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Worst Midsummer’s Festival Ever!

Sprocket’s Journal

Midsummer 1373 DR, Pommeville

In no time at all I was able to establish that I was in Pommeville, a hamlet with several hundred people, mostly farmlands, and near the River Scelptar. And, as I had assumed, not too far from the odiferous Lake of Steam. Poor Widget got one whiff and with a squeak burrowed down as far as he could in my backpack. Odd, he usually doesn’t mind bad smells.

Now that I think on it, I’ve never been anywhere where gnomes were not somewhere nearby, so I started to look for some. Perhaps the smell of the Lake is too much for them— the owners of the Green Griffin Inn, Jelanna and Roland Grimstead, tell me the closest gnome family is the Begleys, a half-day’s walk west of here, and the closest wizard, in a tower just outside of town, when he’s around at all. I was inclined to set off immediately towards one or the other, but the smell isn’t nearly as strong in the Inn, and Widget and I could use a meal anyway. As I sat eating, I noticed other patrons filtering in and out— some clearly were new to town, such as the glum-looking dwarf at the bar and the wide-eyed halfling that was simply not blending in, and some were clearly new to civilization in general. The “new to civilization in general” would be the pair of huge dark-skinned human barbarians that were not at all familiar with how eating utensils were used. The male of the pair (well, I’m assuming it was the male— he looked guilty) missed his mouth completely with a slab of potato that somehow managed to hit me. Just in case he did it on purpose, I had to respond in kind, and a moment later a 6’ tall potato man, with arms, legs and an attitude, was tapping the male on the shoulder. While it wasn’t meant to scare the humans, I would have been less surprised if they’d at least been wary of the mutant tuber, but instead, they attempted to carve it up with their hunting knives and eat it. I dismissed the spurious spud with a grand gesture— that seemed to illicit a response, at least— the halfling in the corner was clapping and ordering a round of potatoes as the barbarians made sounds of disappointment about the big one that got away. Making the new plate of potatoes wail, “help, don’t eat me!” only made the female giggle. Makes me wonder what kind of vegetables are available where they come from.

I saw that a half-elf dressed in town guard garb was sitting with the glum dwarf at the bar— I gave up on any chance of excitement presenting itself any time soon and headed up to my rented room.

The accommodations where human-sized, but comfortable enough. Widget and I settled in and got a few hours of sleep, when I heard what could only be a dwarven battle cry, and smelled, well, it made the Lake of Steam smell pleasant by comparison. Widget was already burrowing to the bottom of my pack by the time I got to the door to open it.

Phew! Seems the glum dwarf from the bar had attracted a zombie! He was grappling with an undead human in the doorway across from me, and another rotting creature was gaining entrance to the room next to his. I shot a magic missile at it, but it didn’t damage it enough— it clawed its way through the door.

Two very naked barbarians flew into the fray, dispatching at least one zombie as another, then another, appeared in the small hallway. Apparently the halfling was also a guest in Green Griffin, as I could hear him yelling something to the male barbarian. I attempted to shoot the undead thing in that doorway with my flintlock pistol, but I’ve yet to master aiming the darn thing. It made a wonderful noise though. Widget surfaced from my backpack briefly to spit a spare bullet into my hand and I attempted to reload and try again.

I missed the second time too, but someone else managed to take out the foul creature.

The hall was clearing out as the would-be heroes ran down the steps and out into the street. I grabbed my pack and followed, reloading as I went. The innkeeper, Randal, exclaimed as one of the zombies lurched towards us, “That’s my uncle— he died months ago!” At least a dozen more zombies were meandering through the streets, attacking villagers. The dwarf and the naked barbarians were engaging them directly, while the sensible halfling was lobbing arrows at them from a respectable distance. Thankfully, the authorities appeared with a plan of action. Since a large portion of the town guard (5 people) were insisting we’d stand a better chance making a stand at the town’s only temple, I willingly followed them, assuming that the others would break off and make a stand with us. I noticed that, though the halfling was making some small progress towards the temple, the rest stubbornly stayed within arm’s length of the undead.

The Shrine to Ilmater was— small. There were no clerics, which meant, no one to ask to kindly turn the undead back. There was a paladin (or as he prefers to be called, a Holy Warrior of Suffering) guarding the main entrance, as well as the half-elf from the town guard (whose name is Amber). A few adepts made up the remainder of the clergy. None of them had ever dealt with undead. Ah, well. They were going to get a chance, I feared, as the undead where heading towards us.

Eventually the others from the Inn made their way to the temple, and the adepts did their best to patch them up while the zombies clawed at the door. The clawing went on for hours, during which the barbarians, dwarf and halfling made small talk. The barbarians (now dressed) are Nosila and Charzth, recently from Chult; the halfling, Roscoe, wandered in from the Shaar; and the dwarf, Bryrgar, is actually now the only cleric in the town, though he’s guided by Clangeddin, not Ilmater. He hails from Citadel Adbar, which is even further away than Lantan. Strange, I get the impression they all simply walked here— hardly a proper method of traveling long distances!

I also got to hear some interesting events from some of the townfolk while the other out-of-towners chatted amongst themselves. About a week ago, a band of adventurers, led by a cleric named Giles, passed through on their way to examine some ruins on the outskirts of town. Giles was on a pilgrimage, following the path of one of his order that had passed through many years before. Of course, none of the townsfolk relating this to me knew what order the cleric was from. I also learned that the hamlet, though run by a mayor (absent from the temple), is under the “leadership” of one Malvis the Enchanter, whose tower is on the opposite edge of town from the ruins. Malvis, as is customary with wizardly adventurers, has not been seen around for several weeks, though his tower is safe enough from vandals.

Eventually, the pounding of the thwarted undead ceased, and we opened the temple doors a crack, in time to see the shambling horde wandering towards the town cemetery. Not having had enough of a beating the night before, the other out-of-towners, who I now realize I’ve been lumped in with as part of a new “band of adventurers,” decided to take one more crack at them on their home turf. At least this time the town guard, and the paladin, chose to go that way as well, so I went along too. Without a proper night’s rest my spells are all but useless, but I figured I could talk to a groundhog at the cemetery if no obvious clues to the goings-on with the undead presented themselves.

There were clues aplenty though. The zombies, with several captive townsfolk in their clutches, where gathering around one with a distinctly evil glint in its eyes. Before we could do anything, this undead overseer grabbed the head of one villager and the poor person’s head just disintegrated. As he reached for the next, several of us attacked at once. I got my one and only hit with a bullet— right in the evil thing’s face. It looked irritated for a brief moment then repeated its cranium crumbling on the next hapless villager. I saw Roscoe standing (wisely) behind Nosila as Charzth and Bryrgar attacked zombies directly. I ran up to stand behind her as well so I could reload my pistol with total cover, but a moment later she was sprinting clear across the graveyard. Roscoe and I were backing up as quickly as we could, when Nosila must have hit her mark— a burst of green light erupted from the lead zombie as it fell. As the light darted away to the ruins on the northeast edge of the hamlet, the other zombies all fell where they stood.

As we “adventurers” headed back to the inn for breakfast, I racked my brain for a reason to not just continue on to the Begley farm. I couldn’t come up with a good one, though I still hope to find a way to contact my family and Cognoggin soon, so they know I’m taking the scenic route home!

Posted by Kristin on September 15, 2004, 23:53 | Sprocket’s Journal