The Twin Kingdoms

We were curious about who would own the gold vein in Sanidine. I checked records; it seems the mineral rights had at one point been granted to the local duke, but had reverted to the Crown on his death. We have informed His Southern Majesty-For-Now about the discovery, and he said they’ll work something out with the locals.

(I do hope they are careful; if the basilisks were released by the same subsidence that made the vein visible, what else might they find when they dig?)

Not long after our return, a letter from Billy arrived, having taken some weeks to get to us. He informed us that a few other locals had received the spark of adventure – all well and good – but that Vallaise had recently encountered a “minor undead issue”.

So we agreed to head back to Vallaise to deal with things. We talked about cutting across country, but although a shorter distance it would have taken longer, so we agreed to repeat our previous journey: downriver to the sea, then south, and upstream to Vallaise, activating portal stones along the way. If circumstances allow, we may take the cross-country route on the way back, and see if we can’t activate more portal stones as we go.

We decided to take some of the junior adventurers with us for experience. There was considerable argument about Feryn, a gnome who’s one of Cayden’s devout; Faye of course was all for it, some of the others were rather less enthused about the prospect of drunken gnomish carousing, but in the end we agreed to take her.

We also took Drupatha, a dwarvish musician type; Syldic, a half-elf from the “legitimate businesslady” crowd; and of course Alessandra and Gerard.

Alessandra has acquired a wolf! I am not sure when or how this happened, but if I can be her foster-mother at sixteen then I suppose she can have a wolf, as long as she takes responsibility for it.

It took us five days to Pont’s Cove. While in Kelan, I had stocked up on an assortment of esoteric (and rather expensive) materials: eye of hawk, platinum thread, spider-silk, and so on and so forth. I spent some of my time working on projects for myself and for others.

As a result of this, Chrysta now has a sparkly hammer that glows and ought to hit rather harder than it once did. Vall’s bow does not glow at all, but should be likewise improved, and I have also made him some boots and a cloak to improve his stealth and climbing.

For myself, I have invested mostly in defence. I can’t see myself wearing heavy armour, but I was able to find an old shield of mithral, so light that I barely notice I’m wearing it. (Note to self: do not attempt to scratch nose with shield hand while wearing it.) I have added some protective enchantments to the shield, and also to a set of rather spiffy bracers. It might not stop an axe, but it ought to slow it down a little! Along with that I have enhanced my grandmother’s amulet with some more protections, and I’ve made myself a cloak that should ward off various other kinds of threat.

Perhaps most important of all, apart from the headband: I’ve been able to create a kind of extradimensional space accessed via a portal contained in a light pack, which allows me to carry the makings so I can work on new projects as we travel. I’m now working on a larger version to carry shared equipment for our party as a whole, although I haven’t been able to scale up the utility magic that keeps my own personal pack beautifully organised.

(Note to self: do not, under any circumstances, place one extradimensional storage inside another.)

On arrival in Pont’s Cove we saw lizard men arguing with the locals. Thankfully it was more of a friendly-ish trade negotiation than serious animosity; perhaps we have achieved something good there?

The boatmen wanted to charge us a rather large amount per person to travel upstream. We realised that we didn’t all need to travel on the boat; instead, we just sent Faye and Vall up on the boat to activate stones, while the rest of us occupied ourselves in Frentel.

A couple of weeks later, our advance party had made it to Vallaise, whereupon they ported back to us and we stepped through the portal into town. Billy and his band of junior heroes were there to meet us. He’s looking very comfortable with that old sword now.

It’s a good thing that Billy wrote to us when he did, and that we responded quickly. With travel times, it’s a little over a month since he sent his letter. During that time the undead threat has escalated and become “slightly taxing”.

We pressed him for details. It seems undead emerge from the town sewers every so often, mostly animated skeletons but occasionally some tougher creatures that sound like ghouls from his description.

Before diving in we thought it prudent to pay our respects to “Mother” at the teahouse, and to do some research. She told us that they appear to be coming from an old part of the sewers that the local Legitimate Businessmen don’t bother with, because it runs under the south-east part of the old city, which is now overgrown by forest.

We didn’t want to take the juniors with us into the sewers – too dangerous – and splitting them up to guard at the surface would have spread them dangerously thin, so we left them with Billy and co. and headed down.

Vallaise has quite impressive sewers, high enough to stand in, with raised walkways either side of the central stream. Heading into the older section, we found some suspicious tracks, some made by fleshy feet and others by bone. Eventually the tunnel began to smell bad, dirt and rot, and the torch began to gutter suggesting that we were reaching a pocket of stagnant air. I cast a gust of wind to stir it up, and although the smell worsened, the air became less dead.

Not long after that we heard movement from up ahead. Zakaroth shot a flaming arrow into the darkness, and we saw a throng of skeletons charging towards us. At the time it felt like dozens; from the remains left afterwards, I think it was about twenty in total.

I kept my spells in reserve, confident that my comrades could handle this threat, and indeed they did. The sheer force of numbers caused us some inconvenience but between Faye’s sword, Chrysta’s hammer, and Vall and Zakaroth shooting things, we took them down soon enough. I even stepped into the melee at one point to prevent them from crowding Faye too heavily; one or two of the undead took a swipe at me, but my protections held, and nobody else was too badly hurt.

Shiny points: 17 carried over, +1 for summary = 18.

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