Chapter 9: Thriller
Walking into the tavern, they ran into a familiar face – Julius, the man who previously fled from the cavern on the other side of the island and had previously accompanied Krell’s group of adventurers. Approaching Julius, Kerry asked him what he was doing there. Julius explained that he had left the others after they had hired him on with the understanding that he would receive a portion of loot found but that they never found anything so he was unwilling to die in a collapsing cavern for free. He went on to tell Kerry that he was here looking for work, described his skills as a scout and, probably, assassin. He mentioned that if the party was going anywhere interesting he would come for a 200 gold daily retainer a well as his pick of a magical item for a collector friend of his.
While Kerry was chatting with Julius, Greyson went to pet the ugly cat by the fire but the cat would have none of it and scratched him. Frazious, meanwhile, approached an orc sitting at one of the tables who introduced himself as Moggrunt, a mercenary. He was a bit short, however, and said that if Frazious wasn’t interested in hiring, he wasn’t interested in conversation. After the unfortunate kitty scratching, Greyson noticed a pale, wealthy looking man seated at one of the tables drinking red wine and approached him, joined soon after by the rest of the party. The man introduced himself as Olvin Niadon and complained that he was looking for mercenaries but couldn’t find any interested. He introduced himself as Olvin Niadon and explained that he was seeking the spellbook of the archmage Roth’im and believed that he had located his final resting place, where the spellbook would no doubt be located. Unsure of who Olvin was referring to, he went clarified:
Well, as he was commonly known at the time, Grand Magus Roth’im was a legendary wizard capable of creating, well, miracles frankly. Many thought that he would someday aspire to godhood as his power was go great. The details of his exploits are mostly lost but whenever his name is mentioned in historical text, it is with great awe and reverence. Well, Roth’im notoriously did not take an apprentice, however, and it has been speculated that he was entombed with his spellbook. That spellbook would be of great use, especially now. I need that knowledge, now more than ever.
After some internal discussion, the party resolved to retrieve the spellbook for him. This sounded like just the thing they would be interested in. Rughdar, in particular, was eager at the chance to destroy foul monsters. Olvin continued:
Roth’im is buried in the city cemetery. Obvious, yes. However, it has wound up being an excellent place to conceal his secrets. The cemetery has been plagued with a terrible curse for as long as anyone knows. You see, the cemetery, and only the cemetery, is filled with undead – powerful undead. Interestingly, they do not attempt to leave and seem content to linger, but that are highly aggressive towards any who enter the grounds. There have been attempts throughout the years to eliminate the creatures but some dark magic causes them to reconstruct shortly after they are presumably destroyed. Since the creatures stay where they are, there hasn’t been a big push to get rid of them but the city keeps the area under heavy guard. You’ll need to sneak into the area, find where Roth’im was buried, take the book, and bring it to me without anyone knowing. Still think you’re up to the task?
The party agreed but asked why the secrecy and urgency. Olvin answered:
There are forces at work in this city. They hide in the shadows and behind smiles. Most are complicit but I intend to resist. I can’t do so without the power from that book, though. I dare not say anymore. Their spies are everywhere. Remember, the job would have two requirements. First, most obviously, you must bring me the book. Second, and just as important, you must be discreet. Tell no one that you seek the book or have spoken to me. If knowledge of this mission spreads it could put me in great peril. I wish to study in peace. For completing this task for me, I will provide 1000 gold each, up front. Another 3000 gold each upon delivering the book to me.
Ready, the party bid Olvin farewell and determined that they would go to the cemetery as soon as they were finished in the tavern. Seeing the fortune teller in the back corner, Greyson approached with curiosity. While he gave the fortune teller a solid line, he missed a bit on the delivery which caused the fortunate teller to roll her eyes. She then introduced herself as Cosima and invited him to sit. She offered to read his fortune for ten gold and Greyson accepted. She then peered into her crystal ball which began to glow and swirl with colors. She saw an image only visible to her and spoke:
I see two men, bloody and fleeing from a terrible inferno. No, just one. Yes, I see you clearly, now, walking across the island following another man… no, the other man is also you. Stepping in the same footsteps exactly. You catch up to the version of yourself and move forward, wreathed in power.
