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sessionreport

Adventurers

Character Class Description
Ambros Cleric level 4 Follower of Aniu, Lord of Time.
Foxglove Thief level 4 A willowy human, long hair ties in a pony tail, looks a bit dangerous and dainty at the same time.
Darius Cleric level 4 Follower of Dacron, God of Craftsmen.
Rorik Fighter level 3 A fighter.
Bob the Dwarf Dwarf level 3 Midget with big beard in search of an adventure.
Happy Halfling level 3 Short, very happy looking halfling. Hair covers his eyes and he is nothing but smiles.

Meadowlark 6th, Airday

An ugly, child-sized creature hung still in the north-east corner. It was up high, by the ceiling, leaning against the wall with its feet and a pair of arms. Another pair of arms was covering its hideous face. Arms had four joints.

Rorik stood still, observing the creature. He subtly signalled to other adventures something is amiss. Hideous child ignored FoxGlove's communication attempts. It slowly crawled sideways along the wall until it stopped just above the dragon door.

Then it suddenly leaned forward, revealing to full extent its atrocious facial features, and jerked out coats stuffed in dragon's nostrils. Rorik shot it dead before the first puffs of blue haze dropped to the ground.

The thief climbed up the side of the dragon door and inspected the monster up close. Face was relatively human. Its eyes were elongated and almond-like. Two large mandibles protruded out of its mouth. Its body was covered in armour made of some webbed and sticky material.

FoxGlove gingerly pulled out a shortsword that hung by the creature's hip. It too was sticky and made from webbed material. Then he stuffed the cloaks back into the dragon's nostrils.

Forcing the north-east doors open led the party into a corridor blocked by dense, thick strands of pearl-gray webbing. After careful deliberation, FoxGlove and Rorik began cutting through the web. They were slow and methodical, taking care not to get entangled or stuck. Up close they observed that the webs were coated in some oily substance.

Cutting through the rope was promptly rewarded by receiving two javelins to the face. Rorik shielded himself and then charged forth to face the daring assailants. He crashed against two four feet tall monsters, very similar but a bit sturdier than the one he killed earlier. Both were had dark, lanky black hair, four arms, and were dressed in webbed armours. Each held a sword, a shield, and a javelin, with fourth hand free.

Small monsters barely stood a chance against mighty Rorik and pious Ambros. Rest of the party splintered north, down the corridor with several doors. They were, of course, promptly flanked from both sides.

Bob received several javelins to his face and body, imitating a hedgehog. A number of four-armed spiderfolk spilt out of the west doors, filling the corridor. Alas, the adventurers were still mightier and slew them in droves.

Darius cast Light on the figure he deemed to be the leader. He came to such conclusion after seeing one of the four-armed creatures directing others. The monster screamed and wailed. Then it threw itself backwards and begun crawling up the wall.

“Murderers!” it cried in broken Common.

“Butchers!” it protested in anguish.

“Killers!” it spat in disgust.

“Huh?” adventurers wondered and chased the fleeing creatures.

With all doors shut, they now focused on the blinded one. It was soon brought back down to the ground and beaten mercilessly.

“I yield! What do you want?!” it cried, dropping its sword and shield.

“Why did you call us killers?!” Ambros demanded.

Such inquiry utterly confused the monster.

“You burst in our lair and start killing us! Killers!”

“Yeah, just kill him.” could be heard in the background.

Unhappy with the creature's answer, the blade was raised for coup de grace.

“Enough!” in well spoken Common could be heard from darkness up north.

“You came into my home, slew my children, maimed my champion, and are caused senseless destruction! Speak! What is it you want!”

Similar, but slightly larger and much better dressed, four-armed creature hung by the darkness at the edge of the adventurers' torchlight.

Soon they learned this is a lair of spiderfolk driven from below by “glowing hunters.” They've been slowly exterminated, and have now holed up here. Since they've been denied returned to the netherlands, they have been forced to come to the surface and hunt for food—cattle, goats, birds...

“We would like to help. How can we find these glowing hunters?”

“They will find you! All you need to do is step out of the mist through south doors. Beware the glowing chambers! Do not go into them! You must draw them out, else you will be doomed! And remember, remember this well! Should any one of you fall to the Glowing Hunter, then make sure to chop up the body without any further delay!”

Not much else of use was learned, and party retreated out of the spiderfolk's lair without further violence.

Happy promptly fell into previously discovered pit trap that has reset itself. Then he was drawn out and he almost fell into thus undiscovered pit trap.

Without ideas on how to reach doors that have a ten feet wide and long pit trap, the party decided to focus on bloated doors on the west side. There they found an abandoned guard room with attached weapon storage. Ransacking both yielded 13 gold pieces, 36 copper pieces, six yellowed, ivory charms carved to resemble grinning skulls, three long-swords, five daggers, one spear, and one two-handed sword. Each weapon bears a carved skull in its pommel or shaft.

Then they returned to the dragon door and played a bit with it. Having agitated it enough, the dragon sneezed with such great force that both cloaks exploded out of the nostrils, followed by thick, voluminous stream of green gas. Everyone who inhaled heaves and coughed, spitting a bit of blood.

And thus the party decided to retreat for the day and report their findings to Tagoler at the Castle of the Wode. They carried Happy to prevent him from falling in any new and old pit traps.

Meadowlark 9th, Fireday

“This is all news to me! Worrying news, at that! Listen, you offered help before. Special help, that is. Now, what would be really helpful is if you could go back and find my guys. It's been a while and no one here expects you to find them alive. But if you could recover their corpses then we would both have an idea where and why they perished, and we would give them a chance to rest closer to their families.”

“They were five men. Cahaidh, rotund and with long brown hair; Eamhur, with lop-eared ears; Eithrael, with long arms and nails; Domnel, with crooked teeth and thinning hair; and Lochey who always looked like a kid despite being in his forties. All had standard equipment consisting of handaxe, dagger, spear, leather armour, shield, and backpack with supplies.”

“These weapons you recovered look impressive! Well balanced! I wish I had such good weapons to equip my people with... Old Crus at Ironburg, just north-west of here, would surely know more about their provenance. Just tell him I sent you. That should grant you an audience with him.”

What will the party do next?

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Adventurers

Character Class Description
Hagar the Hewer Dwarf level 4 Imagine Conan as dwarf.
Ambros Cleric level 4 Follower of Aniu, Lord of Time.
Foxglove Thief level 4 A willowy human, long hair ties in a pony tail, looks a bit dangerous and dainty at the same time.
Darius Cleric level 4 Follower of Dacron, God of Craftsmen.
Rorik Fighter level 3 A fighter.
Vyrkainen Elf level 1 Has stunning long, flowing black hair which attracts many fair maidens who exploit his generosity and leave him destitute.

Meadowlark 2nd, Waterday

“What shall we do next?”

Adventurers wondered. Hagar has now been resting for a little over a week. Although alive, he was slowly recovering after his last bout with death. In addition, yesterday's encounters did not help his recovery whatsoever.

First, they encountered Abek Namelin for the second time. The man brought new gifts: exotic breads, cream for Bob's mangled face and scalp, and rejuvenating concoctions for Hagar.

Youngest son of Namelin tried his best to convince the adventurers that his family has been ruthlessly slandered, and that Imrael is behind all that is ill in Hara.

“Who do you think ordered no less than four separate assassination contracts on your head, master dwarf?!”

“These are strong accusations! Do you have any proof?”

“And what proof did they present to you that we are evil!”

Back and forth they went, brining the young man to tears of frustration. He kept repeating that Klekless Racoba is the key to this mystery. Why else would Imrael's want him dead? He offered five thousand, yes!, five thousand platinum pieces to adventurers if they could capture Klekless alive and bring him back for questioning.

But adventurers were steadfast. They rejected Abek's gifts and his offer of friendship. Young man left in tears, but he left the gift behind.

Vyrkainen devoured breads the moment Abek left.

“Oh, you guys don't know what you are missing out on! Tasty!”

“What if the cream and potions are cursed?”

“Even worse, what if they work and then we are in debt to Namelin?”

Second, worse encounter, was with Mavis the Magnificent, High Priestess of Poseidon. Wishing to check on Abek's claim, they pestered acolytes at the Temple for audience with High Priestess.

Initially they were rebuffed, but Vyrkainen's shenanigans eventually granted them a meeting at the end of the day. Hagar wanted to know who the Temple is aligned with.

“Everybody pays their respects to the Poseidon.”

Few more similar questions received similar answers. Then Hagar tried to be more precise.

“High Priestess, who should we work with? Imrael? Or Namelin?”

“What do I care who you work with!” Mavis exploded in a fit of rage. Usually calm and composed, she jumped up like a force of nature, shaking the whole temple. “You should be worrying about your divine debt instead of wasting my time!” Water in the basins and pools swirled and roared, mimicking her temper. “Get out!”

Acolytes ushered them all out, despite Vyrkainen's protests.

“I must remain home and rest.” Hagar shared, more for himself than others.

“Listen. If we are siding with Imrael then let's focus on things that he asked for. There was this spider farm, right? He asked us to look for the lair of creatures that assaulted it. We could also visit Castle on the Wode on our way there and try to meet with Tagoler, whom we plans to back as new Castellan.”

