Campaign Logs

Company of the Silver Claw

By Brian Flood

Chapter 11 - The Living Dead

Along the East Way

Near Kendall Keep, Kingdom of Cormyr

Late Morning, 16th Day of Mirtul; Year of the Tankard (1370 DR)

{At the Gravesites}

The body in the grave shifts slightly as the unseen servant begins to turn it over. Suddenly, the corpse’s single eye blinks open, staring directly at Declan who stands near its feet. With a lurching motion, it sits up in the grave, maggots oozing forth from its empty eye socket.

At the same time, clawed hands burst forth from the ground that covers the other three graves. The dirt-encrusted limbs begin to tear at the soil that covers the tombs, as if someone – or someTHING – inside each pit is trying to free itself.

Equally horrifying is the sight of eight ADDITIONAL sets of hands that burst from the earth. Apparently, the adventurers had not discovered all of the cunningly concealed graves! All told, there are nearly a dozen additional corpses trying to claw their way free from the earth.

Declan immediately begins the motions of a spellcasting. One second later, a fan of flames spews from his outstretched hands, splashing over the undead creature rising from its grave. The smell of burnt flesh quickly permeates the meadow.

Seeing that the creature is still alive – or at least, still moving – Tiron is quick to react to the situation. The dexterous half-elf fortifies his thoughts against the sudden river of fear that pours into his stomach and removes his sturdy bow from his shoulder all at the same time.

On the northern edge of the suddenly active burial ground, Malk screams “Cob, run!” and then quickly follows his own advice, heading back down the slope toward the road. As he runs, the bard stuffs his sling into a belt pouch.

The hunter turns on his heels and follows Malk without needing any further urging. His eyes are wide with fear and his hands visibly tremble on his readied short bow.

Alain reacts quickly and reaches down with both hands to simultaneously draw his rapier and parrying dagger. The peace bonds slip from the weapons as the draws them from their sheaths.

Both of the party’s dwarves react by similarly yanking the peace strings from their battle-axes. Velgardrin, being closest to the threatened trio of Declan, Alain, and Tiron, quickly steps to the side of the grave, screaming, “Amiel, we’re attacked!” as he raises his axe to strike.

Baulin, on the other hand, stands his ground and watches warily for danger from the many additional undead that are clawing their way free from their earthen graves.

His bow is his hand, Tiron sweeps the elven-crafted weapon low, aiming for the undead thing’s legs. His bow whacks the creature in the back of the legs but fails to cause it to topple over, as he intended.

Velgardrin sees Tiron’s attack fail and loudly screams, “Sammans, a proper arglary of these it shall be,” as delivers a one-handed blow with his battle-axe. The dwarven priest’s weapon slams into the creature’s abdomen and practically eviscerates it. The undead thing collapses back into its grave, unmoving.

“Clanggedin’s alagh be upon us!” Velgardrin exclaims in triumph as Declan takes a step backward to avoid the spray of gore from the dwarf’s weapon.

As the half-elf and the dwarf defeat the first creature, Baulin and the remaining party members take note that the other eleven undead beings are continuing to claw their way to the surface. Already, some of the creatures have freed their heads and the adventurers can only grimace at the grisly visages that are emerging from the earth to glare at them with undead eyes.

Tiron takes a few seconds to hurriedly sling his bow back over his shoulder before he draws a stone dagger from his belt. Then, the half-elf spins and faces the undead creature that is starting to emerge from the earth just behind him.

Alain, his rapier and parrying dagger now ready in his hands, spins 180 degrees to face the enemy that is unearthing itself to his south. He takes a few steps to close the distance to the horrid being, being careful to avoid stepping on the thing’s shallow grave.

Velgardrin also spins on his heel. He turns to face the creature that is welling up to the west of where the first body was unearthed. His short legs pump as he moves toward the thing, his axe once again readied to strike.

Baulin decides that it is time to act. The chainmail clad dwarven warrior moves to attack the undead enemy that is emerging from the earth to his south.

