As rememebered by Birel Windchaser.
Things were falling into place – we had the helmet, the ritual book, and the general. What we didn’t have was any idea how to cleanse the Black Wash, but we did a good enough job of pretending we knew what we were doing that no one seemed to notice.
Akkad seemed sullen during most of the journey, but Bost and Zuri were able to draw him into conversation, and Dazeel started up with some nonsense about battling the dragon (which was a bit far-fetched even for her, but at least it passed the time). At one point Akkad drew out the Golden Lion awarded him for his victories, and to my astonishment the phrase “Golden Lion” was not symbolic – the lion figurine that was actually made out of gold, large enough to be worth more than entire trade caravans. Urik must be more wealthy than I’d realized to be able to bestow such lavish gifts.
After traveling some distance into the Black Wash we found what we were looking for – the parched earth cracked open all around us and we found ourselves surrounded by undead Urikite soldiers, with Drewet at their center.
The next few moments remain somewhat unclear to me—I struck savagely at what I thought was my enemy, but when my blow landed my trikal had found not the pulp of rotting flesh, but the shell of Dazeel’s carapace. Drewet had cast some charm of confusion, and as I regained my senses I heard her yell “You threw it away!” as her bronze helm was proffered to her. Akkad was struck dumb, gazing despondently at Drewet, and whenever anyone else approached she swatted us away like flies, never taking her gaze off Akkad.
Even more strangely, the soldiers surrounding us did not attack, but silently stood their ground. We tried dispatching a few, but new soldiers crawled out of the earth to take the place of the fallen. We could not leave the battlefield, but at least we were in no direct danger from the horde.
Finally realizing that the only way to resolve this was to break the standoff between Akkad and Drewet, I shouted at the general to give up the Golden Lion, thinking that the gesture might satisfy the undead’s grudge. After hesitating Akkad complied, throwing the trophy at Drewet’s feet, but by then it was too late—she barely glanced at it, disregarding the treasure as if it were some worthless trinket. Incited either by magic or guilt, when the general finally raised his khopesh it was to strike at Bost. As if responding to a message in a language known only to Mul warriors, Bost struck back, but the exchange seemed like not a battle, but a ritual. A single strike was enough to end the general’s life, and as her former lover died fighting her enemy, Drewet, as well as her silent entourage, burst into flames which dispersed almost instantly into the scorching air. With one blow Bost laid to rest both the undead army and its un-living general.
While none of us completely understood the events of that day (or of the battle years past), we all felt confident that the haunting of the Black Wash we were engaged to investigate was over. Not only that, but we still had the ritual book we’d been hired to procure, Drewet’s helm, Akkad’s khopesh, and golden lion worth a fortune. Unfortunately, we also had the corpse of Urik’s most famous and beloved general, the details of whose passing would not be well received. We would have to plan our next steps very carefully.