“Sounds good.”

But that was yesterday, and now is today.

“Help? Of course I could use some help!”

Middle-aged man with short hair and trimmed beard roared, slamming a stack of parchments on broad wooden desk.

“There has been a dearth of capable men! Look at the map, come, look at it! You could take any of these routes and patrol them! What, not fancy enough for you?”

Tagoler was still sweaty and grimy, having returned from a patrol himself. His broad chest heaved with laughter, perhaps a nervous one, as he motioned over the area he has to keep safe with a handful of men residing at the Castle of the Wode.

To be fair, calling this simple keep with one tower a castle was an overstatement. But it served its purpose.

“Well if that is too mundane for you special folk, then I have some special problems you could help me with! Months ago, I lost a patrol on the hills north of here. Looked for them myself but no luck. Since I couldn't spare any men, we had to drop our search.

“Locals tell tall tales of vampires, demons, and what not. Truth to be told I think they were done in by a wild beast, potentially and owlbear or cave bear. If you can track the patrol—alive or dead—and kill whatever waylaid them, that'd be greatly appreciated. It'd also allow me to reinstate a new patrol over the hills.

“Another pesky problem is the Pirate Queen that's been raiding ships on their way out of the bay and into the open sea. Hear lair should supposedly be somewhere between Ketche and Ahyf. That's a lot of coast to search! I followed several leads, but all led nowhere!

“So, there it is. Anything worthy of your help?”

Adventurers conversed for a moment. Then they decided to head to the spider farm, and then to the Midnight Goddess Hills, where they would both search for the lair of black creatures, as well as the missing patrol.

Vyrkainen had an extra objective on his mind as well. He desired to meet the nude goddess that roams the hills when sister moons, Howla and Vannis, are both full.

Meadowlark 6th, Airday, Noon

“Up ahead!”

Rorik spotted a circle of white stone pillars atop the Midnight Goddess Hill summit. That by itself was nothing extraordinary. No, what was interesting were several toppled dolmens revealing a dark black cavity.

Exploring the environs revealed several trails of broken grass leading to—or was it from?—the pit. Strong smell of earth, moisture and rot emanated from the hole. Sun shone in just enough to illuminate rounded steps leading further down.

Illustration by kickmaniac.

Vyrkainen volunteered to go first, for he as an elf could see in the dark. The adventurers did not want to risk not being able to surprise someone while carrying torches. They tied two hundred feet of rope around the elf, and down the went.

The steps went down and down, turning and turning. It was impossible to guess the depth, even using the rope to measure distance for it got tangled around the central column. Either way, after some time, Vyrkainen arrived at narrow landing which opened up into a straight corridor.

Up ahead he could see something hazy; and he could smell a curious mixture of strange spices, smoke, and dank copper. Thus, with his reconnaissance completed, he went back up and relayed this new information.

The party summed up their courage and descended down, together. A torch was lit. Now with light one could see all the small steps, plethora of cobwebs and stone dust.

“Hmmm...”

They couldn't see far down the corridor. A blue, impenetrable haze filled it. Foxglove, the thief, went first. Seeing noting suspicious he edged to the mist. It was corporeal. Very real. Stabbing it left the instruments covered in small wet beads that evaporated in seconds.

Once in the mist, the thief could see some five feet ahead.

“Secure me!”

Party set Vyrkainen loose, and used fifty feet of rope to secure Foxglove. Two of them held the rope, attentive to any sign of distress, as the thief explored misty chamber.

Clang.

Stepping left resulted with the thief tumbling straight into a dark pit. Due to short distance, the party wasn't able to tense the rope in time, and Foxglove found himself a bit roughed up, but otherwise fine.

“Pull me up!”

Clang.

Stepping right led to another pit trap, but this time the thief jumped back in time.

“Hmmm, maybe we should leave?” contemplated an adventurer best left unnamed. Surely these brave folk wouldn't be defeated by some pathetic pit traps in the first room of a dungeon!

Surely not!

Foxglove kept tapping through the mist, exploring. Others followed behind him, retracing safe ground he had covered.

And then thief walked straight into dragon's gaping maw.

Luckily for him, the dragon was merely a stone replica!

Dragon's open mouth framed stone doors with a latch to the side. Blue mist tardily rolled out of its nostrils.

“Hey... I have two cloaks... let's use them to jam 'em!”

That indeed worked, and chamber begun to slowly clear.

Rorik spotted bloated, wooden doors just to his left. The little hairs on the back of his neck warned him of danger. He looked around, and then he looked up.

At the edge of light, high in the north-east corner, a child-size creature stuck to the wall. Its feet were flush against the wall, and so were its palms. Other two hands covered its monstrous face—a face only a mother could love.

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Adventurers

Character Class Description
Hagar the Hewer Dwarf level 4 Imagine Conan as dwarf.
Ambros Cleric level 4 Follower of Aniu, Lord of Time.
Tarkus the Promising Cleric level 3 Follower of Bachontoi, God of Red Wisdom.
Beorg the Gravedigger Fighter level 3 Inspired to adventure after burying several adventurers.

Sweetrain 14th, Fireday, Late Evening

“Good evening, Master Dwarf.” Zenon Coke, Headmaster of the Assassins' Guild, hailed Hagar and his friends.

“Well met.” the Dwarf replied politely. “What are you doing in our house?”

Indeed, the adventurers were surprised to find Zenon sitting in their living quarters. How and when did he enter, and how haven't they spotted him earlier? That remains to be answered another day.

“Worry not Hagar, I'm not here to deliver bad news in person. Rather, I'm here to ask for assistance with a small issue. Something, I believe, you and your friends could help with.”

“We are listening!”

“Over the past few weeks several unlicensed assassinations have been conducted. Targets were of no import, but we cannot allow anyone to just go around and murder people for money. Only we can do that, you see.”

“And how can we help?”

“Murders were done poorly, but that is beyond the point. We have tracked down the perpetrators. They have been hiding right in front of us! There is a secret trapdoor on the south side of the bridge connecting South and North Hara. It is located just underneath the bridge, and overhangs the river bank.”

“Now, given your reputation, I believe you could help with the following. I want to make an example out of them. I want them to die messy deaths. I want their corpses to be found by the city guard.”

“Why don't you dispose of them yourself?”

“Power. Example. Message. Yes, we could do so easily. But sending the most powerful adventuring party against them sends a clear message to everyone even dreaming about doing something so stupid like conducting unlicensed assassinations!”

“What is in it for us?”

“Assassins' Guild owning you favour surely is worth something?”

Negotiations lasted well over an hour, both between the adventurers—if they should even accept the offer, is this some sort of trap—and with Zenon—money, favours, immunities.

“I'm happy for you to discuss and verify the facts for yourself, but I need your answer now. I need this done tonight. As a sign of goodwill, we will disarm the trapdoor and leave a silk rope hanging from it. It will be strong enough to carry even the heaviest warrior amongst you.”

Eventually adventurers agreed to do this in exchange for one month of immunity against assassination contracts for the whole adventuring company.

“Be by the bridge in the time it takes one lantern to expire. We will ensure that there is no one there. Easiest way to descend is by following the riverbank starting at the east side and moving westwards. Remember. Example! Oh, and if you happen to find any scrolls with names, please bring it to me.”

Sweetrain 15th, Spiritday, First Night Watch

As promised, there was no one around or on the bridge. No guards, no random drunks, no “night owls” going for a walk. The party descended to the river bank, and found the hanging rope. Trapdoor was hidden really well—if it weren't for the hanging rope it'd be indistinguishable from the bridge stonework.

Hagar pulled on it, and trapdoor swung open. He climbed up and peeked in. It was a dark, narrow, and quite low crawlspace. He pulled up, and begun crawling down. Others followed. Some sixty feet later the tunnel opened up in a hewn corridor five feet wide and eight feet tall.

Tarkus held the lantern, partially covering it to avoid emitting too much light. In fact, there was a thin ray of light coming from underneath the wooden doors up ahead. Bursting in, the party jumped two figures sitting at wide wooden table.

Figures were dressed in simple grayish garbs, black leather armour, and wore partial skull-masks—think just the facial portion of skull. One was instantly slain by the adventurers, while the other one ran to the weapon rack in the south-west corner of the room. Person grabbed the spear, and then ran for the other doors on the east side of the room. Alas, it was cut off the by the adventurers, and was summarily cut down.

Searching the corpses revealed them to be human, albeit of unfamiliar look. Possibly from far away? Beorg took one of the skull-mask and put it on. He liked it as a fashion statement.

The doors where the slain skull-man opened up to a staircase. The stairs turned and turned as they descended. Hagar took the lead.

“Stop.”

The dwarf noticed something was amiss after the third turn. Steps there were flanked by scratch marks on the wall. A sure sign of sliding trap. Adventurers tied the rope around his waist, and Hagar proceeded on.

Indeed, halfway down the stairs dropped into a slide, sending Hagar into the chamber up ahead. He landed with control, and was immediately assaulted by two skull-faced men.

Hagar held his ground, and wounded one of his assailants. Once other adventurers joined him, the skull-men retreated through the door on the south side. Both could be heard yelling in unfamiliar language.

“Follow them!”

