As soon as the wizard touched a headstone, the rogue and cleric noticed a faint door-like outline in the ground. Then the party fell. Luckily, they landed in a pool of water to cushion their long fall. As they swam their way up the steps leading out of the pool, the room ahead flared to life, blinding the rogue and wizard momentarily. A woman stood in the room, which the rogue had determined to be empty only moments before. A pile of corpses littered the southwest corner of the room as well. She spoke with authority and demanded to know the reason for their intrusion. After answering that the group was looking for Darryl Alam’s Last Will and Testament, she announced that the group would now be subject to the Trials of Worth or Shame, consisting of 3 tests (commitment, valor, and wisdom). For the first test (commitment), they would be given until dawn to clear the dungeon of all hostile creatures that have crossed over from the Shadow World and to learn all that they could from the crypt. After saying this, she disappeared. Examining the corpses in the corner, the cleric determined that a powerful fireball ended their lives, while the rogue pulled a still intact coat of arms from Ghoere out of the pile. Determined to see this thru, the party pressed onward.
The first room presented them with three options, while the door behind them slammed shut and locked as soon as they entered. After looking around using a light spell cast on the fighter’s longsword, they deduced that the halls were magically crafted out of the stone, possibly using something as powerful as realm magic. The eastern door seemed to be the most inviting, and lead to a corridor. Keeping a keen eye out for traps, the rogue took the lead, with the fighter behind her, the wizard and cleric following behind. At the end of the hallway, an unseen trap was set off, igniting the rogue and fighter with a burning hands spell. In the chamber beyond, the walls themselves seemed to be dripping water. The floor slanted slightly downwards towards a pool of liquid in the middle of the room. Carefully moving into the room, the rogue noticed several piles of bones in the opposite corner. Approaching brought the piles of bones to life as multiple skeletons. A skirmish ensued, quickly ended by a burst of energy by the cleric. After patching up some wounds and finishing off the remaining undead, the group faced another decision: three other exits led out of the room, one to the west just north of the entrance the party came thru, and two to the south. After disarming a trap on the northwest exit and nearly breaking the stuck door down, the group proceeded down the hallway beyond to another door on their right (to the north). Peeking in the room, the group saw several zombies in a most unevenly built chamber (possibly an unfinished room). Returning to the hallway unnoticed, the group formulated a plan of attack. The fighter charged into the room…only to fall face first into a pit of spikes just five feet inside the door, also alerting the zombies to their presence. The party finally managed to group up at the entrance, their backs to a wall, while they fought off the fast and plague zombies. The warrior actually successfully bullrushed two zombies into the spiked pit, slaying them.
By this point, the battles were beginning to take their toll, as the cleric was nearly out of healing. No exits apparent, the group returned to the wet room and proceed out the southeast door, after budging open the stuck southwest door and seeing another hallway. The southeast door lead down a hallway, which nearly halfway down, the rogue noticed an unusual pattern in the eastern wall. Examining it closely, she saw it was a false wall, but no opening mechanism was apparent. The wizard examined it magically and determined it was arcanely locked by a much more powerful wizard. The group marked the location, but proceeded down the hallway. Another door to the south led the group to a long hallway leading west. The hallway had a door to the left near where the group entered and a door at the far end of the hallway. After unlocking the left door, the group proceeded down a corridor that turned right. The wizard and cleric remained in the back, unimpressed with the rogue’s ability to see traps thus far. It turned out to be the right decision, as an electricity trap on the door went unseen until Mongo (as the fighter is now affectionately known) opened it. It zapped all but the cleric in it’s path down the corridor. The room beyond was totally empty, save for a small paint on the far wall displaying “4/4”. The wizard quickly surmised that there were probably 3 other rooms, and that all would need to be found. With the cleric already low on healing, the group was not very optimistic. Going back to the long hallway, they proceeded to the end and opened the door. The chamber beyond was filled with roots of trees from above…and the groaning of zombies as well. The rogue attempted to sneak around a pile of roots, only to meet a zombie head on. A lucky claw laid the rogue low, while the remaining group barricaded themselves near the entrance way and defeated the group. After bringing the rogue back around, the cleric had exhausted all healing but his rebuke death spells for the day. The root room had only one other exit, leading west. The corridor beyond the door led north, but opened into another corridor leading west halfway down, and both of these corridors ended in doors. The rogue spied a trap in the western corridor, but when she attempted to disarm it, it went off, once again knocking the already seriously hurt rogue unconscious. Casting a rebuke death actually brought the rogue back to consciousness in better shape than she had been in before setting off the trap.
