Bhut has plans to get to the money changer and buy some gems to lighten the load of coins he carries.
He finds after the excitement of the raids on Farmin and the return to Restenford that his will has failed. He finds himself in a depression, too weak to get himself out of bed.
He knows he will recover. In fact, the short stay in Restenford has helped already. Although nightmares of creeping dead still haunt him, he has begun to control his night fears better.
The inn is safe and secure. Bhut tucks in and sets aside any plans regarding the moneychanger and training Dalic for now . . . until Dalic returns and drags him to the abbey . . .
Dalic collected his coins from the Ungohling when it arrived in Restenford from Farmin. Bhut had mentioned he wanted to visit the money changer but Dalic finds him too exhausted and depressed to leave his room.
Pelltar did not have room for Dalic at his residence so Dalic takes up residence with Bhut in the inn. The duergar takes care of his human friend by bringing him meals and speaking encouraging words. It appears learning to use two weapons will be delayed a bit further.
After the other adventure group departs with Breymeer and Speck in search of the mace, Pelltar pays Dalic a visit. He carries with him a sack. The contents of which have a metallic clanging as items inside move against each other as Pelltar sets the sack down. The noise causes Bhut to roll in his sleep but does not wake the warrior.
“Dalic Steelcoat, you are not the same dwarf as the one I first met. Do you know why that may be?”
Dalic smiles a wry half grin. "Two things... maybe. I have a friend or two made in these adventurers. Even an odd one named butt. The other I thinks war an ins'dent wit a specter in tha hill of bone.
What see ye my most trusted ally?"
Pelltar answers slowly and thoughtfully. Dalic listens intently to the first man he ever trusted.
“Who you have become is not the nature of the duergar. This is a positive change if you wish to remain above ground in the sun-lit lands. It appears your path has led to this. Your path led you to Bone Hill and the meeting with the skeletal mage you found there.”
“The elves and I were able to free his soul after you told me your tale. He did not forget about your kindness. A kindness that is lost upon the rest of the duergar race. He could see in you something I also felt about you.”
“The change in you is slow in progress but undeniable. He laid upon you the power to follow your desire. He has helped guide you away from the evil of the rest of your kind. He was able to accelerate this change. Do you feel what I am describing?
Also, I have no doubt you have felt the drain of energy the touch of the grave brings upon one’s will. But fear not my stout friend, this will pass with time.”
Dalic nods indicating he understands. "I feel it. Where I be once so selfish I know I cannot look on those I hab fought alongside without concern as much for them as I meself. I be longin' ta seek new adventures with 'em and find a new excitement in explorin' matchin' mine lust for battle. Ta be true, it be odd ta say the least!"
“This is good my friend. I believe you are ready. I release you from my service if ever you felt there was a debt owed to me. Should you stay on Lendore Island, I would enjoy your company when you come through Restenford.”
“Do not be afraid of the change that is coming over you. To survive within a group such as your new friends, the change will be welcome.”
“I must go. There is much to attend to of late. I wish you well. The bag and its contents are yours to keep. The elves have given it to you, believe it or not. They thought such a noble deed as your concern for the dead wizard’s freedom should not go unrewarded.”
“Not to mention, I don’t think it suits their palate as much as yours.”
Pelltar gives Dalic a slight nod that bestows a true respect. He turns on his heel and leaves as Dalic ignores the mist forming in his eye and focuses on his sense of pride for his accomplishment. Thankfully, Bhut yet sleeps and does not see the emotional dwarf.
Dalic picks up the bag and opens it. Inside are the silver pitcher, silver platter and silver mug from the desk drawer in the dead wizard’s chamber. The very ones that produced food and drink for Dalic in the dungeon below Bone Keep. A very nice gift indeed.
He sets the silver setting on the table and begins attempt to get it to work. Simply by stating what he wishes, to a certain degree, it appears. He calls for water in the pitcher for Bhut. Ice cold water appears in the pitcher. He calls for a platter of beef. A roast, potatoes and carrots appears, hot and fresh. Finally, in the mug he calls for ale and ale appears.
Full and happy, he east and then cleans up his new treasure.
As he is resting after the meal, there is a knocking upon his chamber door.
Dalic finds Krelar, the warrior-priest from the abbey. Krelar accompanied Dalic to Farmin during the original investigation of town.
“I am wondering if you would accompany me on a short foray?”
Dalic nods attempting to hold in a belch from his meal. He looks back to Bhut and decides to let Pelltar’s staff know to look in on him if Dalic is away long. Krelar agrees to stop by Pelltar’s residence and give them the instructions.
“Come. I will get you a meal before we begin.” Krelar and Dalic go to Falco’s Tavern for a meal. Krelar lays down a few coins.
Before their meal is ended. Kuba enters having just finished with some militia training. He walks over, pays for an ale, and joins the two in conversation. Kuba is familiar with Krelar from his previous adventure.
While the three talk, and Dalic has an after-meal beverage, Meira Rovanith, the elven forest warrior, enters the inn. Knowing very few people in town, she walks over to the two humans and the dwarf.
“It appears my halfling companion has taken to adventure on. Care if I join you?” she asks. Once seated, she orders honeyed bread and jam.
Krelar looks at the three adventurers, “Dalic here is going to accompany me on a small quest. You two are welcome to come as well. I know not what dangers, if any, lurk at our destination, but the more of us, the safer we shall be.”
Meira and Kuba quickly join forces with the warrior priest and the dwarf.
Dalic is already dressed into his plate mail armor and equipped for battle. His bastard swords are with him, Honor (Blade of Dulgar) and Victory (Delven Bastard). Kuba has newly purchased chain mail armor on and his weapons, the Bloodletter, a dagger and axe, at his side. He still sports injury from the raid on Farmin where he took several serious blows. They are bandaged and his health appears well enough. Meira wears studded leather armor and carries a long sword, bow and hand axe.
Meira takes leave to get her bow and Kuba does the same. Krelar asks them to meet at the end of the docks on the southern side of the river. There is an old abandoned guard shack there.
Doing as told, the group reunites back at the docks near the guard shack. It is the 12th of Patchwall. The skies are clear and a strong sea breeze brings warm air over the town. Dalic curses under his breath the brightness of the skies.
Krelar points to the guard shack. There is a shell of a burned-out guard station, long ago destroyed. The building is mainly stone but the roof was wooden. It was burned through on the western portion of the building. The rest of the roof, although in very poor condition, remains in place.
“There have been fanciful rumors of this guard shack for years. It was destroyed in a raid when I was but a child. It has been rat infested since. Baron Grellus never cared enough to do anything about it so things stayed the way they were.”
“Almon, serving as interim Abbot, has received a troubling complaint from one of the local fisherman living in these here cottages.” He points to a row of poor cottages along the river that are inhabited by fisherman and dock workers. They are in various condition from poor to good.
“One of the men here approached the Phaulkon Abbey seeking out Curate Almon. The fisherman met with Curate Almon and swore to him his comments were true. There appeared to be no lie in the man, only fear. One would assume him gone made if not for the troubles at Bone Hill and the evil altar in the basement there.”
“The fisherman claimed this to be true: He awoke late one eve, not long before the raid on Restenford. He went out to relieve himself when he saw an immense dark horse standing before the burned out shack. A dark figure exited the shack and mounted the horse. It rode silently down the street before him. It and its rider were jet black. The horse’s eyes were glowing red and flames shot from its nostrils when it snorted. Its hooves silently struck the ground giving off sparks and small flames. The animal lifted into the air and seemed to gallop away; riding on the air alone.”
“The fisherman did not report the incident for fear of being found insane. But now, two of his children are missing and he fears the boys may have entered the guard shack. They have been gone since the 10th. He has asked the church for mercy in searching the shack for his children. When refused, he told his story.”
“Curate Almon believes the children probably crawled into one of the giant rat holes that are found in that area. However sad it may be, they may have met their end in the curious searching of pre-teen boys.”
“Curate Almon has tasked me to see if there is anything to the dark horse story. The town is very weak and we cannot afford to let any new evil muster; especially so close to town.”
The guard house was a large building; 80 feet by 80 feet. The building sits at the end of the road that passes the docks on the southern shore, across the Restin River from the docks and warehouses by Pelltar’s house.
The entrance door faces north and remains intact. The guard shack is known to have holes in the block walls on the west, south and east sides.
Meira holds the group in place. “I shall scout around the exterior stealthily and report any oddities. I can inspect the places of entrance to figure out which would be best.”
The two men and the dwarf hold the place and allow the elf to sneak up. She is very quiet.
She walks up the path to the front door and then works her way around the building counter-clockwise. She spends some time inspecting each hole in the wall and the ground nearby. After walking the circumference of the building carefully, she returns and updates the party.
The front door is closed. She is unsure if it will open or not. There are no horse tracks and the recent snow and storms have erased any detectable sign of man tracks. She cannot confirm the fisherman’s story.
The west hole is the largest hole. Here the roof is burned away, mainly to the north end of the hole. The hole opens into two rooms. A door is intact between the armory and the barracks. A second door in the barracks leads to the center of the guard house.
The southern chamber is the old armory. It holds racks of weapons. Most are empty. What remains are a few bows, spears, axes and pole arms. They look to be in poor condition.
The northern chamber is an old barracks. This room was destroyed by fire. Nothing of value remains. The cots were destroyed in the fire and anything else has been removed.
The hole in the southern wall leads to a cell chamber. The cell itself is generally intact but the cell door has been destroyed. The remaining bars in the cell are rusty but intact. The rest of the chamber is intact. A door leads to the center of the building and a second door leads to the east.
The hole in the east wall leads to the main entrance chamber. The interior was gutted by fire. Rat tracks are present moving in and out of the room. There appears to be no rats in the chamber. The tracks are a few days old. They appear to wander off towards the river.
Dalic expresses his interest in pushing into the interior through the largest hole to evaluate the guard house closer.
Kuba walks to the front door while Dalic circles around to the west, slipping into the hole and looking at the armory and barracks. Kuba knocks and then opens the front door. From where the two warriors stand, they can cover the vast majority of the guard house. The only two rooms they cannot see are the chamber with the cell and whatever lies beyond the door in that chamber.
Kuba takes a quick look around for any dangers and moves in towards the door on the west wall. He holds Bloodletter and his shield in hand.
Meira calls over Kuba’s shoulder as he enters, “I suggest that if the only area left to explore is through the large hole, we should go join Dalic.”
Krelar offers, “I will go with Kuba, you can follow Dalic in.”
And they do just that. Meira follows the dwarf into the west hole. They are checking around the room when the east door opens. After the initial start, Dalic and Meira realize it is Kuba with Krelar behind him.
The weapons in the armory appear old, warped and generally in poor or useless condition. The barracks appears to have been looted of anything of value that survived the fire. Kuba and Krelar report the same for the main entrance.
After kicking around some rubble and ash, the party finds nothing of interest. The only areas now unexplored are the cell chamber and whatever lies behind the east door therein.
Dalic is generally unimpressed with the findings and gestures with a tilt of his head to explore the cell room.
Meira agrees but convinces the group to enter through the hole in the wall as opposed to opening the door. He volunteers to lead and brings the group back around to the south end of the building. She draws her sword and axe when she reaches the opening.
Kuba and Dalic prepare themselves for trouble and Krelar takes the final position. He has his flail ready.
The group enters and finds no opposition. As their eyes adjust to the dimness of the room, much to Dalic’s delight, Meira discovers something she had missed in the dark room.
Two sets of footprints, shoed or booted, enter the room from the hole. Any sign of the prints outside had been taken away by the weather. The creature(s) that made the footprints were bipeds with elf sized feet. The shoe impressions would be consistent with the local peasantry.
The cell is empty.
The foot tracks mill about the room here and there. The foot tracks end at the closed eastern door.
Krelar and Dalic share a glance and Krelar nods to the door. The party forms up to enter. Meira finds the door unlocked. She opens the door and Dalic and Kuba rush past her followed by Krelar. Meira follows the men inside. Still no opposition is encountered.
The room appears to have once been a bedroom. A bed, table, chairs and a four-drawer chest are still here. All are rotted. The chest drawers have been pulled open, recently it appears. They are empty. A rotted rug is rolled up on the southeast corner. The floor where the rug once was is clear of debris. It appears the rug was rolled very recently. The foot tracks mill about this room as well. It is apparent whatever entered the room rutted around for some time in the debris.
There appears to be no other way out of the room yet the foot tracks do not exit through the portal the party just entered from.