As soon as he is within striking distance, Alain attacks with his dagger first. The blade just misses the thing’s head as it jerks to the side.

Behind Alain, Velgardrin attacks another horror with his battle-axe. The heavy blade sprays dirt from the loose soil but fails to harm the undead thing.

To Velgardrin’s left, Baulin also attacks an undead creature. His attack also fails to strike his foe.

Recovering from his first attack, Alain lunges forward with his rapier. The thin blade plunges easily through his target’s eye socket and emerges from the back of its decayed skull. Withdrawing his blade, Alain is horrified to see that the thing is still weakly attempting to free itself despite its horrible wound.

Baulin and Velgardrin also recover from their failed attacks. Unfortunately, both of their subsequent attacks also fail to bring harm to their respective foes.

Having run more than a dozen yards from the graves and the undead abominations, Malk skids to stop. He quickly shrugs his shoulders, letting his backpack slip to the ground. He draws his short sword, and then sets it on the ground next to the ruck as he begins to open its top.

Cob, who had been running to Malk’s side, also comes to a halt. He turns and faces the rising undead figures, an arrow nocked on his bow as he waits for a clear shot at a sufficiently large target.

Seeing the hordes of undead freeing themselves from the earth, Declan turns to flee the graves. He runs eastward and stops at a spot that is roughly even with Cob and Malk. The mage turns and directs his attention back toward those that are still in the midst of the graves as he puts his hand in a belt pouch to retrieve a spell component.

The adventurers in the living graveyard begin to get anxious as they track the progress of the undead creatures’ efforts for free themselves. Most of the hideous killers have now managed to uncover themselves from the waist up. As the party members watch in silent horror, the abhorrent beasts sit up in their graves and begin to scrape the dirt from their buried legs.

Declan once again begins the gestures needed to cast a spell. A few moments later, he points his finger at the nearest undead creature – which is some fifteen yards away – and a small, fiery dart flies from his finger to strike the thing in its torso.

Meanwhile, Tiron thrusts with his stone dagger at the undead creature that he is fighting. Once again, the half-elf’s weapon fails to strike his enemy.

Behind Tiron, Alain’s attack with his parrying dagger also proves unsuccessful against his critically wounded foe. Cursing, the human warrior immediately follows the failed dagger attack with a lunging blow at the creature’s abdomen. The rapier impales the undead thing, which quivers once and then goes limp. Alain withdraws his weapon from the motionless body and spins to face his next closest enemy – the creature that Declan so recently hit with his magic projectile.

Baulin strikes with his battle-axe at his foe, which is now exposed from the waist up. The weapon hits the thing in its right arm and nearly cleaves the limb from the living corpse’s body. The creature ignores the blow and continues its efforts to free itself, now using only its left arm.

Nearby to Baulin, Velgardrin’s battle-axe strikes a glancing blow to another undead creature’s chest. The horrific thing continues to claw at the dirt, but is obviously effected by the damage to its torso.

Cob takes aim at one of the creatures along the eastern edge of the graveyard. The string of his short bow hums as he releases one arrow and then immediately follows with another. Unfortunately, both of his missiles miss as they fly wide of his partially concealed target.

Malk gives a cry of success as he finds whatever it was he was searching for in his backpack. Then, he looks up to see that most of the creatures – except the two that are slowed by wounds – have finished excavating their legs and are starting to stand upright in their graves.

* * * * *

{Amiel and Salik}

The two scouts follow the faint tracks rearward toward the graves. Once again, Amiel makes a special point to study the tracks. She confirms that they do, indeed, appear to head in BOTH directions – both TO and FROM the location of the graves. She is still unable to positively identify what sort of person or creature made the tracks, however.

After the pair has traveled about fifty yards on a bearing that should take them back to the graves, they hear a faint shout. The brief cry seems to come from the direction of where they last saw the rest of the party!

