DMs Log, Mirtul 14th through 18th, 1479DR
Mirtul 14 through 15, 1479DR
Wintermere Arms & Magic ride hard for Wintermere. They are waylaid by ruffians once, but make short work of them.
Mirtul 16, 1479DR
Approaching Wintermere, the party spies a thick column of smoke on the horizon. Fear for the small town grips their bellies and they push their mounts hard.
They arrive to discover that the village, along with most outlying homesteads, has been levelled and is now little more than blackened ground. The attackers seem to have emerged from the river itself and overrun the small town in their thousands. Evidence shows clearly that the aggressors were undead – a number having been destroyed by valiant defenders.
Virtually no bodies remain, other than attacking undead that were damaged beyond repair. Sunsetmoon and Mordin believe that slain defenders have been reanimated and there is a clear trail towards the foothills in the south and east. Roaka’s tracking skills verify that many of the villagers still live and are being force-marched with the remains of the army.
Sign indicates that the forced march began several days ago, however they are moving slowly and our heroes are confident that they can catch up if they hurry. So they push their horses yet again.
Even so the group makes good time and presses on, resting only when they must for their mounts’ sake.
Mirtul 17, 1479DR
Around mid-day the group has caught up to the undead army. They discover that the force has settled in to an old ruins on the side of a mountain and established lookouts and sentries on the major approaches. The main approach to the entrenched troops is through a heavily guarded ravine.
Our heroes send their ranger, Roaka, to scout for alternative approaches. The stealthy bugbear discovers a rocky network of caves within laces the mountain and they decide to venture through them in hopes of emerging closer to where the prisoners are held.
Leaving their mounts hobbled the group enters the tunnels, spending hours tireless navigating the caves. Along the way they endure ambushes by Cave Fishers and later by Ettercaps . Our heroes wonder why these creatures of the Underdark are hunting so near to the surface. But the task at hand is time sensitive and they push on. Roaka spies some large mushrooms and, believing them edible, takes a bite. These turn out to be toxic and he suffers the effects of poison well into the next day.
It is nearing dawn when group emerges from the cave system, at the top of the guarded ravine and overlooking a small valley. It has now been more than a day since they rested.
Mirtul 18, 1479DR
After carefully spying out the area the party draws a number of conclusions.
Firstly, they have sufficient distance from the ravine’s lookouts to engage enemies in this area without alerting those sentries. But only if they exercise stealth and caution.
Secondly, our heroes ascertain that a group of town survivors is being held at a large, dilapidated building nearby. Not too far from that building are some ruins where a number of undead are gathered, presumably acting as lookouts and guards.
Thirdly, attacking either the undead at the old house or the ruins is likely to alert the other group of creatures and bring them rapidly.
Finally, there must be more town survivors elsewhere. The depilated building could not possibly hold the number of survivors which tracks indicate are being held prisoner.
The party makes a tactical decision and decides to take out the undead at the ruins first. During the battle Mordin almost trips over a female Halfing that is bound hand-and foot. He quickly frees her, she grabs a dagger and joins their side in the fight. The diminutive girl wields the dagger to astonishing effect, when working in cooperation with others in the group.
The fight is short and vicious, but our heroes overcome the undead. The most troubling part of the skirmish is that several of the zombies are Wintermere townsfolk the heroes recognisable. Amongst these is the mutilated corpse of Wintermere’s beloved smith Welurd, friend to Roaka and many others.
The group rests briefly, to catch their breath and learns that the Halfling’s name is Kat. She tells them that she was captured by the undead and has no idea why they are here. Kat asks if she can accompany the group for a while, indicating that she is stealthy and useful at detecting and disarming traps. They agree that she can tag along for a while.
Seeing the undead who have been guarding the house moving towards them the group cuts their rest short and brings the fight to these undead.
While the team faces fewer enemies in this second fight several are more powerful undead than the heroes have yet faced. Again several of the undead are recognised as former members of Wintermere’s community, including Ramsay Halfelven – the captain of Wintermere’s guard. The group are hard pressed at one point, but drawing upon hidden reserves they overcome the animate corpses.
Within the run-down old building the party discovers around 50 of Wintermere’s survivors crammed into inhumane conditions. This represents about a third of the survivors, based on the tracks the group examined whilst trailing the army.
Amongst these survivors are many the group recognises. These include headman Morann, whose eyes are bandaged; Misty, Welurd Smith’s widow; and Cilma, who hobbles along with the aid of a makeshift crutch. These survivors all have two things in common. First, they are all injured or in some other way unable to escape. Secondly, none of them are children.
The survivors report that the remainder of the fellows have been taken into some nearby caves. This place is merely a makeshift holding area for those who could not be kept in the caves. Misty believes that the leader of the army is using some kind of magical ritual to transfer survivors back to his master – likely in Thay. If this is true every wasted hour means that more of the Wintermere population is lost, probably forever.
This is grim news for the heroes. They have not rested in well over a day and have been burning their physical and magical resources hard in order to rescue the town.
Cilma is able to provide some assistance in this regard. She managed to tear some pages of rituals from her ritual book and secret them upon herself before being captured. These are of a healing variety that she had hoped to use in ministering to those injured in the attack. These rituals are not a real substitute for a good, long rest.
But they do give the team a fighting chance.
It is approaching the dawn of Mirtul 19th as a grim-faced party prepares to enter the caves in which they hope to find the remaining survivors.