Kuba thinks outloud, “Could there be a trap door where the rug was?”
Meira follows the footprints over to the area that was previously covered by the rug. The tracks appear to end here. She gets down on her knees and begins searching the floor. It takes just a moment for her to respond, “There is a nearly imperceptible trap door in the floor here. If I can just figure out how to trigger it.”
Meira investigates the area for just a few more seconds when her knee depresses a trigger switch. A audible click signals a locking mechanism has been freed.
Dalic makes and observation, “Rats would not conceal a trap door, nor use it. We must be at the ready.”
Meira switches weapons to her bow and covers the trap door. Nocking an arrow, she asks, “Who would like to open the trap door?”
Kuba asks, “Can it be safely opened? Can you detect any traps?” He’s kind of missing his little halfling friend right now.
Dalic glances at each other member of the party and gestures with a dagger drawn from a concealed sheath on his chest armor indicating he will try to access the trap door and for them to step back a bit. “Distance yerselves in case there be a trap tied to the door.” He moves over to the door.
Krelar moves with Dalic, flail in hand. He stands to the opposite side as Dalic giving Meira a clear shot should she need one.
Dalic begins to work at the door by prying at the edges with his dagger. He has no luck. He curses at it with no better outcome. He pouts and grumbles a bit spouting words like, “Open. Release. Enter.” He errantly tries knocking a few times. Finally, Dalic changes tactics and tries pushing down on the door.
He finds it is spring loaded and pushes down with some resistance. He pushes the trap door downwards several inches. It is completely dark below. Dalic, with his duergar eyes, can see a steel ladder extends straight down below the door. The ladder is occupied.
In a flash of movement, the creature on the ladder catches the alert duergar off guard. A human skeleton reaches out of the darkness and grabs onto Dalic’s face through his helmet. Its bony nails scratch into his skin (2, 46/48).
Meira lets loose an arrow at the skeletal arm grasping Dalic. The arrow skips off the floor and crashes into the wall. The arrowhead breaks from the shaft.
The skeleton grasps onto Dalic’s beard and tugs him down through the trap door. The duergar struggles against it but his balance is off and down the hatch he falls.
Dalic, weighed down by plate mail, crashes through the skeleton and takes it with him. He disappears into the darkness but a crash of metal on earthen floor is quickly heard followed by Dalic’s pained report as his body strikes the ground (11, 35/48). The sound of shattered bone is mixed in to the cacophony.
Kuba is surprised by the sudden turn of events and stands slack jawed.
Krelar grabs the broken shaft from Meira’s arrow and quietly prays. The arrow slowly begins to glow. It grows in intensity until it is as brightly lit as a torch. The room is more lit and the chamber below comes into clearer view.
Dalic is lying supine just below the trap door. He is in the northern end of an earthen walled room. A steel ladder drops from ceiling to floor below the trap door. The ladder appears secure. The skeleton that grabbed Dalic lies shattered in many pieces below and around him. It is destroyed.
Several undead move quickly towards Dalic. Meira has less experience with the creatures but Dalic and Krelar see them for what they are straight away. The undead number at least three if not more.
Dalic can see the layout of the room better than those above. The duergar’s dark vision works well in the low light situation. The room is roughly dug with a general oval shape. It is approx. 40 feet east/west and 60 to 70 feet north/south. There remains of a large hexagonal table and six hexagonal benches are in the center of the room. A hexagonal bed is pushed into an alcove on the west wall of the room. A wooden door is mounted on the eastern wall, just south of center.
Dalic is near the center of the north wall where it comes down to an approx. 15 foot wide alcove. Five undead move towards him. Three have rotted away to just the skeletal shell. Those three were near the bottom of the ladder and close on Dalic quickly. The other two are corporal. Their long tongues lick the air and their fingers and teeth are sharp and dangerous. They were over by the door when Dalic entered the room. They have turned in his direction and move with hungered intent.
Dalic hollers, enraged by the nasty surprise. He finds it fortunate that his weapons were stowed at the time so as not to have been separated from them. He daftly grasps at the oncoming skeleton’s leg while swinging his supine body around for momentum and leverage.
The skeleton begins to swing its sword at Dalic’s outstretched arm but the dwarf is too fast for it. With is dwarven strength and low center of gravity, Dalic uses his leverage to launch the skeleton at the other incoming dead.
He succeeds in tripping up the next closest skeleton, stalling it as it regains its feet. Only one of the creatures reaches Dalic as he stands and draws Victory from its scabbard.
Behind Dalic, Meira, displaying her elven dexterity, stowed her bow and swung herself onto the ladder. She slides down the rails like a sailor. She hits the ground fighting as Dalic is regaining his feet.
The incoming skeleton lowers its spear and attempts to pin Meira to the wall with it. She sidesteps the weapon and slashes the skeleton across the neck with her long sword in the same motion used to draw it from its scabbard. The structure of the skeleton collapses to a pile of bones on the floor. Meira arms herself with her axe in addition to her sword and prepares for the incoming corpes.
Kuba is next down the ladder. He leaps off into the fray half way down. With Meira to Dalic’s left, Kuba moves to the right and prepares for combat.
Krelar is the last down the ladder. He is only half way down when the two corpses crash into the melee, having passed the two skeletons Dalic delayed.
The first corpse, smaller than its companion being only the size of an average human male, rushes Dalic at the moment he has reached his feet and begins to draw Victory. Dalic is able to absorb the impact of the creature. Dalic’s plate mail armor keeps its claws and teeth at bay.
The larger dead man, over six feet tall and 250 pounds in life, comes in directly behind the smaller one. It overruns the smaller corpse and pushes it face down onto the floor. It continues forward, directly towards Meira as she is drawing forth her axe. She fails to strike it before it piles into her, nearly backing her into the wall. The stench of death and decay is overpowering and wafts across the party as it arrives.
Krelar recognizes the creatures as foul undead but does not go for his holy symbol. Instead, he tries to buy Meira more time to defend herself. He kicks at the creature putting his boot into the side of its head (1, 25/26). The creature turns towards Krelar but is unable to grasp onto the priest.
Kuba steps forward to block the two skeletons advancing on Dalic. They both focus on the human warrior and engage him in melee. He slices Bloodletter though the bag of bones on his left ensuring Dalic’s safety from them. The skeleton crumbles to a pile.
Kuba can’t hold his stomach any longer. The smell of death and rot overpowers him and he begins to vomit while battling the remaining skeleton. It strikes Kuba across the waist but his chain mail prevents the blow from damaging him.
Meira also becomes sick. She tries in vain to strike down the larger corpse but her stomach turns and she gags. She is only able to try and defend herself. She does not land an offensive blow with either sword or axe.
The larger corpse is able to lightly scratch Meira’s leg with its right clawed fingers (1, 19/20; missed save paralyzed).
The smaller corpse darts forward on all fours like an animal, sweeping wildly with its longer clawed fingers as it moves on Dalic. The dwarf swings Victory lopping off an offending arm (15, 1/16). The duergar appear oblivious or at least unaffected by the horrible smell.
Krelar is vomiting at the bottom of the ladder. He has his makeshift torch in one hand and his holy symbol in the other. He manages to mutter, “Back foul spawns of evil!” but not very convincingly.
The one-armed corpse turns away from Krelar. It begins to flee until Dalic’s second stroke takes its head from its body.
The remaining skeleton also turns to flee. Kuba tries to ends its unlife but the stench and illness prevent him from doing so. The skeleton begins to back away towards the table.
The larger corpse continues to fight on.
Kuba faces down the final skeleton. He swings Bloodletter and the skeleton attempts to parry. Bloodletter drives the skeleton’s blade and both swords destroy its right ankle bone. Before it can hit the floor, Kuba brings Bloodletter on a backstroke and cuts the cap off its skull. It clatters to the floor in a mess of disassembled bones.
Meira does not fair so well. She collapses under the previous siege of the large corpse. She falls to the floor motionless even though it was just a minor injury.
The large corpse falls upon her in a frenzy of tooth and claw. Her studded leather armor keeps on clawed hand at bay but her exposed neck and head take injuries. Its clawed right hand digs into the flesh at the base of her neck/top of her left shoulder (5, 14/20) while it bites down onto the top of her head (4, 10/20). It shakes its head trying to rip free a mouthful of flesh.
Dalic chuckles a bit at the weak stomachs of his comrades. Seeing Meira besieged, he turns Victory upon the large corpse. He lays open a huge gash across its back (14, 11/26). The blow does not destroy the undead creature but does save Meira from further assault. The large corpse turns to face down the metal plated duergar.
Krelar grabs the downed elf. Using Dalic’s attacks as cover, he withdraws from the nauseating creature and drags Meira to the opposite side of the ladder.
Krelar places both of his hands upon Meira; one on her neck injury and the other on her head. He prays to Phaulkon to give the elf healing energy. Krelar is hopeful the deity of the open sky and birds will be kind to the elf warrior. Her injuries close some but she remains unresponsive (+3, 13/20). “I cannot get her to wake but she is alive. The foul spirit of the dead has left her listless.”
Krelar stands and readies his flail to protect the defenseless elf. Seeing no immediate threat, he doubles over and vomits on the floor.
Meanwhile, Dalic continues his savage assault on the large corpse while Kuba watches the dark western end of the chamber for more trouble. Kuba dry heaves while doing his best to remain vigilant. Between the smells of battling the sewer monster in the Delve and the dead, Kuba has had enough of bad odors. The fruit trees just north of Restenford would sure smell good in the spring, he thinks.
The corpse ducks under a wicked slash from the duergar and pounces. It tries to stun Dalic by striking him with a five-finger death punch but it swings too high. The plow strikes Dalic’s breastplate causing no harm. With its other hand it grabs onto Dalic’s left shoulder and digs its nails into the shoulder joint of the armor. Its long bony fingers dig into Dalic’s flesh (4, 31/48, save made). Dalic winces and the dead man tries to take the advantage. Teeth bared, it bites greedily for Dalic’s neck at the base of his great helm. It is its last mistake. Dalic quickly lays again into the large corpse at it closes to bite. He drives Victory into its neck and out the back of its skull, sinking the blade to the hilt. The corpse twitches slightly as Dalic tips the blade down to allow the foul-smelling creature to slide off the blade. Dalic wipes the dark dead-blood gore from his blade onto the now still body.
Dalic joins Kuba in surveilling the room. The druegar’s eyes can see the room in its entirety where the human warriors vision fails but half way across the room. The tables and bed barely discernable in the low light of Krelar’s illuminated arrow shaft. The far sides of the room is hidden in total darkness.
Krelar addresses the dwarf, “Are we safe Dalic?”
“Aye.” Dalic is satisfied with his work. Scattered bones and rotting corpses surround the dwarf. Kuba smiles at the dwarf sharing in the glory.
The walls are dug out of the soil and the room is supported by occasional rotten and mossy oaken timbers. The air is stale but not overly damp. It carries the smell of the earth and now, rotting corpse and vomit.
The only features of interest are the bed pushed into the northern alcove, the table and benches in the center of the room and a door mounted just west of center on the southern wall. The door is made of wood and of similar condition as the timbers. The table, benches and bed all show similar signs of rot and decay.
Meira is as limp as a boned fish. She does not appear overly injured and is not currently bleeding. She appears conscious but unresponsive. She had dropped her sword and axe when she went down. Kuba retrieves the items and returns them to her belt.
Dalic suggests someone bring Meira to the surface and to the care of an ally. She will weigh them down and we are close enough to the entrance to remedy this.
In response to Dalic’s comment in regards to Meira, Kuba concurs, “If she is near death then we should get her out. Who will bring her out?”
Krelar corrects, “She appears to be in stable condition but will not respond.”
The conversation is interrupted by the sound of scraping nails on the old wooden door located along the eastern wall. Something or somethings are clawing at it. The low moan of the dead can be heard.
Kuba turns his attention away from Meira and prepares to meet the threat behind the door.
A voice, high pitched like that of a boy, can barely be heard through the door. “Help! Help! We are trapped back here! Help us, please!”
The scratching gives way to the heavy banging of a body being thrown against the door. Bang, pause, thud. Something is throwing itself into the door in an apparent attempt to knock it open.
The old rotted door begins to crack and give way.
Kuba, holding bloodletter, takes a defensive stance and prepares himself for whatever breaks through the door.
Dalic calls to the voice on the other side to stand clear of the door. The bashing on the door continues. Dalic begins to beat the door with his sword.
