I was awakened by screams in the night. After cinching up my leather armor and grabbing my mace, I rushed to the center of the village to investigate. Screams continued to echo all around me – from the makeshift tents that housed wounded pilgrims, all the way up onto the mangled deck of the airship that still sat floating offshore. I summoned Ju’Hou and made my way to the shore, trying desperately to make some sense of the shapes shifting in the darkness.
Before long, the sounds of battle rang out from off shore. The mechanical tentacle, still attached to the side of the hulking bulkhead, seemed a natural route to scale the ship and assist the sailors. With such a harsh blanket of darkness all around us, I thought it wise to imbue Ju’Hou’s shield with light, to better guide our way. With a valiant shout and a flash of her scimitar, Ju’Hou began to rush up the tentacle. Alas, the combination of slippery, wet metal and cruel shadows betrayed her footing, and the Elf plunged into the dark waters below. I shouted out for her, but saw that she managed to pull herself back up. Quite a bit more moist than before, she continued trudging up the tentacle towards the intensifying sounds of a battle on the deck.
Certain that Ju’Hou had found her footing, I rushed back towards the village to rouse Reverend Matthews. He approached me from his tent, clad in full ornamental garb of The Lady, and I could’ve sworn I saw a slight smile upon his face. I argued with him in an attempt to figure out just what in the Hells was happening aboard that ship, but he talked in circles. Exasperated, I abandoned the Reverend and rushed back to the tentacle, just in time to watch Ju’Hou the Clumsy Elf splash down into the sea, again.
Fearing the worst, I rolled up my sleeves and cautiously made my way nearly halfway up the slippery tentacle. With unsure footing and tired arms, I managed to help Ju’Hou pull herself back up, but the darkness got the best of me and, in an effort to help her regain her balance, I somehow managed to point her in the wrong direction. I couldn’t help but laugh a little when Ju’Hou took a brave step into the darkness and, for the third time, plunged into the sea.
In that moment of distraction, I must have caught my shoe on an errant chunk of metal and, to my dismay, fell into the drink, landing alongside Ju’Hou the Watery Elf. I began to swim towards a ladder that was hanging from the ship, but turned back when I heard Ju’Hou struggling against the undertow in her heavy plate armor. With a grunt and a groan, I swam back to aid her. I must have overestimated my own strength, as Ju’Hou struggled like a stuck pig and managed to drag me under the waves with her. Just as I began to come to grips with the idea that this would be it…the legend of Cho Guiren, Cleric of The Light, would end in a watery grave…a weighted rope splashed down in the water from above.
I bucked the weight of Ju’Hou from my shoulders and grabbed for the rope, hoping that I’d be able to drag her up with a sturdy handhold. Sure enough, I pulled her toward the rope and sent her up first. The nimble Elf clambered up and disappeared over the edge of the ship. The waterlogged, exhausted Cleric, however, only managed to get halfway up the rope before losing his grip and plunging…again…into the waters below. Good grief. After another failed attempt to scale the ship, I turned and swam back to shore, surprised to find that the battle had now shifted from the deck to the village.
I regained my footing on the sand just in time to see the Gnome blast a blinding bolt of lighting at some sort of shambling creature. Panic set in – I surveyed the village and saw nearly a dozen shambling creatures, some clad in the recognizable vestments of our pilgrims. What dark magic is this to cause followers of The Light to rise from the dead in these twisted forms?! Before I had time to think, another creature emerged from the shadows and nearly got the drop on the Gnome. With a Sacred Flame at the ready, I blasted the creature in mid-strike, turning it into ash that scattered atop its intended target.
As I leaned in to help the gnome back to her feet, a sudden jolt of pain raged through my body – a sharp, wooden stake extended from my abdomen. In my haste to help, I failed to notice another shambler behind me and found myself on the end of its wretched, homemade spear. I collapsed onto the sand, quite unsure about when or if anyone would rescue me.
To my surprise, Ju’Hou somehow made her way back to the shore from the ship and laid hands upon me. It’s hard to describe the feeling of being healed back from the brink of death, but you never get used to it. After thanking the Elf, I readied my mind and let fly a cone of flame, torching 3 shamblers that seemed to be heading towards the center of the village. I tromped through their ashes and finished off several other weakened creatures with my trusty mace. Another fight seemed to be raging in the darkness ahead of me, but was quickly ended by a searing bolt of bright purple energy – was the Warlock on our side? Apparently so, for the time being, at least.
After the hostilities had died down, Reverend Matthews emerged from his tent to offer healing services. Still suspicious of this servant of The Lady, I refused. As the gnome, the Warlock, and the Ranger stood on the water’s edge arguing about seaweed, I decided to retire to a quiet corner of the ship until sunrise. What a night, I mumbled aloud as I drifted off into an uneasy sleep.