DONG! DONG! DONG! DONG! DONG! DONG! DONG! DONG! DONG! DONG!
Leukis kept on snoring behind the bar, but his six companions heard the final and ominous tolling of the bell very clearly. As total darkness crept down over the village (their last torch now utterly spent), Hern and his still nameless band of adventurers rallied around the fountain of Lathander. The pit had been set aflame, the Genasi Spirit had been summoned. There was not much more they could do. Some of them were down to their very last resources, such as Sirrush, others had barely been wounded during the previous nine battles, such as Aramil or Hern himself. A bolt of pure darkness flew towards Ung Ath, giving him another reasing to hate magic. Surrounded by five of his Black Acolytes and backed up by three corpses that somehow managed to throw their own stinking innards, Black Alarick send forth waves of negative energy. The healing and temporary hit points of our heroes were spent in the blink of an eye, and some of them were going down fast, for the black acolytes struck with uncanny precision. The only ones able to endure their attacks were Rhynn (protection from necrotic energy 5) and Neriano (protection from good rolls by the DM). Hern drew upon the power of Lathander for the last time, and send many of the Black Acolytes flying back, including Black Alarick himself. With their leader temporarily disabled, Rhynn charged one of the zombies, only to discover paladins no longer had immunity to diseases. Damn! Behind him, thing were getting desperate: Ung Ath was bleeding to death while the Black Acolytes were regrouping. Sirrush used his last healing on his Dragonborn companion, and made a desperate attack on one of the Black Acolytes, standing on the barricades. Rhynn also charged that one. In a rare stroke of luck, he managed to hit the unfortunate Black Acolyte twice, send it flying into the pit and, to boot, set it aflame, all in the blink of an eye. Hern and Aramil were under fire from the zombies and discovered that even having preserved lots of healing surges was not an absolute garanty for survival. At the same time, Neriano and a seriously wounded Ung Ath attacked Black Alarick himself, backed up by the Genasi Spirit. Two of the Black Acolytes had been destroyed so far, but the odds were still against Hern and his companions. Worse still, they were running out of resources quickly, while the zombies and two black acolytes were still all but unharmed… Aramil and Hern managed to damage one of the zombies, only to discover the accursed thing kept regenerating. Thing were not going well at all.
To everyone’s surprise, Ung Ath and Neriano managed to defeat the dreaded Black Alarick, thanks to the Genasi Spirit. In the meantime the others, bloodied and weakened by the zombies, still were not able to finish off one of the remaining black acolytes, despite their focused attacks. While the acolytes pointlessly attacked Rhynn, the zombies finally started realizing attacking the most wounded and most vulnerable of their opponents was not such a bad plan after all. Ung Ath went down again, soon followed by two of the acolytes. The battle was drawing to a close now: Rhynn charged the zombies and, backed up by Hern and Aramil, was able to defeat them one by one. An elaborate transaction involving a potion and a mage hand managed to revive Ung Ath yet again. Together with Neriano and Sirrush, the Dragonborn Fighter tried to brave the laws of bad luck and finally finish off the last acolyte. That same acolyte still futily tried to hit Neriano. The Genasi spirit threw another zombie down in the burning pit. As the bell of Caterlaugh started tolling again and the zombies readied another volley, our heroes knew death was calling for one of them. In the growing tension, Hern cried out ‘Why me?’ and went down under a pile of stinking innards. The heir of Snowdown did not rise again and Rhynn thought he heard the bell tolling yet another time. He saw the looks of relief on some of his companions faces, thinking themself safe from the dying Hern’s fate. But he knew their relief was false: wasn’t it so that no party member could be considered as an island on its own, but as a part of the main, of the continent that made the party? “Therefore,” Rhynn thought, remembering some old and forgotten poem “any man’s death diminishes us. Never send to know for whom the bells tolls, it tolls for thee…” He stabilized his dying leader, negating the attacks of the last zombie, which was soon hacked and blown to pieces by Aramil and himself. In the meantime, the last Black Acolyte, who still didn’t manage to do more than scratch Neriano’s armor, was finally brought down by Ung Ath, while Sirrush mused about his bad karma and resulting strokes of extremely bad luck during the last fight.
Victory, they had prevailed at last. Then, the five still barely conscious heroes heard another sound behind them. It sounded like the slow steps of a grotesquely disfigured zombie… Cursing they readied their weapons one last time. Leukis emerged from the pub, trying to focus his drunken gaze. “Whoa, man, I’m level 5 already. Now who said drinking could damage your health? Three cheers for Leukis the Hero!”