The old and rotted wood give way to the weight on the other side. It falls to pieces as more undead begin to charge into the room. Their bodies are generally intact. The lead two have long nails and claws. The second two are generally intact corpses. They lack the sharpened tooth and claw. They appear to be zombies but move with a swiftness not possessed by those at Bone Hill.
Krelar stands next to Kuba with his flail and holy symbol.
Meira’s body remains unmoving under the trap door.
Kuba moves up and cuts the first corpse, one bearing tooth and claw (7, 8/15). He gouges a chunk of flesh from it.
Dalic engages the second corpse. He lops off its right foot (13, 1/14).
Krelar displays his holy symbol, “Back you unholy spawn!”
All four corpses hiss in their deathly dislike of life but stop their assault. They begin to back away from the group towards the door they came through. The one Dalic struck limps on its stump.
The muffled voice calling for help comes from beyond the door.
Krelar bends to inspect the corporal bodies. Several of these bodies here are not from this island. Kuba recognizes the bodies as similar to the tribal types from the Hepmonaland jungles. Krelar agrees, “They appear to be from the southern jungles.” He lowers his voice and appears to be thinking out loud, “ Seems odd they would be down here.”
Krelar keeps his holy symbol ahead of him as he walks slowly towards the retreating undead. He walks past Kuba and Dalic but stops about 10 feet short of the door and looks over his shoulder.
The undead move through the door.
Dalic shrugs and motions, with a tilt of his head in the dim light, to push on. He pauses for any objections.
Krelar secures his flail and pulls the illuminated arrow shaft from his belt. The area around him lights up as if he held a torch.
Beyond the door, the undead have stopped in a corridor. It is about 10 feet wide. It heads east into the darkness.
Dalic can see through the door and a little farther into the dark but the torch ruins his darkvision beyond. What Dalic can see is the corridor turns to the south as it widens. On the eastern wall of the corridor, where the corridor turns, is mounted a wooden door.
Kuba is pleased to have the illumination back. He holds his position and looks back at Meira.
Dalic asks what to do with the fallen maiden. He still votes to send her back up with someone.
The young voice calls from beyond the door, “Help me please! My brother is hurt!”
Krelar cannot ignore the voice, “I will go and see if I can find the voice. I cannot leave the boy to the dead.”
Krelar prepares to move forward through the door but waits for a response.
Kuba says, “We can’t leave her here with these filthy corpses. I will carry her up the ladder and leave her up there at the trap door.” Kuba walks over to Meira and hoists the light elf onto his shoulder.
Dalic has an epiphany. He holds up his hand indicating to the others to pause. “Iffen tha dead had waned ta kill two boys, they’d already be dead. The trap door, the blocked route to tha boys . . . there be somethin’ more intelligent behind this beyond the undead. This is a trap. We must be cautious.”
Knowing there is little to prepare them for a trap, Dalic relies on his uncanny sixth sense and tries to be cautious for anything suspicious. He nods to Krelar to proceed.
The priest, glowing stick in one hand and holy symbol in the other, advances to the door as the undead hiss at him. The rotting flesh of their corpses stink up the room but not nearly as badly as the first two. Krelar looks to Dalic, “I know I am in sure hands but I am relying on your weapon skill should these foul beings overcome their fear.”
As Krelar moves forward, the four dead move back grudgingly. They continue to hiss their displeasure. Krelar pushes his way into the next area. At the end of his magical light, the faint outline of another door appears, this one to the south. Past the door, the corridor has widened to nearly 20 feet wide and bends to the east. Dalic can see it appears to be opening into a long, narrow chamber. On the south wall, east of the southern door, are several wooden storage shelves similar to a book shelf. The shelves have some old food stuffs, mostly broken open and scattered about the shelves.
Behind the closest door, the one to the north, the voice of the young boy continues to cry out. “Help! Help, please!”
The door from which the voice comes is badly damaged but remains hinged and shut. It is deeply and repeatedly scratched. Wood chips and peals litter the floor below the door. The scratching is fresh.
Kuba begins his ascent to the surface with Meira.
Dalic abruptly halts Krelar. “You keep the dead at bay, Krelar. Kuba is more than capable ta keep Meira and hisself safe. Keep some distance from me but do not stray. As fer traps an’ tha like, mine armor an’ me nature will protect me. We go fast an’ we get out.”
Seeing Kuba already passing up to the level above with Meira, Dalic focuses his energy inward and forces his body larger. The body of the thin dwarf increases in height and bulk reaching the size of a muscled man with a heavy mass and bone structure.
Kuba deposits Meira gently on the ground. Seeing her still breathing unlabored, he does a quick scan of the room and begins his descent back down the trap door ladder.
Krelar is able to keep the undead at bay with his symbol. The room around him remains dimly lit by his torch-strength glowing arrow shaft.
Dalic gives a shout of warning, “Clear the door boy!” before shouldering it hard. The door splinters vertically at its center and folds inward but something stops it forward movement. The broken unhinged side of the door falls backward onto Dalic but bounces harmlessly off his plate armor to the side of his oversized body.
Beyond the door, the duergar’s eyes can a natural chamber. The corner of it goes beyond his sight to the northeast. Beyond the door is a small 10x10 foot hall opening into a larger 30 feet deep room. Dalic can see two young teenage boys. The first is standing very frightened behind his make-shift barricade blocking the door. It consists of a chest and a footlocker. The second boy is horizontal on the ground although he is still alive. Between the boy and the floor is the crumbled and rotten remains of a bed. Not far from the bed is the crumbled and rotten remains of a padded chair. Other than Krelar’s light dimly shining into the room, it is completely dark.
The boys both shiver in the chill air. The boy behind the door is near paralyzed with fear seeing Dalic on the other side of the door.
Kuba reaches the bottom of the ladder and finds his way across the chamber towards the inviting light of Krelar’s glowing arrow. He is now armed and prepared to slash the undead as needed. The memory of his life draining battle in the delve is not far from his mind.
Dalic grimaces. He then tries to ease the mind of the children before him with a smile with a near comical result upon his face that may have done more harm than good.
“Come wit me iffin ye wan ta live,” Dalic demands. He waits the compulsory millisecond before simply grabbing the first boy and pushing him into the chamber with Krelar. Dalic moves into the bed chamber and picks the other boy up for he is unable to walk on his own. Dalic runs back out.
Krelar continues to hold the dead at bay.
Dalic reports, “Iffin this be a rescue mission, we be half done. Let’s go. Up the ladder.”
Dalic turns towards the chamber with the trap door as Kuba arrives in the doorway. Seeing Dalic coming in the dull light, Kuba backpeddles.
Dalic continues shouting orders, “Krelar, don’t break yer ward till tha boys be on the ladder. I’ll protect ye as ya shimmy up. Now go!”
Dalic spurns the first boy forward. Kuba stows his weapon and takes him by the arm and directs him to the trap door ladder. The young lad immediately begins climbing towards the light above. Kuba takes the other boy and heads for the ladder himself.
Once the handoff is complete, Dalic draws Victory and positions himself between Krelar and the ladder. Eyeing both, he waits for Kuba to get half way out. Krelar has backed up to the doorway to prevent the dead from flanking him.
As Kuba pushes the wounded boy onto the upper level and pulls himself up, Dalic exchanges places with Krelar. Dalic pats him on the shoulder, “Go now.”
Krelar responds to the signal and makes a break for the ladder. As soon as the priest turns, the undead charge Dalic in the doorway.
All four corpses reach the doorway, piling up as Dalic attempts to keep them at bay. One of the long-toothed dead reaches for Dalic’s throat. He puts up his forearm defensively. He saves his neck but his arm is pierced by the long claw-like nails at a joint his plate mail armor (2, 29/31, failed save). It pulls itself forward and bites Dalic on the face (6, 23/15). At the same moment, Dalic drives his blade through its neck. It drops limp to the floor. It is immediately replaced by a zombie-shelled corpse.
Dalic feels his body go weak followed by no feelings at all. His eyes register the conscious thought of his body collapsing to the floor next to the slain corpse. As he falls, the newly arrived zombie punches him in the face, helmet and all. His helmet spins on his head but he cannot feel the pain in his nose and lips as they swell and bleed slightly (8, 15/48).
The blow knocks Dalic backward into the room. The duergar sprawls out on his back as the undead poor in after him. Krelar reaches the ladder, looking over his shoulder, he hears Dalic’s pained exhale from the blow and hears the armored warrior stumble backward and fall. The priest turns and tries to present his symbol. It has spun on its chain and now Krelar fumbles to get it into his hand.
Krelar cries out, “Kuba, help!”
Krelar forgoes his symbol and charges forward. He pulls his flail as he runs into the near darkness holding the thin shaft of light ahead of him.
Kuba hurries down the ladder.
For reasons Krelar often ponders, the mindless undead ignore him and run past him towards Kuba. The priest makes an unprepared attack on them as they scamper by. It serves no purpose other than to throw the priest off balance. Krelar drops clumsily down next to Dalic and begins to assess his health.
As Kuba reaches the floor, the undead crash into him. Even in his compromised position on the ladder, two of the corpses fail to batter him with their fists. The third, with tooth and nail, rakes him across the back of his left calf (3, 34/55).
Kuba spins, slashing with Bloodletter. True to its name, the blade sends gore flying as it cuts through a zombie’s leg causing it to drop to the floor (10, 3/13). It collects itself as much as it can in order to continue trying to batter Kuba.
The second corpse tries to double hammer fist the warrior. Kuba steps away in avoidance. The ghoulish creature tries to envelope Kuba but the strong warrior keeps it at bay although he is bit mildly in the left arm in the process (3, 31/55).
Kuba cocks back the blade and drives it through the ghoul’s stomach. Retracting the blade, ichor spills onto the floor followed by its lifeless corpse.
From the bite, Kuba feels a numbness in his arm.
Krelar finds Dalic alive with non-life threatening injuries. He begins to pull the dwarf towards the trap door. He finds the plate armored dead weight of Dalic too much to drag with one hand. He leaves his light next to Dalic and charges back into the melee.
Kuba fights off the numbness in his arm and wills it back to work.
Krelar comes in from behind and destroys the entire shoulder structure of the wounded zombie. He crushes the life out of the body as it drops dead again.
The sole remaining corpse turns on Krelar immediately and gut punches the priest, doubling him over (7, 9/16).
Before the undead nasty can take the advantage against Krelar, Kuba opens it up with a couple of slashes from Bloodletter. The body cannot take the damage and falls to the floor in a heap of stinking flesh.
As the adrenaline of battle subsides, the smell of the first two corpses, mixing with the odor of the additional dead bodies and spilled fluids puts Kuba in a series of dry heaves.
The priest catches his wind again and straightens out. He vomits for good measure. “Let’s get the dwarf and get out of this hellish smell.”
Kuba walks over and heaves the dwarf onto his shoulder as Krelar, symbol and flail in hand, watches for more trouble. It takes a minute or so but the duo get the dwarf up the ladder onto the floor of the guardhouse above. They find Meira is regaining control of her body.
The two boys are still there. The one is very frightened and likely would have fled if it had not meant leaving his brother behind. The younger boy is injured and weak. Both boys shake violently as hypothermia has set in.
Krelar opens the door of the room a bit and blocks it open. This allows light in from the hole in the cell chamber wall. Krelar begins to examine the injured boy. He appears to have been clawed badly on the back.
The low light in the room reflects off of something previously missed in the activity and low light below. The older boy has a bulge under his shirt in the waistline of his pants. Something of golden hue is secreted not so well there.
Within a few minutes, Meira appears to have recovered the use of her body and Dalic is well on his way to moving again.
Meira looks embarrassed. She apologizes for falling useless so easily and then goes to Dalic’s side to help him in his recovery.
Kuba addresses the older boy, “What’s that young fella?” Kuba points to the hidden object in his waistline.
The boy sheepishly pulls it out. It is a large chalice made of iron. It stands nearly 12 inches tall and the cup is six inches wide with a bowl shape. The bowl necks down to a sturdy but thin shaft connected to a plain circular base. The edges of the chalice are slightly rusted. The glint of gold came from the only decoration on its surface. A small symbol of a sun vanishing beneath the waves adorns one side of the cup. The sun is made of gold. It is only about 1 inch in diameter.
“May Phaulkon take my wind!” mutters Krelar. “That is Phaulkon’s Chalice. Where did you get his boy?! It was stolen from the abbey!”
“After the raid, part of the request for aid send from Restenford to Loreltarma was a plea for aid for the abbey. We had eight priests killed and Qualton was hanged for his hidden crimes. Adept Selmo returned on Patchwall the 9th and began to inventory the churches losses. It is he who discovered the chalice had gone missing. I believe Brother Selmo discovered the theft on the 10th,” answers Krelar.
