The Light of Yesh
The other zombies continued to attack them, but they were not
directly controlled now and moved so slowly and predictably that
they were easily able to dodge them.
"Are we all okay?" Aurei yelled to all in her group as Eleazar and Aeric joined them -after first dealing with a trio of zombies in their way. Glancing about, she was relieved to see all of her friends still standing, mostly uninjured.
"I think we can power our way through them now, with their controllers gone." Aeric stated as he, Lute and Eleazar guarded the group's perimeter.
"Where's the Sorceress?!" Aurei suddenly remembered their captive and she turned to Lute with an anxious glance.
The half-Ogre gave her a big toothy grin and pointed toward the base of the grain silo, where they had hitched their two remaining horses. Across the saddle of Sir Aeric's horse was tied the form of the Sorceress, looking like a fly partially wound up in silk by a spider.
"Can we get through with the horses?" Alis asked.
"I think so." Brother Darv answered, "We should be able to keep them back enough to reach the barn. What worries me is what we will find inside. We know the giants' had controllers in there, and there may be more nasties with them."
"Or in the underground passage." Alvis added, kneeling over weakly as he caught his breath, "They probably have undead needing complete darkness to operate in there, waiting for the sunset. And I'd say we don't have more then a few hours left until that occurs, so we'd better get a plan of action prepared. I see you were able to subdue the Sorceress; perhaps she can be persuaded to provide us with some information."
"I doubt it." Eleazar answered, "The Duchess coldcocked her rather hard, so I think she may be unconscious at least until we are able to lay hands on her enough for her to regain consciousness, and that won't be until tomorrow."
Everyone glanced at Aurei, who blushed in shame, "Sorry."
"I don't blame ye a bit." Thorm said to her with a pleased smile, "I would've given her the same if I'd been up there."
"I suspect the Necromancers set up the Zombie Field spell quickly, using this pumpkin patch as an obvious template." Sir Aeric paused to swipe at a slowly advancing zombie, knocking it down to the ground, where it stayed, "See how easy it is to kill them when the controllers are gone - that is true to what I've seen of the spell when used quickly to animate a group of dead - it's much quicker then reanimating corpses one by one. The drawback is that the controllers are needed to get the zombies to focus and attack more fiercely. I'd say a group of probably four of them cast the spell together, placing the dead from Thurgood or others they brought in their airship, then added a large group of ghouls and ghasts and of course the sorceress up on top of that silo. Rather effective for a quickly devised action."
"So you think this was a spur of the moment decision for them?" Aurei asked, almost casually chopping the head off a slow moving zombie advancing upon her.
"I think we surprised them by appearing with such a large group - they were expecting a small detachment sent out by you to see what the airship we saw the night before was doing. They thought they'd neutralize a group of four or five city guardsmen, but when they saw our large group advancing, they had to quickly change their plan."
Sir Alvis, still looking pale and weak, nodded in agreement, "I think their bigger plan is to capture all of our Paladins and Brother Darv, but I suspect there is some other secret purpose for this sudden interest in Westmark. For now though, we need to figure out how we are going to crash through their defenses - Aurei, did you see anything in your vision that might help us in there? Such as what types of undead await us?"
Aurei closed her eyes and thought for a moment, "I didn't see anything I could identify, but there were beings moving around inside, and the barn was more than just concealment for the secret passage - it actually serves as a barn, and I think I saw a handful of horses stabled there."
"That would certainly help!" Eleazar exclaimed, "Hopefully they are still there and are uninjured."
"But what do we do about the undead that will no doubt be guarding the passage - its underground, so won't the undead down there be worse then the lot we've encountered so far?" Alis looked around at Sir Alvis, Eleazar and Aeric, "What do you think we'll encounter?"
"There's a ghost." Aurei spoke up and all looked at her as she had a hint of the far-away look she'd had earlier when she had experienced the vision, but this time it was only the memory, "There is a ghost down in the passageway, I remember now seeing him floating around a set of stairs, and I think there were other things down there too."
"Are ghosts dangerous?" Neal asked.
"Yes" Eleazar answered, "The type that the Guild uses are very dangerous - they try to possess anyone in their vicinity and force them to attack others. If they fail at this, they will materialize and try to strike you. Their touch causes a person to age rapidly. Even their groan causes accelerated aging. But you can't strike them if they don't materialize - yet they will still be there."
"Are there any spells to counter them?" Neal asked Brother Darv.
"There are, but none that I know, I'm afraid. However, I do have something that may help. I've not mentioned this before because it is not something I have shown anyone except those few times it has been absolutely necessary. I feel this is one of those times."
Everyone came in closer as Brother Darv pulled something hanging from a leather strap around his neck from underneath his chainmail tunic and held it out to show everyone. It looked like an ordinary bluish-white piece of quartz.
"What is it?" Alis asked the question on everyone's mind.
"It's a Light of Yesh." He replied, causing several of the group - including Aurei- to gasp in awe upon hearing this.
"What's that?" Alis pressed, wondering why Darv seemed so proud of it.
"You've not heard of the Seven Lights of Yesh?" Aurei asked her friend, surprised.
"Should I have?"
