The Companions continue to follow the tracks, which lead off the trail and into the forest. Luckily the trail is fairly easy to follow…
To follow the Zombie Rat Swarm’s trail is a DC 15 survival check, the party can take a 10 and still make headway as the rodents are not moving at a very swift pace. If they stay on the trail, they’ll encounter the rats swarming over a writhing lump, that ceases moving just before the party can act. The lump is Stitch, one of their mentors. He’d stayed behind and got caught unaware while catching a swift nap after lunch.
|Joelle leapt forward, sparking a torch to life, intent on burning the rats with the torch she brandished while Xander drew his mace, thinking that the tale of bludgeoning undead would prove effective against the swarm. Lucia plucked rats off of Joelle as they swarmed her while little Francesca shivered in terror, seeing her mentor lying bloody on the ground. Maliky roared, charging the undead vermin, cleaving into them with his mighty glaive. Several seconds of fighting later and it was done. The rats and Stitch lay very dead. Stitch’s gear was recovered and a pyre made for him, the rats were burned in a separate bonfire. The weary party left the clearing and camped for the night, only to be attacked the next morning by freshly made human skeletons. They defeated the new batch of undead and followed their trail to a small, humble looking hut.|
Francesca, swallowing her fear, snuck out and scouted around the hut, finding unmoving skeletons laying under several of the bushes in the area, unnoticed. She also noticed a tall, gaunt man within the hut, Apprentice Ulchim, then came back, informing the others of what she saw. They made plans and assumed the skeletons within the bushes were active guards hidden in the brush. Xander told Francesca to gather her courage and hide beside the hut’s door and wait for the man to come out and offer her his back before striking out and sinking her blades into his vital spots, they’d do the rest.
Once she was in position, they advanced upon the hut, but were not expecting the blinding speed of the skeletons as they leapt to attack. The fight was furious, these skeletons being made of a more durable set of bones, and the group had only felled on of them before the dread necromancer’s apprentice exited the hut, his body protected by powerful magic, but even his preparations had not accounted for the lucky blade of Francesca as it navigated it’s way past the armor made of force and plunged deeply into his back, he screamed, the spell on his lips forgotten and the dagger found it’s way to his flesh once more time before the halfling’s courage broke. Francesca bolted around the hut, cowering by the wall, only barely registering the hands of a zombie breaking through the earthen garden. Two more of the skeletal warriors fell, leaving a single one to fight the Companions. Maliky roared in anger, sprinting past the skeleton to strike at the injured mage, his glaive coming down in a hard arc, only to stop an inch short of even tousling the mage’s robes. Ulchim laughed loudly, his eyes crackling with a black and purplish flame as he spoke a quick enchantment, his hand covered in the same crackling negative energy which he touched to himself, healing one of the wounds in his back. As he did so, one of Lucia’s arrows found his withered heart, silencing the mage permanently. The companions quickly slew the weakened undead that were left without casualty.