Caramel Bunyan made good on his promise to rebuild the trading outpost, discovered wiped out in the last adventure. Calling in favors and shelling out loads of gold (His and some subsidies from the nearby nations of Darokin and the Duchy of Tansun, on behalf of the Empire) he made the post a reality and named it Caramel’s Oath as a reminder to himself and everyone he was a Halfling of integrity. The PC’s helped as needed over the two month period it took to establish the post, doing guard duty, actively hunting for provisions and game, etc.
They were just returning from such a hunting endeavor and stopped in the Post’s tavern, the Appleberry, run by Buck Toemound. Inside, partied a lively crowd of merchants staying the night, construction workers eager to return to their homes, a few local farmers looking to reestablish customer contacts, among others. The group noticed the majority of the patrons were focused on a dart board with only three rings. As they approached the bar, Buck grinned wryly at them and asked if they’d like to play Moot Darts. Hearing this, some of the crowd started cheering on the PC’s.
Not seeing the harm in a game, they agreed. A huge human approached them, cracking his knuckles and and neck, looking eager, until he stepped aside to present them their halfling challenger, who drunkenly rubbed his hands and slurred: “This is gonna be good”
At about this time, Hawkyns’ danger sense kicked in and he was aware that not everyone in the bar was in a celebratory mood. In a dark corner, in a booth with a clear view to them, a slim hooded figure watched from the shadows, smoking a reed thin pipe.
For the game, they had to fire the darts in the same manner as the halfing challenger, as people shouted out dares on how they would be handicapped for their turn. First, Gaelwynn was slung in the air, Allyn was blindfolded and spun around three times, but in the end, Damon amazed as he struck home on all three circles with his head in a bucket of water. The patrons went made and money was exchanged back and forth, the party cashing in to the tune of 10 gold a piece as the rich merchants around them bet furiously.
Heading for the bar one more time, they discovered a diminutive form in their midst. Hawkyns indicated this person had been watching them play. The person pulled back her hood revealing herself to be a shadow elf. She introduced herself as Decein Lyra and said that after observing the group, she wanted to ask them for their help. She claimed her sister had come to find work at the new post months ago when she heard it was going to be constructed. After her sister made the journey, she suddenly stopped any and all correspondence. Pressed further, Decein revealed her “sister” was in fact a human named Voya Lyra. According to Decein, Voya’s family had taken her in when Decein escaped the goblin encroachment on her family’s underground lands.
The group took pity on her, Damon and Rabbye going so far as to offer her money to put her up at the Inn for the night. They caught sight of Vex Freedon shaking his head at them and questioned him. He said that Decein had approached him and asked for certain things which he was able to provide, but also told the party she was bad news and left it at that.
They wound up questioning Gypsum after the elf performed a song for the receptive Tavern-goers. Gypsum revealed a girl had in fact disappeared after a month of employment, leaving behind a messy room, but no real clues. Word of their goings-on in the bar reached Letsego Surespear, the outpost commander and he sent for them. He confirmed the tale of Voya’s disappearance and that she was seen leaving with a man, but it was unclear who was dragging whom away. He also speculated, talking about a new cave entrance that had been discovered along one of the trade routes west during the same time frame as Voya’s disappearance, and of a small team of adventurers that went to check it out but never returned. They also spoke with Rusty, the K’naii that took care of the outpost’s stables. He confirmed what Letsego told them, he also controlled his base instincts being so close to a lyncanthrope (Rabbye).
There is some discussion in the group, but they decide that they will leave first thing in the morning and try and track down what became of the Voya and these adventurers. The talk to Decein and give her explicit instructions to stay at the Inn attached to the Appleberry and wait for them.
After a day of uneventful travel, they catch site of a small cave like opening in the base of a fairly large mesa. Investigating, they enter the cave, finding themselves in what looks like an ancient living chamber within an adobe house. The center of the room has been dug out recently, the hole large enough for Rabbye or Damon to lay down in. Exploring further, they happened up two similar rooms, Gaelwynn using her tracking abilities to determine that something was dragged from these holes in the floor. Hawkyns and Allynn put their heads together and came up with the theory that these were ancient houses and that the people living there very likely buried dead family members in the house.
Exploring further, and now following the drag marks, Hawkyns suddenly got an ill feeling. Rabbye used his invisibility cloak, stepping out from the room they were in into what was once an old courtyard, but was now merely a cavern, buried below a mesa. He discovered two naked human bodies, male and female, hung by their arms and a group of kobolds rifling through their things. He stood up fully and revealed himself, as the party stepped out to back him up. The kobolds were stunned and the party fell on them without hesitation, Damon cutting one inb half so viciously, he slit it in two and caught the halves, smearing the blood on himself in a battle frenzy. Those that understood the pathetic barking of the little dogmen, realized they were screaming: “we didn’t do this!” In reply, they bellowed “Go Home!” and the Kobolds lined up, shuffled resentfully passed, and accepted the remains of their friend Damon somewhat guiltily handed over to them.
