(This adventure was run in August of 2017. In terms of campaign time, this adventure took place the same night immediately after Session 14: The Vault of Pallon the Pirate. A list of characters and a description of the campaign setting can be found at The World Map).
After returning from the Vault of Pallon the Pirate, the adventurers found themselves celebrating at The Golden Tankard. Already, the establishment had improved in quality, selling higher quality ale and food. Repairs had begun on the leaky roof. The common room was cleaner too. Martyn’s dour expression remained, but he could only scowl for so long–the establishment attracted a larger clientele now, so Martyn was busy pouring jacks and keeping tabs on the kitchen. The adventurers felt like they were home, being co-owners of the Tankard. They drank in merriment at the success of their most recent exploits in the cove along Blue Crab Bay, although their wounds, those not fully healed through magic, still stung. But good food and drink and the company of friends proved to be an elixir all its own. A wandering minstrel sang a song above the din of the tavern.
As the night wore on, some of the adventurers departed on a slightly tipsy navigation through the streets of Cyr back to their rooms at the Weary Traveler–the rooms in the Golden Tankard, other than those of the tavern help, were still uninhabitable due to the leaky roof. Kulo, Belladore, and Bao stayed for more revelry. As the night wore on, a finely dressed fellow approached the table of the adventurers and introduced himself.
Ethan Dorados took a seat at the table and relayed that he knew of their reputation as adventurers, offering to hire them for a mission. He explained he represented a wealthy patron from Themis who was visiting Cyr. Recently, a family heirloom, a necklace, had been stolen from the patron by a thief. The thief, an old man who regularly disguised himself as a beggar, died of natural causes before he could be located. With no family to claim him, the city interred him in the Road’s End Tomb for paupers in the Necropolis of Cyr. Ethan and his patron believed the old man was buried with the heirloom. Ethan desired to hire the adventurers for assistance in retrieving the necklace from the tomb.
Belladore asked Ethan that if he knows where the crypt is why doesn’t he just retrieve it himself. Ethan revealed that the Necropolis of Cyr is plagued with undead at night. The city watch locks up the Necropolis at night to prevent the undead from walking the streets of the city. A group, especially one with as much renown as the Heroes of Edgewood, is more likely to be successful than him alone. Belladore asked why not just make the case to the city watch that the necklace was stolen property and have them retrieve it from the tomb. Ethan said his patron does not want to attract attention to himself in the city.
Kulo, Bao, and Belladore agreed to the mission, accompanying Ethan to the Tomb to retrieve the necklace. Ethan described the necklace as an onyx stone bound in a silver setting and hung from a silver chain. Ethan said the amount his patron was willing to pay to hire the party did not reflect the value of the necklace–other than sentimental value the necklace was a cheap piece of jewelry. Kulo and Belladore gave each other a look suggesting they didn’t believe that information, but didn’t press Ethan on the matter.
Ethan produced a map that he had obtained from an acolyte of Kleo, who helps maintain the Road’s End Tomb, showing the probable crypt of the elderly thief. He also revealed a map of the Necropolis of Cyr giving the general layout of the cemetery, the location of the Road’s End Tomb, and the guard towers they would need to avoid.
The adventurers made their way to the walls of the Necropolis under cover of darkness. They decided to scale the wall near a warehouse district so there would be little likelihood of street traffic. This location also put them close to the Road’s End Tomb so they would not have to travel much through the cemetery and could avoid wandering undead. This part of the wall was about as far from a guard tower as was possible, reducing the chance they would have to explain themselves to the watch.
With adept skill, Kulo tossed a grappling hook over the 15-foot stone wall, pulling it tight against some unseen protrusion. Kulo scaled the wall first, pausing at the top for his companions to make their way up. The top of the wall was wide enough that the party could crouch before making their descent. Kulo pointed out to Bao the luck that the grappling hook caught on a slight imperfection in the wall where a piece of stone stuck out. Kulo reversed the grappling hook bracing it against the opposite side of the wall and let out the rope to the inside of the cemetery. The party members dropped to the ground, quiet as panthers.
