Road to the Spire
The group of adventurers made their way back across the land, back to the scene of such horrific madness. For BaRuhk and Sukra, it was a return to the betrayal and loss they had suffered. For Brick, a constant reminder of his own cowardice. Ramiel focused on the task ahead, savoring the cleansing he would bring to the land. Missy was the only bright point in the journey. Constantly smiling and making jokes, she lifted the morass of negativity that lay over them like a heavy blanket.
The first sign that they were heading in the right direction were the scatterings of decaying scraps and limbs that dotted the floor of the gloomy forest. They had not encountered any living creature for miles. The wood was silent with fog flowing through the trees in wisps. They crept through the forest with silent steps, trying to keep quiet. Missy had stopped her joking when life had fallen silent a few miles back.
Brick took an involuntary step back at the first sign of the undead scourge and found that he could not go further. When he turned to check again he felt like some sort of invisible wall was holding him in place. They soon noticed that something was also gently, almost imperceptibly, pushing them forward. They felt drawn towards something sinister up ahead.
Before long they came to a dark clearing in the woods with a large, gnarled tree in the center. From it hung a limbless torso and head. Ropes tied over the torso kept it high in the branches. Its skin was leathery and desiccated, pressed to the bone by the time that had passed as it hung there. With no wildlife around to prey on it, the flesh was mummified to the corpse by the wind that often assiled it. Even now it swayed in a fierce breeze that kicked up.
There was a rattle as the torso corpse shook in the wind. It opened its leathery mouth to speak,
“Welcome to Nightmare Spire!”
A low, garbled laugh exploded from the mouth. The adventurers contemplated cutting the corpse down to destroy and give it a proper burial but, with time running out, they discarded the idea and kept moving. After a bit more forest they arrived at the base of a mountain. They could see the black spire they were heading to from the base. It was a dark and foreboding structure with jagged edges and plenty of shadowed windows.
They were steadily climbing up the path to the spire when they were beset by a few wolves and a couple of goblins. They were all in various stages of undeath. Now they knew where the local life had gone. They must have been converted to guard this aerie for their master. He ruled from this place. With a burst of attacks and well placed spells they managed to defeat the small posse. They moved on and eventually came to a rickety bridge.
From the trees emerged an even bigger group of wolves and goblins. The goblins were better equipped with ragged armor and old jagged swords. Flesh fell off in some areas, sticking to the corpse or falling to ground below with an audible plop. The wolves drooled a dark viscous blood. The undead comrades shambled towards the adventurers swords raised and remaining teeth bared. The group had to expend more energy and spells to fight back. Eventually, they beat every undead creature back. Hacking them into small pieces, the group burned every undead limb to make sure they could not come back. They didn’t want to leave any behind them that could box them in.
They kept moving up the mountain. The air got progressively colder until they could see their breath puff out in front of them. They could see a broken stable up ahead. The doors hung off the hinges, open to the elements. Stepping inside was a whole new frightening experience, the dead silence seemed to echo in the small empty space. Each of them peeked into the stalls. Most were empty but for the last stall. A dead horse lay decaying in the scattered hay. Frozen blood lay beneath the dead horse. Sukra couldn’t see any signs of undeath and they left the lone horse in the silent barn.
Right after exiting the barn into the brisk open mountain air an arrow zipped through the air and embedded itself into Brick’s shoulder. Not seeing where it came from the group spread out and faced the wilderness with their backs to the rotting barn wall. They faced the next threat with grit in their hearts, keeping their goal in mind. It wasn’t long before they found their opponents. They were undead people with extraordinary skills. Champions of the necromancer. They had reason and attacked with coordination. For the first time in this venture the group wasn’t just disgusted, they were afraid for their lives.