Campaign V: Chapter Two, Mission Nine

Recap: The party spent a long day following a small river through the jungle. Phoenix and Cala were in heaven, scampering about the jungle ahead and around the party. Everyone else just fought mosquitoes, flies, gnats, and other blood-sucking, sweat-licking, skin-biting creatures.

Faeradd and Zan stayed up late that night to work up some anti-insect gels, and make new poisons, while Phoenix reshaped dead trees and wood into a small barge for the party. The next day, they floated downriver in comfort, enjoying the fresh foods that Phoenix and Cala had procured. Phoenix also made a few changes into a giant eagle, and scouted ahead. She discovered a small town behind a wooden palisade, with a curious mixture of peoples inside, and roads choking with detritus and growth leading out.

After a strange encounter with one of the local fishermen, who said only, "Don't stay long," they went into the town and began to look around. Sam tried the local foods, digesting poisons as readily as frosting on his goanna-lizard. Zan procured some interesting poisons, while Phoenix and Faeradd discovered something very odd.

The town of Sevestal was cursed. A quick barrage past the fearful villagers and the local 'mayor' pitted them against enchanted corridors, an undead hill giant, and a cleric of Dakis who dabbled in the dark arts of the arcane. Zan died, cut in two by the hill giant and his glowing sword. Sam was turned into a running, fearful barbarian. Faeradd was reduced to a babbling child. And Phoenix had her powers stripped from her by the desecration that infested the lair of Vessiss, cleric and servant of the Vampire God Dakis.

A hasty withdrawal, and clever use of the lightrods and darkrods obtained from Tugren's Tower, let the party survive for some little while longer. Dickering and talking with Vessiss' servant Van also helped, as did perusing Vessiss' spellbook, which she left behind in her hasty withdrawal. Poy did a wonderful number on her, even invisible, and she had withdrawn quite quickly from her underearth retreat. Because of this, Vessiss only wanted her spellbook back, but certain members of the party felt that her evil had to be ended.

The situation reached a stand still in the morning, as Vessiss possessed person after person, polymorphing them into resemblances of herself and using them in broad daylight to get her spellbook back. Finally cornered near the docks, she resorted to illusions and trickery to try and steal her spellbook back, even prickling Faeradd so far as to vaporize a possessed, polymorphed eight-year old child.

Sam, disgusted with the whole town's cowardice, and wishing only to leave, began to cut the book up into pieces using the hill giant's enchanted sword. Vessiss appeared to give in and withdraw, and the party finally left Sevestal with a bitter taste in their mouth. Aboard the boat, they had a chance to think on things as they drifted away from Vessiss and her curse, "May the Inquisition be kind to you."

Earl had been returned to the party the moment Zan died, but he had appeared in the middle of an undead-possessed town in the middle of the night. Drained by the allips, he was about to become zombie food, when the dickering and talking had begun with Van. Back among the party, Earl -- outfitted by Tengala -- is ready to contribute what he can. He wonders where the small, goblin-sized human came from, though. The halfling is, of course, the reincarnated Zan, yet to wake from his mortal sleep.

A cold, chilly mist engulfed the barge in the night. Tengala had come for Poy. The young monk's monastery had been razed by the Inquisition, and one Seeker in particular. His people needed him, no matter what the Prophecies said. Poy, for his part, felt that he had already fulfilled his own part of the Prophecies, and needed to return to aid in rebuilding the Order of Devon. Promising whatever aid he could wrangle from the Mule Mountains, Poy sadly left the party. As a parting gift, Tengala fused the essence of Diagmonistar's armor with the masterwork leather armor Phoenix had worn, to give a gift to Earl. He also fused the essence of the hill giant's weapon, with Sam's own greatsword, to create a dangerous weapon known as Anima.

The chill of the fog is gone, and night's stars shine around Maroth in the long break in the canopy that is the Dreneb River. The dawn will bring the 9th of Lan, 1328.

DM's Notes: After initial reservations, I have decided to let a player generate an undead character. Because of difficulties with the use of positive energy to 'heal' an undead character, I will have to look into alternate means of regenerating one.