In the morning, it is time to gather all of the stuff we ordered yesterday. Carolin is babbling about how she actually has a spell to hurt the bad guys now, Magic Missile, and how one of the other spells was quite odd. A spell to write another spell into a spellbook in very tiny lettering Shrike’s Tiny Typesetter. Well, that won’t be doing damage to the enemy. Maybe their eyesight, hrrmpf. Anyway, we get our horse and pony together and head to the Trader’s. He tells us he sent our stuff ahead to the Church on a cart. Once we get to the Church, we see a bunch of people we know already standing together, and apparently waiting for us. There’s Olga the druid, Blackoak, Canon Bond, Champion Stonefist, the Ostler Ekstein, and Warlock Windspark – and another couple of people.
A grizzled oldster in the middle steps forth, “Greeting adventurers! Thank you for examining the goings-on at the Moathouse! We haven’t had a report from there in some time! Oh, I’m Mayor Harry, this is Mike the Miller, and I hear you know the rest of the Village Council.” We nod respectfully. “We’re delighted you’re doing something about the Moathouse, but I must say that we’re concerned about the report that there’s an Evil Cleric running about. Zombies.” He shakes his head. “Foul, foul creatures. Anyway, the council feels like we could donate a cask of holy water to your defense, and ask if there’s anything else that might be particularly useful? Oh, and a Scroll of Detect Magic along with a Scroll of Magic Missile if that might be helpful? It is? Excellent!” (Warlock Windspark doesn’t look enthusiastic about that last part.) “In any case, we haven’t heard from a couple of other groups of adventurers that went off to check out the Moathouse, and we have a couple of… intrepid souls who might be of assistance also. Yo, Carl and Pete!” Off to one side you see a cart, teamster, a burly fellow in chainmail, and a slight fellow in an enveloping cloak. The burly fellow and the slight fellow approach. “This is Carl Blackoak,” he says pointing at the burly fellow, “and this is cough Slyfinger Pete. They’d be… delighted to help you. Right Pete?”
“Well,” says the Mayor, “We also convinced Percy Trader to send along a cart and teamster. So that is Mo the Carter. You mentioned a stash of weaponry, and we’d like that under our control. Mo’s got your crate of flasks, a cask of fresh Holy Water, cask of lamp oil, and a set of door wedges. There’s also a pile of boards to patch the drawbridge up. We also heard that you dealt with a couple of the village’s miscreants as they jumped you on the way back from the Moathouse. Ostler Ekstein thinks that means you probably have a claim chit for a horse in his barn… for which he is owed a couple days for feed and lodging. You could claim the horse if you pay its debts. Canon Bond has something to say about Evil Clerics, Canon?”
The portly priest steps forward as the Mayor steps back a bit. “Well, not the clerics themselves Harry, just the kind of trouble they stir up. There’s a favorite spell among the Evil Clerics, see, called Animate Dead, and nothing good seems to come from its use. All of this sort of critter are collectively called Undead, and there’s a raft of spells that are pointless against them. Sleep, Charm, Suggestion – anything that might require a mind as a target. (Windspark nods)They tend to be somewhat resistant to the effects of cold, and somewhat susceptible to the effects of fires. Daylight is not their friend, and Holy Water is precisely the perfect thing for any of them.” he says with a grin.
“The weakest of clerics can use Animate Dead to call bones from the earth – animated Skeletons. They have all the typical abilities I described, but they’re also tough to fight with cutting weapons. You’re better off with something that is blunt and crushing. They’re slow and dumb, which are the two best things about them. A stronger cleric with fresher bodies might manage to raise Zombies. I hear you’ve already met some – they sound like they were typical of the breed. With well-preserved corpses, I’ve heard of something called Mummies. A little faster – physically and mentally. Then we get into more dangerous types of Undead that I don’t think are made with just the Animate Dead spell. There’s Ghouls, Ghasts, and Wights. All three act smarter. Insane, but smarter. They seem to subsist off cough people-flesh. The Ghouls and Ghasts can paralyze with a scratch, and a Ghast-scratch is substantially fiercer. Wights are able to drain your life energy somehow. The other couple types of Undead that I can think of are the Ghost and the Vampire. All you need to know about those is ‘run quickly to sunlight.’ That’s all I know about this horrid subject. St. Cuthbert would be delighted if you set up a funeral pyre for any corpses or corpse-parts you run across. Nothing can be raised from ashes.”