On hearing the faint cry, Amiel exchanges a concerned glance with Salik and then sprints for the forest’s edge. “Let’s go, Salik!” she calls to her companion. As the ranger runs through the trees and undergrowth, she unsheathes her two-handed blade.

Salik freezes as he hears the cry come from behind them and quickly follows Amiel down the trail back to the camp. “Amiel,” he calls between gasps for breath, “let’s split up; you go the left side of the camp, I’ll go the right.” With that, Salik disappears into the undergrowth.

As the two scouts run back toward the graves, they hear a few more shouted cries. Their heavy breathing and the sound of their passage through the forest prevents the duo from discerning particular voices or the exact words contained in the shouts.

* * * * *

{At the graveyard}

Grappling with his foe, Tirondalin grows suddenly desperate as he sees even more undead creaturess advancing toward him. “Solonor, give me speed!” he shouts, as he turns to flee to the east.

Meanwile, Declan, who stands with Malk and Cob some fifteen yards from the graves, scowls at the situation that is developing. “Fall hammer and tack yer fools!” he shouts. “Blimey! We need ter form a defensive and only attack from one direction. There are too many ter attack individually!”

Baulin hears Declan but continues his fight against the undead foe that he faces. Swinging his deadly axe, he strikes his target in its midsection, severing the creature in twain. The animated corpse slumps to the ground in two separate pieces.

Nearby, Velgardrin curses in frustration as his opponent manages to avoid harm. Ignoring the dwarf, the cursed being continues its efforts to try and free itself, struggling with its previous torso wound.

Safely out of the desperate melee, Malk’s hands emerge from his rucksack holding a torch, flint, and steel. Moving as quickly as he can, his strikes the flint and steel, lighting the torch.

Seeing Tiron trying to break free, and wishing to help clear the path, Alain breaks off of his current target and moves to engage the monster blocking Tiron’s path. He runs the short distance to the thing’s grave and jumps into the two-foot deep pit to engage it in melee.

Behind Alain, Tiron speeds through the graves that pockmark the cursed soil of the undead burial ground. Narrowly avoiding the lunging grasp of the undead creature wounded by Declan’s missile, he breaks free of the melee and calls out to the rest of his companions still fighting, “Head toward the east and regroup or they’ll slaughter us!” His pace then picks up into a brisk run in an effort to join up with Malk, Cob and Declan.

Alain drives his parrying dagger at the living corpse that he faces, but the undead creature blocks the weapon with a wild swing of its arm. The Cormyrean warrior follows the failed attack with his rapier. The long, slim blade runs the creature through, piercing its chest and exiting its back. When Alain withdraws the blade, however, the cadaverous assailant continues to stand.

As Malk shoves his flint and steel back into his pack with his free hand, Cob fires another arrow at his previous target. Once again, the hunter misses. A second arrow, fired on the tail of the first, also fails to strike its intended undead target.

Leaving his bisected foe, Baulin moves a handful of paces to his left. He eyes the nearest undead creature and prepares to engage it.

Velgardrin hears Tiron’s shouted command and takes one last swing at his struggling foe. The dwarven priest’s desperate blow smashes into the thing’s chest, cleaving its way to the spinal cord. Lifelessly, the horrific creature drops back into its shallow grave, its legs still partially covered in dirt.

“Clanggedin’s alagh be upon us!” shouts Velgardrin as he moves northward, headed toward Salik’s rucksack. As the dwarf reaches down to grab the pack’s straps, the animated corpse in the adjacent grave staggers to its feet and lunges with its claws. Velgardrin’s stout stature saves him from harm as the dirt-encrusted nails of the undead creature pass just over his helmed head.

The cursed creature facing Alain also manages to stand. Then, it attacks the brave warrior, striking him in the left arm and almost causing Alain to drop his parrying dagger.

All across the graveyard, the remaining undeads also stagger to their feet. Tiron’s former target takes a few tottering steps toward Alain, its closest foe, as does one of the animated corpsess from the southern graves. Three of the undead creatures, their harms reaching in front of them, begin to move eastward, toward the ragged line of adventurers that stand out of melee range. The one nearest to Baulin slowly closes with the dwarf.

