When last we left our intrepid adventurers, they had just finished off a group of zombies that had attempted to ambush them in the streets of Barovia. This had been their first introduction to the scenic town -- cloaked, fortunately or otherwise, in a heavy mist, so that the remainder of the town's charming scenery was not yet visible.
The party, to remind ourselves, consists of:
Camillus, gladiator/warrior of Aegeia, worshipper of Athena and favored of Gold Saint Leo.
Clark Stievesen, Priest of Terian
Serena, barbarian-turned-Paladin of Thor and on a mission for the All-Father Himself.
Zekros, 15-year-old prodigy sorceror
Poplock Duckweed, Intelligent Toad acquisitions and access expert (i.e., rogue).
After a short debate about which way to go from this four-way intersection in the fog, the party elected to continue in the same direction they were going.
As they progressed, Serena studied the buildings carefully. Trained by the Dwarves of Thologondoreave, she was perhaps more familiar with stonework, but any type of construction interested her -- in some ways more because her original people did little construction work at all. The disturbing thing that struck her most was that the buildings were boarded up recently -- and much of the boarding up seemed to have been done from the INSIDE.
"People," she said to the rest of the party, from her position in the rear, "these buildings weren't abandoned and sealed up to keep squatters out; someone wanted to turn them into fortresses."
Camillus and Zekros nodded. The little Toad frowned. "And the fact I don't hear anything from inside isn't good, then."
As they discussed this, the next intersection came into view, and Camillus raised a hand, stopping the procession.
A body lay in the middle of the three-way intersection, with two vaguely visible, repellent forms -- maggots the size of dogs -- gnawing on it. As the party readied for combat, doors flew open on both sides of the street and zombies emerged, converging on the party.
Zekros unleashed a fireball instantly, catching both monstrous maggots and one zombie in the flames. Clark drew forth the golden sigil of Terian and called upon the power of Light against the Darkness, and in a blaze of blue-white radiance two zombies simply fell to dust. Serena and Camillus charged into the fray.
Two hideous winged creatures, like flying, disembodied heads, suddenly rose into view above and shrieked, a sound that momentarily paralyzed the party; but the effect could not hold any of them, and that was the last action the creatures were destined to take, for they had drawn Zekros' attention... and being high in the air, away from any of the party, they were a perfect target for the young sorcerer's favorite spell. Flame exploded and ashes sifted down.
A few moments later, it was over, the last zombie felled by another startling, sudden leap from behind by Poplock. As the party began to regroup, Clark, drawn by a sort of morbid curiosity, looked into the building from which one of the zombies had come. Summoning light, he entered. A few steps later, he suddenly noticed movement. A LOT of movement.
The rest of the party suddenly saw the Priest sprinting desperately out of the building, as monstrous rats and shambling zombies boiled out of the two entrances. But -- unfortunately for the undead and their allies -- it is an unpleasant and short-lived strategy to emerge in a group when one of the opposition is a sorcerer with area-effect spells, and the others include two cleave-capable warriors who actually LIKE being surrounded. This battle was even shorter than the last.
"Have we learned our lesson?" Camillus inquired, a bit sarcastically, as the shaken priest returned. Clark nodded, a bit abashed. "Anywhere we go, we go TOGETHER." the Aegeian warrior emphasized.
As they continued, the silence finally began to be broken. There were ominous sounds ahead.
Suddenly, the mist cleared slightly, allowing them to see that they had reached the town square -- and a grim sight indeed. Barricades blocked off the square, except that to the East -- the direction from which the party was approaching -- the barricade had just been breached. A mob of zombies, perhaps 10 or more, were converging on a single lone armored figure in the square.
Zekros held his fire as Camillus charged forward, and decided to use a more focused attack than his usual area effect; fiery arrows blazed into the nearest zombie. Camillus rushed to engage a pair of Zombies and the melee began in earnest.
This battle was much more a challenge than the prior skirmishes, even with the new face in the crowd adding her sword to the side of the living. The zombies were in position to attack, and did so, injuring Camillus, Serena, and Clark. For several moments it was desperate sword-work, even with the assistance of a well-judged fireball that injured four of the attackers at once, and then one of the zombies, an earth-encrusted walking corpse, hammered a fist down atop Serena and the Paladin seemed to vanish, only disturbed earth like a fresh grave marking her location.
Camillus redoubled his efforts and bodies seemed to literally fly from him in all directions until he cut down the monster that had hit Serena; at that moment, the red-haired woman burst up from the ground into which she'd been forced.
Abruptly all was quiet. Nothing moved in the square. The battle was over.
The erstwhile lone defender swayed slightly, then propped herself up with her sword and thanked the party for their intervention: "I dislike much to leave a job undone, but it seemed that it would be I who'd be undone for sure."
Her name, she said, was Ashlyn, and she was a Paladin as well, but of Myrionar, god of Justice and Vengeance, and of a particular sub-sect of the Myrionari who called themselves the Lightbringers, undead hunters. After healing and introductions, Camillus asked Ashlyn what was going on here.
The young Paladin told them that she and her two companions had arrived in town a few days previously; the undead were already rising at that time. With clear frustration in her voice, she also noted that she'd been left to protect the town square while her two companions -- perhaps a bit arrogant in their experience and capabilities -- had gone to investigate the church and nearby grounds as a possible source of the problem, without even consulting "Madame Eva", a local wise woman that all the locals had recommended they speak with.
It also turned out that she had been sent by Myrionar to recover the Sunblade. Camillus and Ashlyn discussed the potential conflict in directives, but decided that the important thing would be to first recover the holy weapon, and then find a peaceful way to resolve what would be done with it in the long run.
(this ended the session)
In case you out there are wondering, I'm blogging these partly to be my reminders of what's happened, who's done what, etc., since I'm not much of a note-taker while running the game, and I'm at least endeavoring to play by the rules of the game.