Session Five: The Necromancer of Illos
The party had arrived at a decrepit monastery of Pelor, where they expected to find the Necromancer they had been seeking. Indeed, when they arrived they found a rather large number of fallen undead, all of whom had clearly been slain by now-familiar weapons. At the top of the hill behind the monastery stood an equally overgrown and decayed chapel to Pelor, and outside the front of the chapel fought the same four bounty hunters with whom the party had scuffled at the tea shop back in Bloomingburg. On the hillside leading up to the chapel, however, a stone doorway into the side of the hill signaled a more direct entrance to the crypt. Hoping to bypass the other bounty hunters and find the necromancer first, the party made for that doorway. As they entered, a wisp of glittering red sorcerous light flashed from Amora’s mouth and raced around the back corner further into the crypt.
Inside, Amora gave them light by enchanting Milo’s hammer and her own ball and chain. They passed through a small antechamber with memorial plaques along the walls into a long narrow hallway, a single wall bisecting the hall into two parallel ones. The central wall was another memorial, names engraved on both sides and on the walls opposite. But what drew the party’s attention were the zombies and skeletons shuffling towards them down both corridors. Milo and Amora took point on each hallway, smashing through undead with what little help those behind them could offer. Lacking the bad luck which seemed to be plaguing the dwarf, Amora was the first to break through her line of undead, and she immediately raced to the back of the hall. Doorways led off to her left and right and a stairwell before her ascended to the chapel above. As she raced after her magical light, the rest of the party followed, only Oldrian staying behind (at first) to help Milo clear out the undead.
When she reached the doorway, she found herself suddenly face-to-face with a teenage human boy, his blonde hair unkempt and his (shockingly) scrawny frame draped with ratty peasant’s garb. He was carrying a large cloth-swaddled package along with what appeared to be several tomes. The two collided in the doorway and tumbled to the ground. He managed to keep ahold of everything he had, despite landing on top of Amora, but when he pushed himself to his feet and attempted to run past her (through the other door), he ran into Chava’s ready grapple. This one he failed to evade, and his package and books exploded out of his hands. The young rogue detained him long enough for Amora to push herself to her feet and join the grapple, hugging him tightly and pinning his arms to his sides. Her affection was… unexpected.
That was when Simon the sorcerer and Kerrard the mercenary descended the stairs and found themselves face-to-face with Yantse, Oldrian, and Milo (who had ditched the last skeleton and made his way around the other side of the memorial wall to join the party which was gathering at the base of the stairs). Behind the sorcerer and fighter, Yaevos the hunter and Jina the burglar camped the stairs, their bow and crossbow armed and ready. When the bounty hunters saw their rivals, hatred flared. Simon flew at Amora and Chava, who were in the process of dragging the squirming teenager down the hall he had been trying to flee towards (and away from the battle), fiery rays peppering the rogue. Kerrard followed, too weak to effectively fight (especially now that he was armed only with a mundane scimitar), but shielding nonetheless to prevent anyone else from pursuing Simon. Yantse, however, was the subject of his full wrath as he recognized the merrow who had stolen his enchanted sword. The two dueled, the less combat-skilled Yantse continuing to wear down the already battle-weary human mercenary.
Milo, meanwhile, spotted Yaevos the hunter and immediately had his target. Arrows peppered dwarven armor, as did the bolts of Jina’s crossbow, but his hammer had a score to settle. Ignoring the zombies who had approached from other regions in the crypt, Milo set his sights on the archer.
Kieran, meanwhile, had been scouting out stragglers with Chompy, and now they found themselves rejoining the battle. Immediately he saw the clusterfrak of people squeezed into the end of the hallway, so tightly that Oldrian, Carter, and Akorn were barely able to contribute. Targeting the zombies assaulting Milo, Kieran and Chompy raced down the hall (completely ignoring the lone skeleton who was ineffectively trying to follow Milo around the crypt) and the dinosaur set upon the undead. In a moment of consideration, Kieran glanced back behind him to see what should become of the lone skeleton, when he saw, seemingly from nowhere, a familiar black cat with purple eyes leap from the shadows onto the skeleton’s shoulders. In a queer vision, the cat seemed almost to have a negative silhouette, with its features prominent while everything else became shrouded by a dark purple glow. Then the skeleton disintegrated and vanished into ash.
Letting Chompy attack the zombies, Kieran dismounted and ran to the cat, using the same ritual Oldrian had used to be able to speak with it. As he approached, the cat glared at him in an aggressive fear.
“Stay away from me!”
“It’s fine, I’m not going to hurt you. Who are you?”
“No, no, my mistress will punish me for talking to you!”
