The small caravan of 5 people, 2 carts, a donkey, and a horse had come to a stop during his tale. Delph questioned Tsen asking what kind of injuries they had sustained. Tsen said he had only seen them bloodied and torn to pieces and left outside the house. “We have to get back there!” he almost cried. The emotion in his voice sounded genuine. The caravan picked up speed and followed Tsen the 45 minutes back to the farm he had discovered.
Upon reaching the farm it was clear something terrible had befallen the residents. Chickens and pigs milled around unpinned. The body of an adult was left in several pieces in front of the main door and a smaller body was visible inside the pin. Tsen said this was as close as he had ventured before returning for us earlier. We all carefully approached the house on the lookout for traps or enemy. We divided to investigate the bodies closer up. Upon inspection the girl’s body seemed to have been exposed to some sort of terrible poison. It was contorted and covered in pox without any sign of blood. The man, on the other hand, was ripped arm from arm and deep lacerations crossed his chest and face. It looked like something had flayed the skin while he was alive. Blood covered everything soaked through his torn clothes and matted with the dirt. Several chickens pecked at the corpse.
Upon entering the house we saw the wife and two small children slain in viscous means with long deep slashes such as swords or axes would leave. Intestines lay scattered on the floor with two pigs eating on them. Blood soaked the floor and the house smelled of bile.
Tsen insisted we needed to bury the bodies. He did not say if it was out of religious belief, superstition, or fear of what demonic powers had attacked them. But it seemed the sensible thing to do. We all dug graves for the five bodies and Delph said some prayers bidding his god to protect them in the next life. Felinor drew his long sword and took one knee in the sign of prayer to Iomedae bidding that she let justice find their killers.
As the light of day was fading and the shadows from the woods reached across the farm yard a noise of chanting came from the wood line. In half a moment five skeletons began crawling out of the ground. Their skeletal hands reaching for our feet and hampering us from retreating. Five more zombies rose out of the fresh graves and began clawing at our clothes and reaching for our arms and necks with rotting, fleshy hands. Korzan called out that it was  Vortigern, a rival apprentice whom he had known and who worked for a friend of his master. Vortigern with the raven who might have been following us and Vortigern, it appeared, was quite powerful to be an apprentice!
I shouted to my companions to get to the shelter of the farm house in hope of minimizing their attacking from multiple angles. I took a swing at the nearest zombie child with my sword but miss as I have a hard time thinking of this child we just buried as a monster. I ran for the door. I only made it to the opening as a nearby skeleton reached out and hit me with his rusted axe across my arm and shoulder. It bit deep as the rusted weapon tore through my cloth padding. I then saw Felinor sprint for the other door while making a shot at the nearest zombie with his pistol. It had little effect at stopping the undead.
From the middle of the fray I heard Korzan cry out with pain and saw an arrow puncturing his mages robes in his chest. A skeleton near me swung his rusty axe again and I failed to block, distracted by the overwhelming scene in the fading light. Ten enemy engaged in melee combat encircled the five of us and at least one archer and a mage hid in the woods. I feared for my companions’ lives. Nearly staggered from the attack I saw Delph get hit with a similar attack. He cried out to his god and prayed for aid in this moment of unholy onslaught. I immediately felt a familiar warmth of energy slowly spreading through my body like a fire warms one’s body after a day of work in the cold. It started in my fingers and spread quickly up my arms and through my torso and then down my legs and up to my face. The deep cuts of from the axe closed to small wounds. I received the energy I need to keep my feet and face the undead.
Tsen let out a cry of pain even though I did not see the attack. He had his katana in one hand and a shield in the other. Fending off an enemy on each side. Felinor moved closer to the door of the house hoping to make a fatal funnel as they followed him in. He got hit while drawing his long sword and stowing his pistol. From across the fray Bromi grunted and retaliated with two quick flurries to the skeleton crushing its bones and it fell to the ground in a heap. A collective cry of praise went up from three people with the first enemy dead.