Declan begins to ready another mystical bolt. Before casting, he shouts, "Away from the bleedin' trees, there’s only one that way!”

Tiron skids to a stop just before he reaches Cob, Declan and Malk and turns. Sheathing his dagger, he begins to ready his bow.

Declan sends another fiery dart toward the undead creature that he wounded earlier. Again, the dart strikes home, hitting the walking corpse square in the chest. The undead thing stops in its tracks and then collapses to the ground.

Velgardrin grab’s Salik’s backpack and begins to make for the nearby woodline. Unfortunately, his exposed back poses a tempting target to the animated cadaver nearby, and the undead creature lashes out with his claws. Again, the attack passes harmlessly over Velgardrin’s head.

Velgardrin, now slowed by the additional weight of Salik’s pack, begins a staggering run westward. Behind him, the walking corpse follows in pursuit, slowly shambling after the retreating dwarf. Velgardrin can easily see that, unless he begins to sprint, he will not be able to out-distance the undead creature with the weight he is carrying.

Near the south end of the graveyard, Baulin swings his axe at his new enemy. The dwarf’s mighty blow once again strikes his foe in the midsection. The undead creature shudders as a stream of rotting entrails pours from the horrendous gash in its stomach, and then it topples over to land on the organs with a sickening splatter.

Alain sees that Tiron is clear and makes one last attack against his wounded opponent, shouting, “CORMYR FOREVER!”

The rapier pierces the corpse’s defunct heart, destroying its undead life-force and causing it to fall lifelessly forward onto its face. Seeing his remaining unwounded, foe – and taking his wound into consideration, Alain backs away from the second undead opponent that threatens him. Unbeknownst to the brave warrior, a third cursed creature is steadily approaching him from the rear.

Malk grabs his short sword and – holding the weapon in one hand and the burning torch in the other – sets off at a controlled pace toward the melee. As he moves, Malk begins singing aloud an ancient battle song, intended to spur him on and encourage his companions.

Looking across the graveyard, Baulin immediately sees the undead creation that is approaching Alain from behind. The dwarf begins to charge across the ground that separates him from his companion’s unseen threat, his stubby legs pumping furiously as he tries to close the distance before the thing can reach Alain. He curses as he sees that he will not be able to reach his fellow warrior in time.

Alain hears the dwarf’s bitter oath and adjusts himself just in time to see the new threat. At the same time, the other attacker strikes with its claws and narrowly misses the backpedaling warrior.

Alain sighs in relief and is then encouraged by the sight of Malk who steps over the body of the corpse slain by Declan’s missiles to come to a halt at Alain’s left side. The bard holds his weapon and torch ready, continuing to sing his inspiring battle hymn.

Meanwhile, Cob fires a fifth arrow at the undead assailant that is now bearing down on him and the others. The arrow pierces the thing’s chest but fails to stop its steady advance. His next arrow flies wide of the approaching undead creature.

Cob cries out in terror at the sight of the two animated corpses bearing down on the lightly armed group.

Tiron reaches back to draw an arrow from his quiver. He nocks it to his bow just as the nearest undead creature closes to within arm’s length. The half-elf quickly takes a step to the rear to distance himself from the threat.

Declan repeats, once again, the necessary incantation to cast his fiery missile. Again, the flaming dart flies from his pointed finger and strikes his target in the chest. The undead creature continues to shuffle toward Tiron, without reacting to its newest wound.

Heartened by Malk’s song, as well as his support, Alain grits his teeth against the pain in his arm, stops backpedaling, and attacks the unholy monstrosity in front of him. His dagger stabs the undead horror in the chest, but the thing continues to stand and fight.

At Alain’s side, Malk attacks the undead thing to his front, laying about with a vengeance – using the torch to block and burn, and his sword to put an end to this abomination. He continues his battle song, his voice becoming firmer and more determined.

