Underneath an Orange Sky

Episode 2 [E.A. POV]
The Walking Dead

From the Collected Notes and Foul Papers of E.A. Underfoot: Himself
“Master Wizard here! Do you require immediate assistance?”

The Walking Dead! Necromancy most vile, I expect. And with good cause if their gnashing teeth and awful odors were to be believed. I emphasize the turn of tense as the whole pack was summarily dispatched through a clever combination of my wizarding acumen and the earnest efforts of concerned citizens. The group of unlikely cohorts who joined me in eradicating the beasts proved a critical distraction; their boldness afforded me the time to personally save the life of a wounded civilian. It was all part of the sacred responsibility that comes with the mantle of Master Wizard, naturally—but it was thrilling to see other concerned citizens try to do their part!

Ms. Jericha was on hand, naturally, and might I note that once armored she cuts a uniquely martial swath across the scene. It was all a bit brutal for my taste. I imagine her children excel at recreational sports . . .

The others on hand were a Mister Todd Vest-Lick, an alchemist with the most peculiar notions about biology, Varian, an elf with a propensity for beating things about the head and chest, and Illurian, the ill-tempered albino from the tourney.

Thanks to a divination of considerable versatility and efficacy, I was able to identify one of the recently devivified corpses as belonging to a Council Agent! Naturally, I contacted his superior straight away to report the whole incident. Diligent, I remained on hand to combat a second wave of the ravening dead that threatened a nearby quarter of the city. Ms. Jericha and Mr. Todd rallied to my side once more—brave spirits, untalented in the high arts though they are.

Mr. Todd was struck down quite tragically by one of the beasts! Thankfully I was on hand to staunch his wounds. So cross was the creature with its inability to gore through my rapidly applied tourniquet that it flung Mr. Todd clear of the fray! Why use magic when wit alone is enough to overcome such simple brutes?!

Ms. Jericha left another rather unsettling fingerprint on this scene. It was . . . messy.

“Corpus Perturbus? How apt!”

We have been invited to Eclipse! Mercy I’ve nearly eaten myself into a preparatory coma I’m so excited! I had mother wash and press my jacket, and I took especially care to coif, as this dinner is being held in my honor! It seems the man I saved was none other than Finneas Marshall. Of course I don’t expect individual acclaim, as my motives were born purely out of my social obligations as Master Wizard. I do hope they’ll respect the dignity of my post and avoid special awards or honors . . .

I made a quick stop by the civil servant’s station to meet with the mages responsible for combating the revenant-related fires within the city. As I was instrumental in saving their lives, they offered me assistance in the research of a new a powerful spell! This spell is specifically crafted to disrupt the negative energy flows of the living dead, and conceiving of its utility was quite a stroke even for myself. While it is technically necromatic in origin, I have carefully seen to it that only positive energy is involved in the channeling, making it more akin to an evocation. Naturally, this subtle weaving of the magical flow renders out any potential ecological impacts traditionally associated with necromancy. I stand as proof positive that such dark arts can be brought into the right and proper light! The station head was particularly helpful. It has once again proven invaluable to be among the few illucidated thinkers in the community.

A napkin discarded atop the banquet table at Eclipse. The handwriting is a scrawl, the text in Latin, and of the obviously lengthy musing only one excerpt can be deciphered:

In the tummy or on the face
Hoch Poch Hoch Poch the live long day!
Stews and sweets and the drinks with frills:
Sweet like syrup a taste that kills!

In the mood for some food thats great?
Get to Eclipse on Hoch Poch day!
Like to dine in a place with style?
Come to Eclipse and stay a while!

So Ratus Opera heed my call:
Eclipse is the place for us all!
No Right Thinker can deny
The price is right for girls and guys!

“Try the ones . . . the ones with the little umbrellas!”

Unfortunately I seem to have disremembered a large portion of dinner. I distinctly recall Master Illurian being fond of biscuits. Likewise I remember, albeit tenuously, a bout of most dreadful nausea. Beyond this I am rather at a loss . . . Mr. Todd was kind enough to provide a multipurpose curative to relive my unforeseen bout of over-imbibery. It was quite effective (for an alchemical concoction), though it did leave me with a bit of the dry mouth.

As near as I could tell upon my return from the facilities, something was afoot. I thought it quite a scandal that the guest of honor should be left uninformed of the precise circumstances surrounding his own party, but before I could adequately articulate my frustration I found myself hurrying off with Mr. Todd to conduct a thorough investigation of the née revenants.

I am still unclear as to the precise reason as to why Mr. Todd was in possession of these bodies . . . But his farmhouse was quite quaint! His decor was a bit moded, and I could have done without the chemicals stacked all about; I don’t mean to sound superstitious, but Mr. Todd has demonstrated that his mundane amalgams have quite the explosive potential! It is enough to make visiting a bit stressful.

As far as his theories are concerned, Mr. Todd is quite unorthodox. By I believe his heart is in the right place. He captures that populist bohemian Zeitgeist that you read about in pamphlets. I shall make it a priority of mine to offer a bit of credible guidance to his little projects.

