Gladigan, Ginnifer, Helka, and Diero met up with Kaer Baer and Ullr in the lobby of the Swinging Sword Inn, and decided that joining forces would be a good idea. After catching each other up on the latest happenings, the party decided to investigate one of the elders who “Mother” Yolantha called out for acting distant and strange. After some discussion, they settled on Albaeri Mellikho, and made their way to her quarry, Mellikho Stoneworks.
As the adventurers walked into the small office building along the main road, they caught the end of Albaeri yelling at one of her workers. Ullr checked out a display case that had some samples of the stone from the quarry. After the altercation, the worker left out a door in the back of the building and approached the quarry owner. Some of the more perceptive of the group got the distinct impression that they were not welcome at the quarry office, and Albaeri wanted to get them out of her hair as soon as possible.
Albaeri stated a few times that she was very busy, but she did shortly answer some of their questions. The party learned that Mellikho Stoneworks was a 24/7 shop with both a night and day shift, and that the demand from Waterdeep for stone made it possible for both of the quarries in Red Larch to be profitable, and that a third quarry was opening somewhere else near the town. After a few questions Albaeri cut off the party, and told them that if they wanted to test their mettle, they should seek out Tricklerock Cave, a place that is rumored to have legendary treasure, and she pointed out its location on their map.
As the group left, the worker from the quarry that was seen earlier being admonished by Albaeri called over Diero. The worker told Diero that the night crew started setting up torches since mysterious dark-robed figures wearing stone masks have been spotted watching them from the shadows. Diero asked if there was any way he could investigate the quarry pits themselves, but the worker asked him to not try during the day in case they are spotted by Albaeri.
Kaer Baer casted mage armor, and the group then headed out to Lance Rock. The three hour journey south along the Long Road and then west through fields and farmland proved uneventful, but the cloudy and rainy sky was made more ominous given the lighting storm they could see north over the Sumber Hills. They could see the narrow, twenty-five foot obelisk of bare, gray rock from far away as they approached. The rock jutted eastward at about a sixty degree angle. Helka used her knowledge of stonecutting to determine that the stone that made up Lance Rock was not likely from the area, and that it must of been brought over from somewhere else…almost as if it was dropped here.
Not far down a trail leading away from Lance Rock there was a sign, and it read:
lest you catch
the disfiguring plague
that afflicts me!
The Lord of Lance Rock
The party chose to get closer. The path lead to a cave hidden behind some trees. Gladigan attempted to hide among the trees so he could sneak up to the cave, but the group noted that the halfling wasn’t quite successful. Diero yelled “hello?!”, and was answered by a gutteral “uhhhh”. Ginnifer and Diero then snuck up, with Diero casting Faerie Fire to make out the shape of a topless man lying on the ground about 30 feet into the cave. The adventures decided to investigate the cave.
The Necromancer’s Cave
Ullr walked up the figure lying on its back and determined that the creature was likely a zombie. He then proceeded to beat the crap out of it. Everyone decided to beat the crap out of it. By the third time the zombie seemed to be finally defeated and started to get up yet again, all six of the adventures had it surrounded and were beating it to a bloody pulp. Eventually the zombie stopped getting up, and party proceeded west through a narrow passage.
The group could see far enough into the next cave opening to see a flat boulder in the middle covered in dark stains, and with a height of about three feet. Ullr entered the cave first, but was immediately hit by rocks from above! Others immediately joined him and noted the two exists to the north and south, but it was Kaer Baer that noticed a foot hanging just over the ledge where they entered. With this information Ginnifer ran straight to the stained boulder, jumped on it, turned around, and fired an arrow at one of the three zombies standing on the ledge (and holding a bucket that presumably held rocks a few short seconds earlier). The zombies stepped off the ledge, shattering some bones in the process, and the group made short work of them. Of note, Helka hit a zombie so hard its torso ripped from its body, and when it hit a wall its head popped off and flew across the room! Diero also tied a spear to some rope, and that was cool.
The party heard the faint sound of bells jingling to the south, so they ventured that way next down a slim tunnel. With hardly enough room to fit side by side, the tunnel had many protruding spurs jammed into the tunnel wall with what appeared to be dried blood on them. Gladigan hid in the shadows and took a peek into the next cave opening. In it he saw a strange sight: In a star shaped cave, there were three zombies holding arms and appearing to be in the midst of a morbid dance. One zombie was costumed as a bear, another one dressed as a lady in a frilly dress and thick makeup, and the third was dressed as a court jester with jingling bells on its collar.
The “jester” was caught in vines that rose from the ground after they were summoned by Diero, and Helka and Ullr rushed to attack the remaining two. With the two warhammer-armed dwarves grabbing the zombies’ attention, Gladigan and Ginnifer were free to fire off arrows, while Kaer Baer shoveled some fire bolts! A skeleton dressed in a ratty king costume sneaked up from a western tunnel, but Kaer Baer melted him with an acidic chromatic orb. In the end, Gladigan raided all of the costume props for later use, and secured the jester’s jingling bells from jingling.