Rushing after them, they could see the men splitting. One turned east, while the other continued running south. Hagar followed the latter, while other three adventurers followed the former.

Ambros, Beorg, and Tarkus ran east, seeing the fleeing figure slamming doors in their face. They forced their way in, but were checked by the fleeing figure. Three bunk beds with four confused men indicated that these was a dorm of sorts.

The man yelled at the sleeping beauties to join the fray. Each grabbed the first weapon they could find, and joined in. Ambros hurt the roaring figure, forcing it to retreat few steps back. This created just enough space for the remaining adventurers to get into the chamber.

Wounded skull-man pulled himself on top of the bunk-bed by the east wall. There he laid on his belly and used crossbow to rain hell from above on the adventurers. He missed twice. Then he hit Beorg. The gravedigger felt something entering his bloodstream. But then he tensed really hard and all was good.

Tarkus crushed one of the charging men. Ambros killed two. Beorg cut down the fourth. Then all three rushed the bed and stabbed the prostrated figure to death.

“You know, I feel much better about this assignment after seeing these folks. No one Lawful would be carrying real human skulls!” Tarkus proclaimed. The trio proceeded to ransack the chamber.

Unbeknownst to them, Hagar was facing off a difficult foe.

The dwarf had chased south but stopped once the figure disappeared after yet another turn. He remained there to watch guard. But then a figure clad in black chainmail, with steel-gray robe adorned with skull face, wielding a short sword and mean looking dagger, came out of darkness and walked up. It also wore a skull-mask.

Dwarf and skull-man closed in, trading blows. Initially Hagar held the upper hand, striking the figure twice. But then the skull-man slashed at the Dwarf with his short sword. Hagar recoiled and the man used the opening to drive in the dagger. Hagar felt the stab. More worryingly, he felt muscles around the wound stiffen and contract.

Skull-man, bleeding and staggering, retreated backwards, facing Hagar. The dwarf charged after without hesitation, slaying the man in the process. With every passing moment he felt more and more of his muscles stiffen up.

Hagar slowly walked back to the junction where the party had split. There he saw his colleagues plundering the corpses and ransacking the footlockers.

“I've been badly injured. I will head out, but you should continue and finish what we started! There is at least one more left!”

Hagar dragged himself out, becoming slower and slower with every step. He barely rappelled down the rope.

“I know you are out here! Assassins! I've been poisoned and need your help!” he moaned into the dark of the night.

No response.

The dwarf dragged himself up the river bank and onto the bridge. Then he crossed it to the North, heading to the temple of Poseidon. He kept on calling for help from Assassins' Guild.

The trio bid luck to the Dwarf and then pressed on further south. Eventually they broke into a chamber overlooking a cave to southeast. A bronze statue of slender woman with a magpie's head turned east sat in the alcove to the north. A sound of running water could be heard coming from the cavern.

Investigating the statue revealed nothing of interest. On the other hand, the adventurers found a rope ladder hanging from the ledge. One by one, they slowly descended into the cave.

Ambros motioned to the others to look left.

There was a skull-masked man standing still, holding a sword, leaning against the cave pillar. He was barely visible, but noticeable none the less.

“Surrender and we will spare you!” adventurers offered.

No answer.

The party shrugged and surrounded the man. He yelled something incomprehensible, and then stabbed himself straight through the heart.

“These are no competing assassins!” Tarkus yelled. “This is a death cult!”

Surveying the cave revealed more evidence supporting the cleric's thesis. Prime candidates were a stone stained with dried blood—a sacrificial altar perhaps—and another, smaller stone, adorned with black cloth with skull motif on both sides. To add, a human skull and dagger made of human bone rested on it.

The trio took the ceremonial dagger, cut off heads of three skull-masked men, and ransacked some crates and barrels on their way out.

Once outside, they left a trail of heads leading from the bridge landing to the rope hanging from the trapdoor. Then they proceeded to report to the Assassin's Guild.

Sweetrain 15th, Spiritday, Sunrise

“Well, that was a bit crude.” Zenon commented. “But you got the job done. Oh, I have almost forgotten! Our deal has changed. None of you will received the agreed upon immunity. We found Hagar, stiff as a rock, just in front of the Poseidon's temple. He was poisoned, so we took him and administered an extremely potent antidote. He will recover in due time. We also captured three men that tried to rob him. Do with them as you please.”

Happy that Hagar was alive, the party did not argue too much against changed terms. They shared everything they've seen in the skull-men's hideout. They also gave Zenon a scroll they had recovered from the heavily armoured cultist.

Finally, they let the three thieves go, but warned them to bring any news straight to them. Then they helped still groggy Hagar to return back home.

How many times will this dwarf cheat death?

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Adventurers

Character Class Description
Hagar the Hewer Dwarf level 4 Imagine Conan as dwarf.
Ambros Cleric level 4 Follower of Aniu, Lord of Time.
Tarkus the Promising Cleric level 3 Follower of Bachontoi, God of Red Wisdom.
Beorg the Gravedigger Fighter level 2 Inspired to adventure after burying several adventurers.
Bob the Dwarf Dwarf level 3 Midget with big beard in search of an adventure.
Darius Cleric level 3 Follower of Dacron, God of Craftsmen.
Rorik Fighter level 3 A fighter.

Sweetrain 10th, Spiritday

“Pleasure dealing with you once more Master Dwarf.” Zenon was polite as always “I promise we will not accept any new contracts pertaining to you until summer.”

Hagar parted with one mithral bar; a minuscule price for his life. Then he spent several days with Bob planning the extraction of treasure from the crypt.

The plan was as follows: create a “wash-line” system using block and tackle on opposing ends and several hundred feet of rope. Fill fourteen backpacks with gold coins. Hang them on the line and pull them across the acid pool instead of using the bridge. Then carry it all out.

Forming a large party of seven adventurers—after all, somebody needs to carry all that treasure—they set out of Hara on morning of Sweetrain 10th.

Midway was their first stop. There Wershaw, the constable, chastised them for not keeping their word and delaying closing the crypt. He also conveyed Lord Kyle's deep disappointment in the party for not helping him as promised.

Adventurers hired Dubalan, the sweaty goatherd, to be their guide once more. They reached the crypt by nightfall, and opted to rest before the delve.

Sweetrain 11th, Airday

18.

18 hours of hard, hard work.

That's how long it took them to execute their plan.

Getting to the tomb was easy.

Setting up the pulley system was easy, but time consuming.

Illustration by kickmaniac.

Carrying 14 backpacks full of coin was slow.

Especially when you need to navigate a corridor full of swinging pendulums and scythes. While skeletons and burning blobs of flesh are trying to distract you.

But they made it out of the crypt, proudly carrying 5 600 gold pieces. They left behind around 11 000 coins, of which approximately one fifth was gold.

Exhausted from hard work, they once more rested at Dubalan's “secret spot” hidden between the bushes and rocks.

Sweetrain 12th, Waterday

Rested, but encumbered, the party headed back to Midway. What usually took just two watches now required double time. Having reached river Cedarwade by nightfall, the party decided to camp overnight and cross it in the early morning.

Sweetrain 13th, Earthday

“Get up!”

Beorg's yell was drowned out by tremendous noise create by a dozen of blood-red skinned barbarians charging the camp.

Everyone quickly jumped out of their bedrolls and grabbed their weapon. Altanians quickly closed in on the party, unleashing a salvo of spears and handaxes as they did so.

Beorg checked the advance of several barbarians, but others successfully circumvented him and barged straight into the camp.

From there it was a violent, free-for-all skirmish. Barbarians laughed and jeered at the adventurers. In return, the adventurers hit hard. Whenever their blows connected, that is.

One of the clerics managed to stay out of melee for long enough to blind one of the attackers with Light spell. Bob and Hagar drew a lot of attention, both for being dwarves and for wielding unique looking weapons.

“First one to take dwarf scalp wins!” one of the barbarians roared.

Lo and behold, all but the blinded one disengaged and rushed to attack one of the dwarves. In the confusion, or rather, excitement, two barbarians were hacked down.

Hagar pushed off his would-be scalpers. Bob, on the other hand, wasn't so lucky. First he was beaten. Then he was manhandled and forced to the ground. And then he felt burning sensation as winning Altanian cut across his forehead. Sharp pain followed, as the man jerked off his scalp by pulling hard on the hair.

The man ran off, showing his butt to the adventurers. Other barbarians laughed and insulted the party as they ran off into the sunrise.

“Bob, you good?”

“No.”

Clerical healing nursed the dwarf back to life. Faceless and scalpless, Bob was certainly taking on a rather ghoulish appearance.

“Bob asking the gods why his visage offends them” by Ryu-Ran.

“What about that guy?”

Blinded Altanian was still swinging madly. The party tied him up like a hog, and then dragged him with them.

Once at Midway, they hired a barge to take them to Hara. Much better than trudging along encumbered.

Entering through docks in northern Hara, the party registered their hard earned coins, paid the tax, and headed for their home.

Sweetrain 14th, Fireday

“We will kill you all! Burn the city to the ground! Rape you women! Feast on your children!” the Altanian kept yelling at his captors. Little useful information did he have. So they sold him at the market.

