Ascension

8.1 - In English This Time

A Brief Summary of Things Otherwise Hard to Read

On the morning of the tenth day of the journey to Waterdeep, the cart was set upon by a vast horde of walking dead, enough to tear down the cart itself. The half-orc, Dokken, challenged them alone, holding them off as the cart turned around and escaped, but was quickly overwhelmed. After a time, the cart set back upon its original path. The horde had dispersed, leaving behind only scraps of the party’s comrade. As the cart arrived in the small town of Valmire, where Finnian, Vodarr, and URSA were supposed to be obtaining a second cart, only Milo, Kestral and Norrund remained.

There was no sign of the rest of the party, save Ursa, who had regained consciousness and was vainly attempting to push himself upright, in spite of his broken arm. Norrund helped him to his feet, and Ursa gave what little information he could as to the exploits of the others. Norrund and Kestral went to investigate the barn where Finnian fell, while URSA and Milo guarded the cart. Kestral found a passageway into a series of underground tunnels. Norrund found a shovel.

The pair descended into the tunnel and began exploring. In the first room they found Finnian, chained to the wall, near death, with a glowing green orb embedded in his chest. Norrund attempted to heal him with a curing wand and, although it did not seem to work at first, Finnian somehow rallied and they unchained him. As Finnian attempted to regain his composure (and don his armor), Kestral explored the other rooms. He did encounter a body of undetermined condition in another room, but as soon as he was sure it was not their final missing party member, he left, without disturbing it.

The tunnel ended at a dead end—a pool of water, so the trio left the way they (or at least most of them) had come. Upon reaching the surface, they discussed what to do. Milo wanted to leave right away. Although there was an intact cart available, there were no animals to pull it. Norrund, however, refused to leave without Voldarr, as the elf was the closest thing he had to a friend on this journey. The group discussed investigating the tower where URSA said he had last been seen—along with a large number of zombies. Kestral volunteered to covertly investigate the area, as he wished to avoid any fights with the creatures, if possible. He fortunately did not run into any dead, walking or otherwise, but he did discover a grappling hook tied to a line leading out and behind the tower, along with the traces of two people leading away from town.

Norrund, Finnian, and Kestral followed the light trail left, they hoped, by Vodarr and possibly a survivor of the town. However, when they saw that the trail led across the river and into the woods beyond, they realized that they could not reasonably pursue them. Norrund proposed a method of getting them to pursue the group, instead, by having URSA sound his alarm signal as the cart traveled. Kestral and Milo objected strongly, as such a signal would also likely attract the attention of any creatures in the woods. The others were persistent, however, and so they reluctantly agreed to try. Milo spoke to Kestral about his concerns and the rogue pledged to him that his number one priority was the halfling and his cargo, even if it came at the expense of his allies. For if the cart fell, they would all be lost to the zombie horde.

The plan, it turned out, worked exactly as expected. Norrund and an injured female companion heard the sound and were able to rendezvous with the cart, as did a large number of zombies. A frantic battle broke out, in which URSA helped Vodarr get his new friend onto the cart, and Norrund helped hold off the advancing horde while Vodarr attempted to reach the cart. However, before he could do so, a new threat broke out from the trees, directly next to the cart—a much larger zombie, wielding a greataxe. Finnian prepared to defend the cart, but before he could even take position next to it, the hulking monster swung its axe down into the cart, cleaving the newcomer in twain and ripping a chunk out of the cart. Recognizing the urgency of the situation, Kestral prepared to order the cart forward, and shouted a word of warning to Vodarr, who had not yet reached the cart. With a final surge of speed, the elf managed to jump on as the cart took off down the road.

They drove as far as they could until the darkness of night and exhaustion set in. As the party prepared for the most stressful watch of their journey, they discussed the situation they found themselves in. Milo was clearly involved with everything that was happening here, although how directly and how knowingly was hard to say. They couldn’t keep pressing forward blindly. Too much had already been lost and it was only a matter of time until a situation arose that they could not escape. They agreed that, come morning, they would confront their employer with questions, and, hopefully, convince him to take action that would stop this madness once and for all.

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