The glowing ceased and Greyson said,”Ah yes. I’ve done all this before.” He then tried to hit on Cosima once more but wasn’t quite as charming as he had hoped. Stepping up, Kerry asked for his fortune in his usual friendly manner and sat down. Cosima again gazed into her crystal ball and described her visions:
A halfling picks up an amulet. He looks in the trees, and then in caverns and tombs. He cannot find what he is searching for. As he continues searching a great, winged shadow grows behind him. The halfling is quick and clever, though. He knocks an arrow and shoots at the monster. Hmmm. That is all I see…
Satisfied, Kerry moved on. On their way out, Greyson approached Moggrunt and challenged the mighty orc to an arm wrestling contest. The burly orc, eager for a demonstration of strength, accepted. Greyson declared that the stakes would be the tavern’s finest steak! Accepting, Moggrunt prepared himself while Greyson cast a curious spell. Seeing no immediate effect, Moggrunt settles in and the two began their contest. The orc was incredibly strong but just as it appeared he might take a edge, a face from the stone wall appeared behind him and licked the back of Moggrunt’s neck, totally breaking his concentration. Before he was able to turn around and see the face, it vanished and the opening allowed Greyson to topple the mighty orc’s arm. With a shout of victory, Greyson called to the barkeeper to bring over his finest steak. The barkeeper said that they didn’t serve steak, only pizza. However, he did being by his finest pizza, or at least a pizza already made. Finished with the tavern, the group gathered up and headed towards the cemetery.
As the party approached the cemetery, they noticed a strange fog that seemed to cover the area. The fog hung low over this part of the city and seemed to mute all sound nearby. Arriving at the cemetery, it seemed that the fog was thicker there and it looked like the fog was coming out of the cemetery itself. Walking closer to the cemetery walls, they saw several guards with lanterns guarding the fifteen foot tall obsidian walls of the graveyard, patrolling in silence or quietly talking amongst themselves. Two guards at the gate with lanterns were idly chatting as the party planned their approach. While they had been warned by Olvin to be discreet, it seemed that they might be able to talk their way in. Giving Greyson a chance, the party approached the guards at the gate with Greyson at the head. The guards addressed Greyson and warned the group that they needed to turn around as the cemetery was off limits. Greyson told the guards that they were sent on a special mission by the town guard and that they should step aside. The guards asked who had assigned such a mission and, bluffing, Greyson informed them that it was classified. Satisfied, the guards party and wished the group luck, stating that they would surely die in there but if they came knocking back at the door they would let the party back out.
Moving into the cemetery with the guards closing the gate behind them, the party noticed that the fog inside was considerably more thick than outside of the walls, heavily obscuring their vision. There seemed to be a stone path at their feet and the party began moving along. Frazious crept along the path and heard a screaming noise ahead. Rughdar then charged ahead and ran into a group of terrible undead. Before him were several skeletons wielding longswords with longbows on their backs. Behind them a robed skeleton with rotting flesh hanging off of it’s visible bones stood. The entire group was glowing with a strange purple light.
Advancing, Harambe and Rughdar began attacking the undead while Greyson, Kerry, and Frazious attacked from further down the path. Ready for the attack, however, the undead mage began chanting and fired a massive lightning bolt at the party. The skeletons moved in afterwards and began attacking. Rughdar managed to cleave a skeleton in two but as the bones began to fall, the purple glow intensified and the skeleton reassembled and continued its attack. Frazious, eager for a chance to unleash his power, responded with a loghtnjng bolt of his own up the path, striking two of the skeletons and the mave. Harambe and Rughdar pushed past the skeletons towards the mage, figuring that it was the source of the purple empowerment. Harambe managed to strike the mage hard, knocking its hand off. However, the mage then placed the boney wrist against Harambe’s chest and black tendrils gripped Kerry’s friend and seemed to sap some of his life. At that moment, the mage’s missing hand reformed and it opened its mouth in a howl. Rughdar quickly came to Harambe’s aid and was able to bring the mage down. The mighty fighter then moved back towards the other skeletons, which had been engaged directly by Greyson and were being peppered with arrows and fire from Kerry and Frazious, and then knocked the head off of one of them with a single blow. However, the purple glow intensified and the skull reattached; it became apparent that the mage was not the source of the empowerment.