The adventurers made their way to the Road’s End Tomb, moving stealthily past gravestones, cenotaphs, and mausoleums. Within 40 feet of the tomb, they noticed light from an obvious lantern as well gruff voices near the tomb’s entrance. Moving closer, the adventurers noticed three men at the entrance to the tomb. One sat atop a donkey cart. He appeared to be the leader, barking orders at the other two to hurry up with the body they were carrying.
Belladore motioned for the other party members to hold back as they began to ready their weapons. She had a better idea. With a quick motion, some rose petals pulled from her components pouch, and a whispered incantation, Belladore cast the Sleep spell on the grave robbers. All three slumped over instantly.
The adventurers quickly searched the body in the cart. The corpse was an old man, but there was no sign of the necklace. Ethan confirmed this appeared to be the elderly thief who absconded with the heirloom. A search of the grave robbers also turned up empty. Ethan admitted that they would have to investigate the tomb.
The party tied up the three grave robbers, before waking the apparent leader. He awoke with a start, clearly surprised to see himself in bonds and being interrogated by the adventurers. He readily admitted that they were grave robbers. They had been hired to steal new burials on a fairly regular basis by a contact who they met at a run-down tavern. When asked about this man, the leader said he did not know much about him–he’d tell them when he wanted bodies and the leader and his crew would then steal recently buried bodies from the cemetery. When asked how he was able to get in with his cart, the leader replied that the guards could be bribed to look the other way. He knew nothing about any jewelry on the body of the elderly thief or in the sarcophagus.
The adventurers carried the bodies of the two sleeping grave robbers down into the crypt and escorted the leader down as well. Entering the tomb, bluish flame illuminated the room from the outstretched hands of two statues in the far corners of the room–hooded figures representing the disciples of Kleo, who maintained this tomb for the indigent.
Kulo secured the leader’s bonds and placed a gag in his mouth. The light from the statues revealed two passages to either side of the room. According to the map, the sarcophagus of the elderly man would be found down the passage on the left. Before heading that direction, Belladore crept silently down the passage on the right for about as far as she could see. All she could tell was that the corridor continued for some length before disappearing in the darkness. But what she heard sent chills down her spine–the sounds of a woman sobbing in the distance. The party decided to avoid that part of the crypt for now.
The adventurers followed the map provided by Ethan and found themselves in front of a sarcophagus, the lid partially ajar. Moving it further aside, Kulo revealed an empty, stone coffin. Kulo searched for any mechanism that might reveal a hidden compartment but found none. Examining the outside of the sarcophagus, it was apparent that the coffin had been slid away from the wall. A groove in the floor suggested this sarcophagus had been moved back and forth many times. The coffin moved rather easily when pushed–Kulo discovered it was set on stone wheels, allowing it to move back and forth with little effort. Kulo turned his attention to the wall, examining it for a secret passageway. He noticed one stone that protruded slightly from the others. On depressing this stone, the wall slid away to reveal a hidden staircase leading down.
Peaking around the corner, Belladore saw, with the aid of her torch, the stairs leading to a dirt floor landing.
The party descended the steps into what appeared to be an ossuary. A long hallway branched from the room they entered from the stairs.
The adventurers crept quietly down the hallway. Before reaching a crossing corridor, they heard voices coming from behind a wall of bones at the end of the corridor in front of them. As they paused to listen, the voices began to sing a most diabolical chant of vile origin. They moved slowly to the wall of bones trying to peer between bones to the room beyond, but the bones were so tightly packed that they could not see within. Kulo inspected the wall more closely and realized that it was in fact a door. He signaled for the rest of the group to be ready. As the voices beyond reached a crescendo, Kulo opened the door slightly to get a sense of what they faced, but he had to open the door considerably since it opened towards him.
The room was filled with about a half-dozen men dressed in black robes. Two braziers illuminated the room from the far corners. Another man was tied to an altar at the far end of the chamber. He was naked except for a loincloth. The man on the altar fought his bonds to no effect. In front of the altar stood a malevolent priest who held a grimoire in one hand and a jar in his other hand. As the chant reached its end, he handed the book to one of his subordinates, opened the jar, and with tongs he procured from within his robes, pulled forth from slimy green liquid, a writhing green worm. The man on the altar screamed at the sight. His screams magnified when the priest placed the worm on his chest and it began to burrow under his skin.