By now Hara has effectively been split in half. Southern portion was controlled by Namelin's thugs. They were patrolling in bands of four to six, always joined by at least one person displaying a compass rose icon—Namelin's family symbol—who seemed to be in charge. These bands never touched the party. In fact, the leader would always be polite, and make sure the adventurers have a free passage through the city, undisturbed.

Two areas in south Hara were devoid of Namelin's presence. One was Imrael's mansion, who deployed his own men around it. After all, he still is the wealthiest and most affluent merchant in Hara. Second was the keep overlooking the marketplace. Although there was no castellan, the few remaining soldiers decided to hole up there and maintain an illusion of control over the city.

Queen's island was closed off, with few rowboats going there and back.

Hagar, Bob, Rorik, and Tarkus accepted the invitation for lunch from Amulias Imrael, head of the family. There they were offered advice on dangers of flaunting their wealth. More importantly, Amulias wanted to know where they stand regarding the increasing tensions in Hara.

Hagar advocated for supporting the Queen, citing their previous help and good relations with Haermond II, the former castellan.

“New castellan will be appointed in the next few months. Namelin will nominate one of his sons, I'm sure of it. We will back Tagoler. He is a good man and has been doing stellar job at the Castle of the Wode. I'm afraid he will be assassinated on his way to Hara.”

“You would be perfect to protect him. First, you have clearly demonstrated your fighting prowess. No one dares touch you here. Second, you are foreigners, meaning there is less dirt on you someone can try to leverage.”

“While I admire your support for the queen, I must warn you that this might get ugly. Remember that crown you commissioned for some monster? Yes, you gave me a good explanation why, but surely you can see how that could easily get twisted and spinned?”

Adventurers discussed for a long time, reaching meek agreement on supporting the loyalists and protecting Tagoler.

“I shall let you know when he decides to set out for Hara. Expect that to be sometime within next two months, but definitely before the summer.”

On the way home, which is actually just across the Imrael's mansion, the quarter was greeted by a young man dressed in fine clothes. He was bronze skinned, had a wide grin, big eyes, and small, round nose. A basket full of goods was in his left arm.

“Well met fine adventurers! May I ask if you are Hagar, good dwarf?” the man motioned at Bob.

“No, this one here is Hagar.” the ugly dwarf pointed to another, less ugly, dwarf.

“Who are you and what do you want?” the muscled dwarf stepped forward and demanded sternly.

“I am Abek Namelin, and I am here to kindly request audience. We know you must be busy, and since you never replied to any of out letters and invitations, I decided to come here myself. You know how they say! If the mountain doesn't come to you, then you come to the mountain!”

Abek smiled and laughed and was in cheerful mood. Quite the opposite of the adventurers. Behind him were eight men, all dressed in tight leather armours, and armed with short swords and spears.

“We are very tired and would like to go home. Come some other time.” Hagar replied, unmoved by Abek's enthusiasm.

“Oh! Please, accept my deepest apologies for inconveniencing you! When would be a good time to come again? Please say so and I'll be there then!”

“This guy won't leave us alone, won't he.” adventurers whispered amongst themselves.

“And friends, silly me, I have almost forgotten! I bring you some gifts! The finest wine from Viridistan! Even the Green Emperor drinks it! Breads and biscuits made from the finest ingredients! And last but not least, a selection of exotic spices to spice up... any adventure you might have, if you know what I'm talking about!”

“Please, we are tired and would like to go home. We cannot accept your gift. You can come in two days.”

“But... Why? Why do you wound me so? What have I done wrong to you? This is a gift coming from our heart!” Abek stuttered, big tears rolling down his cheeks.

“Why would you turn away such generosity and kindness! Have you fallen for the slander of those envious of our success! No, you couldn't have, you are too wise for that!” Abek now spoke through tears, wiping them off with a piece of silk cloth.

“I shall respect your decision although it pains me greatly that you are refusing this gift. I will come at the time you say. And will bring something for the other dwarf! I hope you will accept my generosity then!”

And with those parting words Abek turned around, his cheeks puffy, red, and wet, and left the party. Adventurers exhaled and went home.

“We don't have much time. What do we do next?”

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Adventurers

Character Class Description
Hagar the Hewer Dwarf level 4 Imagine Conan as dwarf.
Ambros Cleric level 4 Follower of Aniu, Lord of Time.
Tarkus the Promising Cleric level 3 Follower of Bachontoi, God of Red Wisdom.
Beorg the Gravedigger Fighter level 2 Inspired to adventure after burying several adventurers.
Bob the Dwarf Dwarf level 2 Midget with big beard in search of an adventure.
Bairstowbury the Chaotic Halfling level 1 Remarkably muscular for a halfling.

Sweetrain 1st, Airday

“Help me out, will you?”

Ambros donned ornate plate mail worn by the undead knights the party had vanquished moments ago. He lost his own armour in an acid vat not even an hour ago.

Bairstowbury the Chaotic finally showed up. He was apparently shadowing them the whole time, but choose to appear only when he deems so.

Six adventures opted to thoroughly search the cursed king's chamber before proceeding down the steps hiden underneath the rubble of the king's tomb.

This was no tunnel, nor hewn spiral staircase. No, this was a hole in the ground, bored either by great might or magic. The slope was nearly vertical. The steps were nothing but formed soil and stone. It was a narrow one as well.

The party had to proceed in a single rank; they could only fight with small, one-handed weapons. Hagar took the lead.

Down and down they went. Deep. A hundred feet or more, if the dwarves are to be trusted.

Another twist, but this time ending with an opening into thick darkness, barely penetrated by the adventurers' torchlight.

“Help... me...”

Barely understandable cry could be heard. At first they misunderstood the accent as foreign; but after listening closely to some time they realised it is in fact Ancient Common.

Inching forwards soon revealed the sad predicament of the tortured one.

Upon a hexagonal plinth was a figure wrapped in chains; pinned to the ground like a ball, with face and belly pointing downwards. The chains were thick and of unknown material; two were anchored to each side of the platform. Figure itself was incorporeal, barely visible under all the chains.

Illustration by IdleDoodler

“We are here to help! By the holy orders of Poseidon! Are you the wrongly accursed soul?” Hagar inquired.

But the figure only communicated with nonsense, cries, wails, sobs, and repetition of pleas for help.

Canvassing the cave revealed little. Chains were indeed real, and not an illusion. Upon closer inspection, it became transparent that all of them wrap around the figure, and then through its torso and down into the center of the platform.

Halfling made another discovery, something much more interesting than a king cursed to suffer for all eternity: nine chests of blackened wood. Five had a gilded lid, three silvered lid, and one jewelled lid. First was filled to the brim with gold pieces, second with silver pieces, and third with small gems.

By now three adventures have climbed the platform and were attempting to speak with the figure. Two failed, but Beorg succeeded.

“Destroy... chains... please...”

Bob tapped his warhammer on the first link of one chain. Hammerhead shattered.

“Magic... use... magic...”

Everyone stepped off the platform.

Bob took out two-handed Wolfhammer.

He swung.

The link exploded, and the chain retracted like an angry eel, making the figure scream as it pulled through it.

Bob repeated this three times.

As the chains were broken one by one, the figure slowly rose to kneeling position, then to crouching, then slouching, and then to finally standing.

Without chains obscuring its figure, the adventurers could see a gauzy figure of a naked man. His body was broken, his regal face tortured but relaxed, his eyes sunk but radiating.

The man looked at each adventurer, as if he was studying them. They could feel the warmth of the gaze.

“Thank you.”

The man vanished.

As the warmth slowly abandoned them, Beorg and Hagar felt a bit wiser from the whole experience.

The heavy chests contained a total of 7 500 gold pieces, 9 000 silver pieces, and 40 small gems.

The party discussed at great length how to get all this treasure out. There is an unreliable bridge over acid pool, there is a corridor with pendulums and scythes, and there is a crypt with hundreds of restless undead.

Having adventured for nearly sixteen hours straight, the adrenaline faded away, and exhaustion set in. What better place to rest at than cursed king's torture chamber? At least it has one entrance, they said.

Sweetrain 2nd, Waterday

“Oh no!”

In the morning the party had found all their standard rations spoiled. They also spent ten torches. After another round of discussions, they decided to take all the gems, and load all the gold coins they could in their backpacks.

Heavily encumbered they moved on. It took them half an hour to get back up in the tomb! Low on torches, they opted to pour all their coins in one broken sarcophagus, and vowed to return for it all.

They successfully navigated the maze.

Their rope was where they left it, so they used it to cross the bridge.

Illustration by IdleDoodler

When they opened the stone doors leading into the long trapped corridor a mass of burning flesh fell upon them, setting some on fire.

Although the stomped the flesh blobs wreathed in purple flame with ease, that still left some adventures a tad charred.

“What is this?”

The corridor was chock full of broken skeletons—bones and skulls all over the place.

“Were they following us?”

Pushing on led to another encounter with a mass of burning flesh; dispatched as easily as before. Afraid of descending into hip-tall purple fog, Bairstowbury the Chaotic climbed on top of Hagar's shoulders.

Illustration by IdleDoodler

Not a bad call since the party indeed had to deploy their stomping boots once more. Four skeletons were turned to dust by Ambros's holiness. The party increased their pace dramatically, and exited this place uninterrupted.

