Through the Swamp
Having treated their wounds, collected some meat from the crocodile and prepared as best they could, the group set out, attempting to escape the swamp. Brandis and Jonn were able to clear their path of fallen logs and scouted to avoid deep waters. Throughout their journey through the swamp Dolora was constantly tending their wounds making sure they did not become infected by the foul swamp water. Without a doubt, her care prevented infection from setting in.
As they tried to find the best path through the swamp, they periodically climbed into the trees to search for signs of civilization. Jarren was constantly searching for signs of whatever brought them to this strange land. His only insight was a few half-remembered tales of people becoming abducted by mists, only to never return.
Eventually the group saw signs of smoke and headed in that direction, finding a small village on the outskirts of the swamp.
Desperate for information on where they were and tired from their ordeal in the swamp, the group ventured into the town, heading for what they assumed was an inn. As they moved through the streets, the noticed that all of the shops and buildings were closed. The signs on the doors and windows proclaimed “Gone to the Church” and “Closed for Funeral”. Just visible at the end of the street was a small crowd, heading down the road. Seeing no other option, and curious about the funeral, they followed the crowd to a small church and cemetery.
Solemn faced gazed suspiciously at the party, but no one said a word. The villagers returned their attention to the priest who stood over a coffin wrapped with heavy chains. The priests booming voice echoed through the churchyard.
Friends and family, we mourn the untimely death of Jeremiah d’Gris. Let us take comfort in the fact that he goes to a better place, and let us pray the eternal rest is peaceful and without incident. Jeremiah, you will be missed, but you will not be welcome here again. Depart this plane and go the the next world with our blessing."
As the priest continued his liturgy, even though a muffled banging began to be heard. The villagers flinched with each thud, but quickly recompose themselves. As the banging became more loud, the coffin began to rock back and forth, ignored by the priest and the crowd. Horrified at the thought of someone trapped within a coffin (or worse an undead abomination), Dolora and Brandis rushed to investigate the matter.
The priest and a few of the townspeople were able to stop the two before they could open the coffin. The priest, a man named Brucian, begged them not to interfere with the funeral, saying that he would explain the situation later, if the party would meet him at the Full Moon Inn. Although suspicious of each other, the group reluctantly agreed and headed to the town’s Inn where they procured rooms and a meal and awaited Brucian.
The Full Moon Inn
The mood in the Inn was solemn and the locals kept their distance from the party, unsure as to the motives of the strangers. While waiting for the priest Jonn struck up a conversation with a bard who told a fantastic tale of travelers who became lost in the Mists and found themselves in a harsh desert world filled with brutal gladiatorial games and cunning foes. The tale did not have a happy ending, as the travelers remained trapped in that world for all time.
Father Brucian arrived and the party found a quiet area to discuss the day’s events. Convinced that Dolora, Brendis and the others only wanted to help, the priest confided in them, although Jarren felt that he did not tell them everything.
According to the priest, the lands have always been plagued by zombies that rise from the grave, but several weeks ago, the intensity increased. Several townsfolk have gone missing and are presumed dead, bodies that have long rested have been disturbed and nobody has the skills needed to defend the town.
The troubles coincided when the local plantation owner, Marcel d’Tarascon, returned from the swamp carrying a strange set of scrolls and a grievous wound. Brucian tended to his wound as best he could, but had no insight into the scrolls. Marcel would not say where he had been, how he came to be wounded or where he found the scrolls, but he was quite possessive of them. After being treated he returned to his plantation and had not been seen since.
After some questioning Brucian admitted that he had no notion how the group might have come to be in the lands of Souragne. He did suggest that they could travel north to the Port d’Elhour where they might be able to secure passage on a merchant ship. He begged them to try and resolve the crisis before leaving, as they were the only ones in town with experience dealing with the undead. The heroes agreed and headed to the plantation to investigate.
The heroes headed out of town toward the Tarascon Plantation and found the manor house and servants quarters beside it to be in excellent repair, although there were no signs of activity. Both houses were securely locked and neither Jonn nor Brandis were able to break in and they moved around to peer into the manor house’s windows. The many windows of the house all had dark curtains drawn, except for one.
Beyond the window a spacious dining room could be seen, with many fine appointments, showing taste and wealth. A chandelier of burning candles filled the room with a warm and pleasant light. A number of large, covered serving trays lay upon the table in the center of the room, with places set for four.
Three servants entered the dining room from a side passage, their heads bowed deeply as they walked. One of the servants went to the table and with a flourish, he lifted the lid from the grandest platter, revealing the meal: the remains of a freshly dead young man. Dried blood covered much of his pale flesh, and a wicked cut stretched from ear to ear.
Without warning a face appeared in the window, staring with malevolent eyes. The creature’s hand burst through the glass and grabbed Jonn, pulling him into the dining room, a horrible rotting stench spilling out of the house and causing the heroes to retch and gag. The horrible undead slammed their fists into Jonn, before his friends could come to his aid, he was nearly beaten unconscious.
Dolora leapt through the window presenting her holy symbol which scorched her foes with brilliant radiance. At the same time she whispered a prayer to the Raven Queen for Jonn and his wounds began to mend. Brandis climbed through the window, swinging his sword in a valiant attempt to distract the undead. He weapon, bursting with divine energy, felled one of the ghouls and the rest turned upon him.
Jonn took advantage of the cover provided by the window and let loose several arrows from his crossbow, striking a ghoul in the legs, causing it to fall to the ground. He then moved into melee and helped finish it with a powerful strike. Jarren summoned shadows and mist around the creatures which coalesced into the form of a snarling hound, pushing the ghouls back. The shadows continued to slash at the undead as they tried to move eventually bringing them down.
The largest undead, dressed in the tattered remains of once-fine clothing, continued to pound Brandis, who only survived because of his thick armor and the prayers of Dolora. It took the combined effort of all the heroes to eventually defeat the rotting zombie, that could only be the remains of Marcel d’Tarascon.