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Sunday was a trip to Edinburgh for Lord A384 and myself – and what began as a startling beautiful, crisp clear morning with a two and a bit hour journey north along an old windy A-road with gorgeous winter scenery ended in heroic death, anguish, bloodshed and an IC arrest.

This is the end of the tale of Captain Nathan Jameson of the King’s Own Heavy Skirmishers of Foot, a true hero who died as he lived – doing something really really stupid for the greater good.

In short, the Newcastle day site was cancelled last minute, leading to a quick phone call late at night to see if Edinburgh was running their day site missions and whether we could come along. So, after hastily packing bags and getting ready to go, we grabbed a few hours sleep and left the house at a crazy time for a Sunday morning.

Because of the numbers, only one mission was run and as Mercy and Nathan arrived in Dunlirron, they were grabbed by a militia man and hired for a “simple” mission …

An Axirian Bath House, you say?

Mercy Blackstaff, after the events of the past week, finds herself going for a walk and her feet taking her north. She is accompanied by Nathan, a master merc and commander of the King’s Own barracks at Maccamwell, who went with her to stop her from doing something stupid like getting herself killed (oh the irony …)

Arriving in Dunlirron, a militia man approaches them with a mission to investigate a local quarry. Some local noble (I’m terrible with names …) wants to build an Axirian style bath house in the city and needs the stone from a local quarry that was abandoned during the advance of the Northern Ice a few years prior – the Ice reaching the walls of Dunlirron before the adventurers managed to stop it’s advance and dealt with the root cause. However, very few of the local people have returned to their old homes and livelihoods, and goblins and worse have taken over these useable resources. Therefore … we need “sensible” adventurers to go and clear a path, assess whether the quarry is workable and return to report.

Simple you say … Easy money you say …

Captain Jameson and Mercy were joined by a Llaminusian Longstorian Priest Vidarr, who knew the area well enough to expect little trouble. And so, in high spirits, off we go.

However, upon entering the wood, the Longstorian priest sinks to the ground – feeling weak and sick and that his leather armour weighs a ton. He is at a loss to the cause, only saying that the wood feels to be dying about us. This is concerning, but there is little the party can do and we press on – our senses wary and our eyes on the trees. Perhaps this will not be as simple as we first thought?

On the road we encountered a Guard who checked permits and asked our business, having found an abandoned campfire and evidence pointing to recent goblin activity in the area. Further up the road we are attacked by goblins and find that the priest’s armour is useless to him, as he is too weak to bear it. We decide to keep going and complete our mission, but not before Vidarr casts the runes to find the cause of this weakness.

The signs aren’t good. It seems that the problem is not local, though the forest is weakening as if Longstor himself was weakening. More goblins approach and dealt with, then another comes towards us, fleeing an undead creature on its trail. We had not been told of undead and our concern rises, though on we go. Two goblins were being feasted upon by a pair of zombies who were dealt with doses of holy water, but the worst was yet to come. More zombies and a feeling of death comes upon the Priest as we approach the quarry where, lo and behold, is something that worries the priest significantly. There, standing by the pit, is a death knight in armour and more zombies. Quickly the priest begins a ritual of bless weapon whilst Nathan fends off the zombie and the death knight, who grows bored with our hesitation and comes towards us. Vidarr picks up the blessed weapon and runs, Nathan holding the rear. Mercy freezes in fear, unable to run and is struck by the knight on both arms for the zombie to pounce upon her and being to rip and tear at her. But before the zombie can begin to feast on her, the knight commands it to take her to the pit to become another worker. Picked up and dragged away, Mercy is unable to assist her companions and can only scream for help as the zombie continues to eat her wounded arm.

Sitting alone, Mercy realises that they are in serious trouble when the priest is brought, unconscious, to the pit – where upon the zombie begins to eat his face (role-played to grisly effect with beef jerky and much gusto from one of the Edinburgh refs, with ooc laughter at the whole thing from the two players stuck bleeding out and waiting to be eaten alive). But Nathan manages to finally drop the death knight and summoned by Mercy’s screams, drops the face eating zombie. A quick round of bandages on the arms, Mercy begins the task of rousing the priest whilst Nathan goes to investigate a sinister shrine in the pit. Feeling decidedly unwell and her unconscious patient retching, Mercy cures the diseased priest and rouses him before administering her own cure upon herself. Then, whilst the priest and the mercenary poke the shrine abit, Mercy goes back to look for her staff, gloves and the “destroyed” scroll. On the way back, she wards another undead but proving an uninteresting victim, is left alone and she comes to the edge of the pit to look down at the shrine below.

It seems that Vidarr had attempted to cleanse it of its necromantic filth, Nathan took it upon himself to smash the shrine and as Mercy cautioned his actions, he struck the shrine with his sword. The sword shattered, the shrine broke apart and Nathan was flung backwards across the quarry to land, bleeding from every location – the dreaded ref-call of “Strikedown”.

Mercy, swearing mildly under her breath, struggled down the slope (something I struggled with majorly ooc, the ground being slippery with frost, an awkward slope angle and a personal discomfort of sliding down stuff and falling) and burst onto the scene where two zombies had erupted out of the wall and were standing between them and Nathan’s gushing body. One zombie began to pull and tear at the dying man and the Priest tried to ward both undead to allow Mercy to slip past. But when he unwarded one to ward the next, they rushed him and knocked him to the ground. Mercy obviously was an unappealing target so they returned to tear at Nathan whilst Mercy quickly fussed Vidarr’s wounds and roused him. “You need to draw them away!” she told him and as the Priest attacked the zombies, Mercy rushed to Nathan’s side. Pulling off her gloves and assessing the situation, bringing out her book to look up the mix for an all heal; Mercy placed a hand on his chest to determine how long he had left – and found that it wasn’t enough. Nathan shuddered under her hands and then died.

(Looking back, I realise that Nathan had healing alchemy on him, but at the time I forgot …)

Fending off the last of the zombies, the priest begins to take stock of the situation. The shrine is gone, the necromantic aura evaporating, all is well – save for Nathan Jameson lying dead at their feet, about to rise as an undead. Mercy quickly digs through his pouches for his IC will, skim reading it and coming to the conclusion that they would have to strip the quickly rotting corpse. And as they begin this odious task, Nathan rises from the grave. This happened several times until the priest poured holy water on the corpse and Mercy managed to pull off the various layers of armour to bundle them in their arms and climb out of the quarry. Weeping, almost hysterical, Mercy makes her way back to Dunlirron with Vidarr in tow – only to meet a guard on the road who demanded to see permits and arrested the pair, for carrying illegal weapons without a license. And we timed out here.

Afterwards the matter was discussed, fines paid, loot priced and exchanged for money, alchemy identified, split between the remaining party members (according to the will) and some left in payment to the alchemist, letters written and Mercy bundled onto a merchant cart heading for Newcroft, Nathan’s kit in a bag.

Somewhere, the mouldering remains of Newcroft’s foolish hero lies in a quarry – perhaps to rise again?

Afterwards we went for coffee and cake, socialised with members of the Edinburgh branch and journeyed home having had a great day out. Lord A384 will be introducing his new character soon … and Mercy will have some interesting downtime ahead of her …