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EoD 008: The Hungry Dead Rise

Helmia, helped by Lion, climbed into the charnel pit...
EoD 008: The Hungry Dead Rise

Elmo pushed the door wide to reveal a dusty chamber. Faded murals covered the walls, and a ten-foot-wide stone plinth squatted in the centre of the chamber with a skeleton sprawled atop it. A faint wavering ball of purple light floated in the skeleton's ribcage. As Elmo cautiously advanced, the tiny purple flame burst aflame and zipped out of the skeleton's ribcage. It flew toward's Elmo but the canny half-orc was expecting danger and dodged its tendril-like attack. In moments, Polumya and the rest of the group were at Elmo's side—and it was not a moment too soon: the skeleton rose up from its resting place and advanced upon Polumya, its eyes blazing with unholy light. Terror gripped Polumya, but only briefly as he shook off the thing's fell enchantments.

The ensuing fight was brief and exceptionally violent. The purple ball of energy badly burned Elmo but, in return, he smashed it into nothingness. Lion cunningly enmeshed the skeleton in a net, hampering its movement and attacks. It, too, was swiftly burnt, frozen and pulverised to destruction.

The heroes took a brief break to gather themselves, rest and heal some of the more grievous wounds. But, several of them wondered what—if anything—might lie beneath the stone plinth. Dimble answered that question by discovering that it was rigged to roll aside. Lion, bending his mighty thews to the task, managed to loosen its age-frozen mechanism, but it was slight Helmia who finally moved the stone block aside. Below, the party discovered a pit filled with bones. As they pondered what to do, faint sounds of movement came from within the pit. Quickly, Lion and Elmo deployed Lion's net, but it was too late to stop the thing that burst from the bones! A whirling cloud of gnashing skulls burst upward out of the charnel pit. A loud whirling sound filled the air as the skull swarm—for what else could it be—enveloped first Elmo and then Lion. Lion hewing mightily with his sword discovered that bladed weapons were less than effective against the whirling cloud of skulls. Elmo fared better—beating at it with his heavy warhammer. Lion, taking a cue from Elmo's successes, laid about him with his steel shield. Together, the two warriors—with help from their friends--pulverised the dozens of skulls that bit and tore at their flesh.

Into the Pit

Again, silence, broken only by the sound of blood dripping from the multitude of tiny wounds covering Elmo's body, descended on the tomb. Again, some of the group rested while Helmia, helped by Lion, climbed into the charnel pit. Hours later, she emerged, covered in dust but carrying several precious trinkets, including a gold bangle and a large amethyst.

It seemed that the group had exhausted the adventuring possibilities of the tomb. To make sure, however, they spent several hours pouring over the place—they didn't want to be like the last group of adventurers to explore the place and miss opportunities for glory and gold. A comprehensive search revealed no more hidden doors or niches, and so—in the mid-afternoon—the group returned to their lair.

Resting (again), they plotted their next move. Polumya wanted to slay the owlbear, but wiser heads prevailed. Several of the group remembered Lion's near death at the beak and talons of the young owlbear, and none of them were keen to experience THAT (or worse) again.

To Dulwich

So, the next day, burdened with sacks carrying all the tapestries and banners Dimble had retrieved from the various tombs and shrines in the valley, the group staggered south. The burden slowed them, so as night caressed the woods, they stopped at Suzi and Jani's house. The two peasants were happy to put the adventurers up in the barn. Lion gifted the pair five gold coins while Polumya spoke to them persuasively about the benefits of worshipping Melandia.

That night, several of the group heard wolves howling in the distance. The next day, they resolved to track the furry predators down. They spent much of the day wandering the woods. While the group did manage to find the wolves' den--a narrow valley pockmarked with caves--they realised that now they were here, they didn't actually want to fight the wolves. They particularly didn't want to fight the wolves when Dimble, chatting with a local squirrel, discovered that (probably) at least a dozen wolves dwelled in the den they had spied across the valley.

Leaving the area, they returned to Suzi and Jani's house and spent another night enjoying the pair's company. The next day the group were back in Dulwich. There, they sold much of the loot they had recovered. Dimble sold the various tapestries and banners to Saini Alanen—the most prominent local sage and historian, and the group sold all the gems and suchlike to Nalthra's Jewellery. While doing so, they encountered an intriguing individual. The shop was initially shut when the party tried to gain access as Nalthra was entertaining an important client. Once he—a well-dressed dwarf—had departed, they were able to conclude their business with the half-elven jeweller. Still, the dwarf intrigued the party; clearly, he had money and was important, and Helmia tracked him to the East Gate Inn. The party had a couple of days to kill before the dark of the moon--the time of the month when undead was apparently more prevalent in the town graveyard. So they resolved to find out more about the dwarf, do some research about the graveyard and the catacombs, and spend some of their loot!

This post is a session summary from my weekly 5e D&D Edgelands of Darkness campaignset in the Duchy of Ashlar.