19 Bahha – 28 Bahha of the year 72
The party’s travels back to Kell’s keep started uneventfully; they investigated an abandoned hamlet, and when they shouted out to draw the attention of anyone there were answered with a moo. Akora decided he would capture and sell the feral cow, and with Emmerick’s assistance was able to rope and capture her. Akora declared her name was Dumpy, due to the numerous cow patties in the area. Further investigating the ruins, Emmerick located the remains of a smithy, and he and Akora took what iron ore was left, the tools in need of repair, and the anvil. Emmerick was also able to locate a saddle for Dumpy. Deuspugno attempted but failed to locate any alcohol. The only things of any similarity to alcohol he was able to find were several empty wine bottles. Iñaka was able to locate what appeared to be week old tracks going through the ruins and heading north.
Emmerick and Iñaka attempted to use Dumpy as a pack animal, with mixed results. She accepted the saddle and with more hesitation the iron ore and tools, but the anvil was the unacceptable to her. Her frustrations were taken out on Emmerick, who received a strong kick to the balls. Of little consolation to him was the fact that from what he was able to tell, the hamlet had been abandoned several decades earlier, with the residents moving on to attempt to make a better life elsewhere.
The party continued on to Kell’s keep arriving midmorning, where they sold Dumpy to a local farm for 40 silver. They then entered the keep, where a guard gave Pug a private letter, and Tull gave Akora an old map of the crypt they had heard was opened. Akora accused Tull of having pulled it out of someone’s ass, with Tull responding that it was from Akora’s. With most of the day remaining, the party continued on to a long barrow they had noticed when traveling to and from Arverno.
The large stone sealing the entrance of the barrow had been moved; Iñaka and Emmerick were able to locate the old tracks of someone or someones entering and leaving the barrow, most likely a week or more ago. Carefully exploring the ruins, they found no traps; two chambers off the main passage appeared to have been bypassed by previous explorers, who had only gone to the main chamber at the end of the passage. Detecting no traps, the party investigated the main chamber, where they found an empty chest with a note inside:
- Better luck next time! – Residents of the Dark -
Emmerick was convinced it was the name of a traveling theater troupe, though he was informed that the troupe was actually called Cirque Du Dark. Pug collected several small statuettes on the way out when he explored the side chambers, hoping to sell them to a collector later for a profit. Emmerick expressed his lack of belief in ghosts, and set a tripwire tied to two skeletons near the entrance to scare anyone else who visits the barrow.
Iñaka and Emmerick were able to locate a trail leaving the barrow and heading towards Recco, but instead of following it they chose to proceed to the crypt Akora had received a map of. They camped several miles away from the crypt and the first watch was quiet; Akora and Emmerick were on watch, and Akora was so alert that he was able to hear a mouse being caught by an owl dozens of meters away.
While Iñaka and Pug were on watch for the second half of the night a falcon landed in the campsite; the falcon then shapeshifted into a woman who introduced herself as Audhild. She was on her way to the crypt as well, on the trail of her former apprentice Morden. She was unsure of his motivation, only knowing that the remains of an ancient, powerful mage were located somewhere in the crypt. Akora disliked her, and was unimpressed with her offer of a long range two-way communication stone in lieu of payment. While she appeared unarmed she was able to conjure an ethereal sword that crackled with lightning.
The following morning the party proceeded to the crypt; they disabled the first traps as they tried to take the most direct path to the largest chamber shown on the map. However, Iñaka and Emmerick triggered the second trap at the top of a set of stairs, a collapsing ceiling that slightly injured both of them. Pug attempted to use his spell “Pet Detective” to detect any creatures ahead, and while he was successful Audhild referred to him as an amateur based on how he named the spell.
At the bottom of the stairs the party discovered a collapsed ceiling, and with no path forward they chose to take the longer of two side passages, on the theory that someone may be wanting them to take the shorter path. They managed to avoid a deadfall trap, skirting around the edge of it, and after several dead ends found themselves confronted by seven reanimated skeletons; four were armed with swords, two with bows, while one, the commander, was heavily armored and had a battle axe. The skeletons appeared to communicate using the snapping together of their teeth as they lacked vocal cords.
The party was able to make short work of the first group of skeletons, as the skeletons were relatively weak foes. As they would soon learn, the skeletons were also having frequent coordination issues, and in several instances managed to injure themselves.
After destroying the first squad of skeletons, the party moved on and were confronted with a large timber blocking the path ahead on a set of stairs. Pug was about to start chopping it down with his axe when Iñaka told him to stop, as the timber appeared to be holding down a pressure plate; Emmerick wedged the pressure plate in place while Iñaka disabled it, and then Pug proceeded with chopping the timber down.
