The next day, on the 19th, the party visited Dulwich’s graveyard. Intrigued by the rumours Polumya had heard, they poked about the place, examining the various mausoleums, chatting with some of the workers and observing the general comings and goings. All seemed ordinary and humdrum, except that one of the workers related that strange things had been happening in the cemetery–but normally at the dark of the moon. The group were also fortunate enough to observe a funeral service for Silvi Kalervo, mother of Antero Kalervo–a wealthy merchant whose family had dwelled in Dulwich for generations.
Lion spotted a man wandering about the cemetery, totally engrossed in a scroll which he frequently referenced. Elmo followed the man and tried to get a look at the scroll. Sadly, the half-orc was less than stealthy in his approach, and the man heard him coming at the last minute. The half-orc caught a brief glimpse of what looked like a map of the cemetery before the man rolled the scroll up and put it away. To defuse suspicion, Elmo walked past the man and left the cemetery, The man also left the cemetery, strolling away into Dulwich’s busy streets. Helmia, alerted to the man’s suspicious behaviour by the perceptive Lion, used her druidic powers to transform into the form of a mangy stray dog–of which there were many in Dulwich–and gave chase. The cunning druid tracked the man to the nearby Three Bells Inn.
Once Helmia had returned to his friends, the group decided to visit the Three Bells and see what else they could learn. Polumya had a room at the Three Bells and knew the staff well. They chatted with the man Lion had observed at the cemetery by inviting him over to their table for a drink. He introduced himself as Pekka Kurikka and explained he was considering moving to Dulwich. Some of the group had suspicions about the man, however; Helmia thought he was being less than truthful, while Theoden noticed he had several pouches at his belt that looked suspiciously like spell component pouches and wore a holy symbol of Morden–god of magic and knowledge–around his neck. Pekka continued that he was looking for a home and a mausoleum–which several of the group thought of as an odd combination.
The group also chatted with Jaakkima Aikio, who came in for a drink. Jaakkima was the head caretaker at the cemetery and confirmed that strange things seemed to happen there on the dark of the moon and welcomed any help the characters could give–particularly as they intimated that they had been asked to look into things by someone high up in the clergy.
With the dark of the moon about ten days away, the group’s thoughts returned to the Shunned Valley. One tomb remained unexplored, and several of the group–particularly Polumya–fancied their chances against the adult owlbear. The other characters remained unconvinced.
Back to the Shunned Valley
The next day, on the 20th of the party packed their adventuring and travelling gear and headed out of Dulwich toward the Shunned Valley. They did not reach their destination until dusk caressed the southern woods. They could have arrived sooner, but Lion wanted to visit Jani and Suzi to see how they were doing after their father’s death. The peasants were overjoyed to see the group, and Lion and Elmo helped around the farm for two hours or so. Suzi could only offer her thanks and a loaf of freshly-baked bread as payment, but the two burly warriors were more than happy with the exchange–good deeds had been done!
This diversion meant the group arrived at the Shunned Valley late. Returning to their original lair, they rested for the night, but not before they systematically looted the hidden shrine below the tomb of all its tapestries–Dimble was keen to bring them back to Dulwich with him as he clearly had some kind of cunning scheme in mind.
Into the Tomb
The next day, the group carefully explored the entrance to the last tomb. Six mossy, time-worn statues depicting hobgoblin warriors flanked the entrance, forming a short processional. One of the statues had fallen over, leaving a hole at its base. Lion spotted a skull amid the mud and the sludge in the hole and investigated it. His hunch paid off–the skull contained a small yellow gemstone. The group’s excitement levels rose perceptibly; might similar treasures be hidden under the other statues? An hour or so of hard work revealed that there was! The group added five more gemstones to their haul. More hard work got the statues back on their feet, and Lion finished off his labours by throwing the six skulls the group had recovered into the lake.
Now, the way lay clear to explore the tomb. Careful exploration revealed a long corridor, several burial niches and another large room decorated with a cunningly wrought battle fresco. Actual shields and battle banners displaying crude tribal symbols hung on the wall in such a fashion that they composed part of the room’s decoration. Shattered skeletons were scattered about one chamber–evidence that the group were not the first adventurers to enter the tomb.
A door pierced the east wall. Polumya used his clerical powers to force the door open, but it was a heavy thing of stone and at the limit of the spell’s feeble power. The door opened slightly, and darkness oozed through the gap, slithering forth like an unholy, unliving thing. Deeper into the hideous, unknown space beyond the door, a faint wavering effulgence seemed to beckon the brave adventurers onwards…
This post is a session summary from my weekly 5e D&D Edgelands of Darkness campaign set in the Duchy of Ashlar.