[In a relatively slow moment early in the game, the guys started talking about Stan’s day job and a particularly annoying catch phrase. In an especially vulgar moment, Paul decides to spout off a response for the next time Stan gets asked the question… “What’s in my wallet? I had a condom, but I fucked your mother last night…” he says, much to everyone’s (except maybe Stan’s) delight.]
When we last left our party, they had just survived an onslaught of undead Gnolls as they camped deep inside the Badlands. They had decided to skirt Cletus and his men around the Badlands in an attempt to keep them from running head long into certain death. Recruiting some of the gnoll warriors, they set off early in the morning to begin the process…
Darius’ gives the bulk of his entourage a breather, except for Qian ban, who he asks to serve as a forward scout for the group. Darius convinces a gnoll to allow him to hop on the beast’s back and the duo runs around, shooting bolts at long distance to distract Cletus’ guard army. [Damien rolls poorly.]
Barundar spends the day running back and forth, relaying information from Darius and the rest of the crew back to Myles in the rear. [Matt rolls poorly as well.]
Ash spends the day chatting with Winston about religion and does nothing all that helpful to the plan. [Stan also sucks it up on his roll.]
Sensing that things are going rather poorly in his plan to draw Cletus’ attention, Myles overlooks the scene. He sees his whole plan fall to shit, so he rallies his troops and gives a rousing speech to get everything back on track. The group goes back out and manages to succeed in pulling Cletus’ green soldiers to the east.
The group recollects and sets up camp on a ridge above Cletus and his men.
Darius relieves Qian Ban, and he, Winston and Jack spend the day ahead of Cletus and his men as Darius instructs Jack to construct some traps to distract the raiding party from the obvious path to the center of the badlands. [Damien rolls poorly again! I mean, we’re aiming for 10 here and failing… if these were death saves we’d be in TPK territory.]
Barundar continues his scouting duties while looking for clues of other creature’s presence that may hint towards the storm’s increased activity. [But, to the surprise of no one, Matt rolls poorly again!]
Ash is all by his lonesome as Winston is out actually working but somehow, his inactivity inspires the gnolls to action. [Finally, someone rolls well!]
Myles takes to the hills with Guh-knoll and they kick up dust on the horizon to draw Cletus’ men in the direction they want them to travel.
Darius takes all of his men along with him and they create a fake rock elemental [a pile of rocks] to use to intimidate Cletus and his men into going the correct direction. Upon crit failing the roll, Winston catches a large boulder to the face, sending him reeling down an embankment and into a gulley.
Barundar rushes ahead and uses the bulk of his attention to look towards the black smoke. He notices that they closer he gets to the center of the Badlands, the more blighted the landscape becomes. He sees in the distance a giant hill, the top of which seems to be bellowing a smoke like substance that rises into the air and forms the storm above. The ground and gullies surrounding the hill, however, is crawling with hundreds of gnoll zombies. Barundar rushes back to the group.
Ash starts taking the mission seriously and, inspecting the terrain, he contemplates the storm calling upon his history as a cleric and deep knowledge of religion. He deduces that the storm is the telltale sign of necrotic energy.
Myles takes a band of gnolls and together they lead Cletus’ troops directly along the safest path towards the center of the Badlands.
The party stops 10-15 miles from the smoking hill.
Barundar arrives to the camp and breathlessly relays the message of the zombie horde in the center of the Badlands… Guh-knoll convenes with his gnoll friends and returns to inform the party of a small path through to the hill that they may be able to fit a small group through.
Barundar and Darius decide to sneak into Cletus’ camp and kidnap him to take him to see the rivers of undead for himself without incident. As they approach though, Darius accidentally steps on the driest of twigs causing Barundar to begin quietly screaming at him. As the torches of the guards come towards them, the duo hide. The torches recede and Barundar steps back out, continuing on his mission to capture Cletus. As he takes his first step, however, he manages to step on another of the driest sticks on the planet, alerting the guards again. The guards return and find them, sounding the alarm in the process.