"Allow me, Aurei." Brother Darv took a deep breath and explained by quoting the legend of the seven lights, "Before he left this world, Yesh took his seven disciples to an abandoned dwarven mine and they entered in. After a brief walk he pointed out pieces of quartz left in the wall of the mine. 'This place is full of darkness' he told them, 'and no light shines down here. But where I go, I bring light into the darkness and hope to the hopeless.' Taking his staff, he struck seven times at the vein of quartz and seven pieces of rock fell off onto the floor. Kneeling down, Yesh picked them up and blessed them, saying, 'I give you light in the darkness; those who trust in me will shine like the noonday sun, and the darkness of evil will be vanquished.' He then handed each of them a piece of quartz and told them, 'These are tokens of my light and power, call upon my name in the darkness, and these stones will shine brightly. And when all seems lost, cast this stone at the feet of those who are killing you, and they will be consumed as I sweep you into my presence.' Since then, two of the seven stones have been used in this way; thrown at the feet of those who sought to take one of the lives of the servants of Yesh. Three are thought to be lost, one is in the possession of St. Kinnis, and I have the other one."
"How did you get it?" Aurei asked, in awed amazement. Brother Darv smiled, "Duchess, I made a solemn vow never to disclose that, so I cannot tell you, except that it was a great and honored gift to me, one of which I was most unworthy."
"So what does it do that can help us?" Alis asked a bit impatiently as she sensed the sky slowly growing ever dimmer as the day neared its end.
"Well, by holding it aloft and speaking the name of Yesh, it will give forth a white light that shines like the sun at noon, but it has to be either night outside or in a place of near total blackness or it will not work. It will do this thrice a day and against undead, it acts much like a Holy Word spell. But even more awesome, if the gem is thrown to the ground with force, it will shatter and release a flash of light and power that will destroy everything in a large radius around it, including the gem itself as well as the one who threw it down. Nothing living or undead can withstand the divine cleansing of this final strike."
"Twice they have been cast down like that in times of hopelessness when evil surrounded them. Both times none within the radius of the blast lived to tell the story. Remember this, my friends, for this relic cannot fall into the hands of the enemies of Yesh. Anyway, I think its light would be very helpful when we encounter that ghost, but it will have to be materialized before I can affect it with the Holy Word effect from the gem. So if we run into the thing, please know that I plan on using it once the ghost takes visible form. The light produced will be very bright, so be aware that you may be blinded temporarily."
"Guys, I think we'd better get moving immediately, because the shadows are getting very long and I personally don't want to be around here after dark." Alis glanced around at the handful of zombies still slowly ambling toward them.
"Alright then." Eleazar said in response, "Aurei, you and Aeric go get your horses and ride them over here and we'll get going."
Immediately Aurei and Aeric took off running toward the end of the field, knocking down a couple of zombies as they raced to the horses. A minute later they were crashing through the pumpkin patch, the unconscious and bound sorceress bouncing up and down across the half-Elf's saddle as they rushed to join their friends.
"We'll lead the horses in." Eleazar told Aeric, "Aurei and I will go up front."
"Against a ghost?!" Alis spoke up, "Are you insane?"
Eleazar turned and looked at Aurei with a secret smile, "We are the best choices to lead, especially if the ghost tries a physical attack."
"Because ye are Elves?" Thorm asked, "Ye'll still age, lad, if it touches ye."
"The Duchess and I are not too concerned about aging, are we Aurei?" He winked at her and then she understood - the Faesidhe fruit supposedly had given her - and Eleazar's Elven mother as well- immortality, so the half-Drow was counting that they would be immune to the aging effects of the touch or moan of the ghost.
"What if he moans?" Aueri asked Eleazar, "The others may not want to age."
Eleazar nodded, "I thought of that and have that covered as well." He pulled from his pouch a small grey box seemingly made of lead, "Inside this box is an old trick of the Drow that I happen to like very much. They cast either a silence or a darkness spell - sometimes both- on a rock or other object and then toss it into a group of enemies so they cannot see or speak and therefore are unable to cast a spell. The rock inside this box has had a permanency spell cast on it and will create a circle of silence of about 10 feet radius when I open the lid of the box."
"But Brother Darv won't be able to activate the light of Yesh if he can't speak aloud." Aurei looked back at the Priest of Yesh who still held the holy quartz.
"I'll stay at the back of the party, out of range."
"Then you'll be affected by the ghost."
"Not if I beat him to the punch with the light."
"It still seems a bit risky, but okay." Aurei glanced over to Alis who looked very concerned and shook her head.
"I don't like it." she admitted, glancing over to Eleazar and Aeric, "You said ghosts can possess those in range. What if they do this as we get near it?"
"It's a chance we'll have to take." Eleazar replied, "Watch for any of the party looking stunned or confused - there is usually only a few moments before the possession takes place. Remember, if they attack, it is the ghost that is actually attacking through them. Lute would be the most logical target of a possession, as he's the biggest and would do the most damage if it is successful. Lute, stay close to Aurei and I, and that way we'll have more eyes watching you if the ghost tries."
"Let him try, I won't let him take control of me." The large half-Ogre growled and everyone there believed him completely.
"If we're ready, let's get going, before darkness falls." With a nod to Aurei, the half-Drow Paladin began walking toward the barn. Aurei quickly handed the reins of her horse to Neal and rushed to join the Knight, as everyone fell in behind them.
"Do you think you inherited your mother's immortality?" She asked him softly as together they batted aside a slow moving zombie.
"Hopefully neither one of us will find out. But first we have to fight whatever is waiting for us within the barn."
"If we get through this alive, I swear I'm never going to leave Westmark again."
"You're doing fine, Aurei."
"Thanks, Laz." She smiled at him and he very briefly returned the smile as she had used the nickname she'd given him only a day before. Without another word they focused on covering the distance to the red barn.