Kuba says, “Well, your chalice is now returned to you.” Kuba grasps the chalice and hands it to Krelar. He takes it reverently.
Kuba asks the boys, “My question is how you two boys survived down there without being torn to shreds? Those rotting corpses just about brought our demise and we are strong and experience fighters.”
Krelar begins to tend to the young boy, praying for his recovery, as the older boy answers Kuba, “We found that cup thing under the river bridge there.” He points towards the southern bridge that crosses the river just north of the guardhouse. “We came here to hide it again. We were digging under a rug when we found a door. We opened it and Fakhri went down to see what was down there while I held the door open. He had a little self-made torch. Something grabbed him so I tucked the cup in my pants and climbed down to get him. I was so scared but I had to help my brother. There were two dead men trying to eat him but they left me alone. They circled back to the door out so I went through the other door in the room. That had even more dead men. I ran into one more room and found it safe. I barricaded the door and prayed for help. Thank you for coming for us.”
After being cared for by Krelar, the younger boy weakly states, “Farin saved my life.”
“The orcs didn’t get to this bridge,” ponders Krelar. “How did the stolen chalice?” He looks dumbly at the group hoping for insight.
Dalic is annoyed that he was injured in the fight and has very little curiosity about the chalice. "I will add me voice ta Kuba's that indeed tha chalice is returned. I add very little in tha way of vestigatin' it bein' here er there, just know ye hab it now. If that be all, I has a fren still recovering from tha last adventure who I must be seein'. I am in need of rest meself aside."
Dalic pauses to see what the rest of the group does.
Krelar, seeing Dalic intends to part ways, tells the group, “You are all hurt. Please come to the abbey this evening. We will do what we can to aid your recovery. Please Dalic, bring your injured friend as well.” Krelar places a hand on the dwarf’s shoulder and whispers a prayer of healing (+6, 21/48).
Krelar then looks at the boys, “You two must show me where under the bridge you found this. Then we will return you to your father.” Krelar tucks the chalice into a pouch for safe keeping.
The priest looks at Kuba and Meira, “I am growing weak myself and dare not aid you now.”
Krelar bids farewell and begins walking out of the guardhouse with the two boys. After receiving aid from Krelar, both have recovered enough to walk on their own. The older boy has recovered significantly more than his younger brother.
Dalic thanks the priest, leaving the formalities to his companions. Kuba and Meira bit farewell and join Dalic in departing the guard shack.
Krelar walks the boys over to the southern bridge and begin to climb underneath the western landing.
The trio of adventurers approach the bridge as well, intending to cross to get back to the inn.
As Krelar begins to duck under the bridge, snarling is heard followed quickly by rapid barking. The boys jump back as a reaction while Krelar’s hand goes to his flail. Two mangy medium sized dogs move out of the shadow towards Krelar. They stop and hold their ground, barking loudly at the warrior-priest. Krelar holds his ground and the standoff continues. The two boys scramble as best they can towards the trio of adventurers.
Kuba draws Bloodletter and moves down to aid Krelar should he need it. The priest takes another slow step backward. He keeps his hand on his flail but does not present it as a weapon yet.
Dalic scoffs. “What be wild dogs that venture this near town? They hold. There must be someone else nearby.” Dalic calls aloud to all within earshot, “Iffen these be yer dogs, speak now. They pasture ta fight and will be slain iffen none ta claim them!” He holds Victory at the ready.
Meanwhile, Meira begins a soft song to the dogs, speaking in elvish.
The dogs give Meira a look but they have fear in their eyes and are obviously protecting something. As soon as Dalic’s threat is processed, a female child’s voice calls out from under the bridge, “Don’t ya dare hurt them!”
A young human female, maybe 12 or 13 years of age, appears from the shadows under the bridge. She is dressed in a dirty brown dress. A small pouch is tied to her waist with a sturdy string that encompasses her waist. Her short boots are worn nearly off her feet. Long dirty socks cover her feet and legs. She holds a stout stick with both hands; wielding it like a Billy club. She is dirty and thin but not overly starved.
The dogs close in front of her keeping Krelar, and Kuba as he arrives next to the priest, at bay.
Meira, approaching from in front of the dogs, instructs the others to stow their weapons and back away. She again sings to calm the dogs. They respond to the elf’s singing but they remain obviously protective of the young girl. Once Meira is in front of them, she addresses the girl, “What are doing here?”
Before the girl can answer, Meira tries to set her at ease by stating, “We are just there to investigate a lost item.”
At the same time, Dalic confidently puts his sword away and dismissively retorts, "Well, they be yers an' he know what'll happen if they attack. So offin they do, their fall be your doin alone ain't it?" He says this matter of factly, without malice or threat. In this way, he conveys mostly that he knows the dogs won't attack because it would be stupid of the girl to let them.
Ignoring anyone else's perceived risk, he walks without a care down toward the group. "I ken break tha ice then huh? I be Dalic an me friends here found a thing down here and just wantid ta poke about. Maybe ye ken help.”
Dalic turns then to the others in his party, "Let me know if ye still feel a threat about this'n an I'll stay... else this got no thing ta do with me an I will be off."
Kuba warns the others, "She may not be what she seems." To the girl he says, "Call off your mongrel mutts or we will slay them and you as well!"
The girl, somewhat surprisingly for her age, holds her ground. “Ya ain’t got say to tell me nothin’. Me ‘n me dogs aren’t troublin’ a soul. I gots nothin’ of yours so just be off.”
The older boy, not to be out done by a girl, pipes up, “We found it right there.” He points in the general direction from which the young girl came out from under the bridge.
Krelar releases the handle of his flail and pulls out the chalice. “Have you seen this?”
The young girl shakes her head no but her eyes betray her.
Krelar immediately presses her further, “Where? Where did you find this?”
The young girl points back toward the guardhouse. “It was in there!”
Krelar looks confused. He looks at the boys, “Did you boys take this from the girl or from the church?”
The boys look scared. “She had it!” they both exclaim.
Dalic decides to hold and watch.
Kuba stays on guard.
Meira fades away some distance. There is no tree cover so she attempts to blend into the river bank as best as she can. She keeps her elf eyes and ears hyper vigilant for danger; ready to react as needed.
Krelar softens his approach. “Young lady. You look like you could use a washing and some food. I offer you this. Come to the abbey with us willingly and talk to me about this chalice. I will feed you and give you a chance to clean up. If you can truly help me figure out how this chalice got out here, I will buy you new clothes.”
The girl looks at him very defiantly.
The boys stare on in curiosity. They do not have the fearful look of guilty kids.
Krelar continues, “If you refuse my offer, I will be forced to tell Baroness Andrella that you have taken church property and request you be thrown in the dungeon. Or worse, I am afraid. Baroness Andrella has a reputation of being very stern in regards to the law.”
For the first time, the girl looks worried. Although, she does not look guilty. It appears she fully understands she could go to the dungeon whether she is guilty or not. This young lady is very street wise for her age.
“My dogs come too. They need food and a bath as well.”
“Agreed,” states Krelar.
Krelar looks at Dalic, “Go retrieve your companion and come to the abbey now.”
Krelar then looks at Kuba, “Would you please accompany me back to the abbey with her?” Krelar then gives a slight wave to Meira indicating they are on the move.
Krelar orders the boys, “Go home. As soon as your father gets home, all three of you come to the abbey immediately.” The boys nod and run off.
Krelar and Kuba allow the young lady and her dogs to get up on the walkway. She does not order the dogs, they simply follow her. They remain nervous, keeping their tails tucked in.
Meira also begins to follow but keeps her distance and watches for danger.
Dalic retrieves Bhut and assists him across town to the hill that holds the abbey and the smoking remains of the burned down rectory. Kuba, Meira, Krelar and the girl arrive ahead of the two warriors.
The southwest part of town is dominated by a large, low hill covered in a thin layer of green grass. The Restenford River separates it from the other two large hills that circle town. The other two hills contain the Restenford Castle and the home of Almax, the druid and advisor to the baroness.
At the summit of this hill, pushed up to the edge of a stand of gnarled oak trees, lies the ancient grounds of the once grand abbey.
The group passes the vacant home owned by the now deceased Jascarian priest, Yalta. The house has been empty since he perished in the raid on the Bone Hill ruins.
Reaching the summit, the path splits. The easternmost path leads to a manned guardhouse. Here Coemack, a human warrior, watches you pass as he stands outside the house holding a crossbow. His guard mates are a half elf warrior named Prellis and another human named Halco. They do not bother you as you pass.
The other paths lead to the burned-out rectory, the abbey and the mortuary.
The abbey itself consists of the main worship area and two back rooms. It appears the back rooms are being used for makeshift bedrooms for the staff as repairs to the abbey are being made and the rectory rebuilt.
Other than some broken windows, a busted front door and some scorch marks at a failed attempt to burn the stone and wood building, the abbey is generally intact.
The two wild dogs paced back and forth in front of the door into the abbey.
Down the western hill from the abbey is a small grey stone square building. It nearly disappears into the landscape of the hill. This building serves as a morgue for the recently deceased until they can be buried in the cemetery on the outskirts of town. It was bypassed during the raid and remains intact.
Krelar has called for a meeting in the worship area in the front of the abbey. He introduces those present. First is Abbot Almon. He is now in charge of the church. Second is Holrag. He is also a priest and second in charge. Third is Sedrick. He is an unfamiliar face. Krelar reports Sedrick accompanied Selmo back from Loreltarma to assist the church in its rebuilding. The fourth priest, Selmo, is not present. Sedrick appears to be roughly the same age as Holrag. None of the men are old however. Even Abbot Almon appears to have not reached 40 yoa.
The young girl sits quietly.
Krelar tells the church elders of the living dead that were discovered under the guardhouse. Abbot Almon declares the remaining dead must be destroyed. “Baroness Andrella holds us responsible for the death of her father. Although it was Qualton, and not the church, that brought harm upon her family, her anger towards the abbey must not be dismissed. Clearing out the guardhouse would be a token of good faith. Krelar, find assistance and make it so immediately.”
Krelar bows his head in accepting the order before speaking again, “Abbot Almon, I will do as you command. In fact, I would have pressed further immediately had I not discovered this.” Krelar reveals the chalice and the other priests stare at it open mouthed before the Abbot speaks, “That is Phaulkon’s Holy Chalice! It should be in the mortuary. How did you come about it?”
Krelar tells the story of recovering the boys. Their tale of finding the chalice under the bridge and finally the young girl, Sandra, tells of how she found the chalice in the guardhouse.
The Abbot stands, his eyes burrow into the young lady and she cowers. “Did you steal this?”
Sandra looks to want to run but knows it is futile, “No,” she whimpers, “I didn’t. Some man hid it there. I was hidden and he did not see me. I took it after he left and hid it under the bridge where I stay.”
They question what the man looked like and she can only reply he appeared to be a man but was cloaked with a hood pulled over his head.
Dalic offers assistance in the investigation. "I be but a vulgar fighter meself an' hab' little int'rest before in tha investigation. But an idea makes me curious iffen mine talents may of service here. I find I wish ta travel from the isle someday an' maybe soon. Ta do so, I wish ta have favor sewn in tha land an' good health fer tha best departure. Krelar spoke of healing for me an' mine friend here. Iffen I may ask one more thing in return for helpin' tha 'vestigating- mine companion an' meself be touched by a death that pulls at our will. Iffen there be a way ta aid in tha recovery ab' this ailment, I ask yer help.
“I freely offer ta vestigate tha recovery site ab yer'ins chalice regardless as there be favor in it bein' we neighbors an' favor in it wit tha baroness. But any remedy for this drained wisdom be 'preciated. I will go ta the bridge immediately. I can be unseen indefinitely so long as there be no conflict. I have provisions ta sustain a long endeavor. Let me go an' watch for tha thief ta return ta the bridge. I must be alone or wit another unseen their lest the plan fail. I will follow the thief after ta learn all I can an' report back.”
Dalic finishes his offer and asks, “What say you?"
Almon’s mind works quickly to wrap itself around what the dwarf spoke. “I believe we can be of some service to you. You have served Pelltar faithfully and aided this town greatly. For this, we are in your debt.”
Almon speaks to Holrag and Sedrick, “Please see to it you can aid these two to the best of your ability. The human named Bhut looks to be in great need.” Bhut stands shakily. He wears only clothing as his will could not bear to dress himself in armor and weapons. His eyes are sad and his movements slow. He is very lethargic and depressed.
