S09E09 - Chasing the Undead Army

The heroes arrive to a razed Fort Beluarian, save the lives of Gruta and Shilau, and find ankylosauruses willing to be mounts. The heroes then rescue the missing and confused Carnivore, and catch up with the undead army.
2024-03-24 – ⁠2024-03-26 3rd draft

The session begins with a flashback to 16yo Ellie. She’s in her childhood forest, playing with Cato, the scarlet tanager bird she befriended three springs ago. Ellie gets too distracted and notices a tiger so close behind her she can feel its breath. The tiger, which was about to jump on her, turns completely still looking at a human in a loincloth sitting a few meters away. He presents himself as Ram, a wandering ascetic. They talk and Ellie becomes deeply inspired to become a druid.

Cato, the scarlet Tanager (crop of a photo by Rhododendrites).
Cato, the scarlet Tanager (crop of a photo by Rhododendrites).

Back in the present, the party finishes interrogating Salida within the zone of truth, and they offer her to ask them a question. She asks each of them what would they do if they had their hands on the Soulmonger. Everyone except Sophi says that they would destroy it. Sophi, being completely honest, replies that she’s not sure.

With the interrogation over, Sophi then wants to know what to do if she catches Salida sharing information with third parties in the middle of the night again. After a heavy debate, Salida explains that she wanted to know the group’s intentions regarding the Soulmonger because her patron is afflicted by the curse and wants the artifact that’s killing them destroyed. Ellie reasons that this message is consistent with what Salida said earlier, that it’s in her secret party’s best interest to help the heroes get as far as possible in their expedition to find Omu and the Soulmonger. Grudgingly, Sophi agrees to not tie Salida up every night under the condition that Salida asks her party to reciprocate and pass any useful info or resources they may have to them. Salida agrees.

With the trust issue shelved for now, the heroes continue their journey back to Fort Beluarian. They arrive late that afternoon, in the middle of heavy mist and a drizzle, to a razed fort. After healing a dying Shilau and saving Gruta from certain death at the hands of a group of shadows and ghouls that stayed behind, the heroes learn that Rupert and his army passed by, killed most of the League of Fire, and raised or took with them the mercenaries corpses. Of the over sixty people at the fort, only 6 survived.

The party trying to kill the stubborn remaining shadows and ghouls that have knocked Gruta unconscious three times during the encounter.
The party trying to kill the stubborn remaining shadows and ghouls that have knocked Gruta unconscious three times during the encounter.

Chos helps Shilau heal the survivors and reconsecrate the temple while Ellie takes care of six of the raptors that also survived and that have taken a liking to her. The rest of the group helps clean up, gather provisions, and make sense of the extent of the damage.

The party spends the night at the fort’s temple of Helm. During Sophi’s watch, she sees Carnivore wake up and head into the jungle in his pajamas. After she realizes that’s a very long bathroom visit, she goes out of the temple and out of the fort looking for him but finds no traces of him and returns to the fort.

In the morning, with Carnivore still missing, the party isn’t sure if Rupert is heading to Port Nyanzaru or to the South of the island, where this “Acererak” lich they read about, might be. They decide to go to Port Nyanzaru because it’s in the way, and once they have more info about Rupert’s plans, they will be able to make a better decision.

To catch up with the undead who at this point have more than half a day advantage, they decide to use Sophi’s whistle of irresistible but painful dinosaur attraction. Sophi climbs to the top of the keep and blows the whistle into a mounted horn that the mercenaries keep for emergencies. After a while, angry dinosaurs start rushing into the fort. Ellie and Avilos cast speak with animals on a group of ankylosauruses, and using goodberries as bait and future payment, persuade them to let the group ride them.

Soon after leaving the fort, Chos miraculously locates Carnivore with his Locate Object spell. Carnivore, says he was looking for Salida’s lost dagger, again, but seems to suddenly snap out of it. The group, baffled, puts an “This data doesn’t compute, let’s forget it” face, and forgets about it. The heroes continue riding the ankylosauruses and feeding them “goodberries amphetamines” to keep the stops to a minimum.

That night, while the group is setting camp, Sophi, Chos, and Ellie notice in the distance the carts that the undead stole from the fort. Sophi sneaks up to them, sees the undead army further ahead, and Rupert practicing a speech in front of 250 confused undead, and goes back to update the group to suggest to Ellie to do a more thorough reconnaissance in beast form, which is less likely to result in a total party kill. Ellie transforms into a dire wolf, gathers detailed information about the army, which can be summarized as, “If they catch us we’re completely toast,” and tells the group. Ellie also spots black shrouds around Rupert’s backpack, which look like the ones they saw around the floating orb at Rupert’s Lair.

The exact spot where the army caught up with the undead army.
The exact spot where the army caught up with the undead army.

The session ends with the heroes refining their plan to sneak into the middle of the 250 undead and capture Rupert using hold person and Ellie in spider form.