It has certainly been an eventful journey into Stromdorf, to say the least. Well, I looked forward to this trip in the hope for some excitement, and I got it, as well as meeting a few new acquaintances. And what a way to meet – dead bodies rising from their resting places! After helping to put them down again, and for good, I found a bed waiting for me at the inn, although my sleep was more restive than restful. I was awoken – although still tired – by the inn owner who told of a message waiting for me from the Captain of the Guard, Kressler, if I would walk to the Town Hall to meet him. It was surprising, but then again, nothing seems to be commonplace on this journey. Perhaps this will be some sort of opportunity to help me get away from that dreary, boring house.
I head down to breakfast. I can see some of my fellows from last night, but I stick to the shadows to break my bread; I don’t truly know them, after all. The mood in the room seems subdued after the terrors of last night, and I can’t say I’m shocked. I hear snatches of conversations regarding the rumors of a Vampire Army coming to town to avenge the death of a Vampire Count killed long ago – by Olaus Stickhelm, if I remember correctly. I frankly expected more from city people. It seems they need to tell themselves something to account for what their eyes saw.
When the time comes to leave, I find that the fighters I helped last night received the same message to meet Captain Kressler, so we set off together. The magician, Oppenheimer, seems a bit daft, staring off into the rain. Dr. Adler has to rouse him before we can leave.
On the way, the magician does a trick to keep the rain from pelting us so very wetly. I notice, but keep quiet. We pass the time walking by making a stronger acquaintance amongst ourselves, and I meet the woman of the group, formerly too ill to be moved, Eleanor. They seem full of exciting stories of adventures, but I reserve judgment. Especially when the magician tells me that he’s a wizard. Being included in this meeting is interesting. I wonder if it will be an opportunity, or just a disappointment to nurse in my breast on the way back home.
When we reach Town Hall, Captain Kressler invites us to meet the Burghermeister, Philip Adler, for a special task. Now this could be very interesting.
We reach the Burghermeister’s office, to find him slumped in his chair, mooning over a small portrait of a woman in a purple dress. He tells us her name is Madriga, and I suppose she’s dead, as she apparently rose from the grave in his dream last night to haunt him. Dr. Adler reveals that he dreamt of her last night, too.
Kressler says someone named Lazarus Morn is responsible, although he was burned at the stake in town last year.
I know a thing or two about the dead who walk, and I tell them all so. The Burghermeister may be haunted by this girl, but the doctor doesn’t know her. He is not being haunted – his dreams have meaning beyond this – a prophecy. I tell them of the God Mor, who keeps the dead, dead. The Burghermeister wants us to find the local priest of Mor, Grabbé, so that he may learn of his opinion on this. We are told to travel to the Garden of Mor to fetch him, and given 50 silver each!
As we walk out, another magician comes to speak to Oppenheimer. He talks of a stone and two visions – one with the Madriga girl, and one of a hero decorated with dragons. When Eleanor mentions that the vision of Madriga is like the doctor’s, the magician becomes loud. I back away. He keeps mentioning something called a Lightning Stone, claiming it has to do with it all. The hero the magician keeps mentioning reminds me of the hero Olaus Stichhelm, who happens to have a statue standing in the town square, but I wait until he’s gone to tell the others. He is the very same who defeated the Vampire Count, who everyone was talking of this morning in the inn. Seems strange he keeps coming up. I tell them all of this while we walk to the Garden of Mor.
While we travel, it starts to seem as though we’re being followed. It turns out to be a simple man from the town, ragged and stinking. I try to run him off but he just laughs stupidly. I think that we have no time for this, but they keep trying to ask him questions. He is thrilled with the wizard’s magic, but the wizard seems to think of him as I do. His name is Waltrout and his mouth flops like a fish. I walk on ahead.
Then I hear him say that the younger children throw rocks at him. There’s no reason for any to be throwing rocks, especially at someone who cannot fight back. It isn’t right. The wizard keeps refusing to do a magic trick for Waltrout. I see to it that he changes his mind. He writes Waltrout’s name is sparkling light, and Waltrout and I both thank him. When we resume our journey, Waltrout follows us.