The adventurers then followed the small tunnel that king skeleton came from, and they found themselves at another small cave opening. They could see two iron chests in the middle of the cavern, and Diero also noticed that the ceiling looked more mechanical than natural. Sensing a trap, Diero let the group know that he was going to turn into a spider (so they wouldn’t freak out) in order to sneakily search the room, so he HOLY CRAP, DIERO TURNED INTO A GIANT WOLF SPIDER LARGER THAN GLADIGAN! Ahem, ok, (side note: I looked up this site to figure out how best to write a throat clearing sound, and I learned what an onomatopoeia was in the process) moving on…
Wolf Spider Diero climbed the walls of the cave and moved to the other side on the ceiling. He noticed a small peephole on the far end, and then plugged it with one of his spider legs. After plugging the peephole, he could hear a voice mutter “…stupid spider, get out of the way…” among other things. The rest of the party entered the room and opened the chests, but they were empty. Wolf Spider Diero then pulled his spider leg out of the peephole, and all hell broke loose: Whomever was on the other side of the peephole let out a cry, “You dare pit yourselves against the Lord of Lance Rock? Death is your reward!”. Suddenly the ceiling of the cave opened and large rocks fell from the opening! Everyone jumped out of the way of trap above them except for Gladigan, who was crushed by a falling rock and knocked unconscious. The cackling man on the other side of the wall appeared to have left. After getting some clerical healing from Ullr, Gladigan was awake, and after a short rest the party ventured down the southern passage.
The southern passage was another small tunnel that winded its way westward. Once Wolf Spider Diero made his way to the entrance of a very large cavern, he and the party were spotted by the mysterious cackling figure. The wild-eyed, bald man with a bristly beard was at the far end of the cave sharpening some tools by a tool bench. In front of him were six skeletons, but he told them to wait, “let’s see how they handle themselves”, he said. In the part of the cave close to the tunnel opening were two figures in dark hoods with their backs to the adventurers near some tables bearing corpses. The adventures wasted no time and attacked the figures!
As the party got into formation, they noted that the hooded figures were in fact more zombies, and more surprising, some severed hands and feet jumped out of baskets on the tables and attacked the group! Ginnifer quickly wrapped cloth around one of her arrows and lit it by a nearby torch, and fired it at one of the zombies. The zombies and animated body parts were no match to the heroes though; with Ullr and Wolf Spider Diero leading the assault, the crazed man eventually ordered the skeletons to attack while he ran further into the cave complex.
Ginnifer, Gladigan, and Kaer Baer all attacked the closest skeleton with ranged attacks, taking it out before the skeletons had a chance to get moving. Diero changed back to his human form and once again summoned vines which captured two skeletons in their midst. The captured skeletons switched to bows and started firing arrows at Gladigan, but the halfling was too fast for them, and he returned the favor with arrows of her own. After a couple of missed steps, Helka got really angry and started what might be her true calling as a skeleton DEMOLISHER! With her warhammer she started turning the skeletons into dust, and by the time she was done, everyone was coated with a thin sheet of the white dust.
The party then pursued the Lord of Lance Rock, and they found themselves in another cave, but this time the cave had dark purple tapestries hanging on the walls. At the center of this cave opening was a pedestal fashioned of severed arms arranged to clutch one another in a cone. Cradled in the uppermost hands was a glowing crystal sphere. Inside the sphere was a dark sigil with an eyelike slit. Kaer Baer simply shot out a fire bolt to light the tapestries on fire, and as Diero moved towards the crystal sphere, the sigil disappeared and the man they were chasing leaped out of the tapestries and screamed “Can’t you see it!? It’s the Eye! It sees your every move! Don’t you fear it!?”
The man then raised a wand and three missiles in rapid succession hit Diero! The heroes quickly moved to formation with Helka, Ullr, and Diero (who at this point was changed into a panther…) closing around the necromancer, and Gladian, Ginnifer, and Kaer Baer attacking with projectiles. The group did ultimately defeat the man, but not before he was able to shoot missiles from his wand two more times, leaving the party tired and wounded. When the final strike came, the man turned into a black flame that dwindled to nothing with a plaintive wail and vanished. The party looted the room, picking up the crystal globe and the wand, among some silver, gold, and gems. There was enough knowledge among the group to recognize the globe as a driftglobe, and the wand as a wand of magic missiles. After a lengthy discussion about who should take the items, it was decided that the driftglobe would be given to Diero once he turned back to his regular form, and that Kaer Baer would take the wand. The party then left the room before breathing any more of the smoke generated by the burning tapestries.
Finally, the party decided to check out the last remaining area, the tunnel that led north near the cave system’s opening. Gladigan attempted to sneak up to the cavern at the end of the small tunnel, but was unable to see anything in the dark. Kaer Baer was able to see about a dozen or so bodies on the ground or leaned up along the wall. Ginnifer then walked into the room, but the moment she stepped on one of the bodies, five skeletons rose and attacked the heroes! First, the skeletons focused on Ginnifer, but Ullr and Helka moved in to help out. Ullr was quickly attacked and knocked out by one of the skeletons however. Ginnifer fought back ferociously, stowing her bow and making multiple attacks with an arrow in each hand! Gladigan ran through her comrades to sneak a couple of arrow attacks of his own while Kaer Baer fired off bolts of fire and tried hitting a skeleton with her shovel, and Helka made a whole lot more skeleton dust! Once again, the party could hardly breathe in the cave after Helka was done introducing the skeletons to her warhammer.
After the battle, Diero helped Ullr regain consciousness, and the adventures decided that they needed a rest before making the trip back to Red Larch.