“Krelar, return the chalice to its proper place in the mortuary and find out what Selmo is doing there. I have not heard from him in days.”
Holrag asks Bhut and Dalic to accompany he and Sedrick to the altar. There they ask the two warriors to kneel and allow the power of Phaulkon to pull the weakness of the grave from their souls.
Each does so and the two priests began a series of prayers. Before long, Dalic feels more himself. The two priests focus their attention on Bhut. The process quickly begins to drain the two priests as Bhut was so drastically effected.
Kuba waits with Meira. They sit quietly while the abbot continues to question the young girl. Krelar excuses himself and heads off to get Selmo and return the chalice to the mortuary.
Sandra, the young lady, continues to stick to her story. She tells the abbot she has never set foot on the abbey grounds let alone in the mortuary building. She knows nothing of how the chalice got to the guardhouse or anything about large, black flying horses.
The young girl appears very practical and street wise. She tells the abbot she had no idea it belonged to the church. She simply used it to drink water from the river.
Krelar returns with a concerned look on his face. “Selmo is not at the mortuary! Anyone know where he may have gone off to?”
Almon orders Krelar, “Search under the bridge and see if you can find anything else. If you do not find anything, search the guard house again. If you still find nothing, go below and slay the risen dead. Maybe you will find more answers. Also, if you find Selmo, have him report back. I will stay here and speak with this child and await the boys and their father.”
The priest looks at Dalic, “If we come up with nothing, we may have to take you up on your offer.” He scans the trio of adventurers, “I humbly request you assist Krelar with this task. You have all proven yourself and Krelar trusts you. We have little to give you after the raid on the town. We are trying to finance a new rectory. However, anything you find in the guard house is yours as long as it doesn’t belong to the barony directly.”
Krelar looks at the three warriors, human, dwarf and elf. “What do you say, should we make another run at it?”
Kuba nods, “I am willing to go back and check things out with Krelar.” He rubs his injured chest, the lingering ache of his past arrow wound shows itself. “May I also receive a blessing of healing from Phaulkon?”
Almon himself approaches Kuba. He places both of his hands on Kuba’s shoulders while he prays. Healing energies flow across Kuba’s body completely healing his wound and refreshing the many other cuts, bruises and damage he had sustained. Once complete, he feels much better (+18, 49/55).
Dalic and Bhut walk back over to Kuba and Meira from the altar. Dalic thanks Almon and then agrees to go with Kuba and Krelar. Dalic looks to Bhut, hoping to see a positive reaction to the turn of events.
Bhut seems a bit stunned at his improved health. Gone is the near fatal depression that had befallen him. He feels fit again. He looks to his little dwarf friends and smiles.
Meira holds her tongue.
Almon speaks again, “I see you all took injury in the name of Phaulkon. He places both hands on Dalic (+19, 40/48) then Bhut (+7, 37/37) and finally Meira (+8, 20/20); healing them in turn. Dalic is healed of the wound he suffered in his fall through the trap door. Bhut and Meira are both fully healed of damage.
Almon looks to Krelar, “Go and rest.” Almon addresses the whole group together, “Those of you to help Krelar, meet at guard house as the sun rises tomorrow.”
Meira questions Almon before exiting, “I wish to inquire about the dead creature that numbed me and caused me to be unable to move.”
The priest answers the best he can, “There are many different life killing effects from the walking dead. They do not exist fully in our world and their energy can have various effects on a living being. Some, as you described, are able to cause those they touch to do as you describe. Your body disconnects from your mind and you are unable to move it. Elves have shown a resistance to this but some of the more powerful ones have been known to overcome even the elf-kind.”
He looks sternly, “Never take them lightly. The animated dead are always dangerous. Please be careful on your quest.”
Satisfied with the answer, Meira has a renewed sense of self. She understands now that the being that struck her was indeed powerful. In her mind anyway, she regains her pride.
The group retires for the day.
Bhut finally feels well enough to search out a money-changer for all the coins he has. Unfortunately, as seems to be his luck, the raid on Restenford has everyone busy with repairs and security of the town. Bhut decides he can wait a while longer yet. Besides, he might be able to dump the coins on equipment or training.
Patchwall the 13th begins with an overcast deluge and a hailstorm. The weather continues to battle with the party’s objectives.
True to their words, the adventurers all arrive at the guardhouse at sunrise. All three decide to wait for Krelar in the guardhouse. Entering the building, they find the warrior-priest has already taken refuge there himself. Krelar holds a torch that glows but does not show flame. It gives off an illumination similar to a torch but without the dancing flames.
“The boys were not able to tell Abbot Almor anything more. Nor could their father. In addition, we still cannot find Selmo. From what the boys said, the trap door was covered when they found it. The young lady did not appear to know Selmo. We can find no evidence in the morgue to aid us. Selmo seems to have disappeared shortly after the chalice.”
Krelar struggles to try and piece together the evidence. “Add in the report of the weird flying black horse and rider . . .” He trails off as if thinking. A few seconds later he speaks again, “I do not have a clue.”
He straightens himself up, “For now anyway, we know there are risen dead below our feet. In order to help raise the Baroness’s confidence in the abbey, I am going below to eliminate each and every one of them.”
He walks deeper into the guardshack, heading for the trap door. He looks proudly over his shoulder at the other three, “For Phaulkon and for Restenford, you with me?”
Krelar cracks open the trap door to the cellar below. Immediately the smell of death and rot waft past the group.
The smell is met with dissatisfaction. True to his past, Kuba retches in the corner of the room.
No resistance is met. Krelar leads the group down while Meira covers with her bow. Kuba climbs down second followed by Dalic who is pleased to climb down instead of fall this time. Bhut follows the dwarf and Meira comes down last; keeping her bow out.
Bhut looks around the chamber having not been here before. He stands on the north end of the room near the ladder under the trap door. The nearly a half dozen stinking corpses litter the floor. The room is roughly dug with a general oval shape. It is approx. 40 feet east/west and 60 to 70 feet north/south. There remains of a large hexagonal table and six hexagonal benches are in the center of the room. A hexagonal bed is pushed into an alcove on the west wall of the room. A wooden door is mounted on the eastern wall, just south of center.
Krelar takes out his flail, crosses the room and peers through the eastern door. He signals the way is clear. “Just as we left it.”
Kuba arms himself with his shield and draws Bloodletter from its scabbard.
The party spreads out a bit as it crosses the room.
Meira remains at the ladder, covering the party with her bow. Her elf eyes can see relatively well in the low light given off by the dimly glowing torch. She waits for the party to move to the next room before moving her position.
Dalic, Victory (the blade) in hand, remains on high alert. He inspects the table and bed finding them to be very well rotten and worthless. Nothing else of interest catches anyone’s eye.
The group moves east through the door and into the chamber beyond. Meira moves up and covers the party from the door.
Dalic makes a pass through the room in which the boys were discovered. The four-drawer chest, footlocker, bed and chair all remain as left. They are old and rotten. The four-drawer chest is coming apart after being used as a barricade against the door.
Dalic notices something about the chest. It is now laying on its side and the bottom is loose. As Krelar nears with the torch, Dalic sees the glint of metal near the seam on the underneath side of the chest. A false bottom! A quick prying causes the bottom to fall away and hundreds of coins spill out. They are quickly gathered up (70 gp, 80ep and 80sp). In addition, a small pearl was found among the coins (50gp value).
Finding nothing else of interest, the party moves back into the unexplored room to decide which way to go next. The party moves forward to the southern door.
From this vantage point, Dalic and Meira can see the far end of the room and they describe it to the others. The room contains several storage shelves with food containers, a table and two chairs, a small hearth, a weapons rack with six rotting spears and a cabinet. The cabinet doors hang open and pots and pans have spilled out onto the floor along with various utensils, etc.
Kuba begins to inspect the nearest shelf, staying within the light of the torch. What remains are the dried husks of fruits, bags of old flour and other similar food stuffs. All have been here for decades on end, if not longer. There is nothing of value that he finds.
Krelar nods towards the southern door and the party prepares to enter it behind him. The old wooden door quietly creaks open and Krelar steps into the room with his flameless torch held ahead of him. He regrips his flail as he steps in allowing the other three warriors room to enter. Meira maintains cover with her bow.
The room is slightly wedge-shaped. The west end of the room is only about 20 feet wide. It widens to nearly 40 feet on the eastern end. Dalic and Meira, having better vision than the humans, can see a door on the south wall near the western end of the room. Two passages exit the room to the east.
A wooden hexagonal table sits in the middle of the room. Surrounding the table are five wooden chairs. In each chair sits an animated skeleton. Where the sixth chair should be stands a skeleton. It faces the table. His chair, nearly rotted to dust, had long ago collapsed under it. In front of each skeleton are stacks and piles of coins. Each skeleton appears to have from two to ten dozen dust covered coins in front of it. They appear to be engaged in a never-ending game of cards only the cards have all but rotten away and no coins appear to change hands. None of the skeletons pay any attention to the party as it enters.
The heavy smell of death and rotten corpse is absent in this chamber. The smell of earth and soil in prevalent.
Krelar moves cautiously towards the macabre card game. Meira covers him from the doorway.
Dalic smirks. “We all have our vices, eh?” Dalic, watches Krelar’s advance, spacing himself out a little from the others. He is aware they are tasked with exterminating the living dead and has a hunch what will need to happen given their level of necrosis.
Kuba moves up near, but slightly behind, Krelar. He stays within the 20-foot radius of the magical torchlight. Bhut stays closer to his duergar companion. All have weapons at the ready.
Creating no noise at their approach, two ghoulish corpses charge out of the first eastern passage. Their hands showing the increased claw-like fingernails, their teeth sharp and long tongues licking the air in excitement for a meal. Just beyond the light of the torch, a dark wall beyond the corpses can be seen. It is some 15 feet from the chamber. It appears to be an alcove and not a passage.
Dalic and Bhut are both caught off guard.
Meira quickly turns and zips and arrow into the chest cavity of one of the ghoulish corpses (2, 9/11).
Kuba steps up next to Dalic, slashing the ghoul as it closes on him. The warrior decapitates the corpse before it can cause anyone harm.
Krelar turns to face the other ghoul as it arrives. The warrior-priest attempts to bash in its head with his flail but his swing is just too slow. The ghoul crashes forcefully into him, knocking Krelar supine. The undead menace claws and bites at the Phaulkon priest viciously. Krelar puts up his left arm as he falls; the dead man bites onto it, bruising him through his armor (1, 18/19). Worse, it claws Krelar on the left rib cage, breaking through the armor and skin (6, 12/19). Krelar is wounded. The deep slash continues to slowly drip blood. The pain slows Krelar as any movement causes him pain.
Kuba tries to slay the remaining ghoul. Kuba slashes at the beast but, fearing he may strike Krelar, misses his target.
Meira takes a chance, trusting in her elvish aim, and fires an arrow into the melee. It strikes the ghoul in the right rib cage, sinking down to the fletching (2, 13/15).
To make matters worse, the six skeletons drop their imaginary cards, pull daggers from hidden scabbards under the table, and jump up to attack. The table collapses and chairs and knocked over, some breaking. The whole stir causes a cloud of dust to swirl around them as they turn to advance.
Krelar, already near the table and under relentless attack from the corpse, is in dire straits.
Meira stows her bow and arms herself with her long sword and hand axe. She advances to the melee.
Krelar uses the butt end of his flail and punches the ghoul in the face (2, 13/15). It continues its savage clawing and biting. It digs it nails into Krelar’s neck (3, 9/19) and bites him on the other side of his neck (3, 6/19). Krelar is beginning to wear down although he remains in the fight.
Kuba cries out, “Feel the wrath of Bloodletter!” He slashes the ghoul attacking Krelar, cutting it to the bone along the width of its back (11, 2/15). He nearly cleaved it in two.
Bhut turns to face the oncoming skeletons. His first axe is parried by the skeleton’s dagger. His second blow takes a second skeleton apart sending bone fragments flying. The impact sends a cloud of dust into Bhut’s face. He immediately begins to cough and sneeze uncontrollably. He tries in vain to defend himself from the first skeleton. It stabs its dagger into his leather breastplate, failing to pierce it.
Meira reaches Krelar. She slashes off the ghoul’s right arm before driving the blade into the corpse’s torso. It collapses motionless onto Krelar.
Meira turns to face the skeletons but fails to strike a blow with her hand axe.
