On their journey our heroes had been hearing distressing rumors about the woes of a small hamlet not far south. Its chief citizen was called Rayn, and it had come to be known as Rayn’s Hamlet. The Hamlet had been growing steadily of late, thanks to the sudden discovery of some oil-like substance with many magical and alchemical properties. However, its growth came to a sudden halt when most of its inhabitants mysteriously vanished, leaving what should be a thriving community completely abandoned.
The news had spread quickly in Starton, where our heroes had been enjoying a short stay.
Inside the common room of the small tavern “Rested Hoofs Row.” Our heroes were enjoying a nice meal and reminiscing of past deeds and triumphs.
“Remember that crossroad demon that looked like a deer made out of light?” exclaimed Sir Benjin.
“You mean the one that was about to stomp you to death if I didn’t crush it with those boulders from the hill.” retorted Jaysen.
“The only reason you were up there was because the vile thing scared you silly! It was twice your size!” joked Baernabas in-between gulps of ale. The meal progressed well into the night. Until Scar the bartender caught Jaysen’s eye with a nod.
“Well lads I have the last round, then I got business to finish before bed.” After the interact and complex secret handshake between Jaysen and the bartender, Scar slid over a small glass and a cloth napkin with the Boorish Nod’s secret underground symbol. With a quick nod to where a large Half-Orc guard stood next to the back door, Scar returned to his duties. Jaysen, unafraid of the Half-Orc who stood nearly three times his height, simply
pranced sauntered over and handed the cloth to him. with a grunt and a moan which could have been anything in Orcish the bulkish guard slammed a huge fist against the door with two loud thuds. The door creaked open to a small room filled with pipe smoke and a table with a group of halflings and humans playing cards.
Jaysen had worked with John Littletree, the local guildmaster before, and knew how to step carefully around his grizzled and impatient manners. Carefully and quickly giving his reports of Brook’s Hold to the north. Jaysen’s next task seemed a simple one to deliver a few small crates to the guildmaster of Waterbridge to the south.
While Jaysen conducted some private business within his guild, acquiring a few crates of goods, Sir Benjin and Baernabas dug a bit deeper for information. Local rumors don’t often amount to much, they knew, but there was often some truth buried in them. Some insisted there must be a supernatural cause for the disappearances, likely a mad wizard abducting people and using them in abominable experiments. Another rumor focused more on the odd folk that had recently overrun the hillsides and wilderness around Rayn’s Hamlet. The sinister implications of these rumors were clear… some powerful mage had, apparently, experimented on the entire population, and then turned them loose on the world!
In the morning, Jaysen regrouped with the others and announced his plans to go to Waterbridge. Sir Benjin and Baernabas agreed to accompany him there, but insisted they look into the mystery at Rayn’s Hamlet on the way. Jaysen agreed, as it was only a little out of the way, and ought not to delay his own business much.
The trip to Waterbridge itself was short and uneventful. On their journey, Baernabas engaged with the locals gathering more information about the troubles harboring in Rayn’s Hamlet. The town of Waterbridge grew out of a series of bridges over the swampy water; giving its namesake. Not many stay for too long, being only a quick stop on several trade routes, but the locals are friendly enough. Jaysen completed his task and sent word to Littletree of his success before our heroes continued south to Rayn’s Hamlet.
While passing through the woods, they were suddenly overrun by undead walkers, a horde of them roaming through the trees. Baernabas was able to destroy most of them with a prayer and an invocation of his faith, allowing Benjin and Jaysen to dispatch the rest. It seemed the twisted mage’s experiments involved creating an army of the undead! Resolving to put a stop to such evil, Sir Benjin vowed to find and destroy this mage. Baernabas agreed, offended deeply by the animation of corpses of those whose journeys had ended. Jaysen, sensing there may be valuable loot to be had in a powerful magician’s lair, consented to join them.
Our heroes camped for the night, a mile or two away from the hamlet, wanting to approach in daylight in case the hamlet was in fact overrun with other undead. The next morning the group approached with caution. Upon finding a suitable hiding spot, our heroes examined the small yet growing hamlet. Baernabas was surprised to see tents were in use as much as small wooden shacks. Sir Benjin and his faithful war horse Spike swiftly made a perimeter check around the small grouping of buildings. Jaysen and Baernabas stayed put and kept a watchful eye. When Sir Benjin returned he inadvertently set off a crudely built but carefully hidden trap that sprung three javelins from out of the trees grazing one of Baernabas’ legs. The commotion brought five men with dogs racing over to investigate. Sir Benjin in a commanding voice stopped the dogs in their tracks. Jaysen the master diplomat negotiated with the men that our heroes were here to help, while Baernabas tended to his wound. The five young men armed with bows and arrows escorted our heroes to Rayn, a plump, nervous man. He lived in the largest of the buildings, which was one floor and maybe three rooms, the largest big enough to fit twenty people at most.
“Welcome, Welcome travelers, sorry for the misunderstanding, we’ve…uhh…had some…umm…misfortunes as of late”
“More like an invasion, Master Rayn” a growing murmur grew amongst the scared folk. “WHAT, whh-who said that?” quickly scanning everyone’s faces and rubbing his hands together nervously.
“We did!” Out from the group of townfolk stepped forward a small party of younger adventurers. A elven druid and a couple of human fighters.