When the battle was over, the party examined the bodies, speedily realizing they were more than just bodies, they’d been animated into zombies! Offended to his core, Hawkyns whipped out his holy symbol and turned the undead away. As they were bound by their wrists to the low ceiling, they moaned and swayed to get away from the cleric, so Rabbye and Damon chopped their heads off.
They continued to follow the drag marks in the dust, exploring, coming to realize this was a fully realized village they were in, long buried by dust and sand.
Entering another courtyard, they saw a single skull had been jammed into the ground in it’s center. Wracking their brains, Allyn and Hawkyns couldn’t come up with a legitimate explanation for it’s presence, but their curiosity was up. While everyone pulled back, Allyn debated whether to knock it aside with his staff. Damon made the debate moot by firing a surprise arrow at the skull, hitting it dead on and ripping it from it’s place in the ground. Instantly, beetles, beetles and more beetles poured from the hole with a horrific sound of wind through dry grass. The biting and slapping started in earnest and Allyn hollered for everyone to get back. Using his staff, he unleashed a fireball that fried their antagonists into a popping, soupy pile of burnt mess.
Pressing on, the party came to an area that was lit. Their apprehension up, they sent Rabbye ahead to scout, while Hawkyns struggled with the feeling there was something just as horrible back the way they came as there was ahead. Moving as silently as he knew how, Rabbye crept into a ruined building with Gaelwynn in tow, lit by torches from within. There was a room to their right with Kilns and very large pottery jars. Gaelwynn stood on Rabbye’s shoulders and poked her head up a broken ladder and saw something that almost made her give away their position. They hurried back to the group in time for them to decide that Hawkyn’s feeling was more than just nerves. Back tracking through the ruins to make sure they weren’t about to be ambushed, they heard a shrill cry of shock!
Rushing back to the room where Allyn had friend the bugs, they saw what looked like three sets of glowing red eyes moving through the burnt remains. But what truly bothered them was seeing Decein there, hands on her cheeks ready to scream again, until she saw them. Not one of them was happy to see her, their reactions ranging from Damon’s confusion to Gaelwynn’s outright hostility. Still, the new menace had to be dealt with. Their attacks only revealed that there were three dog sized fire beetles there that had come for a free meal of beetle carcasses.
A second female voice sounded from the chamber behind them and Decein ran past them to lock hands with a human female dressed in outlandish, ceremonial looking garb under a dark cloak. "I’m so happy we found you!’ Decien exclaimed, producing something from the folds of her robe that made Hawkyns feel ill, and Rabbye saw as a vial of some sort.
“You did a wonderful job!” The woman they all guessed was Voya.
“No, it’s better than that! I brought you an elf!” Decein said, ecstatic. They tuned together and smiled menacingly at Gaelwynn who immediately flew into a rage!
Voya fled back towards the ladder with vial in hand, casting a spell of some sort. Gaelwynn launched herself at Decein and began slapping her repeatedly. It became apparent that the spell Voya had cast set hidden undead minions in motion, massive clay jars in the next room byt the kilns began breaking open and the ancient dessicated remains of the ancient peoples who populated this buried town shambled out as skeletons towards the group.
Thinking quickly, Hawkyns cast Bless on the party before they broke up into seperate combats. This was enough to wake Strawberry from his slumber — inside of Gaelwynn’s bag-of-holding. He rolled out, ready to do battle as he and Hawkyns waded into the undead, driving them back with axe and holy symbol.
Decien broke free of Damon and Gaelwynn, launching herself with a fly spell towards the ladder, not seeing Rabbye who was invisible at the time. Aware of him, she started to cast a spell as he launched himself upward. Voya was there before an emaciated monster that looked like a Shadow Elf male with a spider body. It was dead…for now. Guessing what was happening revolved around bringing the monster back, Rabbye struck out at Voya just as Decein cast her holding spell. The party was mostly unaffected, except for Rabbye, who’s killing blow remained frozen in a woman who couldn’t even cry out as she too was held by the spell..
Hawkyns and Strawberry cornered the undead and Alynn finished them with a well placed fireball. They beat Decein unconscious as she tried to ayttack them and hogtied her to take with them. Hawkyns ordered the Dryder corpse to be burnt as he an Allynn puzzled out what was in the vial — the “sisters” were trying to create a Dryder lich!
Taking their prisoner, they set out for Caramel’s Oath.
This adventure was primarily homemade. Materials were taken from :
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Ed, Campaign Sourcebook and Catacomb Guide; The Beehive Fort pp 122-123; 1990 TSR inc.
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Karak Azgal: Adventures of the Dragon Crag; The Appleberry Tavern/Moot Darts pp 23; 2005 Black Industries/BL Publishing