Dalic moves up to help his warrior companion. The duergar pulls the human back to keep the skeleton from stabbing him.
The onslaught of skeletons reaches Krelar. Three of them set upon him with their daggers as the priest struggles to get up. The first one stabs him in the left thigh opening up a lightly bleeding wound (2, 4/19). The second one stabs him in the right leg (1, 3/19). The third one trips. It struggles to get up.
The final skeleton reaches Meira and attacks her. She defends herself from its dagger.
Krelar prays for healing, trying to get the words of his prayer out while suffering a vicious dagger attack that would make Julius Caesar cringe. His faith wins out and he is partially healed (+4, 7/19).
Kuba steps forward and slices one of the skeletons atop Krelar in half. It explodes apart creating another temporary dust cloud. Kuba dodges left of it while Krelar succumbs to a sneezing and coughing fit.
Kuba next eliminates the skeleton moving against Dalic with a down stroke that utterly destroys it. Again, the dry bones burst into a dust cloud. Again Kuba steps away from the cloud but Dalic is overcome with the coughing fit.
Meira dodges away from the one attacking her. As the elf moves, the skeleton cuts her across the left arm with its dagger (3, 17/20). Meira ignores the minor cut and moves toward the one that fell upon the floor. She quickly dispatches it with a stroke from her long sword. Stepping away from the ensuing dust cloud, she attempts to flank her initial foe as it turns to move after her.
Meira swings her hand axe at the skeleton that cut her. The blow catches the skeleton on the left shoulder, destroying it. The dust gets into her eyes and she tries to back pedal from the remaining enemy. It cuts her lightly across the right arm as she withdraws (2, 15/20).
Meira swings wildly at the skeleton as it continues to attack her with its dagger. She manages to keep it from striking her and in the process, lands a blow with her axe. With the dust in her eyes, she cannot see very well. She swings wide with her long sword.
Kuba easily trots up behind the creature and cuts its head from its body. Meira, already backing away, avoids the ensuing dust cloud. Kuba, now expecting it, also avoids getting it into his eyes, nose or throat.
Krelar, once recovered from the effects of the dust, continues to pray for healing and before long, both of his wounds have mended and his bleeding has stopped.
Both Dalic and Bhut recover as well.
As peace falls upon the room, the party looks around the chamber. The area of the battle now has a thin layer of dust and dry-rot bones lying about.
The alcove the ghouls came out of is empty.
The poker table has the copper coins strewn about it. The deck of cards long ago rotted. A metal cylinder, nearly 12 inches long and 3 inches in diameter, is on the floor among the ruined and rotting chairs. It appears to have fallen from the table in years long past.
The eastern entrance is nothing more than a hole dug into the wall a couple feet above the floor. A stain on the floor shows where something had been killed and eaten by the ghouls. The hole is roughly two feet diameter.
The door on the southern wall remains shut. It appears to open into the next room with the hinges on the right (west) side.
Kuba walks over to the table. He remains alert for any more foes. He investigates the loot finding the coins on the table are old copper pieces (446 cp). They do not resemble anything he has noticed in town. He bends down and picks up the metal tube. Dusting it off, he finds it is made of electrum. To his delight, there is an image of a dolphin created out of small blue sapphires on the side of the tube. It is sealed on each end with electrum caps that screw on (700gp).
Meira suggests the group explore all the open areas before opening the door, “Pay attention for hidden doors or holes the dead could be hiding in to flank us.”
Meira looks around the alcove but finds nothing in a way of a hole or hidden door.
Krelar moves over to the southern door and stands guard by it while Dalic and Kuba remain alert near the center of the room.
Meira moves over to the hole in the wall and quickly surmises what it is. “This is a rat hole. I can see a mangy dead rat just into the tunnel a short distance. It opens up into a larger chamber after about 20 feet. The tunnel is no more than 3’ by 2’ and the chamber has a low ceiling as well.”
As the elf watches she reports further, “Now there are a few rats starting to mill about. I cannot see where they are coming from exactly but they are coming from the far side of the chamber. There is another. There is about a half dozen now. They are starting to amble this way.”
Krelar options, “Let’s push on. I don’t care to be rat bait today. The dead are my quarry.”
Dalic is weary to leave potential combatants, even rats, at their flank. He expresses his displeasure.
Krelar agrees to a point. “Let us plug the hole for now then. I realize they will be able to quickly chew through this rotten furniture but it will buy us enough time to chase down more of the dead. Once that is complete, you and your companions can come back down and go rat hunting to your heart’s content.”
Meira switches back to her bow and covers the retrieval of broken and old furniture. It takes about 20 to 30 minutes but the hole is filled soon enough with bits of broken and rotten wood. The party learns to avoid traveling too swiftly through the dust created by the dispatching of the skeletons in this room as it tends to cause fits of sneezing or coughing when it gets airborne.
Once the hole is filled, Krelar looks upon the others, “Ready to continue?”
Dalic appears a bit more satisfied. The duergar pays no mind that the rats are literally his size; no more, anyway, than a warrior of Bhut’s size.
Krelar appears satisfied the company is prepared to move forward. Meira readies her bow.
Krelar pushes open the south door revealing another rough chamber approx. 25 feet across. The room contains a knife rack with 8 rusty throwing knives. There is a table with a single chair. Both are of similar rotted condition as the others found down here. Four practice targets line the east wall. The targets are made of a heavy canvas like material shaped roughly like a torso and stuffed with old rags. They are in very poor condition.
There is a wooden door to the west on the north wall. The door is smaller than the others. It is roughly 4 feet tall and 2.5 feet wide.
Krelar enters the room with the warriors following suit. Meira covers their movement. Krelar pauses to let the others look around the room as they wish. The warrior/priest moves to the west door and waits.
Meira asks for some time to inspect for false floors and hidden doors. While doing so, she inspects the floor for signs of recent travel.
Dalic and Kuba fan out into the room while Bhut protects the rear by remaining at the door and watching for activity in the previous room.
Kuba inspects the table and finds it to be rotten. Looking underneath, he finds nothing attached to the bottom of the table.
Meira reports the dust on the floor is undisturbed. She finds no signs of hidden doors.
Once the party is in position to open the small southwestern door, Krelar pushes it in and shines his torch forward. It opens into a small tunnel. It is no more than five feet high and three feet across. The tunnel travels into the darkness is a general westerly direction. It appears to have been dug from the earth. Old rotten beams shore up the ceiling and walls every 15 to 20 feet.
Meira reports there are scattered old rat tracks on the floor.
The party moves carefully west down the tunnel for about 150 feet before the tunnel splits ahead in the dull light of Krelar’s illuminated torch. The tunnels after the split become smaller, similar to the rat tunnel encountered earlier. The tunnels are no more than 3 feet high and 2 feet wide.
The north tunnel goes north about 15 to 20 feet before turning sharply to the west.
The other tunnel goes generally southwest and then turns south at the edge of the torchlight some 25 feet away.
Meira reports the rat tracks are very heavy here although nothing can be seen or heard in regards to actual rats. Some months old rat dung can be found.
At the intersection, among the rat tracks and debris on the floor (old bones, a rotting piece of leather, a torn chunk of clothing), Meira finds a barely distinguishable boot print in the tunnel wall. There is some dried blood as well as chunks of rat hair. A drag path shows something was drug down the tunnel to the southwest.
Meira suggests the party follow the drag marks. Krelar concurs.
Kuba holds up. The tall warrior looks reluctantly at the small passage. He elects to remain in the larger part of the tunnel. “You smaller members can scout out the tight spaces.”
Krelar hands Kuba his divinely illuminated torch. “We will be right back.”
Krelar prays while holding the working end of his flail. Soon it glows with equal illumination as the torch. “Lead the way Meira, you can see farther than I.”
Meira begins slowly tracking the drag marks into the southern tunnel. Krelar looks back at the larger warriors with understanding, “I get it. It is going to take a long time to clean my armor.”
Krelar gets down on his hands and knees and begins to crawl after Meira. She is short enough that she can make it down the tunnel slouched over.
Dalic isn’t one to be left behind when danger could be near. At 3’8” tall, the tunnels are not as crowded for him. He walks into the tunnel ahead of Krelar with a wink.
Bhut appears content to sit back with Kuba for the time being.
The tunnels in this area have increased moisture though not outright wet.
Before long, Meira, Dalic and Krelar return to Kuba and Bhut to report.
They found the tunnel continues south past two rat chambers. The drag mark continues past the first chamber and through the second chambers. In the second chamber, a rat tunnel leads east.
The tunnel with the drag marks lead about 150 feet to the general south before opening up into a large underground chamber.
The underground chamber is irregular shaped but 30 to 50 feet wide. It has a high ceiling, some 10 to 12 feet. The ceiling is shored up with old wooden timbers. They are badly decayed and several have fallen to the floor. Just north and south of the tunnel entrance are scores of old wooden barrels. Some are intact but most are rotten and/or broken apart. A smell of vinegar hangs in the air.
The room slants heavily up to the west. The floor itself is additionally broken up into a series of four ledges. Each ledge is about 12 or so feet up. The ceiling rises at each ledge to remain roughly 10 to 15 feet above the floor. Crude ramps are carved out of the soil to make ascending or descending from ledge to ledge easier. Dalic estimates the room rises some 75 feet or more from east to west. The soil is moist. The air is damp, heavy and reeks of damp earth, mold and mildew.
There appears to be no rat or other creature moving in the large chamber. The drag mark ends at a bloody stain on the floor. Nothing of a rat body remains save some hair.
Dalic quickly volunteers to take the lead.
Meira follows telling the duergar, “I will cover with my bow as soon as we get to the chamber.”
Krelar gets down and takes third.
Bhut shrugs at Kuba and follows Krelar.
Kuba does not look overly excited about crawling through the cramped tunnel. Looking over his shoulder, he appears less excited about staying behind by himself with a gang of giant rats in the rear. Those ahead of him in the tunnel can hear him get down and start crawling in after them, “Okay, let’s move on. I’ve learned that splitting up usually doesn’t turn out well.”
Although the tunnel walls do not look overly secure, being moist soil, they hold up. Claustrophobia begins to put its tentacles into the humans. Luckily, about every 50 feet the tunnel opens into a small warren where the larger adventurers can get a better breath, albeit of poor quality air.
The group makes its way past the first warrant and through the second before crawling through the final culver-like rat hole into the larger chamber. It is as described by Meira, Dalic and Krelar.
The ramps carved into the upper ledges appear to have been made to facilitate bringing the nearly 100 casks into this chamber. What remains of the wooden casks is strewn about north and south of the rat hole. The smell of vinegar hangs in the air. It appears that at least some of the remaining barrels are kegs of old, spoiled wine.
The group spreads out and enters the room while Meira covers them with her bow.
The grab mark ends at the previously mentioned stain on the floor. Whatever drug the rat to that point appears to have eaten it there.
Meira moves in slightly with the group. She reports bloody boot tracks move west from the blood spot towards the first ledge up. They are obvious enough for all party members to see them.
Dalic and Bhut report the north casks are old kegs, most are broken, those not broken appear spoiled.
Kuba and Krelar report the same on the south side.
Looking at the beams that support the ceiling and walls, they appear to be originally made for a ship. It appears they had been scavenged and brought down here.
Moving up to the first ledge, Meira reports the boot tracks go up the ramp. The blood is mostly worn off and the tracks are becoming much harder to see.
Following the tracks up, the party looks around the first ledge. Two tunnels, one NW and one NE, are dug into the north wall. Meira reports activity in and out of the tunnels. Something has crawled in and out repeatedly over time. The disturbances in the soft soil do not appear to be caused by rats.
The alcove to the south is empty.
The ramp up to the next level, along with what the party can see to the west and the uppermost ledge, are clear of threats. Meira finds hints of booted prints that go up and down the ramps.
The opening on the top level appears to open into a much larger chamber. Dalic, with his superior dark vision, catches some movement at the end of the tunnel just as it opens into the larger chamber. Something, moving ape-like, runs past the opening from south to north. A hideous laughter soon follows, echoing through the chamber.
Dalic springs into an instinctive pit fighter posture, sword at the ready. The laughter temps his own insane frantic berserker rage. Keeping his wits, he calls out on approach, “Identify yourself! Or face assumption of hostility!”
Kuba holds Krelar’s torch is his left hand and Bloodletter in his right. He moves up alongside Dalic.
Bhut moves up as well, keeping close to the light.
Krelar holds out his illuminated flail to aid in lighting the chamber. In his off hand, he pulls out his symbol of Phaulkon.
