An Unlikely Forest
While traversing the steppes in the region around Dimsdale on their way East, the party entered a small forest [due to a minor error in map making]. They made camp for the night and set up shifts for watch. The first shift made by Sal went on without a problem. The next shift taken by Noone was fun for the whole group though as she screamed to wake everyone up when she heard something land on the ground near her. She had opted (as did Sal) to not have a campfire or torch and so was sitting in the darkness listening when a flapping sound landed nearby her on the ground. The scream scared away whatever it was and everyone went back to sleep. One-Eye was a bit troubled though as he recalled they heard hardly any ambient nature sounds as they traveled through the forest. As he was getting comfortable in a hammock he had placed up in a tree, a raven landed in the branches near him so he decided to try and hit it with a dagger. He missed and the raven took off. Sal found the dagger and pocketed it before going back to bed as well.
Noone’s shift ended and Valanthradil took over, also perched in a tree above the tent in which Noone, Harold, Sal, and Noone’s riding dog were sleeping. He was startled by a crashing sound coming through the forest towards them. He managed to quietly alert One-Eye and a couple sleepers in the tent by throwing things at them. Upon hearing the racket headed towards them, One-Eye lit a dropped a sun rod nearby the tent under his tree. A short while later, a black bear came tearing through their camp from the East and continued running on to the West. Waiting in hiding, Valanthradil spotted with his low-light vision four-legged creatures go running by fanned out from North to South.
One-Eye watched as a mangy looking dog came and inspected the sun rod. Peering closely, he saw that the dog was partly decayed and definitely not normal. He readied both his newly bought masterwork punching daggers and dove from the tree and impaled the undead dog, killing it instantly. Nearby, two other undead dogs had spotted One-Eye and howled as they moved in to attack. As this was happening, Harold in long johns (but with sword in hand), a naked Sal (with only his ‘borrowed’ dagger), and an appropriately clothed Noone had peered from the tent to see what was going on outside. They joined One-Eye as more undead dogs circled back to attack them while Valanthradil managed to pick some off with his longbow from up in his tree. During the fight Sal threw his dagger only to realize he had nothing else with him and retreated back to the tent to re-armor and grab his greatsword. The undead dogs were quickly defeated and the party gathered around to assess the camp.
As they were poking around, a raven landed on top of the tent and cocked its head to the side while it studied the party. One-Eye immediately started devising ways to catch it, making what he thought were seductive raven sounds as he approached. As he got close, the raven flew up and over to the East side of camp to perch upon the shoulders of a person who had strolled into the edge of the light from the sun rod while everyone was watching the raven. Harold took it upon himself to approach the stranger and announce that whoever they were, they should be careful as they just fought and killed many undead dogs and more might be about in the forest. The rest of the party sort of fanned out and got closer as he talked. They saw the newcomer was clad in black chainmail and a hooded cloak. He carried a longsword in a sheath at his side and was holding a longbow. Some of the party noticed a small necklace that had something hanging from it faintly glowing green.
The man spoke friendly enough and revealed the undead dogs were his hunting dogs and he apologized for any trouble they caused. He meant the party no harm and had no idea they were here. He peered closer at Harold and then removed his hood as he exclaimed, “Harold, it’s you! I was worried we would never see you again!”. Harold realized he was talking to one of the other paladins from his original group of 6 that he was searching for, Griddle Velk. They exchanged a quick embrace, but then more undead hunting dogs slowly appeared from the darkness in a semi-circle behind Griddle. As the padded up, the party tensed and discreetly readied some weapons. Some badly adlibbed dialogue followed between Griddle and the group which boiled down to Griddle explaining he had decided to help Peter Grim by joining him in his ways. When asked about the abbey burning down, he casually remarked it was simply the beginning of ‘the reckoning’.
At this point, One-Eye whispered to Harold to try and sense evil in Griddle. He nodded and then gasped taking a step back slightly. He stammered something about Griddle losing his way and then yelled, “This cannot stand!”. With that he attacked the surprised Griddle. Following his lead, the rest of the already suspicious party immediately joined the attack. Grievously wounded by the sudden attacks, he stumbled back as his hunting dogs surged forward. As the party attacked Griddle, One-Eye had lunged and grabbed the raven and held on tight while trying to navigate away from the circling dogs. Cutoff from following Griddle by the dogs, the party turned their attention to the immediate threat now surrounding them.
Valanthradil backpedaled and took down a few with his longbow, Sal ripped through some more with his greatsword, Harold fended off a tightly packed group, and Noone fired with her crossbow. The fight took a bad turn as the stumbling Griddle managed to fire off a powerful shot directly into Sal’s chest that almost downed him (due in part to some previous bite wounds from the dogs). Right behind Sal, One-Eye had been cornered and downed by some other dogs which caused him to drop the raven. Harold reached back and laid his hands on One-Eye to revive him, and Noone cast a healing spell on Sal to revitalize him. With the party more or less whole again, Valanthradil made a difficult shot to down the flying raven.
To turn the fight back in their favor, Noone made a strong turn undead and ended up controlling two of the dogs. She set these after the still slowly retreating Griddle to tackle him. With those two dogs out of the fight, the rest of the dogs were killed and the party approached the now unconscious Griddle. One of the turned dogs was killed and the party kind of forgot about the last undead dog under Noone’s control as they inspected the body. Noone’s turn undead faded and the remaining dog turned on Sal who was next to him but missed his lunge. Sal managed to down it with a deft swing of his greatsword and turned back to examaning Griddle. While that was happening One-Eye had managed to discretely swipe the now fainter glowing necklace. As Valanthradil killed two disabled dogs lying nearby, One-Eye noticed the glow dissipate entirely. The rest of the party that had spotted the necklace earlier confronted One-Eye who finally confessed to having the necklace and being worried that whatever was in it had somehow transferred to him. Harold mentioned it emanated evil and should be destroyed, but he didn’t sense anything from One-Eye.
A Bitter End
They dragged Griddle into the tent and put him in manacles. Valanthradil healed the raven before it expired and put it in the tent as well. Harold kept vigil all night long over Griddle and was very unresponsive to conversation. The rest of the watches were taken and morning came. Once everyone was awake, they gathered in the tent and interrogated the now conscious Griddle. He was very terse at first, but some harsh intimidation from Sal convinced him to talk about how Peter Grim had turned him this way and would kill him at first chance now that he had failed him. One-Eye dangled out the necklace and asked what it was for to which Griddle looked shocked and said, “My necklace! You must give it back or get rid of it.. You fool! Peter knows where we are!”.
During some more back and forth, a bored Valanthradil went outside to find the some undead had begun wandering in to their camp. He killed them with his bow and was in the process of warning the rest of the party when on the other side of the tent a zombie reached through tearing into the tent and snapped Griddle’s neck. The zombie was immediately killed by an arrow from Valanthradil, but it was too late for Griddle. The party decided it was high time to pack up and set off East again towards the keep. Harold and the party buried Griddle and set off.. but One-Eye made sure to remove the chainmail from Griddle first and toss it into his saddlebag while Sal grabbed the longsword and Valanthradil the bow.