As the party continued battling the remaining skeletons, Frazious had backed up towards the nearby graves when he heard some shambling through the dense fog. The party managed to defeat the remaining few skeletons and as they took a breath and gathered up, an arrow sailed through the fog, just missing Greyson’s head. It looked like another fight was at hand. Rughdar charged towards the source of the shot past some graves but as he stepped towards one, one of the glowing skeletons immediately crawled out brandishing a longsword. Rughdar wasted no time, however, in engaging the creature. Coming up from behind the rest of the party began firing at the skeleton and, as they moved up, located others along the edges of the graves. Looking for the sources of the other arrows Rughdar managed to pass by several other graves which caused several other skeletons to claw their way above ground and attack. Kerry, in an epic feat of accuracy, fired an arrow directly up into the air where it sailed in a wide arc to come crashing down upon the rearmost skeleton, destroying it and knocking into the grave it had come out of.
Fed up with the horde of skeletons, Greyson charged ahead on the back of mailbot and onward towards what sounded like water in the fog further to the south. As he reached the edge of a pool, several of the skeletons came out along with one of the mages and began climbing out towards the party. Retreating back to the main group, he resolved to help the rest of the party with the remaining skeletons. Kerry and Frazious continues pelting the skeletons with arrows, fire and magic missiles from afar while Rughdar continued his slashing. As Rughdar cornered one of the skeletons in front of another near one of the cemetery walls. Taking advantage if the circumstance, Greyson carefully lined up his thunder cannon and fired a powerful shot at the skeleton in front, blowing away half of its skull and causing the shot to ricochet into the skeleton near the wall. Taking advantage of Greyson’s attack, Rughdar moved up to the skeleton against the wall, brought his greatsword high above his head, and then swung it down onto the skeleton, smashing it to pieces.
After the skeleton’s destruction, he ran towards the sound of the pool and began attacking the skeletons there. While Kerry, Harambe, and Greyson managed to clean up the skeletons around the graves, Frazious moved up to where Rughdar was and fired a massive fireball at the pool, damaging the skeletons and temporarily illuminating the area. Seeing the great warrior and his friends, the mage cast a powerful lightning bolt at the group which nearly brought Harambe down. Rughdar charged towards the mage in an attempt to destroy it and dealt heavy blows. The mage, in retaliation, reached out to him and extended black tendrils which seemed to drain Rughdar of his life, restoring some of the mage’s undead vitality.
After defeating the last of the skeletons around the pool, the party took a moment to collect themselves. Rughdar picked up a warhammer which had been at the bottom of the pool. The warhammer was made of a heavy, black metal and had geometric golden shapes inscribed into its sides. Rughdar asked Greyson if he could identify it. Greyson used his magic and was able to determine that the warhammer was known as Magthandril’s Fury. It belonged to an ancient dwarven warrior and possessed a will of its own, responding only to dwarves. While Rughdar couldn’t make much use of the weapon, he decided to gang onto it. Tired and wounded, the group decided that they couldn’t rest in the cemetery and would head back to the room which Greyson had already paid for. Heading back to the gate, they called out to the guards to let them out. Unsure of whether they were the adventurers before or just the walking dead looking to leave on a rampage, they asked the party to prove that they weren’t “zombies or something”. Frazious, feeling this was ridiculous, told the guards that this was stupid and to just let them out. This was convincing enough, apparently, and the group was allowed to leave. The made their way back to The Gilded Rose without incident and went to sleep in their rooms upstairs.
After getting a good night’s rest, they were suddenly awoken in the morning by knocks at their doors. A large group of the town guard were at their doors and it was requested that they put down their weapons and come along quietly for questioning. When asked what for, the guards responded that they were seeking a massive warrior wielding a giant hammer and a drow. Thinking quickly, Greyson and Rughdar used items that Greyson had infused with magic to make them appear as elderly merchants. Kerry and Frazious cast their own spells, to make them difficult to detect and invisible, respectively. Hearing the casting of spells, the guards burst through the doors to look for their targets. Greyson and Rughdar greeted the guards but demanded what they were doing there, which removed some of the suspicion. Kerry had dived under the bed and Frazious was hiding in the corner. As the guards were searching, Frazious attempted to walk out of the room. Unfortunately, as he exited, he bumped into one of the guards, alerting the whole group. The guard Frazious bumped into managed to grab onto him while the others grouped around, tackled him to the floor, and secured him in manacles. They then escorted him out of the inn. Greyson and Rughdar disguised themselves as guards while Kerry walked down the stairs past a guard. It seemed that they were currently searching only for the ones they had mentioned. As Frazious was carried off, the party followed, wondering what would happen to their friend…