Jabbing with his short sword, the bard impales the corpse through its rotting throat. Despite the horrendous damage to its neck, however, the creature continues to reach for the bard with its dirt-encrusted claws. Malk’s follow-up swing with his burning brand fails to connect with the unliving horror.

Meanwhile, midway between the graves and the woodline, Velgardrin turns to face the undead attacker that is pursuing him. Tossing Salik’s pack to the ground, Velgardrin grips his battle-axe and prepares for a hand-to-hand fight.

Baulin continues his charge across the graveyard, his own battle-axe raised high above his head. As soon as he is within striking distance, he swings his mighty weapon at the back of the creature attacking Alain. Incredibly, the dwarf’s forward motion causes him to miss wildly and the axe head plunges into the ground in a spray of cursed soil. The cursing dwarf struggles to pull the weapon free.

Alain lunges with his rapier, catching his undead opponent in the midsection. The hideous creature doubles over and collapses to the dirt when the Cormyrean warrior withdraws his slim blade from its rotting body.

Without pausing, Alain turns and delivers another attack at the undead thing that faces Malk. The thin blade of his rapier easily perforates the creature’s chest cavity and kills the unholy opponent – again.

At the same time, Velgardrin delivers a blow at his antagonist but fails to cause any damage to the animated corpse. Fortunately for the stout priest, the cadaverous attacker’s return attack also misses.

To the east of the graves, Tiron releases an arrow from his elven bow at his approaching assailant. The arrow pierces the undead thing’s stomach, but fails to slow its advance.

At Tiron’s side, Cob fires an arrow of his own at the decaying creature. Unfortunately, the hunter’s trembling hands cause the arrow to once again flies wide of its mark and it misses the undead attacker.

Seeing the seemingly unstoppable corpse shambling closer, Declan takes a few steps to his rear. The movement distances him slightly from Tiron and Cob, but it also increases the distance from him to the undead attacker.

At nearly the same time, Tiron and Cob both fire another arrow from their bows at the closer of the two undead creatures that shuffle relentlessly toward the two archers. Tiron’s missile strikes the animated corpse in the chest and drops the loathsome thing, unmoving, to the earth. Cob’s arrow misses the already slain foe.

Mindlessly, the trailing undead creature steps over the unmoving body of the slain attacker, heading straight for Tiron. Its rotting eyes seem to hold an unholy glimmer as its outstretched arms reach toward the half-elven party leader.

Tiron takes a few steps back, putting a double-arm’s distance or so between himself and the assailant. He stops when he is shoulder to shoulder with Cob. Then he stands fast, his elven bow in his hands, and prepares to engage the thing in melee.

Declan’s eyes grow wide at the sight of the undead monstrosity that is only a handful of yards away. But, he holds his ground, neither running nor lending assistance to the beleaguered Tiron.

The seemingly unstoppable creature also intimidates Cob. His bow falls from his trembling hands and he draws his long sword with a rasping hiss. The hunter bites his lip, holding back a scream of terror, but holds his ground in support of the party’s half-elven leader.

Standing amongst the slain bodies of his undead foes, Alain quickly scans the area, looking for where he might provide the most help. After taking stock of the situation, he starts moving toward the undead creature that threatens the lightly armed Tiron and Declan.

Malk also scans the remaining foes and then begins to wind him way through the graveyard, moving towards Velgadrin’s undead opponent. The bard’s lips continue to voice his inspiring song of bravery as he makes to engage this last foe.

Baulin shouts in triumph as he finally frees his axe from the ground. Seeing his dwarven brethren in danger, he begins to charge toward Velgardrin.

The dwarven warrior brushes against Malk, who is also headed toward Velgardin. Then, Baulin swings his deadly battle-axe at the creature attacking Velgardrin.

The axe blade cleaves a huge chunk of rotting flesh from the undead thing’s leg. The creature staggers but seems to ignore the wound as it concentrates on harming Velgardrin.

