Zephus returned to the temple of the Order of the Radiant Heart in Westgate, eager to redeem himself after his caravan adventure. Even more than that, he wished to express his apologies to his young protégée, Nellie Keane. Receiving a mission to investigate unexplained undead incursions in the Temple of Ilmater from Sir Devan, Zephus went to pick up Nellie. There the young woman was receptive to Zephus’ instructions about not lying for him and also to their new mission. She was very excited to get into battle again, having been given a fine new spear by her benefactor. Nellie and Shaggy accompanied Zephus to the temple of Ilmater, where they met another ally secured by the Order. This ally was none other than Set, ranger of the cautious disposition, and his faithful wolf Bongo.
The group went into the temple fearlessly (other than Set, who felt nervous around stained glass windows) but all they found was an old priest. This priest explained that the undead encounters happened at night, and they were welcome to wait until then. They did so, and after being ambushed by a group of zombies (which looked remarkably like goblins) and wheeps, they found a secret passage underneath a statue. This led to an ancient burial chamber. The group found a room with several ornate sarcophagi, floating outside of which were 4 ghosts. One of the spirits spoke to the group, and lamented being murdered many years before by followers of Cyric. The attack by the followers of Cyric was eventually repelled, but now it seems their undead forms had found a way to breach the temple of Ilmater and enact their revenge. Zephus and Nellie readily agreed to end the threat, while Set hesitated but found himself too frightened to leave alone.
The adventurers entered into the breach and found themselves in a long forgotten dungeon. Here, undead followers of Cyric were imprisoned in oubliettes in the floor. After passing the macabre scene, they came upon a door which had two stout locks. Splitting up, the group searched two seemingly empty floor cells that each had something sparkly in them. Unfortunately, they weren’t really empty! A group of Wheeping Widowers attacked Zephus, and Nellie was beset by Plague Zombies. Set was caught in the middle. At first their attacks seemed to be not very effective against their targets, but realizing their opponents were resistant to their weapon types they switched targets and were able to rekill the undead. Picking up the keys, they entered into the final chamber.
In the large ritual chamber, Zephus and company met an evil necromancer who was raising the dead Cyric followers and sending them to attack the temple of Ilmater. Just when they believed they had weathered the waves of Wheeps and Zombies he threw at them, Zephus, Nellie and Shaggy were caught the necromancer’s Dense Fog spell. And to add injury to insult, the evil wizard then surrounded the fog with a Wall of Fire! Burning and blinded, the trio attempted to escape the insidious trap while Set worked his way around it to get a clear shot at the necromancer. Being the fastest, Shaggy reached the edge of the fog first. Heroically leaping through the flames, the dog collapsed from his wounds on the other side. Hearing the pathetic whimper, Zephus charged through next, sustaining third degree burns himself in order to get close enough to Lay his Hands on the poor pooch. Nellie followed, and between the three of them they quickly had the necromancer on the ropes. But the hero of the day would be Set the Careful, who had finally gotten in range. Letting fly a perfectly aimed arrow, he blasted the life out of the worker of death.
The ghosts and the priest of Ilmater were highly appreciative of the heroes’ efforts. The latter suggested they return to Sir Devan for a reward. Having already been paid, Set returned to the woodlands. Nellie went home to minister to Shaggy’s wounds. Zephus was once again alone. Back at the Order temple, Sir Devan was impressed at Zephus’ success. With Zephus’ blessing he decided to induct Nellie into the Order as an initiate. Zephus himself received a pair of Gauntlets of Righteous Fury, which gave him extra strength when an ally was under attack. Feeling vindicated and victorious, Zephus could not help but wonder, what lay in store next for the paladin and his charge?
To Be Concluded…