Sahauviia the Green (Kathy) - Atlantean Sorceress
Koomara Hadansi (Angela) - Galacean Scavenger
Orgaskemisqak (DavidM) - Lemurian Craftsman
Melucene Palleremos (Ellie) - Hesperian Priestess-in-Training
Vaino the One-Eyed (Mark) - Cimmerian Adventurer
18th Abu, Year 506 Meta Kataklysmos (M.K.)
Koomara Hadansi returns to the longhouse, and tells the other Heroes what she saw outside. She tells the others that perhaps they should wait until the next morning to investigate, but Melucene Palleremos says that while that's fine, "those were once men, good or bad it makes no difference," but something has hijacked their souls and trapped them here, and she will not stand by and let them hurt anyone else, including the bodies' original owners. Sahauviia agrees, adding that the shamblers outside seem obsessed with the circle, perhaps finishing it. She says that maybe they should go outside, and communicate with these undead, if possible. Armour donned and with weapons secure, the player Heroes approach the stable doors, and entering, find that the horses seem nervous, stamping anxiously with their eyes rolling as the Heroes pass them by. As they emerge from the stables, the scent of rot and decay dissipates the fresh air that was in the air. Sahauviia tells the others that she feels the need for some sorcery, and with a small aura of green energy surrounding her, casts a spell upon herself. She tells the others that it's a ward [for PR 20], but only Vaino takes her up on the offer.
With a nod, Sahauviia strides forward, and calls out to the figures. The head movements of the creatures results in several audible snaps of bone being carried across the chill mountain wind. The figure in robes, its voice hissing and reedy thin, says they do not need help in reaching the Underworld, but perhaps the Hero can be of assistance to him. As the robed figure comes closer, from 30 paces away in the night, with light pouring from the windows of the longhouse, the figure looked just a skinny older man in robes. At 20 paces, it is clear that the figure's skin has turned the colour of dark mahogany, emaciated and dry as timber. At 15 paces, the creature's eyes are obviously missing, replaced with a darkly burning ember of red. At 10 paces, the thing stops, but the air of malaise and rot continues on before it, rolling across Sahauviia in a wave of stench like a charnel house. It tells her that she may call him Kilimargarash. As for those in the longhouse, it is not their doing, though he offers to cure them...for a price. She asks what their interest is in the vril circle, and then asks him more about the price for his aid. Kilimargarash say that the vril circle will be a new altar. "Cursed, I was," he says. Cursed and forced to long centuries of toil on behalf of his master, but he prayed for deliverance while he still had hope, and has a new master now.
As the other Heroes, horrified at this turn of events, step out from cover, its lips curl in a snarl, revealing teeth as grey and harsh as iron. He lifts his gnarled and
curled hands into the air as if reaching to pull down the stars themselves. The shadows seem to bend into a set of demonic bat-like wings that darken the trees behind him. He begins to intone words of power and potency, but unlike anything that a sorcerer would do, calling on powers perhaps best left untouched. As he shouts, the temperature of the air suddenly drops even further and a rolling wave of fog suddenly blankets the area. As his hands meet there is a deafening clap of thunder, that echoes outward from the camp and can be heard a good distance away, causing birds to take flight and animals to wake and flee. Dazed momentarily, the Heroes rush forward towards the creature, all but Koomara, who stands there stunned and deafened for several rounds.
The next several minutes go by in a blur. Orgaskemisqak the Metalworker moves in on the creature, striking it with his warhammer, but Kilimargarash shrugs off the blows, and taunts the Lemurian. Melucene strikes the creature with her staff, but the creature again shrugs off the blows, and the creature merely laughs at the priestess-in-training. However, it is Vaino the One-Eyed who makes an impression on the creature, striking it with his battleaxe while invoking the power of Karnon the Hunter, who strikes true and harms the creature, making it scream with rage. Casting her spell, Sahauviia unleashes a lash of green fire, that Kilimargarash tries to avoid by twisting aside, but it strikes him whip-like on the shoulder and cheek, splitting the ancient flesh and causing it to smoulder. The battle rages on, with Orga and Vaino raining blow after blow on the creature, Sahauviia casting spell after spell until she is exhausted, while Koomara and Melucene take on the other five undead that Kilimargarash has ordered to destroy the longhouse and those inside.
