I told my players that they could get an experience bonus for writing an in character letter recapping the adventure, which the magic user decided to make use of. The intent was to collect a bit more detail, have the players create some color, and hopefully, give me some devious hooks to us on them later.
I have recently come across magic that I cannot explain through my own studies, and I write this to you seeking answers as to what the magic is and guidance as to what should be done with the remnants of what I have found. Because my knowledge of the matter is so incomplete, it may help you to know under what circumstances the magic came into my possession.
While having a feast with the Baron, a human from a small town burst in and cried for help. His village had been attacked by the Thin Men. One of my party, I cannot tell you which due to mild intoxication, volunteered us to investigate the matter. After a cautious journey to the town we found that the vast majority of it had been burnt to the ground, save for the structures that were made of stone and therefore could not be burned and the palisade on the far side. Brief investigations of the remaining structures revealed that the people inside had been killed.
We managed to gain entrance into the palisade by climbing in and began investigating by looking in a small hole in the center. Our orc, Orgoyle, brash as she was (and still is, luckily) rushed to the bottom while the druid Aaganess' faery fire revealed three animated skeletons! Orgoyle was quickly defeated, her injuries life threatening. Another spell from the druid entangled the abominations and allowed us to retrieve the fallen orc. Our young woods people, Nyma and Ummm managed to gather herbs that kept the orc alive, as our demonstrative priest, Solamante, neglected to prepare his spells of healing. We searched the area, hoping to find a healing potion or some other way of keeping the orc alive, but we only found a giant spider and a ghoul (and some treasure) for our troubles. It was shortly after defeating the ghoul that I came across the first bit of that magic that has confounded me so. Once again, I cannot explain its nature other than to say that it filled me with a sense of contrariness, or even wrongness. My only deduction is that the magic is of a necromantic sort, as we had, at that point, come across two types of the undead.
We climbed a tower and saw that there was a quarry near to the village. The remaining party, Nyma stayed with the fallen orc, travelled there seeking more answers. What we found was the remaing villagers, slain and piled high like debris. Fearing what foe might have that kind of power, we retreated out of the village to try and restore the orc into usefulness. After a good deal of rest, the priest's magic revived Orgoyle, and in an effort to be at full strength when found our foe, we rested some more.
The following day we returned to the quarry and ventured into the hillside via a small fissure. Upon entrance we were accosted by a cave crawler. Fortunately, none were seriously injured, though the reinvigorated Orgoyle, with much to prove after her incapacitation, chased the poor creature as it tried to flee and slew it. What followed was a strange network of small tunnels and ancient rooms that was difficult to follow. I have done my best to recreate our journey in the underground after this letter, and have labeled everything as best I could. Of particular note, are the ancient elven tombs and the ancient underground cathedral.
We came across more skeletons as we entered the cathedral, and thanks to some creative tactics and some rather impressive slinging from Orgoyle's minion Bantha, they were easily dispatched. What we found at the far end of the cathedral is the most pertinent of all: we stumbled across a woman just before she sacrificed two humans, and surrounding her were zombies! The wicked wench charmed my own hireling, Sir Willy, and caused him to attack Orgoyle. That distraction would have been enough to fracture our party and end us if it hadn't been for Aaganess' quick thinking. Another spell of entangling brought Nature's fury of inconvenience on the necromancer and her minions, holding them fast where they stood. Orgoyle, having learned from her last bout of blade induced near-death, luckily wore a spare shield on her back. That shield likely saved her from Willy's wrath, and after trading blows, Sir Willy was felled by one of our rogues. Meanwhile, Umm and Aaganess had their dogs viciously attacking the Necromancer, and though she protected herself with the same magical shield you yourself taught me, the dogs brought her down.
The zombies were easily dispatched after the wicked woman was down. Most of it had been taken care of by the time I returned with a long spear to keep me out of reach. Solamante spoke to the woman as she lay dying, and when she mentioned having minions come to her aid, he smashed her skull with his mace.
Here are a few more points that require your guidance. The sacrificial area was lined with some kind dark magical script, likely to have the dead return to life after being slain. The Necromancer wore a necklace of human finger bones that named men and had the number 1. The Necromancer's spell book, while containing some benign spells, which I have already copied, also contained more of those that seemed to twist my sense of the natural order, which I have not copied. All of this took place in a cathedral that was likely used by elves ages ago, and contained small areas for each of the ten gods as well as others that we did not, and I suppose still do not, know about. One of the shrines was dedicated to Triton, who I know to be a banned god.
So there you have it, Oraculi. The entire experience unsettles me more than most. Who were the other gods? Why don't people know about them anymore? Where did this Necromancer receive her power and what could that mean for the future? I pray that you will give me the guidance I require to make the proper decisions regarding this tainted magic.
Ever Your Student,