Cletus arrives on the scene moments later and instantly recognizes Barundar from his prior run in alongside Myles in the swamps years before. Barundar explains that they’re there to keep him from killing himself and tries to convince him to come see the waves of undead. Cletus eventually agrees, but only if Darius and Barundar be placed under arrest, “the first captives of this great crusade!” he exclaims as they take off into the night.
Barundar and Darius escort Cletus to the waves of undead, but Cletus is unable to see them. Cletus continues forward to attempt to get a better view. Barundar hears movement nearby and as Cletus is walking down a ridge, Darius sees an arm reach up and try to grab him but it misses him, TWICE. Cletus sees nothing. The guards lead Darius and Barundar back to Cletus’ camp and lead them back to Cletus’ tent.
Myles and Ash get concerned about Barundar and Darius’ absence and go to scope out Cletus’ camp. They cut the group of guards and their captives off before the return to the camp. Ash takes the lead in trying to convince Cletus that the party knows a secret way into the mound that will allow Cletus to go in and save the day. Cletus begins to take the bait but laughs about the stories of undead gnolls. Ash explains that, “actually, that’s true…” and through decades of training in patience in his studies as a cleric, he is able to eventually convince Cletus that there are, in fact, thousands of zombies present.
Ash explains, “with your great leadership, we wil-“ which causes Myles (who had been hiding in the shadows, cloak drawn low over his mask) to cough under his breath, “Bullshit!” unable to contain himself.
Cletus makes Ash swear to watch after Barundar and Darius before ordering the guards to unshackle them. Before the bumbling guard can find the key, Darius uncuffs himself and hands them to the amazed guard.
As they enter Cletus’ command tent, Myles is unable to hide his identity any longer. He knocks a stand of spears over and Cletus discovers his identity and says, “I should have known…” Myles says, “Yea… let’s get down to business…” before trying to rush for Cletus’ chair. He fails and dives across the room. He flies wide and ends up rolling an unsecured side of the tent. Picking himself up, he sulks back into the tent through the entrance to find Cletus gleefully sitting in his chair, triumphantly. Myles dusts himself off before saying in shame, “Well, let’s get on with this…”
Cletus, assuming that the most rational person in the group – Ash – is in charge, asks him for guidance on a plan forward. Ash suggests that Cletus select his top soldiers and lead the collective group through the gap and to the mound. Cletus commits to bringing his most elite squad.
Ash goes on to explain about the not-undead gnolls, and Cletus begrudgingly accepts that there can be good individuals within the gnoll tribes. He threatens that any gnolls that break the rules will be on Ash’s shoulders and will be mentioned in Cletus’ report back to the Archbishop. Cletus prepares to set out at 1st light and the party travels back to their own camp to prepare.
The next morning, a war horn erupts from Cletus’ camp. Rushing over to the scene, the party finds the guards already under attack from zombies. Myles rushes through the camp and downs the first zombie he sees. Cletus also downs a zombie. To his dismay, Myles sees the zombie that he struck down begin to rise again as another zombie strikes him.
Barundar, not seeing the zombie begin to rise again, casts hail of thorns, dropping 4 zombies at once.
Ash casts sacred flame and blasts a zombie with radiant damage, causing it to turn to cinder and blow away in the wind. Darius [predictably] shoots a zombie in the head. One of Cletus’ guards shows amazing bravery by stepping forward and destroying a vile zombie. Pelor shines down upon him, lighting the anonymous guard in gold [Myles and Ash would later agree that he likely had what it takes to be a local politician of some kind].
The zombies that Barundar dropped begin to rise again, but learning from Darius’ success he realizes that shooting them in the head seems to keep them dead. He goes to shoot one, but he misses its head. Ash continues his Sacred Flame barrage and evaporates another zombie gnoll. [To no one’s surprise] Darius shoots another in the head and kills him.
Myles calls out for his friends to leave and yells to Cletus to rouse his men for a retreat, which he does. Barundar and Ash do the same, Ash follows, blasting another zombie in the face in the process. Darius provides cover fire and […..amazingly…..] manages to kill another zombie in the process.
