Tales of the Righteous Vanguard

Part Seven: Vale of the Mage - Chapter 11

Following the battle with the owlbears that the band had early in the day, on Starday, the 1st day of Flocktime, in the Common Year of 580, the Righteous Vanguard resumed their journey along the Javan River in pursuit of the Six Necromancers. Nicholas continued to track the necromancers and had little difficulty in doing so, despite the damp and drizzly weather, for the necromancers were not skilled woodsmen and made no effort to hide their tracks. Quite the opposite in fact, as if it was their intent to hack away at the dense foliage of the forest and announce to all that they had passed this way.

But perhaps this may have been part of their plan and they were very well aware that the Righteous Vanguard would be tracking them – for it would lead their pursuers directly into a trap made especially for them.

It was about 2 in the afternoon, when the band came upon what appeared to be a recent camp site. Nicholas sent his wolf Whisper up ahead to see if he could notice anything and the wolf was able to confirm that the scent of their quarry was strong in the area. Then Nicholas sensed that Whisper became fearful and alert as if detecting some kind of danger. As the wolf backed away, Nicholas advanced to see what had gotten his animal companion so concerned. Then he saw a figure rising up out of the ground in the middle of the clearing where the campsite had been. The upper portion of this figure appeared to be human. However, the lower portion had no legs, but rather tapered off into a thin wisp of mist, and the overall form seemed to be somewhat transparent and insubstantial. In its hands, the creature held before it a bastard sword. But it spoke no words and just stayed in one place, swaying back and forth as if waiting for someone to step forward and challenge it.

Nicholas crept back at this point to confer with his companions about what lay ahead, and the band discussed their options. It was suggested that they simply move around the campsite and avoid any confrontation with the mysterious creature. But then it was also suggested that perhaps moving off of the trail and into the thicker woods was exactly what the mysterious creature was intended to make them do. So the band was momentarily caught in indecision.

However, as they were standing there pondering over their dilemma, two huge wyverns engulfed in black flames suddenly appeared on either side of the group. These wyverns moved awkwardly and clearly had bits of rotted flesh falling from their pale and decaying hides. So it did not take long for the group to realize that these wyverns were undead. They also recognized the black flames from the troll skeleton attack at the citadel, and it quickly became clear that these monsters had been sent by the Six Necromancers.

Recognizing the apparent undead status of both the wyverns and the sword wielding figure, Gildor attempted to cause them harm by channeling positive energy through them. But he was both dismayed and alarmed when his attempt did not appear to have any affect upon them. The ghostly figure then advanced on Kieranen who was forced to fight it while his companions tried to fight off the wyverns.

The situation became worse however, when two more undead wyverns appeared just a few moments later. These were followed by two more…and then two more…and then two more…and so on and so on. In all, a dozen of these undead wyverns engulfed in black flames appeared two at a time every few moments. Early on, Nero realized the danger and cast an improved invisibility spell on himself and retreated into the woods. From there he was relatively safe while casting his spells to combat these creatures. But it was a very tough battle, made even tougher by the fact that most of the band’s attacks only did partial damage to the monsters. And the undead wyvern’s attacks were brutal. It soon became clear that Kieranen would not last long against these monsters, many of which had ganged up on him. Aejiri however was fortunate in that the monsters had a very difficult time trying to hit him. Gildor did what he could to try and heal up his companions – but it was often too little, too late.

Nero, meanwhile resorted to launching several fireballs, despite the stern warning he had received a few days before about starting fires in the forest. But even the fireballs were not enough to hold off their attackers. Eventually Kieranen went down, followed by Nicholas. Then even Gildor was taken out of the fight, though he managed to remain conscious due to his iron will. By this point, it seemed a certainty that the Righteous Vanguard would soon meet its doom.

Then a strange thing suddenly happened. From out of no where, five giant bats appeared and began attacking the undead wyverns. These bats were no match for the wyverns, and were quickly destroyed – but for just a moment, they managed to distract the wyverns from attacking the band, and gave them a few more precious seconds. These bats were then followed by three air elementals that also suddenly appeared. These air elementals proved to be more effective adversaries to the undead wyverns, though they too were quickly destroyed. Nevertheless, they likewise gave the band a few more precious seconds.

By this time, Gildor used his magic ring to aid himself and his companions in holding off the undead wyverns, by creating a stone wall that completely surrounded them, leaving only a narrow opening above them that was too small for the wyverns to reach inside. A short while later, all of the delay tactics began to pay off, when the wyverns started disappearing two and four at a time. It was at this time that a female drow suddenly stepped out into the clearing and blasted two of the wyverns with bolts of fire.

When this happened a few of the wyverns flew over and began attacking her. She was then forced to fight for her own life, though she managed to hold her own despite receiving a few severe wounds in return. Moments later, Kieranen was revived and he and Aejiri both jumped over the wall of stone and resumed their place in the battle. Meanwhile, the wyverns continued to disappear every few moments, though the band did manage to kill several of them before they too vanished.

When the fight was over, the band acknowledged their gratitude to the drow, whom they realized by now was none other than the First Protector that they had heard so much about. But before they could spend any time in discussions, they all had to pitch in and make every effort to put out the fire caused by the numerous fireballs that Nero launched at the wyverns. This time however, no one complained about the fire or the fireballs.

Fortunately, the forest was still very damp from the recent rains, so the fire had not spread too far and was not as difficult to extinguish. Once the fire was put out however, the band members all collapsed in exhaustion, especially Kieranen. This was because the first two wyverns that appeared also somehow cast spells that caused the group to become greatly fatigued, Kieranen in particular.

They discussed what had just happened with the First Protector, who did introduce herself and claimed that she was a specialist in summoning magic. She told the group that she had received the letter they left for her at the citadel and that she had been watching them for a while since then. They explained to her all that they knew about the Six Necromancers and their apparent intentions. And she encouraged the band to continue their pursuit of the necromancers, saying she would aid them however she could.

She told the group that it appeared to her that the wyverns had been teleported there, which meant that the necromancers could be almost any where. It also seemed clear that the necromancers went to a great deal of trouble to try and aid the undead wyverns with numerous spells, such as the black flames and the spells that the first two were able to cast at the group. All of this also made it very obvious that the necromancers were very powerful.

Nicholas looked around for more tracks leaving the area and could find none. Which likely meant that they teleported from this location, sometime that morning. With the band now exhausted, all except Nicholas who managed to avoid being caught in the wyvern’s spells, the band had no choice but to rest there for the remainder of the day. So the First Protector told the group she would meet them at some point down the road, saying she needed to attend to other business. Then she left the band as they laid down to rest while Nicholas stood by on watch.

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Czarn

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