At this point the cleric took the lead, as the fighter was seriously injured in the fight with the zombies. Opening the western door lead into a large room, filled with webs. Using a torch and a mage hand spell, the wizard set the room to blazing. Within minutes, the webs around the room had burned down to ashes. The cleric conjured some water to put out the door to the south that the group spied just inside the chamber. While examining the room from the doorway, the rogue spied a trap near the middle of the room, while the cleric and wizard noticed puddles of goo near the northeast corner. Again using Mage Hand, the wizard moved his dagger to the pools and stuck it in, as to extract some of the material. Upon sliding out, the dagger was clean, and the magic users began to realize they were dimensional. The group hurried thru the door to the south, and shut it behind them. The corridor beyond opened into a brightly lit room to the right (west). Torches lined the walls and several unused lay on the floor, along with several sunrods. The far wall had a painting of a candle flame with “2/4” marked on it. Mongo noticed something else in the piles of torches of sunrods and pointed it out to the group. A wand had apparently been buried in the pile. After examining it and finding it to be a divine conjuration wand, the cleric attempted to use it. He found it to be a fully charged wand of cure light wounds. Using it, he restored the group to full health, and renewed their optimism. The group formed a plan to run across the room beyond to a corridor they had seen leading to the north. Their hope was to avoid any fighting beyond. Once they opened the door, they found three skeletons surrounding a well armed skeletal champion. Greed got the best of them, and they decided to attack. A quick battle ensued, ending with the thief using the wizard’s quarterstaff, the cleric slaying one skeleton with the wand he just found, and unbelievably, slaying the champion as he attempted to disarm the cleric and take his mace, after his own longsword was disarmed and mage handed across the room. After spending some time exchanging equipment, the group proceeded down the northern corridor, which ended in a door. After unlocking the door (and finding no traps), the group proceeded onward. This corridor had a T intersection halfway down (which ended in a door to the south) and turned left at the end (north). The rogue peeked around the corner at the end. She found a small chamber beyond with several corpses on the floor and a painting on the far wall. The group entered the room and found a painting of a man with “1/4”, and while searching the corpses, the thief came across a journal. It was the account of the last group from Tuornen, from their previous mission with Tyler to their current mission. The cleric examined the bodies and found multiple stab wounds that did not appear to be consistent with any type of weapon he could think of, but did notice that most of the wounds appear to have frozen instantly as they were made. Backing out of the room, the party headed thru the south door. A trap lay just on the other side, but the thief deftly disarmed it and the group headed down the corridor to the east beyond, and thru the door at the end…which lead back to the initial chamber.
Remembering that they had skipped a room, the band went back to the wet room and proceeded thru the southwest door. The tunnel beyond was twice as wide as the other hallways they had been in, but Leyira and Mongo both noticed that the floor very slowly raised upwards, while the ceiling remained level. The corridor looped back on itself several times, and twice the rogue stopped to disarm traps along the way. The last section was a mere 3 feet tall, and at the top, the group spied a painting. Creeping closer, the thief saw it was a river painting with “3/4” on it. At this, a faint rumbling noise could be heard from back down the corridor. Hurrying back to the false wall after making a small detour at another door they had not opened (which turned out to be the southern door of the initial chamber, leading thru a corridor they had already explored), they found the wall moved aside and a new door leading to the east. After the group entered the room, the door slammed shut behind them and locked audibly.