The macabre sight transfixed the heroes, and one of the cult members noticed the bone door ajar. The cultist motioned to his brethren, and in a blur of motion, daggers filled the hands of the black robed men. The leader sensing the danger, moved to the altar.
The heroes rushed to melee. The cultists, while ferocious in their assault, wore no armor and were lightly armed. The adventurers inflicted wound after wound in what appeared to be a lopsided battle. But as their scimitars and rapiers rent through black robes, a transformation had occurred. On the altar, the body of the man whose screams had filled the chamber just moments before, twitched, spasmed, and then lurched to his feet. The diabolical leader had released his bonds! He now trudged towards the heroes in a corrupted approximation of a normal, human gait.
Belladore uttered an incantation and cast Faerie Fire on the the cultists. Three of them now glowed with dim magical light, making attacks against them easier in the otherwise flickering light of the room. One, then two cultists fell to the onslaught of blows. Kulo moved up to engage the shambling form of the man from the altar. On closer view, Kulo noticed writhing worms dangling from gaping wounds in the man’s body. As Kulo stabbed with his rapier into the undead form of the man, one of the worms launched through the air at him! Kulo deftly avoided the worm and took note of its writhing form on the floor. Another cultist fell to his wounds and the battle was edging more in the favor of the heroes.
Belladore noticed how the worm from the lurching zombie had attempted to embed in Kulo’s body. She quickly recalled stories learned from her bardic past of Kyuss and his spawn. She moved away from the zombie to the corner to avoid the burrowing worms. Belladore’s throwing arm flashed like lighting, the dagger from her hand now buried squarely in the chest of the Spawn of Kyuss.
Kulo squashed the worm on the floor with his boot. Kulo once again stabbed with his rapier. And again, another worm launched from the Spawn of Kyuss trying to embed into Kulo’s skin! The worm bounced harmlessly off Kulo’s studded leather armor, landing on the floor and writhing towards Kulo’s feet.
Bao’s quarterstaff cracked against the skull of the cult leader’s head with a loud thwack! The leader crumpled to the ground. Ethan skewered the remaining cultist. Now, all the heroes could focus their attention on the Spawn of Kyuss. Kulo moved away from the worm wriggling on the floor, stabbing again at the zombie. Another worm launched from the spawn, but Kulo avoided its flight again. Dagger, rapier, and quarterstaff pierced and lashed the spawn till it too fell to the floor unmoving.
Searching the bodies of the cultists revealed a smattering of coins, a couple of lower value gems, a pair of bone dice, and a vial containing oil of slipperiness.
Retracing their steps the heroes returned to the intersection of the corridors and turned down the passage on the right. The passage continued for 40 feet before turning to a small, round room 20′ × 25′. Like all the rooms and passageways in this underground ossuary, bones stacked upon bones lined the walls. Peering into the room, the party of adventurers could see four piles of bones stacked near the center of the room. On the floor, between the bone piles laid an unadorned horn, the only obvious non-human bone in the underground ossuary. Belladore cast mage hand and scooped up the horn. The adventurers left without even entering the room and returned down the corridor.
The heroes examined the final room in the underground ossuary, a small 20′ × 20′ square room, lined with stacks of bones like all the rooms and corridors. A lone figure huddled in the corner of the room, a halfling man clutching a necklace. The party quickly determined that he posed no threat. The heroes coaxed the halfling out of his frightened state and learned that his name was Atticus. The necklace he held in his hands was just as Ethan described, and Atticus reluctantly gave it up after the party persuaded him that the necklace belonged to Ethan’s patron.
Atticus told his story of how he obtained the necklace. He recently turned to thievery and knew of the old man who had recently been interred at the Road’s End Tomb. Atticus heard the old man bragging of a recent score at a tavern the day before he apparently died of natural causes. So, he pilfered the sarcophagus of the old man, but before leaving, his curiosity got the better of him. He noticed the secret door that led down to the ossuary. Unable to ignore this detail, he stole down to the underground crypt. As he was exploring the corridor he heard voices coming from behind him and saw light near the stairwell. He retreated down the corridor to the room the party found him in. He extinguished his lamp and peered around the corner to spy the cultists leading a bound man to the hidden room. He intended to flee, but the horrendous chanting of the cult sapped his courage and he could do nothing but to cower our of fear until the heroes found him.
