Session #55 – Grim Graveyard

After a cold breakfast of rations, the party waded into the swamp, picking high ground as they could but occasionally stepping into ankle-deep murk. They left the halfling at the manor to watch over the horses, and so they were Tienarth, Ferris, Azrak, Ghevont, and Aderian plus newcomers Darthorian, Scenwolf and Mygnak. Having spied the graveyard from the north, they relied on collective sense of direction to reach its gates.

On the way, three remarkable though minor events rose up. The first was when Darthorian nearly stepped in a deep well while walking through a water up to his knees. At the last possible moment, he halted at the edge of the hole and avoided sinking to unknown depths. The second event involved Tienarth recognizing an elven rune carved in a tree. As he drew his comrade’s attention to the rune meaning “scream”, a squirrel clamored down the trunk and greedily tore the bark away. Beneath was a rusted iron arrowhead. The final strange event happened when a snake emerged from the water beside the path. A drowned rat was observed resting on the muddy bottom of the pond.

Presently, they spied the walls of the graveyard, crumbling stones topped with iron skulls. A low hum rattled through their bones as they drew closer. Stretching over the entrance, a wrought iron banner bore the name Ferris Blood. The party quickly exchanged worried glances.

Stepping through the gateway, they counted 42 graves in six neat rows. Aderian read aloud the name on the closest gravestone and suddenly a ghoul pushed its way to the surface and attacked. It was cut down with ease.

They cautiously checked each grave one by one and were surprised to find a few graves freshly dug and bearing the name of the someone else in the party. Names of many graves were silently illegible, but the ones that could be read all called forth ghouls. The careful checking of each grave made easy work of dispatching the monsters, though Azrak did succumb to paralyzation from a ghoul’s bite.

Judging the thread of the ghouls neutralized, they took notice of three buildings within the walls. Each presented verses of derision. The larger structure in the center professed to contain the body of Ferris, a mystifying statement. They set about untangling the riddles of the poetry with little luck until Ferris correlated stone buttons on the central structure to the graves. He pushed buttons to match only those graves that appeared fresh and bore the names of they party. Upon pressing the final button, a door slid downward to reveal an inner chamber.

As Ferris stepped into the dark interior, sconces lit to reveal a stone statue of Ferris himself, the bones of this companions at his feet. An inscription commanded the reader to bow before him.

To either side, stairs lead downward. Ferris and Darthorian stepped lightly down to find another statue, this one of a sad maiden. Ferris pushed open a door to find another chamber containing a reflecting pool, a closed door on the other side.

Looking into the pool, only a foot deep, Ferris saw the image of a lich beckoning him. Darthorian saw himself as a spectre and quickly turned away. Ferris stepped into the pool and waded to the door, opened it and stepped through. Darthorian made the follow, but plunged directly through the illusion to be impaled by spikes. Blood burst from the wound where a spike pierced his back and emerged from his gut.

Ghevont rushed down the stairs, telling himself the entire experience was illusion. That being ineffective, he managed to climb down into the pit to aid the dying elf who was moments from death.

A spell to detect magic resolved to little help, for everything around them in this tomb appeared magical. Meanwhile, Ferris kept exploring and found another room with gold-lined basin. Suddenly, the water in the basin formed the shape of a snake and lashed out. Ferris dodge the elemental and slapped at it with his sword.

Ghevont and Aderian climbed down and back up out of the pit to aid Ferris who was caught by the watery snake and held under the surface. Ghevont read from a scroll offering protection from elementals. The snake retreated into the water and Aderian was able to pull Ferris from the water.

Endnotes

  • The riddles of the other two structures were not solved, though the party came close to solving them. They didn’t put it together that Ferris was the key to performing certain actions, but Henry happened to work out that the buttons matched the graves, so it was his character who pushed them and they got in. This earned him an XP bonus for excellent play.
  • The foreshadowing events in the approach did not come to mind or apparently aid them in anyway.
  • Killing the ghouls in the graves was good fun that lasted at least an hour.
  • Jason delivered the gift of a statue of a warrior rescuing a maiden from a blue dragon. This earned him an XP bonus for contributing out-of-game entertainment.
  • Characters present: Tienart/Tre, Ghevont/Jeff, Aderian/Jason, Ferris/Henry, Azrak/Jeff, Darthorian/Michael, Scenwolf/Michael, Mygnak/Michael.

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