They reached Midway by end of the day. The plan was to sleep and head to Hara for a multitude of reasons.

Sweetrain 4th, Fireday

Mavis, the High Priestess of Poseidon, confirmed that she doesn't have any visitations from a cursed spirit. They did the right thing.

Hagar met with Zenon Coke, Headmaster of the Assassins' Guild, to negotiate terms on his life. Alas, since seven separate contracts were signed, Hagar would need to pay at least 8 600 gold coins.

“And that's why, my dear friend, I had helpfully indicated that one of your mithral bars would be sufficient to cover our expenses for cancelling the contracts. Think about it and let me know no later then by next Spiritday.”

For a little bit of good news, the party found two letters waiting for them. Both Imrael and Namelin, two of Hara's wealthiest and most influential merchant families, are interested in representing the adventurers in distant markets like Tarantis, Viridistan, and City State of the Invincible Overlord.

“Perhaps we can play them against each other!” Bob thought excitedly.

Beorg and Bairstowbury spent the day drinking and pub hopping. They learned that commoners are increasingly worried about ever growing tensions between Namelin and the Red Queen. Will Hara plunge in bloody civil war?

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Adventurers

Character Class Description
Tarkus the Promising Cleric level 2 Follower of Bachontoi, God of Red Wisdom.
Beorg the Gravedigger Fighter level 2 Inspired to adventure after burying several adventurers.
Hagar the Hewer Dwarf level 4 Imagine Conan as dwarf.
Ambros Cleric level 4 Follower of Aniu, Lord of Time.
Bob the Dwarf Dwarf level 2 Midget with big beard in search of an adventure.
Pandora Thief level 2 Seeking to build a new life.

Sweetrain 1st, Airday

Having completely recovered from coming back to life, Hagar led the party consisting of himself, Ambros, Bob the Dwarf, and Pandora to Midway. There they were to meet with Tarkus and Beorg, and proceed back to the crypt they cracked open a month or so ago.

But something else weighted heavy on Hagar's mind. As he was resting in the adventurers' townhouse in Hara, he received slightly disturbing letter from Zenon:

Dear Hagar the Hewer,

first, I'd like to extend my sincere congratulations for another chance at life. It isn't often that our Lady of the Sea grants her immense gift to us.

Secondly, I have to share with great regret, but little surprise, that such a chance did not go unnoticed by people of Hara. We have accepted no less than seven, yes, seven, different contracts to restore you to your previous state.

Thirdly, as you know from our previous interaction, by the decree of our Holy Queen, everyone is given a chance to buy back their life. Rest assured that even just one of the rumoured mithral bars you might have will be sufficient to ensure none of my people come close to you.

With love, Zenon Coke Headmaster of the Assassins' Guild

Hagar dealt with Zenon before and was well aware that these were no idle threats. He also knew that Master Assassin is a man of word, and if he was paid as negotiated, then he would be safe. Either way, the party met in Midway, donated 100 gold coins to families of deceased locals who went into the crypt after the party, and then went to seek the final two corpses.

In reality, the party is operating under the assumption that this is actually the crypt of “wrongfully imprisoned king” that spoke to Mavis the Magnificent in her dream. If that is true, and they manage to release him, then one third of Hagar's revival debt would've been repaid.

And so, on this sunny day, the adventures returned to the crypt.

Tarkus and Beorg took the leading, since they are the ones who delved furthest. They went in the antechamber with purple-fire and eight plundered sarcophagi, then left into the chamber covered with ancient parchment, then north into the chamber with three dozen altars, then right into the round chamber with fog-spitting well.

From there they went left, and into the large chamber with countless wall crypts, then right through narrow corridor, and then left—giving the Red Sun altar a wide berth—into the wider corridor where they were opposed by an undead knight. Two dwarves confirmed what Tarkus and Beorg theorised about in the last expedition: the floor slopes down.

Onwards they inched for half an hour before reaching a junction. Up ahead were obsidian black double doors. They were sucking in the purple fog. To the right were marble white doors. They were repulsing the purple fog, keeping it at bay some five feet. Stairs leading up were to the left.

Inspecting doors led up to a whole bunch of nothing. Listening checks revealed nothing. Pulling and pushing on the doors made no difference. And the dwarves really tried!

“We need a Magic-User with Knock!” Tarkus the Wise announced.

“Let's check the stairs.”

Oh, what a sight!

Going up, the party found themselves on a twenty feet wide landing, opening up in a long corridor—swinging pendulums and scythes as far as the eye can see! Observing them revealed pattern to the madness.

One by one, adventurers slowly advanced.

Step. Stop. Step. Stop. Duck. Step. Stop. Jump. Duck. Step. Stop.

And so it went for an hour!

Adventurers made it to the other side intact. There they were welcomed by another landing, and stone doors, similar to the ones they've opened earlier in the crypt. The dwarves forced them open. Corridor turned and then opened up in a large room with a narrow bridge going into darkness.

The “bridge” were simple stone slabs standing on equidistantly spaced columns. Floor looked to be some ten feet below. It had a weird shimmer to it. Ten feet pole was used to touch it. It sizzled and melted away.

“A transparent pool of acid!”

“The bridge looks unreliable. How about we hammer some iron pitons to the side of the wall and then stretch the rope to the other side? Then we can shimmy across.”

Pandora, whom was both the lightest and least armoured, agreed with the plan. Bob handed her over the Wolfhammer, and others gave her rope. The thief carefully moved forward for around seventy feet. Then the bridge turn right for another twenty feet, terminating at the wall.

Master Thief she is, Pandora found the poorly concealed stone doors. She forced them open, and the doors slammed shut behind her.

Everybody on the other side exhaled.

Hagar ran over the bridge, followed by Ambros. In addition to having some meat on the bones, both were also wearing metal armour.

Dwarf could hear the stone pillar cry a little cry before snapping. This gave him sufficient time to jump and throw himself on intact portion of the bridge.

Ambros had no such luck. As the column underneath him collapsed, the cleric lost footing and fell straight into the acid bath. He felt his skin slowly burn.

Using the remains of his ten-foot pole, he pushed himself upwards to avoid submersion. But his chainshirt was pulling him down...

Hagar and Bob grabbed the rope, each on opposing side, and begun to shake it up and down, hoping to lower it enough for Ambros to grab it.

The cleric found himself in a world of pain as he desperately reached upwards, again and again. The ledge was mere five feet above him...

Snap!

His wooden pole gave in, and Ambros sunk like a sack of rocks. Unwilling to go down so easily, he endured and pushed off the ground with all his might. By now the acid has eaten into his chain links, allowing him to shed the armour.

Tarkus jumped forward, landing on his belly. He pushed forth his polearm, yelling “Grab!”

Ambros broke the surface, and managed to grab the falling polearm. Then he sunk into the liquid, oriented the polearm upwards, used the blunt side to vault himself up, and then swung the hook side just above the rope—his final attempt at life!

Success! He hooked the rope, and climbed up the polearm. Tarkus grabbed his arms, and pulled him to safety. The cleric was badly burnt, but alive.

Hagar had to drop the rope, and jump once more as bridge continued to collapse. Landing with a thud only made the things worse, and another column broke down. Again, the dwarf was quick enough to jump on, landing on the solid portion hanging in front of the secret doors.

Holding the rope, he forced the doors open. Then he tensed the rope hard enough so it forms a straight line from the pitons to behind the closed stone doors. Now the rope was taut enough for adventurers to cross the acid pool, one by one.

Whilst this was happening, Pandora explored narrow passageways she found herself in. Dead ends, corridors going in circles, weird twists and turns... Half an hour later she heard noises and Hagar shouting.

Once the party was reunited they explored the labyrinthine corridors. It took them an hour or longer, difficult to say, but torches were counted, before they stumbled upon gilded double doors. Plaque next to them read:

Here lies king thrice cursed for treason, torpor, and triviality

Hagar took the lead, and opened the doors.

The air was stale, and thick layer of dust undisturbed for centuries caked everything.

“I enter here King, to release you of your curse! So I have been sent by the High Priestess of Poseidon himself!”

Dwarf loudly announced.

Silence.

Right wall was lined by four sizeable stone sarcophagi.

Left side of the chamber was elevated, with broad stairs leading to it. Atop it, on a dais, rested a magnificent stone sarcophagus, fifteen feet long and ten feet wide. It was adorned by splendid motifs and plenty of gilded lining.

Everyone but Tarkus and Beorg climbed the stairs and begun investigating the gilded tomb. The duo opted to stand on staris and watch guard. They faced four stone sarcophagi and the doors. You never know where the danger might come from!

Hagar repeated himself, only to be countered with silence once more. Ambros explored the tomb, finding nothing much. Pandora couldn't find any way to open the tomb—it was sealed, and would most likely have to be broken open.

Bob, thin on patience, knocked on the tomb and asked

“Hello, anybody home?”

The tomb exploded open, hitting all around it with debris.

Huge skeleton wearing gold crown and necklace emerged. It swung a large two-handed battle axe with amazing ease.

“We are here to help–” Hagar's word fell on deaf ears, as attested by the skeleton king attempting to cleave him in half.