Meira brings up the rear with her bow out.
The party moves through the short 30 foot corridor that connects the two chambers. The humans are happy the corridor is 7 to 8 feet tall. The moldy wood shoring is again used every so often (about every 15 to 20 feet). The soil remains moist here.
The narrow tunnel gives way to a vast cavern with a relatively low ceiling (about 15-22 feet). Dalic describes natural stone tiers ascending up out of the cavern on the far west side in similar fashion to the ones the party just traversed. They appear passable. Despite the cavern’s large size, the place is cramped because of the excessive number of columns of raw earth that connect floor to ceiling. It appears whoever dug this chamber did not want to risk collapse. Dalic and Meira can both see a trench that bisects the room north to south near the center of the chamber. From it, the sound of running water can be heard. A make-shift wooden bridge crosses the chasm.
A shrill laughter echoes in the chamber again and Dalic and Meira can see the humanoid run northwest from the west side of the make-shift bridge to behind one of the earthen columns.
The party stands on a ledge that slopes sharply to the north. It is a natural ramp that leads down about 15 feet to the floor.
The ceiling above the party is only about 7 to 8 feet high. From the main floor of the chamber to the ceiling is about 22 feet.
Dalic mutters, “Fire a warning shot,” as he keeps his eyes on the gangly creature.
Meira retorts, “He is at the edge of my vision.” She tries to train her bow in on the creature but does not fire. She is having a hard time targeting it. She drops her aim and Dalic sighs as the creature dips out of view behind the earthen structure.
Kuba says, “Shall we put this lunatic out of our misery?” Seeing some agreement, he continues, “People resistant to magic up front.”
Meira adds, “Keep moving in slowly using the right edge. Move carefully and watch out for traps or ambush.”
Dalic fearlessly takes the lead. Kuba and Bhut follow with Krelar and Meira to the rear.
The party moves around the ledge coming down to the lower level. The floor is a maze of large earthen structures, small shallow burrows, wet soggy ground and rubble piles. Dalic’s first step sinks into the soft ground covering his boot to his ankle. He retracts his foot with some difficulty as the wet ground wills to hold him fast.
Dalic tests a few more steps and finds the floor solid enough, just wet and soft. “I am not keen on crossing over the bridge into hostile and unfamiliar territory. Let’s hold at the bridge.”
The group concurs and moves forward, staying relatively close to the northern wall. The mud slows the groups movement. This speaks more to the slipperiness of the mud and not the depth. After just a few steps, everyone feet carry an extra couple inches of wet mud making them heavy and clumsy.
As the group closes to within 20 feet of the bridge, it is illuminated by the torchlight. The bridge is made of several oak beams lashed together by rope. The beams are not fitted together and leave several inches between them here and there as the old and warped wood rests clumsily together. Five beams make up the bridge giving it a width of nearly four feet. The beams appear solid enough though the ends have been sitting in wet soil for a long time. Green fungus has covered both ends as rot has taken ahold of them. Each beam is about 9 to 12 inches across and generally square in shape.
The chasm itself is on ly 4 to 6 feet wide. The bridge beams are cut in 10 foot lengths leaving several feet of beam touching the ground on each side of the chasm. The sounds of moving water is louder here and obviously coming from the chasm. It appears some type of stream flows in it.
The gangly creature pops out from the north side of the earthen structure on the west side of the bridge where he secreted himself earlier. He chucks something at the group. His aim is true but his distance is off. The object splats into the mud a few feet before Dalic. He finds himself looking down at a mud packed human skull.
Another peel of hideous laughter echoes through the chamber from the creature.
The creature, just barely out of the torchlight, is seen by the humans as a shadowy, hunched humanoid-shaped creature with overly long arms. Dalic and Meira can make out more detail. The creature is small, if human, maybe some 5 feet tall with a thin build. He wears what remains of tattered clothes. He resembles the ghoulish dead the group has encountered in other areas of this dungeon.
Dalic sneers, “Throwing a human skull seems a hostile act if there ever was one.” He looks disapprovingly at the bridge.
Kuba hesitates as well, looking at the bridge. It appears Kuba does not want to be the first one to attempt to cross, “Dalic, test the beams. I will follow.”
Meira takes aim on the gangly creature but holds her shot for now; even as it appears bends down to pack another skull with mud.
Dalic monitors the creature as he requests, “Someone loop a rope ‘round my belt so I can cross with less risk of falling. Then I shall cross.”
Meira, still holding a drawn arrow upon the mysterious creature, offers, “Use my rope.” Bhut quickly retrieves the elf’s silk rope and ties one end to his companion’s belt.
Krelar, holding his symbol in one hand and his inverted flail in the other, moves to the edge of the bridge with Dalic. The priest warns, “The edge of that crevise appears weak, be careful and stay near the bridge.”
Dalic takes a few gingerly steps onto the bridge. He sneaks a peek into the chasm and can see it is only about 10 feet deep with a shallow, rocky stream running southward at the bottom.
Seeing the dwarf enter the bridge and look down, the creature hurtles the now packed skull. The skull strikes Dalic on the left shoulder. It breaks upon impacting the plate armor splattering mud onto his shoulder, neck and face. A shard of bone cuts Dalic’s neck lightly (1, 41/48). The impact is followed by another peel of insane laughter.
The bridge holds Dalic’s weight for the first few steps. The impact of the skull stopped Dalic’s forward movement. Now, Dalic’s sixth sense kicks in. He begins to sense something is below him just as a very weak voice is heard from the depth of the crevice, “help.”
Meira suggests, “We should establish security before looking to help whatever is hailing us from the trench. I will be glad to descend if we find it necessary.”
Dalic looks back over his shouler with a smirk, “Hold on tight and cover me.” With that, Dalic steps to the edge of the bridge, sword in hand, and leaps off the bridge into the chasm with one hand one the rope.
Bhut braces himself as the rope goes tight. Krelar lets go of his holy symbol and drops his weapon as he dives forward to grasp the rope.
The creature on the other side of chasm begins searching the floor; likely for another skull to pack full of mud.
As the rope goes tight, it pulls Dalic towards the eastern wall where Bhut stands securing the rope. Krelar managed to get a grip of the rope himself. Between the two humans, they keep the rope from slipping.
Dalic makes a less-than-graceful repel off of the trench wall. He releases the rope and drops down to the rocky bottom with the dull sound of impacting wet soil. He lands on his feet but loses his balance slightly as the bottoms is uneven. He drops to one knee but is unharmed. His sword remains in hand and at the ready.
As Dalic splashes down onto the soil, Bhut tips over backwards onto Krelar as the tension on the rope is suddenly released.
Meira and Kuba both move up to the edge of the bridge. Both keep an eye on the strange skull-chucking creature as they try to sneak a peek into the ditch. Meira keeps her bow trained on the gangly creature as she makes a quick scan for threats in the trench.
Meira looks down to see the duergar is alive and well at the bottom of the 10-foot deep trench. Kuba shines the torch given to him by Krelar over the dark trench, giving it illumination.
They see the ditch has been excavated by a fast-moving stream some 4 to 6 feet wide. The bottom is generally soft soil, mainly a loam like material mixed with rocks of various sizes. The stream itself appears to be only a couple three or four feet in depth.
Dalic has been lucky enough to fall onto an old cave-in from the eastern wall. The north side of the collapse is secured in place by a large boulder that has diverted the water to the western bank. To the south of the boulder is a small sand bar. Dalic has landed on the sandbar.
To the north of Dalic, laying fetal just south of the boulder on the wet sand, is what appears to be a dirty and wet human male in chain mail armor. He has a pack lying next to him along with a cracked, unlit lantern. He does not appear to have a weapon or shield.
The man does not lift his head. He only softly speaks, “Help.”
The skull chucker appears to have found a skull or a stone. It shrieks with laughter at the joy of another volley.
Kuba remains at the edge of the bridge providing light into the chasm. He keeps his attention mainly focused on the gangly creature in order to avoid getting hit with a mud projectile.
Meira keeps her bow trained on him as well.
Dalic calls up, “Another rope! We can retrieve this guy.”
Krelar and Bhut right themselves. Bhut holds onto the rope while Krelar tosses down the other end so that both ends dangle into the ditch. “This should work,” Krelar hopes.
Dalic turns his attention to the man on the sand bar, “Stand and identify yourself and be rescued.”
The man does not or cannot move. He weakly mutters, “Selmo. Abbey.”
Up above, the gangly creature cocks back to chuck another projectile. Meira, having her bow trained on him, fires and arrow. The missile errantly flies wide and sticks into the soil mound.
The creature releases a fist sized rock. It arcs toward the group. Meira quickly nocks another arrow and tries to shoot the rock off course. Her arrow misses and disappears into the dark. The stone strikes Krelar in the abdomen, “Oof!” The priest does not seem badly hurt (1, 16/19).
The gangly creature, having been fired upon by Meira, beats a retreat towards the protection of the northern soil mound again.
Dalic secures one end of the rope to Selmo. While doing so, the man does not move much. He groans in pain a bit as the dwarf jostles him around. Once Dalic is satisfied with his work, he climbs up the other rope with Bhut and Krelar securing it.
The three of them then pull the limp body of Selmo up from the ditch and hoist him onto the edge of the bridge adjacent to the eastern trench edge.
Kuba and Meira keep watch on the gangly creature with the hideous laugh. It scrambles out of view behind the mound.
Dalic’s sixth sense again raises his attention to danger. Looking to the east, the duergar can see a line of what appears to be humans walking toward the group. They are moving slowly, hunched over. They are about 25 feet to the east and coming into view from the bottom of the landing. A quick count shows there are five in view. The northern wall may hide others. The have the gait of the undead.
Dalic suddenly springs into actions, he turns to face the east and orders to the darkness, “Halt!”
Meira turns to see the undead as well.
The human’s eyes are too weak to see the foe.
Kuba stands, holding the magic infused torch and his sword. He holds at the bridge.
Krelar tucks his flail into his belt, drops to his knees next to Selmo and prays over his fellow priest, “Phaulkon, aid this man; one of your followers.” Some color returns to Selmo as his body begins to warm. He appears to be in the end stages of hypothermia. Krelar’s prayers have bought Selmo some more time.
Bhut turns to the east and strains to see into the darkness.
A voice calls out in a low, evil whisper, “Leeeave ‘em. Run away. Leeeave ‘em. We sssshall feed.”
Meira goes on the offensive. Elves are overly found of undead. She draws her bow back and steps to the south to give herself a clear shot. In addition, she affords herself a little protection by screening herself behind an earthen mound south of the bridge.
The undead charge forward through the soft soil. By bending forward and using their arms, they claw themselves through the mud at a faster rate than expected. The wet soil churns into the air amid the sucking sounds of their hand and foot falls. The sound is unnerving to the unseeing humans.
Meira is able to stick two arrows into the one that spoke as they charge. The first sticks into its head, penetrating through its left eye. The second goes through its abdomen and cleanly out the back. It continues forward unimpeded.
Kuba, Bhut and Dalic prepare for melee as Krelar scrambles for his holy symbol.
They burst into the radius of the torch light. All five are the corpses of humans though the second largest has considerably darker skin and more closely resembles the tribal types encountered in the Hepmonaland jungles. Their clothing is all but rotted away. What remains betrays this group as sailor types. The dark skinned one has a necklace of shark’s teeth adding to the evidence these were sailing men.
Kuba turns to face the approaching undead and prepares for battle. He holds his position at the eastern end of the bridge in case things get out of hand and the party needs to retreat across the chasm. He quietly hopes the bridge will hold should the need play out.
Krelar, still on his knees, holds out his symbol towards the undead, “Back you creatures of darkness!” Three of them stop and fan out at the edge of the torchlight, fading back some into the darkness. They drift to the south.
The larger dead man hisses a command and both he and the dark-skinned corpse hold up short of melee. They had been charging the Phaulkon priests but Bhut and Dalic stand in the way. They stand not 10 feet away from the warriors; their jaws snapping and lips pulled back revealing their long black fangs. A wave of stench washes over the warriors.
The larger one speaks in common again, “Your power will waaaane. Fleeee while you caaaan.”
Dalic ignores the stench and charges the largest dead man. He also happens to be the closest. The dead man sneers, “Now you sssshall die!”
Dalic feints a torso strike; ducking low as he arrives. He slashes the stench-ridden corpse across the right calf (13, 16/31) as he dodges to its flank.
The creature turns and rakes its claws across Dalic’s left leg. One of them finds a space in his plate armor, scratching open his skin (2, 39/48).