After opening the next door the party was attacked by another squad of skeletons, which were easily dispatched, and Akora destroyed one by stabbing it through the eye socket then flinging the skull off the rest of the skeleton. Not having engaged with the previous squad, Audhild destroyed one of the skeletons by frying it with electricity, sending bones flying when it exploded.
Reaching the door to the largest chamber in the crypt, Iñaka was able to open it and saw 4 skeletal archers, 8 sword-wielding skeletons, and 2 commanders. The party retreated to start with ranged attacks, and Audhild stepped up. She created a lightning storm, destroying 6 of the sword-wielding skeletons, with their bones flying up and down the passageway. The rest of the party then engaged the remaining skeletons; Akora, Emmerick, and Pug moved up into melee combat, with Pug (for the second or third time in the crypt) not only missing his target, but injured himself in the process due to his efforts to impress Audhild. while Iñaka sniped the skeletal archers. The remaining skeletons encountered many of the same issues the previous squads had, with their poor body coordination hampering their attacks, and in many cases injuring themselves. Audhild assisted by using a strong, damaging light burst, as well as using her ethereal sword.
After clearing out the few remaining skeletons, the party found the large chamber empty, with a recently exposed staircase leading downward. The party proceeded down stealthily and Iñaka found a final squad of skeletons in the large chamber at the bottom of the stairs; he shot the skeletal commander in the eye socket and retreated, setting up the skeletons to have to attack two at a time on the stairs. The party quickly destroyed the four sword-wielding skeletons, while Pug finally managed to hit a slow-moving, weak skeleton, taking it off at the knees. Iñaka was able to hear someone working on a spell, and while he moved stealthily was unable to stop it.
When the party engaged the two skeletal archers and the skeletal commander, Morden finished his spell that bound the spirit of an ancient mage, summoning him as an incorporeal entity. The ghost froze Akora, encasing him in ice, but he was freed when Pug struck him with the flat of his axe. Iñaka was able to get close enough to stab Morden with a poisoned dagger while Akora and Emmerick rushed him, but as soon as he was stabbed Morden vanished. Audhild engaged the specter, hurting it significantly with her ethereal sword, but when Emmerick attempted to attack it the specter was unaffected. Instead it moved to face him, flipping itself from front to back without turning; he was sliced with an ghostly long axe, which did a huge amount of damage and left him bleeding profusely. Audhild chastised the party, particularly Pug, for not having anything able to hurt the specter, even salt. She destroyed it with her ethereal sword, with the ghost exploding into wisps that quickly dissipated.
The party attempted to pursue Morden up a hidden staircase, but Iñaka was unable to gain ground and eventually lost him. He returned to the rest of the party at the crypt. When investigating the sarcophagus where they had found Morden, the party found the following runic inscription:
- Halftan, Archmage of the Hosca, Chief Advisor to King Skegg -
- Killed in the Derosi Invasion in the Year of the Green Comet -
- Guardian of the Book of Hoarfrost, Holder of Mooncleaver -
The sarcophagus did not appear to have been disturbed, but when they opened it there were no weapons or books, and it seemed Morden had found and obtained what he was looking for.
Audhild informed the party that in future encounters with incorporeal entities they would need to wield weapons of salt, wrought iron, obsidian (Iñaka has a dagger with a blade of obsidian), imbued with magic, or made from sky iron, also called a fallen star. Their usual steel weapons would have no effect on ghosts, and she left the party with a small container of salt before setting off to track Morden. She clashed with Akora about their lack of preparation or knowledge, as she had been led to believe they were well equipped for anything they would encounter, and his distaste for her was evident. His sexist belief that women had no place in adventuring exacerbated matters. Audhild gave Pug as much information on Morden as she could; he was an Uthad who had been wandering for years, she had not seen him since he left her training several years before, and she was unsure of his ultimate goal. She was not aware of how he had obtained necromantic knowledge, as she had trained him in focus, arcane lore, and shapechange. He had already been trained in wizardry by an earlier master, Omsorin, an Uthad sanctioned mage.
The party investigated the crypt fully; any reanimation spells appeared to have ended, and they encountered no further animated skeletons. They found almost nothing that retained any value; what weapons and armor the dead had were far too degraded to be worth more than 1/4 of their typical value. The party chose to set up camp in the tomb of Halftan and spend the night recovering before moving on.
Body Count: 35 skeletons, 1 ghost
Baller Moment of the Week: Akora stabbing a reanimated skeleton through the eye socket and flinging the skull off the rest of the body.
Fuckup of the Week: Emmerick getting kicked in the gonads when trying to load an anvil onto a feral cow.
Running Body Count: 18 humans, 19 creatures, 36 undead