A Disturbed Rest
The Valiant Crowned had failed to stop Eric Leam’s dark resurrection ritual, but they had survived the battle against his minions. After taking a few moments to investigate the strange features of the room they had just battled a monstrous mindwitness in, they settled down for a few hours rest to regain their strength, sharpen their swords, and prepare spells to replace the ones they had expended.
Eight Thundercloud stood watch as the others settled down. After a while, she heard the sound of stone scraping against stone as a red-walled chamber from somewhere further down the corridor rotated, followed by the low moans and shuffling sounds of zombies approaching. Eight poked Glen awake, and the two of them peered down the hallway. At the edge of their darkvision, they could make out a red-robed figure leering at them in the darkness. They heard her whisper “We have intuders, my servants. They may be trying to interfere with the ritual. We must stop them!” Following this command, several zombies came shuffling down the hall toward the resting group. Thinking quick, Glen hummed the sequence of notes that caused their room to rotate, just barely managing to block out the zombies. With danger avoided for the time being, they group was able to finish their rest in peace.
Secret Passages and Dead Ends
Once fully rested, Eight Thundercloud led the group down the new passageway that had been revealed once the room had rotated. Although she crept along cautiously, she still fell prey to an exceptionally well concealed pit trap. Tumbling down into a dark cavern, the tabaxian used her climbing ability to scramble right back up without taking any damage. However, it appeared that the small cavern below had a tunnel of it’s own leading off to an unexplored part of Alunnor. Continuing down the original passageway, they finally came to a dead end with a set of stone stairs leading up to a heavy steel plate. Glen climbed the steps and attempted with all his might to push the steel plate open, but failed hilariously.
Wondering if there could be someone standing on top to weight it down, Eight Thundercloud reached a paw up and cast a shocking grasp spell on the steel plate. From the other side she heard shouts and screams, and a moment later, the plate was lifted from above just enough to let a hand toss in a bag of choking powder. Glen, Eight Thundercloud, and Ki’Chetal were quick enough to cover their mouths and noses, running off down the corridor out of the cloud of powder. Quincy, however, caught a big gulp of it in one breath. He lay on the ground incapacitated and suffocating, choking and gasping for air. Eventually he was able to crawl out of the area of effect and get a breath of clean air.
Once the dust had settled, Glen used a divine spell of thaumaturgy to open the heavy steel plate. Quincy cast a sleep spell in the space above to knock out any assailants who might be laying in wait. As the adventurers emerged, they found themselves in the prison cell within the Crimson Watchmen barracks in Mistvale. Several dirty and beaten villagers lay asleep on the ground, including Old Gran and Timothy Burton. There were no guards present, so the adventurers woke up Old Gran and Mr. Burton to find out what was going on. The two villagers were incredibly surprised to see the heroes standing there in their prison cell. They learned that Old Gran had been arrested for asking some rude Watchmen to leave her tavern, and that she had been responsible for throwing the choking powder, claiming to have smuggled out a pouch of hot spices from her kitchen “in the usual place.” They also learned that the prisoners were afraid of the hatch and the tunnel beyond. “They come from below and take us. Those they take away are never seen again,” said Mr. Burton.
A Shattering Escape
The Valiant Crowned debated for a while on how best to help the prisoners escape. Should they set the place ablaze? Break down the wall? Eventually they decided that they would escape back into the tunnel and then destroy the mechanism that operated the heavy trap door so that their pursuers could not follow after them. The remaining villagers were woken up or rolled down the stairs, and Eight Thundercloud sent the heavy steel plate crashing down with a well-placed shatter spell, essentially sealing the way behind them.
A Battle of Intellect
Eight Thundercloud remembered that there was a tunnel branching off from the cavern at the bottom of the pit she had stumbled into earlier. She dropped back down to explore and see if it might lead to a safe way out. At the bottom, she came face to face with an intellect devourer. The beast attempted to overwhelm the tabaxian with psychic power, but Eight Thundercloud’s intellect was able to deflect the mental attack. A well-placed magic missile spell sent the creature scampering off down the tunnel. Ki’Chetel joined Eight Thundercloud in hunting down the beast. They followed it’s tracks through the tunnel until it emerged into a room filled with corpses. A single shaft of light from above indicated that this room was directly beneath the well in the garden of the Leam Estate. Ki’Chetel, using her refined hunter’s instinct, loosed two arrows at her prey, bringing it down to join the rest of the corpses strewn about the chamber, then she and Eight Thundercloud quickly made their way back to join the rest of the group before anything else could surprise them.
Combat Among the Corpses
The Valiant Crowned now faced two prospects for escape: one included fighting their way through zombies, the other included risking a path through the chamber filled with corpses and the unknown dangers beyond. The adventurers decided to bring the villagers down into the pit to hide in relative safety as they explored the corpse chamber. It turned out that the intellect devourer wasn’t the only inhabitant feasting off the remains left over from Eric Leam’s twisted necromancy experiments. The group was forced into battle with a giant worm-like creature known as a carrion crawler. During the fight, Ki’Chetel was stabbed with a poisoned tentacle and became temporarily paralyzed. With coordinated strikes from the remaining adventurers and powerful spells, the creature was vanquished. Once the tiefling recovered from her paralysis, they continued on their way.
In the next chamber, the group encountered the red-robed figure they had seen before. Summoning a small horde of zombies, she attacked the adventurers. Quickly sensing that she was outnumbered, she sang a tune and rotated the chamber to a different exit, making a hasty escape. Quincy used a prestidigitation spell to play the notes of the song inside the chamber and rotated it back around, only to find the zombies waiting and ready. Glen raised his holy symbol – a gold piece – and turned undead, causing most of the zombies to burst into dust. The remaining undead fiend was quickly dispatched by the heroes.
Death and Escape
Ki’Chetal suddenly heard the scream of an old woman coming from the passage where they had left the villagers. Fearing the worst, Eight Thundercloud cast a haste spell on herself and ran as fast as she could to find them. Old Gran lay against the cavern wall, battered and bruised, holding Timothy Burton’s body. The bodies of the other three villagers lay crumpled and lifeless against the walls. She explained that a woman in a red robe had run by the passage overhead, stopping only to slash at Mr. Burton with a scimitar and crush the others against the wall with a magical gust of wind. The red-robed woman had then run off in the direction of the Crimson Watchmen barracks. When Glen arrived on the scene, he cast a revivify spell and brought Timothy Burton back from the brink of death. As the others escorted Old Gran and Mr. Burton out of the ruins of Alunnor to safety, Glen stayed behind. He cast a spell of animate dead on one of the villagers who had been murdered, a halfling who looked like he had been a farmer in life. Pleased with his new servant, Glen disguised him in a cloak and ordered him to follow.
The people of Mistvale, including the Crimson Watchmen, were still busy trying to save what grain they could from the granary explosion, hoping that there would still be enough left for them to survive the quickly approaching winter. Taking advantage of the distraction, the Valiant Crowned left Mistvale behind and headed back to Castle Großschawnz.