Beorg ran up and joined the fray. Skeleton king swung all around, hitting many adventurers every round. Hagar the Hewer got hit, thrice, but took it all like a champ. Ambros, the unarmoured tried to turn the king. It did not work. Bob and Pandora's attack attempts were failures at best.

“Watch!”

Two stone sarcophagi broke open, and a heavily armoured figure exited each. Tarkus took a stand in the center of stair, preventing their advance. Undead guards swung with great might, but failed to strike the cleric. Remaining two tombs exploded as well, and two new guardians joined the fray.

“Agh–”

Bob was sent to the ground by the relentless king. Hagar bled, but consistently chipped away portions of the dead king. Beorg rarely hit, but whenever his poleaxe connected it did good damage. Pandora was split in half, top to bottom; dead on the spot. Ambros retreated, for he had no armour and no weapon to fight.

He jumped off the balcony and on the floor. Then he snuck up to the southernmost broken tomb and searched it for weapons. Alas, only pieces of the stone lid! Would he dare to use it against the raging undead?

“Bachontoi, give me wisdom!”

Tarkus parried and blocked; dodged and evaded; swung back and countered. Little did he know Bachontoi already gave him wisdom. How else would Tarkus know which exact spot to choose to prevent the advance of four undead guards? Now it was up to the cleric to hold them back.

As his fellow adventures fought the king, Tarkus checked the advance of king's guard. Ambros jumped from behind one of the guards' broken tomb, and yelled holy words. Much to his and Tarkus's joy, two of the guards cowered and turned to retreat.

Alas, joy was short-lived, for one of the guards' strikes passed through Tarkus's defence. It drove the sword deep into the cleric. Tarkus stepped back, still defiant, but half-way to his doom.

With Pandora and Bob down, Hagar and Beorg faced the king's rage alone. The skeleton swung its battleaxe. The duo ducked and dodged. Finally, Hagar drove his magic spear through the skeleton's eye socket. The king roared and crumbled to dust. His guards followed suit, leaving nothing but empty armour behind.

As the dust settled, clerics administered healing spells. In the rubble of king's tomb, Hagar noticed a set of stairs leading down...

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Adventurers

Character Class Description
Darius Cleric level 3 Follower of Dacron, God of Craftsmen.
Rorik Fighter level 3 A fighter.
Tarkus the Promising Cleric level 2 Follower of Bachontoi, God of Red Wisdom.
Beorg the Gravedigger Fighter level 1 Inspired to adventure after burying several adventurers.

Flowerbloom 15th, Spiritday

“I made a mistake.”

Dubalan of Midway sobbed to adventurers. Beads of sweat rolled down his puffy cheeks.

“The word of the great wealth you had recovered from the crypt spread like wildfire. And I agreed to lead some of the locals to it. They went missing! Oh, it's all my fault!”

“Common folk should go adventuring. It can be dangerous.” one of the adventurers said stoically.

It didn't take long for constable Wershaw to find the party and join the discussion. “I want to know what exactly did you find in that crypt! Spare no details!”

He listened with worried face. “You will join me to Lord Kyle and tell him that. He will judge accordingly.”

“Listen, we want to go to the crypt first to find these people. They might still be alive.”

Dubalan wept, while Wershaw agreed. It's been nearly a month since they went missing.

“Tell us more about them. How many? How do they look?”

“Three men, Oridus, Dardabus, and Cephantides. Two women, Timile and Mavaid. They are all young and strong, with mighty limbs and healthy gait.”

Flowerbloom 16th, Airday

“That's Oridus.”

Wershaw yelled from above.

The party had just descended down the shaft leading into the crypt and that's where they found a young man, broken and crushed under a pile of rocks. From the looks if it, a stone slab collapsed under his weight, and the man plunged into his death.

Rorik and Tarkus took the front line, with Darius and Beorg taking the second rank. Tia and Tailltala, two fresh women-at-arms recruited at Hara, acted as the rearguard.

“Stop.”

First chamber, the one with eight tombs they've plundered before, was not empty. A dozen or so skeletons were sitting around the fireplace, gazing into the purple flame. Two human figures lay in front of them.

Adventurers turned half, and smashed other half. These skeletons looked charred, with splintered bones and burn marks all over.

Tia retched at the sight. A young man and women, faces of frozen terror, with broken limbs, torn skins, and exposed insides.

“Let's get them out. They should be buried properly.”

“Isn't that what we got hired help for?”

Hired help did not jump at the opportunity to carry horrifically disfigured corpses.

“Fine, we'll do it...”

“Watch out!”

A mere moments latter east doors flung open, revealing a familiar abomination. A mound of acidic, pulsating organs, ten feet wide; splashing and squirming and slowly rolling towards the party.

Weapons were drawn; stabs and slashes delivered; weapon tips and edges melted away and monster was reduced to nothing but a collection of hacked organs.

“These are Cephantides and Timile.” Wershaw identified the poor souls.

The party continued their exploration, opting for west doors. That lead them into a thirty by thirty foot chamber with two sealed doorways, and an open one to north.

The chamber was littered with scrolls, torn books, and writing paraphernalia. Whatever they touched would immediately crumble into dust.

Sealed doorways had text in auld common above them. The south one read “Scripter Morminoa,” while west one said “Court Arcanist Feraldi.”

“Let's move on. We have to find the remaining folks.”

“Or their remains.” was left unsaid.

North chamber was longer, and even more perplexing.

Three columns of altars ran along the long side, a dozen in each line. Atop each altar was a matching holy symbol and scripture. Tarkus and Darius did not recognise many of the symbols, perhaps they were of forgotten deities or some barbaric ones that only the locals know. Darius did find one dedicated to Dacron. He spent time to pray and tend to it thereafter.

Sealed doorway to the west read “Bishop Pormqui,” and sealed one to the north read “Avetrix the Zealot.” Corridor to the east was wider, and so were the doors.

They opened into a large circular chamber, some sixty feet in a diameter. It was dominated by a well spewing purple haze that covered the floor.

Beorg the Brave was the first to step into it. He used his polearm to test the ground before making any step. Others lined behind him and followed.

Clerics felt like they've entered a place of death.

Round chamber had three exits: the west, which they came from; east, which looked very similar to the one they came from; and north, which was narrower and turned right at weird angle.

“Let's check east side first. It might loop back.”

A smell of rot assailed them the moment they forced their way in. The chamber floor was stained with ancient, dry blood.

Nasty meat hooks reflected their torchlight. A young woman hanged on one in the middle of the room. Her eyes were gouged out, and her entrails were prostrated underneath her.

At least two dozen hooks were visible. They hung from chains, that in turn hung from holes on the ceiling. No anchor point was visible. Hooks were hanging at various heights, with some as low as to touch the ground and some as high as if they were poking straight out of the ceiling.

“This must be Mavaid.”

“I really don't feel like getting hooked.”

“Let's check the other corridor and then we can figure out how to recover her.”

Purple fog continued down the north corridor. Turning to it, the party ran into four skeletons, which they immediately turned and forced to flee.

Moving on, they entered into a massive chamber, where all walls were dominated by small wall crypts. Some were broken, but most were still sealed. Sounds of flesh thumping against stone could be heard coming from within many of them.

“This must be the source of our skeletons...”

The party followed the right wall for a brief moment. They encountered an archway leading into a narrow tunnel, barely three feet wide. Forming a single file, they marched on.

“What...”

Three wide stairs led to an dais atop which an altar depicting pulsating a person laying down before the red sun glowed gently. Dais had a large red sun painted on it.

Tarkus took a step towards it.

His mind was vacated, and he found himself in a vast black space, disembodied entity floating around.

An endless mass of men laid prostrated facing an impossibly large, blood-red sun.

Tarkus felt the urge to join them.

He stepped off the stairs and informed the party to move on.

Ten feet wide archway to the north led down another corridor. This one was sufficiently wide to resume in their standard marching order.

It was a long corridor. More worryingly, the further they went, the deeper they went into the fog. Was it a descent?

“Look ahead!”

A plated figure blocked their way. It raised its greatsword and marched towards the party. The warriors clashed against it, barely evading the swing of sharpened steel slab. Clerics attempts at turning had proven most impotent.

Darius cast Light on the creature's great-helm, turning it into a ferocious lighthouse. The plated warrior roared and smashed it sword against the ground, creating tremendous noise.

“Behind!”

A horde of skeletons stretching as far as the light blocked their retreat. Clerics had to turn around and face their unrelenting assault.

Skeletons were easy to parry and block. But there was something attacking them below knees; something in the mist! They could feel something ramming them, followed by burning sensation.

Warriors quickly finished the lighthouse, and then swapped with the clerics. Whilst moving forward, they stomped heavily, crushing whatever might've been in the fog.

Through superior tactics, armour, and long reaching weapons, the party fought their way back, smashing a great deal of skeletons.

“How about we head back?”

“The last person is surely in the final room. Right?”

“Let's get back, rest, and then we return.”

And so the party backtracked into the red sun room, then down a narrow corridor—which was not the same as the one they came in through—and then ran straight into a gibbering ghost which made some of them lose their minds.