The battle against the undead lumberjacks goes poorly for Koomara and Melucene, but they are suddenly joined by the Netherman, Halfast, wielding an enormous shield and spear! Hope springs in the player Heroes' breasts as they manage to drive the undead creatures back. Starting to tire and exhaust his energies, Kilimargarash moves towards the vril circle, and both Sahauviia and Vaino reach the same conclusion - they find a pinecone on the ground, and using her magic, the Atlantean sorceress ignites the pinecone with flame, but rather than striking the undead priest, targets his clothing! The robes burst into flame, and Vaino backs off. While the creature tries to put the flames out, Sahauviia casts a ward around Vaino, and then uses her magic to set fire to several of the tree branches on the ground in the area. Vaino grabs two of them, and closes in on the writhing undead priest, his robes burning away, searing his flesh. The Cimmerian launches himself at the undead priest, using the flaming branch like a spear, and impaling the creature, and the flames spread even more, searing and scorching the skin. As Kilimargarash burns, impaled on the nearest tree, and then dies, the surviving undead lumberjack keels over to the ground.
When the others ask her how she knew how to deal with Kiligaramash, Sahauviia says that he is/was a priest of Ba'al, but wasn't using his real name. She says that something bigger is going on, and says that she thinks he was connected to the sleepers in the longhouse, and hopes that they'll awaken and start to heal with the undead priest's death. In a fit of pique and anger, Orga uses his battleaxe and removes the priest's head from his shoulders. The others give him a strange look, but don't comment on his actions. As the Heroes start to check out their injuries, Halfast the Netherman asks if they should burn the other undead bodies; Melucene tells him that this would be a good idea, and he says he'll take care of it. Sahauviia says that they also will need to destroy the vril circle by the light of day, but that can wait until after they've healed somewhat of their wounds and gotten a good night's rest.
As the night darkens after the grisly work is done, the Heroes learn from Jacobin that the men, women, and children in his care are now sleeping easily, and that their ills seem to be receding and fading away. With the player Heroes wounds tended to, and a good hot stew in their stomachs, the player Heroes talk about their next move. Koomara says that in the morning, by the light of the sun, they can search for the origin of the undead priest. "There's more here than meets the eye," Sahauviia says to her, nodding sagely. The rest of the night is cold, but passes otherwise uneventfully.
When dawn breaks, cold and foggy, the air is heavy with dew, and many of the lumberjacks begin to stir as well. Even the ill are stirring in their beds, calling for food. The longhouse is not as warm as it had been, but some of the chill spectre of death has fled in the night. The old healer, Jacobin, awakened from his brief rest after keeping watch for half the night, is stumbling about and muttering as a dozen men call his name to take care of one thing or another. The Heroes emerge into the chill morning air where outside in the yard, the bodies of the slain are still smouldering, turning to ash. The body of Kilimargarash has been completely consumed by the flames, leaving nothing but a dark patch on the ground and an uneasy feeling in the air.
In a lot of ways, this was one of my favourite all-time sessions that I've run of the Atlantis: The Second Age RPG in all its forms. While the write-up of this game session is relatively short, a lot was happening in this game session, and there was a good mix of roleplaying and good old-fashioned sword & sorcery style combat. When the session was over, the players were all breathless from the thrill and the danger of the combat just passed, and everyone really praised Kathy for her realisation about the undead priest and stuff.
A very satisfying session of Atlantis: The Second Age in so many different ways, to be honest, and I'm looking forward to the continuation of this adventure as the player and their characters have barely scratched the surface. Next Friday can't come soon enough!