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126 DULLAHAN!

 Congratulations!

Your underling has achieved a rare evolution: {Dullahan}

You can now recruit this new type of Undead

+20 000 CP!

From the Necronomicon:

{Dullahans} are Undead who were decapitated and then forcibly separated from their heads, experiencing intense pain, loss, and suffering. Because of this they are filled with madness and particularly resent the living.

If a Dullahan successfully recovers its head it will guard it jealousy, carrying it under its arm and never letting it go, fearful of losing it again.

The only time a Dullahan doesn't carry its head in its arms is during battle, when it is forced to place its head back on its neck. The risk of losing its head from its neck again enrages the Dullahan to no end and its ferocity becomes unparalleled.

"Yes!" Dave was happy for the new class of Undead, eager to find out what the mad little buggers could do.

He was relieved he'd found a way to heal his Undead too. But, then he looking at the dunlords HP he was brought back down to harsh reality. They were his shocktroops. First to jump into the meat-grinder, if he couldn't find a way to bring their vitality back, whatever it might be, he would suffer attrition in battle. And he didn't have enough of the heavy-duty dudes.

"How am I going to heal these guys..." Dave pondered for a bit, then pulled a health potion from his inventory.

He had a ton of them from the undead shop.

"Hey!" he got the attention of one of the dunlords with more severely depleted HP and tossed the vial to it, the dunlord snatched it out of the air and stood there with it in hand, looking back at Dave.

"Drink it, you dork!"

Without hesitation the dunlord threw the entire thing, glass, cork, potion and all down his gullet and stared back at Dave.

Then the behemoth burped delicately and Dave couldn't help it he giggled like a girl. Damn he was glad Lone wasn't here for that little bit of un-manliness.

More importantly, the dunlord's HP was going up!

"So, healing potions work. Using them will be okay for now, a temporary solution. But when the battalion numbers grow it's giong to be impossible, the costs and the logistics of getting all those healing potions in the Underworld are not feasible."

Dave made a mental note to ask Delvina how she handled healing her troops.

Dave paused the march and ordered all the casters to heal the rest of the Undead. He personally took care of the dunlords, tossing potions to them. The scorpion troops took to catching the vials in their mouths instead of their hands, it was eerie to see the vials disappear into whatever was hidden under their shemaghs. He felt like a circus lion-tamer tossing steaks to big cats.

When they reached where the tunnels split, they rotated the dunlord guards out and then started slowly moving down the second branch of the mine.

They were pretty far along the tunnel, without any sign of enemies, Dave became more and more impatient as they moved deeper into the mine's tunnel system.

"What is going on, where are all the loot-bags for us to kill?" Dave kept wondering.

Dog the former zombie turned Dullahan had moved up to march alongside Dave on Stinger, but suddenly the headless Undead galloped ahead of the Battalion without orders.

Stinger, lifted his ballista and aimed it at the awol battalion member.

"Wait," said Dave keeping his eyes on the strange new Undead.

Dog the Dullahan stopped abruptly at some unseen prompt , his head still clutched under one arm, sword in the other. Deftly, he flipped the sword over into an icepick grip, reared back hilt-hand high over his head and plunged the blade into the ground. Then the headless Undead started moving the sword around, delicately, like a diviner dowsing for water or a fly-fisherman playing his lure.

Suddenly, he heaved his sword back out like he'd gotten a bite and was pulling out a big catch. Sure enough the ground mounded up from underneath then was pushed open and a skeleton burrowed its way out. It scrambled to its bony feet and came to rigid attention in front of the dullahan, leaving a pile of disturbed dirt behind.

A new unit has joined your army.

Skeleton level 45.

"Uhhhh, whut...?" Not that Dave was complaining about an addition to his Undead force, but he was at a loss as to how it happened.

He Inspected the Dullahan to see if there was a clue about the bizarre occurrence.

Dullahan

Level 102

Damage

500-800

Elite Undead.

Dullahans are decapitated undead full of madness and resentment against the living.

Addendum:

Because Dullahan's are particularly attuned to Death they can sense the barest spark of Undeath. This allows them to find nascent Undead and bring them forth to full Undeath, gaining their allegiance.