From then on it was an insane flurry of activity. First they chased the screaming ghost, only to find their weapons cut straight through its incorporeal form. Then they heard numerous sounds of stone seals breaking. Then they turned on each other, trying to subdue that one guy who still wanted to fight. And then an army of undead appeared at the edges of their light. So they all sprinted towards and exit.

“We will bury the dead in Midway!” they said to Wershaw, panting. “And return to seek others a bit later!”

Beorg had a slightly saddened facial expression.

“We will continue to explore this crypt, but my heart is no longer in it. I thought I would be slaying dragons and performing feats of derring-do such as the bards sing of. Instead, I find myself killing those who have already been killed before.”

Such were the thoughts of Beorg the Gravedigger.

Will the party ever find Dardabus and Mavaid?

Or will they let them rot in the ancient crypt?

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Adventurers

Character Class Description
Tarkus the Promising Cleric level 2 Follower of Bachontoi, God of Red Wisdom.
Beorg the Gravedigger Fighter level 1 Inspired to adventure after burying several adventurers.
Darius Cleric level 3 Follower of Dacron, God of Craftsmen.
Rorik Fighter level 3 A fighter.

Flowerbloom 8th, Earthday

“The farm should be up ahead.” Fabrio announced.

The adventurers met with him yesterday evening at the behest of Imrael Senior. Ever since they had a falling out with Pilter family, they've worked on getting Imrael' patronage. Well, the opportunity came knocking on the doors yesterday morning.

Apparently, Imrael's spider farm was raided in a night attack. Since the adventurers approached him several times, he thought this would be a fertile opportunity to prove their worth.

Fabrio the Ranger met adventurers yesterday at the Castle of the Wode. There they interrogated Trin, a farmer who escaped during the night raid.

“It was horrible! Creatures blacker than the night, with ivory white fangs and claws! Oh the screams! I jumped out of the window and fled as quickly as I could!”

The party wanted to know more about the lay of the land, buildings, and most importantly, where was antidote held in case of any spider bites.

“Lay low. We will take the lead.”

Darius, Rorik, Tarkus, and Beorg approached the farm from the south side. Fabrio and his three men-at-arms stayed few hundred yards away, observing the party.

A 500 feet chasm covered with wood planks split the farm in half. To the left were laborers' dormitories, supervisor's home, dinning hall, and the dissection house. To the right various sheds for processing spider webs into silk, and warehouses for produced goods.

The sun was up, and the farm was deathly quiet.

Or at least was, until Rorik spooked a horse in the stable.

Poor animal was tied so tightly it ground its ankles to the bone. Fighter managed to calm it down, only to notice the grisly sight in the adjoining pen—a beheaded pony.

Tarkus and Beorg investigated the larges house, that of the supervisor. All rooms were thoroughly ransacked. Pillows were cut open, drawers turned upside down, and chests smashed open.

“Hey, what's all that commotion! I thought you weren't some band of amateurs!” Fabrio whispered through clenched teeth to Darius.

“It's all cool. All under control.”

Party moved to adjoining building. This one was a simple timber construction with three windows. The latter were nothing but a opening covered with thick wool blanket.

Bunk beds and cots were arranged along the west wall, all with broken footlockers. There were some blood stains on the floor.

“Where are these guys going?”

Adventurers spotted Fabrio and his team sneaking on the other side of the chasm, approaching the south-most building to the east.

“Let's keep moving.”

Next building was similar, but smaller. The quarter arranged themselves in front of the door, and then burst in.

An obese man, matching the supervisor's description provided to them earlier, lied on the floor, bloodied and bruised. He was flanked by two ebony black, child-sized creatures. Monsters had lanky white hair, long crooked noses, and elongated ears. One was dressed in a flame-red robe, while the other had some sort of leather jerking and black cloth mask.

Tarkus and Rorik charged in, only to be checked by few more monsters that were by the side. Bloody skirmish ensued. Adventurers cut down three creatures, but not before they them-self had suffered few blows. Robed one weaved its hands and screamed incomprehensible profanities.

Beorg and Darius, whom were still on the outside, had witnessed house go through horrific metamorphosis. Timber shook and grew long, dark hairs. Out of its windows came long, hairy legs. The building became rounder and rounder until it transformed in ball of darkness. A nature defying arachnid writhed in front of them!

Whilst that transpired, Tarkus and Rorik gave chase to fleeing monsters. Alas, little buggers were too quick! But one made a mistake, and ran straight past Darius, and to the large dinning hall. Cleric caught up with it, and subsequently beat it to a bloody pulp as it banged on the wide double-doors, screaming.

“Take care of the foreman!” one of the adventurers instructed Fabrio and his crew.

Darius wondered how come everyone is unphased by the spider-house and enter and exit it so effortlessly.

Rorik gave chase after the masked creature. He jumped through south window, turned west, and after the monster. Chase led him north, towards the largest building—the dinning hall. The monster jumped through the window, poked out, and waved at the fighter to come right in.

Unbeknownst to him, other party members, reinforced by Fabrio and his crew, burst into the dinning hall.

A dozen or so farmers knelt some twenty feet ahead of them. Behind them a line of four monsters, shortbows at the ready.

“GET DOWN! DOWN AT ONCE!”

Darius roared as he charged at the monsters.

Alas, the farmers were too scared, too slow, and too confused to react in time. They did not react in time, forcing the cleric to wade through them.

Archers discharged a volley.

Darius was unhurt.

Four farmers slumped, dead.

Beorg and Tarkus each tried to circumvent the human-shield, only to be checked by a pack of hidden creatures on each side.

Although heavily outnumbered, the adventurers had an asset on their side. Sun. Monsters couldn't see well in the bright light, and often had to turn their head as they'd attack. This resulted in very few of their blows connecting.

Brave Rorik came through the back window, where he faced the robed and masked duo. He gave them hell, wounding both, but slaying neither.

Another volley. Another group of dead farmers. But Darius closed the distance, and begun smashing the archers. Beorg and Tarkus killed the critters by the entrance, one by one.

Seeing how this is going, the robed and masked monster decided to flee once more. The former managed to jump out the window before Rorik body-blocked it. The latter had no choice but to go for the main entrance—wide double doors, stacked with corpses of its brethren.

It evaded Rorik's stab with ease; and same with swing from Darius; and then it ran straight into the polearm braced by Tarkus the Promising. Few other pathetic survivors fled into the broad daylight, covering their eyes as they cowered and cried. And so they fled north, towards the Midnight Goddess hills.

But even in daylight they were too fast for the heavily armoured adventurers. Two more were downed by slings and arrows, while remaining two escaped.

“Thank you... thank you!” cried Ulayah Reyn, the farm supervisor.

“Thank you for saving my farm! Thank you for saving my lovely daughter!” he cried with gratitude, not asking too much about an arrow sticking out of his, similarly built, sobbing daughter.

He briefly explained that they were attacked and subdued two days ago. Since then the monsters had been looting the buildings, and torturing him for information about secretly stashed treasure.

“They had thrown six farmers into the spider pit... Would you be so kind to go down and get them out for me? It's terribly difficult to find good workers in these trying times... I'd happily pay you ten gold coins per saved one...”

Our party of do-gooders immediately went down into thirty feet deep chasm. It was dank, pitch black, and completely webbed. The party climbed back up.

“Oh, such is life in Wilderlands. You can't save them all!”

Following a quick breather, they escorted Ulayah and surviving farmers to Castle of the Wode.

“Thank you. It isn't much, but it is from heart.”

He gave twenty gold coins to each adventurer.

“Now I have to hire some new folk. We have to rebuild!”

Flowerbloom 10th, Spiritday

“Thank you for looking into it. Ulayah manages the farm well.”

Imrael congratulated the party. He took a long pause.

“From what you've shared, it sounds like these creatures might return. I don't want that to happen. Tell me, could you track them down? And end them? Could you do that for me?”

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Adventurers

Character Class Description
Tarkus the Promising Cleric level 2 Follower of Bachontoi, God of Red Wisdom.
Hjordis Fighter level 1 An avaricious, imposing, and slightly unstable warrior.

A timeless parallel existence

As recorded on a series of scrolls by Tarkus the Promising.

I am having a crisis of faith. Not in my faith to Bachontoi, God of Red Wisdom, but my faith in my faith.

I thought I have been a loyal worshipper of the Wise One, and while I have passed one of his greatest tests, I feel I have failed.

During one of my earlier adventures, I fell ill after being bitten by a swarm of rats in a dungeon. I was feeling feverish and ever weaker and thought I was soon to be lifted up into the afterlife when we were attacked by the undead.

Just as I turned these foul beings, I vanished.

At least that’s what my companions thought. I instead found myself, fully healed and healthy, with a stranger at the entrance to a completely different dungeon. A message in my mind told me that this was a test, in which a series of riddles would gauge my wisdom. If I passed within a certain time, I would be promoted within the priesthood and restored to life. If I didn’t make the deadline but still passed the many tests, I would be restored to life. If I failed, those rats would have their way and I would perish. My companion was there to aid me.

I and my companion were told that we were entering the Temple of Greed, and were given the hint that the answer to the final riddle is the opposite of what we thought.

The first riddle was easy. At the entrance was inscribed,

“V R C A A E I” “To enter, one must know greed.”

