The Battle of Kelvin
Karnus stood on the hillside, his elven cape billowing, and blinked in disbelief at the scene before him. Amassed in the valley below, just a short distance away, was a sprawling horde of the undead. Over a hundred zombies and skeletons were flanked by at least a dozen mummies. By the riverside an intricate star-design had been drawn in whitish powder… unmistakeably the symbol of Pflarr. At the tip of each starpoint knelt a ghoulish priest, deep in chanting to complete the ancient rite. At the centre of the star stood the central figure, she who had called forth her undead army to besiege Kelvin after a millennium of slumber… the ancient mummy who had been Baqaphix, High Priestess of the hutaakan Lowlands. Within the river to the Priestess’s side, a black mass could be seen forming, causing the waters to blacken and seethe. Karnus took a moment to catch his breath, then his attention was diverted as five mummies broke away from the main body of the army and lumbered in the wizard’s direction.
Back in the tomb the other party members were experiencing their own difficulties. Two rocky figures detached from the stone walls the instant Karnus (with the Staff of Hutaaka) left the chamber, and were staggering toward the remainder of the party. As they drew near, the statues' arms rose to spray a noxious grey substance from their fingertips. Lana and Drewen were hit by the acidic blasts, which clung to their chests and continued to burn after the statues were defeated. With quick work from Lana’s dagger the acid was scraped off, and the heroes headed through the portal in search of their missing companion.
Karnus invoked the power of the Staff to send a fiery blast into the mummies' midst however four of the creatures kept on coming. Proceeding to encircle the creatures with a towering Wall of Fire, Karnus watched aghast as they stepped through the flames. Flaming and charred, they continued their relentless advance. With a bright flare, Karnus' companions appeared by his side, and a revitalising feeling flooded the party's limbs as Lana invoked a Haste effect. Karnus mouthed the words to a spell of his own and a trio of sapphire missiles struck down one of the advancing mummies, leaving three for his companions to engage. Threy was struck by one of the fiends and felt the vile affliction known as mummy rot spread across his flesh. Moments later the heroes’ weapons reduced the mummies to nothing more than stinking bandages.
For a few short moments the gates of Kelvin edged apart, allowing armed riders to issue forth, heading out to engage the undead horde. Groups of skeletons began to explode, raining shards of bone across the battlefield, as atop the city walls the two Patriarchs of Kelvin sent calls of faith to obliterate the advancing undead.
The return of the Fiend
Suddenly a thunderous roar caused those engaged in combat across the field to turn their attention to the riverside. The ghoulish priests were rejoicing, their ritual complete as a gigantic creature hauled itself from the murky river. It rose, a familiar and towering black mass, a cluster of slimy black tentacles with a gaping toothy mouth at their centre. The heroes’ mouths dropped open in disbelief - the undead entity known as Kartoeba had been resurrected!
Lana and Drewen exchanged looks of concern, then both uncorked vials and downed the liquid of their potions. Their minds surged with vitality, as the combined effects of the Haste spell and their potions of Speed quadrupled their movement rate. Lana began spellcasting as Drewen zoomed toward the riverside, his armoured form a silver-blue blur through the thick of battle. A bolt of lightning erupted into Kartoeba’s maw, followed by a barrage of pulsating amber shards causing to beast to rear and howl in anger. As Kartoeba outstretched its tentacles to pluck the soldiers of Kelvin from the city battlements, Drewen’s hammer connected with Kartoeba’s mass, not once, not twice, but four times within the space of seconds. After so short a return to life, Kartoeba fell apart and slithered back into the depths of the river.
Lana and Drewen shared a grin of satisfaction, then cast their gaze across the battlefield, where Baqaphix was deep in spellcasting. Moments later an immense swarm of bees emerged from her open mouth toward the city and its defenders. Karnus raced toward the cloud of insects in an effort to cast a Dispel. Lana raised her own voice in spellcasting and sent a trio of Magic Missiles hurtling toward the High Priestess, where the bolts exploded for what seemed maximum damage. Baqaphix’s scream of fury echoed across the battlefield, as Karnus completed his enchantment and the insect swarm dissipated beyond control. Turning now, the hutaakan priestess made her way through the melee, seeking those who had dared cast magics against her.
Lana had time to invoke two Mirror Images for protection before she found the bandage-swathed form of Baqaphix standing before her, her age-old face twisted in an expression of spite. The cleric invoked dark magic, and a foul, black cloud streamed from her hands toward Lana’s chest. The wizardess shrugged off the life-stealing mist, then thrust forward with her dagger. The enchanted steel sank into the decaying flesh beneath Baqaphix’s bandages, causing the priestess to writhe in pain. Drewen joined his companion and the three battled fiercely, the mortals aided by the effects of their hasting magics. Blows rained fast and furious, although as a mummy Baqaphix took only a tiny amount of damage from the heroes’ weapons. The priestess had several other tricks left to play. Finding a short moment to cast a Dispel, Lana and Drewen found themselves robbed of their Haste, the benefits of their potions of Speed and Lana of her magical images, thus largely defenceless against the priestess' next attacks.
“You will not deprive me of my victory!” hissed Baqaphix in the pair’s faces, a cruel smile spreading across her dog-like jaws as she raised her ancient claws to strike. There came a satisfying crack as Drewen’s hammer smote clean through the priestess’s chest. “Your time has passed,” the dwarf growled, "get back to where you came from". With a moan of disbelief Baqaphix sank unmoving to the ground.
With the High Priestess, her priests, mummies and Kartoeba all despatched, it was a matter of moments before the remaining handfuls of skeletons were finished off by the clerical and military forces of the city. The battle had been won!
Karnus spoke with the Patriarch a short while later, and proposed an excavation of the ruins beneath the city. From the map the heroes had glimpsed in Baqaphix’s tomb they guessed that an ancient Traldar settlement might be situated beneath modern-day Kelvin. This ancient town had been marked with an "L" on the map… possibly the site of "Lav", birthplace of King Halav. To Karnus’ great discomfort the Patriarch showed particular interest in the excavation, and informed the blue-robed mage that the city’s rulers would co-ordinate the project as they saw fit. Karnus was left fuming.
The Patriarch had heard of the party from Sherlane Halaran of Threshold, and knew of their adventuring exploits. As reward for having fought against the undead army, and for slaying Kartoeba and Baqaphix especially, the party were allowed to keep any treasure they had come across in the hutaakan tomb - a sizeable haul. The heroes were also offered the services of the Kelvin Guard to transport their newfound riches to the local treasury, where the treasures would be stored for free in the Kelvin treasury, exempt from tax. After making the necessary arrangements, the party met to discuss what they should do next.
Read on - The Quest for the Staff of Lucinius
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