The party led Atticus back through the underground ossuary and up through the tomb to the entrance where the grave robbers were bound. Before releasing the grave robbers, Kulo pulled Atticus to the side and gave him a few gold coins as payment for a mission he had for him. Kulo wanted Atticus to follow the grave robbers and find out who they were delivering the dead body to. Kulo suspected they were providing bodies to the chirurgeon, whose letter they obtained off the body of Lord Sketch from Session 13: Lord Sketch of the Sewers of Cyr.
Before leaving the tomb, the heroes decided to investigate the corridor and room from which they heard sobbing before. The party of adventurers crept silently down the corridor until it opened onto a 25′ × 45′ room, a temple of sorts. Bluish light similar to the entrance of the tomb emanated from the room. In the center of the back wall, a fountain gurgled water. Opposite the fountain on either side, sat hooded statues to Kleo, the source of the blue light. A figure of a woman crying to the right of the fountain, her back towards the adventurers, caught the attention of everyone. As soon as the heroes entered the room, the woman, or more precisely, the apparition of a woman wheeled around towards them.
The ghost approached the heroes. A deep gash covered the distance of her neck, and she appeared as if her head floated slightly above her body. Belladore asked the apparition why she was crying. The ghost replied that she had recently been murdered and her body was entombed in this resting place for the indigent. But she was a noble! Her murderers deserved to be punished! She implored the heroes to find her killers and bring them to her here so that she could have her justice. In life, she was a merchant-noblewoman. Her name was Mistress Thea Kellergis.
Bao’s eyes grew wide as he heard the name. He had helped to bring on the demise of the one called “The Raven” in Session 11: The Jackdaws, the Raven, and the Rat. Bao started edging towards the entrance way. The ghost intercepted his exit. She looked from Bao to the rest of the party. Will you do my bidding so that I may have my rest? Tears fell from her eyes and she looked a sight of pure despondency.
The heroes looked from one to another. Belladore spoke for the group and said that they were sorry, but that they had to leave. The ghost’s countenance immediately shifted from sadness to malevolent anger and attacked! Her horrific visage gave the adventurers a fright but they steeled their nerves and pressed into the fight.
The ghost of Thea Kellergis took possession of Belladore’s body and then attacked her companions. Kulo, Bao, and Ethan gritted their teeth as they set to the awful task of attacking Belladore in order to drive the ghost from her body. They exchanged blows, but with three attacking one, it was only a matter of time before Belladore collapsed from her wounds and the ghost of Thea Kellergis was driven from her body. Ethan healed Belladore as Kulo and Bao focused their attacks against the ghost. The fight continued and Belladore and Ethan were able to help, despite most of the adventurers weapons doing less damage than they would for a more corporeal creature. Eventually one of their weapons removed the last bit of life force from the ghost. Thea Kellergis’s face returned back to one of abject despair before her spirit dissipated into thin air. The adventurers breathed a sigh of relief after a long, tough fight.
Belladore advanced to 5th-level. Bao advanced to 4th-level.
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Adventure based on The City of the Dead by Patrick E. Pullen (maps of the cemetery, modified from the original, and Road’s End Tomb used with permission): The City of the Dead is one adventure that is part of The Adventure Collection Set 1.
Patrick E. Pullen is also an accomplished artist. Check out his Pullen Art Facebook Page.
Grave Robbers Paper Miniatures: Mayhem in Paper/One Monk Grave Robbers
Cultists Paper Miniatures: Kev’s Lounge The Brotherhood Paper Miniatures
Spawn of Kyuss (Zombie) Paper Miniature: Brave Adventures Undead Warband
Ghost Paper Miniature: Mayhem in Paper/One Monk Ghostly Spirits
Crafted Torch: DM’s Craft
Blood Marker: Litko Game Accessories
Original Art of Skulls/Ossuary: Jody Monochrome