The party fights their way to the pass and find the remains of a broken down abbey atop the mound. Ash is able to infer that this was a temple of some sort, but was also a keep. Symbols on the side indicate that it was built to hold something within. Ash recalls a legend about a number of keeps like this were built to house relics. Lightning cracks and smoke pools in the air above the keep.
Darius, Jack and Qian Ban scout forward to scout the entrance for traps. As they approach, a gargoyle statue above pulls itself from the wall and attacks Darius. The giant gargoyle performs a triple attack on Darius and hits with two attacks, almost dropping him to the ground instantly.
Barundar and many of the gnolls miss, but some of the gnolls manage to chip away at him with their axes. Myles rushes forth to protect Darius, who scurries away behind Myles and shoots the gargoyle, producing a small chip in the living stone.
Ash runs forward and heals Darius while Myles dances between the gargoyle’s attacks.
Pelor’s anointed guard manages to stab the gargoyle in the eye, causing the gargoyle to writhe in pain and lose concentration. Barundar and the Gnolls chip away at the gargoyle’s stone hide. Myles pulls out a javelin and throws it at the gargoyle’s face, the point finding a home in the gargoyle’s other eye, completely blinding the beast.
Darius hops up and, noticing another gargoyle [and after some obviously ominous measuring from Nathan] runs away and hides behind Cletus. Winston steps forward and throws a “sharp knick knack” at the wounded gargoyle, doing pretty significant damage in the process.
Ash notes a series of glowing runes on the gargoyle’s chest. Upon further inspection he determines that they look like they’ve been magically altered. He attempts to recite the runes, but fails because of the gargoyle’s flailing.
The second gargoyle launches itself from its perch and, seemingly fighting some urge, attacks Ash. The gargoyle seems to miss with his first attack on purpose, but, with a quick twitch, gores Ash for minor damage.
The entire group [save for Myles who does absolutely nothing for the remainder of the fight] continues to chip away at both of the gargoyles. [With absolutely no metagaming whatsoever] Darius runs up to Ash and pickpockets the +1 masterwork crossbow which he then uses to shoot and kills the wounded gargoyle.
Ash tries to read the remaining gargoyle’s runes, but fails again. The gargoyle attempts to attack Ash in return but Ash is able to avoid all of the attacks through divine providence.
Myles pushes his luck and launches a second javelin at the remaining gargoyle’s face but misses. Darius slides through the group of allies and shoots the gargoyle in the neck, bloodying him. The gargoyle [the only creature rolling worse than Myles] misses all of his attacks. Barundar and Myles both miss painfully, leading to yet another hit from Darius.
Cletus finally realizes that there’s a battle going on and runs up and [limp wristedly] attacks but misses.
Barundar uses the distraction of Cletus’ predictably exaggerated and attention-seeking attack to sight in his target. The bolt shoots from his crossbow and buries itself in the gargoyle’s brain. Barundar shouts with glee as he kills the gargoyle.
In the interlude after the fight, Ash discovers the key word to disarm any further gargoyles and Qian Ban uses his laser-vision and deduces that the wall has been blown in from the outside by some sort of magical blast.
Stepping into the courtyard, Myles hears a faint sound coming from the well. Qian Ban and Barundar both move forward to listen to the well. Barundar’s ears are effectively plugged [as Matt rolls a 1], but Qian Ban [rolls a nat 20] hears a dozen or more groaning humanoids, ‘That sounda armost rike a buncha zombies…” Qian Ban says after a deep gulp.
Myles continues poking around and finds that one of the opened doors leads to a desecrated chapel. Which, while not surprising to Ash, still seems to bring him a great deal of anguish.
Qian Ban and Jack explore the building a bit and discover a staircase that leads down a dark stairwell. A copious amount of smoke rises from below…
Loot from around the chapel:
386sp (77gp each, 1 remainder goes to the Anointed guard of Pelor