Restless are the Dead

Talbot Quillfeather

UP: Catskills

    It is a hideous misfortune that the restful slumber of our departed loved ones is so often interrupted by the twisted magic of necromancy. Over the years, scores of peaceful cemeteries have been looted, ravaged, and defiled by a league of grave robbers and practioners of vile magics. More often than not these interruptions of the dead’s rest result in a hastily assembled group of brave souls valiantly forcing the awakened dead back into their crypts and coffins, with a few unfortunate additions to their numbers.

The city of Moonglow, haven of sorcery and the arcane, has in the span of its existence seen the birth and death of a score of learned mages from all schools of the mystic arts causing the tombstones in its cemetery to read like the reference index for “The Encyclopedia Magicka.” Because of this, when the dead awaken in Moonglow more often than not a Liche of some power is amongst their numbers.

And so it was that in the early morning hours an aspiring group of young necromancers found themselves face to face with the desiccated remnants of Markus Druuhal, whom despite the relative level of decomposition in his body seemed more than capable of throttling one of their number with a surprising quickness for something that should have been quite dead.

Garrick Fallstone, the lone survivor and soon to be imprisoned member of the group fled the cemetery with his friends in quick pursuit; it was then he says that he noticed the trees. “They...they just began moving. Behind us we could hear the liche coming and the dead crawling out of their graves…but those moving trees stopped us dead in our tracks. It was unnatural, the way the branches flexed and waved like arms and claws - and I swear, I swear that one of the trees grew a face before my very eyes.” Garrick goes on to say that “all of a sudden Henry just exploded into flame and that got us moving again because we knew the liche was after us. I ran and ran. When I stopped to look back, one of those trees had speared poor Luis to the ground with its branches, and I swear to you it was laughing as the blood seeped around its trunk.”

Townsfolk were quick to respond. Fortunately the citizenry of Moonglow has developed a well formulated plan of defense and within minutes of Garrick’s collision with a guardsman, the town criers had alerted the populace to the threat and a band of warriors were well on their way to containing the menace within the cemetery area before the slowly creeping tide of ensorcelled trees could claim innocent lives. All accounts of the ensuing battle more or less state the same thing, summed up in a fitting statement by one of its participants, Dylan : “Skeletons everywhere and reapers, thank the Virtues for fire fields, those damn trees hurt and that’s the only safe way of killing them.”

After some hours of desperate fighting, the recently reanimated Markus Druuhal was forced back into his crypt by a heroic teamwork of magery and swordsmanship. Within minutes of the fiend’s entombment the bloodthirsty foliage returned to normal, easing the burden of containing the reapers from the militia’s shoulders and granting them free reign to join the cleanup of wandering zombies and skeletons.

As for young Garrick Fallstone, my sources in our Lord’s guard assure me that he will face the maximum civil penalty for his hand in this unfortunate event. We can only hope, as citizens, that his imprisonment will serve as a reminder to other young, overly eager students of magic to take their time and avoid shortcuts such as digging up the remains of their betters.

From the Town Cryer - The Journal of Ultima Online, Saturday, June 17th 2000