The answer, of course, is “avarice”.

That opened the portal, but from then on the puzzles became increasingly complex. At one point we faced a statue holding a sheaf of wheat in one hand and a gold bar in the other. In front of it were three rows of tiles, obviously pressure plates. The statue’s arms looked like they could be moved, thus opening a portal further into the dungeon.

I chose poorly. The hint that the answer was the opposite of what I would expect made me second-guess everything. Do I walk down the side with the life-giving wheat, the choice of the wise priest? Do I walk down the side with the gold, since we were in the Temple of Greed? Or do I prevaricate and walk down the middle?

I cannot remember if. I walked down the gold side or the middle, because the moment I stepped on the tiles a scythe cut me in half. A most unpleasant sensation.

Bachontoi restored me to life a moment afterwards. I then walked down the side with the wheat to move the arm. I reminded myself that only the final riddle involved such contrary thinking, although how to know which was the final riddle mystified me.

Many more tests faced us, and one by one we solved them, although I had another unpleasant sham death later on when I dropped into a cauldron of gold. A most fitting end for any worshipper of greed, and a warning by wise Bachontoi never to heed the temptations of the world!

The riddles became increasingly complex and we passed the deadline for promotion. But we still had the greatest prize on offer—our lives.

At last, we passed into a room where an old man sat atop a pile of gold. At first, I did not recognize my deity, for he did not wear his signature red robes, but when I did a prostrated myself to him. A rare boon, to come face to face with one’s god!

The Wise One asked, “If you return to life, how will you spend it?”

This must be the final question. The answer had to be the opposite of what I thought.

The proper answer would be that I would spend my restored life in service of him.

The opposite answer would be something base and worldly.

But if the opposite answer is the answer I thought I should give, then wouldn’t the opposite be the actual answer I should give, or, knowing that, would the second answer be the true answer?

And around and around my head went, my braining ringing as if I wore a helm and a hill giant had hit me on the noggin with his club.

Bachontoi watched me. I had to choose.

“Oh Wise One, I will spend my restored life in dissipation, pursuing all the things of the world that are fleeting and superficial in nature.”

My heart clenched as I saw disappointment in his holy face.

Then, to my surprise, I found myself in Hara, restored to full health. I had answered correctly.

Or had I?

Why had Bachontoi looked disappointed at my answer? Did he think such an answer unworthy of one of his priests? Would he rather have me answer the correct way and snuff me out of existence? Perhaps if I answered that I would serve him, he would have sent me to the Great Monastery in the Sky to forever study the Holy Scrolls and pray to him. Perhaps to die was the wiser choice.

But I am alive, and I will devote however many years are left to me to spreading wisdom and worshiping the Wise One. And in all those years, I fear, I will constantly question my answer to him.

All hail Bachontoi, the God of Red Wisdom!

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Adventurers

Character Class Description
Hagar the Hewer Dwarf level 3 Imagine Conan as dwarf.
Ambros Cleric level 3 Follower of Aniu, Lord of Time.
Bob the Dwarf Dwarf level 1 Midget with big beard in search of an adventure.
Pandora Thief level 1 Seeking to build a new life.

Flowerbloom 8th, Earthday

Hagar, our entrepreneurial dwarf, decided to lead a one day expedition while other adventurers were resting and recuperating. Thus he assembled a small team consisting of Ambros the Cleric, whom had snapped out of his previous predicament, Bob the Dwarf, and Pandora, the newly recruited thief.

They were following up on a rumour Bob picked up. Now they stood in front of a barrow in the shape of great round tumulus, spanning some 150 feet in diameter. Inside a nasty dwarf should be resting with a mighty warhammer.

“I must have it!” Bob kept repeating.

The stone slab was pushed to the side, flanked by freshly excavated earth. Was someone faster than our special operations team?

Hagar led the descent down a flight of fragile siltstone steps. It was narrow, barely space for one person to advance. Ambros held the torch, shining light from the rear.

“Bree-Yark!”

As Hagar barged into a small chamber confidently, he was jumped by four goblins whom had been alerted by the light. Unfortunately for them, the Dwarf blocked and evaded all their attacks. In fact, he deflected one of the goblin's spear charge so well that the monster ended up killing one of it's own instead! Pathetic critters stood no chance, and were summarily cut down.

The chamber itself was barely interesting. Two wooden statues of warrior were flanking doors going deeper down. There were no other valuables.

Hagar took the lead once more, this time a bit less carefree. Another small chamber, this time with doors on each wall. Three goblins jumped him, but were no match for the prepared dwarf backed by another prepared dwarf.

Constrained fighting space did not work against heavily armed adventurers. In fact, Hagar pushed forth, and enabled others to spill into the chamber and join in on the violent fiesta.

Four exits out of this chamber should not really be called doors, but rather bloated and warped wooden planks jammed into doorways. They had no handles nor any visible hinges. The only obvious way to open them was to either hack or smash them.

In fact, east doors were half hacked. The chamber beyond was floored with packed earth. The burial hoard was piled along the walls, alas, much of it decayed. They could spot two rotting chariots as well as an assortments of shiny objects. But to see more, they had to get closer. Party checked for any traps, and finding none, barged straight in.

Emboldened by the lack of opposition, all four adventurers begun sorting through the hoard. Noteworthy treasure they recovered from the pile were six cups carved from red-gold amber, three short swords with pommel-nuts and scabbards decorated with tiger’s-eye knotwork, and three silver ingots, each approximately 7,5 pounds heavy.

As they were rummaging through the goods, a wolf made of soil animated and surprised the party. Their weapons passed right through the soil, leaving no lasting damage. That is until Hagar struck with his magical spear. Soon the beast was no more, but not before it pounced hard on the dwarf, bringing him down to half of his strength.

“Let's arrange everything valuable here, finish exploring, and then take it all out.”

“Sounds like a good plan.”

“These ingots are suspicious. They are too hard to be silver...”

Adventurers moved back to previous chamber, and then smashed through north doors. Hagar led the charge, while Bob closely followed. Pandora and Ambros stood behind, ready to intervene.

Hagar the Hewer sent the plank flying, going through it like unstoppable force incarnate. Although he heard Bob screaming behind him, he had no time to look back. Straight up ahead of him was a chamber lined with carved bronzewood pillars and tiled with well-fitted flagstones.

Dead centre in the floor was a burial trench. Its denizen, a stout dwarf with tautly drawn skin and eyes full of hatred, clenching a massive two handed warhammer, leaped out and smashed Hagar's head with one swift hammerfall.

Pandora watched in horror as Bob fell through the ground just Hagar broke the doors. She too heard Bob's cries, but was preoccupied seeing her mightiest warrior's brain and skull splattered just up ahead.

She quickly pulled a dagger and hurled it at the warhammer wielding monster. What a perfect headshot it was! And how amazingly little did it do to stop it!

The disturbed dead jumped over the pit, huffing and puffing out of hatred rather than lack of breath. Pandora ran up to Ambros. The cleric clenched his weapon and braced himself. He tried turning once, but it was an impotent call.

Disturbed dwarf swung the mighty warhammer towards the Thief, her fate sealed. Ambros stepped forth, quicker than the monster, exploiting the opening given. His swing struck true, smashing the undead's skull.

“Help... help...”

Bob laid at the bottom of a ten foot deep pit, covered in flagstones that had given in under him. He was broken but alive.

Pandora and Ambros pulled him out. The latter healed the dwarf. Then they scrubbed the tomb of all the valuables.

“Can I see the hammer?” Woooow...”

Wolfhammer, as Bob came to call it, is a two handed warhammer with a spiralling haft hardened bronze and a grip of blackened iron wrapped in wolfskin. Its head is composed of two stylized predator's heads of bronze, “furred” with gold and silver wirework and eyes inlaid with amber. Out of the gaping, fanged mouths of the beasts protrude the two massive heads of the hammer, cast from iron as strong and polished as fine steel. Later, in Hara, he would learn that it is a magical weapon as well, dealing extra damage to spell-users and their magical constructs.

Finally, the trio wrapped Hagar's corpse in rotting silk, and carried him back to Hara.

Flowerbloom 10th, Spiritday

Ambros accomplished the unthinkable. First, he managed to get an audience with Mavis the Magnificent, the High-Priestess of Poseidon. Second, he convinced her that Hagar is worthy enough to be brought back to life.

He knew damn well that High-Priestess is not moved by money, for she had survived many assassination attempts due to her refusal to Raise merchants' and nobles' rotten offspring. No, Ambros played to the fact that Hagar contributed to Hara's safety on many occasions, in addition to furthering the cause of the Law in the region.

“Poseidon will grant him another chance at life. For that you must accept three divine quests.”

“First, you must bring peace to a restless spirit of wrongfully imprisoned king.”

“Second, you must seek my Sister in Ketche and solve her greatest problem.”

“Third, you must erect a statue of Poseidon facing the sea.”

Ambros, Bob, and Pandora agreed.

Hagar's bloody remains were lowered in the Temple's pool.

The water swirled and gushed and frothed and shook the temple.

Hagar came out, groggy, naked, and wholesome.

Then they accepted the three Divine Quests.

And it was made known to them, in no uncertain terms, that straying away would mean fate worse than death itself.

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