It was hot, that day. Hot for a late summer afternoon. Hot for the Sword Coast. Hot by any stretch of the word, hot for any peasant or smithy or nobleman. But for us, us six lying flat on our stomachs in the wilds south of Beregost, it was infernal. The bugs bore down on us, armor feeling like it was made of lead. My mail was dusty and sweat soaked. All of us lay flat on our stomachs in a line, mostly hidden behind a small hill. To my right, Khalid shifted. He saw exactly what I did, what we faced. It made us all uneasy, watching Bassilius. He seemed perfectly happy, drinking from a waterskin and chatting with his 'family'. I fidgeted, my shield chafing my arm. I remembered Footy.
Poor Footy, kid never had a chance. He came out here to play, only to find this mad cleric raising hell...in the most literal sense of the word. He saw his older brother's corpse among the many walking dead that Bassilius surrounded himself with. I urged him to run to Beregost, to run and not stop until he was home. Instead, he wandered off with a smile on his face to continue playing this 'game'. Innocence and guilt were so hard to discern, that day. Footy could have ran home, told everyone where Bassilius was...but he didn't. He just sat, and watched the man defile the dead. Me and my friends, we could have died, and no one would have been the wiser.
Minsc scooted over, whispered to me, "At least three zombies, and a dozen skeleton bowmen. Boo is unhappy with the situation. He demands justice for this horror."
Xan all but groaned aloud in despair. He fidgeted. He sighed. I saw Jaheria just about crank her hand back to give him one upside the head. As much as he threatened to give us away, he was a competent mage and excellent friend. Suddenly, I spotted movement beyond the mad cleric. It was Footy, in the woods, watching and smiling. Even from across the glade, we heard him slip and crush a branch underfoot. Then again, the only sounds in the clearing were the moaning of the dead and Bassilisus's ranting. Even the birds refused to go near him.
Bassilius stood, hefting his hammer and shield.
"Who is that? Who's there? Who dares disturb me while I talk to my family? I'll have your heads if you..." he called out into the woods.
Everyone froze. I cursed, struggled to to my feet. I could feel Imoen and Jaheria's hands grabbing at my pants. I advanced, shield ready and mace in hand into the scorching sunlight. Bassilius gasped as he saw me, voice trembling.
"No, it can't be! Is it really you, father? It cannot be otherwise, you haven't changed in years!"
Well, this certainly isn't going to end well, I thought to myself. I took a slow step forward.
"Uhh...yes, my son. It certainly HAS been a long time. How are uh, are you doing, my boy?"
"As well as could be expected, I guess. It's been difficult, but I managed to get most of the family back together. Some of them couldn't remember me...but I helped them recall."
I saw Jaheria and Imoen, circling around behind him, hiding behind the standing stones. My mace was slippery in my hands as I struggled for words, the leather slick with sweat. All their sightless eyes were upon me.
"Uhh, no matter. I've not seen you seen Zhentil Keep. Thank..uhh..the gods that we all got out safely."
One foot in front of the other. Step by step. He was only fifteen feet away. I heard shuffling in the background, the creak of bone on bone behind me. There went my chance to retreat.
"Yes, though it was frightening for a time because I thought I was the only one who survived. I thought I was the only one...the only one of us who..."
I saw confusion in his eyes, realization. Twelve feet between us. The archers would cut me down before I took two steps. I tensed. Sweat was pouring down my back, into my eyes.
"You lie. You LIE! You cannot be my father! He died when I left...when I..."
Ten feet. Imoen had an arrow nocked, the string undrawn. She wouldn't be able to save me from the archers, even if she killed Bassilius. I could see the fear in Jaheria's eyes. There was nothing left to lose. I finished his sentence, filling myself with Lathander's holy wrath.
"When you ran away from home and left them to die? You are a coward and a murderer, and today you face judgment!"
His face contorted with anger, and we all felt a wave of guilt and madness wash over us. The skeletons collapsed around me, zombies falling to the ground. The clearing was now covered in mounds of rotting flesh and piles of bone and dust.
"No, they lived, all of them! I saved them all and they live! I...I ran."
A confession. Minsc and Khalid were charging to my side, heavy footfalls a relief to my ears. I heard Xan starting a spell. Imoen was aiming. Jaheria was leaping to her feet. I was lurching into a run, chainmail weighing me down.
"Dead, all dead."
"No! It cannot be! It isn't true!You lie! You...you will die for slighting my memory!"
Six feet. He began summoning the wrath of his dread god. I wasn't going to be able to stop him, I braced myself...only to see Imoen's arrow lodge in his back. He cried out, but the mass of energy had already been unleashed. Minsc and Khalid were paralyzed behind me, helpless. Magic missiles flew from the woods, pummeling him, and I knew Xan would be there, supporting us from afar as he readied a throwing dagger. Bassilius was an excellent fighter, and deflected my first strike off his shield. Unfortunately for him, Jaheria's two-handed staff strike knocked his helmet off. He lashed out at her, his hammer catching her in the upper arm. She cried out as electricity flowed through the wound, her arm broken. That proved his fatal mistake. I swung at his head as hard as I could, taking him in the back of the head with a horizontal sweep of my bludgeon. I did not stop clubbing him until his head was a stump at the end of his shoulders.
We all collapsed from the heat. Jaheria nursed her arm, setting down her staff as she looked at the wound. Minsc pancaked out on the makeshift bench, clearing bones and a crossbow off of it. We all lay there, sweaty masses.
"Hey, are you going to look at this? I can't heal myself now, you know," Jaheria called out to me.
"Yes, fine, fine."
I walked over, calling upon Lathander to heal her as she bit her lip and helped be set her bone.
"Th-that was extremely brave of you. G-gorion would be proud," Khalid said. Energy surged through Jaheria's arm, knitting the bone together again.
"Thank you...you FOOL! You could have been KILLED! It is a miracle you weren't!" Jaheria started yelling, grabbing me by the throat. Everyone laughed, and we made camp that night under the stars.