The doughty adventurers meet back up with Queen Isabella, who now looks more concerned than ever with her newfound responsibilities with the refugees. Approximately 1,000 elves, half-elves, and humans (with a couple of hobbits and half-orcs mixed in for good measure) meet up with the PCs heading East on the north border road. The group stretches over a mile along the road when on the march, and the time being made is very slow. Isabella’s calculations show trouble ahead when food runs out unless more speed can be made. Maude has an idea for speeding up the group, but it’s complicated and would need dedicated wardens.
When Isabella talks with the party there is no discord between the individuals but when the refugees ask for handouts and other gifts from the party there is little patience with that. The party packs up and hightails it out of the refugee camp at full speed, southward along the Old North Road.
At first the road seems pleasant enough — if one forgets the carnage and flames of Sillil and the screams of the dying and cries for help of those taken by the slavers. The first real sign of oddness is the Gharatu carcass lying just off the road, obviously dead from its entrails spilled out from its massive body. The head is nearly severed yet the creature’s eyes still follow the party as they walk up to it.
Baughb thinks it might be in pain and wants to put it out of its misery so she fires her bow at it point blank. The arrow hits and cleaves the giant skull in twain… and releases a splattering of writhing worms. The creatures spray out in all directions, those that land on the ground immediately wriggle and dig into the soft earth. One lands on Baughb’s hand and immediately begins digging into her flesh.
To say that the party is alarmed is a bit of an understatement. From the back can immediately be heard “cut off her hand, cut off her arm.” Baughb keeps her cool and begins working with her dagger. Ignoring the pain and blood she digs the writhing pale creature from her wrist just before it makes its way to the relatively thicker flesh of her forearm.
By this point the zombie threat is pretty well understood and the party notices how quiet the forest has become. There is talk of the refugees … but rather than the danger to them more is made of the danger they pose if they succumb to this zombie malady and become an army of death. No one seems much concerned for Queen Isabella’s plight of trying to keep the large group together and alive.
On another night the party is attacked by a giant stag that also seems dead but is very much active and intent on their destruction. Again they slay the beast and begin piecing together the potential reasons for these animated animal corpses.
Finding that the attacks are happening at night the party decides to start traveling by night and sleeping by day. They begin changing their marching schedule gradually so as to spare the horses additional stress.
On the third day they find a donkey pegged to the road. The party comes to a halt to ponder this situation and Baughb goes forward to investigate. As if on cue, something huge emerges from the forest. It’s a zombie hill giant and it immediately heads toward the hapless donkey. It seems to be striking at Baughb but crushes the back of the donkey with a solid blow from its club. Quickly a hail of arrows brings it down and as usual a flood of worms sprays from the now un-re-animated corpse.
Shortly thereafter, likely the next day, the party sees a building on a hill off the old road. Being the only building they have seen so far in this journey they move to investigate.
They approach a monastery from the south with exterior bars on the doors. Zombies! Mod exclaims. Reck wants to investigate and finds a large collapse on the north end of the building. Two statues in front are tall Orcs wearing monastic robes. No inscriptions accompany the figures.
What the players do next remains to be seen, as does the interior of this strange building.