“That seems like an awful lot of shovel work, Mister Todd.”

Dread Necromancy! With my analysis complete, I have determined that the culprit behind the invading forces of the living dead is a necromancer, wielding divine magics of an order of potency no lower than the fifth! Whisking this information back to the rest of my impromptu cohorts, I discovered that they had already accepted a mission of some import on my behalf (a lesser Wizard may have taken offense at their presumption, but I took the gesture in its spirit: a passing Master Wizard is an ally to be coveted, how could they not desire my aid?). Master Illurian was very persuasive on the subject of prioritizing the new mission over my own findings . . . Thought I suspect his own ambitions lie somewhere along the lines of the material and hedonistic.

It was the revelation that our mission was to track down a missing Summoner that allowed my superior insight to reach this most horrific of understandings: a twisted summoner and a dread necromancer each in Severmill could be no coincidence! And if the summoner is missing, clearly he has run afoul of his necromatic cohort. The key to unraveling this plot lies in finding this illicit summoner. As Master Illurian noted, that also nets a tidy profit . . . And there are, after all, a number of new spells that would prove useful in thwarting a necromancer . . . We begin investigation first thing in the morning! Immediately following first breakfast.

~E.A. UNDERFOOT, Msr. Wizard, A.B.D.

Episode 1 [Jericha POV]
The Festival of Samhain

SYNOPSIS: In which Jericha White recounts her perspective of the Festival of Samhain and peculiar occurrences on its eve.

~ * ~

Nessa’s funeral was yesterday.

I was somewhat surprised that Septimus even showed up. Apparently old Bill wasn’t lying through his teeth when he told me that my daughter’s husband is working to improve his lifestyle. I can’t bring myself to forgive him completely, though, for his renaissance comes too late. Were he not drunk that night, my daughter might yet live. I gave him money to pay rent and keep the kids fed until he acquires a job. I still think Conrad should squire to a local knight.

…Her favorite color was yellow.

The Festival of Samhain was interesting this year. Strange to go alone. Decided to stay at a local halfling establishment. Halflings are good for the heart. The little people have a natural effervescence that lifts my spirits and brings me joy even in the darkest of times. I came upon a peculiar young halfling. “E.A. Underfoot, master wizard!” he said upon introduction, dapper as a chipmunk.

I sat by him in the stands during the fencing Tournament.

The Tournament had gone on for several matches when E.A. Underfoot began to act even more peculiarly than usual. He sensed an evil magical presence. I followed his eyes into the stands opposite us. A hooded man rushed to leave. Thinking that perhaps dark magic had been used to cheat in some way, I moved to alert the Tournament adjudicator. But in my impatience I neglected to hear the halfling’s full explanation. The crowd impeded me. The hooded man disappeared.

I ate a consolatory bacon puff, but I will not soon forget the suspicious hooded man.

I have little skill with fencing (and some have made the argument that I haven’t much skill with my greatsword, either). Still I know skill when I see it. The contestants were slow and dull – with he exception of one. He was a tall, imposing man. An elf. Dark as midnight and as ominous as a thundercloud boiling over. I didn’t catch his name when it was announced. He made clear quickly the content of his character. His final victory was punctuated by ramming the pommel of his blade into his fallen opponent’s exposed wrist.

After the Tournament was the famed fireworks display. Apparently Mr. Underfoot was providing the event; I sat with the matron of the halfling bed-and-breakfast. The fireworks were impressive.

… a memory. Her little hand, sticky with the honeyed buns she had been eating earlier, grips mine with white-knuckled excitement as the fireworks sparkle in the night sky.

The screams of terrified citizens interrupted the show. People swarmed willy nilly. I rushed back to the inn to equip Joachim’s armor. It is a strange thing when a woman realizes that armor has become more comfortable and natural to her than a dress! When I returned to the scene of panic, some strange hunched cannibals were feeding on the dead. Upon corpses! Like ravening wolves on a carcass. Bile rises in my throat recalling it.

Mr. Underfoot was engaged in combat. He was not alone. There was a bizarre man with a stovepipe hat almost as tall as my greatsword is long. Glowing green goggles obscured his eyes and immediately I recalled the hooded man.

Could it be?

I pondered this as I cut down the cannibalistic man-beasts. My aim today was good. The training I’ve engaged in has proven its worth. A familiar-looking elf engaged in direct fisticuffs with one of my targets. To my surprise he was not mad. Nor was he incompetent – his fists were quicker than a hailstorm. Still, there is only so much a fist can do. My patience thinned and I cut the flesh-eater down. It would have been polite of me to give the elf the kill, but I saw more of the corrupted approaching. There wasn’t time for battlefield etiquette.

It is difficult to recount battles in which I have been a participant. I act quickly in combat, using the primitive part of my brain that yearns to conquer and defeat. To stab and make bleed. The means are irrelevant. In the end Mr. Underfoot, the slender goggled man, the elves, and I defeated the cannibal corpse-men. Mr. Underfoot saved a dying man. We take a breather. I can see the town guard approaching us to assist.

Better late than never, I always say.

~ * ~


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