Meira fires upon the dark-skinned ghoul. Her arrow deflects off of its death-hardened skin.
It charges the priests as Bhut takes a step back, assuming a defensive posture. He gives himself a little more room to swing. Bhut appears to shrug off the overpowering smell as well.
The dark-skinned ghoul leaps upon Selmo as Krelar pulls out his flail to defend his fellow priest. The dark-skinned ghoul claws through Selmo’s chain armor of his left arm as the priest limply raises it in defense (4, 2/10). It then bites deep into Selmo’s neck (3, -1/10). Blood spurts from the wound as the ghoul rips tissue free. Selmo goes limp as blood pools around his head.
Krelar cries out, “NO!” as he swings his flail wildly off its mark. The glow on the end of the flail makes for dancing shadows on the wall with the sudden movement of the light.
Kuba remains at the bridge, holding what may become their only possible escape. The smell of the corpses has not reached Kuba yet. Even so, his stomach begins to turn with the memory.
Krelar is not as lucky. He begins to retch while he attempts to melee the dead foe.
The other three ghouls continue to move to the south into the darkness. They hiss and click their jaws in anger as they move. Meira begins to lose sight of them as they pass behind the nearby mound of earth. She fires upon them with an arrow but misses. She opts to change weapons and goes for her axe and sword.
Dalic moves to slash his opponent across the neck but his body fails to respond. His body has gone numb and his arms fall to his sides. He remains immobile.
Meira charges over towards Dalic to give him aid. The undead creature looks longingly at the dwarven treat before turning to face the elf, “I dine, you die!”
Meira swings her long sword at the corpse but it knocks the blow off course with an arm. It claws at her sword arm but her studded leather armor protects her from its nails. With its other arm, it slashes her across the belly. This time the claws cuts through armor and skin (3, 12/20). It moves in to bite her neck. Meira swings her hand axe into ghoul’s ribs. The blow shatters ribs and the axe is buried up to her fist (10, 16/31). It clicks its teeth together, “Now you die!”
The dark ghoul turns its attention on Krelar as it swallows a chunk of flesh. It claws Krelar lightly across the neck (2, 14/19). His chain mail protects him from major injury.
Krelar swing clumsily while vomiting. The ghoul easily moves away from the blow. It snaps back at the priest but fails to bite through his armor.
Bhut and Kuba both rush up to help Krelar from opposing sides. Bhut buries his battle axe into the ghoul’s right foot (6, 18/24). The blow severs the end of its foot. Kuba slashes the dead man with Bloodletter, removing its left arm off at the shoulder and its left leg off mid-thigh. The dark-skinned corpse falls face down into the mud. Bhut’s final blow lops off its head for good measure.
Bhut notices the skull chucking gangly creature has moved up onto the bridge and is creeping along bent low and using his hands to help balance itself.
Meira releases her hand axe, leaving it stuck in the ghoul’s rips. It pushes her over on her back and she falls, unconsciously, supine. It prepares to pounce on her but sees Kuba charging over towards it waving his gore drenched blade.
Bhut shouts out a warning, alerting the rest of the crew to the creature on the bridge.
The large ghoul hisses, protesting having to leave a meal. It quickly retreats back into the darkness. By the sounds given off to the southeast, the other three humanoid forms that went behind the hill are following it.
The gangly creature on the bridge also retreats. It flees to the west.
The echoing of the retreat softens in the chamber as the party regroups.
Krelar gives his opinion, “Selmo is dead. I fear it will be the death of the rest of us if we stay down here. We must find a way out of here. I must report to my superiors.”
Krelar hoists Selmo’s body over his shoulder fireman’s style. He holds his lighted flail out before himself. “We must try the bridge. I fear we are too weak to face the undead further. I invited you to join me for the sake of the abbey. I will cross the bridge first and risk the dangers. Gather the others, we must go before the dead return.”
Kuba calls out to Dalic and Meira hoping they can get up and move. He shines his torch into the darkness trying to keep watch for the return of the undead.
Krelar takes his first tedious steps onto the bridge as Bhut moves over to Dalic and lifts his little friend. Bhut picks up Dalic and follows Krelar.
The bridge holds as Krelar makes his way across. The two human priests weigh about the same as Bhut and Dalic so Bhut hustles onto the bridge next.
Kuba sees the party is in retreat. He picks up Meira and makes his way to the bridge.
At the party crosses the bridge, the smaller gangly creature resumes throwing rocks. It has climbed about half way up the mound to the northwest. As it tries to throw a stone, it loses its footing and tumbles back out of sight.
The group has lost its two members with low light vision so the three humans stumble forward in the maddening mud bearing their comrades. Krelar is able to keep his flail out for light but he quickly realizes he cannot swing it with Selmo on his back. Bhut has an axe out but he is only slightly more effective than Krelar. Kuba, bringing up the rear, has the torch in the hand he holds the light weight elf with. In his free hand, he carries Bloodletter. None of the three attempt to try and overtake the gangly creature after it falls out of view.
The three maintain a westerly heading past the mound. Behind it is the beginning of a three-leveled switchback leading up the natural stone tiers.
Once they reach the stone, movement becomes markedly easier. Unfortunately, the gangly creature has remounted his post and chucks a rock. It flies wildly errant as the muddy mound slips out from below its feet and it tumbles out of sight a second time. The first tier rises about 10 feet up and the second about 5 feet.
At the top tier, the three men pause to catch their breath. Dalic begins to stir so Bhut allows him down. Before too long, Dalic is back to his old self as Meira begins to regain feeling and movement. She quickly regains her feet.
A passageway carved from the soil and shored up with rotted and moss covered timbers moves generally east away from the party. Having no other options, Krelar leads the group carefully down the passage.
After roughly 60 feet, it opens into a room that seems to be little more than a deviation point. A huge boulder rises floor to ceiling in the northeastern part of the room, and a steady stream of water droplets runs down its sides, turning the floor into a molasses of mud. The passageway leads west-northwesterly from the mud chamber.
Meira notes the water was muddied by something recently.
Moving carefully across the mud, Dalic’s dwarf eyes note a glimmer ahead, roughly sixty feet. The party carefully approaches to find two final chambers. The first is to the left side of the passageway. It is dug out of the soil and roughly 15 feet across and generally square with rounded corners. Tiny specks mixed into the soil sparkle around the edge of the archway leading into the chamber. A iron ladder is mounded to the northwest wall leading up to the ceiling.
The second chamber is directly north of the first. This chamber, though still rough, is much better constructed than the smaller one. The walls glisten with a sheen much more intense than mere wetness, and your lights seem to rebound and amplify the intensity until it almost appears that the walls are dripping molten silver.
Meira suggests a search of the two chambers. Kuba agrees. He and the elf move into the square chamber.
Dalic explores the smaller chamber. He inspects the ladder and the specks on the floor.
The party discovers the arcway to the smaller chamber is lined with powdered iron. The square room is coated with silver dust.
Krelar draws a conclusion quickly, “This appears to be some type of warding. At least, that is my first thought. Obviously the minerals are not naturally here.”
Meira reports. Looking at the floor, the square chamber floor has been packed down. It appears something spent much time in there. The floor is more packed toward the middle than the very edges. In addition, Meira reports several sets of man-sized foot tracks lead down the hall from the chamber. Several came from the square chamber. Only one set came from the smaller chamber. It began at the ladder.
After some discussion, the party decides to ascend the ladder.
The trapdoor is heavy. It is made of thick oak and covered above by a thick stone tile. It opens to reveal a small, dark chamber that seems low and cramped. It is roughly 10’ by 15’. The bare stone tiled floor is rough and discolored in spots. Two long narrow wooden tables occupy the center of the room, each the resting place of a body, the first a young woman and the second is an old man. Each is covered with a white sheet up to their head. In the western corner is a tall wooden cabinet containing materials for cleaning and preparing the dead for burial as well as supplies to clean the room. A light blue-painted wooden pedestal in the north corner holds the Chalice of Phaulkon. In the archway that exits the room to the west hangs a deep blue tapestry.
“We are in the morgue,” announces Krelar. “The tunnels connect the guardhouse to the abbey’s morgue. We must make for the abbey immediately.”
At Krelar’s request, the north table is moved so that it covers the trapdoor once closed.
Krelar sets Selmo’s body down in the morgue, retrieves a blanket and covers him respectfully.
The group moves through the tapestry into the next chamber. It is a large room, 10’ by 20’, regally decorated. The walls are lined floor to ceiling with matching deep blue tapestries, except for the east wall which is dominated by a pair of 3’ x 5’ stained glass windows. The window to the left depicts a yellow sun high over rolling blue waves. The window on the right depicts a white moon sinking into purple-blue waves.
The room itself is crowded with wooden pews that are lined up below a large stone altar. The altar is draped with a green cloth, and small brass incense burners sit in each corner. Behind the altar, in the southeast corner of the room, is a pulpit of dark stained oak. The altar and pulpit stand directly in front of the group.
Krelar leads the group through the chapel and out another tapestry in the northeast corner. It opens to a small foyer with a wood door mounted on the north wall.
The morning’s rains have subsided leaving a partly cloudy day. The path to the abbey is still wet. The group follows Krelar’s rapid pace. He enters and hails Almon.
The group brief’s Almon in regards to Selmo’s death, the undead and the tunnel network below the hill upon which stands the abbey. He grows more and more concerned as the tale is told.
“We must secure this complex until we figure out what to do with it. Baroness Andrella must be notified. I shall meet with her immediately. Krelar, take Holrag with you and see to Selmo. Search his things and see what you can find out about what drove him under ground. Keep someone posted in the morgue for now.” Almon pauses.
As he collects himself, the interim Abbot looks upon the group. “Some of you have been injured again.” He hails another priest, “Sedrick, see to their injuries before they leave.”
Krelar and Holrag depart for the morgue.
Sedrick heals the party of their injuries.
Interim Abbot Almon continues before departing for the castle, “Dear friends, as you return to the inn, would you kindly do what you can to secure the trap door in the guardhouse. Also, would you please send runners for Pelltar and the druid Almax. Advise them their presence is requested by me at the castle.”
The group turns to leave but Almon speaks one more time, “Please find yourself some rest. Should you be willing, the offer of adventure is likely in your future. May Phaulkon bless the breeze upon your face.”
The group departs, following through on Almon’s requests before retiring to the inn. The trap door is secured by spell from Pelltar on his way to the castle.
The group again went into the caverns below Restenford for the Phaulkon Abby. The adventure was completed during a tabletop session. Here is the summary:
The party (Speck, C'mere, Markus, Irena, Breymeer, Relmak and Krelar went back into the catacombs under Restenford to finally clear them completely.
Passing through a pool of mud, they were attacked by zombies. The halflings saved Breymeer from a suffocating attack (according to them anyway). The party defeated the zombies and found a narrow passageway past a large boulder blocking the way. They were attacked from behind by the ghouls left over from the large chamber on the previous adventure. They defeat the ghouls.
Moving past the boulder, the party moved up a passageway eventually finding a door with a round chasm that drops to an underground ocean cavern. Half way down was a ledge. A magic mouth warned the party to leave the dead rest. Breymeer, Markus, Relmak and Irena went down to investigate leaving the halflings and Krelar above. Upon the ledge was a sarcophagus, table and some rubble. The area was decorated with jawless skull motif's.
On the table was a shark-skinned spellbook. Disturbing it, a mummified undead creature rose out of the sarcaphagus. Irena, Breymeer and Relmak were froze with fear. Markus tried to distance himself, slapping Breymeer across the face as he passed him. The mummy picked up and throws Irena over the ledge into the waters below. She is unable to swim having been knocked unconscious. She drown. Breymeer came to and engaged the mummy in combat. Things were going very poorly for him until Relmak overcame his fear. Relmak and Markus both cast sanctuary and tried to heal Breymeer as he was engaged in melee. Two critical hits save the day and the mummy is defeated. Unfortunately, the spell book was thrown into the ocean as a distraction during the combat.
The group next moved to a burned out barracks where they found several moldy bodies. The halflings investigated and were both paralyzed by mold spores from a Russet Mold. The party withdrew as three mold men (one of them a chieftain) pursued. The party was able to defeat all of them (they had a continual light torch that killed the mold).
The party beat a hasty retreat back to the Phaulkon Abbey in attempts to save the halfling's lives. Speck pulls through but C'mere died.
After completing the adventure. The party splits up. Some members remain on the island and others travel to Loreltarma to find a ship off the island.
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