Guardians of Grandfather Tree

The Black Duke

As the last ray of sunshine winked over the horizon, the party stood behind the pallisades ready to defend their section of the city from the coming undead assault. The first wave was a troop of orc skeletons and a brute squad of bugbear zombies. The skeletons’ goal seemed to be to tear down as many sections of the pallisades as they could to allow for the bugbear zombies to push through and cause some real damage to the defense. However, their plans were laid to rest with the new-found holy powers of Boford who promptly sent the skeletons fleeing from the awesome divine display of the protection of Ilmater. Since the skeletons were wholly unsuccessful in tearing down the pallisades, the bugbear zombies were in for an uphill struggle having to shamble their way through the pallisades, allowing the party to get in a decent amount of damage before they were forced to take the fight to the melee.

The second wave was designed to debilitate as many individuals as possible with paralytic and hypnotic properties. A small contingent of ghouls comprised the ground assault, accompanied by an air force of two varghouilles and an allip. The ghouls were abruptly halted by the still-standing pallisades, which caused them to change their tactics to simply tearing down the pallisades to free up the pass for future waves; however, they were harried in their attempts by many summoned canines which ultimately led to their end. The air assault was much more effective, not having to bother with the troublesome pallisades. The first detriment to the party was the doubling-up on the varghouilles’ shriek attack, which paralyzed Boford. Then, the allip entered the battlefield and managed to hypnotize three other prominent members of the party with its maddening babbling. As Boford was paralyzed, one of the varghouilles took the opportunity to gift him with the dreaded “varghouille’s kiss,” which, if not treated, would have turned the poor gnome into one of the disgusting creatures over time. Although the encounter was quite a challenge, no one was seriously injured beyond the gnome’s new affliction.

The third wave proved to be the most devastating of all. Two dreaded wraith spirits floated in shortly after the previous wave was dispatched. They began sapping the constitution of the defenders rather quickly and even managed to entirely drain the party’s new friend, Brob, whose spirit promptly tore itself from its mortal shell and joined the wraiths in their terrible assault. The most difficult aspect of the fight proved to be the incorporeal nature of the wraiths and the ease at which they passed from one enemy to the other. Ultimately, however, the fearsome spirits were defeated, not without a costly price. Many of the party members were so debilitated from this attack that they could hardly stand.

The fourth wave consisted two great skeletons of chimeras accompanied by two evil dretches as magic support. The still-standing pallisades showed their invaluable merit yet again by serving to distract the chimeric skeletons long enough for the party to bring in a regiment of support with summoning spells as well as to pelt the large skeletons with enough artillery to bring them down without any real damage any persons. The dretches attempted to block line-of-sight with some stinking cloud spells, but were quickly dispatched by a combination of summoned wolves and a few spells. Once the battle settled down, the party steeled itself one final time in preparation for the last encounter of the night assault. Hopes were slim and, although the pallisades were standing, the outlook for this final confrontation was not good.

A dark figure emerged from the darkness to stand just in the dim reach of the torches. He was accompanied by three slavering vampires and the six remaining skeletons that had been turned earlier in the attack. His helm was a great skull with a gaping maw, as was his spiked shield. He wielded a bastard sword in his left hand which dripped threateningly with congealed frost. He wore a brilliant, silvery breastplate and the majority of his clothing was black with red trim. He addressed the party in a magically enhanced booming voice, challenging them to elect a champion to do engage him in one-on-one battle for the fate of Palischuk. The party spent a few seconds trembling and contemplating retreat, for they knew none among them could stand their ground against a vampire lord in single combat. Ignoring the cowardice of his comrades, Alboford Higgins stepped forward, determined to either rise to the occasion and become the hero of Palischuk or be slain upholding the most sacred aspects of his patron deity (that of self-sacrifice and martyrdom). Although he could not even compare to the awesome might of this evil vampire lord, or even match his material competence in magical arms and armor, Boford had the strength and determination of his deity on his side. Guided by the divine sacrifice of Ilmater, Boford continued to channel the positive healing energy that he knew was his only means of damaging the villain who called himself “The Duke”. Touch after touch hit its mark and quickly forced the vampire to commit more of his ferocity to the fight than he had intended. Upon delivering the fourth blast of positive energy, rending at the twisted soul of the vampire duke, Boford became worried that the fight would quickly swing back in the villain’s favor. However, the duke had no way of knowing that the little gnome had just spent the last of his invested divine power, and was under the impression that this would be the momentum of the entire fight. Not willing to fall in this battle, the vampire lord dishonored himself, fleeing the battle and returning to the safety of Castle Perilous for now. Victorious in his bold endeavor, the gnome, along with the rest of the party, requisitioned some restoration from their afflictions before returning home to Bittersweet as heroes.

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