As the final Hobgoblin Soldier took his last dying breath the adventurers quickly surveyed the room around them, ensuring they were indeed safe before proceeding on. As the quiet of the dungeon resumed once the fight had died down the discussion resumed - what to do next? Last week the party had discussed inspecting these last few rooms and then exiting the dungeon and going back to town to level up. Sounds easy enough. After all, what could go wrong (insert maniacal DM laughter here)?
Eldred inspected the room to the east and found three flea infested mattresses on crude beds. Oester inspected the room to the south and found a bed with a down mattress and a chest. The chest was locked, but once unlocked it revealed 420 GP, a nice looking short sword, and a letter that read as follows:
I have recently learned of your activity in the area and have an offer for you. During your time in this region if you should capture any humanoids, we are eager to buy them. We have duergar allies in Thuderspire in need of slave stock. If you are interested, send an envoy back to me. My messengers will show the way.
Chief Krand of the Bloodreavers
Jenneth inspected the sword and determined that is was indeed magical, and Oester eagerly added the magical short sword to his pack. With no other magic and no secrets to be found, the party decided to use Jenneth's Tensor's Floating Disk to tote the armor and weapons back to town. Jenneth quickly determined the disk might be able to carry half of what was found, so since the hobgoblins had collected much of the weapons and armor from their fallen peers already, the party decided to stuff half of it in the secret armory upstairs in the room with the floor runes and shuttle the remainder back to Winterhaven.
The party worked their way through the downstairs rooms, up the stairs, placed the extra booty in the armory, and then moved out of the floor runes room up the stairs into the goblin guard room. With nothing to obstruct their way, they moved up the last set of steps and out into the evening air. Still with no monsters about, the party quickly moved through the ruins of the keep and back to the road and on to their two hour trek back to Winterhaven.
As the party moved south the sun set and the pervasive gloom that covered the area seemed to intensify in the darkness of night, but the party kept an open eye and no interruptions occurred on their way to town. All seemed well as the party rounded the last curve on the road and they could see the walls of Winterhaven, but the presence of Sister Linora running up the road toward them in obvious distress did not bode well. "We are in peril! Several people have disappeared and the dead in the graveyard have risen. We fear these creatures will assail the gates and drag us all away!"
Sister Linora lead the adventurers to the graveyard that lay just north of town. A wrought iron fence surrounded a large graveyard, and a locked gate sat across a worn path that led through the middle of the graveyard. The party could see two small mausoleums and a larger one toward the back of the graveyard, and they also spied a glowing blue light eminating from the back of the graveyard. As Sister Linora fiddled with the locked gate the party could see several skeletons emerging from their graves.
Once the gate was open the party quickly moved in. The first wave of skeletons was soon dispatched, although the party was surprised to see they were each armed with a longbow and a long sword and wore a quiver with ten arrows. An mysterious arrow also flew from somewhere in the dark, so the party moved forward and were greeted by another wave of skeletons. They too were quickly dispatched, only to be replaced by another set of skeletons. Once again a mysterious arrow flew from the darkness, its owner still unaccounted for.
As the party waded into the last set of skeletons the mysterious archer appeared, moving up the steps to the door of the large mausoleum. A fire ball and several ranged affects did significant but insufficient damage and the mysterious stranger managed to open the door to the mausoleum and out poured three large undead and vicious looking dogs, and as the hounds appeared another set of skeletons started to dig their way out of their graves.
Standing under Jenneth's magical light while he was on the steps to the mausoleum the mysterious archer was identified - it was Ninaren, the elf that had tried to convince the party on their first night in Winterhaven that Kalarel was at the location that turned out to be the kobold hide-out. Already injured, Ninaren tried to make his escape into the dark but a last arrow and an attack from the fireball did him in before he could escape.
The party seemed rather ho-hum about fighting the undead dogs until they took a lot of damage and never got bloodied, and once their bite finally bit Oester (damage + ongoing damage + knocked prone) did the party realize these weren't mere puppies, but some tough Gravehound Zombies. The party then decided to concentrate on the three hounds, doing much damage and finally killing them all.
During this time the remaining skeletons continued to fire their arrows, and as they did yet another set of skeletons dug their way out of their graves. The blue glowing light - a blue glowing liquid that had been poured into some runes carved into the ground - was determined to be the magic that was energizing the poor souls in their graves, so as the party took out the last of the skeletons Akta desecrated the magic circle and as the blue light dimmed and went dark an eerie quiet settled over the graveyard.
The party cautiously investigated the two smaller mausoleums, but finding nothing moved on to investigate the dead elf. Miave was especially distraught that an Elf was involved in such evil, and even moreso when besides a small purse with 56 GP a letter was found in his pocket:
I received your report on the adventurers. Next time you see them, put an end to their meddling. Mix the blood of ten people with the elixir my messenger brings. Then trace the following pattern on the ground of a graveyard and pour the liquid into the lines. That should supply with a force to thwart them. I'm very close to completing my work and cannot be interrupted. As you already know, if you do come to the second level of the keep, the pass phrase is "From the ground, some magic was found."
As the party looked around they saw:
25 Decrepit Skeletons, wearing no armor but each carrying a longbow, ten arrows, and a long sword.
3 Gravehound Zombies.
1 Elf, wearing leather armor, and carrying a longbow, 30 arrows, and a long sword.
The party also investigated the large mausoleum, but found no other magic or secrets, and each party member earned 180 XP.
With the graveyard now safe, Sister Linora joined the characters, effusive in her praise for your efforts, despair in her voice for the damage done to her graveyard and its residents. She led you to the town, where those standing atop the walls surrounding the town cheered your approach. As you entered the town you were greeted heartily by the town residents, and you soon found yourself in Sylvana Wrrafton's inn with large flagons of ale and a hot meal and seated with Lord Padraig, Valthrun the Prescient, Bairwin the merchant, and Thail Coalstriker, the smith, as well an many town members, as they watched you eat and listened to your story.
When we pick up next week we will start with the conversation(s) in the inn and go from there (as 3rd level characters!).
DM Note: So far during this adventure the DM has been able to deal some pretty serious damage, but not this night. Ninaren's arrows never hit, the Gravehound Zombies only successfully bit twice, and none of their extra bites when reduced to zero HP were successful at all. Not that the party is unhappy about this ...