Twillingbottom's Field Guide

Hard Bones and Harder Choices

Mortis March

After departing ways with the moonlight bear, we arrived at the elven village of Forlond. A quaint little town, with just enough amenities to let us wash away the dust and grime from hard days spent in the woods. Myself, I enjoyed a nice hot bath, soothing my aches and pains from battling goblins and long trekking through the forest. After the refresher, we were taken to meet the Wisdom of the village, the elder woman who is chief of the clan. She thanked us for returning the moonlight bear to its home and was offering a reward. I let her know that Science is its own reward and that she should keep her gold (for some strange reason a few of my companions did not share the same viewpoint). The Wisdom also asked us to be the guest of honour in the Morcuilé festival. This was an exciting anthropological opportunity! I would get to observe these strange folk adorn themselves in vestments of the dead (some much more accurate than others, I learned later) and dance and parade about in the most peculiar of fashions. Regardless of whether it makes logical sense, it is a lovely display of colour and tradition.

As there was some time before the start of the parade, a few of my associates lent a hand in helping the elves around the village, while some others focused on collecting their costumes for the evening’s festivities. A few of the local shops drew the attention of some of my group. I believe Puff wasted the bulk of her afternoon traipsing around the shrubbery looking for who knows what (I guess she has developed and affinity for the outdoors. Maybe she has started to conduct her own research, how exciting! We will have to compare notes). I myself spent the time to pen a few entries into the pages of my manuscript. Once the afternoon had passed, we gathered again to begin the celebration.

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The Morcuilé parade started on a sombre note, with a slow march accompanied by a melancholy choir. As we wend our way through the town the mood of the townsfolk soon began to brighten, as the music shifted to a more upbeat, and celebratory affair. I, for one, was happy for the change of pace, as these elves seem too gloomy by half. The parade took its revelers around the the ceremonial fire at the centre of town, where the elves, along with me and my fellow travellers, dance and cavorted to the music (although if one were to be able to look at the wild gyrations of Gyna for more than a few seconds, you may have mistaken her to be having a seizure. Must be some newfangled dance moves the kids are doing these days).

There were a few in the crowd who did not seem to be enjoying themselves as much as my frenetic friends. Vavara noticed that one such person was doing nothing more than a mindless swaying. When she touched the individual on the shoulder and turned them around, Vavara discovered that the intricately worked skeleton costume this person had donned was no costume at all! The dead had been walking amongst us! The shock soon turned to horror, as more undead reveal themselves and swung their crude weapons against any within reach. The dancing and singing soon turned to screams and terrified running in all directions. In the ensuing panic, I was knocked down and tumbled under a cart near the edge of the central clearing. As I shook the stars from my eyes I could see decrepit skeletons hacking down fleeing townsfolk. Rotting zombies sank their teeth into hapless citizens. It was chaos for many long moments. I saw the rest of my party flee the clearing without me (had we not formed such bonds of friendship and camaraderie that they could forget me so quickly?). It was later I learned that the Wisdom had ordered them to the Hearthall to protect the elutaur.

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I stayed in my small harborage as the Wisdom and the rangers of the town battled the undead and saved what people they could (I had left my favoured dirk with my belongings at Silvyntonge’s longhall, or I would have sprung from my ambuscade and showed those rattlers what for!) Once the ceremonial place was secured and the townsfolk made safe, I headed to the Hearthall to assist my comrades. I arrived to see them embroiled in combat with more dead-walkers. Gyna seemed to be blessed by the heavens as her flail strikes were much more precise than her usual haphazard attacks. Even Berrian and Puff acquitted themselves well in combat. Perhaps all this time in the field is finally honing their skills. All except poor Vavara. I would hypothesise that the presence of such a strong spiritual entity like the elutaur interfered with her connection to her gods, and that is why her powers over the undead failed her. It wasn’t until after our skeletal foes had hacked free the treeheart that she was finally able to level a blast of divine wrath against them. It must have been the weakening of the elutaur as it fell from its place that reconnected Vavs with her celestial grace.

As I looked on the scene it occurred to me that our most recent travelling companion, Aelith, was nowhere to be found. She had decided to run to her family home during the attack, as she feared for the life of her spellscarred sister. It is with a sad heart that I must report that her fears were not in vain. As we arrived at her house, we discovered that the undead had butchered her mother and poor baby brother, and absconded with her sister to parts unknown. If only I had gone with her to her house, perhaps this tragedy could have been avoided. Wracked with grief, Aelith gave her family heirloom, a longbow named Menelandieth to Luthien, as Aelith has sworn off her ranging ways. I only hope that she may be able to find solace, along with the rest of the villagers, as they try to repair and rebuild their town after this egregious attack.

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