But the cat was gone, only a wisp of purple smoke marking where it had been crouching. Disappointed and confused, Kieran returned to his animal companion.
The fight against their rival bounty hunters, however, was not going well for their rivals. Unable to strike back effectively due to a potent poison which had struck him in the chapel, Kerrard was slowly being worn down by Yantse’s attacks. Simon the Reckless was living up to his name, heedlessly chasing Amora, Chava, and the teenager down the hall (towards stairs leading down into the catacombs). His fiery rays, meant for Amora, burned into Chava and the rogue disengaged herself from the grapple to return fire from her crossbow. Already weakened by zombie attacks, Simon did not take the hits well. His familiar, too, had been pursued—Carter’s snake had it out to destroy Simon’s wolverine, despite the odds against it. Just as Simon began to recognize his threatened position (despite the damage he was inflicting on Chava) and as the familiars joined battle, however, Kerrard gave out the call: “Simon, get us OUT OF HERE!”
For what Simon could not see was the battle between Milo, Yaevos, and Jina.
The two bounty hunters were raining arrows and bolts into the dwarf’s armor, wounding and aggravating the dwarf. Jina’s offensive taunts did not help his mood. So, when the chance opened up, Milo heaved his hammer with all of his strength in a vicious uppercut, letting the jets propel it at the last moment into a heavy blow to Yaevos’s chin. The elven hunter flipped backwards, blood pouring from his mouth as he landed on his back on the stairs. (That’s a critical blow for 40 damage to a guy with 31 hp.) Jina instantly shut up.
Fortunately for the dying elf, Simon took that moment to cast his teleportation spell to get them all out. Suddenly it was just the party again, with some zombies fighting Milo and Chompy. Amora had dragged the teenager down the stairs and into the catacombs.
Leaving Milo, Chompy, and Kieran to finish off the zombies, the rest of the party lit a torch and pursued Amora. They saw her flit around a corner in the rectangular catacombs, but Carter (who had been here before… lol time travel) led them down a shortcut which managed to cut Amora off from the stairs further down. With them blocking her way, Amora finally stopped. Seeing the overwhelming forces gathered before him, the teenager finally gave up his struggle as well.
It became apparent then, to whoever had not figured it out already, that this teenager was the necromancer they had been seeking all along. His name was Tero, and he had no native magical talent; he had taught himself to be a wizard from his great-uncle’s spellbooks, found in his basement at home. He was, then, the inheritor of the wizard orders of old, who had been destroyed by the Trazan Magi when the sorcerers took power. The spellbooks he owned (now in Yantse’s arms) were quite possibly the only spellbooks left in Illos. The package that he had been carrying, also held by Yantse, was revealed to be an unfinished homunculus, a little human made of flesh, magic, and essential salts. It disgusted Amora (who had by now professed her love of the awkward teenage necromancer), and so when the party finally agreed to accept Tero into their numbers rather than turn him over, Yantse forced Amora to be the one to return it to him.
Convincing Tero to join them was not the most straightforward task. After all, they had captured him and dragged him down into his own lair. Milo and Kieran had joined them at this point, and it came as a surprise to some when Milo, Akorn, Carter, Amora, and Chava were all in support of teaming up with him. After all, they had initially joined forces to find him and capture him, and now that they had accomplished this, what was next? Carter explained the situation in as straightfoward a manner as could be done: They were all wanted somewhere, many in the Capitol, and everyone by now had a grievance against the Trazan Magi (or at least didn’t care for their rule). Why not join forces with this fugitive necromancer, seek out other seeds of rebellion, and move against the magi themselves? If anyone could destabilize the Magi’s rule, it was them.
That prospect was not unwelcome to Tero, who had been on the run from them for quite some time. He still wasn’t sure he could trust them—any of them—but if their next course of action was to move against the Trazan Magi, he would be willing to assist them. He couldn’t keep running forever.
The crypt they were in was mortared with heavy enchantments which protected against scrying and magical detection, making it a perfect hiding place. Yet two bands of bounty hunters had already found it, and he could not keep hiding here. Nevertheless, he offered it as a sanctuary should they ever need to regroup somewhere. And in the meantime, they could stay and prepare for the next step. Milo had business in Laketown, and Yantse also wanted to go there. The rest of the party, thinking of no better place than one of the trade hubs of the kingdom, agreed on that next step.
As they prepared, the party scoured the catacombs they had seen, looting the collections of coffins in the walls (most of them empty of bodies). They found lots of gold and gems, as well as a few unidentified small items (potions, scrolls, antique armor) in the coffins.
Step 1: Recruit Necromancer
Step 2: Go to Laketown
Step 3: ???
Step 4: BRING DOWN THE TRAZAN MAGI