The new chamber was very large, and a small staircase spiraled upwards from the northeast corner. On the bottom step, the woman from the entrance stood. Next to her on the floor stood an ice golem. After congratulating the group on passing the first test, she initiated the second test (valor) and sent the golem after them. While she stood on the step and commanded the golem, the group lit torches to attack with fire. The rogue was quickly knocked unconscious by a slam from the golem. The wizard ran to a bookcase in the corner to find some help. First, he found a scroll with comprehend languages, detect secret doors, and 3 magic missile spells. A few seconds later, he found a scroll with burning hands and shocking grasp. Mongo and the golem exchanged several hits, while the cleric utilized the wand to keep Mongo alive. The wizard quickly came over and used the burning hands to damage to golem. When he attempted to defensively cast shocking grasp, the spell fizzled. With Mongo and Nero batting the golem with torches and the cleric healing Mongo, the tide turned on the battle and finally, they breached the magic that held the golem together. It exploded in a tremendous blast of ice and magic, knocking all but the cleric unconscious, and he only barely standing. After reviving the party, the woman on the steps congratulated the group, and commenced the third trial by asking three riddles: “What goes on four legs in the morning, two legs in the afternoon, and three legs in the evening?” “Give me food and I will live. Give me water and I will die. What am I?” “What can run but never walks, has a mouth but never talks, has a head but never weeps, has a bed but never sleeps?” The party successfully answered the riddles using the paintings they had found: “Man”, “Fire”, and “A river”. After announcing that the party had succeeded at their trial, she invited the group upstairs for food, drinks, and a fire.
After resting a bit and eating/drinking a bit, they began to ask questions of her. She replied that she would answer their questions and assist them further in their quest if they could answer one more riddle of her own. After relenting, she asked “What does man love more than life, Fear more than death or mortal strife, What the poor have, the rich require, and what contented men desire, What the miser spends and the spendthrift saves, And all men carry to their graves?” The group pondered this for several minutes, before the wizard answered correctly with a burst of insight: “Nothing”. She smiled and introduced herself as Nell Turly. She gave the group two maps: one with a key at the top leading to a small town in central Alamie, the other with a chest at the top leading to River Marsh in southeast Alamie. As for her own assistance, she produced a masterwork dagger made of alchemical silver and a ring of jumping. Also, she gave the group all the gold that had been gathered of the groups that preceded them. The group from Tuornen had made it to the ice golem before being defeated and killed. The group from Ghoere did not honestly announce their intent when they arrived, so she promptly slew them. She invited the party to stay as long as they like, but she would be returning to her master (whom she refused to name).
After resting for a couple of days, the group left for the province of Alaroine to follow the map with the key on it. After stopping in the trade city of Aloroine for supplies and information about where they were going to, they found some information about Robertsville, where they were headed. The town is small, and they were told by several people not to be there at night. People are usually escorted out of town before nightfall and those that are not are not usually seen again. Also, no silver of any type seems to be present in Aloroine. The group is now confident they are going to find a town of lycanthropes. After resting comfortably for the night, the group heads east. They find the town extremely tiny, consisting of only four families and their homesteads. A fifth homestead stands abandoned. After seeing a little one spying on the group, the rogue hails him and seeks to gather some information about the town. The child seems very apprehensive and only instructs the group to meet with the town elder in the middle building of town before he runs off. Livestock roams the fields near the homesteads, as do chicken coops and pig pens. After knocking on the door in the house in the middle of town, the group is greeted to the sight of a middle aged man. He is quite gruff, at first mistaking the group for bandits. Not until the mentioning of the key (and of Nell Turly) is the group invited inside for more discrete conversation. He tells them to stable their horses at the stable across the way in the middle of town. After waiting for Mongo to return (and for Nero to go get him and bring him back since he’s in the stable taking a drink break), the group proceeds inside and questions the man. During the questioning, they notice a scar on the side of his neck, just below his right ear. He says it was from a wolf, some twenty years ago. He admits to knowing about the key and having more information, but needs the group’s help before he will share it. Livestock has come up missing from the fields at a rate of about one per week. The farmers don’t know what to make of it. They are decent trackers, but can find no trace of the animals. The Owens, the Johnsons, the Warrens, and the Roberts are the four families. The empty homestead belonged to the Smiths, but about two years ago, they left to live elsewhere, apparently unhappy with the small town. The party is free to question the other families and investigate the fields.
At this point, the session was called for time.