A First for Many

Necromancer, or Necromentor?

New crypt, who dis?

As you recall, our adventurers had just discovered a grand plot to overthrow the king by an extremist cult under the disguise of the Black Fire Mercenaries. The party sat at a war table with Adeline Ashdrake in West Wall and discussed their next action. On the one hand, there was a necromancer they now knew was connected with the Black Fire. On the other, the King, as far as the party knew, was oblivious to the pending crisis. Adeline advised that the King would consider such accusations if they came from someone he trusted, and suggested discovering the whereabouts of Lord Castor. After much debate, the party decided to engage the necromancer.

Weighing heavily in that decision was a piece of intel that Adeline shared with the party. There were few soldiers who had fought in the Great Chevren War that were still alive, but there was word of a veteran living in Falcon Watch, which conveniently was on the way to the alleged location of the necromancer. The party decided to thus go to Falcon Watch first, then confront the necromancer. Unfortunately, the party’s notoriety was starting to make travel difficult without the occasional assassination attempt. Fortunately, with all the wares they had secured from their previous adventure, they could convincingly disguise themselves as merchants.

On their travels to Falcon Watch, they found no sketchy situations. They did, however, cross paths with a merchant dwarf traveling towards West Wall. Though not a Grey Dwarf himself, he frequently traded goods with them. Queso, in his excitement, scared the crap out of this little dwarf while shoving the schematic in his face. After some coaxing from Hofniel to calm him down, the dwarf took and inspected the page. The dwarf was able to read some of the runes, and told the party that it would probably require God Iron, which is mined from stones that falls from the gods. He suggested that if we wanted to find some, we would need to talk with an astrologer. The party bought some goods and continued on their way to Falcon Watch.

The adventurers finally reached Falcon Watch with their disguises intact. The first stop was the local tavern. Inside was the common assortment of riffraff and a typical barkeep. Queso was upset when he found that they did not have curdled goat’s milk in stock, but he settled down over a mead instead. The party asked the keep if he knew any veterans from Great War, and he instantly recalled one who is a regular at the tavern, although he was currently absent. The party asked for directions to his place and on a whim asked the barkeep if he knew the veteran’s favorite drink. He enthusiastically replied that it was a spiced Sorpigal rum. The tavern didn’t have any in stock, but he knew they could find some in the market.

With the barkeep’s directions, it was not difficult to find the Sorpigal merchants. Trying to keep things incognito, they decided to let Hofniel purchase the rum. As he was leaving, Queso requested some “Wacky Tabaccy” from the merchant, and Hofniel agreed to try. Still in his own merchant’s disguise, Hofniel approached the trader and requested the items. Unfortunately, Hofniel’s face was now (in)famous as well, and the merchant immediately donned a face of recognition. Hofniel then slid a sum of 10gp while ensuring the merchant that he was nobody of importance. The merchant insisted that he must be someone, to which another 10gp found its way into the merchant’s possession. Skeptical but silent, the merchant from Sorpigal retrieved the requested items, Hofniel paid for them, and quickly turned back to his friends. As Hofniel walked away, the rest of the party saw a small group of individuals crowd to the merchant’s booth as soon as Hofniel left. There was some debate about whether to try to draw out this crowd beyond the city gates and ambush them, but they decided to ignore them, since they would probably not try anything risky inside the city.

The group then headed to the verteran’s house. With a couple of knocks, an older and jovial man came to the door. The party said they heard he was a veteran and had some rum that was weighing them down. At the mention of the Sorpigal spiced rum, he swiftly whisked them inside. Hofniel and a couple of others went inside, while the rest kept watch in case the group with the merchants visited. Hofniel had originally planned on simply letting the old man drink while they talked. However, the veteran believed that drinking was a group activity. The group did their best to hold down the liquor while they asked him to tell them stories of the war, then stories of the King, before stories of the mace. Although the rum was strong, everyone was able to hold their drinks down while he told his tales. He described how the King would give a grand speech before the great battles, and they would end with him shouting something with his name and his mace lighting up. When they had extracted all the information they could, they gave him the rest of the rum and parted ways.

From there, the party decided to head straight for the necromancer in case there were more nosy people in Falcon Watch. Their travels were uneventful and they entered the woods that were marked on the map. The woods started as a bright and lively place, but as they ventured farther in, the woods grew darker and a chill entered the air. They eventually found a partial clearing. There were a few old, gnarled trees spotting the clearing, with dead leaves and a fine mist covering the ground. At the far end of the clearing the outline of some stone structure could be seen, but not clearly. Belladonna scouted the area and discovered that beneath the fog there were multiple patches of disturbed ground. Queso climbed a nearby tree in order to keep an eye in the sky while the rest of the party skirted about the edge of the clearing. However, as they walked, someone in the party stepped on the biggest, loudest branch to ever exist.