On that sombre note, we reassemble with our new compatriots and head back towards the inn. Ostler Ekstein is delighted to get rid of the horse – a monster named Firestorm that Slade seems ecstatic about. Carl, Pete, and myself all prefer to walk, so we convince Pertherditeis to ride Slade’s other horse. Slade makes a slow circuit of our original group with the comment: “Best to not mention the rug on my horse to these newbies. Nor anything else you’re particularly attached to.” Pertherditeis takes this to heart, and wanders into the woods before releasing Blue Eyes for a portion of her daily visit. Blue Eyes doesn’t seem to like Mo, but manages to get Carl to scratch her tummy, and seems to think Pete’s a funny guy. Which is, of course, entirely bogus.
WhenI start up my juggling practice, Pete decides to show me up. He hauls three knives out of who-knows-where.I switch to four balls – he switches to four knives!I throw a ball to knock him off-rhythm – he throws a knife back! This insufferable upstart! Swiftly, there’s balls and knives whirling back and forth between us… and everyone else has backed off an additional fifteen feet. Pertherditeis is giggling, and Carolin is clapping! Sheesh! Regardless, we eventually make it to the Moathouse, patch a couple of weak spots on the drawbridge, and all the horses and the cart can get into the courtyard this time. We unload our gear, and cart it to the torture camber we’d found before.I give that other locked door another whirl as Pete tries to butt in and show off again. Hah! I picked the lock this time.
Wild. 50 spears, 10 glaives, 6 guisarmes, 3 battle axes, and 70 cloaks with a huge yellow flaming eye on them. Sheesh. Plenty of provisions, crates of arrows and quarrels. An army’s worth of stuff. We help the teamster load up the cart with polearms and cloaks and leave him to his own devices.
We head on back to the torture chamber, fill up three flasks apiece with oil and another three with holy water. Then it is down into the secret passage in the pillar. We untie the rope we’d left around the pillar, and send Slade on in with a lantern. Slade goes a long flipping way down. Then motions for another. Carl goes with a second lantern, then Pete. I go before Pertherditeis, and Carolin brings up the rear with her glowing orb. That was about thirty feetI judge. When we are all at the bottom, Carolin says, “Um, I heard a click behind me as I was climbing, and the door was locked behind me.” Pete grimaces and eels up the shaft quick as can be. Shortly, he returns.
“The top was closed and locked, I unlocked it, but it won’t open.” he whispers, while looking meaningfully at the fighter-types. Slade lets Carl climb to check if it can be forced open. When Carl returns, he looks rueful.
“Pete right, the door gives a slight bit, but then there’s something holding the door closed.”
“Like, uh, rope?” says Carolin a little fearfully. Carl nods somberly. Wunderbar. Well, onwards looks to be the only choice. The air is as rank as we expected from the whiff from above. This little passage leads like ten feet eastish, then thirty feet south. At the south end, it lets out in a small alcove where a body was once laid out in death. We step out of the alcove into a crypt. Many alcoves line all the walls, with a central section about twenty feet across here at the north end. Out of the south we see four sets of glowing red eyes rushing us. Well, at leastI can vent my frustrations on whatever this is. Pete hugs the north wall across to the east wall,I hug the west wall and head south. Slade and Carl step into the center and set down their lanterns. Pertherditeis calls fire to her hand, and Carolin uses her new Magic Missile spell. Shimmering darts slam into the leader of what looks to be Ghouls to me. Leathery, quick-moving, foul-smelling, blood-and-earth smeared slavering fiends. Sounds right.
One gets close enough to attack Slade, and manages to just nick him with one swipe. A second manages a heroic swipe-swipe-bite attack on Carl. Ouch, that looked really painful – and Carl stops moving. Pete (the bastard) gets to position and attacks before me.I try hard not to laugh when he stumbles over a casket fragment hidden on the poorly lit floor and crashes down on his own oil-and-holy water flasks instead of hitting the Ghoul gnawing on Carl. I’m on Slade’s flank, whereI do an open handed attack while holding a holy water flask on a third Ghoul. Not only doI have an excellent attack, but the holy water douses the fiend and sets it alight with holy fire. Excellent.
Carolin decides to help Carl, so she darts his Ghoul twice. Slade misses the one bearing down on him. The fourth goes after Pete on the floor, but Pete manages to writhe out of the way, to his feet, and lodges his knife under that Ghoul’s chin into its crazy little brain. It dies. Again. Slade finally manage a coherent attack and finishes his off, andI send the one latched onto Carl back to the afterlife. Woosh.