“I think there’s been a SMALL misunderstanding. We were hired to safe guard your hamlet, we don’t need the help from these UNDERlings.” Jaysen is small even in halfling standards, but he never got upset when someone mentioned, commented, or even suggested he was small. He’d always let Sir Benjin defend his honor if needed, while Jaysen, would later have a private conversation with whoever’s most precious item, as he took it away from them. While Baernabas focus on his prayers and invocations, Sir Benjin sat down and enjoyed the debate. The quick discussion between Jaysen and the naive adventurers, left the younger ones’ egos intact, but clearly undermined their authority and intelligence to the rest of the townsfolk. Agreeing to stay in the town to defend the hamlet our heroes took the shameless road, and left, straight to the abandoned mine just outside of town where the troubles began.
They came to an entrance to a mine that appeared to have been there for a very long time. After exploring for a time, they stumbled into a caved in area unlike the rough cut of the mine. Here the smooth polish wall had been there even longer still and appeared to have been a hidden lair of some kind. It wasn’t unguarded however; inside the first room, which appeared to be a kitchen of some sort, a chain infused with evil intent was tossed carelessly across the floor. After frightening some mice out of the nearby pantry and into this room, they were absorbed by the chain as they scurried across it… releasing the evil within.
Wraiths beset our heroes, and once again Baernabas attempted to turn the fell creatures. The two lesser wraiths only fled in terror rather than disintegrating while the greater wraith was affected not at all. Sir Benjin and Jaysen were lucky to have magical weapons at hand, as they were able to partially affect these incorporeal creatures. Baernabas, whose weapon had been consecrated and specially crafted to be able to strike such creatures, seemed the best choice to tackle the greater wraith, and so he called upon his divine powers and cast a spell that would make him larger in size so that he could face the large shadow on even ground. Jeysin’s sword emitted a bright glow, like bright sunlight, further weakening the undead beasts. He was able to destroy one of the lesser wraiths fairly quickly after that, while Benjin tried to assist Baernabas. The dwarf, however, was deflecting as many attacks as he was dealing, and the wraith’s movement seemed to always just twist out of his way. He noticed Jaysen having trouble making contact with the remaining wraith, whose intangible body was proving better protection for itself than the other wraith’s had, and as his enlarge person spell began to fade, he had a burst of inspiration and redouble his faith increasing his divine power within himself, gaining the energy and speed needed to overpower the greater wraith, leaving it open for Benjin to strike the killing blow. The final wraith, at last overcoming its fear of Baernabas, was struck down in one blow by that dwarf’s enchanted waraxe.
After the fight, and tending to their wounds, they pressed onward, now more determined to eradicate the evils of this place. Aside from a brief – very brief – skirmish in a hallway in which Jaysen turned two skeletons to powder, and a botched attempt at disarming a trap (which dropped bricks onto Benjin and Baernabas’ heads), the halls offered little danger.
They came at last into what appeared to be a throne room of some sort. At once, Benjin detected evil coming from the throne, and a helmet resting on top of it. While an eerie, rhythmic pounding on the stone door of the chamber echoed through the room, Baernabas approached the throne and inspected it with an enchanted monocle. It was for naught, however; he couldn’t determine the source of the evil or the magic centered on the throne and helmet… something, he knew, was not as it seemed. While Jaysen inspected the door, wondering who or what could be knocking so forcefully, Baernabas said a prayer and used true seeing to inspect the throne… and spotted a handful of coins in the seat, beneath the helmet.
The source of the knocking burst into the chamber: a dread necromancer, Tekcit, accompanied by some undead henchmen. Baernabas scooped up the coins, intuiting that they must be what this necromancer must be searching for. Tekcit and his escort attacked at once, but the heroes fended them off, slaying the undead beasts. Tekcit, sensing he may be outmatched, absconded. The team chose then to retreat and regroup back in town, and left the mines.
On the way back to the main town, they encountered a few traveling elves. They got to talking, and the elves made mention of recent raids by orcs on their villages in the area. Baernabas, who viciously hated orcs, was eager to assist the elves in any way (with agreement from Jeysen and Benjin), but they resolved to take one more day in Rayn’s Hamlet before setting out for the elven settlements. The elves were grateful for their offer to help, and gave them directions to find their village.
The next morning, the team came to believe that Tekcit would likely not abandon his base of operations so readily. They resolved to enter the mine once more, agreeing that whether their search bore fruit or not, they would not delay in moving on to assist the elves any longer than that one day. For this trip into the mines, at the mayor’s suggestion, the group of younger warriors from the day before was enlisted to accompany Jeysen, Benjin, and Baernabas. They agreed, deciding that if nothing else, these young folks would provide them with some protection… as meat shields.
However, the younger team exceeded expectations in navigating the mines once more. Soon enough they found Tekcit, who had returned to search again for the coins. He had apparently been unaware that Baernabas had taken them, but when he saw them again, he deduced the truth. Tekcit demanded the coins, claiming they could be used to create a city for the undead to exist peacefully and safely, free from persecution by the living. Baernabas and Benjin, however, objected outright: the dead were at rest after their long journeys, Fharlanghn taught, and to rouse them was an affront, to enslave them an insult. The undead could not be allowed to exist, and those who created them must be dealt with accordingly.
The fight was vicious, and though Tekcit was tenacious, he could not overcome his foes. Using a dimension door, he escaped at once, abandoning the mine and, at least for the time being, the coins he’d been seeking… but not before swearing he’d see them all again.
The team returned victorious to Rayn’s Hamlet (with a modest amount of loot recovered from the mines). After a surprisingly plentiful and filling meal of ground beef, noodles, and a cheesy sauce, they turned in for the night. In the morning, they would set out northeast in search of the elven lands, to aide them against invading orcs…
to be continued!