Immediately the patches of earth birthed zombies that started approaching the party. Dobby and Elora quickly climbed the nearest tree they could, while Hofniel protected himself before defending the tree. Queso went on the offensive, leaping heroically from the tree and started chopping and slashing. Elora and Dobby were successfully attacking from the trees while Belladonna snuck past the zombies and advanced to the other side of the field. Hofniel, new to his tank role, discovered quickly that he is not made for offense, as he smashed his mace into his own leg. Thankfully the zombies were not too powerful, especially with Queso killing two at a time. In almost no time, the zombies were returned to death without major damage.

Belladonna was able to successfully scout the far structure and found it to be a stone crypt with massive, closed stone doors. Two massive statues were on either side of the door. One was holding a dagger while the other held a bowl. Belladonna climbed into the bowl, and after her eyes slowly adjusted to the darkness, saw a dried brown stain in the bottom of the bowl. The rest of the party came to the doors. Hofniel immediately recognized this as a ritual door that required a human blood offering to open (he had done his senior thesis on the stability and longevity of ritual magic). Hofniel paid the price into the bowl (after Belladonna left) and the doors opened on their own.

They could tell that the inside of the crypt wasn’t lighted, so Hofniel cast light upon his helm and they entered the darkness. Inside, they could see many stone slabs with dissected corpses upon them. Two shadowy figures stood in the middle of the crypt, one thin and the other much thicker. Suddenly, an eerie voice whispered from further in the darkness. He welcomed the group, stating that he had been waiting for them to arrive. He was excited to test them, since most groups never made it this far. The party went to their battle positions: Hofniel and Queso advanced to engage the two figures while Belladonna, Dobby, and Elora stayed in the back.

Up close, it was possible to see the outline of a robed figure sitting at the far end of the crypt. The two figures looked like they were stitched together abominations: the smaller carrying a dangerous sword while the bulky one seemed to have iron incorporated into his fists. Hofniel cast magic to protect Queso and himself while Queso went to town attacking the smaller of the two. To their surprise, with every blow that Queso landed, the blood that was released began to burn anything that it touched, and this was in addition to the pounding they naturally did on Queso. Elora unleashed a magic missile and Dobby attacked from a distance, while Belladonna ensured that the dissected corpses would not rise to join the fight. Thankfully, the skinny one fell without too much trouble, but that was when the tide began to turn: the necromancer stood and joined the fight.

Immediately, he created a wall of ice to separate himself from the rest of the party, while commenting on how glad he was to see Elora again. Queso was able to land a solid blow on the brute, but then, the necromancer sent out a spectral hand which immediately went to Queso. With a ghoulish touch, Queso was frozen in place, which was a particularly sticky situation with a hulkish brute right next to him. Dobby showed her fiery side by creating a flaming sphere right on top of the necromancer, forcing him to immediately dodge. Elora attempted to scorch the brute on this side of the ice, but missed both him and the wall of ice behind him. Hofniel, ever the attacker, managed to miss the brute as it attempted to attack the defenseless Queso. The necromancer was not nearly as unlucky, as his spectral hand grabbed at Hofniel and seemed to drain his dexterity.

Queso was getting dangerously low on health, the protection spell would not last much longer, Elora was struck with one of the brute’s punches, and the necromancer was able to dispel Dobby’s flaming sphere. The battle seemed grim, and in their desperation Hofniel decided it was time to try and unlock the mace. With a bellow of the king’s name, the mace erupted in golden light that filled the room. The party felt empowered, and channelling Pelor’s strength, Hofniel struck at the spectral hand. It fizzled at the onslaught as the necromancer howled in pain.

Using this distraction to their advantage, Belladonna and Elora attacked. Belladonna surprised the brute with a serious stab to its leg. Elora lined herself carefully and cast the most powerful spell she could muster. A streak of lightning erupted from her fingertips, successfully passing through the brute, burning it alive. But Elora’s aim was true: the bolt continued through the brute, shattered through the ice wall, and struck the necromancer in his chest, doing incredible damage. He cried out, “Where did you learn that spell?!” before transforming himself into gas and escaping through the ceiling. The necromancer may have been hindered, but he was not defeated. The party then turned to Elora, wondering how she knew this madman. They looted what little remained, and prepared for their next adventure.

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