Our adventure starts with the awkward and hasty introductions of a variety of individuals who coincidentally all stopped in this small village on a mountain pass to spend the night.
We have Aearion Lecreuset, an Elven Ranger who seems handy with a sword in each hand, Almar Dement, a human Barbarian hefting a mighty maul, Eloyn Loyalar, a Warlord leader using a long sword and shield, Galen Copperpot, a Gnome Illusionist, Gramek Hammerhand, a sturdy Dwarf Guardian Fighter with a warhammer and large shield, and Thrawn Anders Pinkens, aka “TAP”, a maul wielding Battlerager Fighter Dwarf.
The village elder was kind to offer hospitality to the travelers. Many of the adult villagers were out hunting. A calm evening of swapping stories and relaxation was interrupted by a dozen riders turning off from the pass and coming up to the village. The leader was a bald man missing his left hand and left eye. The colors and emblem of the riders indicated that they were from Khitai, a desert kingdom far to the south. He wanted information about the location for the crypt of the barbarian king that used to rule over these lands. The travelers were not about to see these poor villagers bullied and harmed, and placed themselves in the path of the raiders.
Using the narrow approach ramp up to the village to their advantage, the quickly formed party took up positions that blocked and channeled the attackers into ranks only 3 wide. With the help of the terrain boxing them in, the attackers were rather quickly decimated, with only a couple of minor injuries to the defenders. One of the riders at the back was able to turn and kick his horse into a fast retreat.
A note on the bald raid leader spoke of a dozen locations of artifacts that they were seeking. Eloyn wrote a letter to her command about the Khitai raiders and that they were looking for a powerful weapon in the crypt, and to alert them to seek out and defend the other places on the list. Meanwhile several of the others gathered the surviving horses, and examined the raider corpses. They found they had all wore pendants with a symbol of a skull with one eyeless socket and a tiny green gem in the other. This is the symbol for Vecna, an evil and powerful mage that once defeated, had become a lich, and then a god, worshiped by many in Khitai.
Consulting with the village elder, it was decided that perhaps the best way to protect the village would be to remove the artifact from the crypt and turn it over to the Hyrkanian crown for safekeeping.
After traveling for two days in the frigid barren tundra, the party found their way to the crypt that the elder had directed them to. This is the final resting place of King Holgn, who once ruled this formerly great Northern land of the barbarians.
They found a courtyard leading up to the massive doors of the crypt, sealed shut. In the courtyard was a fountain beautifully frozen in action, a broken sundial, and a statue of the king. Above the doors read a passage of that was recognized as something from Kord, the storm god: “6:20 – And so it came to be, that he who balanced life and duty would be most rewarded in death and rest.” A devout follower of Kord may notice that the quoted verse number is incorrect, and so it was noticed.
The group found that by borrowing the loose dagger from the statue and placing it on the sundial, with an artificial light source casting it’s shadow onto 6:20, the sundial activated and opened the crypt doors.
Inside they found a large room with a collapsed ceiling, but a new ceiling made entirely of ice, allowed colorful light to filter through. A hallway led to the north, and another to the right. After following the path to the north, they came to a halt before a series of 5 statues shooting searing flames across the the hall, blocking passage.
Looking for another way around by maybe the eastern hallway, they encountered 3 very hungry zombies. They were summarily pulverized, but not before one took a bite out of a dwarf. Fortunately, the ragged wound was not infected with zombie-making bacteria. The hallway the zombies came from led to a room filled entirely with large piles of cheap mass-produced swords. This was not a way through.
Heading back to the flaming hallway of death, the party moved close enough to get a closer look at the first statue. They saw a tube coming from the wall to the statue. With some noble cloth and team effort, they were able to remove the tubes, cutting off the fuel source to the flaming statues, and tie them off. They moved carefully to each statue until the way was clear.
The hallway beyond led to a couple of other hallways. The walls were decorated with lovely paintings and tapestries depicting the land of Holgn. At the start of one hallway, was a large, very realistic painting, almost life-like, of the what the party believed to be the King, his queen and son. This hallway led to a door.
Behind the door was 3 tombs, with detailed reliefs of the royal family. The room was lit, warm and comfortable. The floor was covered with a thin layer of some kind of clear, odorless liquid. While examining the room, a slight draft was felt in one corner. Some tapping on the walls revealed one surface sounding hollow. Some much stronger tapping from the maul of a barbarian exposed a small alcove with a wooden crate. The crate contained some precious gems, and a finely embroidered cloth that contained a necklace made out of keys linked together.
The group left to explore the other passageway and not disturb the rest of the dead. That is when something spooky happened. Walking past the painting, the party noticed that the boy was not in the picture anymore! Fairly creeped out, two of them rushed backed and pushed the lid off the smaller tomb. The others came back when they heard the loud crash of the lid hitting the floor. They found the partially mummified skeletal remains of boy inside. It took most of the group to lift the lid and put it back in place. They carefully proceeded, keeping a vigilant eye on the shadows behind.
The next opening they came to curved down into another level like a basement. They found a room that had lots of tubes running into the walls, and machinery pumping fluid through them. In the corner of the room was a small iron maiden. Putting a light source in through the eye holes of the prison device disturbed a nest of scarabs that angrily poured out. The elf put on a fanciful display of stomping the bugs as they swarmed him. He was left behind to clean up the bug goo.
While several of the adventures that were scouting ahead heard the sounds of a crying child, the daring elven explorer decided to open up and see what was inside the iron maiden. He let loose a bit of a screech when the midget skeleton that collapsed out, became animated and grabbed his leg. He eventually made his escape and rejoined the others.
Fresh after the sounds of the child had faded, the yelp from the ranger, came a startled call from the barbarian who had found some sort of banquet hall. With some ancient diners still sitting around the table. Seated at the head of the grand table, complete with well-prepared food flash frozen and encased in ice, sat the skeleton of a man in gold armor wearing a crown. Sitting on both sides of the table were two pairs of knight skeletons.