'But, that isn't necromancy, not quite. So, what is the deal here?'

Well, no time to waste, he would try to figure it out as they moved.

"You! New guy, go join the rear guard!" Dave ordered the new skeleton, pointing his thumb over his shoulder.

Instead it obeying the order the skeleton simply looked back at the draugr defiantly. Until Dog the dullahan smacked the back of the skeletons skull and gestured angrily at it to go to the back of the battalion.

The skeleton looked crestfallen, but immediately complied , rubbing at the back of its skull as it slunk to the back of the formation.

Dave chuckled and shook his head at the antics and ordered the battalion move on.

He kept thinking over the strange occurrence but couldn't come up with a deeper, better explanation than what his Inspection told him. So he shrugged and dismissed it from his mind. It wasn't worth worrying over right now.

The Dullahan continued to periodically race out ahead of the Undead column and repeat the first 'recruiting' performance. Dog revived more and more skeletons, which all joined the battalion and were assigned to the rear guard.

Finally the end of the tunnel came into sight. Just as before a dunlord scouted the entrance and signaled it was safe for Dave to come and look.

Dave looked carefully past the tunnel end into a large circular room. Spaced at even intervals were five large openings closed with heavy doors made of metal.

Dave's gaze wandered the room.

There was a pile of Blood-Stone mounded in the center of the room. Channels were carved into the stone floor around the pile of bloody hued rock, making oddly decorative patterns.

Returning his attention to the doors he saw that each had a different symbol carved into the metal. He quickly Inspected each of the doors hoping for something useable.

"Those are runes!" But he didn't get any other information or prompts about the runes. So they were probably just representations of the real thing.

A drop of lava fell on the pile of bloodstone from the ceiling. The molten lava in turn melted away some of the Blood-Stone. The red liquid that resulted then trickled down onto the floor and toward the pattern of channels.

Looking up, Dave saw structures like inverted aqueducts, or 'lava-ducts' in this case, converging at the center of the ceiling. All but one of them was blocked by debris from stalactites. Presumably, they would normally deliver lava to the stone pile in the middle of the room, enough lava to fill the carvings on the ground with the liquid glowing red product.

"Everyone back away," Dave ordered as he summoned a spectral skull.

The spectral skull flew up to the ceiling and on command it detonated right next to the mound of stalactite debris blocking one of the lavaducts.

The target cannot be destroyed by this Skill or Ability!

"Weird... this pile of Blood Stones won't melt for years with only the dribs and drabs that are falling.Why would the game system make a broken mechanism like this, then give me a quest that requires it to work right now if the thing won't be ready for years as it is?"

Then Dave remembered Alfred saying the Underworld wasn't supposed to be unlocked until the average level of players was 500. Given the amount of time it would take for all those players to reach level 500, this whole pile of blood-stones would definitely be melted and the glyph activated by then.

'But some schmuck came along and ruined poor Alfie's plans, and got things started too soon. Ha ha ha, the joke's on Alfred!'

But that didn't help him here and NOW.

He needed to "git 'er done," whatever it --this stupid puzzle-- was and whatever the original time-frame and conditions were.

"I need to finish the extermination quest, but I'm stuck if I can't get through this. I should probably report what I found here to Du'Rhaza. No need to waste time just standing here banging my head against the doors."

Just when Dave was about to order his troops to retreat, an idea occurred to him. He opened his spell-slots and looked at a spell that he's obtained recently.

"This might do the trick!"

He faced the pile of stones and cast the spell. His mouth opened wider than normally possible, like a snake unhinging its jaw, and a concentrated ray of fire shot out at the pile of Blood Stones.

It was the Sworn Stalwart's Ray of Flame, which had a passive effect that melted rock. This was Dave's one possible chance to liquify the Blood-Stones.

The ray penetrated the stones, which made them sizzle like meat just dropped on a barbeque grill, super-heating them so they started to bubble and drip the hot red liquid down into the channels at a greatly increased rate.

The liquid rapidly filled the channels and moved through them into the glyphs carved in the stone floor. The glowing red liquid spread across the floor running along the carved patterns and then climbed upwards toward each of the Runes carved into the five doors.

Once all five Runes were completely filled and glowing brightly, Dave stopped his spell.