We soon arrived at a dilapidated cell hosting a legion of bones and one suspiciously hale woman. She remonstrated vividly about how she had been captured, neglecting to mention why she would be the only one spared and laughing nervously all the while. I might have been inclined to authorize her release except that her eyes continued to dart in a furtive, untrustworthy manner. There even seemed to be some force compelling me to believe her, to accept her pleas as just and reasonable and as soon as I felt this force I knew that some sort of magic was involved. Captain Kiirian Norandael and Olfred Tass instinctively recognized this as well and we told her that she had better tell the truth if we were to make any progress.
Expecting some sort of a confession was a grave mistake on my end. At the first sign of our suspicion she transformed into a hissing creature whose noises alerted us to avert our eyes immediately, and some quick thinking reminded us to brandish our recently acquired mirror. It was oddly fortuitous that we should have the means for our salvation at hand right when it was needed, but I have come to accept such fortune as a counterweight to all the hardship that I expect we will face. But I digress.
Captain Kiirian Norandael held the mirror towards the opening in the cell and was met with sounds of hardening stone as the Medusa was undone by her own power. We then moved upstairs and heard the sounds of more acolytes plotting in the first adjacent room. Olfred Tass cleverly nominated that we make an illusion of the medusa to surprise these foes and the plan worked very well. All five of these delusional cultists were summarily executed as their pitiful cries and moans of fear were cut short by a barrage of arrows and rays of frost.
After we outsmarted another horde of zombies we came upon a large room with motionless skeleton warriors and a large dais at the head. Enough of our party’s combined lore helped us realize that the platform was connected to these creatures and that we should deal with them before plucking their gems. Kiirian and I joked about “gloriously” dragging them one by one down the hall to bash their vacant skulls in—-not monotonous or boring in the slightest way. Sadly, this jest proved to be our ultimate plan as we realized that these skeletons would activate if they were hit in close proximity to their brethren. Somewhere, Kiirian claims, is a lich who designed this trap with the utmost care and optimism and who was watching us assiduously as we dismantled it after only two minutes of deliberation.
He was then wailing about how the guild for responsible undead use by liches in dungeons was going to “have his hide” for this one and that his promotion to arch-lich would continue to be a distant dream. The levity was much appreciated. I had read accounts of ritualistic zombification before I began this journey, but seeing the tools and culprits firsthand has awakened a new revulsion in me. Somewhere in the depths of my soul I have always believed that evil is a conscious choice, and that one can always choose death before serving the gods whose mission it is to sow chaos and torture in the world. Having seen the eyes of the dead look hauntingly into mine, having briefly glimpsed the potential of past lives and the almost pleading moan emanating from their gruesome visages I now know the true potential of evil. Somehow, I know that it is not enough that these thralls be put out of their misery. There must be some method of returning them to their former selves, regardless of the amount of research and knowledge required. Part of me knows I must look into this ritual further, but as for now there are more pressing matters.