The fight went on for what felt like ten minutes. We exchanged melee blows with the zombies and skeletons while getting pepered from the woods by arrows and magic bolts. We did not make it into the house and nearly lost three of our party. Delph did some sort of magical attack that affected all the undead in the area. If it had not been for him we would have surely died. Thus, when he fell to the ground in combat I ran to his side and immediately poured the magical vial of healing potion from my belt. Delph has saved my life more than I can count on this adventure already and we would all be lost without him. While I was fending off foes and tending Delph, Korzan fell also. I couldn’t get to him in time and when I finally did see his body I could tell from the flow of blood that he was not able to be saved today. I did not have time to mourn just then as Bromi was hit with an arrow from the woods and fell to the ground. I feared the worst. Felinor made it to his side. I saw him bend to aid Bromi as I fended off an attack. Delph was able to cast another round of healing on us and saved me from death one more time. Tsen had not been idle and he finished off the last remaining zombie leaving just the ones in the woods. Both Tsen, Felinor, and I run for the edge of the woods dodging sporadic arrows and engaged one half-orc in combat. He dropped his bow and engaged with a nasty looking battleaxe as we closed. Tsen attacked him with a force I can only dream of matching. He slashed through the man’s shoulder and buried it in his sternum. The man bled out in seconds. The man had served his purpose, however, as we were unable to find any sign of Vortigern or the other guard who had been firing at us.
Delph examined our employer, Korzan, in greater detail and determined that even his powers were not sufficient to heal Korzan. Felinor continued to bandage Bromi and stop the bleeding. He was aware of his surroundings and in good spirits considering his near brush with death.
We mourned the loss of our employer but thought the worst was over. We were discussing searching Korzan for information when Tsen noticed that the amulet he had previously worn was nowhere around him. We quickly determined that the amulet was possibly the aim of the attack and we had not only lost our employer but also the most important object of the mission. Felinor and I dragged the dead half-orc over to the disturbed graves and we began digging again.
On his body we found a still useful set of studded leather armor, a small shield, his battle axe, a short bow with 20 more arrows, 23 gold and 16 silvers. The skeletons each had a nearly useless (but painful) rusted hand axe. We also took the time to search the house for useful items for our voyage. We would head to Fairhill and figure out what to do.
Searching the house we took inventory of items the farm family would no longer need in their next life. A worn short sword hung over the hearth, a sad reminder of some previous family member who may have been trained to protect his family. It had not been claimed in this incident leading us to suspect the family was surprised completely by their attackers. The kitchen was quite full of dried provisions, rice, corn, potatoes, some limited cured meats, and a few baskets of lettuce, turnips, and radishes. A few jars in the back had milk in various stages of producing butter and cheese. There were a few wedges of finished cheese on shelves in the cupboard. Outside there were three cows, 4 pigs, and about 30 chickens. I immediately took notice of the draft horse and light wagon that we could use to replace the fallen donkey and minimize our need for two carts.
I took the time to load up some of the food stuffs into the wagon. We caged two chickens and loaded them too but elected to leave the pigs and cows for the difficulty involved. We hitched the horse to the wagon with tack in the barn and he seemed to take it well. My guess is that his previous masters had made the trip to Fairhill on a simi-regular basis. Many of the items on the farm showed more skilled work like the plough and shovels. There was not a blacksmith forge on the farm so he would have had to trade for such items.
We unloaded Korzan’s cart into the wagon and left the cart. Felinor was happy to have Clouswitz unburdened as the harness had not fit him properly. Clouswitz stomped around in a show of excitement.
It was now rather dark as our efforts of investigating the area, burying the dead, fighting, reburying the dead, and loading the supplies had taken over three hours. Sitting around debating to leave in the dark or stay at the house for the night Felinor remarked about our progress so far. “Let’s not list this on our resume, guys.”