. The night passes.
March 14 – The group leave a donation to the church before they leave in the morning. They head to the inn for breakfast. The streets are packed with people sleeping everywhere. Arturas and Bertram are already seated in the bar room when they get to the inn. The cook has a medium size pig roasting. They all sit and discuss the ever changing plan while eating roast pork. Several times they change whether they are going to Elori’s Castle, Mithrond, Curragh or go look for Ulfgar again. In the end, with only 6 days left. They decide to head for where the castle is set to appear or rise or somehow show up. They finish breakfast. Pay their bill and head to the barn. Saddle all the horses and slowly make their way to the North West city gate. As they exit, the guards make sure none of the refugees outside make it into the city. As the group slowly heads North, they can hear the guards shouting at the refugees on the outside. (Guard) “You all are not getting in here. There are 6 days left. Just enough time for you to head East and make it to Hochoch or farther. Stay there and you will just get eaten by some zombies.” The last remark sends a chill through the entire group.
The road turns Northeast and bridges the river at a narrow point. Sai points to the low hills directly North. There is still somewhat of a pathway but the pace is slower then when they had a road to follow. They reach a small stand of trees just before nightfall. The make camp and Bill cooks sausage in a wine sauce and an apple bread for dessert. After dinner watches are set Carter, Arturas then Solaire take the last watch.
March 15- All is peaceful till around 2 hours past midnight. Arturas is on watch. He hears a trudging sound getting louder and louder. As it gets closer it is clear that there are many of whatever coming closer. He rousts the rest of the group. Solaire rushes to put on his armor. Sai and Maab see the movement before it enters the light of the campfire. There are about 2 dozen skeletons but there is something else in the back of the group. Arturas cast several defensive spells and readies his weapon. Solair steps forward and wells up his radiant power from Pelor. He vanquishes 4 of the skeletons instantly and 8 more retreat from the Cleric. Alston attacks the skeletons to the left. Carter attacks the skeletons to the right. Arturas goes for the leader in the back. As he gets closer he sees it is a Specter controlling the skeletons. Finntran cant get a clear shot at the Specter. He decides to use his belt of jumping. He squats down and jumps 30’- in the air. He wells the flames of a fireball in him but he is a little off balance. He lets the fireball go. Aiming for thee Specter but instead hits Alston right in his upper back. Now on fire. Alston drops to the ground and rolls. Trying to put out the fire. The Specter grabs Arturas’s left arm. And flows past him. Arturas howls in pain. Turns and pursues the Specter. Soon the skeletons are either destroyed or fleeing from the Cleric. The Specter takes several scorching rays and the brunt of Arturas’s attacks. Soon it dissipates into thin air with a long scream. Alston gets up and finds what is left of his wide brim hat. The wire ring and only some little bits of cloth are all that is left. (Alston) “Damn, that was my best hat.” The rest of the group see a large 12" silver ring laying on the ground where the specter was. As Carter tries to pick it up. It gives him a shock to his hand. His fingers tingle for a few minuets. Finntran uses his Mage Hand to pick up the ring. Everyone gathers around to examine it. (Arturas) “I did not noticed if the Specrer was wearing any ring like this. What is it for?” (Finntran) “I do not know. Where do we put it so we don’t get shocked?” Everyone just looks at each other. No one has an answer.