The road finally ends at a river, burbling blackly. Waltrout shows us a bronze bell we can use to call for the priest, but the priest does not come. Waltrout is upset – the priest usually comes. The wizard travels across the river in a blur to reach the raft moored there. It takes him some time to bring it back, and then the woman Eleanor and I quickly row our party ashore.
There, we find a wall, high, gray and strong, with a tunnel resting beyond a gate. Oppenheimer notes that the cemetery has a lightning rod, which is odd. He thinks there is a lightning stone here.
We cross through the gate, into the tunnel, which is guarded by a raven of Mor. And flanked by two statues of bone. The tunnel is icy and dark as winter, but the wizard creates a light to see by. The darkness seems almost…angry at the light. I shake my head. Silly.
Runes are carved on the walls. Oppenheimer tells us that these keep the light away. At the end of the tunnel is a door, with a black pillar to one side, and a white one to the other.
We notice that Waltrout is no longer with us. We call for him, but there is no answer. I hope no ill has befallen him, but I believe I hope in vain.
The door opens to a temple area, with unlit torches on the walls. The wizard lights them all, but something happens when he does…a freeze enters the room, chilling us all. The holy water even freezes solid.
An embalming chamber is ahead of us, with three open coffins, and a door beyond.
Without warning, three figures, one from each coffin, sits up. They clamber from their boxes and, moaning, approach us. They are recently dead, but still they fight. There is a man, an older woman and a girl child.
The doctor Adler takes us a stance to protect us all, and the woman Eleanor tries to hit one with a crossbow, but misses. The wizard tries a spell while I shoot the little girl’s arm at the shoulder with my bow. It hangs, dangling, but still she shuffles to us. The doctor continues his efforts to protect us as Eleanor’s shot goes wide. A burst of magic flies from the wizard’s staff and hit the little girl, but still, she attacks the doctor. He falls to the ground as she gnaws on him.
I move back towards the unopened door, taking a running shot at the dead girl while I move. I miss, but when I plant my feet and refocus, I am able to shoot her down.
With her down, Eleanor buries a bolt into the dead man furthest away. He takes a bite of her while the dead man lunges for the wizard and misses. The doctor, his arm no longer being set upon by the dead girl, stands. He continues to protect us with a guarded stance.
I try to slay the one attacking Eleanor, but I miss. Seeking a way out, I kick down the unopened, locked door. My teeth rattle, but the door is opened.
The wizard takes down the dead man and Eleanor wounds the dead woman. She attempts to bite at the wizard, but she misses. Adler, seeing an opportunity, punches the dead woman square in the face, probably bruising his knuckles. She is caught off guard, and it lets me take a measured shot with my short bow, knocking her down, and quiet, unmoving.
Now that they are vanquished, we move towards the newly opened door, which reveals the Garden of Mor. We know we cannot enter the Garden, as only mourners in the company of a priest of Mor can cross that sanctified ground. We begin to debate what to do when we hear a groaning behind us. The dead girl has risen again!
Oppenheimer injures her with another magical bolt from his staff, and with my short bow, I shoot her square in the eyes, whipping her head back on her shoulders. Eleanor delivers the killing blow. We know we must do something more to end their wretchedness, and Adler and Eleanor rush to grab lit torches from the wall. They set the bodies on fire, and Oppenheimer calls the wind forth to fan the flames.
We think all is as well as can be expected, until the man rises, still alit, groaning. Adler steps back and snaps at him with his sling. Eleanor also falls back and damages it with her short bow. Oppenheimer sends another dart of magic, making the zombie fall again. Now, we stand and watch the flames until the bodies have turned to ash.
Once we can talk again, Adler says that he should be the one to step into the Garden, as the prophecies were delivered to him in a dream. He uses the iced font water to bless himself, and Oppenheimer does some kind of protective spell. Adler mounts the stairs that lead to the garden. A space of time passes with nothing happening, until we hear Adler’s garbled yell, and that is all…