Velgardrin attacks the creature with his own axe. The dwarven priest is unsuccessful in his efforts to harm the thing, however.

Then the undead monstrosity delivers an attack of its own with its horribly disfigured claws. With inhuman strength, the creature’s fist slams into Velgardrin’s head. The dwarf’s helm rings from crushing impact. Then the brave priest’s eyes roll back in his head as he collapses to the cursed ground, a trickle of blood running out from under him dented helmet.

Malk’s song of battle falters momentarily as he sees the dwarven cleric fall. He adjusts his course to take him around Baulin and then comes to a stop at the dwarven warrior’s side, his short sword and torch held ready to attack.

Velgardrin’s triumphant opponent turns slowly to face the bard and the surviving dwarf. Its lips draw back, revealing rotting gums and teeth as it raises its hands to attack.

On the other side of the graveyard, Alain attacks Tiron’s undead opponent from behind. The warrior’s slim rapier skewers the creature through its unbeating heart and emerges from its chest. The living corpse drops lifelessly to the ground at Tiron’s feet.

* * * * *

{In the forest}

Continuing along their separate courses, the two scouts continue to run through the underbrush and forest. As they close to within fifty yards or so of where they last saw the party, they can hear the distinctive shouts of battle. One voice, rising above all the others, sings to the tune of an ancient but well-known battle hymn.

The song and the sounds of combat urge the two adventurers to pick up their pace. Eventually, they are both able to catch a glimpse of the gravesite area through the intermittent trees and shrubbery. Each of the adventurers estimates that they are about a score or so yards away from breaking free of the restrictive undergrowth and trees.

As for their companions, the pair can just barely see Velgardrin, the dwarven priest, engaged in hand-to-hand combat with a hideous, rotting, corpse-like creature. The two combatants stand toe to toe about halfway between the western edge of graves and the forest through which the scouts are running.

The sight of Velgardrin going down as the undead thing delivers a blow to his head horrifies them. As they watch, the thing turns to face Malk and Baulin who arrive seconds too late to save the dwarven priest.

* * * * *

Malk’s battle song reaches a crescendo as he lunges with first his short sword and then his torch at the undead creature that felled Velgardrin. The bard’s short sword strikes the rotting thing a glancing blow to its unwounded leg. Moments later, he shoves his burning torch into the beast’s chest, producing a sickening smell of burning flesh. Despite its horrible wounds, however, the undead assailant continues to stand.

On the far side of the graves, Tirondalin’s shoulders sag in great relief as his attacker falls at his feet. He collects himself shortly and looks to Alain with a quiet smile, but is again quickly looking around to assess the situation of his comrades.

“Make haste!” are the only words he blurts to Alain, Cob and Declan as he breaks into a sprint in an effort to reach the other half of the party.

Alain straightens out of his combat crouch, giving Tiron a slow wink. At Tiron’s words, Alain spins to see the down companion. The flush of victory leaves him as he realizes the gravity of the situation. Seeing Tiron begin to run, Alain breaks into a sprint heading for the battle.

Cob follows the two warriors. In his haste, the hunter leaves his bow on the ground where he dropped it. The knuckles on the hand that grips his long sword are white with strain as the henchman struggles to control his fear of the animated corpses.

As the three companions close the distance to where Velgardrin lays motionless on the ground, Baulin growls a dwarven curse and delivers a blow from this battle-axe. The dwarf’s anger causes his attack to go wide. He quickly recovers his composure, however, and immediately redirects his axe into a backhanded blow that slices open his undead opponent’s midsection. The cursed thing crumples to the ground, once again dead.

Suddenly, thrashing noises within the woodline both to the north and to the west of Velgardrin’s body cause the surviving party members to tense. Hands drop to weapons and eyes dart to the surrounding woodline as the remaining members of the adventuring band prepare to meet this new threat.

The content of Company of the Silver Claws is the property and copyright of Brian Flood, and are not to be published or redistributed without permission.

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