The Dalemark Gambit

Ruined Priory Pt 4: Into the Undercroft

The Wheatoning

After taking a moment to focus her spiritually sharpened senses, ranger Dixn confirmed the presence of numerous undead in the passages below—and warned the group that they would be too much to handle in their present state. Disregarding this, the others decided to descend despite Dixn's dire dissuasions.

The stairway leads to a darkened stone chamber, lit only by the faint glow of a mysterious marked pillar in the middle of the room. Reasoning it must be a trap of some kind, Artificer Razi knelt down to attempt disarming it, when an arrow shot past from the darkness of the stairwell and struck the strange sigil in the center of the stone pillar—causing the glow to fade.

Somewhat annoyed by the interference, Razi took notes on the design of the now ruined rune and the group continued their search of the undercroft.

The four side rooms off of the central chamber yielded little of interest, merely an array of tools and tables that suggested this was once a place for preparing the dead for the permanent peace of interment. Two hallways led off in opposite directions, and the party chose to pursue the path to the right of the stairs. Though Dixn remained out of sight, her pet panther padded ahead. Atop his head was a glowing flower crown shaped like a middle finger, which seemed to indicate the ranger's thoughts on the group ignoring her warnings.

Descending another staircase, the group found themselves in a broad passageway which split off in two directions—one path opening to a series of side chambers, and the other leading to yet another descending staircase.

After narrowly avoiding a trap set in the center of the passage, Razi disabled it and then turned his attention to the detailed frescoes engraved upon the stone wall to their right. The carvings ran right to left, depicting idyllic scenes of nature, shifting from a summer scene filled with frolicking beasts and fey, to a winter scene featuring foxes, will o' wisps, and hunting sprites. Between the two was a large image of a dryad-like creature emerging from a tree. The carving appeared to be divided in half, the right side depicting a smiling dryad holding out one of the many pieces of fruit that hung from the boughs of it's tree, while on the left side the dryad looked angry and was surrounded by thorny vines. Investigating the side passage next, they found little of interest besides some splintered furniture and a block of resin-based incense which proved to be non-magical.

Growing tired, the party decided to heed Dixn's advice at last and retreated back to the library, where they barricaded themselves in for the night and managed to get some sleep—which proved fitful, but ultimately uneventful.

Heading back down the next morning, the group silently snuck through the same stone halls they has searched previously. They continued deeper into the lower levels of the catacombs, followed a zig-zagging passageway until Carrion accidentally clutched his bagpipes too tightly, letting out a wheezing squeal and causing Cade to facepalm hard enough to echo down the corridor.

Shortly afterward, a massive, decaying form shambled around the corner, wielding a huge iron mace.

 

Cade, took point, calling upon an aura of peace as the others prepared to attack from a distance. Though the halfling monk held it at bay, the zombie ogre refused to fall—even after Carrion blasted it's arm off with a blistering black bolt of eldritch power. As more zombies approached, the ogre finally broke through Cade's spiritual ward, forcing the monk to sidestep as it's mace slammed down, splintering the stone where he had stood. In retaliation, the halfling drove his enchanted spear into the ogre's stomach, finally felling the foul undead.

More zombies shuffled slowly from the shadows, crowding around the corridor where the courageous adventurers made their stand. Razi felled one with a flung flask of fire, incinerating it's chest down to the bone, while Cade launched into a series of spinning strikes—crushing one zombie's neck before segueing into a spinkick and then sprinting into the room.

As the halfling's torch illuminated the chamber, he discovered a withered, wicked, wrathful creature wreathed and waiting in the shadows—a wight!

 

Rushing back to the others, they continued to hold the hallway entrance as the zombies pressed forward—but the undead's tactics seemed to improve with the wight leading them. Distracted by his minions, Cade was just able to duck under the wight's sword—but was caught unprepared as it reached back with a withered hand pulsing with a cold, dark energy. The strike seemed to drain the halfling's life force even as it clawed his flesh, and even his healing hands held no power to close the wound.

To make matters worse, another zombie ogre emerged from the shadows, striding across the room and forcing the party back into the hallway they'd emerged from.

Charging in, knight Treize lunged forward, his rapier piercing the undead abomination's dry, desiccated heart before following up with a blast of thunderous magic—but the wight just snarled and held it's ground even as the ogre zombie was pushed back. Seeing an opening, Dixn rushed forward—drawing her sword and slashing open the wight's throat as Ser'Racha snapped and harried at the undead warrior. Following their example, the others focused their attacks on the wight. A spell from Carrion caused it's sword to glow white hot and smoke to curl from it's hands, ruining the creature's aim as it lashed out wildly—but even as the wight missed, the zombie ogre caught Dixn with a lucky shot, delivering a crushing blow with it's enormous spiked mace. Having noticed that the wight seemed resistant to non-magical attacks, Cade handed his magic spear to Dixn, focusing his ki to heal the injured ranger in the process. As the halfling monk retreated, Dixn ran the spear through the wight's body—but the ranger's efforts earned naught but a defiant snarl.

Their foe seemed unstoppable, but as Carrion continued to concentrate on his spell, the undead warrior's smoking hands suddenly burst into flames! The rest of it quickly followed, and the wight finally collapsed into a pile of ash—it's sword ringing hollowly on the stone as it fell.

With their master destroyed, the remaining zombies seemed to become less organized—once more reverting to a pack of mindless brutes. But as the undead ogre advanced towards Knight Trieze, a sinister shape slithered from the surrounding shadows…

Session XP: 1,300

GM Note: As of this session, you guys are 150 xp away from level five, and currently fighting 1,700 xp worth of monsters. So yeah, definitely going to level up the next time you get a long rest.

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